Living Blessed

Tim comes to kiss me goodnight and again, I am reminded of God’s goodness and faithfulness. Okay, so you often read me writing those two attributes of our heavenly Father these days, but I honestly can’t help myself. That’s exactly what He is to me: good and faithful. So, following this road of counting my blessings and blessing God for them, like a bee follows the flowers’ fragrance, I am continuing on with my words of thanksgiving and praise.

living blessed

There have been the usual challenges in my life lately, like marriage and motherhood, not counting the fact that I am still unable to walk and travel. But as I was saying, when Tim came to kiss me goodnight at the end of a rather stressful day, I clung to him and squeezed him so tight as the memory of God’s wonderful blessing played out in my mind. There are days that I want to focus on my difficulties and forget to be intentionally and fervently thankful, but the Holy Spirit is quick to point me to the truth: that the Lord Jesus has done mighty works on my behalf. I only need to remember again and again.

In 2005, while I was sick in bed, twice I dreamed of a beautiful baby boy sleeping beside me. And in those two times, I woke up with a deep longing in my heart. I wanted so much for the dream to come true. I wanted to hold that baby in my arms not only in my dreams. But how could that happen, seeing that I was very sick and weak?

One day, an older sister in Christ came to visit. I told her about my dreams. She said that God was showing me that He was going to bless me with a son. That brought joy to my heart although I never really gave it much thought. I was more focused on my illness and suffering and my hope for recovery.

One whole year passed wherein I received partial healing and was able to go to our church’s crusades with my family. Then in 2007, I conceived. The dream had turned into reality. Nothing is impossible with God. He is a good God, a rewarder of our unwavering faith and obedience and fulfiller of our most fervent dreams.

That night that the memory came rushing back, I hugged Tim tightly. He’s one of the proofs of God’s love and faithfulness to me. I was embracing God’s gift, the deep desires of my heart filled to overflowing.

It’s not a secret to you, my dear readers, that I had struggled with comparison and envy these many years. I had written about it a few times here and also in my book Quiet Strength: And Learning From the Women of the Bible Who Had It. This is mainly because of my illness and suffering and being unable to work, travel, and do the things my heart desires to do. They have not completely gone but it’s far less intense and frequent now. They don’t affect me as much. Yes, I’m much stronger and wiser now. God, through my incessant prayers and supplications with much pleading, is slowly walking me away from these spiritually unprofitable emotions and practices. He is slowly opening my eyes to live blessed rather than live less: less than, loved less, known less, blessed less.

This is the song of my heart now:

For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness. (Ps. 107:9)

And so I want to live blessed everyday even through life’s vicissitudes.

How do we live blessed? More specifically, how does one who has frail health live blessed day after day after day?

Living blessed means that you count everything in your life – good or bad, trial or triumph – as stepping stones for growth and fruition, and in the end, as reasons for joy and thanksgiving. It is believing and trusting that God is in control and He knows what’s best for us even if we don’t understand and see the meaning of our painful trials, and in the process, embrace the lessons wherewith we can grow thereby.

It is seeing beyond our circumstances, toward the things that are not temporal but eternal. It is living in the knowledge that Jesus loves us fiercely, unconditionally, and unfailingly, and that nothing can separate us from His love. Living in the knowledge that He loves us so much He died for us to give us eternal life.

Living blessed, therefore, is living loved, forgiven, saved, joyful, thankful, courageous, fruitful, generous, victorious, and as heir of eternal life!

Living blessed means we bless others, too. Yes, even if they may have wronged or hurt us. It is a proof that Jesus’ love resides in us to the magnitude that it naturally flows outward toward others. Especially those who are so in need of Jesus and His salvation. Yes, you are so blessed that anger or unforgiveness  or ill will doesn’t find a place in your heart!

Living blessed is counting less the material things we possess (although we sincerely thank God for them, too) and more of the works of God that we do, laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven.

Not very recently, I focused my attention to the silent conviction that has been going on in my mind. I wondered why I wasn’t so much affected by the brokenness of the world at large. I often just forget about the great sufferings and needs of peoples around the world when I read about their plight. Maybe the main reason was that, I couldn’t do anything about it anyway. But it is never good for a Christian to feel helpless and indifferent. It is un-Christlike.

There were spurts of intense compassion and feverish praying for others, even for people I didn’t know, in years past, like when I prayed for those countrymen who were fleeing the conflict in Palestine, when I prayed for the people that might be affected by the fire near our place, and a few other instances. But the passion had not been sustained until I didn’t do it anymore.

I wondered when I would have the heart and genuine love for others’ salvation, those people that are outside of my circle, people I haven’t seen or met but exist anyway. Like the prostitute that prowls the streets at night, the children who dine with Rugby instead of a decent food. Every man, woman, and child, who sleeps in gutters, under the bridge, in dark alleys, in the parks, and who is in danger of every evil imaginable. Unprotected. For the one who languishes in bed with no hope of healing; the wife or mother who nurses a broken heart and home; the husband or father who can’t leave the casino or another woman’s arms.

For the destitute, the broken, and the lost.

The first stirrings began when the lyrics of Christy Nockels’ Sing Along hit home. At night when I say my prayers, safe in the comfort of our home, I think about those who are far less fortunate, the people I mentioned above, and the Lord put into my heart to pray for them, with true compassion flowing from my heart. I pray that God would cover them with His protection and not let them be destroyed as the world sleeps, that He would reach out His mighty arm towards them and save and heal them, too.

Great God
Wrap Your arms around this world tonight…*

That’s what being blessed and living blessed do.

(Sing Along by Christy Nockels; photo from Instagram).

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Journey with Jesus,

Love Your Love Story {A Marriage Tale Part 2}

I want to have a body scrub,” she said quietly, when her husband came into the room to carry her to the bathtub for her evening bath.

“What body scrub?” He asked. He wasn’t frowning, but he wasn’t smiling either.

“Strawberry body scrub. You bring down the box of The Body Shop from the rack. It’s there. I want to try it.” She stripped off her clothes as her husband locked the door.

marriage tale2

She sat on a towel spread out on the bed. He squirted the thick scrub and began to rub it on her body. The sweet strawberry scent covered them both. “This is like a pure strawberry jam,” he commented while concentrating on spreading the red “jam” peppered with little black seeds, the fruity scrub and his strokes smoothing out and soothing her skin and flesh.

“I think these little black beads are the strawberries’ seeds,” she said with contentment in her voice. Then they were quiet for a while as her man did his job. She is learning not to talk too much when they are together like this. Or complain. She knows the consequences to her comments and complaints. He doesn’t like them.

“Are we done yet?” He finally asked.

“Yes. I’m ready for the bath,” she answered as she ran her hands on her smoothened skin. “This scrub makes the skin soft and silky, especially the backside. I want that when you touch me in that part, it doesn’t feel rough,” she said, smiling. They have been married 16 years, but oh, it wouldn’t hurt if she flirted with her husband from time to time, would it?

“Well, when I touch you there, I don’t notice the roughness. My mind focuses on the task at hand,” he answered, poker face. But she knew better. This was his game. He loved bantering with her about intimate things. And yes, she believed him when he said he didn’t notice her external imperfections. Having been ill these many years, there were long seasons when all she could manage was a sponge bath or none at all. But he came to bed and lay beside her night after night (except for those times when they fought and wanted to give her space), not minding at all how she smelled. No, he’s never finicky.

There was a time when her unwashed hair had tangled up so badly it had formed a thick, heavy nest on her head. But he didn’t comment then, only to offer to untangle it. And during the times that she could shampoo her hair, she intentionally snuggled in his chest to let him know her hair smelled good, for a change. The way he gathered her in his arms and buried his head on her hair and kissed it was exactly the same way when she was unwashed. He still kissed the top of her head even when she had a nest of a tangle.

When she looked (and felt) so sick and unsightly, he never showed any traces of distaste. That’s the no. 1 thing she likes in him. She doesn’t have to feel ashamed with him. She can be herself around him and never worry that he will be turned off or his love wane. Still, there were times years ago that she had felt insecure (but that’s another story).

Done with the body scrub, he braced himself to carry her to the bathroom. “Oh, I’d be very slippery!” She said, chortling a little. There was one time when he lifted her out of the bathtub, wet and bare, she almost slipped out of his arms. Since then, he would cover her with her robe first.

And she was slippery and wiggly! Weak from hardly-suppressed laughing, he almost dropped her. But he didn’t. He never ever dropped her. Not even once, these past 20+ years that they had known each other.

She can trust him that much. She can trust his love that much.

But in her heart and mind, the unpleasant spats almost always surface. She easily sees his defects and faults like a laser. And not too long ago, her heart had screamed silently, “I don’t like him!” No, she didn’t hate him and she knew she would always love him, on a foundational level, but liking a person, or a man, is a different thing, right? Or maybe she got that idea from a blog… Or a movie? Was it her favorite North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell? Margaret dismissed John Thornton’s profession of love and marriage proposal with “I don’t love you. I don’t even like you.” Ouch!

But yes, she does believe that a woman has to like a man for their marriage to even prosper and succeed. She has to like his manners, his attitudes, his integrity, his character, his principles. To sum it all up: She has to admire him. And if she is really honest, her man has those qualities (and annoying ones, too!).

Maybe she had focused too much on his imperfections (like his inability to communicate and articulate with words and express himself from the heart) and not on his works. But oh, how she would love for him to talk, and talk from the heart the words that she had been longing to hear from him all their life together. But he had told her clearly twice (when he was pressed to answer) that he was not a man who talked like that. She was stunned and dejected those two times.

The third time, there was a slight twist. He told her not to expect him to talk like that but just to see his works.

One time, she accused him of not admiring her watercolor paintings. “Why do you say so?” He asked.

“Because you never say so,” she answered pointedly.

“When I drive to Greenbelt to buy your very costly Winsor & Newton paints, that means I admire and support your work,” he said evenly.

“Yes! Yes, of course!” And she laughed, satisfied. If she could dance, she would have. She wanted to try Winsor & Newton paints but didn’t know they were that expensive (~$18 per tube), but he bought them anyway, not informing her beforehand.

But she forgets. If she is honest enough to admit, she has the habit of comparing their marriage to others. When would she ever learn that that would never work? Comparing just brings her deeper into feelings of dismay, disappointment, and dissatisfaction.

She knows her husband never does that thing – comparing. He is so uncomplicated like that.

But what possesses her heart is the sadness that she can’t seem to brag about their marriage, their love story, like other wives do. She often sees only the ugly and imperfect parts, rarely the grace-filled beauty.

Maybe that’s the product of a perfectionist mind – it focuses on and magnifies the flaws, the good parts covered by dusts of high expectations and disappointments.

She knows so well that her husband is a perfectly imperfect human being, as she and all others are. That’s why people need a Savior. The Lord Jesus is the author and perfecter of their faith and all the other things attached to it: Christian attitudes and character, love, spiritual maturity. He is the author, perfecter, and transformer of their lives.

The Lord has taught her that only by His grace poured out into their hearts, and them pouring out this same grace to each other, can their marriage become beautiful. Grace received and grace given. In the deepest sense and practice of the phrase.

She will learn to love their love story. Because in the end, it’s really God’s story.

(Photo from Pinterest).

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Linking up with Sharing His BeautyTrue StoriesTell His StoryWise WomenCoffee for Your HeartFaith Filled Friday.

Journey with Jesus,

Pride and Reputation

pride

What’s really holding us back into the fullness of Christlikeness? Why do we slide back in our faith journey time and time again? There could be a lot of things that stunt our spiritual growth, in growing in the grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18). Number one could be […]

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Heavy Burden

heavy burden

Are you a joy-bringer or a yoke-giver? Do you encourage and lift up others or do you weigh down on them? Are you a burden to your family, marriage, friendships, church, and other relationships in your life? Are you the cause of heaviness and sighing of your parents, spouse, employees, or the church? I’m not talking about […]

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Home

Hubby's photo of Taal Lake as viewed from Canyon Woods.

Home is all I know of now. When you come visiting, I’m always home. You know when you’re homebound and unable to travel, there is always home. Being strapped home is not so bad. I’m grateful for home. I thank the Lord everyday for our beautiful home. Beautiful, not only because of the things found inside […]

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Immeasurable

My three loves at the wedding - The Lakeshore, Pampanga.

The day Felix and the kids went to Timberland for a day of swimming and breathing in nature, I finished my watercolor painting of poppies and then baked chicken BBQ buns. I didn’t want to think about how it could have been so lovely going with them and enjoying together the things the place had […]

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