After three weeks of not having a date with Dennis, we were both looking forward to some couple time.  It was just perfect then, that we were given a free overnight stay at Acacia Hotel as soon as we got back from our trip.

This explains why I am inspired to write this post.

Our marriages take a lot of hard work. Intimacy is a product of intentional effort. With everything else that requires effort, what do we put effort into when it comes to our marriage?

1. Put effort into cultivating your friendship with each other.

When all is said and done– and the kids are off to start their own careers and families–  it will just be you and your spouse left at home. When that time comes, you will be living with only one of two kinds of people: a stranger or your best friend.

I choose to live with my best friend.

And there’s no better time to cultivate that friendship than NOW.

2. Put effort into the process of discovering things with your spouse and about your spouse…And enjoy it in the process.

We are married to human beings who inevitably grow and change in response to changing situations and seasons. Right when we’ve figured each other out, things change…and we once again learn, grow, and change in the process.

Then we’re back to square one.

And the whole process of discovery and rediscovery happens again.

Just this year, Dennis and I took the Five Love Languages test (by Dr. Gary Chapman) again. We took it ten years ago, even before we got married, and so we were both confident that we “knew” each other well enough in this area. We were even expressing how happy and relieved we were that we both had the exact same primary and secondary love language. We both understood that TIME and TOUCH meant I LOVE YOU. So easy!

And then we computed our results. Mine was basically the same– time and touch. But his turned out to be so different. His primary love language was Acts of Service, and touch fell far down the list! He then realized that he really gave and appreciated time and touch to express and receive love, only because he knew those were my ways of expressing and receiving. So that was his way of serving me– to give time and touch.

After ten years, we thought we knew what seemed to be so simple to figure out!

3. Put effort into making romance a priority.

The first year of marriage— well, no one has to remind us of this, right??

It is when the kids come, and there are more responsibilities….and challenges get the better of our time and energy….this is when we need to make a decision to make romance a priority. And we need to remind each other of this, too.

Making romance a priority means I will be deliberate in saving my energy for my spouse. I will find a way to pace my day such that I don’t end up just plopping on the bed at the end of the day– tired from giving all my energy to my kids, the household, homeschool, or ministry.

It means that I will keep our bedroom free from distractions and make it a restful place–conducive for two S’s– sleep and sex.

It means that we take our date nights seriously, not just because we want an excuse to eat out without the kids (though it is really nice to be able to eat out in peace). It is not just to fulfill a marital obligation either.

We make date nights a priority because it is one of the ways we can connect and build on our friendship. It is when we can process our thoughts and emotions in a safe environment– a time to communicate, and a time to just enjoy each other’s presence and be reminded of the gift of being together. It is an avenue where we can best discover and rediscover one another. It is a statement that tells the other “You are important to me. You are my priority.”

 

Having said all that, I want to thank you again, Acacia Hotel, for the very pleasant stay we had. It had all the ingredients of the break with Dennis that I’ve been asking God for weeks.

acacia room

Ingredient #1: Clean, cozy, and spacious room 

I would have to note that their orthopedic mattress, memory foam pillow and goose down feather pillows made it REALLY easy for me to unwind and REST.

acacia foodIngredient #2: Good food

We got to try both Acaci and The Lobby– Both good. :) Acaci serves buffet breakfast, lunch, and dinner, while The Lobby offers ala carte dishes that are of good quality, yet are pretty affordable (considering the quiet date-friendly ambience, really worth it!).

acacia spa

Ingredient #3: spa treat at the Lurra Wellness Spa + Complimentary welcome massage (Yep! They go to your room and give you a 15-minute complimentary back massage!)

Ingredient #4: Great service and staff

acacia breakfast

xmas traditions

back to acacia

acacia food1

Ingredient #5: Accessibility…so accessible that we got to invite one of our favorite couples for breakfast on short notice, then go to Festival Mall to attend Victory Alabang’s annual Christmas Traditions after we checked out (which was great because we saw some friends!)….then go back for their dinner buffet and late night tea before heading back home. :) (Acacia Hotel has a shuttle service that can bring guests to nearby establishments around Alabang.)

Final, most important ingredient: Exclusive couple time!!! :) :) :)

Thank you, thank you again Acacia Hotel for being an answered prayer! :) We had a really, really great stay! :)

FYI:

Acacia Hotel is located at 5400 East Asia Drive corner Commerce Avenue, Filinvest Corporate City, Alabang. For more information, please check out their website www.acaciahotelsmanila.com or get in touch with them through enquiry@acaciahotelsmanila.com or 720-2000 and 588-5888. :)


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Taking on from our previous post on packing for your family trip, I basically follow the same rules in preparing my carry-on bags for a long plane ride.

 

As a review:

  1. Make a list.
  2. Color code.
  3. Compartmentalize.
  4. Make use of resealable bags.
  5. Label.

 

Okay, so let’s assume you have your list ready. You also have all your documents ready. Let’s move on to how we can best prepare for a long flight with children (plus a toddler, to be more specific) –and still keep your sanity and peace as much as possible.

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  1. Prepare the essentials. 
  • Documents
  • Wallets
  • Gadgets
  • Change of clothes
  • First-aid kit

 

Make sure the ones you’ll be needing the most are most accessible.

 

  1. Prepare the entertainment.

Keep kids entertained and busy as much as possible, as long as possible.

 

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Prepare a kit for each child. Here are some of my kids’ favorites:

  • Notebook
  • Coloring materials
  • Pencil + small sharpener with cover + small eraser
  • Origami paper
  • Tiny portable versions of board games
  • Clay

 

For your toddler:

  • Clay
  • Some toy cars
  • Favorite toy animal
  • Action figures/ small doll
  • Notebook
  • Coloring materials

 

Ipads and tablets can be your lifesavers, but I prefer these to be the last resort—when all else fails, and you have come to the point of desperation in keeping your toddler still and quiet!

  1. Prepare the eats.

Sometimes our kids act up because they are tired, thirsty, and/or hungry. Make sure you have enough snacks to keep your kids satisfied. I prefer not to rely on airline food when I’m with the kids.

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  1. Prepare the encouragement.

By this I mean treats and rewards. Bring some of your kids’ all-time favorite treats as an encouragement for them to cooperate with your during the flight.

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  • I usually offer the sweet stuff towards the end of the flight, just in case they have a hard time handling the sugar.
  • I also make and print out a rewards chart (applicable for preschool kids and older). This simply includes a list of previously agreed-upon behavior and expectations and the corresponding reward/s when you reach your destination. (Some might disagree with this and call it a bribe, but in this case, I am willing to make an exception and I’d prefer to call it an encouragement!)

 

       5. Prepare for the environment.

Since you really have no control over your environment for the next couple of hours, it is best to prepare for the environment.

  • Let your kids (especially your toddler) expend their energy prior to boarding the plane.
  • You may let them eat gum or suck on a lollipop (or hopefully you’re still nursing your toddler at this stage) during take-off and landing.

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  • Assign travel buddies—who sticks with whom.
  • Assign carry-on responsibilities. Because we usually end up having a lot of carry-on luggage whenever we travel with kids (which I discourage, by the way), it is the best time to teach the older kids responsibility by assigning who carries what.

Here are our carry-on assignments:

DENNIS:

1. One bag, which includes the gadgets (since they’re heavier) and important documents. He’s in charge of the passports and tickets, while I’m in charge of the kids.

2. Stroller

ME:

1. My tote bag, which includes other essentials for the family plus the toddler’s essentials (what’s included here is first-aid, Isaiah’s diaper-changing needs, and anything I need to be able to grab easily). I don’t have a separate diaper bag dedicated to Isaiah anymore.

2. Kids’ bag, for holding all sets of clothes they might need for freshening up or just in case.

KIDS:

1. They each have their own food/snack bag.

2. They are in charge of carrying their toys/entertainment packs.

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Finally, be realistic. Lower your expectations. You’re traveling with kids, so rejoice if you get at least 15 minutes of shut-eye (I may be exaggerating, of course….or not.)


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It has been three looooong weeks! And I mean that in a very good way. :)

For the past weeks, we haven’t been home. (This is probably a good time to be defensive and explain why I have been absent in social media as well, noh?? :) ) —1.) For security reasons, I have made it a habit NOT to post anything on social media whenever we go on trips or are away from home. 2.) Posting on Instagram (or on any social media platform for that matter!) doesn’t come as naturally to me as it does to some people. I mean, I literally have stop talking to people and be anti-social for a few minutes just to post something. And it’s not that I think about it too much— for some reason, it’s one area where I can’t seem to multitask.

Anyway, over the past couple of weeks, we’ve gone from Manila to Singapore, back to Manila, off to Sydney, then Canberra, then back to Sydney again….and now we’re back home. I’m sure for some this is nothing, but for our family, this is major. We seldom get to take our kids with us in overseas ministry trips, so this was something we were glad to be able to do– combine ministry with a family vacation. :)

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Spot the kiddos. :) 

 

 

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This post was really my husband’s idea. You see, he used to think my methods of packing were quite unnecessary, saying I could just put the kids’ clothes all in one pile and it wouldn’t make much of a difference. But after experiencing coming home late and exhausted from a full day and evening of walking, then waking up early the next day having to get the kids to get ready while the toddler runs around, he now agrees that the manner of packing does make a difference. :)

Allow me to share with you some of the things that I’ve found to be helpful for me and my sanity when traveling with kids. I do not claim to be an expert, nor do I claim that what has worked for me will be sure to work for you, too. We all have different styles and personalities– plus a whole different mix of our kids’ personalities, so take what you think might work for you, and please do share some of your own techniques that have worked well for you! :)

  1. Create a list.

I am so dependent on lists. I just don’t trust my brain to remember everything I’d be needing, and I don’t want to take any chances– especially when traveling with kids. I think my most moms do make lists, but just in case you’re one who prefers to wing it, let me encourage you to make your list—and use it. The longer the trip, the more detailed the list.

 

  1. Color code.

I love color-coded things! I think God created color not just to bring excitement and beauty into the world, but to give order to our family life (especially while traveling)!

Let your children pick a color or use their favorite color as their personal color. As much as possible, make all labels and have them use things that are their chosen (or appointed color).

 

  1. Compartmentalize.

As much as possible, try to fit in all your stuff in one luggage. But of course we know this seldom happens when we are bringing kids along (I can say that this has yet to be achieved for our family!)—if you can find luggage organizers or packing cubes, consider using those! I personally live by the phrase, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” There’s just so much harmony and peace there. :)

 

  1. Resealable Bags are your friend.

These add dimension to your compartmentalization! I personally prefer to pack the kids’ clothes into resealable bags—with each bag containing the day’s set of clothes. This way, Dennis—I mean, the little ones,  don’t need to ask me where their clothes are or which ones should they wear. Even while I’m  preoccupied with something, they can already start getting ready.

For the little ones who are not capable to grabbing their own bags and getting ready on their own yet, I just grab and lay out their clothes/set the night before so there’s no need to rush in the mornings.

 

Refilling your infant/toddler’s diaper bag is also easier this way because all you have to do is grab a whole set and transfer it to the bag. No thinking from your sleepy brain required.

 

  1. Label

Whether at home or in transit, labeling really works for me. Sometimes I forget what’s inside each “compartment,” so it helps to see it. The kids and the hubby also don’t have to keep asking “Where did you put it??” because – let’s say it all together now—there’s a place for everything, and everything is in it’s place.

 

 10171788_10153573483285021_4135223539253117605_nOH dear. I’m so sorry for the blurred photo! I’m not even sure who took this (most probably Dennis). But here you can see why I love color- coding and using resealable bags. :)

 

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Color-coding + Compartmentalization + Resealable bags + Labels (the kids were the ones who labelled) = peace. :)

There you have it.

Just five for now. It would be easier to remember and apply that way, right? :)

Please stay tuned for my next post on Family Travel: Five Tips on Flying with Toddlers and Young Kids. :)


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I was on the phone with Dennis last night, and I heard myself once again uttering the words that I find myself saying every so often…“I feel so guilty.” 

“I feel so guilty because I haven’t been able to plan for this week’s homeschool yet.”

“I feel so guilty because I slept for a whole eight hours!”

“I feel so guilty because I spent two hours catching up with my friend.”

“I feel so guilty because I ate too much!” (So, imagine— I eat too much around….five to six times a day.)

“I feel so guilty because I might not be teaching them enough.”

Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.

For the most part, I know I shouldn’t feel bad about these things, but somehow guilt manages to creep in and make me feel like there’s something else I could have– and should have done.

(Side note: I finally figured out when I am susceptible to these feelings! It’s usually around “that time of the month.” Any other time, I am quite rational and stable. Promise!!!)

Back to my conversation with Dennis. All he said in response was, “Diba pinako na si Jesus sa cross?? Ba’t ka pa nagui-guilty??”

Of course, he meant this as a joke— but one that’s actually true. I ended up laughing, but this also got me thinking… Am I forgetting that God’s grace extends even to this area of my life? Am I somehow limiting God’s grace? I trust him to save me and forgive me from my sinful nature, yet I can’t trust that He allows everything that happens, and that He is able to use even my mistakes to bring about His purposes?

Seriously, the beauty of the cross is that we really have been set free from ALL guilt and shame– whether it be in trivial matters, or in matters of life and death. We have been set free from it ALL.

I know there might still be times when I’d feel guilty again. And if you’re normal like me, you’d probably go through these moments, too.

“I feel so guilty because __________.” 

“I should’ve ___________ instead of _________.”

I’m pretty sure you can easily fill in the blanks.

When you go through these moments, my question will be, “Hindi ba, napako na si Jesus sa cross?”

He is too good, too wise, and too powerful to be limited by our human limitations and mistakes. He is too good, too wise, and too powerful to be limited by how well we perform.

And to this I respond with a big “WHEW!” :)

 


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I love this story of how David came to be anointed as king over Israel.

For the sake of keeping this post short (and getting to my point sooner), let me summarize and highlight the main verses that struck me as I was reading through this passage.

Here’s the summary:

Israel asked the prophet Samuel for a king –> Samuel anointed Saul as king –> Saul started out well, but eventually, his power got into his head and he dishonored God –> God rejected Saul as king and told Samuel to anoint another man whom God has chosen –> Samuel went to Jesse (the father of David) to bring his sons to him, so he could anoint the one God has chosen.

When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely, the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. ” (1 Samuel 16:7)

(Fast forward a few verses)

Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “the Lord has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.” 

Long story short, Jesse sent for David –> God told Samuel, “He’s the one.” –> Samuel anointed David.

(Verse 13) So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.

marc-pingrisI’m sure many of us have read or heard this story a couple of times already, and perhaps many of us are also well familiar with verse seven– “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 

I know this. I’ve known this since I was a child attending Sunday School or Kids Church.

But somehow, it is not that easy to apply– especially when it comes to people who are very dear to my heart.

I am talking more specifically about my children.

“Do not consider his/her appearance…”

How often do I react to the childish behavior that I see in them, in a way that I would later on regret?

How much of my effort goes into getting into their hearts and drawing out their deepest thoughts versus trying to get them to behave or act according to what is praiseworthy by society’s standards?

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at…”

What does man look at?

“Man looks at the outward appearance.”

Performance.

Grades.

Achievements.

Talent.

Manners.

Clothes.

Cuteness level.

Financial status.

Family background.

Connections.

Fame.

Power.

The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.

“The Lord looks at the heart.”

When they try to perform and achieve and excel, what is their motivation?

When they study and try to improve on their skills, who do they depend on and look to for help?

When it comes to how they treat other people, why do they think manners matter?

When they fight, what is going on in their hearts?

When they try to look nice and dress well, who are they doing it for?

When it comes to their finances, family, and friends— do they know these are not their sources of identity and security?

What is the heart behind their actions?

smart gilas puso thammiesy.com

I find that whenever I move in worry and fear each time I see them “not yet getting” whatever it is I am trying to teach them, I start focusing on what I see instead of asking what is the heart behind all that I am seeing.

More than that, I forget to ask for God’s heart and ask Him about what He is doing beyond all that I am seeing.

May we all be reminded to always look beyond what is seen, and trust that God is really at work in the hearts of our children.

I love what it says in verse 13 when Samuel anointed David– “…from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power…”

When we begin to get into the hearts of our children, we begin to see God’s heart for them.

And we begin to see God’s work in them.

And we begin to see God’s power through them.


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