Tag Archives: Relationships

3 Things Every Teen Should Know

28 Jul

I’m sharing with you a letter I wrote to a teen who is close to me, I’m almost her second mom. She just recently celebrated her 13th birthday, and as such, her mom, my best friend, Milona, encouraged me to write her a note. Her love language is words of affirmation and it would greatly make her happy and feel loved if I write her a few words. I got carried away because I have so many things to share to this budding young lady. Things I would like to share to my own daughter as well when she comes of age.  Here are the 3 things I think every teen should know.

megan

To my dearest Meg,

How time flies! When I first saw you, your Mom brought you to my house for a visit when you were just 4 years old. I just blinked and now you are already 13 going 30! As i reflect on the years of enjoying your presence in my life, I see a picture of a beautiful, godly young lady. I stand back and observed the beautiful gift your life has become.

With your full life still ahead of you, I’d like to share with you three of the most important things I’d like you to know. My desire is to encourage you and assist your Mom in giving this gentle instruction on how to be a strong, complete, godly young woman.

FIRST, I want you to know that life is not a matter of circumstances, but of choices.

The first and most important goal for me and your parents is to make sure you understand the blessed gift God has provided for you through the finished work of Jesus Christ. Everyday, I pray that you will always choose to be on Jesus’ side, even if it’s difficult and unpopular. I pray that you choose Heaven every single time. When you make this choice, God in his divine power “causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Even if there are circumstances that can make you feel helpless, I pray that you will always choose happiness. This is the kind of attitude that can bring you joy and contentment. Don’t allow yourself to be pulled into despair, loneliness, and hopelessness over something which may be insignificant. Remember to be thankful. An ungrateful selfish heart always leaves us feeling miserable. No matter what we have, it is never enough. “In everything, give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Always be positive. Look at life as a glass half full. Always bring a smile and a good sense of humor. This changes the circumstances in your life. This leads to your happiness and joy.

With God’s power in your life, I pray that you choose health. Exercise, eat the right food, sleep and rest well, drink plenty of water and juices, and find time to enjoy the goodness of The Lord. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) You need to be healthy to be able to do all the things that you plan to do and the things that God has planned for you. Take good care of your body, it is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

I want you to know that your choices determine your destination. I pray that you choose heaven, choose happiness, and choose health. If you have all three, then you have everything. 

SECOND, I want you to know that you need to be the best representation of our Creator in appearance and demeanor. 

“Pretty” or “beautiful” is defined subjectively. There are many different physical attributes that have been valued more today, and this opens doors for unhealthy behavior for most young women. The one gift I can give you is the gift of knowledge. I would like to share with you that the perfection that you see in the cover of magazines, tv, and movies of beautiful bodies and faces are a mirage, they don’t really exist. This is the role of computer enhancements, air brushing, and several hours of working into these faces and bodies to make them look perfect. Any flaws are erased and doctored with artificial corrections. This is unrealistic. This is NOT the definition of beauty I’d like you for you to believe.

I want you to know that you are complete, beautiful, and a wondrous creation of God. The true meaning and purpose of beauty is reflected here: “Your adornment must not be merely external – braiding the hair, and wearing of gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be that hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times, the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves.” (1Peter 3:3-5)

Sounds pretty serious, isn’t it? There is nothing wrong with our outward adornment, just as long as our heart is not neglected. The way we dress and act announces to people around us who we really are. We must not allow God’s standard of beauty and modesty be dictated by the whims and trends of fashion or popular culture. We must be sensible and self controlled, content, and pleased with our appearance. True beauty, my dear Meg, is something that originates within and shines outwardly. What God has given you is designed to bring glory to Him.

I pray that the truth of God’s love and acceptance will be firmly planted in your heart and mind so you can continue to develop your God-given beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. I am confident that you will always let your outward appearance reflect the mercy and grace of God in all true loveliness.

LASTLY, I want you to know that God had created you to walk in a responsible, pure manner. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. 

The choice to follow God in the area of moral purity affects not just yourself but the people around you. Even though you are still relatively young, I would like you to choose not to date and save your young years from heartbreak. Protect your young heart from being fragmented by casual dating. Know that you need to be mature to handle your feelings before you get emotionally involved. Date when you are ready for marriage. It is okay to have group dates and group activities, it is more fun! This way, you can get to know attributes and characters you would like to have in a husband without having to go through so many unnecessary heartaches.

When you are ready for marriage, say, by the age of 25, after you have already accomplished what you have set for yourself, then by all means, prepare yourself to date.  But the parameters for dating must be set by you as a woman. The decision for moral purity must be made before any date is planned. The ground rules need to be established before the agreement to go out. You have more responsibility because you have the awesome gift of reproduction. This overwhelming responsibility gives you the obligation to protect your body and your sense of purity is even more important.

I pray that you will always maintain purity in heart and body as your ultimate goal for your dating experience. I am reassured of this fact because you have already taken the first step to this wonderful choice when you attended the Purity Ball with your Dad and Mom. I couldn’t be more proud of you, Meg!

I would like you to know and understand that you can call me anytime you need me and tell me anything that is in your heart. Just like your Mom and Dad, I love you no matter what. I have seen you practically grow up before my eyes.

There is a wonderful life ahead God has planned for you, plans to prosper you, to give you hope and a future. This is the beginning of the rest of your great life. Happy birthday Meg!!! You are officially declared to be a TEEN.

Love and Hugs,

Your Tita Leny

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25 Ways To Protect Your Marriage

11 Jul

Let’s talk about hedges in our marriage. Hedges are boundaries. In Mark 12:1 Jesus said, “A man planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it.” First, the man planted a vineyard. Think of your marriage as a vineyard. You “planted” it the day you said, I do. Next, the man in the parable placed a hedge around his vineyard. Why? Several reasons: to protect it from intrusion by animals and thieves; to keep his vines inside his vineyard; and to separate his territory from his neighbors.

A hedge makes the statement, “Private Property, No Trespassing.” The symbolic hedges around our marriages serve the same purposes. As a married couple, our goal, as co-owners of our vineyard, is to keep the good things in—and the bad things out. The only way to ensure that our marriage survives – and thrives – is to plant hedges of protection around it.

hedges-loving-your-marriage-enough-to-protect-it

In his book, “Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It,” author and family speaker Jerry Jenkins, provides captivating, practical, and no nonsense ways to build hedges of temptations around your marriage.

These HEDGES consist of simple principles that will protect your marriage from external invaders and internal discontent. Here are 25 interesting hedges I have discovered:

#1. Don’t think that your marriage can’t become a casualty.

Look around you and consider how many people you know who have been through separation and ultimately, divorce. Understand that, unless you constantly nurture your marriage, it is destined to decline and die – just like plants that are neglected. Decide that you will take the risks seriously.

#2. Plant early before problems take root.

Know that if you plant hedges in your marriage before you find yourself in a threatening situation, you can prevent many problems from taking root and nip affairs in the bud. Decide to proactively make decisions to protect your marriage. Anticipate danger, plan, and plot your escape before you find yourself in a dangerous situation.

#3. Realize that temptation has only one effective response.

Whenever you’re faced with the temptation of attraction to someone other than your spouse, realize that there is only one response that will work – to flee! RUN! Any other approach, such as trying to rationalize your way out of it, is doomed to failure. Decide to run from the situation as from a contagious disease. Recognize that the right time to act is as soon as you start to notice your attraction to another person. 2 Timothy 2:22 “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

#4. Don’t blame God for what’s really your own responsibility.

It’s all too easy to blame God for making it possible for you to feel sexual attraction toward someone besides your spouse. But your responsibility is to choose to channel your desires properly. If you ask God to help you do so, He will strengthen you for the task.

#6. Rely on God’s strength rather than your own.

Realize that, as a human being in a fallen world, your best resolve and inner strength can still fail you when you need it most. Choose to rely on God’s unlimited power to help you keep your marriage strong.

#7. Remind yourself of biblical bases for hedges.

Read and meditate on the Scripture verses that address the importance of hedges to protect something valuable, purity, etc. Look up 2 Timothy 2:22, Proverbs 4:23.

#8. Quit kidding yourself.

Understand the tremendous capacity of every human being to deceive himself or herself when not connected to God. Know that, once you start making excuses for wrong behavior, each excuse will sound more plausible, and you will sink deeper and deeper into sin and ruin. Admit that you can’t trust your own self apart from God, and decide to stay close to Him.

#9. Make it a threesome. Two’s Company; Three’s Security.

Whenever you need to meet or dine or travel with an unrelated person of the opposite sex, make it a threesome. Should an unavoidable last-minute complication make this impossible, let your spouse hear about it from you first.

#10. Be careful about touching.

While you might shake hands or squeeze an arm or a shoulder in greeting, embrace only dear friends or relatives, and only in front of others. Also, be sensitive to the attitudes and interpretations of those you choose to touch.

#11. Watch the nature of your compliments. Some compliments don’t pay.

If you pay a compliment to someone besides your spouse, make it on clothes or hairstyle, not the person himself or herself. Allow yourself to be friendly, outgoing, and encouraging, but don’t run the risk of having the person assume anything beyond that.

#12. Speak well of your spouse to other people.

Never make your spouse the butt of jokes or discuss your marriage problems when talking with others who might use that as an invitation to come between you. Guard your tongue, and say only positive things about your husband or wife when you’re with others.

#13. Tell your love story to others.

Keep retelling the story of how you met, fell in love with, and married your spouse. As you do, you solidify in your mind the things that attracted you to your spouse in the first place.

#14. Remind your spouse – and yourself – of your wedding vows.

Take the time regularly to remember your wedding vows. Reaffirm them through love notes to your spouse, in romantic conversation, and in other creative ways.

#15. Remind yourself of what you could lose if you’re unfaithful to your spouse.

Imagine yourself having to confess to your spouse that you’ve had an affair. Then imagine the price you might pay for that – losing your family, the future of your dreams, even your relationship with God. Know that it’s definitely worthwhile to do whatever it takes to protect your marriage.

#16. Forget the myth of quality time; give your family quantity time.

Make it a top priority to spend as much time as you can with your spouse and children. Arrange your work schedule around your family, rather than vice versa. Be available to your family whenever they need you, and enjoy sharing experiences with them everyday that can’t be scheduled into small blocks of “quality” time. Know that doing so will naturally build a strong bond between you and your spouse, as well as give your kids the sense of love and security they need.

Plant any other hedges that either you or your spouse need to protect your marriage. Get to know what specific weak areas you and your spouse each have that could threaten your marriage. Work together to do something practical and concrete about them. Then celebrate your victories together!

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.” Proverbs 4:23

My husband and I are celebrating our 15th year together and I realized that we have already been practicing some of the recommendations outlined by Jerry. Some of these have been shared to me from the wisdom of both our moms and largely from the biblical study and marriage retreats and seminars we have attended throughout our marriage. These have greatly contributed to the continued success and enjoyment of our marriage.

I am sharing here some of our own hedges that we have been able to plant to ward off temptations: 

#17. Choose wisely.

My husband and I avoid unnecessarily spending more or longer time with someone of the opposite sex. For instance, when I’m looking for a personal trainer at the local gym, I chose someone of the same sex and vice versa. We avoid giving or asking advice from someone of the opposite sex. We choose to ask advice or give a crying shoulder to the same gender. This way we avoid any misunderstanding, jealousy, hurt, anger, or miscommunication to everyone.

#18.  Share carefully.

I wouldn’t want to share things about myself or my marriage that I haven’t or wouldn’t share with my  spouse. But if I do, then that would be a red flag. This is what is oftentimes called emotional infidelity. Not all affairs are physical – an emotional affair is just as damaging. So if I can’t share some emotional things with my husband, I’d look to my girlfriends instead. In the same way, my husband turns to his brothers or male friends in our community for “unloading” time and for support and encouragement.

#19.  Stay in large, public settings.

We determine ahead of time not to meet one-on-one with anyone of the opposite sex. If any of our coworker asks if he or she can join either one for lunch, we simply ask a third person to join as well. We don’t hesitate to share the boundary my spouse and I have agreed upon in our marriage, especially if it’s necessary. We remind ourselves that we might just lead by example. We both agree that there should be no one of the opposite sex to be allowed to sit in the passenger side of the spouse’s car. We include in the agreements regarding dining and traveling prohibitions with anyone of the opposite sex.

#20. Don’t be naïve.

Most people who end up in affairs don’t set out to have one. Infidelity usually begins with an innocent relationship that, in time, moves to an emotional depth that crosses a line of fidelity. We both agree to be on our guard and if one of us is remiss, we remind each other occasionally. If either one of us feels that a coworker or a friend from the opposite sex is “too close for comfort,” we call each other’s attention and try to remain to be plainly friendly, not overly friendly.  We try to stay away from people who are very “touchy-feely” and very flirtatious.

#21. Increase your investment at home.

Solid marriages are built by spending time together, laughing together, and playing together. We make sure we set up dates weekly and we make spending time together a priority. We schedule our recreation time together so we can play together, like playing squash or running in the morning or afternoons.

#22. Pay attention to your thought-life.

When all you think about is your spouse’s faults, any other man or woman will look better. To make sure we fall in love with each other over and over again, we make a list of the strengths that initially attracted us to each other. We remind ourselves why we fell in love. We celebrate our anniversaries every month without fail. We increase our encouragement and we decrease our criticism.

#23. Don’t play the comparison game.

We all make mistakes, have bad habits and annoying behaviors. We try not to compare our  “new friend” or some other husband or wife. It would be an unfair comparison because we aren’t seeing that person in a “living under the same roof, taking care of kids, struggling to make ends meet” reality. Instead, we focus on our good side.

#24. Seek help.

Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. A Christian counselor can provide valuable perspective and help set new strategies for a marriage that can go the distance. We choose to spend our time with like-minded couples who believe in the same values as we do, and we encourage each other through small care groups, seminars, and marriage retreats to help us preserve our I Dos.

#25. Meet each other’s needs.

I have discussed this lengthily in my previous post: His Needs Her Needs. Aim to know your partner’s needs and endeavor to meet them. Here are the 5 top needs of a man: 

  1. Sexual fulfillment
  2. Recreational companionship
  3. An attractive spouse
  4. Domestic support
  5. Admiration

Here are the top 5 needs of a woman:

  1. Affection
  2. Conversation
  3. Honesty and openness
  4. Financial support
  5. Family commitment

If you think that your marriage is strong and you don’t have any use for hedges, then this is all the more reason to practice some of these recommendations. This will ensure that your marriage will remain strong, joyous, and healthy.

My hedges may not bey our hedges. If some these apply to you, then plant it. If not, you may develop some of your own where you need it. Do you have hedges? What’s yours? I appreciate if you can add your bit of wisdom here. If you want to share, leave a reply in the comment box.

Life is Amazing!

LENY

Discovering and Speaking The 5 Love Languages

6 Jul

My husband, Gerard, and I have been blessed with knowing many tools and concepts in the course of our being together for 14 years. I think that it would be helpful to share the concept about the 5 Love Languages.  Our experience is a living proof that this does works!

When couples like us have problems in communication in our marriage, we try to solve it by reading books or attending seminars. When we go home, we are unable to implement the principles. We just ultimately give up and go back to life as usual. 

The real problem is we forgot one simple fundamental truth: people speak different love languages. 

No matter how hard we try or sincere we are, we will never understand how to love each other. We become confused when our spouse does not understand what we are communicating. We express love but the message does not come through.

The 5 Love Languages define that each one of us have different ways of expressing our love and feeling that we are loved. 

These acts of love fill up our love tank. Our love tank is filled when our emotional needs are met.

The 5 love languages seek to express our heartfelt commitment to our mate. 

Dr. Gary Chapman, bestselling author and marriage counseling expert, define one by one the 5 love languages:

1. Words of Affirmation – you receive and express love by saying encouraging words, verbal compliments, words of praise, kind and humble words.

2. Quality Time – you receive and express love by giving your undivided attention, sharing your thoughts and feelings, listening and making conversations about events in your day, and your plans for the future. 

3. Receiving Gifts – you receive and express love by giving gifts as visual symbols of your love; it could be gifts of things, money or self. 

4. Acts of Service – you receive and express love by doing things your spouse loves such as cooking a meal, washing the dishes, changing diapers, fixing the house or computer or just keeping the house clean.

5. Physical Touch – you receive and express love by gestures such as back rubs, kissing, holding hands, hugging or back massages.


In all our years together, I have watched my husband evolve in his love language. For most of his life, his love language is receiving gifts and words of affirmation. 

His love tank is filled whenever I remember to give him gifts during our special occasions or even when there is no reason to give or celebrate. 

He also feels most loved whenever I fill him up with words of praise and encouraging words. He seems to be ‘on top of the world’ when he hears me affirm him with kind words. 

These days, his love language is quality time, as he feels loved when i spend my waking moments with him, when I accompany him to watch his favorite movies or just to jog with him in the early evening or morning. 

The couples in our small discussion care group, including me and my husband, aspire to learn to speak our spouses’ love language. 

We play the game of Tank Check. At the end of the day, we ask our spouse these questions: “How is your love tank today? How do I fill it up?”

We aim to discover ways on how best to make them feel loved. This way, we enrich and strengthen our love for each other. Choosing to speak the love language of our spouse can heal all wounds, provide a sense of security, self worth and significance.

We intend to ‘give, then it will be given to you – a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over’ (Luke 6:38). This is the principle we would like to live by in our married life.  

How about you? How is your love tank? 

What is your love language? What hurts you deeply? What makes you feel loved the most? What do you desire most of all?

What is the love language of your spouse? How do you make your spouse feel loved? 

Are you and your spouse speaking the same love language?


Blogger’s Note: I encourage you to read the New York Times bestseller book, The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. Many couples have been inspired to learn simple ways to express their feelings of love and bring back the joy in their marriage. Discover what your spouse’s love language is and how to make him/her feel loved.


Life is Amazing!

LENY

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