Marriage and the Love Between a Man and a Woman

RinaPeru's photo

It’s Bro. Edu Cortez’s fault, that very talented photographer behind the lens of Extreme Details Photography – glory to God! He posts these beautiful photos of brides and their grooms, their poses and bodies speak of a language only a man and a woman so in-love with each other know and understand. These evoke exquisite emotions that are not commonly felt – well, not by a wife in her mid-forties like me :)! But, alas! The hopeless romantic in me succumbs to wonderful thoughts about love stirred up by these prenup and wedding photos.

They definitely make me think about the love that captures a man and a woman and brings them to a place where they could give of themselves to each other – in mind, in spirit, in heart, in body – in the sanctity of marriage. It is almost magical; a spellbinding process that is beyond their control.

I can’t help but think about Jacob and Rachel. Jacob, upon seeing Rachel for the first time, wept. Could it be that the rush of emotions was like an avalanche washing over him he just couldn’t express it in words he chose to weep? A love so powerful it seized him in an instant and spurred him to kiss that beautiful young woman who had just captured his heart? The Bible tells that he “lifted up his voice and wept”. I imagine that there were actually no words that came out of his lips but maybe only a pained cry, the soul’s expression of an emotion so strong and wanting to be released. Doesn’t love do that? It moves you so much it hurts?

Without a doubt, the love between a man and a woman is beautiful because it was from God and created by Him. It was part of His design of things from the time of Adam and Eve. And though disobedience drove the very first couple out of Eden, God did not take back the gift of love that He had given them in the beginning. And so, it is what we know and have to this day.

wedding2

Man and woman were created for each other. They are bound by love that makes pure, sanctifies, and not defiles – only in marriage. “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). The man honors the woman by giving himself to her in marriage, while the woman honors him by submitting to him. The husband is commanded to love his wife as Christ loves the Church (Eph. 5:25). The love of Christ sanctifies, nurtures, endures. It is a love that serves and suffers long.

So when I see a groom holding his bride with much love, care, and admiration, I am in awe of this wonder that God has given His creation.

I have been blessed with a faithful husband whose love holds in sickness and in health, in trials and in triumph. Often, the problem with couples, especially those who are still young, is that they are so idealistic. They look at other couples or spouses and compare. That’s where discontent, criticisms, complaints, fault-finding, and strife come in.

A year after our wedding, I experienced all these things with other marital problems. That’s why soon after, our marriage broke apart. (To read more of our testimony, click here).

When we received the Lord Jesus Christ and He restored our marriage and family, there were still problems and challenges we faced as husband and wife. But our Savior’s mercy and grace held us and taught us.

The world teaches women to be independent and self-sufficient, even to be independent (or defiant) from their husbands, thanks to the feminist movement. But this is in direct disobedience and rebellion against God’s commandment.

Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives [submit] to their own husbands in everything(Eph. 5:24)

For those who live and walk in the Spirit, we know that there is actually liberty in obeying God’s Word to submit to our husbands. Going into the marriage with reservations and holding back ourselves, and striving against our husbands could actually be a prison that we make for ourselves. When we willingly release ourselves in submission to our husbands, we usher in God’s approval, and hence, His favor, and everything flows easier.

This kind of submission doesn’t mean we must lose our voice. It means we honor our husbands by listening to them, respecting their decisions, opinions, and views, be led by them, and not usurp their authority.

This is God’s grand design for marriage.

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

rina

So You Want to Know Real Joy?

This was one of the ways I had known joy in my adult life.

The piece of paper comes out of the fax machine slowly. I look and I see it is a purchase order from the biggest client of my year-old chemicals company. I look at the quantity and the amount and I am astounded. Then I leap in joy and laugh and kick my legs in glee and laugh some more. The heavens have poured out a blessing in measure I can not contain.

That was joy after the relentless hoping and working hard and sweat and tears and never giving up.

Then joy became like this.

Pearls – white, pink and bluish grey set in gold, surrounded by perfect diamonds – adorn the neck, ears, wrists, and fingers. String of diamonds that go all around and look beautiful in the wrist, don’t they call it eternity? Wardrobe that is never satisfied. Climb up the ladder of success higher and higher still.

But joy can never walk hand in hand with covetousness. Never. For joy satisfies and fills. Joy is a product of not wanting more, but being content with and grateful for what is graciously given.

That is how I know joy now.

I sit in my high back swivel chair. No, this is not my office chair which I used as president of my company. This is a substitute for a wheelchair for it is more comfortable when I’m home. I listen to praise songs, and when the crescendo of the glorious chorus lifts up my spirit to great heights, I weep and beg God to heal me so I can sing like the singers in the CD do. Then a still small voice speaks in my heart and asks, “What would you choose, to be able to walk but not sing, or to be able to sing well with all your strength but not walk?” And without hesitation, I answer over and over, “I want to sing! I want to sing!” Tears stream freely from a heart that is hungry for the Lord.

I cannot walk for now. I can only do it for a few steps and with support, only as a daily exercise. I cannot travel because I have problems with breathing. But I plan my family’s trip while I stay at home and wait. My heart hungers to travel with my family – walk barefoot on  golden sand glinting in the summer’s sun, or gaze at the green fields and trees as we walk by in the countryside… There are so many desires of my heart – travel to different parts of the world to share the Gospel and my testimony to win souls – but I remain here in this place of hope and waiting and expecting.

You might want to know – how do I go through the day? How do I curb the hunger?

You may not believe it but I live in joy. In the mornings, I awake to joy and inspiration from the Lord to face another day. How do I find joy? It is given to me by the Lord. It is His wonderful, beautiful gift. It is His grace. It is a fruit of seeking Him, of wanting to know Him more, of relentlessly pursuing Him, of spending time in His sweet holy presence, of delighting in Him! It is something that I humbly and gladly receive from His hand as He lovingly offers it to me.

Depression is absolutely absent. For the joy that comes from the Lord is real and pure and durable!

I had known joy that was riddled with guilt. Later, I realized it was not joy at all but sin, SIN, masquerading as joy. So beware!

What, then, is the difference between the joy that I had known when I was well and strong – working, traveling, shopping and embracing the pleasures of the world – and the joy that I know now? It is the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in my life. It is His Spirit that dwells in my heart who enables me to bear its fruit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Gal. 5:22-23)

That and all the wonderful ways He brings joy to my life:

praising and worshiping

love of family and friends

writing: blogging and journaling

homemaking: decorating, cooking, baking, ice cream making, vegetable gardening

reading (I love the Holy Bible and books!)

studying (the Word and other pursuits)

listening to praise music

photography

drawing

lavender scent and green grass and trees and birds!

shampoo and bath assisted by my husband

and many other simple things that most people would take for granted.

Friend, are you searching for joy in your life? Joy that fills and satiates and sees one through even in the most difficult times? Joy that is not fleeting but remains? Jesus is the answer. Let Him into your life now. Know the keys of salvation here.

Additional readings, yes? :):

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

The Door in the Wall

Our Hannah and Mom Book Club has turned out to be a brilliant idea – praise the Lord! We just finished reading our second book this summer, The Door in the Wall, and my daughter and I really enjoyed reading together. We meet almost two times a day, one before lunch and one at bedtime. We take turns in reading, one chapter for each of us, sometimes more (that is, when we can’t put it down! :))

Reading is one great way to develop strong bond with our kids. The laughters and “lightbulb” moments that Hannah and I shared are truly precious.

The Door in the Wall is an endearing little book packed with heartwarming episodes and virtues. It’s a story of undying faith and courage. Ten-year-old Robin, the darling protagonist, was the only child of his parents, Lord John of Bureford and Lady Maud. Before leaving for the war, Lord John, a knight in the king’s army, gently reminded his son to be always courageous. Robin’s Mom had to leave also to care for the ailing queen. Once they were gone, Robin was to be fetched by a trusted aide and be brought to the Castle of Lindsay where he would be taken care of.

Unfortunate things happened which left Robin alone in their home afflicted with the plague. I believe this was the polio plague which affected Robin’s legs making him crippled, unable to get up. A Brother Luke came from the monastery and took Robin in his care. He told Robin, “Thou hast only to follow the wall long enough and there will be a door in it.”

That was my “lightbulb” moment. With much love and patience, Brother Luke showed Robin to have faith and look for the “door in the wall”. For Robin, though he was crippled, his “door in the wall” was learning how to carve wood. And then later on, how to read and write and swim, and much more!

This book teaches us that, with steadfast faith, undying hope and the virtue of patience, we will find the door in the wall which leads us to freedom. And that was like a brilliant ray of sunshine for me. I explained it to Hannah and she said, “Ohhh!” as her face brightened, grasping her own epiphany.

From there on, I loved the book as it reminded me about my own life, how I had desperately groped along my seemingly unending wall of darkness and sickness. In the dark, spiritually and physically crippled, I followed the wall, never losing hope. And I found the Door.

 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)

And when I entered that Door, my Savior and Redeemer opened to me other doors. I have seen His faithfulness in my life. I realized just now that these words of His are for me:

I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. (Rev. 3:8 NIV)

Isn’t He an amazing God? So, it doesn’t really matter whatever circumstances we are in. We know that the Lord Jesus will lead us to our “door” as long as we follow Him obediently and diligently.

Endnotes:

[There were just a few things at the start of reading the book that made us uncomfortable, namely the mention of friar, a few details on the life in the monastery, and “Lady’s garment” (this part we crossed out), but I told my daughter that we were going to focus on the story and its valuable lessons and not on those minute details. ~ Just a reminder to worship God in spirit and in truth].

Related:

My gratitude list – thankful to the Lord for:

  • this delicious sweet potato pie topped with pecan crumble that I made; relishing it with my beloved husband on a quiet afternoon after work.
  • Marlyn, a Pink Toes (music and dance school where Hannah is enrolled) female employee who kindly assists Hannah in my behalf for their piano recital.
  • I Surrender All being sung during Sunday’s altar call and I was reminded again to live this one redeemed life for Christ.
  • the gift and joy of writing! Definitely a “door in the wall”!

Lent to the Lord

In 1998, when my beloved father lived with me in my small, two-bedroom apartment very sick of lung cancer, life was truly hard. He and my mother traveled from our hometown in the province to seek medical help from specialists. This was also the time that I was struggling with the chemicals business I had put up only ten months earlier. I had turned a portion of my living room into an office and given my bedroom to my father for this was more spacious and airy.

There were cousins who would come to assist my mother in caring for my father all day, while I went out to work, visiting clients. Everyday, our hearts were heavy and the mood in my apartment was generally gloomy. This was a time when I hadn’t yet surrendered my life to the Lord Jesus Christ.

To combat the pervasive sadness in my apartment, I wrote to my older sister and implored her to send her then 4-year-old daughter to us to help cheer up our beloved parents, and me too, since the challenges my fledgling business brought and the burden of caring for my sick father were bearing down heavily upon me. (I was still single then).

She sent her right away and my apartment sure lit up with her effervescent presence. She made her grandfather laugh heartily and stayed beside him when he was quiet and not feeling good. I brought her to the hospital when my father had to stay there for days and he was always happy to see her. I bought her clothes, food, and things to get herself busy most of the day and not miss her Mama too much. The generosity and unselfishness of my sister to lend her little daughter to us so far away from her sight and bosom (they lived in the province) stuck in my memory.

Which brings me now to an endearing story in the Bible that I have cherished ever since I was saved: the story of Hannah and her beloved son (1 Sam. 1-2). Hannah was inconsolable because she was barren, and her rival, the other wife of her husband, mocked her for she had borne many. Hannah prayed to God and begged Him to give her a son and she vowed that she would lend him to Him all the days of his life. (I had written a more detailed retelling of Hannah’s story in Powerful Prayers: Hannah).

God heard Hannah’s agonizing prayer and He gave her a son. After she had weaned her child, she brought him to the Lord at Shiloh and entrusted him to Eli the priest, as she had vowed to the Lord. She had waited for years to have a child, but now she had to leave him in the temple to serve the Lord to honor her vow. But Hannah’s unselfishness and sacrifice didn’t go unnoticed in the eyes of God. For when she and her husband returned to their home, God blessed her with more sons and daughters. Hannah was exceedingly glad that she poured out a song of praise to God.

…For the Lord is the God of knowledge;
And by Him actions are weighed.

The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
He brings low and lifts up. (1 Sam. 2: 3,7)

It is this same principle that I apply now with my children: lending them to the Lord through singing in the choirs in church. Hannah sings in the Children’s Choir while Tim sings in the Cherubims Choir. What’s more excellent than singing praises to God in His great congregation? I see God’s goodness in our life everyday and I know we can never repay it. Praising and giving glory to His name is the least we could do and we will not be stingy with it, by His grace.

Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have perfected praise. (Mat. 21:16)

And God is ever faithful to reward every earnest sacrifice offered to Him, and prospers and increases every endeavor geared for His kingdom. As He did with Hannah in the Old Testament, so He does with Hannah my daughter, blessing her with wisdom and she gets good grades in school. She received a silver medal in academic excellence last year and she will again receive a medal this year in their graduation and awarding ceremonies – to God be the glory! He answers our heartfelt prayers and gives our hearts’ desires, like my prayer for Hannah to learn the piano. Now, she’s presently enrolled in piano lessons and will have their recital in April. She plays the piano so well – a precious gift from the gracious God – and I only have Him to be grateful for!

Linked to Titus 2sday, Domestically Divine, Women Living Well, Women in the Word Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, Walk With Him Wednesday, Proverbs 31 Thursday, Faith Filled Friday, Teach Me Tuesday, Winsome Wednesday, Pink Saturday, Spiritual Sundays, Sharing His Beauty, Better Mom Mondays, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home

The Capacity to Love

(photo source)

When we received the Lord Jesus in our lives, He cleansed us from all our sins and made us vessels worthy to carry His oil. This is the Holy Spirit. And we began to bear its fruit.

How our capacity as vessels has increased depends on how we have grown in grace and vice-versa. I have come to realize that growing in grace actually occurs more in the stormy seasons of life where the Lord leaves us no other way but to increase: to increase in faith, love and patience and all other virtues that He wants us to have in abundance.

Just when we think we, as vessels, are just ready to burst and lose all that we carry, He comes and lovingly assists us to expand some more and carry some more. Then we are amazed at how He does that to us, only because we are willing, yielded and trusting.

Which reminds me of the stories of two women of the Old Testament that I have been pondering on deeply for days. The first lived during the time of Prophet Elijah (please see 1 Kings 17:8-16). This story tells of a widow woman whose bin of flour was not used up and her jar of oil did not run dry until the drought had passed, just because she obeyed the word of the man of God by willingly and trustingly giving what little she had.

The second story was during the time of Prophet Elisha (please see 2 Kings 4:1-7), wherein a widow woman cried out to him for help, for the creditor was coming to take her sons in payment for a debt she couldn’t pay. Prophet Elisha instructed her to borrow empty vessels from her neighbors and fill them all up with the oil she had in a jar, her only material wealth. The oil multiplied and filled up all the borrowed vessels and Elisha instructed her to sell them and pay her creditor.

Two miracles that tell of the principle of God’s increase upon our yielding and complete obedience to unselfishly give. To give of our selves and of our love.

Do I carry enough amount of love that could nourish the people in my life and those who come to me even during the hardest of trials? I may only have a little remaining, just as the widow woman of Zarephath had, but if I yield myself to the One who holds all my tomorrows and be pleased to draw from what little I have and willing to serve it to all who are in need, not thinking so much of myself, then the Lord will keep “my supply” abundant and last through the drought.

Or do I have enough love that could cover “indebtedness”, a love that flows and fills one empty vessel after another, a love that prays and forgives and loves some more so that the Redeemer would redeem him/her who has erred and fallen short? For if I have a love that loves deeply, turning a sinner from the error of their way, it will cover a multitude of sins (1 Pet. 4:8; James 5:19-20).

But I know that even if my love would fail, Jesus’ love will never fail. For His love fills my cup when it’s empty and covers all my mistakes and shortcomings. With love He expands and increases me so I will grow and be able to carry more.

For His love is wide and deep and high and long – it is boundless and passes all understanding (Eph. 3:18-19)!

Related: Vessels

Linked to Titus 2sdays, Domestically Divine, Women Living Well, Women in the Word Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Proverbs 31 Thursdays, Brag on God Friday, Spiritual Sundays, Sharing His Beauty, Walk With Him Wednesday

Celebrating Love

"Suman" (sticky rice cake) dipped in chocolate.

(Bible reading: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

Today, we celebrate love and family. There were two different times and situations in our life when we didn’t celebrate as a family: the first time was when after a year of being married and having our first baby, our marriage fell apart and my husband had to leave our home, and the second time was when the Lord had mercifully and lovingly restored our marriage and family but I was too sick, scared and confused to think about celebrating.

After years of abiding in the Lord Jesus and in His Word and I have received partial healing, my heart began to embrace the lessons strewn along the path of my trials and to give thanks in everything. And our family settled in our new normal. We also began to live celebrating life and His love in everyday.

We Christians desire to excel in the gifts that are bestowed upon us by the Lord. But even if we have been gifted with extraordinary faith or excellent wisdom or expertise in writing or speaking or generous giving for the work of the Lord and to the poor – the practice of these gifts is bound by one important thing to give it meaning and substance and make it acceptable and pleasing in the sight of God.

And. That. Is. Love.

I had found it most futile to strive to perfect the “Love Chapter” through my relationships and interactions in everyday by my own efforts for I had found myself failing miserably. Until I fell at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to give me the gift of love. Yes, we have to earnestly desire the more excellent way.

We receive this gift only through the Holy Spirit. When we receive the Holy Spirit and we begin to live and walk in the Spirit, we bear its fruit which is love. And by constantly abiding in the Lord, we become more fruitful. Only when we are firmly attached to the True Vine – daily praising and worshiping, praying (at times with fasting), studying the Word, regularly attending worship services, obeying the Lord’s commands and following Him – that our love is watered and nourished and thus, it grows and flourishes.

As the lyrics of a classic love song goes – love is a many-splendored thing.

Faith that works by love. ~ Gal.5:6

Wisdom that operates in love. ~ James 3:17

Love that loves like Christ. ~ John 13:34

The end of the commandment is love. ~ 1 Tim 1:5

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. ~ 1 Cor. 13:13

I’m pleased to share with you this beautiful song that I love singing to the Lord in my private worship time ~ Boundless by Shannon Wexelberg. I hope you’ll learn it, too!

Linked to Sharing His BeautyTitus 2sday, Domestically Divine, Women Living Well, Women in the Word Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, Walk With Him Wednesday, Proverbs 31 Thursday, Brag on God Friday, Spiritual Sundays, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home

Also participating for the first time at Kids in the Kitchen Blog Hop

Living With Wisdom

(photo source: Google images)

(Bible readings: 1 Kings 10:1-10; 2 Chron. 9:1-12)

The queen of Sheba traveled far to Jerusalem to hear the wisdom of King Solomon. And when she came to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. King Solomon, in turn, answered all her questions and did not withhold anything from her. After she had heard of his wisdom and had seen the prosperity of his kingdom, the queen of Sheba could only exclaim:

Happy are your men and happy are these your servants, who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom! (1 Kings 10:8)

I don’t know about you but like the queen of Sheba, I would love to seek out wisdom and sit at the feet of a very wise king and listen to his words that enlighten my mind and soul – like Mary at the feet of Jesus. For the Lord Himself said that Mary had chosen the better thing – the only thing that was needed – and that was to keep still and listen to His words of life (Luke 10:42).

But even in our own homes, we could live in the atmosphere of wisdom practiced daily. As parents or older siblings, we could surround our family and staff (most Asian households, especially in the Philippines, live with other relatives and employ stay-in housemaids and nannies) with wisdom that teaches and helps them grow in the knowledge of God.

The Bible advises us to get wisdom first and foremost:

Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding. (Prov. 4:7)

And we do this by asking the Lord for the gift of wisdom:

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5 NIV)

As parents, we are given the noble duty of rearing our children in a way that is pleasing to God, and the best tool that we can use to successfully accomplish this is wisdom gained from His Word – by reading and meditating on it with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

This is how we grow in grace and in the knowledge of Him: spending precious time at the King’s feet – praising and worshiping, praying in the spirit, and studying His Word daily. Regular communing with the Lord makes His light remain shining brightly in our hearts, minds and souls.

When we surround ourselves with the wisdom that’s from above, we can, in turn, surround our loved ones, friends, employees or co-workers with the same wisdom we have gained. And what is this wisdom that we should desire?

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. (James 3:17 NLT)

The verse above is the best guide that we can use in all our interactions. Oh, if only everyone learns to live by this, I believe there would be no discord in our families and communities but only peace and harmony!

(A gentle reminder to my blog readers, followers and subscribers who are from the Philippines: the Valentine’s giveaways are open until Saturday, 6:00PM – I invite you to join? Two winners will be selected. To join, click here).

Related article: From Fear to Love

Linked to Titus 2sday, Domestically Divine, Women Living Well, Women in the Word Wednesday, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Raising Homemakers, Proverbs 31 Thursday, Brag on God Friday, Spiritual Sundays, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home