Making Marriage Lasts

The author will offer three basic virtues that would help any marriage relationship last a lifetime. This is in connection to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church World Covid-19 Marriage and Family Day of Prayer. 

The influence of home life affects the community, the country, and the world at large. Unfortunately, not all families this time served the purpose of producing responsible individuals who can be builders of society. Some are dysfunctional that usually resulted in irresponsible persons in the community. Some of these young ones even become hoodlums of the society bringing challenges to its leaders. Hence, homebuilders are admonished to build a family that is capable of producing people who become responsible members of society.

Several factors can contribute to how parents build a relationship in the family. Some of these are nationality, cultural background, faith, beliefs, etc. Each of the factors mentioned here can bring different styles and practices that can be used in building a family and keeping it. In the Philippines, referring to the majority of its population, the extended family becomes usual. This practice can be seen as a disadvantage but this can also be seen as a strength. Strength in a way that families are intact and can maintain the right relationship, though not all the time.

While media and the internet open the barrier to different cultures. Anyone who has access to it can be influenced by how other countries look at family relationships. The laws on separation and annulment make marriage and family relationships vulnerable to break up. Divorce becomes rampant and this makes family ties as easy to break as other business transactions. It is sad how movies portrayed shallow marriage commitments. The television shows display that if the marriage will not work for a few months and years they can just file for annulment or divorce. Some cultural practices encourage trial and error which give 5 years for couples to live together and see if it works. If the five years show success then they can proceed to marriage otherwise they can break up peacefully.

Additionally, social media highlights marriage successes based on standards that are unrealistic to all. It overemphasized that in order to have a successful marriage you should have all of these material things in your home, resources as plenty as this, beauty and body like that, and more. But are these the only the bases of a successful marriage? How are we going to define successful families?

In the Bible, marriage is a Holy union. It is God’s illustration of the union between the church and God. Bible also shows the ideals of a marriage relationship. It has guidelines that can help us build a family that would make our community happy and successful.

Originally, God saw that it was not good for man to be alone (Gen.2:18). So He made Eve for Adam. The primary guideline is in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore shall a man leave his father  and his mother, and shall join to his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”In Mark 10:8 this is affirmed that after the sacred matrimony the “two shall be one flesh: so then they are no more two, but one flesh”. After the wedding, the new couple should really have a place where they can stay together as new husbands and wives. There are many adjustments to manage right after the wedding. Maybe both of you are not used to have someone to share with you in a bed, a blanket, or in a pillow. And if you haven’t had the chance to observe your partner sleep before your wedding, then there is a good chance that you don’t know his/her habits when sleeping. Maybe your partner snores, drools, or loves to rest a leg with you badly. And maybe in the morning he/she has bad breath or is farting loudly. These are just a few things you will be learning to accept as you are one now. Your routine being single will be shared with your other self now. That made adjustments a challenge. Spending a year together without a child can help you enjoy each other’s company and build a habit and a hobby together.

(There are much bigger adjustments if you are living with other families with you like in-laws and siblings)

With these new things that you need to embrace after marriage here are few tips that would help you.

  1. Faith. The verse in Amos 3:3, “can two walk together, except they be agreed?” clearly encouraged to have one faith as a new family. Faith here refers to the religion or the way of worship. Faith in the family is important because you allow a very reliable third party in your relationship that will be with your family in all areas of life. Faith in God can make a marriage relationship happy. Going to church together, having a worship time in the morning, and in the evening makes all things to be working out in the relationship. Matthew 6:33 says, “seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you”. Happy family life can be added by God to you if you seek His will first. Pray together always.
  2. Trust. A relationship without trust is like a plant without roots. It can die if there are no remedies to help it grow again. Trust is essential because you don’t have all the time in the world to guard your partner. Trusting means you don’t know each other’s passwords in social media and you don’t check each other’s phone often. You cannot have a stable relationship if the following are present: jealousy, selfishness, pride, anger, and disrespect. Trust that you would consider each other before making a decision. You should completely trust each other. 
  3. Love. 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.” The Bible text is enough. When you love your partner, acceptance is real and tolerance is high. In marriage, strive not to change each other but learn to appreciate your differences and be optimistic about your weaknesses. Breaking up should not be part to solve any problems at home. Like many other problems, clear communication can lead to an unimagined solution. 

In the first months and years of marriage, husbands and wives are living like in a fantasy. They seem to have a pedestal. But as the years have gone by, especially when children are there to be trained and molded, they will start to see the realities of life. In these times, adjustments become more and the husband and wife must agree as to how they would run the household smoothly. They just need to keep FTL works. 

In general, FTL works as the pillars of having a strong family relationship. The main thing that would make marriage successful is God. At the personal level, each husband and wife should have a right relationship with God, because it is only through Him that they can truly manifest love. Love that will make a difference in their family life. Love that will conquer obstacles and challenges in life. Love that will be able to endure whatever life may bring. Love that will stand through the test of time. Love that will make them grow together. Love that will lead them all to heaven. Let us then be the family that would make the world a better place to live with.

Good day and Happy Sabbath everyone.

In my next write-ups on the matters about the family, I will consider specific things in marriage that would affect the relationship in the family. You may suggest and add more if you like…

Remote Teaching: Personal Connection to Students, Vital

Remote teaching limits the teachers’ capacity to assess the students on the other aspects of their educative experience. In a face-to-face class, teachers can easily assess not only their academic performance but also their emotions. In that way, measures can be provided to let them cope up with the struggles and difficulties encountered in school. In remote teaching, teachers are limited to look students right into their eyes and observe some cues or gestures that signal something the teacher can use to improve the strategies used in class. Thus, an individual connection is important when in remote teaching.

This individual connection should be integrated into the teachers’ presentations of the lesson or in the materials provided to the students. Students can be prompted with questions related to the topic but would also allow them to express their struggles to the teacher. In this crisis, not only the teachers are confronted with immeasurable adjustments but students as well. Changes apparently developed some sense of fear and confusion to them. They are also struggling with the platforms the school would implement and other software that needs some technical skills. Added to that, remote learning challenges their capacity to learn by themselves without an immediate buddy to ask and compare solutions with. These conditions necessitate them to talk with responsible adults that would listen to them and could them some pieces of advice. Teachers can be one of these adults.

What the teacher can do? A teacher may allocate time during a day to at least send a text message or chat with one or two students from his/her online class. I had an experience for the first two days while my students were still having a hard time to install the software and familiarize the Learning Management System (LMS) we are using. I chatted one of them by simply asking, “How are you?” late in the afternoon. That question eventually became minutes of chatting which led the student to pour out his struggles with his classes and health. I just replied few “Ah”, “okay”, “why”, and some sort of assurance that I was listening and interested.   At the end of the conversation, the learner ended up saying, “Thank you for asking, Ma’am. It lightened the burden I have in me this time.” With this experience, realizations come to me. I need to have personal connections with them during this time. Those moments were not wasted but productive. It made me the thought of strategies to make my schedule for a personal connection with my students systematic. For this, I can say that teachers can still make a difference even in emergency remote teaching.

Here is how I would implement it for the next days:

  1. Make a list of students that seem to need immediate attention based on their academic performance. The session would look like a simple consultation done online at first.
  2. Two students would be chosen for a day if the schedule permits, however, one student will do depending on how long the conversation is.
  3. Try to ask questions that would enable them to share their experience and difficulties to you, to begin with, the conversation.
  4. Make sure to observe cues that signal immediate attention like the feeling of discouragement, fear, and dying self-confidence.

I would try this in the next weeks and continue posting some information here.

In these turbulent times, it is inevitable to make a connection with your students individually. It may cause a lot of times that may hinder some of the teachers’ precious time. But the result would also benefit the teachers as well.

When students develop confidence in the teacher, they tend to

  1. do well in your class
  2. do the same thing to others
  3. be motivated to accomplish things academically
  4. respect the teacher
  5. be inspired

Sow and you will surely reap. Teachers do not want students to quit schooling and become problematic. As mentors, genuine care, patience, and accountability should be shown to the learners.

May you get something from this article and use it as you also teach remotely. If you have successful experiences about remote teaching, I would be happy to know and learn from it but first, comment it down here. Thank you for reading and God bless you.

Once There was a Tree

I’ve been sharing my reflections and realizations about life. Whenever I have a chance to share, I will, because I believe that this is what I should do as a child of God.

In one of my classes in college, I have a potential student who I think active in listening to my reflections and maybe she had been touched by some of those I have shared already. She approached me before we began our class one day. She said that the tree in front of her uncle’s house just withered suddenly. She said that the leaves fell off and eventually it went down.

She shared her thoughts about the reasons why it happened to the tree. She said that what caused the tree to die out was because, though it was standing high and tall and beautiful, the mites slowly creeped in inside it. It was good to look at outside but it was gradually consumed by the disease inside. I asked her to write about it but she refused. Instead, insisted that I would write about it and surely she would read the article. With that conversation, I learned the following lessons deeply:

1. Relaxing our defense against temptations may give it a chance to get us used to it. Keeping hatred, darling sins, and guilt may trapped us into the world of being stagnant and caused us not to bloom so much. They become limits of our potentials and prevent us to achieve higher standards. Some parts of the tree died because it was not nourished well and maybe was not deeply rooted. It means that it can be easily intruded by parasites because the defense becomes weak already.

2. There are individuals around us who seemed to be happy and healthy outside but are dying inside. We must be sensitive to them. Some of them are experts in hiding their real emotions that may cause emptiness inside when they are alone. They need genuine companionship and associations that will challenge them to pour out their sentiments because there is someone who is willing to listen. Let us then lead them to the real source of wisdom and life.

3. We must be who we are inside out. We commonly heard the maxim that we should be the best version of our selves. So do not be ashamed of who you are, where you came from and what are your beliefs in life. Know your worth and live with it. Get to know yourself better and practice pleasing God instead of self.

4. People may help us and care for us but in the end it is we, ourselves, who will really make our life meaningful. God gives us freedom to choose. The tree was taken care of the best that the owner can do. But it was already dying inside. That’s the disadvantage of the tree. But then, we are humans and we have a power inside us. With God, we have always the chance to change. The chance we should never miss doing.

5. Lastly, always guard the “avenues of the devil.” The parasite got into the core of the tree because there were parts of it that slowly died inside. As soon as the ants noticed that there were broken and dried parts inside, they can easily get into. The devil is like a “roaring lion”, it means he is ready to attack. A little dose of weakness in our part, a dose of doubt, uncertainty, disbelief, and fear may become his target to get entry to our lives. Once welcomed, it is hard to put him away. Then, only through God’s divine grace and love can take us away from the bondage of Satan’s allurements.

Plants are one of the best creations of God. Unlike humans, they do not have the capacity to treat itself and are very reliant to the ones who take care of them. But, we are humans. We are rational beings capable of reasoning out and choosing the right from wrong. By that, we should be able to choose and depend upon the One, who holds the surest safeguard of our lives, Jesus. He is our assurance of peace, growth, abundance, love and eternal life. Depend on Him and reflect your dependence to others.

The Flashlight

It was a blissful sabbath morning while we were singing songs in the children’s sabbath school. It was our aim to let the kids attend their sabbath school classes, even if it meant missing the adult sabbath school. The fans went off and it signalled that there was a blackout. It took a while because even when we had gone home, after the kids program, our house was still dark. Dada stayed because he was focused on preparing all our food for the potluck during lunch.

Andy was mad for the reason that he would still love to play with his best friend Louie but we forced him to go home for breakfast. He was not in the mood so we found it hard to let him eat. Thanks to some balloons that was bumped frequently to the wall which caused him to release the tension.

Later, Andy found a flashlight and played on his shadows. I noticed that he placed the flashlight on the middle part of the room then tried to observe what happened to his shadow when he got too close to the flashlight and if he was far. As if he was doing an experiment. I asked him about his observation. He answered, “when I come closer, the shadow becomes a giant, but when I got farther I become too small.” I was amazed that he understand the output of his experiment very well. Then, I figured out the lessons I got from that experiment as well. Thanks to Andy.

I explained to him the meaning, the spiritual sense of the result of his experiment. Reflecting on it I considered God as the light, when you get closer to Him by accepting Him as your personal saviour, you become His child which is a giant designation to human. By that, you are not only nothing in this world but you are designed for a purpose. But when you get farther from God, you are just a very small thing in this world which comes out for a moment then passed away. Eventually, it will lead your life to be hopeless and losing direction.

So, keep your light shining from the Sun of Righteousness that it may lead other people to Jesus and grasp the full meaning of being alive.

The Unknown Benefit of Breastfeeding to Working Moms

I am already a mother of two and I see to it that every child I have would benefit the natural wealth God has blessed to mothers for their child. One of those are the essential benefits of breastfeeding to mothers.

My first year of motherhood requires me to research a lot about the topic and the best possible things I can do to let my child grow healthy. I have read articles about the benefits the child could get from mother’s milk and the benefit it could give to mothers as well.

Reflecting from my experience, (I am still breastfeeding my 31-months Andrea) I realized there is a unique benefit and advantage the mother could get from breastfeeding. I am talking about or on behalf of the working moms whose time during a day is preoccupied with the list of things to be done. A second counts and a minute should be nothing to waste of.

Now, imagine a mother who’s working and whose only support to do the household to do the household chores comes from a brother who is schooling and a 68-year old father. Of course, I am blessed and fortunate enough to have a very supportive and loving husband but who is also working in the same school. Everyday, i need to wake up early and do the necessary things enough to get us organize for the whole day. Another thing that is so important for you to understand is we are living inside the school campus where I can go home during break time to feed the baby.

For me, one of the most important benefit of breastfeeding to working moms is: BREASTFEEDING GIVES MOTHERS A TIME TO SLOW DOWN. You may ask, how? It is a benefit or a waste of time? Slowing down means a force stop even if you are so occupied. A force stop includes the regular and irregular feeding sessions. It is a special time that you know that your baby needs you more than anyone else at home. When you lie down or carry your baby to feed her/him, your body can rest and you can be refreshed and refocus or redirect your thinking. To some working moms maybe these are interruptions to their activities or their tasks. But I see these times as beneficial to mothers. In fact, most of my reflections pop up while looking at my baby during breastfeeding times. We should learn that motherhood is an important and noble responsibility. Taking breaks means a happy time for your precious child. Remember, the best expression of love is TIME.

I believed that there is no wasted time when it is the quality spent with your children. Our work is needed to sustain us, but the child given to us is God’s gift for us to be nurtured as He prescribed. They are to grow fitted to the purpose that God has for them.

How to teach your child to pray

Oftentimes, children are taught to pray by letting them follow how big ones say it. Say, “Repeat after me” thing. Sometimes, we teach them by letting them memorize a prayer. Maybe that worked to some kids but I would like to share with you how Andy learns to pray.

  • Bring your child to worship gatherings. As early as months old don’t fail to bring your child to a place where people praise and pray to God. Most specially, to children’s religious gatherings. Sometimes we doubt its effect because a child cannot talk yet or even understand what is happening around but never underestimate the impression of God to the little ones and the open, willing, and innocent minds. They are ready to grasp everything you do for them.
  • Family worship is important. Let your little ones hear how you send your praises and supplications to God. Their fresh and young minds can imitate the things you habitually doing. Let them hear clearly their names as you mention them in prayer.
  • Be watchful on the imitating days. When they start to imitate you already guide them on what to say. It will vary depending on the occasion. The venue and the what to pray about need to be relevant and it will not happen on the same situation most of the times. So, if you let them memorize a prayer it should be different in varied situations as well. Let them hear you pray on different scenes like praying before going to bed, eating, bathing, and travelling. Tell them to pray by their hearts and to talk to Jesus just like they are talking to you or to a friend. Let them pray with their language and assure them that Jesus listens, hears, and answers the prayer of the child. Just be careful about how God answers prayer…tell them as soon as they understand that God answers prayer with a YES, WAIT, or TRY THIS instead. But, at young age your child can understand if you talk to them as if they really get what you mean. Tell them the truth and the reality of prayer.

Bottomline is show, do, demonstrate and live a prayerful life as well. Pray a lot for them. Don’t forget to emphasize this text to them:

1 John 5:15, KJV: “And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” 

5 Grandparenting Benefits

My father got married at 32. He got me when he was 33. Since, I already finished two bachelors’ degree before getting married, so the least age that my father would have a grandchild was 57, except if my younger siblings overtook me in giving grand kids to our parents. My father is now 68 and he has only two grand babies from me.

Finding a dependable baby sitter was very hard for us. This is common especially if you have a tight budget and ideals for upbringing that you want to keep too. So, my parents sacrificed a lot for my kids. Papa would travel across ocean and cities before arriving at our house to take care of his grandchildren, while mama is left in our hometown in

Samal Island to take care of my youngest sibling and our tiny house with plenty of pets. Never did I hear a certain problem from papa’s lips while being at our house. It seemed to me that his job of taking care of my kids (5 and 2 years old) yielded much benefits to him. These were results of my observations only:

One of Papa’s drawings.
  1. He looks younger. All his life before 2017 were spent in fishing and farming. The heat of the sun made him a bit older than when I look at him now. Spending his time taking care of the kids and doing some of the cooking made him active and a lot younger.
  2. His digestions improveIPñ. Before, I frequently heard him bloated and with upset stomach. Now, it was gone. We tried hard to make the kind of food that the kids were eating as healthy as possible. While papa was left to feed the kids in the morning, he was the one who would consume their leftovers and I believed he benefited from it. Plus, a dose of turmeric a day that prohibits internal inflammations as well. Thus, helping him to have better digestion.
  3. He was having a lot of peace of mind. Yes, I think older ones tend to become worriers. But while the kids were playing, Papa usually played his guitar and sang his heart out. These moments made him happy and stable. He said, he started playing guitar during his teens, that while they were weeding the cornfield and he could think of a song and imagined the tune, he would ran home and tried to play it. He’s been doing it at home. Frequently, he would sing very old songs, religious and secular. Singing is an expression of inspiration which could calm the soul and rest the heart from fear and anxiety. Every time he sings, I believe that he is releasing some stress hormones and replacing them with happy hormones.
  4. He feels younger. The way we perceive ourselves helps us to have a mindset about it. In papa’s case the mindset is, since the kids are just so young, he must be also young 😊. Being with them helps him to recall previous skills. Andrea loves to lie down beside him with her head on his arms. She would also love to ask papa to draw something, tell her a story and made him do some stuff for her. Her impulsive spirit then could forced papa to draw what she is requesting. Sometimes he needs to draw different kinds of animals for her which would turned out to be a funny time because they are expecting a certain animal but the one that papa have drawn became a different animal. During worship time, at the evening usually, the kids played as song leaders where papa would accompany them with guitar. These activities also make him level down to the kids choices.
  5. He develops a closer relationship with God. When the kids are asleep or even if they are awake and do not need so much of papa’s attention, I often saw papa with his Bible and pen. He reads the Bible thoroughly and a lot. I have never seen him so engrossed in reading the Bible like he is now. He becomes a very wonderful example to his grandchildren and to us. He spends a lot of time reading the Bible and his words are much inclined to the inspiration that he got from reading the Holy Words of God.

All these are but a few of Papa’s benefits for taking care of his grand kids. He has been travelling for almost 2 years now. He goes home on Fridays and comes back on Sundays.

We have different situations maybe and these benefits will not be so evident with yours. Our kids are home babies, they spend almost all day playing inside the house and are less attention seekers. It was also said that grandparents tend to spoil the kids, that’s real but we are just around during lunch breaks and the night time and the whole weekends to correct and neutralize it.

To grandparents out there, don’t ever think that taking care of your grand babies will stress you more, because the way I see it, kids will let you forget your age by their charming smiles, their innocent hugs and their tiny genuine and real affection to you.

Thanks to Lolos and Lolas out there who spend their old age taking care of their grand kids. We love you.

Guard your tongue

For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.  1 Peter 3:10

The campus was devastated by the series of earthquakes from October to December of 2019. The school opted to do modular approach in teaching for the whole month of January and missed two exams which are the prelim and midterms. Twenty progressing construction of classrooms have been started today. As part of our preparation for the coming classes, all the faculty and staff worked together every 3:45 o’clock in the afternoon for the whole week of January 27 – January 31, 2020. Andy, my 5 year old son, came with us in the new construction site. He was playing while trying to convince me that he really wanted to help us. Unfortunately, I was hesitant to let him join us because there were ants on the cut mango branches that we were hauling. So he continued playing. After an hour, a call for snacks came and the kids were the first who lined up because we still need to finish our work.

Captured while he was working with us.

Me and some other teachers were still working when I heard Andy calling at me. It seems so important by the way I listened to his voice. I heard him calling but I just ignored him because I thought it was not a very serious situation to process. After we had done bringing the remaining branches to the certain area, I was looking for him, then I found him with teary eyes.

“What happened?” I asked.

Then he cried hard while I’m hugging him. Only then that the teachers around explain to me why he was crying.

“One of the mothers, jokingly asked her daughter, ‘Baby, did you help so you can eat?’.  Andy, who was just near to them heard the statement clearly. He did not accept the food given to him and he was calling for you,” narrated by one of persons who were near them.

Then I understood that what he was calling about was so urgent for him. He was young yet he understood it so well. I talked to him and let him understand that it was just a joke. But, he continued to ask me that he would help. So I brought him to an area where there were no more ants. At first I picked twig for him to carry but for the next two rounds I let him picked and brought the twigs. He was so happy and I saw him so contented with what he was doing.

As a mother, I realized that every time a child needed your attention it really matters to them. Further, what it seemed a joke for us may be real to other people. I am reminded of the verse in 1 Peter 3:10, For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.  

Written: January 27, 2020

Soiled Towels

Luke 5:32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

I was washing the soiled towels used during the communion service on Friday. Thinking that the laundry powder plus the 45 minutes soaking will work their share, I confidently thought that I was able to finish it at least within two hours. After breakfast I started getting the towels one – by – one from the machine. Looking carefully at each of the towel, I was beginning to separate those which were really clean as I checked them through my naked eye and those need to be hand washed still after. It was almost a hundred towels and at least 60 of them qualified to be those that thoroughly clean. So, there were still 40 towels which should be treated with “zonrox” and with my strong hands.

While doing it, I came to reflect the verse in the Bible in Matthew 9:13, Mark 2:17, and Luke 5:32. In the account of Luke it reads like this “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” As I gave so much attention on those which are more soiled I realized that in many situations in life those who have problems and those who are struggling of some serious situations in life need much of our attention.

As a mother, I realized that my kid who maybe have problematic character must be given enough time so that he/she could be helped from what he/she is struggling.

As a teacher, I relate it to students who are struggling academically, socially, and spiritually. There should be greater efforts to be given to those who are suffering  or struggling with something. A  listening ear can help and a simple gestures of care and understanding would benefit them.

Written: January 26, 2020

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