Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Screen Curfew

I really, really hated the idea when Tim first suggested it. Anyone who knows us well enough know that we live in a 4-gadget-per-capita household (not even including the ones for work). We live online and on screen. Every spare moment is spent using a gadget of some sort, and we even wear some of ours. We talk to each other on Viber for more hours each day than we do in person. We both had to get corrective eye surgery at some point. We save all our information on multiple cloud programs. We never sell an electronic gadget without getting another one in its place.

You get the picture.

The above lifestyle is why the idea of a screen curfew - a set time when we would stop using gadgets before going to bed - sounded utterly ludicrous to me.

Why would we do that (because that's what my version of a supportive wife says)? I don't think it'll really help us sleep. Why an ENTIRE HOUR before we sleep?

It was a whole different story when we tried it.

Stopping our screen exposure for a set time before bed has lessened our entertainment options by a lot, but it's also helped us in so many other ways.

My reading habits have been restored to the classic and Christian over transient online updates. I don't go to bed with my head full of covetousness over everyone else's social media accounts. We actually talk to each other so much more in person instead of just sending each other web links of every kind. I've started journaling again, and our hearts are much more prepared for our bed-time prayers than they used to be.

I don't think we'll ever be permanently unplugged, and I don't particularly advocate that kind of lifestyle either. We live in a digital world, and we function well by reaching out to others and growing ourselves through platforms that are available online. But, that said, it's not a bad idea to take a break on a regular basis. It's a quiet time of sorts, a chance to rest and refocus.

While I still shout "No! Already?" almost every time our screen curfew hits, I've actually started to enjoy those parts of the evening better and better. Stopping screen use has become something beyond the physical. It's become a choice to detach ourselves from visual stimulation and to calm down our senses inside and out.

I don't know how long we'll manage to keep up this lifestyle, but I'd like to think we'll be enjoying these habits for quite a while to come.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Happy Wife, Happy Life?

I'm a wife, and I'm happy - most of the time.

According to the age-old adage, that means my husband should be happy- most of the time. Right?


When I'm happy, I'm easier to be around; and that fact probably makes my husband have an easier time at life, I'll admit.

But as a Christian woman, I don't want my husband to just be a genie catering to my every wish and fancy. I don't need a slave; I need a leader. And if my husband is going to be the spiritual leader of our marriage, as I want him to be (in my grown-up moments), then it's distinctly NOT his job to make me happy.

In fact, I'm thankful that he doesn't.

I'm thankful that when I want something that's bad for me, he advises me against it. I'm thankful that when I have a stupid idea (and that happens more often than I'd like to admit), he's around to be the voice of reason. I'm thankful that he knows me well enough, and is in a relationship permanent enough, to point out my flaws and show me that I'm not always right.

Does that make me upset? Uhm, yes. Does that make me give him a hard time? Hehe, yes.

But that makes him to be exactly the kind of husband God wants him to be - and the kind I need him to be. Despite my negative reactions, he does what his role demands of him; and I love him all the more for that.

Living in the thick of the matriarchal Filipino culture, it's ridiculously easy to think that women rule - that men are better off listening to their wives. It seems easier - right? Wives are happy; husbands are safe.

But that's not what a godly husband should be.

I'll say it frankly. A man who does not lead - a man who listens to his wife in everything, whose goal in life is to please his wife - is not a godly husband. He may look like a good husband to lots of people - obedient, compliant, and softspoken - but he is distinctly NOT the model of a Christian husband.

A good Christian husband exercises servant leadership. He cares and he guides. He provides and he sustains. He encourages, but he also rebukes.

I just happen to be lucky enough to be married to one.

I've heard fathers teach sons, and older men tell younger men, that the key to a happy life is to always take your wife's side and to acknowledge that she's always right.

That's a load of nonsense.

No human being is "always right," and marrying her doesn't qualify her for that label either.

I know some women might be upset at me for writing this, for "taking the man's side," so to speak. I'm sorry if my generic examples inadvertently offend. That's not my intention.

I don't take the man's side. I take God's side. I respect and honor what He designed marriage to be.

It's one man, one woman, one lifetime.

It's a leader, a helpmeet, and a commitment.

I don't always succeed in playing the role of a godly wife. I sometimes (i.e. often) take over things that are not my job. I reject the tasks my husband delegates to me, choosing instead to complain and lament. I know the model of a biblical marriage, but I seldom follow it completely.

I'm not perfect, my husband is not perfect, and our marriage is not perfect. No marriage is.

But that's why we need Him, right?

That's why Tim and I are incredibly blessed to have a biblical model to follow. We are blessed to know that God will look favorably upon a marriage where a man leads and a woman helps. We are happy to know that when the husband faithfully leads and loves, and the wife consistently respects and submits, we would be able to have a God-honoring marriage.

We've seen these principles applied, kept, and rewarded in many marriages around us. It's possible, people.

We've been given the blueprint of a truly happy marriage. Why follow anything else?

Happy God, happy marriage. And everybody wins.

Monday, January 30, 2017

When I Grow Up

"I want to be a mom!"

That was my answer from day one. I was five, having braved half a decade of existence with gusto, when I made that declaration. Over the years, other opinions came and went. I went through the flight attendant stage, the fashion designer stage, the celebrity chef stage, and even the princess stage (Prince William was still single then, okay?).

But the fundamental wish never changed.

I wanted to be a mom. That was my goal in life.

I still do want to be a mom...but that's not my goal in life.

Biology aside, becoming a good mom required being a good wife first. My urgency to get to that stage almost caused multiple stupidities as a single girl. I knew I wanted to be a mom; so I had to find a husband by necessity. At that time, any random one would do.

God, of course, had better plans. It's by His miraculous guidance that I fell in love with my husband and married him as soon as we knew it was His will.

In my mind, step one was done.

Becoming a mom - the ultimate dream - felt only a stone's throw away.

For the first 18 months of marriage, I constantly expected myself to be pregnant. Month after month, I bought pregnancy tests. Month after month, I geared myself up to buy maternity clothes. Week after week, I tracked my body. Week after week, I nodded silently as family members gave me mythic tips on how to get pregnant. Day after day, I sacrificed high heels and caffeine and eating processed food.

Day after day, I cried.

Why wasn't it happening? Upon multiple occasions, I had dear older people in church walking up to me to say, "You should have kids as soon as possible. Don't wait until you're older."

It pained me every single time to say, "I know. I know."

I wasn't waiting. We wanted kids, and we wanted them right away. We even expected to be holding a child (or at least a pregnant belly) by the time our first anniversary rolled along.

God didn't let that happen.

We ran tests. We took medication. We consulted doctors both Western and Oriental in training. We consulted doctors for women, doctors for men. We got masseuses, herbs, vitamins, and a dozen other means of supposedly aiding fertility.

Our bodies aren't perfect. We can have kids, but it's hard to have them.

The thought was sobering.

But God is our sun and shield. No good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

He is the strength of our hearts, and our portion forever.

He sent people to cross our paths. A wonderful church deaconess reminded me that having children or not didn't matter in eternity. A pastor's wife shared with me that God's legacy in us reached beyond that of sons or daughters. A loving husband reminds me repeatedly that he will never love me any less even if I never bear him any children.

Don't get me wrong. We received tons of wrong advice too.

Some people said that it would surely happen someday, though they couldn't guarantee it. Some people told me I just didn't have enough faith. Some others claimed that I just "didn't want it enough."

Friends and family conceive - quickly and repeatedly - and I feel that life is just utterly unfair.

They sound silly in my saner days. But whenever I come home after a family reunion where EVERYONE had a kid, I feel lonely and sad and feeling entirely inadequate. When Mother's Day rolls around and a new mother runs up to me to say, "Look! Look! I have a baby now!"...I still go home and cry out half of my body's water content.

It's in those days that I forget what it truly means to be a Christian, and all the wrong advice sounds almost right.

Being a Christian means that there is nothing on earth I desire besides God. It means that despite what society might tell me, my life is not missing anything.

I am complete.

I am complete in Him.

I am not living an unfinished life. I am not in any way less of a person than the person with half a dozen kids. I am a child of a King. That's all that matters.

Hey, guess I did end up being a princess, after all.

When I grow up, I still want to be a mom; but I don't HAVE to be one.

Not having children allows us to study, to shop, to grow, to travel, and to do so many things we wouldn't be able to if we were tied down with any children. Not having kids lets us have so many more years alone to prune and fine-tune our marriage. Not having kids helps me understand what it means to be complete, complete in my God.

I am the child of a King. Nothing else really matters. And even when I forget that at times, it doesn't make it any less true.

Friday, November 25, 2016

On Being a Millenial

There are days when I wear that label proudly. I came of age during the new century. I am a digital native, a confident and opinionated woman, an expressive individual, and a writer and traveller. In less than 30 years of life, I've had the opportunity to see, read, visit, and explore so many things.

Being a millenial is fun. It's a generation of opportunity, after all. Color and gender suddenly don't matter when it comes to choosing career paths. My marriage is one of mutual respect and consideration, not a one-way street of dominance. Social media and the Internet leave the world (and everyone in it) at my fingertips.

I love being a millenial.

We are part of a global village. We invent cool words and type in acronyms. We have gadgets instead of pets.

It's pretty cool.

But there are days when I am less proud of the label.

There are days when the term means laziness, faithlessness, and narcissism. There are HR department heads who shudder in fear at a stack of applications with no one born before 1980. There are moments when the word is spit out with total disdain.

And as much as I'd like to argue, those bad days happen more often than the good ones.

Because whether we like it or not, our actions do speak louder than words. Or, in some cases, louder than inaction.

Millenials, it's our turn to make sure we leave the right legacy (not that most of us care about anything beyond 'today' and 'right now,' apparently). But if you're still reading, then you're probably one of the hopeful ones. It's our turn to write the next chapter of history.

Are we leaving anything of lasting achievement?

Or just a bunch of selfies?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Finding Mr. Darcy

I have never shied away from the fact that I adore Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I re-read my favorite parts of the book quite regularly, and I've hungrily consumed its various adaptations. After all, there is no flawed heroine as charming as Elizabeth; and there is no elusive prince more dashing and admirable than Darcy.

I've loved the book since I was twelve.

And that means I've been waiting for my Mr. Darcy to show up for all of the twelve years after that.

There's just one little problem: Mr. Darcy doesn't exist.

He's a figment of maiden Austen's imagination, and he's been the object of my dreams for so long that he simply couldn't exist. There is no perfect man.

"No!" The fangirls cry. "We're not saying Mr. Darcy is perfect!"

No, we're not. But we sure act like he is, don't we?

The irony of it all is as follows: We are all as blind as Elizabeth.

We think that if we wish it hard enough, that handsome and brooding modern-day princes will appear and refuse to leave our sides. It doesn't work that way. We live our own lives. Sometimes Prince Charming shows up; sometimes he doesn't.

And sometimes, he comes as the person we least expect.

The charm of Pride and Prejudice's love story is that Mr. Darcy wasn't someone Elizabeth treasured right away. And for many of us in real life, it works the same way. I know I've had my share of Mr. Wickhams. But none of us really want to be with Wickham, do we? We want Darcy! But maybe if I had known earlier what qualities really made a Darcy, then I wouldn't have had to meet so many Wickhams (and Collinses too!).

What makes a Mr. Darcy?

It's not the height or the riches or the handsome features. Unfortunately, it's not. It's not the brooding introverted nature, even. In other words, it's nothing that the world exalts.

It's not the athleticism on horseback.

It's not the fame of the Darcy name (or the ten thousand pounds per annum that comes with it).

And it's definitely not the fact that he's related to Catherine de Bourgh.

What makes Darcy a prize includes much deeper, less visible things.

It's the kindness and generosity of a brother and landlord.

It's the faithfulness of a man with a heart unchanging.

It's the humility that changes a once-proud gentleman for the better.

It's the respect of a thinker for the woman he loves.

And those are the things I found in mine.

I married my Mr. Darcy, whose birthday is today, more than three years ago. Like Elizabeth, I didn't appreciate him at first, choosing rather to hurl rejections in his face (my baby brother was there, ask him). Like Elizabeth, I also took quite a while to warm up to who he truly is, rather than who I thought him to be. I didn't try to imitate Elizabeth intentionally, but I somehow ended up doing so.

But I'm glad my husband is as steadfast as my favorite fictional hero.

Happy birthday, Tim. You're far better of a man than I could ever have hoped to marry. Thank you for loving silly ol' me.

And guess what? As far as I'm concerned, my Mr. Darcy is just as handsome and dashing as Eliabeth's - and our humble home is as luxurious as Pemberley. He is the introvert that balances my talkative nature, the ballast to my whims and fancies; and even though he doesn't brood (it's not becoming, really), I think he's cool anyway.

I fall in love with him a little more each and every day. Who knows, maybe one day, all the love can compensate for the years I didn't appreciate him for who he was.

Ladies, don't be me. Look for the right things. Then maybe, when your Mr. Darcy comes along, you'll recognize him right away.