Every year, at this time, I become somewhat pensive.
I think it’s just part of my nature to look back on the year that was, in order to learn from both the good and the bad, so that I can be better and more prepared for the year ahead.
Perhaps, this is something that was nurtured in me at a very young age.
When I was a young girl, my father gave me my first diary (complete with lock and key) to record my thoughts. He inscribed each of my diaries that he gifted me with every year, sharing that I could look back on what I wrote, so that I could learn from my own thoughts and feelings. This simple act of journaling provided me with the opportunity to be introspective and self-aware. It required me to be mindful of my thoughts even as a young girl.
I carried this basic principle with me into my adulthood.
Even here, on the website, I know that sometimes what I write, can serve as an online journal of my thoughts. Reading back through my very first blog entries, provides for a tremendous amount of self analysis and growth. That most certainly is a GIFT, no matter what way I slice it.
This is us. For better of for worse.
I have shared before (in passing) how 2016 was a very difficult year for our family. Without going too much into the sordid details, of the events which shaped that pivotal year for me, it is suffice to say, that given all the challenges that were presented to me, there were many lessons learned.
This is us now. We are happier and so much better off.
CONFESSION: Nino and I began 2017 with both high hopes and a heavy heart at the same time.
Does that even make sense?
As a couple, we realized that not every familial connection we had, was in our best interest. This involved the conscious decision to remove people from our lives who were not “friends to our marriage.” Unfortunately, 2017 has been littered with extremely painful and vicious events both big and small regarding these people. They have taken steps not just to hurt us as a couple, but to also hurt our children.
It reminds me of a verse from the book of Matthew, that my friend Mira asked me to read.
So what’s the lesson in this tragic set of circumstances?
Even if it means that I need to forgive seventy-seven times.
I touched on this ability to forgive in a post in April of 2016 when I wrote 5 Things your Kids should See in Your Marriage.
That still holds true:
If Jesus can forgive, then so can I, with His help.
Believe you me, there is no love loss between me and these people. Knowing that there are people out there who are supposed to love and support you in important decisions that you make in your life, often provides comfort.
Knowing that these SAME people, who are supposed to love you, continually betray you and disappoint you, is another story that ends in an entirely different way.
Removing these people from our lives has allowed us the time and the space necessary to heal as a family. To rebuild. To strengthen our faith in each other, and God up above. Their absence has also gifted us time and energy to reinforce the belief that there is a reason for every challenge that God presents us with.
Every hurtful word spoken.
Every disappointment provides another perspective.
In fact, after this first lesson in suffering and forgiveness, (that I’m still working on) I have also learned that God sends us angels when we need them most.
If we are paying close attention, we can see these people for who they are, and the wisdom that they can impart through the gift of Jesus and His Word.
DISCLAIMER: All of this faith and strength that I find in Christ is SO NEW to me. This level of understanding is so rudimentary that I sometimes find myself slipping into old ways of thinking, that don’t serve me, or SERVE HIM.
BUT, this is why I write this post for all of you, now.
I share it with you, and even while I’m typing, I am learning new things about myself. (What a gift, no?)
These earthly angels I speak of, have shared insight with both Nino and me that opened our eyes to a different kind of all encompassing faith.
They have shared God’s word with us in a way that was even more pivotal than the events that preceded us seeking these each of these people out…
Perhaps, I can even refer to it as a spiritual awakening.
Earlier this year, my friend Betty Sy (who is also an angel on earth who was sent to me) invited us to a dinner/talk in Shangri-La The Fort. We attended this talk, not knowing really what was in store for us, but I know I can speak for both of us in saying that it was nothing short of mind blowing.
At some point during the talk, Nino got annoyed with me.
He thought I was texting someone on my phone. When he looked at me again, he realized that I was feverishly typing notes, so we could look back on what he was saying at a later date.
Now, I won’t bombard you with all of those notes. Instead, I will take a handful of principles that fit within the context of my 5 pivotal moments here for all intensive purposes.
Here are some thoughts that Nino and I pondered after listening to Michael speak:
We often mistake JUSTICE for retribution and revenge.
This one hits me in the gut right at this very moment.
What I know now is, the truth will always come to light.
I am confident in my truth, and the truths of others being exposed.
This is the ONLY kind of justice I seek right now.
I am sad that my nephew is not here anymore.
He joined Our Creator and left this Earth far too soon.
I can write a hundred different cliches of why someone like him would die so early in life, to try and create an understanding, or make sense of his loss, but the fact of the matter is, I know that he’s not in pain anymore, simply because he is with Our Father.
We all miss PJ dearly. Knowing he is in heaven is our only comfort.
JUN DEL ROSARIO
We have also had to bid good by to our dear friend, Jun.
Jun is an angel that was sent from heaven for us as a couple.
When the going got tough, Jun stepped in and guided Nino on some very basic principles in marriage, that somehow got lost along the way, when he sought the advice of others.
Jun was a stand up guy who walked the walk and was like a big brother to Nino.
Dare I say, Nino looked at Jun as a father figure who “practiced what he preached.”
Now, the task at hand is finding other friends just like him.
I think we may have found some friends who support us in our growth as a couple, as parents, and as stewards of God’s word, in Betty and Wisdom Sy.
BETTY AND WISDOM SY
Betty invited us to the annual Couple’s Retreat of CCF, 2Be1, that took place in September of this year, at Baguio Country Club.
I was so happy that Nino agreed to attend this retreat, because I had wanted to attend the year before when we hit a bump in the road. With some time and distance from the year that was, it seemed like a great opportunity to steal the weekend away for just the two of us.
I could probably write a whole other post on this weekend alone.
In fact, I had the intention to do just that based on Pastor Peter’s last workshop regarding The Responsibilities of Grandparents. But for the purpose of this already VERY long post, I will limit it to two very important lessons we learned from the very first workshop of our long weekend together.
Nino and I have many responsibilities. But within our first workshop with Pastor Peter, we already learned something that will provide the base for all that we will do in this lifetime…not just as husband and wife, but also as children of God.
There is an order.
And God comes first.
We may have thought we were putting God first before, but now?
Now, we understand things so much differently.
Then our partners.
Then our children.
Then our careers and our extended families.
And if we get lost along the way, there is a manual we can refer to at any time.
It’s called The Bible.