Family, Relationships

At the end of each day….

I appreciate the devotions that our church puts out daily, and though I don’t get to join them regularly, there’s so much to gain from it. There’s the Word, the encouraging stories, the sense of community, the prayer time. Then there are also gems from the sharers.

Yesterday the focus was Psalm 90:12 —Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom. What struck me was one of the things that Ptr Carlo said. At the end of the day, he would ask himself if he spent quality time with his son, if he had their heart to heart talk.

What wisdom. How many of us actually think about how we spent our day, before we go to bed? How many of us actually recount the events of the day in terms of quality time spent with our family, especially in this pandemic where everyone is home all. the. time.?

It’s quite easy to think that since we are all home, we are spending quantity AND quality time with one another. On the contrary, we become less intentional about doing things together because we feel we are in close proximity to each other. We become complacent. We talk less. Or we settle for small talk. We fill our days with activities, work so we can feel productive, connect with others online, but we miss out on our personal connections at home.

We must know that one can still feel alone, despite the presence of family around. We must know that our physical presence is good, but it is not enough. We must be emotionally and mentally present. Parents to children, children to parents, siblings to siblings, spouse to spouse. We must engage. Be interested. Eye contact. Listen with our hearts.

At the end of each day, let’s not just look at what we have accomplished. Let’s ask ourselves the more important questions. Did I really spend time with my loved one/s today? Did I have meaningful conversations with them? Did I laugh with them? Did I help them when they needed me? Did I make them feel loved? Did I speak life? Did I listen? Did I pray for or with them?

Lord, teach us to number our days. Teach us to be wise with the use of our time everyday. Help us not to neglect our families. We feel the stress that this pandemic brings, but grant us the extra extra extra grace we need to nurture our most precious relationships, while also caring for our own needs and fulfilling our duties at home, at work, and in ministry. 🙏❤️

Marriage, Relationships

Low Expectation, High Appreciation

One of the best lessons we have learned, and also teach to other couples, is the concept of Low Expectation and High Appreciation. Coming from a place of hope instead of demand or expectation.

A few months ago, I noticed this in action. Not that it’s never at work in our marriage haha. I just distinctly noticed it that day. King didn’t bring a car to work, so we agreed that I would pick him up in the evening. But he messaged me during the day and asked me to pick him up in the mall near us, since he was able to get a ride from a co-worker. I happily agreed.

When I picked him up, he thanked me for the effort. He knew he could have just walked home.

I was actually happy that I didn’t have to drive all the way to the office, grateful I could pick him up nearby.

Neither of us had high expectation or high demand. Though we agreed on me picking him up, he hoped I would be agreeable to picking him up in the mall that’s not even five minutes away from our house. He hoped, but he was also willing to walk if needed. Though we agreed on me picking him up, I hoped that I would not have to because he could hitch a ride. I hoped 😂 but I was also willing to do what was agreed upon.

We both ended up appreciative of each other because our hopes were realized. Imagine if we both came from a place of demand or expectation. If he had demanded that I pick him up, he would not have appreciated the fact that I did because “it was agreed upon.” Words like “buti nga malapit lang ako nagpasundo!” might have come out. If I had demanded that he hitch a ride, I would not have appreciated that he cut my drive short by 20-40 minutes. Words like “ang lapit na lang eh, di pa naglakad.” might have come out.

The beauty of that is, even if we stuck with our agreement, we would still have been grateful because we did not turn our hopes into expectation or demand. He would still have been grateful that he got picked up. I would have still been grateful that I was able to pick him up.

Low expectation. High appreciation. We don’t get this right all the time, but it is good practice, I would say not just for couple relationships, but especially for married couples. And when it isn’t successfully practiced, bigger words come into play — mercy, grace, dying to self, forgiveness, love, faith, trust, inside out transformation. All by the grace of God. ❤️

FEATURED, Marriage, Relationships

La La Land

Spoiler Alert!!!

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image source: IMDB

I knew it was a musical, but the first scene/number was just ridiculous. Typical. Somebody started singing in traffic, and eventually everyone came out of their cars and started singing and dancing. Haha it was just funny. But it gets better from there, I promise. The lighting, the music, the sets, the characters, the story. Unfortunately, the last ten minutes of the movie was…sigh. I don’t want to spoil anything for you (though I know I will), but it was something we did not expect at all.

The movie left me torn. We watched with some of our friends and we were all frustrated, sad, angry about how it all ended! I’d say it’s one of the characteristics of a good movie though. It makes you ponder about life, your dreams and the choices you make. It definitely isn’t a feel-good movie. It’s a movie that makes you feel and struggle within yourself, depending on your values and perspective. La la land? Who knew, right? I sure didn’t.

What would you choose? Your dreams or love? Your future or “the one”? I understand that they could not keep each other from pursuing their dreams. It’s not fair and it might cause resentment between the two of them, you know, the usual. But did they have to give up so easily and let go of what they had? I understand that they were both passionate about their own craft, but was it really more important than building a life together? Why does pursuing your dream have to mean sacrificing your future with “the one”? Why did they choose their dreams over each other and why didn’t they fight for their relationship? I mean, Mia had success in her career AND had her own happy family within five years. Why couldn’t she have had both with Sebastian? And why couldn’t Sebastian have success in owning his own jazz club, keeping jazz alive, and have a family with Mia? It would have been so beautiful! And satisfying haha.

Seriously, we were all affected. But then again, sad as it was, what if that was God’s will, therefore best, for them? Mia seemed happy. Her husband seemed like a great husband and father (and King and I joked that he was going to take the drums and play That Thing You Do hahaha). Sebastian seemed happy too, living his dream. And though their memories of their life together and their what-ifs made them sad, they were genuinely happy for each other.

Sigh. It was a great story. We just don’t agree with the ending haha. We wanted Mia and Sebastian happy, but TOGETHER. Then again, we’re mere spectators. Who are we to dictate to the creator of the story? They bagged a lot of awards for it. The story telling was excellent for sure.

Thinking about my own life, I am so grateful that King and I are happy together. We went through some drama before tying the knot, like all coupes do, but it was never a choice between us and my career, or us and our passions. We decided to pursue “us” because we were (still are) on the same page and had (have) similar passions. We believe in the same God and we want the same thing — to honor, serve, love and obey God together as a couple and raise kids who will do the same. That was (is) our unifying factor. Even if I had a career to think about or a desire to build one, I am fairly certain we would work things out, being guided by God, our spiritual family, our faith and our priorities. Ours was (is) a great story as well. And because it is authored by God Himself, the journey and the ending will always be beautiful and blessed. ❤

 

If you’ve managed to finish reading this despite the spoilers, I recommend you see La La Land yourself. It’s worth it. 🙂

Marriage, Relationships

my dating life

My husband and I have been teaching in our church’s marriage preparation seminar called Before I Do for the past few years, along with our Family Ministries pastor Ptr Chico and his wife Maryanne and with our Kids Church pastor Ptr Carlo and his wife Lea. It’s an opportunity given to us that I consider such a privilege. First, we get to share our lives and impart to engaged (and some newly married) couples. We get to be candid about our marriage, about the things that God has been teaching us and the things that we are still struggling with. We get to show them, hopefully, that marriage is a picture of God’s grace. We get to point them to Jesus, that though we can do our best to try to meet each other’s needs as husband and wife (that’s our topic — his needs, her needs), only Jesus can truly complete us and perfectly meet each of our needs. Second, I get to teach with my husband. It’s like a working date for us. Well at least last night was. There have been times in the past when our kids would be waiting in the office for us, one of them would pop into the room while we talked about something sensitive, or I’d have to run out to tend to a crying infant.

Yes, a “working” date. Spending time together while serving. Maybe it’s the fact that we get to do something meaningful and fruitful together. Maybe it’s the topic. Maybe it’s the passion we share in reaching out to singles and teaching about relationships. Maybe it’s our desire to help young couples have great, God-honoring marriages. Maybe it’s the joy in knowing that we are obeying God (I do not like public speaking but this is where God has placed me). Maybe it’s the hope for a better future for each family represented there. Maybe it’s seeing God’s work in their lives. Maybe it’s all of that. And I just really truly enjoy teaching with my husband. 🙂

Having three kids can be tricky in terms of going out on dates, but it is something we need to fight for. Many months back I could remember our two older daughters complaining that their dad and I went on dates. They’d complain that it’s unfair that we leave them or say that they are not loved as much. Yes, daughters are many times overdramatic (weren’t you? hehehe). There was a time that I got so frustrated because I felt I was being condemned for wanting to spend quality time with my own husband! Ridiculous, right? Haha. But it’s true. We had to teach our daughters that they ought to be happy that their parents are taking good care of their marriage. They should be thankful that their parents prioritize their relationship. We had to assure them that we are taking care of our marriage not only because we love each other but because we love them.

Sometimes King calls and tells me to get ready for a quick date in the nearby mall. Sometimes we take a quick meal after a meeting we attend together. Sometimes I initiate it. That IS one of the perks of being married heehee — I don’t have to wait to be asked; I can do the asking. One day last month, I think we went to the supermarket with our eldest to get stuff she needed for school. When we got home, to King’s surprise, I told Danae that she can get down so that Daddy and I can go on a date. I had no real plan, but I wanted to take advantage of the availability of my mom’s helper to watch the kids. I was also surprised by Danae’s chipper attitude, as she said, “Okay, go. You kids have fun.” Haha. Finally, they’re on board! Noelle doesn’t complain anymore either. Gianna sometimes cries when I go, but she gets over it quickly. It’s not very often anyway. Once every two weeks at best. Going on a trip without the kids is the next goal haha. King dreams of whisking me away for a few days away from home, but for now, we will settle for quick getaways and a few stolen moments (hahaha #mganakawnasandali, #cheesy!). 🙂

Marriage, Relationships

Statement 1 or Statement 2?

I posted this question on my Facebook page almost 2 months ago. I was starting to share my answer too, but then it became too long to be a comment. I decided to post it here instead.

On girl-boy relationships.
Which statement is more true for you, and why?

1. It’s worth it because this is forever.
2. Even if it’s not forever, it will be worth it.

I received quite a few answers and different explanations, so thank you. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for opening my mind to your perspective. I know that your answers were personal, and I respect all your opinions. Allow me to share my personal beliefs as well, based on my past experiences, my current situation, and my hopes for the future.

First, I want to clarify that when I say forever, I mean “till death do us part.” I know that there is no such thing as forever (here on earth anyway) because we all die. When I posted the question, I was thinking about relationships and marriage. 🙂

I choose statement number 1.

Boy-girl relationships should not be taken lightly, should never be entered without the future in mind. If I were my immature, delusional, romantic young self, I would choose statement number 2, not thinking about the future but merely ENJOYING THE MOMENT. And God knows that’s what I did before. I convinced myself that it was worth it because I was “happy.” I would also always convince myself that we had a future together, as if that made our relationship justifiable (so maybe I would’ve also chosen statement number 1, having this mindset). But did I consider the consequences? Nope. All I cared about was me and what I wanted. Hind sight is clearest in this matter because it’s done, already in my past. I had no relationship with Christ. I exercised no restraint, no wisdom.

Was it worth dishonoring my parents? Was it worth adding further damage to an already faulty family relationship? Was it worth all the heartache and the drama of being deceived, two-timed, used, neglected, ignored, or unvalued?  And not only heartache from the BOYS I was in relationships with, but the heartache of feeling so alone in my family because I pushed them farther away? Was choosing a boy, any boy over my family worth it? Was it worth doubting my own self-worth and losing my true identity? Was it worth the unnecessary pain I caused my husband as he discovered my past? Is it worth the fear I sometimes feel, dreading the possibility that my children will reap all that I have sown?

I say NOT. Those temporary relationships were not worth it. I learned much from my experiences, and I now clearly see the goodness of God because of them, but, no disrespect to the people involved, they were not at all worth it. It’s true what they say — experience is not the best teacher, the Word of God is.

I became a Christian at 24 years old, quite fresh from a devastating breakup. Through discipleship, I learned to see myself the way Jesus does — someone of great value and worth, someone unconditionally loved and accepted. I learned that it is Jesus who completes me, no one else. I learned to forgive. I learned to repent. I learned to humble myself and allow God to restore my relationship with my family. I learned to stop obsessing about marriage or romantic relationships, and focus on my relationship with God. I learned to enjoy my friendships, and to exercise the right boundaries. I learned to guard my heart, and keep myself from entering relationships that I was not sure were from the Lord. I learned to seek His will for my life and wait for His timing. I learned to allow Him to write my love story.

Now that my waiting is done and I am married to the man God created for me (yes, I really believe that, albeit sounding still delusional haha), I believe that everything is and will be worth it because this is it. God orchestrated this and I chose to participate. I made this commitment to my husband and to God, that I will do whatever it takes on my part to make our marriage work. All sacrifices, hardships, even heartaches will be worth it because it is the will of God that I am here in this marriage. I choose to obey God — to honor Him, to honor my husband, to honor our marriage. King is worth it. We are worth it. God is worth it.

All things between us are well at the moment, but nothing is perfect. Anything can happen in the future. Though there are situations, deal breakers in my book, that I have seen first hand among people I know and love, I cannot live my life in doubt and in dread. I choose to hope in God, to hope for the best in King. My hope is that King and I will remain in God, so that we can continue to be faithful to each other. My hope is that we remain vigilant in taking care of each other, in protecting each other and our marriage. My hope is that when we make mistakes, we will always choose to forgive each other and choose to continue to love each other as we do now. My hope is that he and I will constantly be on the same page about our family and our marriage as the seasons of our lives change — that we will both hold each other with such high regard, with such value, importance, and priority, and continually honor each other as husband and wife.

All the time, energy, effort, diligence, forgiveness, love and commitment I give today, despite conflicts and challenges, are worth it. Worth it now and worth it in the long run, because I believe in US. I believe that King and I are forever, and I believe that it is worth investing in forever.

Discipleship, Just My Thoughts, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Relationships

You and Your Lists

It’s no secret that most singles want to get married. I hear women, not sure about the men, say that they have a list of qualities that they are praying for. Some of them have an actual list. It may sound absurd to some of you, but to be honest, I had a list when I was single too.

My list had physical attributes specified, as well as pretty specific character and personality traits. I wrote down that list to know what I myself wanted in a husband and as a prayer of the qualities I wanted in him, as opposed to just wanting to BE married and praying for ANY husband.

I realize, however, that we women can take this to a dangerous extreme. We have a strong tendency to be DEPENDENT on this list, to be stuck on this list. What if the man that God is already presenting to you does not fit your list? What if he misses the mark, misses YOUR mark, in terms of looks, personality, family background, financial status, or character?

Don’t get me wrong. Standards are great. They speak about the value that we put on ourselves. They help us stay on the right track, remember our priorities, and make the right choices. They help us set boundaries that prevent us from putting ourselves in compromising positions, positions that will lead us to sin against God. We need standards. High ones.

As daughters of the King of kings, we ought to have high standards as He placed such a high value on us when His Son died for us on the cross. But make sure your standards are high when it comes to character. Put a premium on character and the man’s growing relationship with God, and not so much on his looks, height, weight, job, ministry, money, or last name.

Yes, there are many considerations in choosing a husband. Of course you want one whom you will enjoy looking at and waking next to. I am quite forgiving when it comes to that, NOT to say that I am not happy with my husband’s looks! I love his eyes and his loving ways. He has grown more handsome because of his love and his character. That’s way more important to me. I’m just happy that he is taller than me! And I can’t do anything about weight, as that fluctuates haha, just as mine does.

You want a husband with a good family background, not just a nice family name. All families have issues, but what matters is how your man treats his family, because it is an indication of how he will treat you and your family. It matters also how his family treats you, though it shouldn’t be your deciding factor. It’s his loyalty to you that will matter when conflicts arise. I happen to love King’s family and my last name.

You want a financially responsible husband, whom you are willing to support and cheer so that he can achieve his dreams and goals. You want a man WITH dreams and goals. Honestly, I did not even consider my future husband’s occupation. I didn’t desire to be a pastor’s wife. In other words, whether or not King was a pastor or was going to be one, I would’ve still married him. I don’t think I even thought of that. My “concern” was my freedom to continue to serve in church, therefore I needed and wanted a man who loved God more than he loved me, and a man who would lead and provide for me and our family the way God calls a man to. King didn’t have to be a pastor to be such a man. It just so happened that he was called to be one.

You want a husband that jives with your personality. I know I wanted a man who made me laugh, but when my eyes were opened to King, I thought we didn’t have the same wave length. I really thought there was no way we would work because I love and am good at word games, while he was (not anymore) pretty slow haha. It initially didn’t make sense to me, though it made sense to our friends. Today, our personalities still clash sometimes, but our commitment to God and to each other is more important to us than our petty issues.

My favorite item on that list, though, is: THAT HE WOULD DANCE WITH ME. And you know, God is just wonderfully amazing that he gave me a husband who does. A small detail it is, but it all the more has shown me what an intimate, PERSONAL GOD He is. He truly knows my heart’s desires.

You may have more considerations, but don’t ever assume that your list is God’s will for you. Chances are, your list is already based on someone you are eyeing (I wrote mine before I met King though). Don’t set yourself up for disappointment. You may not get exactly what you want or expect. Don’t be blinded by your list either.  He may not match a couple of the items on your list, but he could be the best man for you. You have been given the free will to choose, but exercise wisdom and rely on the Holy Spirit to guide you instead.

Better yet, STOP MAKING LISTS! Pray. Seek godly counsel. Get into the Word and let your mind get renewed by it, so you can see God’s good, pleasing and perfect will.  Have a grateful heart. Be grateful that you are single at the moment.  Be grateful that God has your future in His hands and He knows what and who is best for you. He knows more and better than you. Be grateful that His timing is perfect. Be grateful that you are not useless, not worthless, or have to be joyless while you are single. On the contrary, God saw you worthy of His Son’s bloodshed. He desires to use you in advancing His kingdom. Joy is from Him, not from marriage or a man or a relationship. You have God NOW. Love, grow, serve. And all these “things” will be given to you as well. 🙂

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33