You Are My Kryptonite

Edric threw his work bag into the back of the car, and plopped himself beside me. “You are my Kryptonite,” he said, throwing his arms over his head with a smirk on his face.

“Huh?! Me?!”

“Yes, my Krypton.”

I inched over to him and hugged him. I love being Kryptonite…his “weakness,” as he calls it.

We had come from a lunch and I should’ve gone home by myself, but I turned to him and asked, “Why don’t you just come home with me?!” He didn’t have much going on at work so I hoped he would take the invitation. (Plus, if he had stayed at the office, he would have been home really late because his car was color-coded.)

“I think I will do that,” was his response, and I could hardly suppress my giddy excitement. The idea of having him around for the afternoon was such a treat!

Shortly after, he semi-ruined the romantic moment when he jokingly presented what looked like a booger to me and said, “Come on, I dropped everything for you this afternoon…take it. We are one person anyway.”

“Yes we are, but we don’t have the same boogers.”

He just wanted a reaction from me, a scream of girlish horror (which he received).

I’m glad we still have fun. We play silly games. We tease. We laugh. We exchange ideas and opinions. We argue and discuss our differences. We finish each other’s sentences.  We serve the Lord together. We cry because God is good…because it’s so amazing to raise children and watch them grow up…because we don’t deserve anything that we have…because it’s all grace.

This is grace. Right here. Right now. Having a husband who is tender and sweet towards me even after 13 years of knowing everything ugly, sinful, and complicated about me, and then calling me his Kryptonite. It’s flattering. It’s comforting. It’s scary!

If I don’t walk with the Lord I can be a stumbling block in his life. I can be a thorn in his side. I can be the devious whisperer who hisses negative thoughts and ideas into his ear…about people, circumstances, the present, the future…

So I have to guard my own heart. I must walk faithfully with the Lord and make sure that I encourage him to do the same. While he is my leader and the head of our home, he has given me the privilege of his trust. And with this comes a responsibility.

He said, “I must whisper well.”

A woman whispers into the ear of her husband and she can influence him towards or away from Christ-likeness. Take for example, Jezebel to Ahab.

1 Kings 21:25 tells us, “Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife incited him.”

That’s not who I want to be to Edric! But I can certainly become this way if I’m not careful. I can have a Jezebel-spirit if I’m not filled with the Holy Spirit. A Jezebel-spirit is one who seeks to control and manipulate her husband to do what is wrong in God’s eyes, for her own gain and purposes.

Recently, I have wanted to buy more furniture for the house. But Edric has told me that we have to “tighten the belt” now. We have spent a lot for our new home so we have to temper our purchases, spread them out. My impulse is to finish decorating everything right away. But I have to mind what I say when I express this desire to him. If I pressure him, he will find a way to make more money. However, he is trying to turn down offers for added income so he can streamline his activities and be more focused. As crazy as it may sound, this is a good thing. It’s what I have prayed for.

The last six months have been tough with him traveling to so many different parts of the Philippines. God convicted him to be very selective about what he commits to. Of course this means less money. However, it also means more time for family, ministry, and spearheading the homeschooling movement. These are God-honoring preoccupations that matter in eternity.

As for the house, it’s here. It’s pretty much done. The sprucing and decorating can happen as we go along. In the meantime, I have to practice contentment and thankfulness. I’ve got to support Edric’s desire to give more time to the Lord’s work and not push him to make more money for me to spend on our house. In other words, I have to mind my whisperings as his Kyrptonite because he listens to what I have to say and values it, because my happiness matters to him, and because he loves me. Therefore, my heart has to be wholly devoted to the Lord so that I speak words that encourage Edric to make choices and decisions that honor God. I want to be a GOOD Kryptonite!

“The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:35-37 NASB)

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Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me

I received a letter from one of the persons working at our construction site asking for money for his soon-to-be-wedding. In the letter he explained that he was desperate because the fund he had allocated for the reception was stolen. Of course I wanted to help him. The guy seemed to be trustworthy and sincere. But at the same time, I had to be prudent and tell Edric about it. (I have been suckered before.)

In marriage this is called the principle of being “under cover”. Author John Bevere talks about submission to authority as a form of protection. Submission isn’t just about obeying Edric as leader. It’s also recognising that God has ordained him to look out for me, that his authority in my life is like an umbrella over me.

When he told me, “Let me handle it. I will talk to him,” I felt stressed at first because I wanted to give the guy an answer right away. I knew he was waiting. In fact he texted me to get an update. But a part of me knew I should investigate the legitimacy of his story, too. So when Edric said, “I will be the one to respond to him,” the stress was replaced by relief. Edric took on the burden and I was able to relax.

In the car, on the way to our site meeting, I told him how much I appreciated his desire to protect me and stand in “harm’s way” for my sake. He turned to me very casually and was like, “Of course. I like to protect you. I wouldn’t have it any other way.” (I love this man.)

After our morning meeting, Edric met with the guy to find out more details and verified what he was saying with a co-worker. He also asked the guy why he didn’t email him directly. And he said he was embarrassed. Edric responded jokingly, “Well, the money will come from me anyway, right?”

In the end, the guy’s story checked out. He was telling the truth. So Edric told him, “We will help you.”

This incident may seem like a small matter but I wanted to talk about the blessings of this aspect of submission. In the garden of Eden, if Eve had said to the serpent, “Let me get back to you about eating the fruit. I have to go check with Adam,” I wonder what would have happened?

Maybe she would have gone to Adam and said, “Hon, there is this serpent I have been hanging out with. He’s been telling me that God doesn’t want us to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because He DOESN’T want us to be like him. I kind of see his point, but I wanted to find out what you thought about it. Do you think I should try it? I have been thinking about it alot lately. It looks really tasty.”

In response perhaps Adam would have been like, “Heck, no! And I don’t want you talking to that serpent anymore either! He is bad news. Trust me, honey, God wants what is best for us. He has given us everything else to eat. He is a good God. In fact, next time that serpent comes anywhere near you, I want you to tell me where he is and I will have a word with him!”

It’s interesting that the Serpent targeted Eve, poisoning her thoughts with his lies. Whether she was entirely alone or not can only be speculated. But from the sequence of events, it doesn’t look like she got Adam’s permission to eat the fruit. She acted on her feelings and emotions. She invested time lingering around the forbidden fruit and fantasizing about what it would be like to have it. And the Bible tells us that it was Eve who was deceived, not Adam.

For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Timothy 2:13, 14 NASB)

As women we need to recognize that we tend to have same Eve-like vulnerability. Look at the way we fall for men who don’t treat us the right way! In my household alone, almost every single girl that has ever worked for me (and I have gone through a number) has had her heart broken by a man. (Heck, I have too!) In the group of ladies I disciple and women that I counsel, I have heard countless stories of misguided choices when it comes to men. But this is just one aspect of our lives. We fall prey to many other deceptions outside the realm of dating and relationships.

Years ago I read Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and this book opened my eyes to how much deception is going on in my own heart. The evil one still uses the same strategy he did with Eve in the garden — he is constantly lying to us about who God is, who we are, where our worth lies and what me must do to be happy. The key is to confront these lies head on with God’s word.

Married or not, we have to be feeding ourselves with Bible truth. Of course for the marrieds like me, we need to keep learning to listen to our husbands, and letting them be the protector they were designed to be.  I’m blessed to be married to a man who loves the Lord with all of his heart. So he helps me to make choices that are for my good. He helps me to discern what I ought to commit my time to and what activities aren’t profitable. He looks out for me spiritually, emotionally, physically.

After nearly thirteen years of marriage, I still like to hear him say things like, “Stay on this side of the road, hon…it’s safer.” I still like it when he reaches out his hand to hold mine so I won’t trip or fall. I still like it when he offers to open the door for me. I may be able to fend for myself, but it’s wonderful to be able to have, in Ira Gershwin’s words, “someone who’ll watch over me.” I’m so grateful that Edric has turned out to be that someone for me! 

New Years

What To Look For In A Man

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Edric is and always will be the love of my life. The other morning, I snuggled up to him in bed. He doesn’t like to be awoken prematurely, but he knew it was me. So he pulled me to himself and hugged me. “I love you,” he said and fell asleep again. I just lay there, content and calmed by the nearness of him.

In the book of Proverbs there is a verse that says a man should rejoice in the wife of his youth. But I think of it from the perspective of a woman and I rejoice in the husband of my youth. Marriage has been such an adventure with Edric, from it’s tumultuous yet romantic beginnings, growing up together, sharing ministries and passions, and now…five kids later. Sometimes, we look around the table at our children’s little faces and ask ourselves, “Do we really have five?!”

I have no regrets about marrying young because I married the right person. Single women have asked me if I could talk about this topic. So I’m going to venture back to my pre-marriage days. With the added wisdom of the present, I hope these insights will give perspective on what to look for in a man.

First, let me clarify when I use the phrase “what to look for.” I don’t ascribe to the idea that a woman should go around prowling for a man. It’s not feminine. A man may be flattered by the attention of an attractive woman but she will not be able to hold his interest forever. No matter what society does to reverse the roles of man and woman, certain truths remain. A real man wants the challenge of pursuing a woman he is interested in. I like how author John Eldredge puts it, men want a “beauty to rescue.”

So, when I say “what to look for,” it’s more about having a conscious list a woman can refer to, something to sift through the dross of suitors who do not fit the bill. But, a word of caution. This list doesn’t have to be so exhaustive that there is no man on the planet that can meet all 100 requirements. May I suggest a few things that really matter, the “non-negotiables.” Looking back, these are the things that made a positive difference in my own marriage.

Remember, this isn’t the Bible. A woman has to develop her own convictions. But I would like to think that this short list can provide a thoughtful start.

1. A God-fearing man who has a personal, growing relationship with Christ. This is number one. If a man truly loves the Lord, he will want to please him. In marriage, this translates to a man who will commit to faithfulness, a man who will be willing to change for the better. He doesn’t have to be a bible teacher or a preacher. But if he has, at his core, the desire to follow God with all of his heart, he will also take care of his wife’s heart.

Edric wasn’t teaching the bible when we got married. I could’ve compared him to my preacher/teacher father and thought, he should be like my dad. But I knew that Edric had something fundamentally important – he loved God. I knew that since the Holy Spirit was at work in his heart, he would become the man God wanted him to be and the husband I needed him to be.

Even though our marriage begun with a colossal clash in personalities, Edric became better and better over the years. He developed an even greater desire to put God at the centre of our marriage. He committed to fulfill his biblical role as leader, lover, and provider. God also gave him the patience to help me grow as a wife!

Furthermore, he had the fear of the Lord in him. So I wasn’t afraid that he would go off and cheat on me or lie to me. Even though he struggled with the same temptations any man would, I learned to put my trust in God. I prayed for him to remain faithful to me. (I still do!) By God’s grace, Edric has stayed faithful and given me no heartache in this aspect.

A lot of women crush on Edric, especially now that he is a public figure on TV. And some of them even tell me they wish they can marry someone like him. (Only in the Philippines!) Yes, he is good looking, especially to me, but what makes Edric special is Christ.

2. Hard-working and responsible. Not every man is a millionaire. But they don’t need to have a fat bank account to be marriage-material. For as long as they understand the value of hard work and their role to provide for the needs of their future family, then God will bless their efforts. Of course a woman needs to adjust her own expectations. She has to be willing to simplify her lifestyle.

When Edric and I were starting out, we hardly had anything, monetarily speaking. But we had enough to get a place to live in and to cover our expenses. (We weren’t recklessly romantic. Edric made sure he had what we needed to get started.)

We had a very simple lifestyle. It was an adjustment for me at first because I was used to having my own car, traveling, and not having to worry about budgets. Although I didn’t expect to have the same standard of living when I got married, I missed some conveniences and comforts of my single life. But I never felt like I traded that life for a substandard version. I was willing to go through anything with Edric because I loved him and trusted his leadership. I couldn’t imagine a better life without him. There was never a time when I doubted that he would take care of me. First, I knew that he loved God. And, as witness to holiness in his private life I knew there was nothing in his life to exempt him from being blessed. Second, he tried his best to be a good provider so I knew God would make sure we never went hungry.

The added bonus of not having much to begin with made Edric and I careful about our spending decisions. We couldn’t be lavish. We had to be thrifty. Edric was genetically wired to be frugal but I needed training in this area. So God used this season to mature both of us. He taught us what it meant to be a steward of his resources and to trust him for our daily bread.

3. A good set of friends. The company a man keeps is pretty defining. If a guy hangs out with fools and drunks, well, that has got to make an impact on his own value system. Proverbs 13:20 says, He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

I knew Edric’s friends. They were nice guys. They didn’t party or mess around with girls. Edric’s friends mattered to me because we would be hanging out with the same set of friends in marriage. Furthermore, I knew that these men played a big role in Edric’s life and they were an influence to him.

Up till this day, we spend time with his “barkada” and we share many common principles about marriage and raising children. And on days when Edric is hanging out with the boys, I don’t have to worry that they are going to go off and do something stupid. I have peace.

4. Parent-approved. I praise God I married into a wonderful family. Edric’s family accepted me as their daughter and sister with open arms. If Edric’s parents had disapproved of me, I wouldn’t have married him. I wouldn’t have dated him either! And if my parents had not given Edric their blessing to marry me, we wouldn’t have gotten married.

Having been privy to many of the marriage counseling cases my parents dealt with over the years, I knew that parental blessing was a key factor in the success of any marriage. Many of the couples who had marital problems began without the blessing of their parents. There are consequences for dismissing the biblical principle of obeying and honoring parents. But, on the positive side, the Bible says “it will go well” with those who listens to their parents.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” (Exodus 20:12)

Both my sisters, Candy and Carolyn, are married to amazing guys. In a sense, they were “hand-picked” by my father. But I will talk about Carolyn’s husband first.

Carolyn did not really have marriage on her radar. She was busy with med school and music ministry. It was my dad who asked her to consider Joel. And it was my brother, Paul, who encouraged Joel to pursue her. Carolyn opened her heart to the idea and not too long after they were dating, God led them to marriage with the full blessing of both sets of parents. Today, they are happily married, expecting their first child, and Joel is really the perfect match for Carolyn. He brings out the best in her and vice-versa. Together they serve the Lord faithfully and have a loving, Christ-centered marriage.

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5. A man who has a compass. It’s scary to entrust your life into the hands of a man who has absolutely no idea what he wants to do with his own! We should get a clue from the animal kingdom. The female goes with the mate she feels most secure with, the one who proves that he can take care of her and their offspring.

One of the things I really admired about Edric when we were dating was he knew what he wanted. He sat me down when and talked about his 5-year, 10-year plan. Did he have everything figured out? Nope. But there was a plan and I knew where I fit into the plan. I anticipated that there would be bumps along the way but I wasn’t afraid. His compass was pointing in the right direction. I was confident that he would be able to lead me and lead our children.

Just look at him handle a map… :) Doesn’t he look like knows what he is doing? (Such an unnecessary photo at this point but I just wanted to put a picture of him in this post.)

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Over the years, Edric’s 10-year plan got revised a couple of times but always for the better, because God was changing it for his purposes. We’ve gone through some tough times in our marriage and every now and then, these obstacles and challenges present themselves again. However, my trust and confidence are in the Lord who is the center of our relationship. I know Edric walks with him, and I’m trying my best to do the same. Therefore, the present and future glimmer with hope.

If I had married a man whose life-goals were secular, worldly, and whose choices did not honor God, I would feel very insecure about the present and future. (I am saying this to singles people who have not yet committed themselves to a life partner. However, if you are married to the kind of man I have just described, don’t lose heart…with God, nothing is impossible. Pray, pray, pray, and exemplify Christ-likeness in your own home as a testimony to your husband.)

For my single friends, don’t be suckered and waste time giving your heart to a man who has the potential to shatter it. Pay attention to the signs… If you know that a guy has a history of promiscuity and is also sleeping with you, whose idea of fun is getting drunk with his buddies, who has a bad temper, who has no spiritual appetite for God or his word, whose life goals are worldly and devoid of the desire to please God, who tends to make choices that are self-serving…hmmm…wisely consider this reality: Married men don’t miraculously change their ways. They need a heart transplant, in the spiritual sense!

Women don’t have the expertise to rescue a person like that. It takes the Lord. So we are better off waiting for that moment to happen way before any sort of commitment is made or moving on entirely.

Good looks, athleticism, charm, wealth, popularity — traits that women tend to find attractive — can camouflage the real man. So pray for discernment. Be realistic about 10 to 20 years from now and ask yourself, is this the kind of man I want to give my heart to and raise children with? Are our values aligned?

Let’s not trade the more valuable qualities for the lesser, temporal ones that may even become our very source of pain. Imagine how sad it would be to marry a handsome and rich man who peacocks himself to other women!

Furthermore, we need to be “femininely” investigative. Use those powers of observation to see how a man responds to stress, relates with people (especially his family), spends or invests his money, uses his time, and follows through when assigned a task in ministry or his job. If he belongs to an accountability group, or a discipleship group, as we call it in our church, gather some information about him through discreet sources. If he owns his own company, find out what his business ethics are like and what others have to say about him. It’s common to be so enthralled by a person and get smoke-screened by traits that we find so attractive. But we have to look deeper and pay attention to what surrounds a man – the people, the history, the influences, the circumstances. What impact does he have on others and how is he impacted by the world around him? What choices define him?

When my sister, Candy, was interested in a guy while she was at dental school in San Francisco, she wanted my parents to meet him. Candy thought he was a nice guy — good-looking, musically inclined, intelligent. She was raving about him and talking about how amazing he was. But she wanted to see what my parents thought. So they took her and her boyfriend out to dinner. During dinner, my parents asked Candy’s boyfriend a lot of questions, particularly about his plans and what he wanted to do with his life. During this dinner the poor guy hardly ate, but it proved to be a very critical moment for Candy. She realized that he wasn’t the kind of man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. He had no compass.

Later on, my dad suggested that she consider Jeff (her husband today). Jeff wasn’t an option at the time because he was in a relationship. But my father said, “He’s not yet married!” In other words, there was still hope. Not too long after, Jeff got out of his relationship and started hanging out with Candy. Their friendship blossomed into a romantic one and well, long story short, they are married with two sons and another baby on the way. Both of them love God and have a great marriage. Oh, and the cutest sons!

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I’ve laid out the non-negotiables and it’s up to single women to fill in their “negotiables.” This can be anything from the color of a guy’s hair, to his height and build, to the sport he plays, to hobbies, to sense of humour. The list can go on and on (hopefully not too long! Does it really matter what color a guy’s hair is unless you are really big on genes and chromosomes?!)

Be encouraged…It may seem harder and harder to meet a man with outstanding qualities, but remember, there is no telling what a man can become and accomplish when his heart belongs to Christ, especially when he marries someone who strongly supports, faithfully prays, and positively affirms him. At the onset this man may not fit the image of one who has it all by worldly measures, but the potential for extraordinary lies in the inner man. And it is a wise woman who is able to discern this and a prized wife who is able to encourage it.

Next up: HOW TO ATTRACT THE RIGHT KIND OF GUY

Support Me

Edric rarely has to ask me to support him. That’s a given. I do. I want to. But every once in a while I forget what it means to be emotionally supportive and encouraging.

Some days ago, Edric and I were talking about a decision he made that was uncharacteristic of him. I was very upset with him and also concerned that he was not using his time profitably. He had this streak of online computer gaming where I felt like he just lost it. Because he had not done this in a very long time, I wondered if he was okay spiritually.

Whenever Edric doesn’t seem okay spiritually it makes me feel insecure as a wife because I rely on his leadership for our family. (For the most part, he doesn’t give me anything to worry about.)

I ventured to ask, “How are you doing spiritually?”

He was laying on the bed, looking up at the ceiling with his hands behind his head, reflecting on the answer to my question. And then he started to open up to me about the stress in his life as of late, sharing a list of things that have filled up, what he called, his “frustration box.” I listened quietly while holding Catalina in my arms. Most of it had to do with work and our house building. Some of it seemed valid but some of it seemed like unnecessary sources of stress.

I thought I could “help” him get back on track. So I couldn’t wait to share my insights on what he was thinking and feeling. When an opening presented itself, I jumped right in and started going on and on about the kind of perspective he should have…the correct “spiritual” perspective. I didn’t really acknowledge his feelings. I just wanted to identify what he was doing wrong and how he could fix it. It must have been really annoying to listen to me.

I have done this before and it never turned out well.

Edric does not appreciate it when I tell him what he should feel and think. First, he already knows what he should be thinking and feeling. He allows himself to be vulnerable with me because I am his closest confidant. Second, I am not supposed to teach him. That’s the Holy Spirit’s role.

What Edric prefers from me is encouragement. He wants to be able to come away from a conversation with me feeling hopeful about the future. He needs me to cheer him on when he is disappointed with himself.

At a certain point he wanted to drop the conversation and move on because he wasn’t feeling any better. My mistake was I pursued the same approach further. I tried to tell him that he wasn’t listening to good advice from me, that perhaps his pride was getting in the way. I even said, “If you are not willing to listen to me, your wife, who knows you best, then how can you really improve?” There was a voice in me telling me to keep quiet and shut it but I just kept on yackity-yacking away.

Well we both ended up irritated with each other. I was quiet for a while until Edric told me very honestly, “I need you to support me.” He explained that during this instance, he would have appreciated a hug and positive words, not a reiteration of what he was doing wrong.

He even said, “It’s supposed to feel like a safe place when I open up to you.” Instead, he felt bullet-holed by all my statements. He felt like I thought less of him and interpreted his frustrations as weakness.

Of course I had to apologize. I felt terrible. Even if my intentions may have been right, my method was totally ineffective. I discouraged him when I was supposed to be a lifegiver along-side him. And I knew what the problem was. It was a personality difference. I grew up in a home where my father and mother were very much head-over-heart type of people. Therefore I turned out to be pretty much the same. When there is an issue, I want to get to the spiritual solution right away and move on. But if I am not careful, I can come across as unwilling to empathize with what Edric is going through and this hurts him. So I said, “I have to grow in the area of empathy, will you forgive me for not being more understanding?”

Edric is easy. When I admit that I need to change in an area that he would like me too, his heart softens and he becomes very sweet. First, he said sorry for the choices he had been making as of late. Next, he affirmed me by saying, “I want you to always remember three things about me.” (He wanted to tell me this because he knew this discussion’s precursor was my concern about him.)

I will always love you.
I will always take care of you.
I will always be willing to change.

Not long after I came across this passage in Proverbs…

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad. (Proverbs 12:25 NASB)

Sometimes I forget that Edric has a lot to carry on his shoulders. He has his ANC tapings, the homeschool program of TMA, numerous speaking and hosting activities, ministry and our house building to think about. I don’t always realize what it is like for him because he is so busy making sure I don’t have to feel any of his stress. All his hard work makes my life easy. So when the anxiety builds up, he needs my emotional support. He told me “if I can’t open up to you and be vulnerable with you, whom will I be that way with?”

As wives we need to remember that it’s our unique privilege to be encourager to our husbands, to support them with a good word when they need it and make their heart glad. Of all the people in the world, that good word of encouragement matters most from us.

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A Romantic Proposition

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Edric has always been such a romantic. He doesn’t forget an occasion, be it our anniversary, valentines, Mother’s Day, my birthday, etc. Despite his busy schedule, he will find time to surprise me. It’s not always a costly gift, monetarily speaking, but it is something thoughtful and personal. He knows I don’t like generic gestures like flowers and chocolates, so he makes the effort to be creative.

Last year, he collected encouraging letters from friends and family for my birthday. On one occasion, he and the boys did a music video. Another time he got a bunch of artists together to do a portrait of me. Some years ago he cooked me a full course meal and even bought a chef’s hat to wear (he does not cook at all!). After I gave birth to Tiana, he booked a room for us at Shang-rila and we went to the spa at the hotel so I could relax. He thought I needed a break.

I also remember an instance when he and Elijah tried to make a New York cheesecake for me. He and the kids went to the grocery to pick out ingredients and he had no idea what to look for. In fact, he had to keep asking me questions like,”Where would I find something like cream cheese?” When he and the kids got home I caught them crushing graham crackers all over the dining table. The crumbs were flying everywhere but I thought it was the sweetest mess I had ever seen.

One of my more favorite presents was a laminated card that he made which he said entitled me to 10 special privileges. Any time I pulled out that card, I could claim a privilege. Things like…him paying for my credit card bill without being irritated even if I overspent. (I didn’t abuse this one.)

Yesterday, for Mother’s Day, he had the kids write me letters. The theme was, “How do I love thee, let me count the ways…” The older boys wrote out words using the alphabet as an acrostic. When I woke up they all climbed into our bed to greet me and they handed me their letters. What a treat! The most priceless gifts that I have received from Edric and the kids have been these sort of thoughtful gifts.

He told me that since he didn’t have work on Monday, he would do something special for me because we celebrated Mother’s Day with his family and mine on Sunday. Well, this morning when I woke up, I was surprised to find Edric playing on a PS3 console he borrowed from my brother. I felt badly because he was completely engrossed and preoccupied with the game when he had originally said to me, “Today will be your day because I am free.”

Instead, he was caught up in his own world and oblivious to everyone around him. He did not even wait for me to have breakfast with him which he usually insists on.

Well, I did not make a big deal out of it. I ate breakfast, read my Bible then took a nap because I didn’t sleep too well last night. Instead of nagging Edric, I just prayed that God would convict him.

After my nap, which really did not count because I had two boys playing on their violins in the same room and two other kids asking me questions like I was not asleep, I went to the refrigerator to snack on 5 prunes. Edric was still on the couch. He saw me go to the kitchen.

I did not want to be a pestering wife, so I just went back to the bedroom. Edric followed soon after and asked me what I wanted to do today. “Oh, I thought you had something planned…” He wondered if i was mad at him and I replied, “No, I am not mad. I am just surprised that you started the day off by playing on the PS3 when you said that you had something planned for today. But you can do whatever you want to do. It’s your choice.” I didn’t say it like I was angry but I didn’t say it with a big grin either!

A while later, he asked if he could talk to me. Hmm…I knew this was going to be a profound conversation because he wanted me to drop everything else. I lay down on the bed beside him and he held my face as he said, “I was convicted to return the console. It’s not good for me. I have addictive tendencies. And I just want you to know that I love you. That will be my Mother’s Day gift to you.” I started to tear a little because of pregnancy hormones again, but this is the real reason why…

Edric immensely enjoys playing NBA 2K13 on the PS3. It’s the only game he likes to play and he wanted to practice for a tournament he is having with some guys friends. But he got rid of his own PS3 a long time ago so getting to borrow my brother’s was exciting for him. Instead of going over to someone else’s house to practice, it was now accessible to him. He planned to return it after May 17, when their tournament was over. I had my own thoughts about this but I didn’t want to burst his bubble.

This morning, when he told me that he was giving back the console, I knew that it was hard for him to make that decision. It wasn’t a life and death matter but it was an activity that brought him delight and joy, and yet, he felt like it wasn’t profitable for his soul or our family to have it around the house. Our kids don’t play on consoles so it is not a family value or culture that we have encouraged either.

Personally, I feel there is nothing more romantic than Edric having his priorities in order — his own spiritual health, the kids and I. That’s what matters to me. When he has the right priorities, he is sweet, tender, and thoughtful. He puts the concerns of others above his own. So I thought that giving up the PS3 today as a Mother’s Day gift was a very romantic proposition!

If you are reading this because your wife handed this article to you (sorry about that, some readers confess to me that they do this sort of thing), well just hear me out for a bit. In marriage, it is easy to get complacent about the romance. But the reality is a wife’s needs pretty much stay the same. We all have a basic and predictable need. We like to feel special, cherished and appreciated by our husbands. It’s the way we are wired. Much of our security is tied up to the way our husbands treat us. Of course, ultimately the Lord should be our sense of security, but God also commanded husbands to love their wives for a reason. It’s important!

Just because a man has put a ring on a woman’s finger does not mean his “job” is over. This is when the real work of nurturing a wife actually begins.

The Bible says, so husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, (Ephesians 5:28, 29 NASB)

If you feel like your husband isn’t very nourishing or cherishing, don’t loose heart and please don’t nag him about it. This is a conviction that God has to put in his heart. Don’t contrive to do so yourself or it will backfire. Trust me, I have tried that approach and it doesn’t work. But prayer and waiting on the Lord does! (And doing your part to fulfill your own role.) :)

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When He Feels Like A King

(Written with permission from Edric and recently edited to remove the cynical parts that I felt were unnecessary and detracted from the main point. Ahhh, the blessings of blogging!)

Some weeks ago, I wrote an article about husbands and their cave man time. I understand that Edric needs occasions during the week to unwind and do something that refuels his “tank.” Recently, hanging out with his cousin playing NBA on a PS3 has been it. He will get together with him once a week or once every two weeks and they will go for hours and hours challenging each other. Meanwhile, I stay at home with the kids and chill with them. After they go to bed, I have my own version of cave man time — meditative silence. No one needs me, no one is clamouring for my attention. Being alone like this gives me opportunity to write, research, and read. Heaven.

As much as I have wanted to give Edric his man-space, when I found out that he and his cousin had organised a PS3, NBA tournament with a bunch of other guys, I wasn’t thrilled. I was worried that it would become something more frequent.

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The thing is, about five or so years ago, Edric had an issue with computer gaming. He had a nightly habit of using the PS3 he had to play NBA. I was worried about the example he was giving to the children and his own spiritual health. It seemed to make him edgier and more abrasive as a person, probably because he was pumped up with adrenalin and testosterone. So I actually prayed really hard that the machine would break.

A few weeks later, the PS3 had a supernatural encounter with ants. They infested the console and destroyed it. Edric tried to get it fixed two or three times by a questionable and strange genius who worked in Shoppesville, Greenhills. The guy named “Val” happened to have long nails on one hand or finger (one of those) which he probably used to unscrew bolts on all sorts of gadgets. Yet, for all his celebrated ability, the best he could do was get the console to work for 5 minutes. The fan would overheat and shut down after 5 minutes and Edric would have to re-start it. Of course, this was ridiculous…so ridiculous, Edric decided to sell it. Yeah! He knew I had prayed about his gaming and we laughed about the entire incident because it turned into a comedy. The great news was, he didn’t replace it and for years and years and computer gaming was not in his radar.

When he started playing again, not as a daily habit or in the addictive sense, but as an occasional fun activity that he can enjoy with friends, I made it into an issue. He said, “Remember you wrote about cave man time? Your reaction to playing computer games seems like a contradiction to what you said in that article.” At that moment, I wanted to delete my cave man article, and all articles he could possibly cite! He was using it against me, but I knew that he was right, too. Guys really do need their creative outlets and it’s a blessing that Edric’s happens to be something “safe.” What is playing a sports game once a week (and outside of the house) for a couple of hours if it will de-stress and energize my husband? I was being a bit irrational…maybe even hormonal.

On the day of the “big” tournament, I watched Edric as he ate his breakfast that morning, as he chatted with his friends over the phone while discussing last minute details for the tournament venue. His countenance was marked by an obvious delight and excitement. My heart started to soften.

Look at his smile, I thought. This really fills him. It’s clean fun. He’s not the kind of guy that has a vice that you need to worry about. Be happy for him. You spend time on facebook and amazon from time to time. That’s pretty useless. Okay, okay…whew, let me process this.

I decided to do the one thing that always works to calm my spirit. I prayed! “Lord, if my heart is wrong, please change it. If Edric is wrong then please convict him. I don’t want this to be a continuing source of tension between us.”

My attitude did change! It was strange. Edric said he would be done before midnight and I wished him a great time. “Bring home the trophy, babe!” I called out and meant it!

That night I enjoyed being with the kids. They all bunked in our bedroom. I actually fell asleep before some of them did…like 9:30pm. But at 2:30 am, I woke up and realized that Edric wasn’t home yet. Since I expected him to be back before midnight, I tried to call him just to check and see if he was alright. He did not answer so I figured he was still preoccupied with a game. It’s amazing that I didn’t feel like panicking. I just texted him. “Are you safe? Are you okay?” He replied, “Sorry I missed your call. Yes, don’t worry. On my last game.”

I found out that he got home at 3:45 am. And miracle of miracles, I didn’t feel like rubbing it in. He had a class to attend at 8:30 am and it was a wonder that he was able to make it. Anticipating that his fatigue would surely kick in by noon, I prepared him lunch to eat in the bedroom; turned on the AC so it would be comfortable when he arrived; and when he got home, I asked if he was alright, if there was anything I could do for him, and informed him that the room was prepared so he could rest. He looked at me like he had just had an alien encounter. “Who are you?” he asked jokingly. “Are you my wife? What did you do to her?” He couldn’t believe I was so supportive and understanding. He went on to say, “Why are you doing all this? You are treating me like a king. I like it!”

I really couldn’t understand it either. I was cheerful, sing-songy, asking him about how the tournament went like I was really interested…Why was I so supportive and understanding? It was flabbergasting. Of course, the answer was it simply wasn’t me. It was the Holy Spirit giving me a desire to take care of him and serve him. For those of you who have followed this blog, you know that service is my least favorite language of love, but it is the one thing that my husband appreciates most from me. So this was definitely not me, it was God’s grace!

I WANTED him to feel like a king. And you know what? He was the one who said, “I played too long last night. This is not sustainable. I can’t do that again. We really have to impose a time limit with the guys.” That was from the Lord, too! There must really be something to this gentle and quiet spirit that the Lord asks wives to put on! ;)

A woman in our church shared about “killing your husband with kindness.” She was married to an infidel and adulterer, but instead of harboring bitterness and anger towards him, she was an outstanding example of what it means to be a Christ-follower. As a result, her husband repented, turned his life over to the Lord, and became a pastor with a ministry that is incredibly effective.

In reference to this, Edric used the same line with me as he was sitting on the bed, drinking his warm soup. “You killed me with kindness, hon.” And we both laughed. (He really isn’t a bad husband at all so the statement didn’t exactly apply, but I knew what he meant.)

For the rest of the day, I made sure the kids didn’t disturb Edric because he needed to catch up on sleep. After he woke up, he was beaming. He couldn’t wait to spend time with me and he kept talking about how blessed he was that I took care of him.

Do I like computer games now? Nope. But I know my husband and I trust that he has his priorities in order. More importantly, I know that God holds him accountable. It is in the Lord’s department to bring about conviction.

I love the Lord and I love Edric. I want to support and respect Edric because God asks that of me, even when I don’t always like his choices. I’ve tried the vindictive route too many times, where I use angry silence, nag about what is right, withhold intimacy, or speak and act in disrespectful ways to communicate my disappointment. (Women have many weapons of mass destruction but they tend to backfire.) Truthfully, I am blessed with a wonderful, godly husband. But when I see areas that concern me, I’m learning over and over again that prayer is the best way to minister to him. Prayer is power not only to change the heart of the one I am interceding for, but the power to change me, too!

God knows I need to improve on being a gentle and quiet spirit. It’s a moment by moment challenge. One day I can write an article like this and seem like such an angel and the next day, I am the complete opposite! But such is the Christian life. I can do nothing apart from the Holy Spirit’s enabling. Prayer keeps me connected to him.

Prayer helps me to treat Edric like a king — honored and held in high regard as he should be. And let me just add that when my husband feels like a king, I get treated like a queen. It is certainly a nice bonus!

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Stinky Shorts

1 Peter 3:3-4 says,Your adornment must not be merely external-braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

How encouraging to know that it is not the externals that matter to God. What is precious to him is the hidden person of the heart — who we are inside. But I struggle with the idea of a gentle and quiet spirit. I want to have this imperishable quality. I mean, wow, it sounds like the secret to lasting beauty! However, it is a challenge to be gracious and humble when I feel like my rights are violated or when I am disrespected, or to be kind and be a blessing when people or circumstances annoy me.

A gentle and quiet spirit conjures up an image of someone who is at peace, at rest, one who is not easily agitated or reactive, choosing to bless when cursed, choosing to love when wounded, self-controlled and able to temper her emotions. I have a lurking fiery spirit that comes out from time to time. But my prayer is to be more consistent about being a quiet and gentle spirit. Of course, God gives me many opportunities to practice applying this. He knows I need the practice!

A few days ago Edric was correcting me about leaving his basketball shorts on the floor. I started to make excuses about why the laundry hadn’t been done and suggested that he was being a little bit nit-picky. He said, “pregnant or not pregnant, you need to get your household duties done. I have equipped you with the resources and house help to get these things done.”

I began to defend myself. “You know I push myself, hon. I am not the type of pregnant person that complains or excuses herself. But you are getting upset about the laundry not being done when we couldn’t possibly get the laundry done because we have been out of the home for the last few days.” There were some holes in my argument. I didn’t want to admit that it was my responsibility. As I was giving my defense, I caught myself…Why am I explaining myself? Why can’t I just admit that I need to improve? So I said, “Okay hon, I will improve.” It is amazing how these few words said in a respectful manner can melt the heart of a husband. He didn’t say anything but he stopped talking about his shorts and the laundry.

Sitting silently on the bed, I prayed and made my appeal to God. A gentle and quiet spirit doesn’t mean you have to be silent inside! I was honest with the Lord about my feelings and frustration. “Can you help Edric to be more understanding? I don’t want to get angry. I don’t want to react.” I did not want to disrespect Edric or begin a conflict with him over stinky basketball shorts. Being able to tell God how I felt was spiritually soothing and emotionally calming.

I walked to the living room and hung out there for a bit to write. In a few minutes, Edric came out and followed me to the couch I was lounging on. He put his arms around me, hugged me and said, “I think I need to be sweeter when I am correcting you. I think it will make a big difference if my tone is more loving. I noticed that a lot of times you react to me because I don’t say things in a kind way. I want to change that.”

Oh my goodness! That was fast, Lord! I hugged Edric back and thanked him for saying that. I admitted to him that I was praying hard that I wouldn’t react. He replied, “I was praying you wouldn’t react either!” We both started to laugh as we recalled what happened when I threw the remote control the week before.

Marriage is really a riot sometimes. I am crazy in love with Edric but I do not always get along with him or agree with his perspective. However, Jesus is the glue that holds us together. He helps us both to change and grow, and he gives us the desire to keep loving one another.

I honestly don’t know how any marriage can survive without Christ in it. I am not talking about marriages where couples stay married for the principle of it but can’t stand each other. I am talking about marriages where couples are able to work out their differences, seek out spiritual solutions, and find that there is more love, more joy, and more adventures to share together after decades have passed.

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Edric and I have just barely passed a decade of marriage. I would like to be able to look back fifty years from now and still say that I am happily married. And I can’t see that happening unless Edric and I commit to love God and follow him faithfully. So far, so good. But I have to do my part by obeying his principles. One of them is being a wife that cultivates a gentle and quiet spirit.

During a recent quiet time, I read this passage: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? (Romans 8:31, 32 NASB)

God is for me. It helps to remember that God is committed to helping me become Christ-like. He uses circumstances and people to reveal my weaknesses and work on my character. He uses Edric. He uses my kids. He uses this pregnancy and the hormones that make me wacko. But most of all, he makes himself available to me so I can run to him. A gentle and quiet spirit is not from me. It is from him.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NASB)

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Love is Not Convenient

When you serve me, it makes me fall in love with you again a million times! This was Edric’s dramatic statement as he kissed me a few mornings ago before leaving for work.

His language of love is service. (Dr. Gary Chapman talks about 5 Love Languages — Time, Touch, Affirmation, Gifts and Service.) I had hoped that service would NOT have been IT for him. But God is a matchmaker extraordinaire. He gave me a husband who deeply desires to be served because he knows that I have to improve in this area.

In contrast, I am more about self-service. I grew up in a home where my mom taught us to serve ourselves. If we needed a glass of water, we knew where the refrigerator was. It was no mystery. If we wanted a snack, we knew where to find the popcorn or peanuts. (Yes, that’s about all my mom gave us to snack on. My parents didn’t like to feed us a lot of junk food.) My mom did not want us to grow up dependent on househelp. So she taught my siblings and I to do the laundry, iron clothes, cook, bake, wash the dishes, make our beds, straighten our rooms, pick up after ourselves, clean the showers and toilets, etc.

But here is a big HOWEVER. I knew how to do all the domestic stuff and yet, this didn’t translate to joyful service on my part when I got married. I didn’t mind cooking, laundry, cleaning, but I would grumble when Edric made requests that seemed “above and beyond the scope of my responsibilities.” Late night massages, a glass of water when I was already tucked in bed, second dinners…Most of the time, I would do what he asked but I would be huffing and puffing inside.

Part of the issue for me was my interpretation of his requests. I felt that there were instances when he was insensitive. For example, I would be at the buffet table holding several plates to get food for the kids. After getting back to the table, Edric, would ask me something like, “Hon, can you get me salad?” And I would feel very hurt. Seriously?! Did you not see me octopusing four plates?! It is not like you can’t do it for yourself

I know Edric. He doesn’t intentionally want to make my life miserable. He is an incredibly loving person. But he DOES want to be served by me and that’s not going to change. There would be instances when I would catch him standing in front of the refrigerator or peering into the cabinet where the snacks are kept and I would be shocked to see him serving himself. (Because he rarely visits the kitchen, it seems odd when he is moving about in it.) I asked him one time, “How do you know where the snacks are?” His reply was, “I know where everything is, I just choose to be helpless when you are around.” We both laughed because this is so true! He calls it “giving me the privilege of serving him.” Oh really?! Well, over the years, I have learned to accept that this is the way he likes to be loved by me. End of discussion.

God has a way of giving you the very spouse you need to develop your character. When I have thoughts like, Why does Edric have to be like that or like this?! God reminds me, “his personality is exactly what you need to grow in character so be thankful because I hand picked him for you. He is my instrument to transform you into Christ-likeness. You need him! So accept his desire for service with joy! Service is something I want you to learn.”

When I read my bible the morning I began writing this entry, I came across the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. I have read this passage many times but in light of my meditations on serving my husband, I began to weep.

Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end… got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. (John 13:1, 4, 5 NASB)

I fall so short of God’s standard of selfless service! Jesus was about to suffer a most painful death knowing “His Hour” had come. He was well aware of how his disciples would abandon him. And yet he wanted to give of himself to those he loved…to stoop down and clean their feet, an act that was for the lowliest of servants, a job that no one wanted to do.

Wow, I am not like this! But this is the kind of heart that God wants me to develop, not merely towards Edric but towards everyone.

“…You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28 NASB)

I am not going to pretend to be a perfect helpmate to Edric. Even though I try to serve him with gladness, I mess up every now and then when I let my selfishness get the better of me. But through the years, God has been teaching me the secret to serving the way he wants me to. It is about humility, dying to my self-centeredness, not keeping “tabs”, rejecting the idea that it must always be fair. Above all, it is focusing on Jesus’ example. He put our interests and needs above his. He valued our lives before his own.

The Bible says, Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-9 NASB)

This is an impossible, divine standard that requires God’s grace at work in me. If I do not walk with the Lord, I cannot love Edric so selflessly. Beyond the choice to humble myself, it is recognizing my inability to do this unless I come before the Lord and say, “Teach me to delight to serve Edric.”

In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “Father, not my will but yours be done.” Well, I need to have the same mindset. “Lord, help me not to think of what I want all the time but what you want me to do, what you want me to become.”

Love so very often requires doing what is sacrificial. It is not convenient. It is not easy. It means giving of yourself even when you don’t feel like it, when you feel like it is unfair, and when the person you are choosing to love behaves in undeserving ways. If you cannot accept these realities, don’t get married! Don’t have children. Don’t have friends. Live on an island with coconuts for company.

There is no human relationship on this earth that will not require us, at some point, to make a sacrifice. But be encouraged by this: Whatever we give up for Christ, we gain immeasurably more in this life or the life to come. My dad used to say, “If you really think about it, there are no martyrs in God’s kingdom.” God says he is a rewarder of those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6) The blessings may not always be immediate, but they are certain.

How does God reward me when I delight to serve Edric? A happy, well-served husband is an amazing person to live with! When Edric feels like he is prioritized and important, he bubbles over with happiness. There is renewed inspiration to be tender, sweet, and caring towards me.

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As wonderful as it is to hear Edric say, “I feel so in love with you,” ultimately, I don’t do things for him. I want God’s favor! I want his presence in my life! So my hope is in God and in his goodness when I do things like wake up early to pack Edric his lunch, walk to the refrigerator half asleep to get him a glass of water, or massage his feet before going to bed (I outsource this to Massage r Us every now and then, he he). Getting the googley-eyed lovey dovey glances are a great bonus but even if I may not always get this kind of a response, I know this…“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. (Lamentations 3:24, 25 NASB)

38 Year-Long Honeymoon

This past weekend, Edric and I were at a couple’s retreat. Edric was assigned to speak about the topic, “Romancing Your Spouse.” He shared about some of the crazy things he has done for me like this: Real Men Surprise Their Dates .

But his main point was that romance is NOT about the grand or extraordinary things we do for our spouse. That may be part of it, but it is so much more about the unconditional love we give daily.

Out of curiosity, we asked our children how they define romance between two people. This was their adorable list of romantic things that couples do:

You love each other
You love God
You read your bible together
You eat together
You have personal talks with each other You walk together
You listen to each other’s ideas even if you don’t always like each other’s ideas
You tell the truth to each other
You never shout at each other
You always forgive each other
You serve each other
You take care of each other
You have fun with each other
You play games with each other
You exercise together
You kiss and hug
You go out on dates
You talk to each other nicely
You respect each other
You give us an example of love so we can also love each other

Their perspective was very simple and pure, but it sounded a lot like 1 Corinthians 13… Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. (1 Corinthians 13:1-8 NASB)

During his talk Edric shared this list and he also shared how husbands can “romance” their wives. But I particularly liked what he said the wives can do. “Wives can unconditionally love their husbands by being appreciative.”

It is powerfully motivating to hear a wife say, “I really believe in you, hon. I really appreciate how hard you work and the effort you put into providing for our needs. I want you to know that you are such an amazing man and I am so blessed to be your wife.” Okay, so if that isn’t exactly accurate for your husband, then tweak it a little.

The point is, be an encouraging and positive wife. And you will inspire your husband to romance you daily!

As women, we often expect our husbands do all the “work” when it comes to romance. We want them to take us out, buy us gifts, remember occasions, and make Romeo and Juliet-like professions of love. But maybe they don’t do this anymore because they are not inspired to. Maybe our negativity and expectations de-motivate them.

I used to be hurt when Edric stopped opening the door for me. This was early on in our marriage. One day, I said, “Things have changed, huh?” I started to go on an historical account of how he used to do this and do that when we were dating. It wasn’t a good move. Instead of “convicting” him to change, he was annoyed.

So I decided I was going to be a more positive wife…to compliment and appreciate even the small stuff. One incident I particularly remember was when we were in Baguio years ago, before we ever had kids. We rode in one of those scary old boats in Burnham park. Edric had to row us across the lake and we were with some friends. I was so impressed with how he adeptly maneuvered the rickety blue boat we were in, like a sexy gondolier (pinoy-style), and I said, “Hon, you are so strong!” Of course, his friends busted out in hilarious laughter. But I meant it and Edric loved it! It became a standing joke among us friends that carried on for years. Yet, I learned a very important principle that day which has affected the way I relate to Edric. I affirm him even for the little things. And he has told me many times that it matters.

It matters because it makes him feel like I really trust him and his capacity. It matters because he feels energized and empowered. It matters because, next to the Lord, my opinion of him is the most important. I can either tear him down or encourage him to achieve and pursue his dreams, his passions, his God-given calling.

One of the best examples of this kind of wifely approach to romancing a husband has been my mom. Butterflies, bubbles, and beautiful roses come out of her mouth when she speaks. Obviously, I am exaggerating. But she truly is a positive person.

I didn’t inherit this genetic trait because this is a spirit-filled thing, not hereditary. (So I have to practice being spirit-filled to be consistently positive. Otherwise, the Jezebel horns come out.) My mom modeled being affirming towards my dad ever since I was a wee-little-Joy. My dad would often say, “Your mom is always smiling and positive.” I saw how it affected the dynamics of their relationship. Even though my dad wasn’t the kind of guy that does crazy things for love, he certainly treasured and cherished my mom. He still does.

This morning I had breakfast with some dear friends and we discussed what it means to be appreciative of our husbands. Someone said, “When I do that, my husband tends to slack off and get complacent.” I love this friend very much but I didn’t agree with her perspective. First of all, it is not our duty to reign in our husbands and keep them on some sort of leash so they “behave” the way we want them to. Secondly, their response is not our problem. It is God’s problem. He will deal with them. We are accountable to be life givers to our husbands. Proverbs tells us, “She (a wife) does him (her husband) good and not evil all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:12 NASB) If a husband does get complacent, the real issue is that he has a heart problem and that is something that God will have to fix.

As wives, we need to remember that we do things “as unto the Lord.” Focusing on our husbands tends to make our obedience to biblical principles conditional. Like, I will be a good wife if my husband does his part. That is not the relational economy the Bible is talking about. It’s not, I give my 50% and you give your 50% so we can have a 100% marriage. It is give your 100% regardless and hope in God’s promises to bless you and your marriage.

Well, the couples retreat was certainly timely for Edric and me. We have probably been to almost 10 of these over the years, but we still learn so much and we get to review principles we have been neglecting. I also think one of the most encouraging things about attending a retreat with others who have been married for a varying number of years is this: Marriage goes through different seasons as the years go by, but it is possible to stay in the “honeymoon stage” or return to it when a husband and wife are committed to keep God at the center of their marriage, and apply His principles for loving one another.

The last evening of the retreat, my dad led the renewal of vows for the couples that were at the banquet. After we all listened to Mark Schultz’s song, “Time of My Life,” he turned to my mom who was at the table nearest the stage. And he said, “Deonna, you are the only girl I will ever love.” My gushing mom had tears in her eyes.

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I have watched my mom and dad’s marriage closely. And I have seen the not so perfect aspects, but these are very few and rare. What I do know is they have been married 38 sweet years and they still think they are in their honeymoon stage. It certainly makes me look forward to growing old with Edric. I hope we can someday say it’s been a 38-year long honeymoon and counting…

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Stone Throwing: The Ugly Sport of Married People

My father used to tell me that Christians often err in two ways — on the side of legalism and on the side of licentiousness. Both extremes turn people off to Jesus. The first is grace-less living and the second is grace-abuse.

But oh, is it ever so hard to find that middle ground — to be grace-filled. A grace-filled person understands that she is a sinner saved by grace but still prone to sin, yet able to have victory by the power of the Holy Spirit and by the grace which God supplies.

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10 NASB)

A grace-filled person is also a dispenser of grace to others – one who chooses to love others, unconditionally accepts them (flaws and all), and commits to seek their highest good.

Through the years of discipling other women, I have, on several occasions, erred on the side of legalism. I have been a judge dispensing hypocrite. There have been instances when someone will open up to me about a sin they are struggling with or the same problem they keep repeating and I will think to myself, Really? Why haven’t you graduated from this error?

But so very often, God uses marriage and parenting to remove the Pharisee in me. My husband corrects me and my childen correct me. And my daily dealings with them remind me that I don’t have any right to cast the first stone at anyone. When I found out that a woman I am discipling is pregnant for the second time with the same boyfriend who got her pregnant the first time, I was tempted to lecture her and give her a sermon on purity and obedience. But God told me to hug her instead and tell her that we should get together one-on-one. She cried when I hugged her. She knew she made a mistake. She did not need me to humiliate her. When people are in sin, they need God’s grace, and we need to dispense that grace to bring them back to the Lord. This is different than saying that sin is okay. It is saying, “hey, we are all sinners and we all need Jesus to change and transform us.”

The bible tells us…

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5 NASB)

But I will tell you what my bigger struggle is. It is judging my husband. I can be judgmental towards Edric. With others, I have learned to be careful about what I say and understand where they are coming from. Yet, with Edric, there are instances when that scornful, judgmental me resurrects and sticks out it’s ugly head. I bring out the stones. I start hurling them (most of the time in my head, but still…)

Just last night I was irritated because Edric asked me to get him food when I was about to sleep. What? Argh! How can he be so insensitive and so helpless?! Doesn’t he care that I am about to hit REM?! I would not ask him to be so inconvenienced for me!

He was probably expecting a nice sandwich, but it was 10:30 pm, and I did not have the energy to make something. So we went to the refrigerator together and I let him pick out what he wanted from the visible options. He said he wanted yoghurt and pineapple. He took the yoghurt and went back to the bedroom, and I brought him the pineapple and a fork. I settled back into bed beside him, and he jokingly said something like, “Wow, I didn’t know you could eat yoghurt with a fork.” He was kidding around but the translation was, “I also need a spoon. Please go get me one.”

I dramatically threw the covers off and went back into the kitchen. Grumble, grumble, grumble. I think I even said, “You treat me like a slave.” I was partially kidding, but I wanted to say it aloud so I did. The spoons were twenty inches away from him when he got his yoghurt and he didn’t bother to take one! Come on!

In the meantime, Edric was still on our bed waiting for me. I chucked the spoon onto the pillow beside him and jumped back in bed, turning to the other side.

Lord, what are you teaching me? Am I under spiritual attack because we are giving a talk about marriage this weekend? Why do I get so irritated when Edric asks me to serve him? Why don’t I delight to be a helpmate to him in this way?

The answer was simple. When I am reactive towards his requests for service, I JUDGE HIM. I think he is being insensitive, unkind, selfish, and unloving when he asks me to do things that are inconvenient…like massages when I am really tired, or water when I am about to go to bed, or last minute help on ministry activities or errands which become my burden because they were not handled ahead of time…

Last night, after I served him with such a bad attitude, he was so sweet and tender towards me. He hugged me. I did not deserve a hug for all the vile thoughts that I had been thinking. And I realized that he really likes my attention and company, and he really likes to be served by me. It makes him feel loved and respected.

So what is my problem? What is the “log in my own eye”? I am a selfish hypocrite. I don’t like to be inconvenienced by him. I like him to take care of me but I don’t like it when he asks me to take care of him when it requires effort.

This morning, I started to think of all the ways that Edric is inconvenienced to take care of me and the kids. He works hard everyday, he tires himself out, he deals with the stress of financial provision, trouble-shooting business problems, and leading the family. And these are responsibilities he chooses to bear with faithfulness and commitment. He has never complained about having to do these things.

Well, it was humbling to realize this, and I felt stupid. He came home from an incredibly tiring day hoping to hang out and possibly get a 10:30 pm meal. All I offered him was yoghurt and some pineapple slices, and without a spoon, too!

I sent my husband a message to ask for forgiveness. “I am sorry for being so difficult about serving you last night. I had a bad attitude and I was being selfish and judgmental. Will you forgive me? Thanks for being such a wonderful husband and sacrificing so much to take care of me. Please forgive me for not being appreciative enough.”

My prayer is that I will be a grace-filled wife, a true helpmate to my husband who desires to meet his needs with joy. Marriage should be a happy place without room for the hurtfulness of judgmentalism. I’ve got to put my stones away. My mom always says, “lower expectation, and raise appreciation” toward your spouse. I have to keep remembering that and applying it because I am prone to think negatively of my husband when I hold him to a set of expectations. Appreciation of him, on the other hand, compels and motivates me to be a better wife. And that’s what I want to be. :)

As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:3-11 NLT)

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The REAL Cutest Newsman

My husband, Edric, has been a host of a show called On the Money for the last couple of weeks. It airs 3:30, 6:30 and 11 on weekdays on ANC with replays on weekends.

How it all came to be was really quite miraculous and God-ordained. It wasn’t anything that either of us was expecting, but there was clear leading from the Lord, from his word, wise counselors, and circumstances to venture into this unchartered territory. His main motivation was to allow God to use it as a platform for ministry and influence.

He’s kind of been taking it step-by-step, show-by-show, without giving much thought to the implications on people’s perception of him as a TV personality. In the first place, popularity was not his goal. But being on ANC every single day and several times a day has given him a lot of “face” time. He was even voted as “Cutest” Newsman of 2012 by Spot.ph.

Whoa! This was surprising news to him when he heard about it this morning. It had a bit of a “showbizzy” feel to the whole blurb about him. Frankly, I didn’t think it really captured who he is. I wish they had let me write the article! It was really more about his physical appearance. But Spot.ph did say that this was all about brainless fun.

When he told me this morning, he was laughing and said he was actually embarrassed. “Are you sure you’re not flattered?” I teased him. “No way! That’s the last thing I would want to be recognized for!”

I believed him. He doesn’t like that kind of attention. It’s sort of anti-thetical to what he would like to be known for (if at all). I know he’d rather be known as someone who passionately loves God and lives for him. But they don’t give out awards for that, at least not on TV. That would be the day!

He does hope that the show, On the Money, will help Filipinos to better manage their finances. And beyond that, he is looking forward to how God will expand his borders for the sake of the gospel.

It is definitely challenging to be in the media. For example, I watched his interview about being voted “Cutest Newsman” and everything he said about God was cut out when they wrote about him online. That’s to be expected, of course. So the best way he can represent his beliefs and views about faith is to be excellent at what he does so that people will care enough to listen. And that’s my prayer for him. That’s his prayer for himself.

I’ve put my “friend” hat on (which I do as a wife when he needs a confidant or someone to bounce off ideas with), and we have talked about whether being a TV host will conflict with his priorities – God, wife, children, work, ministry (in that order). And we have talked about whether it will detract from his homeschooling advocacy. We have also discussed what the gains will be, as well as the possible pitfalls. (Thankfully, ANC values integrity and wants it’s personalities to do the same. At least it seems that way.) We’ve both come to the conclusion that the biggest temptation is really pride.

At the end of the day, Edric doesn’t want being on TV to change the core of who he is. I don’t want it to either. He didn’t even want to look at the Twitter feeds or Facebook comments of people who were talking about him being voted “Cutest Newsman.” It was partly because he found it silly, but partly because he didn’t want to focus on that and get a big head about it. I was the one who wanted to look at all the comments while we were playing a board game with the kids. But the kids were like, “Mom, you are violating our game rules. No Ipads.” Geez…so strict!

There we were, playing a board game as a family, and Edric was fully present and engaged, focused on the children, on all of us.

Cutest newsman or not, I’m blessed to be married to Edric Mendoza. He does look good on camera but I’m more thankful that he’s got a good heart, a heart that loves the Lord, that loves his family. I know the world doesn’t care much about this. But the kids and I do.

The Canned Goods of Disobedience

On our way to church to help out with relief efforts for flood victims, I asked my husband, Edric, if we could buy canned goods to donate. He was okay with the idea, but he suggested that we get them at the grocery near our place, which we knew for sure would be open. However, I insisted that we go to the grocery near our church so we wouldn’t have a hard time hauling the boxes. He told me, “I don’t think it will be open.” I was like, “Of course it will be. Why would they close that grocery on a day when they know people need to buy groceries?”

Our kids were listening to our dialogue in the back seat. And I didn’t realize they were paying very close attention to the way I responded to Edric. I wasn’t impolite at all, but I really wanted him to consider my suggestion. I thought it was way more practical and sensible. Again he said, “I think it will be closed.” In response, I said, “Well if its closed, maybe our plan B can be to donate money instead?”

Edric was willing to go with that. And I was still so sure that plan A would still work. When we got there, my second son, Edan, announced, “It’s closed!”

Oops…

Sheepishly, I turned towards Edric and apologized. He went to withdraw money at the ATM and I got grilled by my two older sons.

“You should have obeyed, mom!” “See, you should have listened to daddy, he’s the boss.” “Next time, just obey.”

Was this even an issue of obedience? I thought to myself. We were discussing options and I merely insisted on my idea. Okay, it looked like I wasn’t obedient, like I was insubordinate. Lesson learned. Boy, was this humbling. Edric didn’t have to say anything. He had his little “officers” standing beside him giving me that see-what-happens-look.

“You’re right, boys. I should have obeyed.”

God has his ways of teaching me to trust in my husband. The funny thing is I don’t really struggle with the big submission issues. It’s the small day to day things that I can be contradictory about.

I remember an instance when I was going to Divisoria and Edric saw me about to leave the door wearing slippers. Our dialogue went something like this.

Edric: “I don’t think you should wear slippers. It might rain and it gets really dirty there.”

Me: “Hon, I’m going to be trying lots of shoes on and it will be inconvenient for me to wear something else. Besides it’s not going to rain today.”

Edric: “I still think you should change to something else.”

Well, I didn’t want to listen so I wore slippers anyway. That day, God sent a rain cloud to Divisoria and I had the cruddiest, black mud stuck in between my toes and on my feet. I had to douse my feet with alcohol and rub them down with Kleenex. I came home and told Edric about God’s submission lesson to me, and I apologized for being insubordinate. We had a good laugh. But it was a loud and clear message.

Submission and obedience are meant for my blessing and my good. As women, we often hate the word submission because we think of it as something negative. We have this image of a man trampling over a woman’s rights and dignity. And the reality is we have encountered men or know men who do not know how to treat women with respect and real love. But God didn’t intend for women to end up with men like this! (It’s a wonder why so many choose them!)

He created men to be spiritual leaders and he called them to love, protect, and provide for their families. Yet so many men fall short of this standard because they don’t know God and what his Word has to say about their role, or they do know but they are selfish (like we are, too!). Our reflex response as women is to look out for ourselves or take charge when we feel like our sense of security is threatened. When we feel like the men are not stepping up, or they can’t be trusted, we go into self-preservation mode. We reverse the roles and “wear the pants” if necessary just to make sure that our men make the right decisions or that we don’t end up at the losing end of a relationship or situation.

I know this because I was like this at the beginning of my marriage. Every time I distrusted Edric’s decision making capacity, I contradicted, challenged, and manipulated him to do things my way. Well, Edric has a pretty strong personality so we would butt heads instead. And this led to a lot of conflict. What changed?

God changed me and God changed Edric. I surrendered my marriage to the Lord and my rights (of course, I’m still a work in progress!). The verse on submission says this, “Wives, submit to your husbands AS UNTO THE LORD.” (Ephesians 5:22) Ultimately, I wasn’t disobeying my husband when I was unsubmissive, I was disobeying God. And if I was submissive, I was submitting as unto the Lord – for the Lord, because of the Lord, trusting in the Lord to look out for me.

Submission is a heart issue. God knows our hearts. I can be submissive on the outside but negative and begrudging on the inside. That doesn’t count. At the end of the day, the desire to submit reveals whether I trust God completely or not. If I focus on my husband, I may not always feel like submitting to him. I can be tempted to think, he is not doing his God-given role so why should I fulfill my God-given role? I will submit when he is deserving of my submission! But if look to God and do it for Him, then it liberates me. My heart is at peace because I am right with God. God will deal with my husband.

The solution has been to do my part and then pray for Edric. By God’s grace, Edric is a wise man and he loves God. But still, there are instances when we don’t agree on issues. So this is when I pray, “Lord, please speak to Edric. If he is wrong, then please change his heart, but if I am wrong then please change my heart.”

Years ago, I heard an amazing story about a woman who endured an abusive marriage. Her husband was a womanizer, he treated her like crap, he did drugs, but she still served him and treated him with respect. Years later, she found out that she never had a marriage contract to prove that she was actually married. Her “husband” had deceived her all these years. When my mom counseled her, she asked this woman if she regretted the years that she spent serving this man. She replied something like this, “I have no regrets because I never did it for him. I did it for the Lord.”

I was floored when I heard this! But she is not the only one that has this kind of story to tell. I have met amazing women who have followed God’s principles in faith and they have experienced his blessings. There is great power in the life of a woman who walks with God. 1 Peter 3:1-2 tells us that men who don’t believe in God can be won over by the behavior of their submissive wives, when they see their purity and reverence. It’s not the world’s way of solving marital issues, but God doesn’t do things conventionally. He asks us to trust and obey first, even if we don’t always understand. And then he does the miraculous!

Going back to my first story…

While our family helped the wonderful volunteers pack relief goods, the one thing they ran out of at the time we were there was canned goods! Sigh. If I had just listened we could have had more canned goods for the bags! Unfortunately, I lost that opportunity to exemplify to my kids that obedience leads to blessing!

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God’s way is for me to obey my husband and enjoy the blessings of following his design for marriage! May I do better next time. ;)

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