Sometimes A Husband Needs Divine Laryngitis

(Based on a testimony Edric asked me to share for CCF Cebu…)

Last year, Edric was challeneged by the leadership of CCF (our church) to spearhead the Family Ministry. When he told me about it, I was thrilled. This was something that we have always been passionate about – marriage and parenting, leading families to Christ.

However, Edric wanted to pray about it first. He was very busy hosting his daily show, running a homeschool program, a small business, and he started to do speaking engagements for companies and organizations in and out of Metro Manila. His reasons for taking on all these commitments seemed very valid. We were in the middle of building our house so he was working hard to provide for it.

By the end of 2013, after giving it much thought, praying about it, and seeking the counsel of mentors and confidants, he made the decision to accept the responsibility to lead Family Ministry. This meant that he had to synchronize the activities of Life Academy (the new school that is based in CCF Tiendesitas) and NextGen (Sunday School), and create a plan and quarterly campaigns to reach out to soon-to-be married couples, married couples, and parents.

When he said yes to the role, I was excited. And our D12 (bible study group) was looking forward to how God would mobilize all of us to serve in Family Ministry.

Most of the activities were going to be launched in April 2014. However, as February and March rolled out, I noticed that Edric’s schedule was crazier than ever. He didn’t seem to be cutting down on his other activities. On certain weeks, he would have three out of town speaking engagements, sometimes more. (He would always bring Elijah, who speaks with him, for accountability and protection.)

These events were over and above all the other responsibilities he was in charge of. Plus, he had me and our 5 kids to take care of emotionally, physically and spiritually.

I became concerned. I didn’t know how he was going to manage everything without neglecting his more important priorities and without causing the needs of the ministry to suffer.

Sure enough, he went from one week to another harried. His days were packed with meetings. He was exhausted. I really missed him as a husband. But my bigger question was how is he going to give his 100% to God’s work? Is his mind even focused on God’s work?

When Edric is spiritually off, it is manifest in his temperament. He has the tendency to be irritable when he’s so focused on his doings and neglecting the being, being spirit-led and spirit-filled. As a result, his tone can get abrasive and he can be reactive when circumstances don’t pan out according to his expectations.

On Tuesday this past week, Edric and I experienced some tension. He complained about breakfast and I felt hurt by his tone and attitude. When he realized that he was wrong, he apologized for being agitated. Of course I forgave him but when I was alone, I really cried and prayed to God.

I was honest about my feelings of loneliness, fear, anxiety, and frustration. Lord, I don’t want my husband to be this way. I feel like his spirit is not right. And I’m so worried about family ministry. How can he head it if he is so busy? If his heart seems distracted? And how can I follow him? I don’t want to follow him if he is like this. Can you speak to him?

That afternoon, he flew with Elijah to Davao and strangely, he came back the next day with his vocal chords shot. It was so bizarre.

He had to get checked up and the doctor told him he had laryngitis and pharyngitis! The doctor said, “You have to rest your voice and take steroids.”

I couldn’t believe it. I had prayed but this was over the top! I felt bad for him but at the same time, I had this guilty excitement that perhaps this was a message from the Lord for him.

Some time later, I tried to ask him nonchalantly, “So what do you think God is trying to tell you?” Edric was very humble as he narrated what happened to him (with a very hushed sounding, frog-like voice.)

On the flight to Davao, he told me he was on the airplane seated beside what he described as “a sweaty guy who looked like a terrorist.” He admitted that this was a total judgment call on his part. God prodded him to share the gospel. Instead of saying yes I will, he ignored God’s leading. Preoccupied by what he had to do that evening, and affected by his stereotyping of the fellow, he didn’t want to do it.

It wasn’t until the end of the flight that he started chatting with the guy. The man turned out to be a very kind seaman who was looking forward to being with his family. By then it was too late to share the gospel. Edric had to rush off to the speaking venue and regrettably, he had missed out on the opportunity.

So that night, God took away his voice! Edric told me that God spoke to him, “If you are not going to use your voice for my purposes, then you will not get to use your voice for your purposes.” It was a loud and clear message!

The next day, his tapings had to be cancelled and his speaking engagement out of town had to be cancelled, too.

I need to add here that years ago Edric and I had a conversation about what kind of torture he wouldn’t want to have. (The useless conversations you sometimes have when you are married.) He said an unimaginable torture for him would be the inability to talk. And lo and behold, this is exactly what happened!

On a humorous note, Edric was very patient and cautious with the things he said in the last three days. When our eldest son spilled water on him at the restaurant, he was very calm.
Why? He had no voice! He had to be very selective and choosy about every word that came out of his mouth. In fact, I kidded him, “Hon, it’s been so peaceful between us lately. You have been so ‘gentle and quiet.’” Ha ha ha.

More significantly, losing his voice made him evaluate his priorities. God got his attention and re-calibrated his heart. Instead of being concerned about his cancelled tapings and speaking engagements, all of which bring him extra income, his mind was set on this weekend.

Both of us had to give a parenting seminar. And he had to orient parents on homeschooling and deliver a financial stewardship talk for families in Cebu. On top of that, he had to preach at CCF Cebu on Sunday.

His message was about “Living for the Line” as inspired by Bruce Wilkinson’s book called “A Life God Rewards.” Edric was to preach about what it means to live for eternity. Well, there was no way God was going to let him give that message without an authentic experience to back it up. So the laryngitis and pharyngitis were divinely appointed experiences to make sure he was living for the line himself.

At first, he was worried that his voice wouldn’t come back by the weekend. But I encouraged him. “Don’t worry, hon. God will give you your voice back. This will be his work.” By faith, I believed that God would do a miracle.

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We prayed and everyone around us prayed. On Friday, we arrived in Cebu and spent time with the kids at Imperial Palace. (It is a world-class water park in the Philippines. Totally awesome.) His voice was recovering but it was still raspy and strained. But amazingly, by Saturday, he was able to talk all day and he was able to speak in Sunday Service yesterday!

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Edric has a renewed fire to align all the doings of his life to match God’s agenda — to build God’s kingdom. The initial anxiety I felt is gone, not because Edric won’t ever get side-tracked or spiritually distracted again. He and I are both prone to this pitfall for as long as we are on this earth. My real comfort is knowing that the ministry we will commit our lives to is not one we bear alone. This is God’s work. It will be done with God’s power. And he will raise up the people and prepare their hearts for it in the way he deems necessary. If that means throwing in a laryngitis/pharyngitis moment to catch someone’s attention (like my husband’s), he will use it for good.

As for me, as a wife, my encouragement is to keep praying for Edric. My most valuable role is to support him this way — to pray that he will keep loving God and serving him with all that he is.

When I am tempted to nag Edric because I don’t like what he is doing, I don’t agree with his perspective, or I am hurt by something he did, I want to remember that God is Lord of my marriage, intimately involved and all-knowing about our weaknesses, character flaws and issues. He is committed to helping us grow and change to become more like Him. He is committed to making us spiritually fit for his work. I need not panic, manipulate or attempt to control Edric or circumstances. Instead, I must focus on fulfilling my role as a wife and keeping fervent in prayer.

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To Buy Or Not To Buy A Designer Bag

A very pretty lady, impeccably dressed and with hair in perfectly set waves (hair I wish I had), came up to me and asked if I could write about managing finances, specifically in the area of curtailing materialism. She confessed that she liked to buy designer bags and asked how I stopped myself from doing so.

Well, first off, I don’t think it’s wrong to buy designer things. The devil is not Prada. Some people see it as an investment. Others can afford luxury without putting themselves in debt.

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However, there are occasions when it could be very wrong. For example, if you overspend (buy above your means) or if you have a compulsion to keep buying beyond your needs.

Whatever the reason or motive, I think each of us ought to be discerning about how we spend money. This article is not meant to be a guilt trip. But I intend to share my own perspective on luxury spending, particularly in the area of buying bags, clothes, shoes, jewelry or watches. Please don’t take it like I am judging every woman who wants to go out and buy herself a designer bag or two or three or so on (you know who you are ;)). I just have a different vantage point which may help someone who wants to re-evaluate her spending habits, someone who earnestly feels like she may want to change and channel her resources elsewhere.

Read on at your own risk…

I used to be a barefoot girl climbing trees, catching tadpoles, and playing with monkeys. My life was far removed from the city and shopping malls. More importantly, my mom was a simple person. She never spent alot on herself or on dolling me up. She always looked put together and she dressed me up nicely, but her spending habits were very controlled.

Up til this day most of her clothes come from the tiangge or Ross (when she visits my sister in the U.S.) So I suppose her example of frugality rubbed off on me. I did not see her buying luxury goods when I was living at home, so I didn’t develop an appetite for these things either.

What kind of spending habits did your parents have? What did they model for you? It’s very possible that they passed on to you the kind of perspective you have on spending.

It may be hard to believe but I cannot imagine paying more than 5k for a bag. Almost everyone I know who is my age has at least one luxury bag that costs 10 times as much. And others are willing to spend a hundred times more.

Personally, I don’t want to be holding or wearing anything that would tempt someone to chop my arm off. Furthermore, I really don’t feel like a bag is worth that much. Some women will say I have no idea what I am talking about. And they are absolutely right. I don’t. I am not a bag connoisseur.

But no matter what crocodile is killed to become a handbag, I would never be able to stomach paying thousand of dollars for it, even if it was made to look pretty in its after life. While I can appreciate the quality of luxury, unless the actual materials used to make a bag are near the equivalent value of the price, I think it’s a bad deal.

Everyone knows this right? Deep inside, we aren’t stupid. The difference is we all have built-in thresholds for what we are willing to pay for an item or an experience. Plus, there is the factor of what we can afford.

Life is about choices. Edric and I may not spend a lot of money on luxury products but we may spend it on a trip out of the country. Building a memory together as a couple or family is something we value more. Right now our resources are also going into our house building so that’s our present priority. Others may be able to spend on whatever their heart desires, but it isn’t common to be able to afford to do everything. Most of us have to make choices.

When it comes to bags, if I can buy something functional that does the job it doesn’t have to be branded. I want it to look stylish and well made but I have an amount that I will not go over when I make a purchase. This limits my options so I have to find deals online or in stores.

Admittedly, there are occasions when I want to pay more. But I have to remember God owns all the money Edric and I have. We are just stewards of the financial blessings he has given us. Therefore I cannot, in good conscience, pay a ridiculous amount of money for a bag when I can buy one that serves the same purpose for much cheaper.

I understand that expensive and cheaper can be relative to what a person is used to spending. But if the amount could feed a sizable orphanage for atleast a week or two, then it might be worth considering whether that money should be going to an orphanage. Just a thought. ;)

What about jewelry or watches? According to my husband Edric, who has interviewed a lot of financial experts on his TV show, jewelry and watches (depending on the brand) can be a good investment. But here is why I don’t spend for these things either. I am a practical gal. My jewelry is 90% fancy. Why? It would stress me out to have to worry about taking care of diamonds or any sort of precious stone or metal that I could lose. I don’t want the hassle of having to put jewelry in a safe. In fact, I feel very relaxed when our maids clean the bedroom. They are trustworthy but it helps that there’s nothing to take…nothing to tempt them…nothing to put into their pockets. The most precious things in our home are the people in it.

Furthermore, Edric prefers that we invest our money for the future. One of my personal dreams is to be able to buy a property for each of our five kids. I suppose this perspective comes from being the daughter of a land developer. My father’s business is in the housing sector. And like I said, I am practical. You can’t misplace a piece of property. Jewelry can get stolen or lost. With my track record for losing things, I really don’t deserve diamonds or gold.

While it would be sentimental to pass on to my children jewelry or time pieces, I would prefer to hand them the title to a plot of land. Tiny watch or a partial surface of the earth? Hmm…it’s a no brainer for me but everyone ascribes value differently. Apart from passing on a godly heritage, it would be great if we could help each of our kids get started when they are married. The Bible talks about this…

Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. (2 Corinthians 12:14)

If a person wants to invest in watches and jewelry as well as land or even stocks or a trust fund for their children, why not? It all goes back to motivation and purpose. God is not opposed to enjoying one’s wealth. Look at this Proverb: “It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it.” (Proverbs 10:22) Some people are so blessed they can invest wherever they want to, and still give magnanimously to others. Praise God for them.

What about shopping for clothes and shoes? I enjoy shopping. But like my mom, I don’t need to buy branded clothing. If I find a wonderful deal then I may do so. However, I really can’t be too extravagant anyway. With the number of children I have, my kids would be naked and hungry if I was always buying things for myself. This is an exaggeration but having kids does diffuse my urge to shop for myself. They always need clothes and shoes because they are growing so fast! So a lot of times I have to shop for them.

The other reason why I control shopping for my own self is I have been pregnant and breastfeeding for so many years of my married life. I am many seasons behind the trends. My bust to waist to hip ratio is ever changing. There is no way to keep up and be fashionable all the time. So my criteria is right fit, color, and a statement of personal style. Not too trendy.

I may buy a trend or two if I really like it but the greater priority for me is to exercise so clothes will fit well. Until I get to the size I really want to be, I hold back on the clothes buying.

It’s also a blessing that I am not in any sort of fancy schmancy job that pressures me to look like a million dollars. Just the other day, I had a huge zit on my face. I mean it was so big I couldn’t believe it was on my face. It looked like a hill. My brother said, “What is that?!”

In contrast, my son turned to me and said, “It’s ok, you still look beautiful mom. Having that (the zit) just makes you look like you work really hard to take care of us.” That’s Elijah, my ever-politically correct son.

The people that I am surrounded with on a daily basis are incredibly BIASED. I don’t have to wear makeup or dress up and they think the world of me. They are my kids. Do they have a choice?! They compliment me all the time just for being me. Kids are awesome. Have lots of them! As for Edric, he just likes me to look clean and put together. Whew.

The kind of company you keep really matters. Do the people you hang out with turn on and feed your materialistic desires?

I will be honest, depending on the social circles I move in, there are times when I am tempted to think, maybe if I have designer things people will respect me more or hold me in higher regard. But when I process where that thought is coming from, the root of it is pride. It is pride telling me that I need material things of a certain standard to be accepted or to feel good about myself. So I go back to who I am in Christ. The God of this universe gave his life for a sinner like me. If he thought that I was worth that much then I certainly don’t need luxury to make me feel valuable.

If you feel like you have to wear designer clothes and accessories to feel better about yourself then it’s worth asking why this is so. Is it just because you are really after quality products or is there some sort of emotional or spiritual need that is being masked by all that spending?

Fifth, there are so many needs around me, so many ways to use money to be a blessing. I like the example of the early church believers. In Acts it says, “All the believers were together and shared everything. They would sell their land and the things they owned and then divide the money and give it to anyone who needed it. The believers met together in the Temple every day. They ate together in their homes, happy to share their food with joyful hearts.” (Acts 2:44-46)

The rest of the passage talks about how the Lord was adding to the numbers of those who were being saved daily. There was something so attractive about the believers’ lifestyle of sharing and giving to one another. People were coming to Jesus because of how they were caring for each other.

This passage provides a cure for materialism. Instead of thinking what else can I buy for myself, the mindset ought to be what else can I give?

One group of people I really enjoy giving to is our household help. Periodically, I go through my closets and take out a bunch of items and tell them they can have it all. Because they don’t have alot, they are always so appreciative.

Their presence in my life teaches me to be grateful for all the comforts I have. And even if they don’t know it, they keep me grounded in terms of shopping. Whenever I shop, I think about the kind of example I am setting for them and the impact I am making on them. I don’t want them to wrestle with jealousy or envy. They don’t have the liberty to buy themselves the same things that I can. So when I am tempted to make an expensive purchase, I think about them as my standard. How would they feel if they saw the price tag? It helps to use their purchasing capacity as a reference point instead of comparing myself to people who are really wealthy.

So do I struggle with materialism? Of course. I like things…things that are pretty, sparkly, well designed, tasteful, and expensive. But I choose to manage my desires by thinking about what I am spending on and why I am spending.

At the end of the day, whatever shopping habits I have must be filtered by contentment, motivation and stewardship. And just to clarify, a materialistic person is not someone who spends less. It’s someone who looks to possessions to fill a space that ought to belong to Jesus. Any of us can be susceptible to that. We need to come to the point where we know that only Jesus can bring us true satisfaction. And we need to recognize when the love for the world is replacing our love for God.

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (1 John 2:15, 16 NASB)

Here are some helpful heart questions to ask ourselves when we shop…

Am I being a good steward of the money God has given our family?
Is there a better way to spend or invest this money?
Am I faithfully managing the budgets assigned to me by my husband?
How can I use money to bless others and meet needs around me?
Will I cause people to stumble or be envious of me if I am extravagant? What are my motivations when I want to buy myself more things? Is it to impress people? Is it really a need?
Am I trying to project an image to others that is rooted in pride?
Is my desire for material things increasing at a greater rate than my desire to feed on God’s word and spend time with him?
How are my purchases indicative of where my heart is?

“for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21 NASB)

Here’s a thought I would like to leave you with. My brother in law, Joel, passed on to Edric and I very insightful wisdom from his father about spending. “If it’s a need, find a way to afford it. If it’s a want, no amount will be worth it.”

Luxury bags, clothing, and accessories fall under the category of “want” and not “need” for me. I will not judge those who feel otherwise. Afterall, bags, shoes, clothing, watches, jewelry…these things are not the true measure of person. God sees past material things to the heart that is within.

If you forget everything I have written here, reflect on this…I like what my dad said during one Sunday service, if you love God with all your heart, you are free to do whatever you please. I had to think about that statement but it made absolute sense. If you love God with everything that you are, you will make choices that honor him. What you want will be what God wants. Therefore the question, “how do you stop yourself from buying designer bags?” is not a more important question that this one…Do you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? If you do, you will know what to do the next time you go shopping! God will give you peace about whether you should make your next purchase or not. ;)

It’s Not About The Money

Money issues rank pretty high in the list of conflicts between a husband and wife. Edric and I have our share of money issues. They aren’t frequent but they do happen from time to time.

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Just yesterday, we had a stressful conversation over something sooo insignificant. But in marriage it’s sometimes the small things that trigger a deluge of toxic discussions, especially when you are both in combat mode.

We were settling money matters with one another. Edric said he transferred a certain sum of money to my account but based on records, I was absolutely sure he didn’t. (We share everything but I have a separate account that he puts funds into to help me budget monthly expenses for the household.) I mentioned to him again that what he had given me for the month was short. But he didn’t think so. To verify he checked his online transactions and sure enough, there was no transfer made on the day that he claimed he made one. There was a smaller amount but it was for a charity donation that I had advanced.

Instead of saying, Ok, I will send the funds now, Edric said that it was my fault for not collecting from him and reminding him back in November.

Some minutes later, he did send it but he seemed annoyed. He didn’t like having to deal with the backlog because he had “closed his books” on last month’s expenses. So he was irritated with me. And I retaliated by saying that this was his system so if it was flawed, it couldn’t possibly be my fault. He was in charge of our expenses. Furthermore, I explained to him that I had told him that he had not transferred the amount at the end of the month. But since he didn’t believe me at the time and we were both busy, we didn’t have the chance to verify transactions. It wasn’t until yesterday when the topic came up that I mentioned it again.

Our dialogue continued into the car when we were on our way to purchase water heaters for our new house. How fitting! The atmosphere was heating up!

He commented that the source of his irritation was my disorganization. As an example, he cited that after his massage the night before, he got money from my wallet to pay the therapist. And he said seeing the contents of my wallet was EMBLEMATIC of my lack of organization. It was like an explosion. Of course this upset me. A wallet as emblematic of organization?!

I told him the fact that he had to get money from my wallet meant that he had not prepared money for the therapist before hand. So who was the disorganized one?

Like I said…the deluge…

And I went on to say if you call me disorganized then it needs to be in context. I don’t need to have a regimented schedule like you do because I am at home with the kids. So evaluate me based on the condition of our children. Plus, I just gave birth, so am I not allowed some slack, a little bit of understanding for not having my whole life in order like yours?

He said that it wasn’t about not understanding. It was about explaining the source of his frustration over the incident with the money.

How a discussion on money traveled to this point is really one of those miracles that defines marriage.

Well I was missing the point. Do I have to improve on my organization? Admittedly…yes. Okay. Yes. Yes. I CAN be like an explosion. My wallet has a bunch of receipts in it that I need to throw away. My computer files need to be catalogued and put into better folders. My homeschooling schedule has been erratic because of breastfeeding. And I haven’t been able to prioritize everything that Edric has asked me to. So the more Christ-like response would have been to say, “I do have to improve.”

Eventually I did say this but only after Edric apologized to me for reacting about the money transfer. Sigh.

When I thought back on my resistance to accept his correction, the Lord convicted me that it was my pride. I cannot allow myself to become defensive when Edric points out an area of my life that I need to work on. Even if I don’t like the style of delivery or the context, if he says something that is valid, I need to listen better and acknowledge it. Otherwise, how will I grow? How will I mature spiritually and become more Christ-like unless I am sensitive to the way God uses him. He is the person who knows me the most, who sees my life with microscopic lenses.

Furthermore, I have to realize that Edric is my “boss”. While I would prefer that he is always sweet and tender towards me, if I reject the occasions when he is stern or dislikes my attitude, behavior, or perspective, then I do myself a spiritual disfavor. I forfeit God’s blessing when I am not humble enough to listen. Edric is not my enemy even if it can feel that way when are in a conflict. He is God’s mouthpiece of correction and instruction.

My enemy is pride! And the best way to overcome it is to say, “Thank you Lord for my husband. For using him to disciple me towards Christ-likeness.” And to Edric, I need to be more willing to say, “Thank you for helping me to improve and grow as a person.” I told him that and I meant it. Hee hee.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man (person) is he (one) who listens to counsel. Proverbs 12:15

Pajama Stocks

We sat around the dinner table with family some time ago and my brother in law, Joel, found out that Elijah started investing in the stock market last year. Elijah talked about what companies he had picked to invest in and the rational behind his choices. And he said this all while wearing pajamas. It just seemed a little bit funny I suppose, that a 9 year old (this was before he turned 10), would be chatting about financial investments. So Joel said, “Why don’t you write an article about it and call it ‘Pajama Stocks.’” I thought…that’s a great title. I love it. But I had put it off until today, when Edric asked me to have Elijah share about how he ventured into it to encourage parents to teach their kids to start being financially literate early.

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Here is what he wrote (with some help from me):

I first became interested in financial markets two years ago. My dad had asked me if I wanted to invest in stocks and we did some research together online to understand the process better. My dad told me to fill out the online form of Citisec but I actually lost the form and forgot about it.

It wasn’t until last year, when I was 9, that I became interested again, especially since my dad was hosting a money show. He would talk about financial investments often. And since he promised to help me set up an account, he told me that I would join a stock seminar with him so we could do it together. By then, the name of Citisec online had changed to COL Financial. 

I was so excited and nervous. I was in a room with a lot of adults, including my dad and I was the youngest person attending the seminar. The seminar took about two hours. It was very interesting. I learned about tips on investing and how the stock market works, and what companies were performing the best at that time.

For example, I learned that Jollibee had grown 40% from 2009 to 2011 because they kept reinventing. And a lot of people like to eat in Jollibee. The seminar was like a homeschool lesson for me.

When we got home, my dad told me he would give me a fund to work with but I had to do research. A lot of research. For one whole day I looked up different companies from different categories, like financial, services, industrial, property, holding firms, and mining and oil. All this information is available on pse.com.ph.  My dad also gave me some advice. I was also able to study the background history of a few companies to track their performance over the years. What really helped me were the charts that showed how the companies have performed over time because I could see changes, gains and loses. One company even lost 500%! I am not going to tell you which one?

Several weeks later, while my dad and I were having one on one bonding time, he helped me set up my account and invest in my top picks. I chose BDO, BPI, Ayala Corporation, Aboitiz, Globe, and Ayala Land. Recently, I also added Meralco. My main criteria was to get companies that went up steadily for the last two years because I intended to do long term investments. That’s why I didn’t invest in mining and oil. I found their performances too wild.

The one exception was the company 2Go, which I plan to use for market timing. It will just be a short-term investment and experiment. Since it’s passport season for people going on vacation, I hope that its stocks will go up so I can sell them.

Since I invested in stocks last December, by God’s grace, my stocks have grown. I’ve earned a little bit of money and it makes me more excited. It also makes me realize that earning money is not easy!

Now, when my parents or people give me money, I think of how I can invest it again or, okay, buy online books because I love to read.

I’m still learning a lot about the stock market and actually, I just invested a small amount to get experience compared to what older people do. But I put it in as much as my dad gave me because he told me it’s not good to leave money lying idle in an account. It won’t grow. In the COL seminar, I learned that inflation rates are higher than interest rates. So it’s not good to leave money in a bank account, either. 

I’m thankful for this experience. And I think it would be helpful for other kids to learn how to manage money, too. We don’t have to wait until we are older. The earlier we start, the more time our investment has to grow. 

I’m praying that my investments will grow if it’s God’s will so that someday I can use it to bless others, to tithe, and to save.

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I’m embarrassed to admit that Elijah knows way more than I do about the stock market. One evening, when a female relative asked him why he didn’t invest in their company, Elijah replied, “Honestly, your company doesn’t have historicals in the PSE yet, and if you look at your growth last year, you only grew by 0.2%.” Everyone who was within ear-shot of this conversation started to laugh out loud. I was slightly floored. Who are you?! I thought, looking at Elijah. At the same time, I realized that homeschoolers have unique opportunities that other children don’t have. They have the advantage of time to pursue interests. Elijah would be swamped with homework if he were a 4th grade student in a conventional school. However, our homeschooling lifestyle allows him to explore and learn beyond books.

Some years ago, I created a tagline for one of TMA Homeschool’s advertisements, “The World is My Classroom. Is it Yours?” Just like his siblings, Elijah surprises me with lessons learned that are beyond the scope of what I have taught. It’s humbling and encouraging at the same time to know that my children are not limited by what I can give as a teacher. This is one of the benefits of homeschooling —  children have access to a world of experiences that no other conventional classroom can possibly give them.

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Money Matters in Marriage

I am not a financial guru (that’s so obvious), but my husband seems to be esteemed as such because of his involvement as host for ANC’s On the Money program. But Edric will also be the first to tell you that he is no expert. He is learning along the way, as he interviews businessmen, financial advisors, CEOs, and the like. Nevertheless, he gets invitations to give talks on personal finance. Yesterday, he invited me to join him to give a short testimony to break up his three hour seminar. I have said no to doing talks in this season of my life (well, I have to be very discriminating) because my commitments revolve around the home. But, when Edric asks me to be his side kick for seminars he has to give, I consider this part of my role as a wife…prioritizing my husband.

So, I tagged along with him to a company that requested he give a 101 money talk that integrated family values. I am including my part of the “intermission” because his segment is paid for…mine is FREE! ;)

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Edric and I chose to get married young. We were crazy romantics like that. Well, as you all know, love does not put food on the table. Between Edric’s corporate job and my PR work, we were making P40,000, which means we didn’t have a lot of financial liberty. We started off very simply. I was very blessed to have a husband who liked to use a spreadsheet and make year long budget projections. So this is what he did…percentages, budget allocations, monitoring of our spending patterns etc.

Admittedly, I had no idea what it meant to keep a budget. My mom didn’t have to stick to a budget or so it seemed, so I thought that it was normal to be able to spend indiscriminately. She wasn’t an extravagant person so I wasn’t either. She never splurged on designer bags or shoes. My parents were not the type to buy heirloom watches or jewelry either. They invested in travel, land, properties, and businesses.

It wasn’t until I was in college that I realized how much people spend on designer clothing, bags, watches, shoes, and the like. Fortunately, because my siblings and I were not brought up to have an appetite for such things we didn’t mind not having it later on either. (My mom still shops at the tiange and gets compliments for her clothing without people realizing that she spends less than 1,000 pesos for most of what she wears! I love this about her.)

Going back to the early years of marriage, I wasn’t a major shopper but I didn’t have a concept of what it means to plan for your expenses. It was a foreign concept to me. And this is why I needed a husband like Edric. Edric is very FRUGAL.

It took me some time to realize the wisdom behind my husband’s strictness when it came to money management. But I began to appreciate it as the years went by. If I was in charge of money in our home, we would now be in dire straits.

One thing that he did give me was a discretionary fund or a “fun fund.” It was a fund for personal things – going to the parlor, buying myself clothes, eating out with friends, etc. We have often encouraged couples to have a discretionary fund that a wife can use without having to clear everything with her husband. If I bought anything outside of that fund, then I would ask for permission because he was in charge of managing our overall budget. Otherwise, my personal expenses were not audited. I had liberty, within my budget, to go shopping or treat myself.

The second money principle I learned in marriage was the concept of “living within your means (or even below, if possible).” Because I came from a family with means, I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know what it was like to have to take public transportation or have a second hand car. I knew how to do house chores, but I had no idea how hard it was to make money and make it grow. I would feel stressed when we didn’t have enough money to pay for repairs or fix things around the house.

God taught me NOT to make money my source of security. I had to learn contentment, avoid panicking that money was not in abundance, and quit comparing my state of life with siblings and friends. We couldn’t really travel out of the country. I didn’t have an unlimited budget for shopping. Even if I had a discretionary fund, it wasn’t that big. (Praise God it grew as the years went by!)

Living within our means was humbling at times and uncomfortable. I remember when I was 8 months pregnant with our first child, I was driving down McKinley to pick up Edric and I had to do a U-turn. But the car stalled in the middle of the road while I was doing the U-turn! Traffic was blocked on both sides of McKinley. I started to panic. Edric wasn’t answering his phone and I didn’t know what to do. Should I go out and push the car? I was 8 months pregnant! Cars were honking me. It was rush hour. I was so stressed…on the brink of breaking down. I prayed and prayed and after about 10 minutes, the car finally re-started. Whew. What an ordeal.

For a while I was bickering to myself and thinking, Why do I have to go through this? Why can’t we have a car that works better? I never had this problem when I lived at home! (Well, wake up honey, this is your new reality. God is working on your character.)

Although it was stressful at the time, Edric and I laugh about our adventures and the challenges we had at the beginning of our marriage. We used to park one of our cars on an incline just to make sure we could give it enough momentum to start the next day!

These comedic memories have turned into romantic memories. Seriously. When Edric and I reminisce about how God has faithfully provided for us through the years, we look at each other and say, “I am glad we went through that together.” It wasn’t easy but it made us closer. We started off without much so we had a lot to look forward to.

Many people wait so long to get married these days because of career choices, wanting to build up a piggy bank fund so they can buy a house, a nice car or two, and comforts that they are used to. My encouragement to women out there is learn to be simple and easy to please. Don’t be so high maintenance. It scares guys. They will feel like they can never afford you! Be wise and marry a man who loves God and works hard, and God will bless him financially. But be willing to adjust your own preferences. You may not get a big house right away or a shiney new car, but hey, you can look forward to those things together.

The third principle I wanted to share was lowering expectations and raising appreciation. I had to learn to be an encourager and a positive source of affirmation for my husband. Guys go out there and fight a whole different level of stress. Remember, God said that Adam would have a hard time tilling the ground!

Early on in our marriage, I didn’t know how to be a very good encourager. When Edric would tell me his issues with work and finances, I would say, “Well why did you make that decision? Maybe you should have said this or maybe you can do this…” And he would tell me, “Hon, if I need your advice I will ask you.” Oops. Verbal diarrhea in the house. In other words, what he wanted to hear was encouragement so he could go out there re-energized to get through another day.

In Genesis, the Bible talks about how God created woman to be a suitable helper to the man. A suitable helper doesn’t mean a yaya or househelp. The Hebrew word means “Life giver along side.” It is a beautiful picture of how a wife can support and uphold her husband. I am called to be a life-giver to Edric. I do this by submitting to his leadership, trusting that God has made him head of our home, and respecting him. But a big a part of being a life giver is also appreciating him, even for the little things.

When Edric would doubt whether he was a good provider, when he would feel down about not being able to give me the kind of lifestyle he thought I “deserved,” I would tell him,”Hon, I see your life. You love God, you are faithful to him. I don’t doubt that he will bless your efforts. Just keep trusting in him.” And then I would go run away to cry out to the Lord! “God, please let Edric know that you are mindful of him. Please allow him to experience your hand of blessing.”

But I made it a point to communicate to Edric that I believed in his God-given capacity, that I appreciated how hard he worked, the sacrifices he made and still makes to give us a comfortable life. Most importantly, I would tell him how blessed I was that he loves God and wants to be a godly husband and father. His face would change, he would hug me, sometimes even get teary eyed (just a little), and tell me how much my affirmation mattered…that it would inspire him to try his best.

Did I still have my dreams and longings? Of course. But instead of pressuring Edric to be the fulfiller of these things, I turned them over to God. I surrendered them and said, “Lord, in your time, your way, I know that you will give us the things we desire, if it is your will.” I would pray for Edric and commit our marriage, finances, children, and circumstances to him (I still do), and he has been faithful. I’ve received more than I dreamed of, not always what I wanted but better than I could have imagined.
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Lastly, I wanted to talk about the idea of priorities. For several years into my marriage, I was working full time and then part time to supplement our income. But, when we started having more kids, Edric and I talked about priorities and we decided that it was more important for me to be available to the kids and be at home. I am not saying that everyone has to make a life choice like this, but for Edric and I, it was a faith decision to switch to a single-income household. Who does that these days? It is not the trend.

However, we thought of what will really matter twenty, thirty years from now. I knew I cannot buy back the years of being absent from the home and missing my children’s moments. So I wanted to be present to instruct and train them. We both believed in homeschooling and that became my full time job. It doesn’t pay monetarily but it pays in eternal dividends.

And let me just say that I am never bored as a housewife. I have four kids with different personalities who keep me entertained, on my toes, and absolutely dependent on God. Plus, there is decorating, cooking, trouble shooting, and appliance fixing (I am actually pretty capable with a wrench and pliers. It doesn’t sound sexy but I am pretty proud of my handy woman abilities.)

God turned my heart towards my family and home…

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21 NASB)

The principle is do not neglect or sacrifice the priorities of God, spouse and children on the altar of money. If you are a working woman and your spouse still feels like he is a priority, your kids are growing in character and they are turning out just fine then you are one of those superwomen who can balance and juggle everything. Hats off to you. But, if your home life is suffering then consider how you can make adjustments.

Money can buy some things but not everything. It doesn’t buy a happy spouse, happy children, a happy home, real peace or lasting joy, especially if the most important relationships are neglected.

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We are a happy family, by the grace of God! Tiana doesn’t look too happy here, but she is. :)

Above all else, Edric and I have learned and keep learning that God must always be the center, even when it comes to our finances. He is our ultimate provider. He owns everything. We are merely stewards of what he is given us. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first his kingdom and all these things will be added unto you.” God delights to bless people that love him and follow him. But often times, we have it the other way around. We make money and worldly pursuits first in our lives, the center, and leave no room for God. It is a constant striving after wealth for our sense of security and peace.

Here is the good news: When you follow God and come into a personal relationship with him through his son, Jesus Christ, he not only provides for your needs and more, he gives you riches that money cannot buy. You may not become a millionaire or billionaire, you become more! You become a child of a Father who has infinite resources; who knows when to withhold and when to give; who cares about the desires of your heart but knows when to protect you from them; who never abandons you; who gives you purpose and meaning beyond the drive for worldly successes; and who gives you eternal life with HIM to look forward to.

 

 

One Man’s Junk is Another Man’s Treasure

Garage sale homeschooling. That’s what I would like to think of our garage sale experience two weekends ago. Elijah got to put his math skills into practice. He earned 1,500 pesos for selling toys. The other boys sorted through their old things and put prices on each item.

This was a collaborative effort between Tan-Chis and Mendozas that turned into a fun bonding day for all of us. Our own family didn’t earn much, just 7k at the end of the day but hey, people were willing to buy our junk and our home was majorly de-cluttered. Plus, Elijah learned how hard it is to make money. He was trying to convince a whole lot of people to buy our old toys and I thought he did a great job.

We can’t wait to do this again!

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God Can Give Your Husband A Migraine

A couple nights ago, Edric and I were having a discussion about finances. It was really not a very big issue but I reacted to his irritation toward me so it became a big deal.

Edric holds me accountable for a monthly budget and he prefers that I settle my own credit card bills. He gives me the cash to manage that monthly budget so we know who is spending for what. He has his own budgets to manage. I only have to take care of groceries and household expenses (which is pretty straightforward).

There are occasions when there is something on my credit card bill that actually falls under his budget because I had to pay for gas, a dinner, or do an errand for Edric. When this happens Edric prefers that I inform him right away and at the right time (ie. as soon as I get my bill). This gives him time to put all those expenses onto his spreadsheet so he knows how much cash he has to set aside to pay for all the bills. He HATES being surprised by money matters because he likes to keep the percentages — 10% tithing, 20% savings etc…Well, go figure, he hosts a TV show called “On the Money.”

Well, I made the mistake of nagging him about a certain amount that was on my credit card bill the day I had to pay it. He did not like this. He came home from a tiring day and was ready to relax. I wanted him to help me settle the bill which he didn’t feel like doing. And he was also upset that he had a payable on the bill that wasn’t brought up to him earlier in the month. We argued about this for a bit because I felt like he was being unreasonably irritable about it. I felt that his irritation was not justifiable. It was a little overkill for the “offense.” But he was very frustrated with me for not following his system.

He did help me settle my bill but I felt hurt by the way he made it seem like I really messed up. I apologized for not following his request to talk to him about money matters at the right time. But I felt like crying and I felt so annoyed. I went to grab my running shoes so I could get out of the house, clear my head, and pray.

And pray I did! I was like, “Lord! Can you please bop Edric on the head and speak to him? I feel so hurt. I am sorry for being disrespectful and annoyed at him, but please help him to realize that he shouldn’t over react and get irritated about something so petty. Can you please tell him to exercise a little more spiritual maturity. And will you please help me to improve and be a better wife because I feel so upset and angry right now.” I think I repeated the same thing over and over again over my 4 kilometer run. (And I threw in some complaining, too.)

When I got home, Edric was asleep (or so I thought. He told me the next day he stayed up to wait for me because he was worried then pretended to be asleep.) But by this time, I had turned over the “issue” between us to the Lord so I was not anticipating that we would discuss it again. I went to sleep in peace.

The next day, Edric and I talked.Things seemed better and we decided that we needed a date night. Edric had work and his taping at the studio so we were going to go out after that. Sometime in the afternoon, however, he called to tell me that he had a migraine. He had not had one in years! He even had a migraine in the middle of his show! He couldn’t see the TelePrompTer because lights were flashing before him (his warning sign for a migraine attack). So instead of going out as planned, he came straight home.

Date night was cancelled but I got something way better. Edric came home and acted VERY sweet and VERY apologetic about his temper and anger the night before. In fact, he said God must have given him the migraine to remind him that there are things that are way more important than the petty discussion we had. He also told me that he valued me and appreciated me, and that he loved me so much. Hello, prayer power! Thank you, Lord! I took care of him so he could get over his migraine and I also asked for his forgiveness again. All was restored.

I have come across similar situations in marriage many many times. Edric and I will have issues that make us both frustrated with one another. Yet one thing has worked consistently to restore, repair, and heal our relationship…PRAYER. Prayer — also known as crying out to the Lord, being honest before God, appealing to our Heavenly Father, communicating our deepest desires and longings, seeking God’s will and his person. God tells us, “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)

“Come to me you who are upset and troubled by your husband, and I will give you rest…and I will give your husband a migraine…”

Well, God did not say that, but he did remind me that prayer always works better than my own efforts to change my husband. And when I really talk to God, I realize I cant stay the same person. I have to change and improve. In the meantime, he can give my husband a migraine if necessary, to speak to him, too.

God’s purposes are much better and much nobler than vengeance (unlike me. he he). He seeks to make us more like himself, and he is committed to change and transform us for the better. Sometimes he uses our spouses, sometimes he uses other people, and sometimes he uses circumstances. Whichever it is, he promises to give us rest if we cooperate with him, if we take his yoke and learn from him.