In the Philippines, we have sari-sari stores — small shops usually attached to a person’s home, selling different sorts of goods. As a child, I dreamt of having my own, but I guess this is the closest I’m ever going to come to it. Sharing different stories — sari-sari stories — most especially from my experiences and learnings as a daughter of the King of Kings, as wife of my husband King, and as mom to our three princesses. 😊
Today we celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. ❤ I cannot thank God enough for first giving me the best husband, and then for sustaining us all these years. When I married King, I was sure that it was God who ordained everything for us to be together. But he isn’t perfect, and I am not perfect. We had only known each other for about 14 months, hardly enough time to really get to know another person. So in those 15 years, anything could have happened. The baggage we first brought into our marriage, we could have carried to this day. We could have kept pointing out the fault of the other and kept blaming each other. We could have kept dredging up our past. The issues we faced in the beginning could have remained. The attitudes we had could have remained unchanged. We could have made choices that would ruin us. We could have given up in frustration and pain (although the worst marriage nightmares, we experienced only literally in our dreams, or Kings dreams 😀 ).
But God has carried us through. Marriage is no joke. It is no easy feat. It takes work and change and dying to self. There is nothing like marriage to make you grow up and practice selflessness. I thank God for His grace, giving us the ability to not just bury things in our subconscious, but to acknowledge the issue, forgive and move forward. I thank God for His Word that continually renews our minds and transforms us. It is impossible to navigate through our relationship without the Word of God. Our marriage cannot grow if we ourselves do not grow in our relationship with God. I am so grateful for our spiritual family, that looks out for us. Marriage seminars and retreats, but most importantly couples we look up to and learn so much from. Couples who love us, walk with us, cover us in prayer, and are so generous in sharing their wisdom. Discipleship (as youth/singles) also truly helped us in learning servant leadership, grace, forgiveness, humility, honor, security in our identity in Christ, standards, boundaries, priorities, prayer, faith, trust, joy, hope, sacrificial love. Very important values to carry into a marriage.
Thank you, babe, for being a great husband. Thank you for your genes! We have three beautiful, talented daughters because of your contribution 😀 😀 😀 ! Thank you for your love for our family. Thank you for your kindness, and your example of Christlikeness. You have mentored me in so many ways. Thank you for loving God more than you love me. Our marriage is not perfect. We both make mistakes. But by the grace of God, we will continue being comfortable but never complacent, and we will celebrate our 50th anniversary in 35 years!!! We will be in our late 70s, but hopefully still grooving and laughing together. I love you! ❤
King and I had another opportunity to teach engaged couples in our church yesterday, at our wedding prep seminar called Before I Do. And one of the principles that we teach, though it is not in their manuals, is the concept of low expectation, high appreciation. In simpler terms, low demand, high appreciation. Demand less, hope more, and appreciate more.
I think it is pretty easy to be thankful for the pleasant surprises, for the unexpected. Things that you hope for and do not demand for, but surprisingly receive. Things that you think you would not get or experience, but then do.
But do we still express thanks for the normal, day-to-day, expected things? Things that are routine already? Things that you think you ought to receive, or things you feel you deserve?
Like maybe when your husband pays the bills on time (and you don’t even notice or get stressed out because they’re always paid for monthly). Or like when your wife keeps the peace at home among the children (and you don’t realize that you get saved from the stress of having to mediate because the issue has already been handled). Or when your husband holds the door for you. Or when your wife brings you water and food. Or when your husband drives for you. Or when your wife drives for you. Or when your husband plans dates with you. Or when your wife organizes your schedule as a family. Or when your husband does the plumbing. Or when your wife does the laundry.
Thank your spouse! Especially for the seemingly little and seemingly ordinary. Everything you do for your spouse and for your family is not little. It is not ordinary. Everything your spouse does for you and for your family is not little. It is not ordinary. Each of your contributions in your marriage is valuable. Appreciate each other. Verbally. Not just by actions. Your words have power. Use them to build a culture of gratitude in your marriage. ❤
16 Rejoice always,17 pray continually,18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
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. ❤️
I’ve recently watched the entire first season of Designated Survivor and it’s awesome! I keep hoping for Tom Kirkman to go Jack Bauer mode haha. I monopolized netflix, told Gianna that it’s mommy’s turn to watch. She obliged. She calls it my show and calls it “Mr. President” haha.
Anyway, there is this one episode where Tom Kirkman goes overseas to attend the NATO summit. But because a story comes out in the US regarding the government’s cover up of who really bombed the Capitol, the other world leaders decide to remove his time from the summit agenda. Nearly everybody questions his capability to be the US president, and just when things are looking up for his leadership, the truth that they are still getting to the bottom of, leaks. The pressure and the stress. The not knowing who to trust. His integrity and his love for his country. The politics. The weight on his shoulders as the new president of the United States, after the entire government is erased. Overwhelming.
Tom gets a call from his wife while he is still in Canada. She asks him how he is, and asks how she can help. Tom’s answer:
“Don’t lose faith in me.”
Wow. So simple yet so powerful. When your husband is at his lowest and you have no capacity to help, this is the greatest help you can give. DO NOT LOSE FAITH IN HIM. Believe in him. Believe in his abilities and in his heart. Stand by him through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Win or lose, you are a team. It’s not always going to be bad, and you have to be able to weather the storms together. Remind him that even through failure, you are proud of him for getting up and wanting to be a better man. Commend him for the great things he does and encourage him to keep giving his best.
COMMITMENT. LOYALTY. UNITY. Big words. But we have a bigger God who supplies us the strength, the wisdom, the grace, the joy, the love we need. ❤
Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. Ephesians 5:22 MSG
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:1-4
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:13-14
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16
Years ago, I was asked by some single ladies what they were supposed to do while they waited. Most singles hope to be married one day, let’s be real. I was the same. Since they were doing well in terms of their spiritual life, their careers and finances were in order, they served in church, their family life was healthy, what else should they do to prepare? What’s next? In other words, they were ready. Ready for the future. I don’t remember my exact answer but I guess I encouraged them to just be faithful in their season. To enjoy it. To learn and grow as they waited.
But maybe, just maybe, we had the wrong perception then. Including me. Maybe we were looking at marriage as a goal. Sure, we always said that every season is a gift. We said that being single is a blessing too. But, I think we also subconsciously believed that being married is better. And subconsciously sent the wrong message that marriage is the goal.
Don’t get me wrong. I love being married. I love hearing love stories. I love seeing couples getting married. There is rejoicing when God brings two people together for His glory and His purpose. BUT EXACTLY. It’s for God’s glory. It’s for God’s purpose. Being single is also for God’s glory, His purpose. The same goes for being a child, being a sibling, being a student. It’s not for our happiness or our enjoyment, though that is a huge bonus coming from a generous and loving God.
Marriage is the means. Christ is the goal. Singleness is the means. Christ is still the goal. Every season in our life is the means. CHRIST IS FOREVER THE GOAL. An intimate relationship with Christ, us growing in Christlikeness, us honoring Christ in everything we do, and us bringing people to Christ.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. 2 Peter 3:18
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowingChrist Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christand be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
Wife, do you tell your husband you are proud of him? When was the last time you did?
Husband, do you tell your wife she is beautiful? When was the last time you did?
The tongue has the power of life and death, the Bible says. Let’s lift each other up with our words.
Wife, your husband will feel secure and significant, knowing that you are proud of him. Let him know that you are proud of him not only during successes, but most especially in failures. Hold the criticism, the “I told you so”s. I know sometimes this is hard, since apparently we wives are always right (hahaha), but this will teach you to trust in the Lord more. To pray. To be silent when your husband needs you to be. Hug him. You standing by him, being his number one fan no matter what, will encourage him to get back on his feet and keep going. Your support means the world. It will encourage him to keep giving his best.
Husband, your wife will feel loved and secure when you tell her she is beautiful. Mean it. Focus on a particular detail about her beauty, whether physical or internal. Change it up. Be creative. Find new beautiful things about her. Discover her. Tell her. This will teach you to step out of your comfort zone, to pause and reflect, and to be grateful for God’s goodness in your life. It doesn’t have to be cheesy. Trust me, I’m not cheesy either, though King often is (hahaha). Just tell her sincerely. Details help. So she doesn’t have to ask you why, and you don’t have to explain further either. Right? She will appreciate your appreciation of her, and you will put a smile in her heart all day.
The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. Proverbs 18:21 NLT
Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:4 NLT
Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Proverbs 141:3 NIV
Okay, so we Filipinos seem to have all been affected by the Jollibee valentine ads. I am talking particularly about “Vow.” It’s a brilliant ad, telling us that no matter what happens, Jollibee will always be there for us, to make us feel loved and happy each time we visit their stores. But really, were you affected by the video saying, “awwww Jollibee, thanks so much for the love and sacrifice…”? Haha. No, I think we were affected by the love story. As a friend of mine said, it’s La La Land all over again!
I tweeted the other day that I don’t believe in guy-girl best friends unless guy and girl are married, with the hashtags #jollibee #onealwayscrossestheline (which I’ve changed to #oneortheothermaycrosstheline) #wrongvow #usewisdom. I know, some agree and some do not. I don’t mean to step on anyone’s toes. I respect everyone’s opinions and life choices, whether I agree with them or not. But let me try to explain. My tweet was prompted by the ad, but I have been subscribing to this belief ever since I learned about boundaries and healthy, mature boy-girl relationships. Of course, this was already when I was an adult hehehe.
Anyway, that said, I believe there is a danger in a man and a woman, a boy and a girl becoming best of friends. There are so many stories of hearts being broken this way. There is always that very thin line that one could cross, maybe at different points of their relationship. One could be oblivious to it, the other could be deeply longing and believing for them to be together in the end. One could be over it, and the other starts developing feelings. Or both feel the same way but are too young (or whatever other reason) to do anything about it. Or both feel the same way, do something about it, and then end up ruining their friendship. The thought will almost always cross one or the other’s mind. Sorry, but not many women or men have the character and maturity to be able to keep that line clear and distinct. So why put yourself in that position? It’s not wise.
Case in point, the Jollibee ad, which is inspired by a true story. The guy invested so much of his time, energy, money and emotions on his best friend, only to lose her to another man. That would have been fine (maybe, minus the emotions) if they were truly, purely just friends, but the guy obviously had deep feelings for the girl. He was so heartbroken. So for me, that kind of investment should really be reserved for your spouse. That kind of best friendship, between husband and wife, is worth that kind of investment. Husband and wife mutually invest in each other and in their marriage.
To be honest, I didn’t expect the ad to have that twist. I’m one of those who wants the best friends in the story, to end up together. I enjoy those kinds of happy endings. Reality Bites and Some Kind of Wonderful come to mind. ❤ And don’t get me wrong. I believe that God is the best author of love stories and each story He writes is unique. He knows all, knows best. His will is good, pleasing and perfect. He can choose to write a love story between guy-girl best friends. Those stories are wonderful too. But sadly, or many times thankfully, not all guy-girl relationships are meant to turn out that way.
And then there’s that vow, those promises the guy made to the girl. Not to his bride, but to his best friend? What?! I mean, it was great for the drama and all, but who does that? (Well apparently one guy did). Be the replacement/the dummy when hubby is not available? Be the crying shoulder when she and hubby have a disagreement? I don’t think so. And when he marries, what then? A part of him will always be with his best friend. How can he cling to and be loyal to his own wife?
It’s cool to shift our loyalty from one fast food chain to another (I myself have no loyalty to any), but we can’t do that between our spouse and our best friend. A wife’s husband and guy best friend should be one and the same person. A husband’s wife and girl best friend should be one and the same person as well. It’s about unity of husband and wife. Being ONE. It’s difficult to achieve that if King had to compete with “my guy best friend” for my time, priorities, loyalty, affection. If I had “him” to run to and I’m sure at times compare King with, it would become easy for me to run away from issues instead of facing them and working on them with King. If I had “him” to give me my boosts, I might eventually learn to cling to him instead of to King. Let’s not fool ourselves in thinking that we are above such kind of behavior, or that our marriages are strong enough. Our own pride will set us up for a fall. We must never be complacent.
I don’t mean we can’t have close friends of the opposite sex when we’re married. Sure we can. That’s something we discuss and agree on with our spouse. Because they are our priority and they have our loyalty, we respect our spouse’s opinion. We respect their position on the matter, or on any matter. We get on the same page. Not always easy, but that’s part of being married. We continually discover and live out what it is to think outside of ourselves, to give of ourselves. To think not only of “me, my rights and what’s rightfully mine,” but to think of “us, what is best for our marriage, and what will honor God.” It will hurt at times because we are all wired to think about our needs and push our agenda first, but by the grace and love of God, we learn to be selfless. By the grace and love of God, we fulfill the vows that we said before God and men the day we got married. To quote the vows said as bride and groom exchange rings, “As you wear this ring, you acknowledge that you are no longer your own, but MINE.”
The true key to a happy, God-honoring marriage, however, is Jesus. Without Him, even the strongest friendship between a husband and wife can still be broken. Loving, giving, sharing, honoring, supporting, encouraging, waiting, understanding, forgiving, learning, healing is possible only through Jesus. None of us can do this successfully without Him.
Happy Valentine’s Day! #valentineseveryday #loveeveryday May every reader know and experience the love of Jesus, and choose to never live without Him. 🙂
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33
My in-laws recently celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. First of all, 50 years together? Wow! What an amazing milestone!
Growing up, I attended the golden wedding anniversary celebrations of my grandparents on both sides. I think I may even have played the piano at one of them. I love that my children will also remember celebrating their grandparents’ anniversary with family and a few friends. They will remember that they got to witness their Dad officiate his parents’ renewal of vows. They will remember the love and appreciation they the grandkids and others expressed for their grandparents. They will remember how their aunts and uncles honored their mom and dad with their messages. They will remember how loved we all made their Wowo Jun and Wowa Remy feel that night. They will remember their grandparents’ legacy of love, a strong marriage, strong family ties, and a committed relationship with God.
King and his siblings expressed some time last year that they wanted to do something nice for their parents this year. They kind of wanted a repeat of what King organized for their parents 3 years ago, which I was supportive of but absent for, due to a very difficult first trimester of pregnancy. Somebody also suggested a renewal of vows ceremony. To make the long story short, the idea was not at all forgotten, but we were all lacking in the planning department haha. Thank God King and I had some alone time one morning, on our way to a wake, and we had the opportunity to finally talk about the anniversary. It was literally a week away! Things moved pretty quickly from there. King suggested Neil’s Kitchen, we had lunch there and inquired right away. Our first choice, January 21 was booked, so we settled for the next best thing, January 22, a Sunday. We ran it by the siblings, two of whom were in California at that time, and they gave us the go signal. I basically became the very willing coordinator of the party. I guess the hosting skills naturally kicked in haha. Guest list, food, attire, motif were quickly decided. My sister-in-law residing in the US sent teddy bears and candies for our giveaways, through their eldest brother Ronald, who came home the Friday before the event. Thank God for internet. Communication and coordination would have been impossible without it. Good thing I’m married to the officiant too, haha.
It’s funny because King kept telling me that he wanted a simple party. He didn’t want me to add anything to what was part of the package, basically because he didn’t want me to work and get stressed. Sweet, but no. I needed to personalize it, of course! And what I do is always minimal and always simple anyway, never over the top. But he does know how I lose sleep working on the little details, hehehe. But I insisted. My other sister-in-law also said she was making cut-outs of their parents’ initials. She and her husband are excellent in making decor and props like that.
To me, it became so much more meaningful when I realized this was something I would not be able to do for my own parents because my dad is no longer with us. My mom and dad can’t celebrate their golden anniversary anymore, though I am certain that they would be if he were alive today. My kids didn’t have the chance to see firsthand my parents’ marriage, how they love and take care of each other. I don’t have the privilege to do something for their 50th. This was my only other opportunity, and I’m so grateful.
I’m grateful that my in-laws are alive AND are still together after 50 years! I’m grateful that we — especially me, my family, and all of King’s siblings and their families — did not miss or waste this opportunity to thank, honor, and rejoice with them. We all worked together to make the celebration possible. I’m grateful for everyone who tried to come and for those who actually came! Some came from as far as Bulacan. We made Daddy Jun and Mommy Remy very happy! So happy that Mommy Remy was overcome with emotion that she could not say what she wanted to say. She told me yesterday that there are so many stories behind their 50 years, and that one day she will tell them to me. I will wait for that day. King has told me amazing stories about his experiences and about his family. I have no doubt that when my parents-in-law share their stories with me, I will be amazed at God’s faithfulness in their lives.
Happy golden wedding anniversary Daddy and Mommy! Thank you for setting the bar high, for inspiring us to have strong, God-honoring marriages, for teaching us to love and prioritize our families. Thank you also for showing us that when we get to your age, we husbands and wives can still serve the Lord together. God bless you both so much. We love you! ❤
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12
Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Romans 13:7
So we celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary yesterday, woot woot! We were so busy celebrating, I didn’t have time to write hehehe. King is such a thoughtful husband that he always takes a leave and plans something for our anniversary. I don’t get in his way or upstage him by coming up with my own plans because I believe he enjoys doing that for us. I asked him the other day what the plan was, and he told me that he was thinking of checking us into a hotel. As he was saying that it’s too expensive, I agreed and said yeah, let’s not. But then he went on to say that instead of spending the money on a hotel overnight stay, it’s better to spend it in Divisoria (it is an area in Manila with a series of stores/malls that sell more affordable stuff especially when you buy in bulk). Haha. King knew right away that he got me good! I haven’t been to Divisoria in ages, and I’ve been wanting to go!
So there. We spent half the day in Divi. We went straight after dropping off the older girls at school. Gianna was with us haha. We have no pictures! But our sore backs are proof. She’s so heavy already. And you don’t bring strollers to Divi. Traffic of people can be tight and heavy. She did cooperate, staying in the baby carrier, which King and I alternated wearing, almost the entire time. We stayed in Divi for 4 hours, and travelled about 2 hours coming back for the girls in school. We were late! We were all hungry so we drove through for food, and King and the older girls proceeded to play with and assemble King’s Divi find as soon as we got home. Actually, that’s all King bought. Though we were there to supposedly buy some things for ourselves, we ended up buying mostly for the kids and our home. No matter. We were happy, and we are excited to go back. Then for dinner, King cooked a family favorite — his shrimp pesto penne.
Simplicity. I love that about us. We don’t really run after big, bright, expensive things. Don’t get me wrong. We are happy to receive those too haha. And thankful to be able to splurge (our own definition of splurge, of course) on occasion. But we are ones who are happy to simply spend time together and to bless our children even in little ways. I remember our first anniversary, for which I prepared a surprise candle lit dinner at home on the floor, with Danae on a blanket beside us. I think that was the only anniversary I planned. And now our 12th year! We have definitely had many and different celebrations as a family. I’m thankful for each one. For each birthday, each Christmas, each anniversary, each memory.
The Lord is good. The Lord is faithful. I thank God for my husband and for my marriage. The night of the super moon, we ate at Salad Stop (yummy!), and I asked King why he loves me. One of the things he said was because I love God more than him. I asked him how he knows that, and he told me it’s because I’m scared to hurt him. Hahahaha, we had an argument-slash-banter that day and I threatened to punch him for real. But of course I didn’t. We both laughed. I hope that that is true as only God can see and judge my heart. That is the very reason I was confident in marrying King as well. That he loves God more than me. I pray that holds true for us both till death do us part.
Happy anniversary King! I love you! 🙂
‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife,and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one,let no one split apart what God has joined together.” Mark 10:7-9 NLT
We just attended Victory Alabang’s Couples Getaway at Mt Malarayat Golf and Country Club over the weekend. There were 2 batches because more than a hundred couples signed up! We were part of batch 1, all day Friday to Saturday morning. The place was really nice! We want to go back and bring the kids there.
This was our 6th couples retreat to date. Each one has its memories. Our very first was in Caliraya with 10-month-old Danae. I remember not being able to focus much because King was also working as staff. I do remember the conversation we needed to have at that time. Wow, come to think of it, that must have been the retreat that elicited much emotion from me. I was a new mom, King was a new dad, we were not even 2 years into our marriage, and we knew each other for approximately 3 years. We were young and immature. King and I were NOT on the same page. But I guess it turned out well because here we still are. Haha. God lives!
The second was in Summit Ridge in 2010. Danae and 1-year-old Noelle, plus our then yaya, were with us. The third (2011) and fourth (2012) were both also in Tagaytay, in Taal Vista Hotel. We had no kids with us! Our fifth (also 2012) was with other pastors and their wives, in Bellevue Hotel, Alabang. King picked up the kids in the evening so they could stay the night with us. We had friends come over to take them swimming while we attended the last session the next morning. This year, we went without any kids too! My in-laws and my mom took care of our girls while we were out. My mother-in-law took care of almost-2-year-old Gianna who, except while she was in the NICU for 5 days, has not spent a night without me. There were some tears, but it was all in all good. Whew!
Attending the getaway is never easy for us. There are many things to consider — the kids, who will be with the kids, money, the schedules, the kids, not to mention things that come up, health issues, the kids. Haha. At the very last hour of me trying to get some sleep and waiting to wake up, between 4 and 5 in the morning, I was still struggling whether to go without Gianna or to bring her. It would be easier on everybody, I thought, if I just brought Gianna. But then I was reminded that King had been looking forward to being alone with me. You have to understand. In the 12 years (almost) that we’ve been married, we have spent the night without the kids around, less than 20 times. Included in the count are the 3 getaways, a couple of the older girls’ sleepovers, and king’s and my hospitalization. I was also reminded that that’s the very reason why we asked my in-laws to come, and that they are very much capable of taking care of the girls’, most especially Gianna’s needs.
Attending seminars and retreats are a great investment in our marriage. If King showed me that I am his priority by making sure we attended the getaway, I realize that I showed him that he is my priority by leaving the kids home*. I’m so glad I did. These days, we get to date once or twice a month, from mostly quickies to regular ones. The getaway was a long, lovely, fun and purposeful date.
I believe that these retreats aren’t only for troubled marriages. Yes, it is a great way to open the door to have those crucial conversations, to resolve issues, to forgive and heal, to reconnect, to rekindle the passion. But we don’t need to wait for our marriages to be in trouble before we start taking care of it. Invest in your marriage early. We all have issues anyway. None of us is immune to temptation or to acting like humans. We all need to be equipped to be better spouses. Let’s keep our marriages strong early on.
One of the important points Ptr Ariel made in the last session was that MANY OF OUR PROBLEMS ARE NOT MARRIAGE PROBLEMS, BUT GOD PROBLEMS. It’s so true. If we continually walk with God, honor and obey Him, love Him above anything and anyone else, then of course the overflow will also be evident in the way we love and honor our spouse. We cannot build and strengthen our marriages apart from God. We cannot be good spouses apart from God.
So invest in your relationship with God. Aside from going to getaways, seminars and talks, aside from going out on dates, read your Bible. Apply it in your life. Pray. Pray for each other. Go to church. Surround yourself with people who want and do the same thing. Let God work in you. By His grace, the quality of your marriage will follow. ❤
*I do not condemn those who did bring kids. Like I said, I’ve done it too. In fact, kudos to you because you did it just so you could attend the getaway! We all know it is difficult to leave our kids, but it is also difficult to bring them when we’re trying to focus and learn. You will also have your time alone with each other, in Jesus’ name. 🙂
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” Psalm 16:2
He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, But he who refuses correction goes astray. Proverbs 10:17
He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24