When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“Aprub!” (approve) was my father’s most favorite answer to almost anything I would ask from him. From toys, clothes, food, school supplies, name it, if he can get it, he will give it to me. It was his way of making me feel loved, apart from the time he spends with me, despite his very busy schedule.

I thought I was never spoiled, since I never really became a brat, who whined and cried when my parents couldn’t get me what I wanted. Although, thinking about it now, I actually cannot recall any specific instance when my father gave me a NO for an answer. Aprub! I remember his line so clearly, until today. 

Since I married Joey, things started to change. I had to learn to surrender to his authority over our family. Out of habit, oftentimes, I get disappointed when he would decide to go against my plans and wishes. It had always been a continuous struggle. 

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

Ephesians‬ ‭5:22-24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

You see, this isn’t about being unfair in a worldly sense. These verses are commanded to us wives, basically for our own good and for the good of the family. But, how? How is it good to submit? Well, God has appointed husbands to be the head of the family for they are given the responsibility to LEAD. Men are created and designed this way as we see in this verse:

“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭11:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Just so you know, God originally didn’t design marriage this way, when he created the world. It only changed the moment Adam and Eve failed to obey God, and committed the very first sin. 

“To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.””

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And because we are fallen beings, born in sinfulness, these things are what we encounter today. This is our struggle in our own marriage. This is our common struggle as women: all of us have that inner desire to get what we want. How many of you can relate? Oh yes, you! Yes, Momma, I see you. You’re just like me, as I am like you. The struggle is real. Very real. 

Submission is an act of obedience through faith. But why do we even have to submit anyway? Simply because God commanded it. That alone should be enough to shake us and make us obey immediately. But God is a good God and and has been gracious in giving us the chance to know why we should submit to those who are in authority over us. 

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭13:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We all know that God blesses us when we obey him. When we are faithful to His commands, he spares us from conflict and difficulties in life. This is why we should strive to sumbit to our husbands, and to our governing authorities. Is there a limitation to this? What if they are unreasonable? Biased? Unfair? We STILL submit. Whoever abuses his authority, God will deal with them in His own perfect time, for He is sovereign above all things. If a person becomes physically abusive though, that is another story. Those people should immediately seek counsel. We also should be wary when we are asked to do unbiblical things, we don’t submit to that either. This is why knowing God’s commands and instructions through reading His Word, is truly vital.

Take note and please do not be mistaken. Our motivation to obey should stem from our thankfulness, for the undeserved grace that He has given us believers, through our Salvation, in Christ Jesus. It can’t be because we want something from God, that means nothing at all. God does not owe us anything! Everything we have is purely by GRACE.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Remember, we have already been blessed, and out of the overflow of our hearts should be that desire which is to give God glory, by pleasing Him, by doing the all the little things that would make Him feel loved and honored. Just take for example how much you value your child’s obedience, it feels good that they trust you, knowing that you know what is best for them doesn’t it?

I am a work in progress in the area of submission. The focal point of our marriage is to bring back to God all the glory. So, when I find myself doubting or questioning Joey’s decisions and choices, I try my best to look at it from a different perspective. That even if it is not what I wanted at that moment, because God is sovereign, it will ultimately be for the best, for my own good. In order for me to do that willingly AND joyfully, I must develop my trust in God’s supreme authority. After all, it is easier to submit when you know to whom you do it for, and that is for God.

Joey and I will still go through a lot of challenges in our marriage. Like I have said, I am still a work in progress. It is my prayer that when I don’t get things my way, I will always be reminded of who I am, what my role is as a wife and a woman, and how God is sovereign above all things. It is also my prayer that Joey will remain as forgiving and patient as he is, for all my mistakes presently, and those that I may still commit in the future. 

All glory unto God alone!

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Motherhood Redefined

The holidays last December was an eye opener for me about what it means to actually take care of my family, all by myself. Our househelp, who has been with us for just 6 months, left us for good. What was supposed to be a short vacation turned out to be permanent goodbye. I thought a post must be dedicated for this story alone, but I feel like it’s just a waste of my precious time, so, I did not bother anymore.

I have always been a hands on Mom to Matilda, even before Mileina was born. Losing the househelp did not paralyze us in that area very much. Although, the difference now is that, we have another baby to take care of. For one, I am exclusively breastfeeding, and it takes so much time in a day for feeding sessions. However, this is still good, because it takes away washing and sterilizing bottles as additional chores everyday if we were formula feeding. Another is that, I make sure we have freshly prepared, homecooked meals daily. This is quite meticulous to prepare, considering I do have meat and vegetables each meal. Preparing the ingredients alone is already time-consuming. 

As a wife to Joey on the other hand, it is a whole other set of responsibilities. Joey likes to have food prepared for him to bring to the office for breakfast, snack and lunch. He also wants his clothes ironed really well, shoes regularly shined and scrubbed, and his gym clothes washed right after use. Well, this is apart from the usual night massage requests he asks for as his love language (Hey, I’m not complaining ha? Haha!).

Honestly, during the first few days, I was grumbling and irritated that Joey expects that much from me knowing that I still have to look after the two kids. After praying about it though, I realized that it is my repsonsibility, and I have to own up to it. It is my role, first, as a wife, to take care of him, before our children. Yes, babies are demanding of time and attention, but it is a good training for them to learn how to wait and understand the right order of priorities. It is a really good thing so that they do not grow up feeling entitled. It is also a wake-up call for me, because I have depended so much on our househelp in doing these things for us. I would just usually instruct and observe. Now, I am able to do so much more for Joey compared to how it was when I just delegated the chores to our househelp.

On my part though, adjustments had to me made before it came to that. I am now waking up earlier that usual, around 6 to 6:30am to prepare Joey’s packed food and our own breakfast at home, which is usually whatever leftover food we have the day before. And then I go on preparing ingredients for our lunch and dinner. After which, I load the laundry in the washer and come back for it when I have spare time. We eat breakfast, keep Matilda preoccupied with activities while I cook, and then breastfeed and wash soiled cloth diapers in between. I wash the dishes when I can, too! And then we take a bath, have lunch and put the kids to sleep for an afternoon nap. This is the time I get to rest and read my Bible. When they are deep asleep already, this is when I clean the house, wash the remaining dishes, refill water bottles, fold clean clothes and get the clothes from the washer. Whew! Talking about it makes me catch my breath! It is tiring physically, really, most of the time, but relfecting on how I am sustained by God day by day is the most rewarding feeling of all. Seeing that I get to personally take care of my family too, all by myself, is a true gift from God, and for this, I am blessed! 

And because Joey saw how well I am coping with the situation, we have decided to stop looking for a househelp. We just have a stay-out help, who comes in once or twice a week, to handwash delicate clothes, including the kids’ clothes, and to iron them as well. If for whatever reason she would decide to stop coming, we will still manage. 

This is a lot better for all of us. Matilda has become even more independent, and she has learned to be more considerate. She is now more careful with her toys and does not make a mess anymore. She even helps me take care of her little sister. 

Joey on the other hand takes care of the dishes when he is around. He cooks too, when he has the time. And for myself, I have mastered the art of multitasking and time-management at its finest! It is indeed humbling and we are grateful for this change in our household. For what I used to call motherhood was redefined, ultimately for God’s glory alone. 

Colossians 3:17

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Colossioans 3:23-24

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 

These verses are great reminders to me on how I should view my daily tasks. I do not only do it for my family, but I must remember that I do it for God. They will see, especially my kids if what I am doing is from my heart, and if I am serving them with joy and delight. I represent my faith to them that is why it is important that I set a good example of what it means to be a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother. My goal is to accomplish the purpose God has set before me, as I wait on the Lord. My rewards will not be from the earth, but is found in heaven when I meet my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

So mothers, do not rely on help from anyone. Do what you can, so that if ever they decide to suddenly leave, (well, they usually do!) you won’t have a hard time adjusting. Like many mothers all over the world, with the right amount of prayer, patience commitment, and most of all, grace from God, you can do it too! Let’s be supermoms for our families one day at a time. 

  

The Lord is My Healer

I believe it is only fitting that I blog about the recent developments of my pregnancy. By the time I make this post public, I’ll be on my 6th month mark. Oh how time flies! As most of you mommies know, right around this time, your Obstetrician would already request for you take your Oral Glucose Tolerance Test – OGTT test. This is a procedure wherein you will be asked to fast for 6-8 hours, have your blood drawn for it and then you will be asked to take an orange glucose drink, and have another extraction 2 hours thereafter. Normally, it usually takes 4 extractions which includes the fasting, 1st hour, 2nd hour and 3rd hour to have more accurate results, but because I already have a history of Gestational Diabetes in my past pregnancy, this procedure with fewer extractions, was done to me instead.

In my pregnancy with Matilda, it came out as a shock that I got a positive result for this test. Sure, I am fond of sweets, but I have my blood tests done annually to make sure all is well with my health. This is actually one of the things my parents do for their own health and has passed it on to me and my brother, just to know how we are all doing. So, you can just imagine my reaction upon seeing the result of my OGTT test. I was so confused and I felt as if my body has betrayed me.

I was asked by my OB to meet with an Endocrinologist, a specialist in this area, to check on me and help me manage my sugar level. She asked me to get a Glucometer, a small, battery-operated device to check my sugar 2 hours after each meal, and record it in a notebook. She also asked me to meet with a Nutritionist-Dietitian to try having my blood sugar controlled naturally, through exercise and by following a strict calorie count diet, before we decide if I’ll be needing insulin injections or not.

As I was going through this process, pricking my finger 3x a day, eating ZERO sugar and having portion controlled meals, my pregnancy on my 5th month then have become very depressing. I couldn’t enjoy eating whatever I wanted and I felt deprived each time. I was also worried for the health of my baby and just prayed that I’d be able to endure this difficult time.

Apart from that, this condition was also financially challenging as the glucometer strips were very costly and we had to go to 2 different doctors each check-up, plus the fact that we had to revamp our grocery shopping list to much healthier alternatives. This is also because this condition is also linked with Pre-Eclampsia, which is high-blood during the pregnancy, that I had to really watch my food intake and minimize using salt and oil in cooking. How sad is that? No sugar, less salt and almost zero oil in cooking. Just imagine how many times I had to say no to my cravings!

But… With all the difficulty, I am still so blessed that I was able to deliver a healthy, normal and full-term baby. Maybe it was just God’s way of reminding me that He is in control and that through that time, He was trying to bring me closer to Him.

Now on this second pregnancy, I became more aware of my food intake. I tried my best to stay healthy and ate whole food. I switched to red rice, and also increased my vegetable and fruit intake. I also removed the maternity milk, which all the while I thought was necessary-ended up being the trigger for having Gestational Diabetes, because of its high sugar content! So please, never ever take those and just stick to natural and fresh food. Those of which are readily absorbed by the body like indigenous vegetables and fruits. I also continued to breastfeed, which I talked about on my previous post. Breastfeeding helps regulate blood sugar levels, that’s why I made it a point to nurse Matilda up to the time she decided to wean on her own.

During my 1st trimester, we had to check how I was doing, and praise God, my blood sugar was normal. My OB advised that I will be having another test at around 5 and a half months and that too came out normal. Just when I had fully accepted the fact that I most likely have Gestational Diabetes again, all my test results came back negative! God is soooo good! He has healed me! I believe He allowed me to go through that ordeal so that I would fully depend on Him, and not on myself, neither what I can do. This chapter of my life was planned perfectly to make it a testimony of His faithfulness. Thank you, Lord!
And because of that great news, I celebrated by eating some churros with chocolate dip! Finally, I can now eat whatever I want, but of course, still in moderation. 🙂

To summarize, the things that I learned from this are:

1. Health is something you cannot, EVER, be in control of. Only God is in control.

2. Despite God being in control, you also have to do your part in being healthy. Your physical body is your responsibility. It is God’s gift to you, and you have to take care of it and not abuse it.

3. Nothing is impossible with God. He will  give you trials to mold you and make you stronger, but He promises that He will be with you through it all.

Psalm 103: 2-5

2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

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The Biblical Aspect of Discipline

Matilda now at 2 years and 4 months old, has become very much curious in everything. A normal toddler just like her, has the ability to make her parents joyful and disappointed all at the same time. Well, that’s really how raising a child goes, don’t you agree?

Ever since Matilda was still in my tummy, we have always contemplated on how we will be able to raise her as a Godly child. I, myself, for example, wasn’t raised in a Christian home, but Joey on the other hand was. He grew up a fine man, with respect toward authorities, and has been very obedient to rules, whether set by his parents, in school, and now, as a professional. I praise God for how he was brought up to be the man he has become.

I know A LOT of people will take this post negatively. You might think that what I am about to tell you is some form of child abuse. You might even misjudge me for being impatient and worse, a bad parent. But don’t you worry, I have been judged way too many times with how I am raising my child, and honestly, it is just us, her parents, who reap all the benefits that Biblical Discipline has given her. And soon, as she grows up to be the woman she is bound to become, I know she will be grateful for it, just like her Papa is, to his parents.

Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 NASB)

As Christians, we are commanded in the Bible to train and discipline our children. This means, we as parents, are fully responsible in how we will be raising God-fearing, obedient and respectful kids. Ever wondered why your kid suddenly became so disobedient? That even though no one taught them to say no, or do the opposite of what was asked of them, they still grow up doing EXACTLY that? Why do you think children are so entitled thinking they should always have it their way, or else they will give you such a hard time pacifying them? Well, this verse clearly states the reason why.

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15 NASB)

What is this “foolishness” the Bible is talking about? Because of The Fall of Man, we have all become sinners in the eyes of our God. We have all been sinful even while we were inside the womb of our mothers. This means, we are to commit these sins even as children. And the most common of these are Disobedience and Disrespect.

Now that Biblically, I am painting this picture for you to understand why discipline is necessary, knowing the basis and background as to why children are really born to be like that, let us now go back to how we enforce this to our Matilda.

On the second part of the verse above, it says, The rod of discipline will remove it (foolishness) far from him. What is this “rod” we are talking about here? The rod is an object we use for spanking. It may actually be anything, but for us, we use the belt.

Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them. (Proverbs 13:24 NIV)

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11 NIV)

We discipline by spanking because we believe that it is what God wants us to do. The Bible’s credibility cannot be questioned because of its infallibility and inerrancy. Did you know that from Genesis to Revelation, there is not even one contradicting statement in the Scripture? It’s one of the many reasons, apart from History, great amount of evidences, fulfilled prophecies and promises, and so on, why we believe it’s true. That it is in fact, the Word of God. And because of our faith in Him, we should obey His Word.

Since we realized the gravity that disciplining a child entails, we then started seeking God’s word. We wanted to learn even more from Him, on how we can raise a Godly child in order that we may bring all the Glory back to Him as we raise her. We also got the book Shepherding a Child’s Heart (where most of the principles written here are derived from), which explains our role as parents, and how we can be intentional in molding the heart of our child. It all begins from the heart, the behavior of your child is an overflow of the heart.

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. (Luke 6:45 NLT)

Discipline is not an easy task. It takes a great amount of patience to be able to get it right. You see, we should never spank in anger. Children will know when you are angry, they will remember this, and it will give a negative effect in the implementation of discipline. In fact, being angry in itself is already sinful. Being angry, usually when we don’t have it our way is considered unholy anger, but to be angry at the sin in itself, knowing that this specific sin is never tolerated by God, and it makes you upset, that is holy anger. Always make sure your heart is on the right place. So, when do we spank? And how do we begin to do it?

19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. (James 1:19-20)

First of all, for a child to know the concept of obedience, we must instill this to them at a very young age. If I remember correctly, I started talking to Matilda about obedience when she was around 6-7 months old. Around this time, they already show their very distinct behavior. When you observe them play, interact with others, eat, or even during idle time, you will notice their character slowly forming. With Matilda, I began by getting her familiar with the word “obey”. I would always remind her this whenever I attend to her. For example, during diaper changes. Babies can be very irritable especially when you put them down for this. So what I do is, I look her in the eyes and say, “Matilda, you have to stay still and behave, I am going to change your diaper. You have to OBEY Mommy.” I tell her this, every opportunity I get, with a firm voice. It may be during play time as well. Like when she started dropping her toys from the crib to the floor, I would remind her, “Matilda, the floor is dirty, if you want to play with your toys some more, you have to keep them in your crib. You have to OBEY Mommy.” These are just some instances, so you would have an idea. And this advice was something I learned from Deonna Tan-Chi when we attended a Parenting Seminar at CCF, called Counterflow.

You have to understand something, babies are very smart. They can already comprehend even when they can’t talk yet. So, never underestimate their capability to understand and never get tired of explaining to them these things. As for Matilda, we knew she could very well understand us at around 9-10 months. It was the time we started contemplating that it may be good to start spanking. Just so you know, we spank only on two occasions, and that is when she disobeys or disrespects us. The moment she defies our authority, we administer spanking. So here’s how.

Knowing FULL well that Matilda understood that she had to obey and instead she still defied us, we would get her and bring her to a private place (for us it’s our other room where we store our things). I put her on my lap and talk to her. I would remind her of what she did, explain to her why it was wrong and reinforce that she had to obey. I would then tell her that I would need to spank her because it is what God wants me to do in order to discipline her. I’d go on and tell her how many swats she’ll get, (we do just one) and then I proceed by telling her I love her, and that I am doing this for her own good, so that next time, she would learn to OBEY. Next is to put down her pants, and lay her face down on my lap, her bottom exposed. I would get the belt and give one swat. One is enough for us because I do it effectively. It should be hard and painful but not to the point the skin breaks. (With us, her skin usually turns red for a while). And then I immediately put on her pants and hug her tight. I console her from the pain, and then reassure her of my love. When she is already calm and collected, we say a prayer together.

For the first few times we did this, it was very, very difficult. I cried with Matilda at the sight of seeing her in pain. I also had a hard time accepting my responsibility to enforce discipline and have not been consistent at it. Those inconsistencies brought confusion in Matilda and I realized I am making it even more difficult for her, because she couldn’t get the message clearly. Although, remembering all the promises in the Bible gave me peace knowing that what I am doing is God’s will, and His will is always good. Also, knowing the fact that I am just His agent, whom He expects to do his duty, I, myself, am bound to obey. So, I then made it a point to consciously be on the lookout for circumstances wherein discipline should be enforced, and did it consistently this time around.

Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.(Ephesians 6:1-3)

I praise God that we are now even more blessed to have Matilda understand the gravity of obedience and respect. She is growing up to be a good little girl who listens and obeys without question, challenge or delay. Sure, there are still moments wherein she fails, and acts differently, but those times are now becoming very rare. As of this moment, I can no longer remember the last time I spanked her. This is the exact validation how we know, we are on the right track. As I have said in the beginning of this post, we do this because we believe that this is our duty as parents. God entrusted us with a child who will someday become of influence to this world. It is a big responsibility to be able to bring her up in the fear of the Lord, so that someday, she will be useful for the glory of His kingdom. Discipline is not easy and without God’s grace, we wouldn’t be able to do it effectively. It is our prayer as parents, that Matilda will remember the principles we are instilling in her young mind, and then hopefully apply it, as she grows.

Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. (Proverbs 29:17 ESV)

How is the heart of your child? Have you been diligent in disciplining them? If so, are you happy with the result? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

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Wherever You Go, I Will Go

Long distance relationships take an extra amount of commitment for it to actually work. Having the chance to experience this while Joey and I were still dating, that time might have been the lowest point of our relationship.

As soon as we got married, we made a commitment to be together daily, as much as we can. Of course, this wasn’t 100% possible with Joey’s line if work being in the Sales Industry. He needed to travel a lot to different parts of the Philippines, and that’s just really part of the job.

During those early parts of our marriage, being based in Davao, where we had no immediate family present to look out for us, it made the situation a bit more challenging. I was left in our house for most days as he traveled, whenever he had to go by plane. I could only go with him when the travel was around Mindanao since we can go by land. Yes, it was difficult. We may have friends around, but I felt sad with the set-up that we had. We had just been married and I knew in my heart that if we go on with this any longer, it may take its toll on our marriage.

Even in the Bible, husbands are asked to stay with the wife because it is crucial in the early parts of the marriage to make the relationship work. “If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.” (Deuteronomy 24:5 NIV)

To give Joey credit though, I must say, he never gave me any reason to doubt him. He had always been very open and honest about where he was and who he’s with. I knew most, if not all of the people he works with and that gives me the assurance he wouldn’t do anything to destroy our marriage. Although, it is true that this set-up is really prone to temptations, I just always prayed that God will guard his heart and keep him focused on Him and the work he is asked to do.

Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. (Malachi 2:15 NIV)

Fast forward to when I got pregnant, which was 8 months after being married, Joey and I both wanted to raise our little Matilda together and we knew we couldn’t do that successfully if he would need to travel a lot. So, we prayed about it and God answered our prayer through an opportunity to go back to Manila when Matilda was just a few months old.

A position to handle the area of Quezon was the closest we can get to being in Manila so he accepted the offer. The only major catch was, he had to be based in Lucena City, a 4-hour drive from Manila. We thought, it was just travel by land anyway so we can surely go with him all the time. We then had to make a big decision whether we’ll get a home in Manila or in Lucena. Thinking about moving all over again when the time comes Joey may be reassigned some place else made our hearts set on just getting a home in Manila (where all of our things from Davao will be shipped to), and a small fully furnished place in Lucena, for the mean time.

We finally left Davao when Matilda was 3 months old and was given a month stay at a hotel for free just until we can relocate. God is really great because even though our time was short in house-hunting, he remained faithful and gave us a beautiful home within our budget. Plus, just like the 2 previous places we stayed at in Davao, we are also the first to occupy the said home! Praise God indeed!

Looking back, it was fun for most parts traveling weekly, to and from Lucena. We usually left Tuesdays and we go back to Manila by Friday. Some days, it was also very exhausting. I had to pack, unpack, do the grocery twice as much, maintain two homes and so on. It was both time and energy-consuming. And financially, it was also a struggle. But even though we had all these things to think about, we would always go back to the reason why we chose this to begin with. As soon as we realize the pros from all the cons, we will be at peace knowing we are honoring God by doing the right thing, which is by being together as man and wife.

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6 NIV)

A lot of people wondered when they heard about what we were doing. Some even thought negatively about why we were wasting our energy going with him all the time. Some might have even misjudged me for not trusting Joey enough to allow him to go on his own. What they didn’t know was this was about something much deeper. It was mainly because we wanted to be accountable for each other. I wanted to be Joey’s wife not only on weekends, but as often as I could, and that’s what he wanted as well, as my husband. Traveling was just a minute sacrifice on my end, being a housewife. Missing each other is way more difficult most especially whenever he won’t see Matilda for a while. It is heartbreaking to see him so sad.

After all that, I am very happy to let you know that Joey has finally left his previous company, and is now based in Manila for his new job. Right now, we are enjoying traveling with him to different areas in Luzon. Also, we no longer need to maintain 2 houses and our travel isn’t on a weekly basis anymore. We are glad that just like his former company, this new company is also family oriented. We are indeed truly blessed!

To close, I want to encourage you just as how I was encouraged by Rebekah. Her faith in God made her trust the plans He had for her. Though she didn’t know who she was about to marry, she readily obeyed, left everything she had, and followed her soon to be father-in-law, Abraham, to meet her future husband, who is Isaac. Rebekah’s willingness to please the Lord was indeed commendable and I admire her for what she did. And because she obeyed the Lord, she was blessed through her husband and sons. So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” “I will go,” she said. So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the cities of their enemies.” (Genesis 24:58-60 NIV)

Are you willing to be the modern-day Rebekah? Will you readily and willingly obey God just as she did? It may be difficult, but with God’s promise of  blessing whenever we obey Him, it will surely be worth all of it!

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Wedding vs. Marriage: A Reality Check

We were about to go to bed the other night when I saw a news feed on my Instagram account about another celebrity couple who just got engaged. I mentioned this to Joey, about how grand the proposal was, as I was amazed with how big of a production it seemed. Joey, his usual self, reminded me, “What did I tell you about weddings? Diba what matters is the marriage?”. And it got me thinking, he’s absolutely right.

Joey and I originally planned for a big wedding, we were already set on a date, paid some down payments and even asked friends to block off that particular date. Months of preparation went by so fast and somehow, through all of the details (and the impracticality of MY dream), Joey and I got lost in why we were doing this in the first place. It made us rethink our motives, plans, and actual budget on why we are even spending this much for a one day event.

It’s EVERY Girl’s Dream

Well, yes, in this part I agree. Who doesn’t want to be the most beautiful girl for a day? To walk down that flowery aisle wearing your dream ivory white dress? To have your groom waiting for you at the altar all-teary-eyed as if it were a movie? Hmmm.. Picture it now? That’s exactly what I WANTED (urgh so immature!!). Then again, how important is a wedding when really, it’s just a one day event?

The COST

Weddings nowadays are VERY expensive. (Did I mention it’s very expensive? Oh yeah, right! – Really, it is!!) Back in 2011, we planned on spending 400,000 for the big day. That was the PLAN, but if we went ahead for it, I’m absolutely sure we are going a hundred thousand over. (Yikes!!)

400,000!!? Yes! Really. Try computing the cost for the venue, food, photographer, videographer, gown, suit, hair and make-up, flowers, decors, cake, invites, souvenirs, bridal car, and so on. Believe me now? I dare you to compute!

In my mind, I was a bit troubled by the fact that all of Joey’s savings would end up gone in one day just because I WANTED a gorgeous wedding with all its unnecessary details. Yes, we weren’t getting money from either side of our family because we believed that spending on the wedding should be our responsibility. Knowing I wasn’t working yet at that time, since I just graduated, all of the spending would be shouldered by Joey.

Going back, I feel so selfish. How could I have ever thought of using all his savings just to make my dream wedding a reality? I feel so bad for Joey that he agreed just because he wanted me to be happy. All along, though he wanted a wedding, it wasn’t really that big as I was picturing it in my head. What he wanted was a simple, intimate, good quality wedding with all the people that we love dearly.

The BIG Decision

Due to the impracticality of it all, we decided, just a few months prior our original wedding date, to just cancel the big day. Yes, it was difficult emotionally as I have already set my heart and my mind on it. But, looking back, it was the best decision we made since we were able to save and use the money in buying stuff for our home – which is also costly, mind you. We were able to get most of the down-payments we made because of really understanding suppliers. (They usually make you sign a contract once you pay the down, but praise God, majority of it, we were able to get back).

We then made new plans for a smaller wedding with the help of our Godparents. They even thought of giving us the reception as a gift! We ended up NOT spending for the wedding at all! They just insisted that we use our money for buying furnitures and save the rest for future use or investments. What a great blessing!

The reality of this is that, though Weddings are great, sometimes, you have to reconsider all the reasons why you want to do it. You have to get your priorities straight and think about what is yet to come – The Marriage. Sure, you can easily spend millions (if you have!) for the grandest wedding, but what happens after that? After that big day, when all the people are gone, what’s left is just you and your husband.

For us, we chose to be practical. We talked about our plans, our dreams for the future, past the wedding day, and we came to a conclusion that one day, when we have much bigger savings, when the time comes God would allow us to spend a bit for celebrating our union, a renewal of vows, we’d go for it. Not that original plan I had in my head but a simpler version, with Matilda as my flower girl and maybe a little boy (who knows?) to be our ring bearer.

My point is this, spend all you want, if you have the means because really, that is okay. But never ever spend ALL that you have, your hard-earned money, or your parents financial blessing just for one big day. Invest on what is more important – the marriage.

A Lifetime Commitment

Marriage is like food, it needs a few key ingredients to make it work. It requires a generous portion of romance, a spoonful of understanding, a ton of patience, a dash of financial responsibility, and most of all, the fullness of God, to be at the center of that union for any marriage to last a lifetime. This union known as a covenant we (you and your spouse) make with God is something we must treat with high regard and respect. “In sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, ’til death do us part” is what we vowed to do, didn’t we?

A Long- Suffering

Wait, what?! Yes! Have you ever thought of what it would be like to live in a totally different place you grew up in, with a man you thought you already know? If you think you know the person you are to marry, wait until you are living in the same roof and be together as one. Marriage is not that of fairy tales with all its happily ever after. Oh boy, you are mistaken.You have got to realize that marriage is serious. It  is a lifetime commitment to the person you VOW you would love forever despite and in spite of. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. It is best to think that once you marry, there is no turning back. So manage your expectations and do not trick yourself into thinking that getting married is the answer to whatever situation you are in right now.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 (NKJV)

In this version, Love was said to be a long-suffering. On another version like the New International Version (NIV) it is translated to “love is patient” instead. To get my point across, I’d like to concentrate on the translation wherein it was referred to as long-suffering because in all honesty, it really is. You share all of yourself to the person you marry and more often than not, it leads to a lot of trials – which God also promised that we will endure if we keep His commandments. These trials usually stem from the expectations we have with our spouse. When these expectations are not met, it leads to disappointments. And in this day and age, this leads to separation. I believe that God made it very clear in order for us to understand that in love, it takes suffering. A kind of suffering that you endure together, with God’s help.

The Covenant

The word covenant is not to be taken lightly. In Hebrew, it means “to cut.” When two parties entered into a solemn and binding agreement, they would hew an animal in two and walk together between the bloody halves of the carcass.

By “cutting covenant,” the two parties promised to walk faithfully within the boundaries of the oath, pledging to suffer the same fate as the animal if they broke the covenant. Covenant creates a bond that is far more intimate and binding than a simple promise. – Source: http://www.marriagetoday.com/adam-eve-and-the-covenant-of-marriage

21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
    for she was taken out of man.”

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Genesis 2:21-24 (NIV)

Adam and Eve were the very first couple to get married in the Garden of Eden. God intended marriage, from the very beginning to be permanent. Please don’t ever have in mind the idea of annulment and divorce when you think about marriage. Remember that this covenant is made with God and your vows should be with you until the end of time. Do not get lost in this fad we have right now where weddings become so much more than what it is supposed to be. Though it is fun and exciting to prepare if a wedding, you must look past that. After all, as I have said, at the end of the day, when all the people are gone, what’s left is just you and your husband. Focus on what is much more important – marriage and the future!

Remember that in James 1:2-4, it says,Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Still want to get married? I do! I would be honored to marry this man over and over again for I know He is who God planned for me. My best friend, lover, and brother in Christ, together we will persevere! 

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Bullying and Homeschooling

As a child, I knew going to school was necessary for me to learn and to be able to “work” someday. It was clearly explained to me while I was growing up, mostly by my father. Being a child, however, doesn’t quite give you a wide understanding of the things that you will have to go through to get there.

I started pre-school a little bit late. I was 6 years old then and even though I passed the assessment test for the “prep” level, my parents insisted that I must go through the “kinder” level first to lessen the pressure of learning on my part. They wanted me to be able adjust first with the idea of school and they thought I wasn’t ready yet for the higher level. As it turned out, no amount of preparation could actually get you to that state anyway.

That entire first year in school went by smoothly. I wasn’t excited about the fact I’ll be left in school alone as my parents recalled. Because I was really young then, my memories of school were bits and pieces of both good and bad. One particular thing I clearly remember though, was that right from the start, I was always the target of the bullies in school.

If you don’t know me personally, my mother is Filipina and my father is Indian. I don’t actually look like an Indian except for the fact that when I was young, my everyday hairdo was a simple braid for my long and curly hair. My complexion is fair, I got that from my mom. The height, being tallest in the class is from my dad. At around 6-9 years old, my teeth looked terrible and to top it all off, I was very chubby. Yeah, I wasn’t as appealing compared to the other girls in school. And that was the reason I was the bully’s favorite.

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Fast forward to 2nd grade, I grew older and so somehow, everything I was going through already took its toll on me. I started showing signs that I disliked school. I didn’t show any excitement about it and that made every morning difficult, for my mother.

I don’t know why I didn’t tell my parents sooner what I was experiencing in school. Until one day when a group of boys from my class intentionally threw my lunch and tore my lunch box apart. In my attempt to stop them, I got hurt when one of them kicked me. A lot of students saw what happened and immediately called the attention of the teacher who wasn’t in the room when it happened. The teacher called my mom and informed her of the incident and it was just then when I told them the truth.

Everyday as I went to school, my classmates (boys) would call me names, trip me while walking, pull my braid, steal my things, and a lot more. Being a child at that time, who had been treated the same way for a while, I honestly thought what they were doing to me was normal. If not for that incident, my parents would not have known the truth about my experiences in school.

One more incident took place months after that. A boy from my class brought a pellet gun and he shot me right at my chin with it. Thank God he did not hit me in the eye and though it hurt so bad, it did not leave any permanent damage. And this was the first time I personally told my mom about a particular bullying incident.

As a mother now to my baby girl, thinking about what happened to me breaks my heart twice harder. I couldn’t for the life of me ever imagine for her to be treated that way. I now understand what my mom could have felt at that time and why she did all that she could to protect me and my memories of childhood.

After months of probation and deliberation, two of these bullies eventually got expelled from school because of other numerous incidents that involved them. But even though they weren’t in school anymore, it did not lessen my anxiety about the idea of going to school in any way.

Because of all the bullying, I developed an intense feeling of insecurity. I avoided playing with other kids except for some of my closest girl friends. I also had anxiety attacks wherein my tummy would get so upset on the way to school and sometimes I’d develop a fever out of nowhere. This was a serious concern for my parents and so whenever I showed signs that I wasn’t well, they wouldn’t force me to go to school anymore.

You see, communication is very important. It’s very common among children not to inform parents about certain things when they think that it is normal. Always make sure you talk to your child about what specifically happens in school. Ask them questions in detail to be able to know how they are doing. You also have to watch out for signs. If your child isn’t showing any interest in school, ask them and investigate why.

These simple things may make or break your child’s character. And honestly, it is one of the main reasons why we are leaning towards homeschooling our Matilda. I’m very thankful that no matter how rough those circumstances were to me, at least I somehow ended up to be a normal, happy person. But even though I turned out fine, that doesn’t mean it left no emotional scar in my childhood. Of course, it did! I can still remember the hate I felt towards every one of those bullies. In my mind, I wished bad things to happen to them and I grew up holding grudges against them. It was only when I came to know the Lord, through his mercy and grace, that I was able to forgive all of them.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31, 32 NLT)

Knowing the formative years are very crucial, I cannot depend on the school or a teacher for that matter, to lead my child into Christlikeness. That responsibility is mine and I have to own it. As her mother, she was entrusted to me by God for a reason. A reason that only a Christian parent will understand. This involves leading her to follow Christ and for her to do the same when she’s already of age. We want her character molded in a place where circumstances are within our control. And we (Joey and I) consider the home to be a safe place where I can monitor what she learns, how she does things, and everything else in between. I want to be able to personally guide her in the process of building her own personality, and not to be dictated by how other children perceive who she is. I want myself to set a good example for her and not for her to copy someone who doesn’t have any set of values – just like the bullies present in school.

I may be paranoid and my reasons may be invalid but if you were bullied like me, I’m sure you wouldn’t want your child to experience the same. And one way for me to prevent that is to home school her instead. Yes, I know, bullying is inevitable and it can happen absolutely anywhere, even in play areas and the like. All I want is to lessen the possibility since the school is a place wherein children interact with one another on a daily basis, and the chances of it happening there, are far greater. Plus, the effects based on their interaction without you around, are much more critical too.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying sending your child to a regular school is wrong. Of course it’s absolutely okay. It’s just that, you, as the parent should be responsible enough to make sure your child goes to a school which gives importance to your child’s inward orientation. Sure, they will learn well in this particular school knowing all the students who have graduated turned out successful. But, think about their heart. Where is Jesus in their lives? Was the school able to instill important life lessons such as having a personal relationship with God? Is the school as aggressive in building the child’s character and not just feeding them with curriculum lessons? Evaluate the school, the teachers and the students. You have to know where they stand. After all, you’ll leave your child with these people who will greatly influence their life. Wouldn’t you want to know who they will learn from and what they will contribute to the development of their character?

When you look at schooling this way, it is only then you will understand its gravity. Whatever your decision might be, it is best to consider what will work for your family. What works for us might not work for you and vice versa. Just make sure you have prayed and asked God for guidance in making the right decisions such as choosing the right school for you child.

In the event however, that your child is already being bullied, here are some tips I thought to share with you:

1. Try your best to keep your cool and go to the school immediately and talk to the proper authorities about it. Never, ever confront the bully or his parents. Note: “Anti-Bullying Act of 2012”
2. Request a guidance counselor to monitor your child’s behavior at school. A weekly meeting may help your child gain his/her self-esteem back.
3. Enroll your child in a sport that would enhance his skill in self-defense like Taekwondo or Muay Thai. (Note: Teach them to defend themselves and NOT to fight back!)
4. Encourage your child to communicate with you about his daily activities in school.
5. Explain the importance of forgiveness and that it is God’s command for him to do so. Pray with your child that God will grant you wisdom in understanding the heart of the bully. Doing this will allow him/her to be able to have peace in his heart.

  • Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13 NIV)

6. Set a good example to your child by showing proper attitude against people who mistreat you. How your child responds is usually how they see it from their parents. Make sure you are being a role-model at all times, even when things don’t go your way.

  • “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. (Matthew 5:38, 39 NLT)

7. Consider the benefits of homeschooling, both for you and your child.

My parents wanted the best for me that’s why they sent me to that particular school. The only mistake they made was that they trusted the school too much and they forgot to scrutinize how they value the formation of their student’s character.

The bullying was a depressing chapter of my life but I learned a lot from it. One is to extend my patience further and another is to have an understanding and forgiving heart towards difficult people. Part of who I am now is because of all the experiences I encountered in the past and I will be forever grateful for it.

Were you bullied as a child? Or do you have a child who is being bullied in school? What actions did you take? How did it affect your child? Let’s talk about it and let me know how I can pray for you!