Don’t Settle Now Because It Will Matter Someday

After declaring to a group of friends that I hardly get sick, I was hit with a strange virus that left me physically weak and mentally impaired. It was two days of fever where my body crashed and I had no will to rise from my bed except to relieve myself in the bathroom. It was followed by a stomach bug that gave me abdominal pain and diarrhea. And then my entire body was peppered by a rash that turned itchy on the 6th day. The itching kept me up for two nights.

So for 7 days I found myself perpetually exhausted, sneaking in naps throughout the day to regain my strength. I still do not know what I got which was passed on to two of my kids and one of our household helps. But it was a week of forced stillness for me.

When you can’t do much but lie in bed it certainly makes you think about your life. Because I had to slow down and literally do nothing, it nearly drove me crazy with boredom. I couldn’t even think straight. It hurt my eyes and my head to do brain work. So there I was, bed-ridden like I haven’t been in years.

The good news in all of this was how Edric came to my rescue. He came home early from work during my sickness to be by my side. He had food brought to the room to encourage me to eat. And then he relieved me of certain responsibilities to alleviate my stress. Although he had many commitments this past week, he never complained or made me feel like an inconvenience for being sick.

As much as I hated being helpless and dependent while I recovered from my viral attack, I enjoyed his affections. In an age when the independent and self-reliant woman is celebrated, I am not going to pretend that I don’t like being rescued by my man. I love it!!! In fact it matters to me more today than it did in our dating stage. 

It matters more now because Edric has had years of repeated exposure to all my flaws and imperfections. Sometimes you wonder if this sort of reality will have a radioactive effect on your relationship. You wonder if your husband is going to grow tired of you or if his affections will dissipate because he’s seen all the ugliness. 

And yet, Edric remains committed to my well-being. Last night, he even facilitated a discussion with our household help on my behalf. (This isn’t something that normally falls under the list of things he likes to do.)

One of our helps is leaving us to go back home to her province so he assembled all of them for closure. Everyone got to air their concerns and voice out their problems with one another. In the meantime, I was upstairs resting, unaware that this meeting was transpiring.

As he replayed the conversation with our household help to me, he emphasized, “I told the girls to ‘take care of you because I love you very very much.'” He even had tears in his eyes as he said this. He’s a masculine guy but when it comes to declarations of love, he can actually get sappy. 

I am not awesome or interesting enough to captivate Edric’s affections forever. However, he remains committed to me just like he promised on our wedding day. Have there been occasions when he hasn’t felt loving feelings towards me? Yes, of course. Yet somehow this commitment to love me has been like a gravitational force that keeps him from falling out of orbit. At the core of this love is no doubt his love for the Lord. Like I said, it’s not me that keeps his love.

The longer I am married and the more couples Edric and I encounter through counseling and our social circles, the more I appreciate the gift of having a husband who has kept his promise to me, to the Lord. For richer, for poorer, in sickness, in health, till death do us part… 

I knew Edric was a wonderful man when I married him. But he’s version 15.0 now, fifteen years later, and still upgrading every year. 

Young ladies ask me about their relationships with guys via Facebook or through email, and I tell them, “Don’t settle.” Don’t settle for a guy who doesn’t love the Lord with all his heart. From this side of the fence, that’s what counts. 

This sincere love for God has got to be hard wired into a man’s person for him to be a good husband. It’s the one aspect of his person that will determine his motivation to improve and change for the better, and to keep his promise to you. I wish all women would get this and realize how significant a truth it is. 

Furthermore, you will know if a guy really loves God by the way he thinks and acts, by his habits and the people he surrounds himself with, the way he uses his time, treasure, and talents, his dreams and ambitions, and by the fruit of his life. There are many “posers” out there who can put on a show of godliness just to win the heart of a woman so be discerning, ladies. A man who loves God is worth saving your heart for! In the meantime, be the kind of woman a godly man will look for…

To all of us… “May the Lord direct your (our) hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.” 2 Thessalonians‬ ‭3:5‬ ‭

It’s Never Okay to Throw a Toilet Paper Roll at Your Husband

After writing an article last week on “Fighting with Gentleness,” I messed up big time. I mean, BIG TIME. I’ve been honest with my readers about my mistakes as a wife and mother, so I’m not going to plaster over this one.
During an argument with Edric two Sundays ago (after church, mind you), I threw a toilet paper roll at him. Yes, a toilet paper roll! Why?!

What triggered this outburst in me? What happened to me?! I’m not a thrower.

Okay, I’m not going to lie. There was one other time that I threw something. It was four years ago. Edric and I were agitated at one another. I flung the remote control towards the other end of the room where it crashed into the wall and fell apart.

I had to apologize profusely and ask for forgiveness for my display of violence. Thankfully, Edric dispensed his forgiveness in a very sweet and gracious way, assuring me that he loved me no matter what. But I regretted that moment for many months after. I still regret it.

So why did I revert to throwing again? And this time, a toilet paper roll?

Let me go back to the beginning, when a discussion took place about breakfast. (We have at least one altercation a year that deals with breakfast. I don’t know why. It just happens.)

Edric’s first statement was to serve variations of scrambled eggs. We eat pretty hearty breakfasts. Eggs are a big part of our morning meals. For a while, we were doing more scrambled eggs than fried or boiled. Then Edric asked to add more fried eggs to the menu. Finally, a few weeks ago, he was tired of the sunny side up eggs and requested for more stylized scrambled eggs.

My fault was forgetting to inform our househelp right away. So I had to apologize to Edric for not implementing his instruction immediately. This initial conversation was fine. But the breakfast discussion continued. Edric commented about how his morning meal is often cold. So he specified that breakfast be served at 6:15 AM instead of at 6 AM.

This kind of irked me because it seemed so nit-picky. A difference of 15 minutes? Really? But I got it. Ever since I can remember, he has disliked eating re-heated food and wants everything served hot right before he sits down at the table. So I tried to avoid over-reacting.

However, when I asked him what time he wanted breakfast served on Saturday and Sunday, he answered, “That’s flexible.” I got confused. If hot meals were so important to him then why say that the timing for breakfast on the weekends was flexible? When I bugged Edric to give me a time, he began to be annoyed. So I said something like, “Look, you’re the only one who has a problem with cold food, so please say a time that we can all work with for the weekends, too.”

Edric rebutted, “Everyone has a problem with cold food.”

“Everyone?” I challenged. “It’s just you who has this issue.”

Then I proceeded to interview each of the kids sitting in the back (such a disrespectful thing to do), and they all supported Edric’s hot food perspective. Oops. I was the loser.

He snapped at me and said something he never has. “You’re bringing the kids into this? You are so pathetic!” It wasn’t a shout but there was emphasis and anger in his tone.

Oh my. It was on. I forgot everything I wrote about fighting with gentleness in my article, and the war began.

Defensively I quipped, “Well, not everyone has a problem with cold food because I, for example, don’t care if food is hot or not. In fact, I don’t even like hot food.” (I seriously don’t because it burns my tongue.)

“You mean you don’t like freshly cooked, warm food?” Edric asked doubtfully.

“Yes I do, but I can live without it,” was my response.

“So if you go to Shang-rila buffet, you won’t mind it if the food they served wasn’t hot?” Edric cynically questioned my logic.

“That’s a totally different scenario. My point is, if you are so picky about hot food then you should decide a specific time for breakfast to be served on the weekends, too, so we can all adjust to you,” I replied.

He still refused to give a time, claiming that it was my responsibility as a homemanager to institute these things. But, since he was micromanaging weekday breakfast schedules then why not do the same for the weekend, too?

When we got home and the kids vacated the car, I nearly pinched him on the shoulder and snapped at him, “Don’t ever say something like that to me!” (I was referring to the pathetic statement.)

He fired back at me, “No, you don’t do that!” (Referring to my disrespect and attempt to pinch him.)

Some of the older kids heard this. This situation was awful. We had argued in front of the kids and dishonored one another. Up to the bedroom we both stomped.

Edric wasn’t going to brush this conflict aside. He sat across from me on the bed and initiated conflict resolution. I can’t narrate everything that was said, but it was a convoluted mess of tears, frustration, exaggeration, blaming, judging, and yes, a toilet paper roll at the height of it all. That was my doing. I stormed out of the bathroom with the toilet paper in my hand and meant to hit his body with it but I totally missed. He was only two feet away, too. (My aim is terrible when I’m emotional.)

He volunteered his body to be hit again as a taunt, and I half jokingly claimed that I needed a bigger object to throw at him. Of course I didn’t take him up on his offer!

Somewhere in the middle, Edric pulled the “you are going to have your period” card to explain my irrational reactiveness, which got me worked up again because my period was far, far away. And he pulled out his phone to video our conversation as evidence of my emotional instability. He planned to archive the video for future reference. This didn’t help towards resolution.

We must have been in our bedroom for over an hour, with the door locked and the kids pounding on it several times calling us down to lunch. We had to gently shoo them away, explaining that, “Mommy and daddy need to talk.” The older kids understood, but the younger ones returned several times. In the end, Edric and I asked for forgiveness from one another and from our children. Peace returned to our home.

But, wow. I couldn’t believe the incident happened in the first place, and over a breakfast conversation! It was so wrong of me to hurl that toilet paper roll at Edric. It was so wrong of me to snap at him and be disrespectfully irritated. When I think about that incident I am reminded of a very important life principle: Never let your spiritual guard down.

1 Peter 5:8 so sensibly put it: “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Edric and I spent the first quarter of 2016 serving the Lord and ministering to others. Yet, serving the Lord and doing ministry doesn’t guarantee spiritual perfection. In fact, it sometimes has the tendency to make one complacent about their spiritual walk. To be honest, I wasn’t praying as faithfully. I may have been reading my Bible, but I wasn’t living with dependence on the Holy Spirit every single day.

When I’m not controlled by the Holy Spirit, I am the WORST version of myself. Impatient, prideful, spiteful, unkind, judgmental, unmerciful, bitter, and vengeful…these are just a few of my un-shining characteristics. And yes, I can even go so far as to throw a toilet paper roll at my husband! It’s only by God’s mercy that I missed. The point is, there’s not an ounce of goodness in me apart from Christ. I can’t cruise along the Christian life and assume that I’m not going to revert back to my old self. Therefore, I always need to acknowledge my need for God’s power to live a life that is pleasing to Him.

Furthermore, God is opening up more opportunities for me to have a more public platform. Now, more than ever, I have to be careful, conscious, and intentional about walking intimately with Him. In a climb with some of the ladies in my discipleship group, I saw a sign at the summit that read, DANGER. Whenever we experience successes in life, this is when we are most vulnerable to falling and failing spiritually. My dad used to say, “Prosperity is more dangerous than poverty.” In the same way, I believe that accomplishing much makes our hearts more prone to pride, selfishness and other sins of the heart that are deadly to the human soul.

The day after Edric and I fought, I went on a run and cried out to the Lord. I felt so broken and discouraged. As I was running, the Bible passage that came to mind was 2 Chronicles 7:14, “and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” I prayed, Lord, please forgive me and please heal my marriage.

God was gracious to me. I didn’t deserve grace, but the next day, He caused Edric to be extra sweet and kind to me. Edric acknowledged that he had to take better care of me, to cherish and nourish me as His wife. It was an affirmation that I must keep praying for my marriage. Jesus Christ is the only one who can restore and heal it when it needs fixing. And He’s the only one who can protect it when the evil one seeks to divide Edric and me. 

Psalm 16:2 declares, “You are my Lord; I have no good beside You.” That’s my declaration at the end of this post. Lord, I cling to you. If you aren’t in my life, I am a completely lost, broken and unholy person who damages those around her. But I don’t want to be that way. Please help me. Be the goodness in me that pours forth into the lives of those around me, into the lives of my husband and my children. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Maybe you are like me and you’ve messed up at one point in your marriage, or many at many points, or you are messing up right now. Don’t lose heart. You can change, you can be restored, you can find grace and help in your time of need. I pray you will seek the Lord as the answer. 

 

It’s About Surrendering to God, Not Your Spouse

  My struggle with pride is so often tested in the context of marriage. It is most apparent when I have to apologize to Edric, too. Why? Because I tend to think that I am right and he is wrong (which doesn’t make me right!) I also think that offering an apology means to raise the white flag of surrender — to give up a strategic advantage in a verbal conflict. (Also wrong.)

    Let me illustrate this problem of mine in a story. On Monday I felt weak, like I was coming down with the flu. My body was heavy, my brain was foggy, and I had little appetite. Being overwhelmed by the kids’ homeschool portfolios heightened my feelings of malaise, too. If I could have laid down to sleep off the fatigue I would have but the kids needed me and I had responsibilities to get done.

    Since it was date night and Edric and I were set to enjoy a buffet dinner together, my mid-afternoon phone call about changing the plans came as a disappointment to him. But in my state I wouldn’t have been much fun and the thought of eating a huge meal when I couldn’t appreciate it was unconscionable. So I requested to do date night at home, with a movie on the couch. Not too exciting. Edric agreed but he wasn’t thrilled.

    When he got home, I didn’t greet him immediately, either, which was a mistake. He hollered for a bit while awaiting my appearance at the bottom of the stairs to run into his arms. However, I stayed upstairs on my bed, half resting, half hovering over papers, trying to grade Elijah’s physical science tests. When Edric saw me, he commented, “Oh so this is why you wanted to stay home, because you had to get homeschool work done.” 

    “No, I really am not feeling well,” I replied. 

    Perceiving me as preoccupied, he took the kids to the garden to throw the ball around. 

    When evening settled in and dinner was done, Edric and I asked the kids to give us some time alone in the family room. We talked about Edric’s day — the highlights and lowlights. He opened up about a major problem at work which disheartened him so we spent some moments in prayer together, lifting up the issue to the Lord. I thought that this exchange qualified as a good substitute for a conversation we might have had over if we had gone out that night. Afterwards, we watched the film, Unbroken. (A great film!)

    Interested in the true life story of the character being portrayed, Louie Zamparini, I googled the guy and read an online biography about him. When the movie ended I was still on my phone reading so Edric interjected, “So you’re still busy.” 

    “Nope. I was just reading about Zamparini.” Shortly after I put my phone down, too.

    When we retired to bed, he didn’t attempt to cap off the night with a conversation. Instead, he turned over to his side and said flatly, “Goodnight. I love you.”

    After nearly fifteen years of marriage and almost twenty years of knowing one another, I am very sensitive to Edric’s mannerisms and tone of voice. I most certainly know when he is upset. So I asked, “What’s wrong? Are you upset?” 

    No answer came. I waited for a few moments. Absolute silence. Then, in my irritation I said, “I really feel hurt when you don’t answer me.”

    He didn’t like this comment at all. It roused him from his pretend slumber and he turned around to face me. Then he proceeded to enumerate the different ways I disappointed him that afternoon and evening. His primary sentiment was, I didn’t give him the time and attention he expected to receive. I was too busy for him. Plus, he hoped to end the evening with intimacy, but he felt like I was not interested because I was sick.

    Since the evening didn’t play out the way he imagined it would he decided to go to bed. And my question and comment to him about not answering me felt like an insult that he explained as, “turning the tables around and projecting him as the bad guy.” With indignation he asked, “What do you want from me?” 

    I responded in a feeling-holier-than-thou sort of way, “I want you to be spirit filled when you respond to me.” 

    He took this as a verbal jab. Okay…it was. I didn’t like his aggressive tone and I felt like he was only looking at things from his perspective. Wasn’t I the sick one here? I had a long day, too. And didn’t we have a wonderful moment on the couch to talk and pray together? 

    I even added at one point, “So are you faulting me for being sick?” 

    He responded with, “Are you about to get your period?” 

    “No and this has nothing to do with getting my period.” (Why do husbands always think this is a reason?!)

    There was silence again. His corner and my corner.

    As I wrestled in the quiet with my feelings, more specifically, my pride, I prayed that God would help Edric to see that HE WAS THE WRONG ONE, that he was the one over-reacting. Then I waited for Edric to be convicted. 

    It didn’t happen. 

    Instead, I heard God address me and my attitude. He told me, very clearly, YOU HUMBLE YOURSELF. Initiate saying sorry. You said you wanted to improve in this area, so humble yourself. You be the one to ask for forgiveness first…for your tone, your irritation and not prioritizing him.

    I wanted to ignore the prodding but it was incessant. Furthermore, Edric remained unmoved. Finally I remembered reading about loving God during a recent morning quiet time: TO LOVE GOD IS TO OBEY GOD. 
    “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” John‬ ‭14:21‬

    Would I dare to defy and resist God himself?! No way. Not when it came down to that. This wasn’t a fight between Edric and me, this was an occasion that revealed the real war raging beneath the surface — me vs. obeying God by choosing humility over pride. 

    So I yielded. With gentleness (which could have only come for the Lord) and with quietness of spirit (which also came from Him), I asked Edric to forgive me for my disrespect — for not prioritizing him, for being angry, and for saying the things I did during our conversation. 

    I found out later on that Edric was shocked by this uncharacteristic behavior of mine. I am ashamed to admit that he usually apologizes first.

    But I am also happy to say that after surrendering my rights and feelings, and entrusting them to the Lord, my vindictiveness dissipated. I cried for a little bit to myself, which felt like being cleansed somehow…like ugliness was draining out of me. I was honest with God, “Sometimes it’s so hard to follow you. It’s so HUMBLING!” But He comforted me with his sweet presence as I lay there, in the dark, with my head pressed against my pillow. What followed was relief and liberty, like I had made I through a spiritual test. 

    Then came something unprecedented. God asked me to initiate intimacy with Edric. “Tell him you will also have sex with him.” 

    “What?! Lord! That’s too much! That’s giving in too much!” 

    But I knew why God was asking me to do this. (Let’s not get uncomfortable about sex, okay? This is what you are supposed to do in marriage!) Offering to have sex to Edric, in the context of an argument or at the conclusion of one, was to abandon my tower of pride and to break down my walls of self-preservation. Inviting him to intimacy was to tell him, “I still love you. I still forgive you.” It was an offering of grace.

    Edric also revealed to me later on that he didn’t know what to say because I don’t EVER tell him this when we have come from an argument! He was too shocked to say yes! How awkward was this?! But I was thinking…Yey, he didn’t say yes! But Lord, please see that I obeyed by asking, okay?

    Two days after Edric and I had a great conversation to repair and heal our relationship. Edric also owned up to the areas where he should have been kinder and sweeter to me.

    What’s my point in sharing this very personal story? Humility in marriage doesn’t make me the loser like I wrongfully think it does. It’s being prideful that does. When I always want to win an argument, discussion, or maintain my fighting position, the effect is more pain and anger for Edric and me. In contrast, when I aim to please God and obey Him when he tells me to say sorry, admit my shortcomings, and move towards Edric with a sincere desire to reconcile and restore our marriage, this act of emptying myself of ME invites Christ to fill the space that pride has vacated. What pride refuses to do, Christ enables me to — to wholeheartedly love and forgive Edric, and to enjoy him again. It’s always a gain to choose God’s ways over mine. And always a win when God is glorified. 

    I don’t know what kind of marriage you are in or what kind of struggles you have as a spouse. But all of us ought to love the way Christ loves us. And a lot of times this may mean denying our prideful-ness and replacing it with the grace He gives to apologize, forgive, accept, hope, and remain committed to the one we vowed to love. So whenever you say sorry first, admitting to the hurt you have caused in your marriage, think of it as surrendering to God, not your spouse. 

    My father said that “grace is more than unmerited favor, it is the ability to accomplish God’s will.”  As Titus 2:11-12 explains, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.”

    Let me leave you with an insight from author, speaker, and apologist, Ravi Zacharias. “Love is a commitment that will be tested in the most vulnerable areas of spirituality, a commitment that will force you to make some very difficult choices. It is a commitment that demands that you deal with your lust, your greed, your pride, your power, your desire to control, your temper, your patience, and every area of temptation that the Bible clearly talks about. It demands the quality of commitment that Jesus demonstrates in His relationship to us.”   

     

    Validating Your Husband’s Leadership

    I have been too exhausted in the past two weeks to write anything substantial. First came the Philippine Homeschool Conference and then Counterflow 2015 which were book ends to a number of social events and other commitments that kept me away from my kids and disrupted my day job — homeschooling. 

     Ready for the World – Philippine Homeschool Conference 

    Counterflow 2015 

    However, I am happy to announce that this week, I can return to a semblance of normal. Things should taper off even more by mid-November. I can’t wait…the perfect way to end the year…slowing down.

    During the Counterflow parenting event yesterday, I was most inspired by plenary speaker, Cassie Carsten. He spoke with conviction, passion, insight, a large amount of humor. Although he directed his talk to the fathers in the audience, there were principles for everyone to extract.

    Personally, I was convicted by the concept of the first follower. In a marriage, a husband is called to lead, to initiate. But his leadership must be validated by his first follower, also known as his wife. Children pay close attention to the dynamic between dad and mom. They watch, Cassie pointed out, the EYES of mom. Do her eyes acknowledge and affirm what dad is saying? Or does she roll her eyes in irritation or glare in defiance when he speaks?

    I latched on to this insight when Cassie went on to say that followers watch the response of the first follower more than the initiator. In other words, wives can undermine the leadership of a husband when they communicate to their children, even in the most subtle of gestures, that they don’t think he can lead. Furthermore, the second follower (oldest child) is supremely important to setting the pace for the subsequent followers (succeeding siblings).

     Come to think of it, I have noticed this phenomenon with my own children. If I wholeheartedly agree with Edric’s plans or opinions on a matter, my kids tend to do the same. If I question him, even with a look that says, “Seriously? That’s your idea?”, then my children get infected by my coup-like spirit.

    It is my wholehearted support of Edric’s leadership that matters most among all the followers in our home. Just a few days ago, Edric talked to me about this. He asked, “Why have you been so contradictory lately?” 

    My version of this was different. Perhaps I had been more “opinionated” but not necessarily contradictory. However, he named several occasions when I flat out disagreed with his ideas with a tone that was condescending. And it bothered him even more when I challenged him by commenting, “So do you want a wife that is a yes-woman? Someone who always agrees with everything you say and do? I am not that kind of woman.” 

    Truthfully, this statement came out of a heart that was boiling with pride, because the correction about being contradictory wasn’t about me not being able to present my perspective or opinions. But this was the angle I pursued to win this verbal jousting so that I wouldn’t be cornered about the real issue — disrespect. Annoyed, Edric claimed that I was missing the point and going all lawyer on him, which is his way of saying I was about to dissect his every word and look for holes in his hypothesis. 

    I may not have intended to be contradictory but I had been on edge, emotionally, for the past two weeks. Multiple speaking engagements triggered my nervous system and I found it difficult to relax. So I mouthed out all kinds of things without filtering them as carefully as I should have. At the end of the day, however, it was simply a matter of disrespect for Edric. He didn’t appreciate my tone of voice or reflex responses that seemed critical towards him. 

    Thankfully, we settled this conflict with sincere apologies, but God had a more personal message for me. 
    It came delivered by Cassie Carstens, when he highlighted how important the eyes of a wife are — the way she looks upon her husband and acknowledges him. 

    As I sat in the audience yesterday, listening to him speak, the rebuke that convicted me was this: Joy, you need to improve in the area of respecting Edric. You may think you are submissive, good, and respectful as a wife but deep inside you have not fully embraced your role to validate Edric’s leadership. You still like to prove that you are right, wiser and better which stems from conceit, insecurity and self-centeredness.

     Aaaaaahhhh. It’s true! It’s true! As God’s Word declares, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Mark‬ ‭7:21-23‬ ‭
    I also spoke at Counterflow yesterday on motherhood. Furthermore the entire event was for parents. But God intended for me to reflect on my marriage. Edric and I, by His grace alone, have a wonderful relationship. However there are hidden crevices in my heart where character flaws reside and these emerge when Edric and I have conflicts. Sometimes these flaws actually start the conflicts. So I was grateful for yesterday, to uncover the parts in me that God must still redeem. 
    There is always room to grow and improve as an individual. Sometimes it takes a guest speaker from South Africa to be God’s messenger of truth to reveal these areas of improvement. But the point is to keep seeking and learning about what it means to be a better spouse or a better parent. 

    For those who missed Cassie’s talks at Counterflow yesterday, he will have a series of events Tuesday to Thursday. He is one of the best speakers I have ever listened to and I don’t want to miss this opportunity to invite anyone (especially dads) who can carve out time to hear him speak. You will be changed…for the better! 



     
    Good news! CCF will be offering the workshops at a hugely discounted price of just P50!!! (For three days!)

    Just Married…Again

    In a day and age where people spend a ridiculous amount of money to pay for the wedding “of their dreams,” I’m dedicating this post to all the singles and engaged couples out there who are planning their future weddings. Please, please, please, make your wedding about the marriage you are going to have and not about having a picture-perfect ceremony and reception. You don’t need to spend a lot to make your wedding meaningful and special.

    Today many couples borrow money in order to afford a glamorous wedding. How sad it is that weddings have become a business and a production. I’m not trying to make people feel guilty. I have good friends in the wedding industry and I love them dearly. My appeal is to consider the why, the motivation behind the costliness of a wedding. 

    Last night I attended a beautiful event, a DIY occasion put together by family and friends for a couple who decided to have a ceremonial wedding on their 15 year anniversary. Although they were married civilly, the husband, Blue, decided it was time to gift his wife, Emily, with a we’re-getting-married-today kind of present on their anniversary. For one month, family and friends conspired and connived to orchestrate and execute the details of this secret wedding. Emily didn’t know anything.

    Blue broke the news to her yesterday morning so she had half a day to prepare herself. In the meantime a number of us were at the venue setting up for the beach themed wedding amidst the blustering winds of a super typhoon. I ended up in bare feet on the muddy grass, which brought me back to childhood memories of dirty toenails from outdoor adventures without my shoes on. 

       

      

     For a while it was the gusty winds we had to contend with but then the rained poured relentlessly at 3:30 PM, just an hour before Emily was about to arrive! We had to move the ceremony indoors at the last minute. But thanks to my favorite caterer, Passion Cooks, the reception area already looked amazing!

    Everyone was in good spirits. There were no cranky or hustling organizers.  People volunteered to lift flower arrangements, backdrops, fabric, lanterns, candle sticks, candle holders, signs, and tables into the reception venue. Instantaneously an aisle appeared lined with 1 Corinthians 13 verses on love, softened with rose petals leading to the beach-themed stage where vows would be spoken. 

       

     We had some guy friends running about in the rain finding creative ways to hang paper lanterns, too. 

       

      

     Most of the guests were bible study friends and old classmates. With just sixty people, the evening affair was personal and intimate. There were only three sets of ninongs and ninangs, not chosen for their wealth or social status but hand-picked because of the spiritual relationship they had with Blue and Emily. Edric and I were one of them (what an honor for us). Blue and Emily’s children served as the rest of the entourage.

        

     I loved the simplicity of this wedding. How refreshing from the elaborate and huge ones I have attended in recent years.  More importantly, God was glorified as the couple honored their parents and declared their vows to one another. Several friends also shared how they have been blessed by the marriage of Blue and Emily. Blue and Emily came from a very dark place in their relationship when they were a younger couple but they chose to seek after God, who healed what was broken and continues to redeem them for His glorious purposes.
       
     As I sat at our table listening to several versions of friend’s stories about Blue and Emily, there was no doubting that their marriage is being used mightily today to encourage and strengthen other couples to make God the center of their relationships.

    A homemade sign on the backdrop read, “Just married…again.”

       

      

    (Wood cross by The Carpenter)

     It’s one thing to get married for the first time and another thing to choose to marry the same person all over again. Somehow saying “I do” after you have lived through the difficult realities of marriage is sweeter, more romantic, and a more powerful testament of authentic love.  Love is a choice to say I do everyday and forever no matter what. This occasion celebrated the history of a marriage saved by the grace of God, for the glory of God!  

    When a wedding is planned to exalt God as the motivation, God becomes the sovereign organizer and magnanimous provider of an event that is simply divine! This was one of my favorite weddings of all time!

    On a thread among friends Emily wrote, “Good morning ladies! My heart is full. Thank you all for helping out during the past weeks to put together our wedding. As Blue shared with me last night what went on behind the scenes, tears started coming. The wedding last night was more than me and Blue. It was also all about you, about us. How you guys really really wanted to make this special, so you just gave and gave. I know you have a separate chatroom (I’m a bit jealous that I am not part of it, he he). You sacrificed your time, efforts, money, peace.. Sanity? Lol! Even taking time away from your family. I know you were happy to do it. My brother in law told Blue later on that he just couldn’t believe his eyes. Even though everyone was dressed and had makeup on, you guys were doing something. Carrying, moving, running, placing. He said “Hanep mga kaibigan nyo Blue. Lahat sila, lahat.” I did not see all this, but God did and I am sure He was smiling. I know that you all care for me. 2Cor 9:8 says “God grants us blessings so we have an abundance for every good deed.” God has blessed you in each unique way and you shared a part of that with us last night. And everyone saw that. People saw something amazing, something wonderful… It all pointed to Jesus. We got a lot of texts… Those who wanted to talk because they had problems, those who said they want to grow and deepen their relationship with Christ, those who saw that in Christ there is a family that transcends this world and comes together when we need each other the most. I want all the details when we meet Thank you to you all. We love you. We love you!”

    And that, my friends, is what a REAL wedding should be about…exalting Jesus Christ!

    “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:22-32‬ ‭

    Congratulations Blue and Emily and the team of family and friends who lovingly and sacrificially came together with one heart to make this event a success!  
      

      

      

        
    And thank you to Passion Cooks for your creative styling and delicious food! 

    Outdoor area by family and friends…

      

      

       

      

       
        
        
        
        

          
    Indoor reception area by Passion Cooks…    
        
        
       

       

      
        
     Our couple’s bible study group…  

      
    Cake by Andi Benitez…

      
     

    The “organizers” with Emily…

      

    Respect Your Husband, Respect Your Wife

     When I was newly married, my struggle was how to respect my husband. (Okay, sometimes it still is!) I believed that I had married the man of my dreams (he still is) but in marriage, I began to see his flaws (he also saw mine!) I didn’t like it when he would get irritated easily or criticize me. So I retaliated by challenging his leadership. Having seen the chink in his armor, I began to question his capacity to lead me.

    This spilled over into everything. When he would make decisions, I would contradict him. When he was driving I would say things like, “Do you know where you are going?” In short, I made him feel like he was inadequate. I aggravated him further by nagging and pressuring him to be a spiritual leader. Some of my comments would be like this: “Are you even reading your Bible? How can you grow if you don’t read your Bible?”

    In Proverbs 25:24 it says, “It is better to live in a corner of the roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”  I often instigated the strife in our relationship. I was that contentious woman!

    My disrespect towards Edric only pushed him away emotionally and spiritually. He didn’t feel inspired to love me. God had to teach me to look at my own life and work on the areas I needed to change. He prompted me to pray for Edric instead of attempting to transform him with my cutting words. Firthermore, God convicted me to use statements that would build up and not tear Edric down.

    A couple who was married for many years was interviewed about the secret to their marriage and this is what they revealed: They kept a list of traits they appreciated about one another on their bathroom mirror. This list reminded them to be thankful for each other everyday and to focus on the positive.

    “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs‬ ‭18:21)‬ ‭

    Words are powerful…the ones we think of and speak forth. As a woman, I often erred with my words. So this was an area I knew I had to change in to be more respectful towards Edric. Instead of zoning in on the negative, I elected to be attentive to the positive. For example, one time, when Edric opened my door, I said, “Wow I really appreciate it when you do that. It makes me feel important and it makes me feel very attracted to you.”

    He perked up and his face lit up. “Really?” He replied with a smile as he puffed up like a peacock then filed that compliment for future reference. This was probably 12 years ago and he still remembers! Men are simple. They respond to affirmation and appreciation. “Of all the people in the world,” Edric once told me, “You have the greatest capacity to wound me and hurt me, because of all the people in the world, it is your perspective of me that matters most.” Every man longs to be honored and held in high regard, especially by his wife.

    Some women have argued that men have such tender egos and that’s the problem. But instead of getting annoyed about how sensitive they can be to our disrespect, let’s think about the positive affect our words of praise can have on their sense of self-worth!

    Another way we can respect our husbands is to put energy into our sex lives, to respond to them sexually, and to initiate interest in being intimate with them. I have said this before but o recently came across a book where author Barbara Rainey said, “Something magical happens in a man’s spirit when he knows his wife desires him. When you desire to be intimate with your husband he is able to take on the world because he knows he matters to the most important person in his life.” When Edric and I have meaningful intimacy, he announces, “This is going to be a great day!”

    I asked Edric some time ago “how often is often enough for you?” And he told me he can’t last longer than three days. What did he mean by this? After three days without sex he starts noticing everything that resembles the female body. It’s hard for him to stay pure in heart and mind. So it’s part of my responsibility to meet this need with joy and not selfishness.

    The other day a friend of mine proudly announced, “I have been having sex with my husband every night for the past week!” Naturally, I wanted to know if this had a profound effect on her marriage, to which she revealed, “My husband was so happy he took me kitchen shopping and didn’t complain the entire time!” She also confessed that she had been neglectful of her husband’s sexual needs in the past. Did she have sex with her husband in order to go kitchen shopping? Of course not. But her responsiveness and willingness to meet this need blessed her husband so much he cheerfully brought her to do something he would have otherwise hated to. Kitchen shopping?!

    As a wife, it’s also part of my responsibility to put effort into looking my best for Edric. I have to take anti-gravity measures like exercise to fight the effects of age on my weight and I have to be more discriminating about the food I eat (except for butter. He he) Honestly, keeping a healthy weight is not something I do just for Edric. I also want to take care of my body because it’s the right thing to do. The bonus benefit is that Edric appreciates it when I take care of myself. 

    Here’s my little bit of advice…keep an outfit from your first year of marriage and use that as your body weight goal. We all had our womanly form by then so it’s an achievable standard.

    I keep one pair of pants from college and push myself to fit back into them after each baby. This last pregnancy has taken me longer. I am one size away from it and it’s taking forever! (Maybe I should remove the butter!)

    What about Edric’s version of respect for me? I know that the Bible specifically tells wives to respect their husbands, but sometimes to love a wife as God instructs a husband to also involves respecting her.

    For example, Edric guards what he watches and what he listens to. If he isn’t careful and lets his eyes wander or programs his preferences with the smut that porn is made of, I am sure it would be very disappointing for him to see me naked. And I wouldn’t want to be naked around him! It would make me feel vastly inadequate to meet the impossible standard of the porn-peg.

    Instead, Edric “honors our marriage bed” as the Bible calls him to, and he honors God by choosing to be holy. In the process, he honors me as his wife by directing his eyes towards me and conditioning his sexual appetite to desire me. In turn, this makes me feel safe and secure with him. It makes me want to give myself to him physically because my heart (and my body) trust him. 

    Another way that Edric shows me respect is by treating me like a lady. He protects me, gives me preferential treatment and is attentive to my needs. When I am carrying a heavy bag, he offers to bear its burden. When I am crossing the street he ushers me to the safe side. When I get in and out of the car, he has made it a habit to hold the door open for me. When I sit down and stand up from a table, he USUALLY gets up to pull my seat out. Through these small gestures, he ascribes worth to me as a woman.

    At home, Edric also instructs our children to speak to me politely and he is quick to correct them when they forget to. He elevates my position in their eyes so they are careful with their tone and language when they interact with me. But I believe he exemplifies this first by modeling it in the way he communicates and converses with me. There have been occasions when he has humbly said, “Kids, will you forgive me for speaking to your mom that way? I need to be more gentle with my words.”

    Before it looks like Edric and I have a picture-perfect relationship this isn’t the case at all. And if you have been following this blog you would know this already! Our marriage is a continual work in progress and we have many things to improve on, but by God’s grace every year that passes is the better year for our marriage as we keep Christ at the center of our relationship. And keeping Christ at the center challenges us to apply principles like respecting and honoring one another.
    In conclusion, the Bible tells us, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.” (Romans‬ ‭12:9-10‬)

    How can we honor our spouse today? Perhaps by speaking a word of encouragement? Rearranging our schedule so we can prioritize them? Committing to purity? Using a tone of voice that is kind and gentle? Speaking highly of them in public? Thinking about the traits we appreciate? Being attentive to their needs? 

    And if we feel like our spouse may not deserve respect, here’s  something to think about it… 

    Christ died for us when we didn’t deserve it! He considered us worthy of His sacrifice and love. Let His character and example inspire us to do the same for others, especially our spouses. 

    When A Husband Nourishes His Wife

     
     
    It’s rare that Edric plays a support role along side me. Usually it’s the other way around. However, these past two weeks he has blocked off his schedule for every event relating to the launch of my book — the contract signing, digital book press event, and the book signing this Sunday. Because I know he is an incredibly busy person, his commitment to see this project through with me has meant a lot. 

       

      

      

      

      

     Last night, during the digital book press event, he took pictures, tailed me everywhere like a PA, held my things, and waited patiently as I signed books. Since he’s a TV host, it’s more common that people recognize him and give him attention, but he was content to serve me and remain in the background. It was very sweet of him.

    What most people do not know is that Edric ought to get a whole lot of credit for unleashing my love for writing. Some years ago, when I stopped reporting to an office, I became a stay at home mom so I could prioritize our children and homeschool them without having to juggle a part time job. Edric gladly took it upon himself to be the provider so my energy could be directed towards our children, homeschooling and our home. This liberated me to pursue hobbies, interests and skills that I wanted to. It was wonderful to be freed from the pressure of making money to augment our financial needs. 

    Since Edric knew I deeply enjoyed writing, he pushed me to use this ability purposefully. He was the one who challenged me to get my blog started. He made sure I had every resource available to me to set up TeachwithJoy and keep it going. 

    When he found out that I was putting together a book, he was thrilled and encouraged me in every way he could. In fact, he was willing to fund the publishing himself but God opened the door to connect with OMF Literature which turned out to be the better path to take.

    In Ephesians 5:28-29 it says, “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,”‭‭

    The word “nourish” means to “grow” and I want to honor Edric for being intentional about helping me to grow as a person. While I embrace my daily preoccupation as a stay-at-home mom and there’s nothing boring or diminishing about it, Edric continues to provide me with opportunities to develop my passions, interests and skills. I know other women whose husbands do the same and they are blooming, fulfilled, and energized wives. 

    I deeply enjoy being a wife and mom and if that’s what I was called to entirely focused on then I trust that God would make my heart and bands content, but there are revelations that come from both these roles that naturally lead to other avenues — writing about my adventures, speaking to younger women about being a wife and mother, enhancing my home management skills or having hobbies that beautify the home, connecting with and learning from other women, working hard to stay fit and healthy so I can take care of my family, and having outlets to deal with the realistic stress of raising kids, and so much more! For as long as these do not compromise my priorities of husband, kids, homeschooling and home, Edric wholeheartedly supports my desire to keep growing as a person in this season of my life. 

    Furthermore, he identifies areas of character weakness in me so he can also disciple me as my spiritual leader and he prays for me, too. Whether it is emotional, physical, intellectual, or spiritual growth, he is the one person most committed to making sure that I don’t stagnate as an individual. 

    Sometimes it is in the small ways…The other day he made me join him and the kids during their Ninja Academy trial session. We had to do Parkour moves which left me immensely sore the next day. (Me?! Doing Parkour?! Whuuut?!) And Edric challenged me to jump off the “pride wall”, one of the obstacles that I refused to do at first because I am afraid of heights. 

       

      

    It really wasn’t super high and four of my kids did it, including Edric who jumped off the wall first. But for me, anything higher than 10 feet feels like a building. Afterwards I felt a real sense of accomplishment for pushing myself physically. Jumping over walls and running up them…it’s really not me, but Edric got me to do it! 

    So I praise God for my husband, who nourishes me as his wife. I know there are times when he wants me all to himself like Rapunzel in a tower, but at the end of the day, he has my best interests at heart and wants me to be all that I can be for the Lord, which makes me into a better wife and mother in the end! So we both win when Edric fulfills his role to help me grow! 

    A Strong Man Needs A Strong Woman

    My father was a temperate man, not the kind of person who was very affected by emotional swings. So it was challenging to be married to a man who could switch between extremely excited and extremely frustrated from one moment to another, depending on the circumstance or trigger. 

      As Edric grew in his understanding of what it means to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, he changed. He was less moody, less irritable, and more conscious of how his reactions affected those around him, especially the kids as me. This was the Lord’s work in his life. 

    However, I had a listening problem. Because I didn’t grow up in a family that “coddled” emotions like anger, irritation, disappointment, and the like, I tended to be less tolerant when Edric exhibited any of these things to whatever degree. My perspective was (and sometimes still is), get over it. That’s not a correct feeling. You can choose to be spirit-filled. This insensitivity would get me into trouble with Edric because he felt like I disrespected him when I made statements like, “Why are you feeling that way? You shouldn’t feel that way.” It sounded a lot like I was putting him down when I spoke those words and this hurts his feelings. 

    Thankfully, God worked in my heart, too. I learned to listen to him when he was being vulnerable and to encourage him. However, this past week, I reverted to my old ways. 

    It must have been a Monday or Tuesday afternoon when he plopped himself on to the bed beside me and randomly asked, “Do you think God loves me?” 

    This question was an invitation into meaningful dialogue but I took it like this…Whoa. He just preached a sermon that highlighted the love of God and he is asking this question? 

    He started to say something like, “I haven’t been experiencing any wins lately,” explaining that he was discouraged with work, with people, with ministry, with finances, etc. 

    Instead of drawing him out with questions like, “Oh really, why do think that is?,” I went straight to, “Are you really asking if God loves you? Why would you even ask that? You just preached about God’s love!” (Not a good start to open communication.)

    Since my words and tone had already delivered the damage, he stood up from the bed and emphatically said, “Forget it!” and walked off to get ready for our outdoor run. I called out after him but he was no longer interested. In short, I ruined a perfectly good moment to wear what I have called “the best friend hat.”

    Shortly after this, we went running with the boys while he pushed the girls in a double stroller. He didn’t talk to me even when I injected comments here and there to get a gauge of how annoyed he was with me. 

    About twenty minutes into our run I apologized for my response and asked if he wanted to talk about it, but he didn’t want to resume the conversation and dismissed me with sarcasm. With a smirk he said, “It’s okay, I don’t have any problems. I don’t have any weakness. I am invincible. That’s what you want, right? A husband who is always strong. No weakness.” 

    “Do you really mean that? You know that’s not what I meant. Is that how you want to resolve this, by saying that?” 

    “Yup.” 

    “And that’s what you would counsel couples to do to resolve a conflict? (Dismiss it)” 

    “Yup.” 

    Well, he was being ridiculous on purpose so I replied, “Fine,” and ran faster. Naturally, he couldn’t go as fast because he was pushing our two girls up a hill. Since it seemed like he didn’t want to be around me, I retaliated by leaving him behind. 

    I was in the living room starting on an ab workout when Edric arrived and joined me in silence. The boys didn’t know that we were in the middle of a spat and they did abs with us, too. Perhaps Edric had not gotten over our conflict, so his frustration spilled over to all of us. Titus started tearing because the workout was so hard for him, and Edric said, “There’s no crying during this workout!” 

    Oh my goodness. Edric was not himself. But I kept quiet because the kids were present. 

    The next day, Edric realized that he hadn’t been Spirit-filled so he apologized to me and the kids. At some point we also got to talk about how I could improve in the way I listen to him and support him. And he was right. 

    Our conversation would have taken a completely different and more positive turn if I had begun with empathy and gentleness. My response belittled and rejected his feelings when he needed me to minister to him. 

    Husbands may be strong, but there will be days when they need us to be spiritually strong for them. The Bible tells us, “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”” ‭‭(Genesis‬ ‭2:18) God used the same word “helper” to describe the way he comes to our aid. “Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭54:4‬) 

    Our role is both beautiful and important. God designed us to meet a need in a man that no other created thing can. We are to be life sustainers and rescuers alongside our husbands. (This is the more accurate definition of the word “helper” in Hebrew.)
    How can we be helpers to our husbands? 

      1. We can encourage them to hope in God when they are dealing with their many challenges.

      2. We can assure them that we are present to support them. 

      3. We can affirm their efforts with gratitude and appreciation. 

      4. We can pray with them and for them. 

      5. We can look to God as our source of strength, peace, love and joy and channel these virtues toward our husbands. 

      6. We can use our gifts and abilities to help them accomplish God’s purposes.

    I sometimes forget the kinds of battles Edric has to face as a man — to love, lead and provide for our family, and to serve in ministry. So if he needs to express how stressful it is or talk about the doubts he has every now and then, then the least I can do is hug him and tell him I love him…tell him that, by God’s grace, we’ll get through the tough spells in our marriage and family together as a team.

    Thankfully, a few nights ago, God gave me a second chance to be Edric’s helper. He began to open up to me again about some of his plans and the obstacles he was facing. I complimented him for being so thorough in his planning. This made him eager to listen to my perspective. And then I offered a suggestion which he was so grateful for. (Yeah!) When we had more time to talk, we had another fruitful discussion which left him hopeful about the future, gave him clarity of direction, and motivated him to go out there again and be the man God has called him to be. 

    So be strong, wives! Not in ourselves, but in the Lord so we can enable, enrich, encourage, revive, connect and reconnect the hearts of our husbands to God, and inspire them to love, follow, and obey Him faithfully!  

     

    Have Fun With Your Spouse

    Our Thursday night group is on the third session of Craig and Amy Groeschel’s DVD marriage series entitled “From This Day Forward.” The most recent topic was especially relevant and practical as the Groeschel’s shared about how to have fun as a couple.

    They suggested three simple concepts that are well-worth applying to ignite or reignite passion in marriage:

    1. Face to Face Fun. Do you and your spouse set aside a date night during the week when you can speak face to face, heart to heart, and connect intellectually, emotionally and spiritually?

    When Edric and I were newly married, we enjoyed long, drawn out conversations as we sought to get to know one another. Real effort was made to discover what he liked, what I liked, what our dreams, passions and peculiarities were. As the years passed, pragmatism defined our interactions. Busy-ness overtook quality time. To remedy this, we religiously safeguarded an evening in the week to have that face to face fun time. No cellphones to interrupt or distract us, no children clamoring for our help or attention, and no business-talk as much as possible. We asked one another how our marriage was, what we felt like we could improve on independently and as a couple.

    It is rare that we miss our date night during the week. But there were a couple of instances in the last few months when our schedule made it difficult to go out of the house for dinner. So Edric called our househelp and asked them to set up a table and chairs on the balcony so we could have a private dinner. The kids were not allowed to disturb us. Catalina was more challenging since she kept pressing her face against the glass doors and managed to come out several times. Finally, she was carried downstairs by one of her siblings, crying all the way down to the kitchen. Although tempted to rescue her, Edric insisted that we continue with our plans to talk. She survived just fine without me.

    The point is connecting as a couple is important. It needs to be prioritized. I once read that couples naturally grow apart through the years and not closer. Without effort invested to get to know one’s spouse and connect with them regularly, feelings of love fade. Therefore speaking face to face must become a habit. We must intentionally seek to know what is going on in one another’s hearts to cultivate intimacy.
    Here are some face to face questions we can ask our spouse…

    – how can I pray for you?

    – what’s been on your heart lately?

    – what was the highlight of your day/ week?

    – is there anything I can do to make you feel more loved and special?

    – how can I improve as a spouse?

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    Please note that once a week face to face fun time may not be enough if that’s the only opportunity we have to be with our spouses. It’s like starving ourselves during the week and eating a buffet once to make up for the deprivation! A marriage can’t stay healthy if a husband and wife have zero relationship in the week and expect the face to face fun time during date nights to work. The Grosechels encourage on-going conversation. And here’s the reality…”men like headlines but women like details,” so let’s remember that this habit of communicating may take some getting used to because of our God-designed differences but the benefits will outweigh the cost of adjustment. (Wait till the end to understand what this means.)


    2. Side to side fun.
    The next principle is about sharing activities together. Guys, for instance, are more likely to open up in the context of activity. I remember this about my dad and brothers. They would always bond with one another during sports.

    One of the wives in our Thursday bible study group took up golf because she realized she was becoming a “golf widow.” So she purposefully played golf to engage in her husband’s world and her husband really appreciated it.

    When our husbands are participating in an activity they thoroughly enjoy, they are relaxed and stress-free. A lot of times this is when they are willing to be more detailed and communicative, too. Craig Groeschel actually said there are two occasions when a husband is more inclined to share what’s on his mind and heart — in the context of activity and after sex! (True or false?)

    Not every wife may find it realistic to get involved in the same activities her husband enjoys but there can be a fix to this. For example, Edric used to turn to basketball with friends as his recreational outlet. But when he realized that this was something that took him away from me, he decided we should find a sport we could both get into.

    Years ago, when badminton was still a fad and clubs were sprouting everywhere, we competed as a team. I never considered badminton a real sport at first. Real sports to me were like basketball and soccer (football). Well I was wrong. Badminton turned out to be a pretty challenging sport. Plus, I burned a ton of calories in the process which helped me loose post-pregnancy weight. Edric and I looked forward to our weekly/bi-weekly badminton games and the talking rides to and from the clubs where we played at.

    These days we work out or run together. But we also serve in ministry as a team which adds an even more meaningful dimension to our relationship. Working together towards a goal or ministering along side one another gives us insight into each other’s personalities. Furthermore, the experiences we encounter (both good and bad) provide us with more topics to talk about and connect on.

    3. Belly button to belly button fun. Leave it to Craig Groeschel to come up with a phrase like that! He was offering a word picture for sexual intimacy. I want to talk more about sexual intimacy in marriage because it’s definitely essential to a marriage and deserves a future post all of its own. But in the meantime, I am only going to highlight what Craig Groeschel said (paraphrased) which had me laughing till the point of tears…”Men work on your approach — be tender, romantic, bring a gift. Stop making everything sexual! As for the ladies…make an approach! Any approach! Get some lingerie, be romantic, prepare the hot tub, light some candles…”

    We know that men and women view sex very differently and need it very differently, too. But it is integral to a marriage. Whenever Edric and I counsel couples one of the questions we ask is how is your sex life? Almost all of the time there is a correlation between poor communication and poor sex. Those who admit that sex in marriage is non-existent or rare have major communication problems between them. And sometimes these communication problems stem from deeper issues such as infidelity, pornography, or unresolved conflicts  that need to be healed first.

    Face to face fun, side to side fun and belly button to belly button fun. That is the ideal sequence. Enjoy the first two points and the third follows naturally. And let us always remember that sex in the context of a marriage between husband and wife is God-designed and beautiful! Look at what Proverbs 5:18 says…”Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth.” Now read verse 19 on your own and be pleasantly surprised at how God celebrates sex in marriage! Yes that’s in the Bible!

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    Photo credit: Mayad Beginnings

    You Cannot Pray and Stay Upset With Your Spouse

    I darted out the door for a 10 PM run a few evenings ago after Edric and I had a conflict. The cause of our dissension isn’t worth mentioning because it was, once again, something silly and trivial. It reached a climactic point when I declared in my exasperation while riding in the car beside him, “This is irritating, you are so irritating. Why are you making a big deal out of this?!”

    In all my marriage, I have never insulted Edric this way. We teach about expressing frustration with “I feel” statements but I did exactly what we tell couples not to do — I criticized him.

    Edric restrained his anger and kept silent. We were nearing the bend that turns into our home but the chilly air between us stretched the time to an eternal minute.

    Where did I go wrong? Not too long before this, we were enjoying the company of friends, engaged in lively discussion, and exchanging spiritual insights. What a contrast to the oppressive atmosphere that put miles between us. I looked out the window, consumed by my ugly thoughts, stewing in a toxic mix of rage and apathy.

    After writing an article entitled, Don’t Give Up On Irreconcilable Differences, there I was thinking, I am tired of this. We just don’t get each other. I need to run this off.

    As soon as I got home, I changed, grabbed my running shoes and snuck out the front door. If Edric had seen me, he might have dissuaded me because it was late in the evening. Guiltily, I tiptoed out, leaving the door unlocked so I could slip back in unnoticed. Yes, I know, I was in bad spiritual shape! Criticizing my husband and then sneaking out of the house like a rebellious teen! My, my!

    Even if my motivation was to get away from Edric to process my feelings, the run afforded me something better…time to pray. I soon discovered what is consistently true about prayer and conflict. It is impossible to pray and stay mad at your spouse!

    As I communed with God, a strong conviction rose in my heart to humble myself. I didn’t want to give in to the prodding but how could I keep praying without recognizing my wretchedness and wrong? In the presence of a holy God, my sinfulness was made obvious.

    God reminded me that it didn’t matter that there were actions or words spoken by Edric that hurt me. There was no excuse for my own behavior and response. These things were within my control. He asked me to initiate an apology, to go up to Edric after my run and sincerely ask for his forgiveness.

    Prayer has a way of recalibrating my heart and mind so that my attention is drawn towards the Lord and away from my carnal perspective. This is one of the reasons why I am convinced that prayer is absolutely necessary for my spiritual survival and a healthy marriage. God reveals to me so many areas I need to change to become more Christ-like when I pray.

    On the one hand, there is His Word and the support of friends and family who tell me when I am not living out His principles. But when I pray, God ministers to me in an intimate way.

    God showed me once again that my thoughts, words, and actions are emblematic of my theology. When I resist being submissive or respectful to Edric, the real problem is my relationship with God, not Edric. Sure, Edric may have areas of improvement and he would say the same about me for sure. But the bigger issue is I don’t trust that God has my best interests at heart. I start thinking of his principles for marriage as unfair and unrealistic. My focus is no longer following God’s and pleasing Him, but giving in to the dictates of my emotions.

    When I got home I found Edric sitting in the family room unwinding in front of his laptop. He didn’t realize I had been gone for the last thirty minutes. I meekly approached him asking, “Will you forgive me for disrespecting you, for saying that I was so irritated, and for being so angry? I am so sorry.”

    The next day, Edric also asked for my forgiveness for being selfish and self-focused and all was well between us again.

    Very often, I think of how prayer can change circumstances and people around me. But God is teaching me that prayer changes me most of all. Whenever I come before God, he reveals to me a sin I have to confess, a command I have to obey, a word of encouragement, an insight from His truth, the assurance of His presence, or the hope I need to keep pursuing His will. When I don’t pray, I become vulnerable to the schemes of the evil one who darkens my thinking with untruth.

    When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane with his disciples, anticipating his impending death on the cross, the told them, “Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38 NASB) He knew what challenges lay ahead of them in the days to come, how their faith would be shaken like never before. Clueless, the disciples didn’t listen but fell asleep!

    Many times in my own marriage, I know that I am supposed to commit my relationship to Edric to the Lord by praying regularly and vigilantly. However, I’m not as intentional about it as I should be. Sometimes, I fall asleep in the spiritual sense, forgetting that every marriage is under continual threat from the divisive maneuverings of the evil one who wants to destroy marriages and tear spouses apart. The spiritual battle is real.

    Last week, our church held a five day prayer and fasting time which did wonders for my relationship with Edric. Being in the spirit of prayer made a huge difference, not just for me but for Edric as we came together to pray each night of our fast.

    Prayer put a spiritual shield around our marriage. Edric was especially patient and understanding towards me, and I found myself better able to receive correction and deal with issues between us with a gentle and quiet spirit. MIRACLE! What an affirmation to the power of praying to the Lord!

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    Experiencing this victory affirmed why I need to make prayer a habit in my life and marriage.  As authors and speakers Craig and Amy Groeschel put it, “Seek the One with your two.” Translated: Seek God with your spouse by coming together in prayer. It doesn’t have to be complicated…pray during meal times, pray about shared concerns, and pray for each other.

    I began with the title, “It’s impossible to pray and stay upset at your spouse,” but the more positive perspective is, “It’s possible to keep loving your spouse when you are committed to praying to the Lord about yourself, your spouse, and your marriage.”

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    Invest In Your Marriage


    It’s been sometime since Edric and I have been able to talk about our relationship and reminisce about its beginnings. We maintain our weekly date night, but sometimes the few hours together aren’t enough to get into a deep dialogue about how we are doing emotionally and spiritually. Last night, we spent a good amount of time sitting around the kitchen island recounting the way we met and laughing about our awkward moments.

    “So what did you like about me?” Edric asked, fishing for a compliment. “Well, let me see…I really appreciated your unpretentiousness, that I could trust you, that you loved God and were a good guy.” I meant all of this, too. One of the most outstanding aspects about Edric’s personality when I first met him was his amazing ability to make me feel at ease and safe.

    I asked him the same question and he used words like “intrigued and captivated.” I liked that! It was a little vague but it sounded compelling!

    We lingered into the evening, which was unusual because I didn’t rush off to feed Catalina or attend to the kids. Edric had tucked the kids into their beds earlier and so there we were, just the two of us. Hmm…this is different, I thought to myself. Since giving birth to my fifth child, Catalina, I usually excuse myself from the dinner table or put her to bed almost immediately after because she still breastfeeds. She’s almost 2 years old but she keeps nursing, at least twice a day. I am a total breastfeeding advocate and I will keep going for as long as I can. The only downside is I have to leave Edric alone in the early mornings to go to the girls’ bedroom and be absent before we go to bed in the evenings. Sometimes, when I go to bed, Edric is already asleep.

    Last night was different. Edric asked me NOT to feed Catalina who was already sleeping, so I skipped her nighttime feed. At first, I was anxious. As much as possible, I don’t do this. But I acceded to his request and God blessed our time together.

    This got me to think about how important it is to put effort into enjoying moments of togetherness. Date nights are one thing, but making it a point to meet each other’s heart-felt needs is about exhibiting a much higher level of effort to work on our marriage.

    Truthfully, a lot of times I expect Edric to cater to my needs. I want him to be sensitive to me and attentive to my needs. But I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t very often consider what I can do for him, how I can make him feel special.

    Interestingly, when I exert more effort into doing so, it’s not so much the appreciation from Edric that I receive from him which matters. My investment in serving him, giving him more affection and meeting his needs for intimacy, as well as spending time with him (without the kids clamoring for my attention), creates a new kind of love in me. The Word of God is so accurate when it says, where your heart is, there your treasure shall be. (Matthew 6:21)

    For example, why does my heart have so much space in it for my children? Why do I treasure them so much? On the one hand, it’s because they are, by God’s grace, pretty adorable! And I know that they are God’s gifts to me. But these are not the main reasons. I believe it’s because I invest in my relationship with them. I am very intentional about meeting their physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and spiritual needs, as most mothers tend to be. Prioritizing my kids by teaching, training, and caring for them makes me love the more. The more I give of myself to my children, the more the love in me grows and expands towards them.

    I suppose this is why it feels like a big deal when I’m not around the kids. As a mother, I feel their absence more deeply than Edric probably does. I don’t have grown up kids yet, but I can imagine the future heartache of letting  them go, too.

    Some years ago, Edric and I took our first lengthy trip to the Holy Land away from our kids. I was a wreck during the first few days, bawling in the airport and crying at the mere thought of the kids. We took two other long trips since then without our tiddlywinks and it was still hard. But they survived! They missed us, but they were fine. 

    We left them under the loving care of my parents-in-law. I did outline an entire schedule for them and I wrote the kids letters for every single day that we were away during each of those trips. (My mother-in-law, one of the sweetest women I know, was a good sport about it and she actually followed the proposed schedule, which included homeschooling them, too! I love her!)

    Some months ago, when we traveled to Cebu without the kids Edric reminded me, “when the kids are gone, it will just be the two of us, okay?” He said this when I began to mention that I felt badly because the kids weren’t with us. He wanted me to focus on enjoying his company. The statement was a valid one. It was sobering, too. I have to remember that my world can’t revolve around my kids. As much as possible, I avoid child-centric parenting because I know it’s unhealthy for my children and myself. But being a mother necessitates that I do invest a great amount of time and effort into meeting my children’s needs, and this naturally turns my heart towards them. If I can do this with my children, I can certainly do the same and even better with Edric who ought to be my number one priority, next to the Lord.

    My mom was counseling a lady once who complained that she was bored with her marriage, with her husband. In response, my mom very bluntly (but lovingly) told her, if you are bored, then you are boring. Her message to this woman was put effort into your own relationship. In other words, When was the last time you did something meaningful for your husband?

    It’s a good question for us, as wives, to think about. Sure, it’s great when our husbands plan romantic get-aways, take us out on dates, give us a shopping budget, serve us, compliment us, or give us their undivided attention. But what are we doing to strengthen our marriage? A healthy marriage requires investment, which often entails sacrifice. We can’t give our left over time and energy and expect that our relationship will bloom and grow under those paltry conditions. Furthermore, we can’t leave the romancing to our husbands. 

    Do we demonstrate our own commitment to the marriage? Do we attempt to satisfy their longings for respect and appreciation? Do we initiate sexual intimacy and show interest when they look for it? (I have been trying to improve in this area!) Do we seek to meet their language of love? Do they know they have priority over the kids? Are we praying regularly for our husband and our marriage?

    A quote from the Unveiled Wife site goes like this, “Ignite passion in your marriage by investing into your husband joyfully.”

    “She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” (‭Proverbs‬ ‭31‬:‭12‬ NASB)
      

     

     

    How A Patient Husband Can Inspire His Wife

    IMG_3268.JPGIt’s high time I wrote an entry about how wonderfully Spirit-filled my husband, Edric, has been as of late. Sometimes my posts about our marriage have something to do with his intensely spirited personality and my not too commendable reactions towards him. So I wanted to acknowledge the recent change I have seen in him, especially in the area of patience.

    He would call it “being Spirit-filled.” This has been the phrase he has recited to himself repeatedly over the past week as he has met with unfavorable or challenging circumstances, sometimes in the form of yours truly!

    But what does it mean to be Spirit-filled? Galatians explains it for us by affording a contrast between the flesh (our human nature) and the fruit of the Spirit.

    Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭19-25‬ NASB)

    A person who is flesh-filled thinks, speaks, and acts in a manner that is carnal and selfish. In contrast, a Spirit-filled person exhibits Christlike character traits such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. A true follower of Jesus ought to produce this kind of fruit.


    Image courtesy of Pinterest

    It’s not surprising that marriage is the perfect petri dish to test for evidence of the Spirit-filled life. Any honest married person would attest to the fact that a husband-and-wife-relationship can get fiery at times, which can bring out fleshy behaviors like agitation, impatience, anger, etc. Therefore I really appreciated the manner in which Edric exemplified control over his emotions this past week, particularly two Thursday mornings ago.

    On that morning, I came down to the kitchen with feelings of frustration while our children and Edric chatted around the breakfast table. Normally, I enjoy mornings and I am the one greeting every child that comes bounding down the stairs. But that day, I opened my drawer and pulled out two halves of one brassiere. Yes. My bra looked like it had been torn in two by an animal.

    I suspected that someone stuck it in the washing machine against my orders. So I took the two ridiculous looking halves and plopped them on the kitchen counter, calling out the name of the person responsible for this destruction. It was our sincere but sincerely wrong househelp who will remain unnamed.

    In the meantime, Edric and the kids were trying to get my attention while laughing and playfully interacting around the breakfast table. Edric chirpily addressed me with a good morning but I was in the middle of correcting the mistake made by our househelp, reminding her that my under garments should be hand-washed only. She offered an apology which I really appreciated but there was no way to repair my damaged bra so I chucked the two halves into the trash and joined Edric and the kids for breakfast.

    This is when Edric took it upon himself to enlighten me about the affairs of the morning, “I ordered pandesal because all we had to eat for breakfast was watered down oatmeal.” He offered this information very pleasantly, smiling at me. My disposition changed. Edric took the initiative to order pandesal instead of griping about the awful breakfast?! It was weird but oh so nice!

    He aded that his bible reading for the day was about being filled with the Holy Spirit. Not so coincidentally, our water heater broke down that morning, too. Uh oh! So he stood in the shower with cold water running down his back as he chanted and breathed in deeply, “Be filled with the Spirit!” He was still smiling at me!

    I began to laugh because Edric’s default mode is to at least make some sort of constructive comment about how to run the home better when things like this happen. First there was the watered-down oatmeal, and then the cold shower. And still, his countenance remained pleasant and his temper was even and controlled. I was very impressed.

    He went off to the work and instructed the driver to inform me that he had to be picked up from the office by 11:30 am to be at ABS-CBN for the taping of his show at 12 noon. For some reason I absent-mindedly thought he meant that he needed the driver by 12 noon. Edric didn’t get picked up until 12:15 due to traffic. He called me a little bit upset (but not angry) when the driver was late. This was a problem because he had 7 shows to tape that afternoon with VIPs. 7 shows!

    Arriving at the studio at the time he committed to was imperative. Because of me, he didn’t make it to the studio at the hour he told his producer he would. Still, he texted me, “I am sorry for not being filled with the Spirit. Will you forgive me? I love you.” (He said this because he felt like the way he spoke to me on the phone was agitated.)

    Wow! Who was this amazing man that exhibited such patience with me?! I told Edric how blessed I was at his responses that day. And his attractive factor was bumped up several notches higher in my estimation!

     I know my role as a wife shouldn’t be contingent on the way Edric treats me as my husband. However, there’s a divine principle in effect when he is a Spirit-filled husband. His love toward me, manifested in the grace and kindness he applies when I make mistakes or fall short in areas where I should not, inspires that feeling of respect towards him that he also looks to receive from me as a wife.

    In Ephesians 6, this principle is revealed. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless…Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭5‬:‭25-27, 33‬ NASB)

    The manner in which Edric embraces his role as Christ to the church (me), where he loves me the way Christ does, encourages me and motivates me towards holiness. In this particular instance, his demonstration of this love was the act of patience and self-control.

    It’s really a simple formula for couples although the challenges are undeniably present. Afterall, who likes to respond with happiness to watered-down oatmeal, a cold shower, and being made late to 7 tapings for a TV show?

    It’s not easy and it takes being Spirit-filled versus flesh-filled. But the blessing is this…When a husband is the Spirit-filled leader of a marriage and home, God uses his example and headship to till the “soil” and make it fertile for the spiritual growth of the entire family. And this is the point I want to highlight. Yes, I can choose to be a submissive and respectful wife by focusing on the Lord and not Edric’s role as a husband, but how much more delightful and joyous it is to fulfill my role in the context of a marriage where my husband chooses to be the husband God calls him to be.

    Because Edric’s attitude and actions conjured up feelings of romance too, I tried my best to serve him with better breakfast meals (still healthy). Tadah!