BUILDING YOUR MARRIAGE ONE BRICK AT A TIME - MAKE YOUR MARRIAGE CLUTTER FREE

Do you like clutter?  I don't like it, especially on my marriage.

A relationship is better when there are no unnecessary things around.  What do I mean by this?  These are objects or events that take up space in your marriage.  You may not see them harmful as now, but it can be damaging in the long run.  Let me give you a list that you should consider ending.

1.  Social Media - You can set rules, husbands and wives! Do not be afraid to cut-off your time on social media.  I am not saying you should not use it, but I am sure you would agree that too much use of it  limits your time with family.  To begin, you can start by disallowing phones during meal times, malling, when in bed and car rides.  This would also be a good time for you to show your kids that you can be away from your gadgets.  Instead if tinkering your apps, talk to your family. Ask the highlights of each other's day, hold hands, sing in the car or simply share stories.  I mean, when was the last time you actually exchange stories with the person you married?  Ditch your phone, and start talking!

2.  Me-time or barkada time - If you do not date your wife or husband, but you spend time being alone or with friends, then this is considered a clutter.  The key is prioritizing.  Be sure that your wife or husband is spoiled with your time before thinking of spending a day of it without him or her.

3.  Unnecessary expenses  - One of the things that couples argue about is money.  This mean that your unnecessary buys can spark discussions.  There are two rules that I want to share with you when buying stuff.  Do I need it?  Do I need it NOW?  If the answer is "no" in any of the questions, then put it down and walk away.


4.  Dreams and kids - Be careful!  These two are some of the main reasons why people get married, sadly, these two are the same reasons why couples break apart.  IF your dreams and kids get it the way of having a good relationship with your spouse, re asses and choose marriage.  Let me make myself clear, I am not saying to let go of your dreams or give away your kids, I am suggesting you check your daily routine and see if you REALLY have time for your wife/husband.  At the end of the day, it does not matter if you are "working hard for your future", what is important is TODAY.  The beautiful future you are aiming will not be there if you do not work on your today.  Sayang naman.  You keep on working to prepare your family 10 years from now, yun pala, your family will not make it because you have forgotten your today.




Identify your clutter, and prayerfully ask God if it is hindering a meaningful marriage.  If these things slow you down, then, get rid of it.  


Hebrews 12:1
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

HOW YOUR FAMILY CAN ENJOY BORACAY

It is a no brainer.  If you are single and loves the beach, Boracay is the place for you.  However, if you are traveling with family, it is a no brainer too -- you have to plan!  Our trip was legit so I figured out you would want to beg me for tips haha

Here we go:

1.  Go for 4 days and 3 nights - For any travel that requires a plane or a long bus ride, always opt of 4 days and three nights.  Trust me, the 2 whole days in Boracay island will make a lot of difference.  You have more time to explore the island, not to mention you will feel rested when you get home.

2.  Splurge on that one thing - There are many things you can spend your money on Boracay.  However, you can't have it all.  So my suggestion, pick one! And guess what? we chose food! We spent around 500 per person per meal. In some hotels that offer buffets, Risen is free, so we explored on those too.  We also had snacks, coffee and shakes in between.  I actually gained a tummy fold in Boracay!  The food crawl is so great, you won't have the time to eat what you want.  So much food, too little time.











3.  Choose a hotel near the beach - Long walks are good, but not if you are wanting to be in bed!  Since the shore is long, opt to stay in hotels near the beach.  Having a room near the shore is also better when you have kids that would want to be carried after a long day.  A 5 star hotel is not necessary because you will just use it for sleeping anyway.  There are rooms that cost 3,500php for 3 pax.  Not bad at all!






4.  Respect each other's non-negotiable - When you are traveling with family, though you are considered a unit, each has a want.  I made sure I have enough photos ;), Bryan had nap time and Risen had Mango or Chocolate shakes twice or even thrice a day!!  Just make sure everyone gets his turn.  Support the whims, and you will all end up happier!



5.  Make sure your kid/s are in another bed - Oh but of course!  Wives, you know what I mean, right?



6. Bring toys for the kids - There were plenty times I and Bryan allowed Risen to play the sand while we have coffee.  Most of the restaurants are beach front.  That means, you can catch up without any help from a gadget.



7.  Avoid the social media - Speaking of gadgets, wives, avoid the social media.  I know it is so tempting to post, but, that too can wait.  Experience the place in real time and not through the screens of your phones.  Funny on how we are always together but a trip can  make us realize there are many things we still do not know about each other.  We try to make time with Risen and with each other (me and Bryan) as much as we can, because why not?


8.  Lastly, wake up early!  The mornings in Boracay are so peaceful and clutter fee.  A perfect time to thank the Lord for and reflect on the things He has done and will continue to do!






BUILDING YOUR MARRIAGE ONE BRICK AT A TIME - JUST GIVE

**This post is a series.  The first brick that you have to lay is here.  Done reading? you may read along for the next brick.


GIVE AND TAKE.  This is one rule I have often heard given to married couples or to anyone in relationships.  And though this seem like a sound advice, I have realized that when you cut this in half, it becomes a better guideline.

When we think that we are to give and take, these things can happen:
1.  We become entitled because we have been giving but not receiving anything
2.  We tend to count the good deeds we have been doing
3.  We accuse our partners for being soooo good in taking

Or to make it more specific, IF we follow the "give and take" rule, we hear ourselves say the following:

1.  "ako nanaman?"  (me again?)
2.  "will I adjust again?"
3.   "Magaling lang asawa ko kumabig" (My husband/wife is so good in taking)
4.  "I am so tired of giving"

My unsolicited advice? Old rule out, new rule in:  JUST GIVE



When we focus on just giving, we stop ourselves from counting on how many we have done for the sake of our spouse.  We also lessen the Mathematics of who gave more.  Instead, we focus on the meaning of love.  This was actually modeled to us by God (the greatest lover ever) when He gave His son to us.  He did not say "Okay, I will allow my son to be die for you just be good to me!".  Jesus too did not ask for anything in return.  He just gave.

So the next time you are tempted to rant for your spouse not helping, not serving, not loving, not minding, just continue doing your part.  Imagine if a couple will have this mindset of just giving AND NOT taking?

So for this week, my challenge for you is to focus on serving and loving your partner.

Praying rooting for you! :) 

AN OPEN LETTER TO THOSE WHO GREW UP IN A CHRISTIAN CHURCH

For the longest time, I thought I have been a christian since I was in elementary, but in my recent study of God's Word (both from the pulpit and my own quiet time) I discovered that I have only been a real follower of Jesus when I was 27 years old...

Did you grow up in the church? 

If yes, you probably attended Sunday School, went to Daily Vacation Bible School every summer, volunteered in ministries and was present in camps and retreats.  You also might have known many things about the Lord and about the church.  How do I know?  I grew up inside the church too. I remember going alone or being with my parents.  Sometimes, I even tell people that "I have been a christian since birth", just because it felt that way.  So yes, I have been a "christian" for the longest time, and people around me also know that I have been a born-again christian and that I grew up inside the church.

HOWEVER, although I was always in church, looking back, my life did not reflect the God that I "follow".  I disobeyed my parents, lied, manipulated people, thinks of myself and often discontent. I also only read God's Word after camps and when needed (like before a church event, or when I am tasked to do "something big" in the ministry.)  I also plunged into sin and decided to stay there even though I knew it was wrong (I was in a wrong relationship for 2 years plus).  I was full of myself. If you place me in a group of people, no one would guess I have Jesus in my life. I was not different.  I do what people around me do.  If I was with Christians, you will find me praying and talking about the Lord.  If I am with my good friends who are in another faith, you would find me tolerating and glorifying sin.  In short, I was living a double life.  Holy in the church. Full of myself, outside.

Then, there was this time in my life I remember so well. I was at the lowliest point of my life. I knelt down and in tears I just told God, "I am so tired of my life and that I wanted Him to take over".  The next day was so different. I ended my relationship, made choices that glorifies the Lord and was serious about Jesus.  Now people thought it was Bryan who gave that change because that was also around that time I met him -- but no, it was God.

For the longest time, I thought I have been a christian since I was in elementary, but in my recent study of God's Word (both from the pulpit and my own quiet time) I discovered that I have only been a real follower of Jesus when I was 27 years old (that night I cried to the Lord).  How did I know?  

1.  It is only after at 27 years old that I am so eager to share my faith. I want to mention Jesus in every conversation.  I also want others to see how He changed my life. I came to the point that every reunion, coffee time or a simple event is an opportunity to share who God is. In the past, I only think of sharing Jesus if I am in a camp or evangelistic event.  When I am in my usual day, I do not really care about sharing or talking about God.  

2.  I can't go on without reading the Bible anymore.  Before, I only read it one week after a camp or before a church event that I am leading.  Now, when I miss it, I feels terrible.  And, I could not go on with life if I have not read it for like 3 days.  AND, IT HAS BEEN LIKE THIS FOR THE PAST 5 OR MORE YEARS!  This is not an "effect of revival. retreat or camp" anymore, but of Jesus.  To add, I read the Bible not for scholarly reasons, but so I can get to know the Lord more and discover His beauty and wrath.

3.  And the sin issue?! I have never felt so bad after sinning.  But hey, I still sin, okay?.  But when I realized that I have sinned and wronged someone, I feel so guilty.  My stomach goes up and down and sometimes, I see myself in tears.  Also, to be honest, I do not scheme on how I can do things on my own way.  I used to be like this before.  In the past, "I will (intentionally) sin, then I will just ask the Lord to forgive me, anyway, I am saved already. and besides, God always forgives"

4.  In the past, my greatest concern was, what if things do not happen on how I wanted it to be?  Now, I am so scared of NOT being in the center of God's will.  I am so fearful of not obeying the Lord. Years back, when it would benefit me, I would certainly get it.  So at present, even though it will be "good" for me, but if it contradicts God's Word, I would run away from it. 

5.  Lastly, my life was transformed. Age, work, marriage and motherhood, can make us mature, BUT ONLY GOD CAN TRANSFORM.  To be honest, I do not know myself anymore.  My dreams and plans have changed.  Sometimes, I am like, "HOY MICO, WORK HARD SO YOU CAN TRAVEL HARDER", then the Holy Spirit in me, rebukes me.  Then suddenly, I am like. "I need to work harder so I can reach more and share the gospel to more".  To give an illustration, few weeks back, we went to Boracay.  In the past, I pray for blue skies and lots of sunshine for a good tan.  Now, I pray that I will be seated to people I can share the talk and gospel with.  This is not maturity, this is transformation.  Something that no amount of kids or age can give, but only God!  

But, hey, I am not an extremist :)  I still have wants and dreams, but I am so okay if I do not get it.  It is just that, my desires and purpose have changed. How? I do not know.  It became so natural and unexplainable.  I have to be honest, that now, in all my conversations, my aim is to point Jesus to Christ.  And that my insides grieve when I see people disobeying, or worse, having a miserable life because they do not follow God's Word.

Now, why am I blogging about this? because  (1)I do not want to you to fall into the trap of fake Christianity.    And second reason I am writing you is... (2) I do not want God to tell you..."I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws."


Matthew 7: 21-23

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 
Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 
22On judgment day many will say to me, 
Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name 
and performed many miracles in your name.’ 
23But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. 
Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

Now, how did I know I was NOT a Christian and a follower of Christ?

1.   Because I knew I was sinning and I continued.  My excuse were either the ff: "I can't get rid of it", "I am not ready to give it up", "I will "enjoy" this first and ask for forgiveness after I do it."

PS. Again, I still sin but God convicts me hard, and I go back to Him as soon as I can.  I just can't keep on sinning!


1 John 3:9 

 Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because
God's life is in them.
So they can't keep on sinning, because they are children of God

2.  I was not transformedI was the same Mico.  I just improved and matured.  But you know what guys, transformation is so different! I have experienced it.  You will really not be the same again.  You will long for God, His Words, and anything about God.  And your greatest fear would be sinning and not being in the center of God.  
2 Corinthians 5:1
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; 
behold, new things have come.

4.  In the past, I only have ministries, activities and church events.  Without all those things, if you would look closely in my like, I did not truly walk with God.
Ezekiel 36:25-27
Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances


The truth is, there are results, when you TRULY surrender your self to Christ. And PEOPLE WOULD NOTICE THE CHANGE. You would even be persecuted. The Holy Spirit will cause you to walk with God and His statutes ( Ezekiel 36:25-27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances).

Again, just because you grew up inside the church and you know the Gospel, it does not mean you are a follower of Jesus. To my fellow Sunday schoolers, attendees of DVBS and church camps, have a legit check please. Without the ministry, the activities and your church barkada, who are you? How are you and God? Have you surrendered everything to Him? Are you really a follower of Jesus?




LOLA ELRING AND LOLO RENO: LEGACY

Has someone that you have never met impacted your life?

This is what happened to me.  I never had the chance to meet Lola Elring (Bryan's lola- mother's side). As for lolo, since he is based in the US, I only had the opportunity to see him twice.  However, this very short encounter  did not seem to be so small because of the stories shared to me by Bryan and Mommy Beth.  I know Lola baked the wedding cakes of her children, that she teaches Home Education, that we graduated in the same school PNU, and that she is so strict.  On the other hand, I knew lolo became a driver of Philippine Rabbit, a person who always have Skyflakes and banana in his bag and a brave soldier.

And do you know what else I know about them?  I know they have touched and loved many lives.  How do I know? because this love was extended to me and my son, Risen a hundred of times.  Every time we visit the north, both Paoay and Sanchez Mira, or every time I am introduced to a person on Mommy Beth's side I am "instantly welcomed and appreciated", not because I am a wife to Bryan but because I am a wife to Bryan who is a grandson of Lola and Lolo.  I have received many blessings, warm hugs and sincere "kamusta ka anakko?" because of Mr and Mrs. Bagasin, a couple that I have not really met.  But since they have invested so much time in people during their time, I and Risen are benefactors of their legacy.  Amazing on how their lives can still have so much positive effect 3 generations down.

It is my prayer that Risen can get to know his great grand parents too through you.  In his young mind, he already knows a clan loves him in Cagayan. And to be honest, though I am an "outsider" I feel very much at home, thanks to lolo and lola.   Again, to lola and lolo whom I never really met, I owe you two things:  I owe you Bryan whom you led to the Lord, and an amazing mom-in-law and her siblings.  I also owe you the love, generosity and warmth extended to me by your friends and family from Cagayan.  Lola Elring, Lolo Reno, thank you very much!

BUILDING YOUR MARRIAGE, ONE BRICK AT A TIME

Sadly, not many would admit having shaky marriages. One would just come out of the story when they have decided to end their relationship. By the way, when I mean by shaky, does not only mean when one party has a relationship with another person or when the union is about to be split.  Having a difficulty in marriage has the following symptoms:

1.  You are together but not really together.  You could be in the same car, same room, same dining area but there is minimal or zero connection

2.  You do not dream together.  The only futuristic thing that you talk about are the bills.  The tuition fee next month, electricity bill this weekend or the family gathering next week (that you don't intend to come)

3.  You end up fighting every time you try to talk

4.  You have not had intimacy in months

5.  You go out together for the sake of the kids

6.  It has been months since you laughed together

The first brick that I would suggest you pick up is the brick called "911".  Picking up this brick means you accept that you and your marriage needs help (regardless your husband/wife agrees or not).  If you are still not so convinced that your marriage needs "saving", BUT you want to be more intentional about your relationship with your spouse, then you can still pick-up this brick.

So, the question now is, do you need help?

THE PRACTICAL WAYS OF SHOWING LOVE TO YOUR IN-LAWS

I know my last post (part 1 here, part 2 here) was kind of hardcore. So let me give you a follow-up post and enumerate a few ways on how we can practically show our love to our in-laws.

1.  Allow them to love (and spoil) your kids in their ways.  Their job in NOT to rear your kids, that is yours.  So just accept how they would lovingly "do this", and "give this" to their grandkids.  In our case, in my parents house, Risen is being fed with Pandesal with sugar as palaman (spread).  I know, your eyes will roll, but we let them be because it is their house. Their house, their rules.  So what do we do when we are in our own home?, we tell Risen "that is only allowed with lola and lolo, not with mom and dad".  This is also why I discourage couple to stay with in-laws.  It is challenging to rear kids with grandparents because, in any house, there could only be one queen mother.

2.  Bring your kids to them (assuming you do not leave with them).  They love their grand kids, and to be honest, it is okay for them not to see the parents!haha  So please, please, bring your kids to them!

3.  Initiate family lunches or dinners.  My favorite part is when I tell my in-laws we would eat out without Bryan knowing it! I feel it is extra special, when I, their daugther-in-law and not their son invites them out.  I also pay for it, of course! My husband on the other hand, would sometimes buy treats for my parents (without me knowing) just because.  

4.  Get to really really know them.  How often do you chika and intentionally get to know them?  Their lives, love story, work, childhood, growing up years? When you know a person really well, you get to understand their ways and means.  Sometimes, we are too judgmental because we can't get pass our biases.  Impressions do not have to last.  Remember how you cheer fellow women who got married, finally became pregnant, gave birth, breastfed, worked or resigned for the sake of their kids?  Guess what, your mom-in-law did all this too!

5.  Accept that your in-laws will never be perfect, and so are you

6.  If you are doing it differently, do not only explain, educate them.  I remember when I gave birth to Risen.  The Pedia told us that "bigkis" (cloth wrapped around the waste to protect belly button) is no longer accepted.  This came to a shock with the two lolas for in their time, it was allowed.  I had to sit down with them and not only say "the pedia said no".  I offered the disadvantages and carefully explained each of them.  There is definitely a gap, so try to fill in and adjust to that.

7.  Remember the goal is not to be BFFs.  You do not have to be bessies, but the goal is to have a harmonious relationship with them.  That you don't cringe every time you see her nor fret when she visits you at home.  However, if you can be bessies, why not?! :)

8.  Get up and love again in the morning.    Let us not be historians.  You and your in-laws probably took off at the wrong place at the wrong time.  It is okay.  It will be okay.  Tomorrow is a new day to serve and love.

image from here







DO WE REALLY HAVE TO LOVE OUR MOTHERS-IN-LAW? Part 2

BUT IT IS DIFFICULT TO LOVE MY IN-LAWS!!!

I know that some set-ups can be a bit crazier.  However, God allows "impossible situations" to let us know that we really cannot do it on our own Hopefully, the situation you are in will make us dependent on God and on His Word.  Remember that our "feelings" toward the person may not change over night, but our perspective and attitude towards him/her may be changed.  Just continue loving even if  it does not feel right.  Sounds fake?  If the intention is making it right, then you we not being plastic.  If we are certain  in the deepest of our hearts we want to have a very peaceful and harmonious relationship with our in-laws, I am sure that God will honor that and one day, emotions will follow.  Obviously, I do not believe in cutting off people in our lives. More so, in settling to be forever civil with the family members around us.  God is pro forgiveness and reconciliation.

This world would tell us to "do whatever works for you".  Sometimes, we bring this idea even with our in-laws, family members, friends and basically in our relationships.  I would like to challenge us to take the bolder and scarier way of dealing with them, and it is by choosing to intentionally loving them in difficult ways. Do this not because of your husband or your kids but because there is this "man" who died for you and who commands you to LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR.

With God's help and the support of your spouse will be able to do it.  Consider this prayer at the end of my blog.


Dear God,

Thank you for the people you allowed me to be surrounded with.  I am sure you handpicked them from the very beginning.  I lift up to you the relationship I have with my in-laws.  I pray that you will work in my heart to forgive, be reconciled and have a harmonious relationship with them.  May it be that in the days to come, I will learn how to love and honor them.  Thank you for the help. 


 In Jesus name, Amen.

DO WE REALLY HAVE TO LOVE OUR MOTHERS-IN-LAW? Part 1

A wedding coordinator jokingly told my friend that he offers a wedding package with groom at a very low price!!   Why is it low?,  because the mother of the groom is still alive ;)

I have heard, read, and saw how some wives and husbands struggle with their in-laws.  They  either complain, or question, or rant, or tell stories on how their MILs (or father-in-laws) could be insensitive, hovering, too critical, overly involved, always needy, and the list goes on...I have also observed how these struggles often lead to silent treatments, discussions, civil or casual communication, or worse major conflicts.  Sad truth, right?

Why do these issues happen?  I am kind of sure it can be either of the following:

1. You are still staying in the home of your in-laws
2. Your husband or wife puts their parent/s first in many occasions 
3. Your relationship with your husband or wife is not good
4.  You have not really tried having a relationship with your in-laws

Now, let us go back to the title.  Do we really have to love our in-laws? Here are my answers:

1.  Yes, because our in-laws became family when we married our spouses

2.  Yes, because your in-laws are the parents of your husband or wife and the grandparents of your kids

3.  Yes, because he or she reared the person you married

4.  Just like your husband or wife, your in-laws were also hand picked by God from the very beginning

4.  Yes, because God said in Mark 12:31 ...


The second is equally important: 
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
 No other commandment is greater than these.”












  

I AM BACK TO BLOGGING (OR AM I REALLY?)

Merry Christmas!

Happy New Year!

Oh wow, I can't remember the last time I shared my thoughts through this blog.  And now, finally, after being on hiatus, I am back! (or am I really?!)

You see, I have been writing, then deleting.  Then composing my opening sentence again, then, erasing everything.  However, I really really want to go back to this craft so here I am trying tonight.  I have been looking for inspiration from Pinterest, books, latest adventures, but I can't still seem to begin. Then I realized, that when this happened before, what I did was just write.  Write, publish, then share. 

So for 2019, at least before the new year ends, let me just take the first step --- blog (again). 

As for blogger in me, day one starts tonight!

If you are like me who keeps on hitting the snooze button on something that you have been wanting to do, I pray that God will give you the wisdom on how to finally do it.  May you also be sensitive to His timing, and may He give you the strength to follow through.



photo found here