Musings on the 32nd…

There are at most 31 days in a month. In the Filipino-Chinese community, we used to say when one reaches 31 years old that he/she’s getting off the calendar. It seems to be a transition period from youth into adulthood. The next number would be the max limit of the thermometer – 40! Hi fever to reach 40, isn’t it?  But life is said to begin at 40.  What about marriage? What’s the magic number for the promise to love, to cherish and to hold  – in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, till death do us part?

On FB, there are often professions and confessions of love and devotion, through thick and thin, cheesy and warm declarations and greetings of anniversary celebrations filled with smiles, seemingly all things bright and beautiful. Indeed wedding anniversaries are a milestone to be happily and thankfully celebrated. Yet behind each marital journey, there are always tears and heartaches along the way. Life is not a bed of roses. Even as there are roses, roses have thorns. It would be unreal to just see all sunshine without the rain. Even when the rain does not fall, black clouds loom in the horizon that threaten to dampen the way.

Hubby and I are entering our 32nd year of the journey called holy matrimony. Looking back the 31 years of being together, there was certainly much sunshine as there were storms. There were tears as there was laughter. Going through the marital path is about seeing both sides of the coin not just fuzzy idealistic lenses but also with a bare and clear realistic perspective: that man does not love perfectly. We are flawed no matter how much we love. And no matter how much we strive to be the ideal partner, we often fail. Honeymoon does not end after the first few months or even the first year or in spite of the kids’ arrival.

Is there a formula to a joyfully strong and ideal marriage? Hubby being good at Math, came up with a simple equation for our special dates. My birthday is the sum of his birthday and our anniversary. We are both born on the same year in the same month – only 17 days apart. Today is our anniversary. Basic algebra will give you the answer to our birthdays. It so happened that in the year we got married, 17 was a Sunday. But our love story is more than just numbers on the calendar.

Long story short, there is a simple formula that seems simple and yet profound. It does not take two to tango. Ours is a love triangle. Perhaps I could borrow some geometry to describe our marriage. It’s like a pyramid with God as the base and God as the peak. It’s God that holds us together by His grace and mercy. If there is one thing that is more important or just as important as our love for each other, it is our common faith – we both have Jesus as our Savior and Lord. We both receive God’s gift of salvation and eternal life to be lived on earth as it is in heaven.

Let me give practical illustrations on having a dual lens of the marital adventure. It’s like some paradoxical mystery with God as the puzzle mastermind.

Two but One

First, it is a fact that women are from Venus and men are from Mars. A man and a woman are different even as God created Eve from Adam. They are called to be one flesh from two bodies. And so my first dual lens is that we need to affirm our individuality yet find our way to be one. It is more than just about me eating ice cream and hubby having hot soup together. It is also not about him trying to fix things and find solutions each time I tell him a problem. It does not have to end with him feeling helplessly frustrated at finding  a solution. Why? Because more than a fix, I just need a listening ear or bluntly a sounding board. So how do we traverse this paradoxical issue? We need to accept one another. It is easier said than done. It takes lots of practice on self-awareness and other-thoughtfulness. And this leads me to the next paradoxical secret.

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Head and Heart

There are many truths about love and marriage that we know in our head. We can get so theoretical, rational and logical – we reason and argue with this and that – how right we are or how wronged we are. The head needs to be balanced with the heart. Sometimes the distance between the head and the heart can either be very short and near or long and far or even boundlessly unreachable! So how then do we deal with head and heart thing? We need to read God’s Word and practice what we read from it. James speaks of looking at the mirror and not doing anything about what you see in the mirror. Reading the Bible is like looking at the mirror to see that your hair is not in order. Not practicing what you read is like going out of the house without combing your hair. Love is not a thing of the heart. It is more than just warm fuzzy happy feeling that you have – when your spouse is so lovable and thoughtful and doing all the things right and serving you in the way that you expect him/her to do.

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Love is being kind and serving hubby food even when I do not feel like it – even I think that he does not deserve it… even when I feel like letting him starve or even when I wanted to storm out of the house and not appear again for a day or two to let him taste what it would be like to go a day without me! Love is a decision in the head – a choice to make to do what the Bible teaches me to do. It is thinking of myself less and more of what God wants more. The Bible teaches me to submit to my husband. It is not about being a slave – oppressed and depressed either. It is about making a choice to be humble and patient. Again it is easier said than done. Where is the line between humility and inferiority complex? How do I get past these obstacles of hurt, pain, wrath, frustration and disappointment?

Forgive and not Forget

What to do then? I practice to let the sun go down and not holding on to the wrong, the hurt, the pain etc. How am I doing with this lesson? Perhaps just a little higher than the passing mark or sometimes even way below the borderline. It is hard to let go of the pain. It is not easy to hold my tongue and not justify myself or defend myself. If I hold my tongue, I need to let the tears fall. It’s my way of coping. But again practice makes perfect even if perfection seems to take practicing forever. And it’s not about forgetting either. It is perhaps about remembering less and less the wrong. Love does not keep a record of wrong. How to remember less the wrong? How about remembering more the good? I need to remember the good words that hubby said, the good traits that he has, the good deeds that he does.

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And before this piece gets too long, I need to stop and practice some more. 1, 4, 17, 21, 31 or 32 or more… these are just numbers. Many things in marriage cannot be counted – they are abstract and difficult to appraise. Yet these priceless stuffs are what count.

As husband and wife, we need lots of practice – to be different yet united, (through acceptance), to be rational and yet emotional too (in our loving), to let go and to hold on (in our forgiving/appreciating). Let God be the base and the peak.

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As man and wife, pray this prayer together… Together, we can do it – you, me and God!

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Before, after and in between…

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There once was a lady who was afraid to read messages her hubby sent her. She was weary of reading criticisms and ‘reprimands’, she would erase these messages without reading them so the argument would end. She would not be ‘hurt’ or ‘angry’ or ‘frustrated.’ She would also not be ‘forced’ or ‘tempted’ to ‘reply’, ‘explain’, ‘criticise’ back.

Gradually, by the power and prompting of the Holy Spirit, she learned to be brave to ‘open’ these messages, ‘read’ these message, ‘accept’ these messages and even ‘digest’ them.

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Sometimes it was really hard to just stay silent. She had to write slowly to express her feelings, to open the way of communication – to find ways to say how she felt, what she thought, without pointing the finger back at hubby. She once heard a wise counsel of a friend – to write with the ‘I’ than with the ‘you.’ It’s better to say ‘I’ felt sad that I did this or said that etc…. than ‘You’ made me feel sad. She realised that it is often better to write than to speak. In writing, she could think more slowly, express more clearly, and erase and re-write when words do not sound right. In writing, she could control the ‘volume’ of the words – without the ‘loudness’ and ‘intensity’ of the voice/sound from spoken words.

Then eventually, she is learning to stay quiet and let go. Like Jesus, there is no need to explain. There can be peace and calmness to just receive whatever was heard. It is possible to be silent. Perhaps like Jesus, she knew God knows what she’s feeling. God would explain for her. Perhaps like Jesus, she knew she’s done nothing wrong. She would pray instead… pray for the Holy Spirit to comfort her.. to transform her… to make her more like Jesus.

Finally, she learned to bravely read the messages, to calmly let go of the messages and erase them. Why? Because love does not keep a record of wrong. How? Because Jesus did not keep her record of wrong either.

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And so this is the story of the before, the after and everything in between.. her journey of learning from, writing in and letting go of pain.

Truth N Consequence of LOVE

IF… and SO THAT… Cause and Effect..

John recorded important lessons Jesus taught his disciples when he knew the time of his suffering and death was near. Jesus wanted to prepare them for his departure – to encourage them to be strong and stand firm. He told them how to continue his ministry – to be productive and fruitful.

John 15 recorded many truths and consequences that are helpful for the disciples (also for us) to live life as Jesus intended for them to live.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. IF you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

The 1st truth: IF I remain in Jesus and Jesus in me, I will bear fruit.  If I stay apart from Jesus, I can do nothing.  To remain means to abide, to stay near to Jesus. Jesus also told the disciples when he leaves, he will send the Holy Spirit to be with them. If we let the Holy Spirit in our heart, if we listen closely to the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit helps us bear fruit. To remain is to stay constantly and not leave.

7 IF you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

The 2nd IF I remain in Jesus and His Words remain in me, the result is that my prayer gets answered.  There are further implications in this: If we abide in Jesus and we study and remember and live out His words in our daily living, we will bear much fruit. Bearing fruit proves that we are disciples of Jesus. Consequently, God is glorified. Reading God’s words and praying go hand in hand. When we immerse ourselves in God’s words, we get to know His perfect will for us. We learn precious truth to apply in our daily living. We discover how and what to ask and have our wishes done for us – because we will know how to ask in the Father’s will. When we ask the Spirit to help us love God with all our heart, soul and mind, when we ask the Spirit to enable us to love our neighbour, it is promised that we get our wish. As a result, we will live fruitful lives and the world will see that we are Jesus’ disciples. The final important consequence is God, the Father is honoured.

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

The 3rd IF: I obey = I will remain in Jesus’ love = Jesus obeys = Jesus in God’s love. Obedience is the proof that we are abiding in Jesus. Where does this force to obey come from? God’s love and the love of Jesus. Just as God loves Jesus, Jesus loves us. His love compels us to obedience. Obedience leads us to abide in love. Obedience keeps us grounded in his love. God’s greatest commandment is for us to love. Love God and love our neighbour. Loving and obeying go together.

11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Final ultimate consequence of all the Ifs is a joyful life – complete joy!

All of the above: If we Remain in Jesus, if we remain in His word, if we obey His word, we will bear fruit, we will have our prayer answered, we will remain in Jesus love. All these will lead me to Jesus’ joy. His joy in me – my joy may be complete. Stay with Jesus, read His word, follow what He says, then I will bear fruit. I will receive what I ask for God’s glory. Then Jesus’ joy will be mine and this joy is enough – not lacking.

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Jesus chose me SO THAT I might go and bear fruit. Fruit that will last. Jesus chose me SO THAT whatever I ask in Jesus name, the Father will give me. What do I ask? I ask that I remain in Jesus, Jesus in me. I ask for His words: “Love each other” to remain in me. I ask that I bear fruit for God’s glory.

And God gives me practicum. What are his words again?

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I started this piece early this morning before I went to a writing workshop: Writing to evangelise, equip and encourage. So now, I’m ending it with the application that God wants for me after all of the above exposition. God wants me to obey his commandment – to love my husband as He has loved me. God loved me even when I was unlovable. God loved me even when I often did not feel like talking to him when he longs for me to do so.

After returning from the workshop, I was all excited to share with hubby what I learned and he cut me off saying: “Not now.” I said “Oh I’m sorry. I am always bad with timing.” I was hurt. I ran off to take a shower. I wanted to go out to a parlour and have a pedicure. I curbed this urge (oft time habit) to go out of the house to steam. Instead I went to have a veggie/fruit dinner. Now as I write this piece, I still don’t feel like loving. Lord, this is a hard lesson to learn. What is there to forgive in love when he’s not even aware of any offence taken.  Well, now I learn a lesson, because I’m not obeying to love, my joy is not complete.

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Jesus said to remain in His love, to love one another. When I obey him to love and not to sulk, when I listen to His command to stay in His love, his joy comes into my heart and my joy becomes complete. To be complete is lack nothing. To be complete is to be mature in love – not lacking in patience, not missing the joy and the peace that comes from loving.

And guess what, hubby asked me just before I wrote the previous paragraph, if I want to eat somewhere later and where do I prefer to go. Guess what – we’re going on a date coz I said “Wherever you prefer…” That’s how I overcome my selfish desire to have my way; that’s how I practice patient forgiveness – not to dwell on the offence but to move on and claim my fullness of joy – as I abide in Jesus and let His love and joy remain in me.

Thank you Lord for your abiding joy… my cup of joy runneth over!

What I do when hubby and I fight…

Sulky queen? Grumpy queen? Fragile cry-baby? That’s how my fleshy human nature wanna do at times when hubby and I had our arguments. I often had to ‘storm’ out of the house to drive around to vent my anger, frustration, grief etc. I wanted to go pour it on someone – to vent it on a ‘sounding board.’

The last time I had such an episode, I was tempted to check myself in a hotel and not go home that night. I also searched my mind who to go to – to cry and gripe about the incident. Sadly, I could not think of anyone I wanted to tell it too. Not even to my one and only sister. I did not want to bother her, she might be having her bible study at home.

And so I drove and drove, not knowing where to go, I parked the car and went into a restaurant to sit in the corner by myself. So alone even in a crowd of people. I ordered food and remembered a “couple” friends thousand of miles away. This couple is our pastor friends – hubby and mine. I sent them a what’s app message to tell them to pray for me. I told them how sad I felt. I narrated not the details of our conversation but the context of my hurt and why I was sad. The lady friend responded to me in understanding with kind words of encouragement. Most of all she prayed. She told me they both prayed for me right at that moment when I needed their prayers. And through the tears and the pouring of sadness and outpouring of prayers, the Holy Spirit worked in such wonderful ways that I felt peace beyond understanding… I felt better. I ate my food, paid the bill and went out and walked some more. Then I went home.

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Another time, a similar incident happened, again I got in my car feeling the same thing… wanted to not go home… thought of going to someone to gripe… same thing.. could not bring myself to go to anyone.. what did I do? I went to watch a chick-flick movie. After watching, I felt better coz I laughed and cried in the movie. I even learned something from the movie. “Even though our love is not perfect, it is real.” See, there is something to learn even in a romantic comedy-drama, chick-flick! And I applied it to our love story – mine and hubby’s…

What’s the point of these stories of mine – of conflicts and arguments, of being sulky-drama-crying queen?

First, this is my way of coping with the trials of marital journey. It is a reality of life. No marriage is pure bliss and no conflict. It is also human nature and woman instinct to want to get out of it asap, to make tampo (sulk), to make sumbong (gripe/complain), and to cry. It’s either to be angry and sulk/complain how wrong he was or to be sad and cry indulging in self-pity how wronged I was.

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Second, it is good to go out or get out of the situation to clear my head. It is good to watch a movie whether to cry or to laugh – that is how it often works for me. It is my self-therapy. It is also good to sound it out to a friend who prays for me. Prayer works. It amazes me always how God sends his angels to my rescue at times when I felt like crying or even while I was crying. Either He sent them to me or He let me find them.

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Third, for all the friends that I found, I am thankful that none added fuel to the fire. None of them sided with me to comfort me to make me more right and hubby more wrong. Yes, they acknowledged my sadness, they encouraged me and comforted me with prayers. Prayers work!

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Bottom line… I know God works out ALL things (good and bad) for my good… so that I learn how to be more Christ-like – humble and patient…. I’m so far from perfecting it – being the submissive wife.. it is not easy. But one thing I know, God called me for his purpose – his purpose to sanctify me and show people how good He is – to glorify Him.

So dear friend, especially my lady friend, next time you and your hubby have a fight, let’s go watch a movie together… my treat.. and you can treat me to ice cream..

Have a blessed Tuesday to all.😍😎

Happy Hubby + Happy Wife = Happy Life

Ephesians 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Paul taught the Ephesians the recipe for the happy Christian family: Submit to one another. To submit is to yield authority to a superior force. Note that it is ‘to one another’. In Chinese it means to 讓= to give way. To add another word to it, it becomes 謙讓 = humility. Indeed, o what peace – great peace will be maintained in the home when everyone has humility to give way – to submit to one another. And why do we do this? Because we respect the head of our home who is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the true model of humility. If we respect Him, we want to follow His example.

How do we submit? There are two ingredients for humility. Love and respect. Ladies first.

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22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Again Paul used a comparison, we are to yield to our husband just as the church is to yield to Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus is the head of the church, our husband is the head of our home. It’s important to note that we are to follow his lead in ‘Everything’… even when we think we are right, even when we think we know better. Why? What if he’s wrong? There is implication in these verses: Just as Christ is head of his body, of which he is the Savior. So I need to submit to Andrew as he is my head of my home, of which he is provider and leader of Marlene, Hannah, Abigail and Michelle. My role is to submit to be an example to my children. Andrew has a role too. What is his role?

Paul taught not only the wives to submit, he taught the husbands to love. Notice that there are 3 verses for the wives on submission and 8 for the husbands on loving. Read on…8bc7f703f667a06163e65cb03f4f0edf.jpg

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

How to love your wife? Follow Jesus in the way He loves His church. How?

1) v. 25 Jesus gave Himself up. That sounds like sacrificial love, isn’t it? It involves giving way too, doesn’t it?

2) v. 26-27 Holiness, cleanliness, radiance, spotless, unstained, without blemish, blameless.. These are the traits of a faithful husband and wife – who are committed to each other – to stay pure and stay true to each other. How to be clean? through the word – does the Bible guide the home to be a clean, spotless, holy without stain and wrinkle? How do women maintain a clear skin without blemish – they wash, they clean, they stay radiant. A holy marriage is more than skin-deep. It takes commitment and faithfulness to be pure and holy – especially in the marital bed.

3) v.28-31 Love your wife as yourself. Love her as you love your own body. If you love your wife, you love yourself because the two of you are one flesh. Again Jesus is our example – how to feed and care for his body – the church. Just as how Jesus loves the church, husbands are to love their wives.

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32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Application:

Men need respect. Andrew wants and needs me to respect him. He is the head of our home. I show my respect when i give importance to his role as leader of our family – me and my children. I support and help him in his responsibilities: I set an example to my children. It is not about being right, it is more about being humble. Yes, I can and there will be times when I disagree with him but I need to be mindful to disagree agreeably. I need self-control – to keep my mouth shut even when I feel like ‘giving’ him a piece of my mind. 🙂 I can assure you – it is not easy. There are times when I feel or I think that my ways are better. I realized that it is alright to feel that or think that. Submitting is not about being martyred or timid or oppressed. It is about respect – yielding, giving way to authority. I can tell him my thoughts and my feelings – but how do I do it or say it, is more important than what I say. In the end, it is about humility. If Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, the Prince of peace, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God can be a humble babe in a manger, my substitute on the shameful cross, who am I not to be humble?

Husbands, there is only one word for you – love. Love your wife as you love yourself. Love means giving attention. Love is patient and kind. Be patient when your wife wants to tell you what’s in her mind and her heart. Just listen – there’s often no need to give answers and solutions to the things your wife tells you. She just needs a listening ear. Be kind – be gentle even when you feel like exploding with frustration or anger. Women need to be treated with TLC (tender loving care). And TLC is more than gifts or treats or trips. It is about your presence. And presence is more than physical presence – it is being attentive in mind, body and soul.

Candidly, let me tell you, we, wives are easily pleased. Small things give us much pleasure already. Try to discover what makes your wife smile. Ice cream? Hugs? Kisses? A massage? A love note? Changing the diapers of your baby? Getting up from bed when the baby is crying? Hmmm… you might say, those are no small things already. 🙂 Good news, you do not need to do it everyday. Once in awhile – to surprise your wife – sometimes these surprises go a long way to make a happy wife. Happy wife, happy life. Try it, you might find life is definitely more exciting.

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For richer or poorer

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” James 4:6

Di ka pa ba sanay sa kanya? (Aren’t you used to him yet?) A friend made this comment, and it helped to open my eyes to a broader perspective. In any relationship, the key to getting along is acceptance. There are traits my husband has that I am still trying to get ‘sanay‘ to, even after thirty one years. In Romans 15:7, Paul encouraged the Romans to “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” These words remind me that Andrew and I need to bear the weakness of one another to build each other up so that we will both glorify God.

Having a perfectionist husband made me grow up. Life is not meant to be ‘easy,’ and marriage changed my happy-go-lucky ways, making me better than I used to be. I learned not to make excuses. Andrew often complains that I only remember his criticisms and forget his good words. I should let his encouragement motivate me to do better.

Love is not a feel-good, do-good ingredient that solves all marriage issues. Because of our sinful nature, we love imperfectly. Many times, I have not felt like loving Andrew just as it felt like he did not love me. But through all these ‘loveless’ bottlenecks, twists and turns of life, God works all things together for my good towards the purpose he has for me (Rom. 8:28).

We build each other up by loving and respecting one another. In Ephesians 5:22, Paul writes: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. . .” The easy-to-read translation records submission as “willingness to serve your husband the same as the Lord.” Servanthood is not about slavery, but humility. In verses 25–28, Paul says: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. . . In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”

When pride takes hold of me, and I do not hold my tongue or submit to Andrew, I bring grief and pain upon our marriage. But every time I humble myself to listen to Andrew, even if it is not pleasant, I discover that it is for my benefit. At the same time, when Andrew shows me in words and deeds how he loves me, even my children rejoice in the warmth of his love! Love and respect: the two key ingredients to a blessed marriage.

God has brought me much instruction, correction, rebuke, and discipline in my marriage. This is humbling, but I know that God rejects the proud and give grace to the humble. Humility is not about being humiliated, nor shamed nor full of self-pity, nor plagued by an inferiority complex. Rather, I am humble when I am not proud. Admitting pride is the key to humility.

As a wife, I have had to practice courage and humility to read messages from Andrew because I knew I would not like his messages – that they were critical of me. I knew I would have to defend myself. As a result, I have erased his messages without reading them. So that the argument would end.

I am learning how to give up the right to defend myself, to curb my urge to prove that I am right through eloquence. I practice how to take criticism without taking offence – to overcome the need to strive and argue. I learned to stay silent even after I read or listen to his criticisms.

Thus the first step to humility is to be aware that I am proud—self-sufficient, self-righteous, or self-important. I become proud whenever I begin to keep a record of wrongs. For when we imprison ourselves in anger and bitterness for the wrongs done to us, we become blind to our own faults. We pile our grievances one on top of the other and, as a result, we are weighed down with a load of anguish and sadness.

But as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13: “Love keeps no record of wrong” (v. 5). Keeping no record of wrong is not about forgetting. It is remembering less. We cannot totally forget but if we talk about it less, curse about it less, rehearse it less and nurse it less, it liberates us and leads us into freedom—freedom from sadness, anger and bitterness, from self-pity and indignation.

The more I think about how I have been wronged, the sadder I become. Kawawa naman ako (how pitiful I am!). The more I think how right I am, the angrier I become.

But when I acknowledge that I am proud and need correction, I gain wisdom and grow in my fear of the Lord. To fear the Lord is to honor Him, and God honors those who honor him. To honor God is to be humble before Him, depending on His grace and mercy.

Even so I always find it stressful when there are quarrels in the house. Opposite personalities, differences in values, perspectives and opinions often cause conflicts. David was a soldier and a family man. He experienced conflicts both from within and outside his home. In this context, he wrote Psalm 133.

1 How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!

I recall our church senior pastor the late Rev. Wesley Shao preached on this psalm. He expounded on the kind of goodness and pleasure of having unity in the household of God’s people.

2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.

In biblical times, oil had significant values. It was used for anointing kings and priests. It was used for healing. Oil poured on the head is precious. David experienced what it was like to be anointed with oil as a young lad.

Reverend Shao explained the significance of the collar. 领袖means leader. The first character,领 means collar and the second character,袖is sleeve. The collar and sleeves are important parts of a garment. When the collar and the sleeves are well-ironed, the rest of the garment looks neater and better. Every part of the clothing falls into place. So with God’s people, peace and order in the family begins with the leader.

Indeed it is a great blessing when God’s people live together in unity. Unity does not mean having the same personality. Unity does not preclude diversity. Unity is oneness in goal and objective, for the ‘good’ and ‘pleasure’ of the family. It is a fruitful and profitable home that enjoys the God’s blessings like the anointing of precious oil and heavenly dew.

How good and pleasant it is when God’s children live in unity, in shalom!

Today is the day the Lord has made for Andrew and I.  We will be glad and rejoice in it. 31 years ago today, we stood before God – our heavenly judge (witnessed by an earthly one) to be united for life – in health and in sickness, thru good times and bad, for richer or poorer till death do us part.

Lord, today is another new day to love my husband— make me a submissive wife and help me not keep a record of wrong, but to forgive. Let us live together in unity to glorify you. Amen.

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Survival tips of a homemaker

As a mom and wife, I need to do many things for the family… for my husband, for the children and even my in-laws. In many Filipino-Chinese families, a housewife also attends to the needs of the helpers and drivers at home (e.g. buy them food, record their loans, dispense their salaries and bring them to the doctors when they are sick etc.)

It’s amazing how mothers/grandmothers of the previous generations could have so many children beyond 5 or 10 without any yaya (nanny) or tutor and the children they raised all grew up to be good and achieving adults.

So how does a woman of the home cope with doing all things to make the house a home for her family? And if she happens to be working as well, it’s like being a super woman, isn’t it?

I learn that in order for me to keep running and operating smoothly as a wife, mom, daughter-in-law and daughter, along with being a good employer to my household helpers, I need to fill up my gas tank – fill and refill even.

There is great truth in the airline safety tips: Put on your own seatbelt and wear your oxygen mask first before helping others.

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My dear fellow homemakers: do not be a martyr. Love yourself so you can love your neighbors. It’s  my paraphrase of the 2nd greatest commandment: Love your neighbour as yourself. How to love yourself:

1) Take time out for yourself – do the things you like to do. Things that will make you feel happy and rested.

2) Delegate – let your children help you do the things they can do to keep the home a happy place to live in. Manage your helpers that they do not stay idle – because idleness makes them lazy in the long run.

3) Eat good food – same as what you give your family. Do not be like the old generation who eat what’s leftover although sometimes I do that coz ‘sayang’ eh. (such a waste!)

4) Exercise – endorphine is key to being happy and you get lots of it when you run, or swim or dance or even just plain walking in the mall or the park.

5) Have friends to talk to – go out with good friends to de-stress – even if it is just chatting online or over the phone is a big help to release the tension and stress in the hectic life.

6) Learn to enjoy solitude as well – take time to be alone even if it needs to be at night when all are asleep. I go watch movies by myself – even drama – to cry myself out to de-stress or laugh by myself – even corny chick-flick – Filipino movies.

7) Most of all – have spiritual nourishment everyday – reading God’s word. Talk to the One above – who will never judge you, gossip about you, get tired of listening to you over and over again. And learn to listen to Him in the process – because the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and with us so that the peace that is beyond human understanding is ours – it’s a promise!

Practice makes perfect. If you fail, try and try again. That’s what I do.