Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Taking back my joy

I'm going to come right out and say it: the past year has been tough. I use "has been" instead of the more definitive "was" because I'm still wading out of this but I see the light at the end of the tunnel and that light grows stronger and brighter each day so I know I'm coming out of the woods and the trying times are going to be over.

What happened?

Well, I got pregnant and it was a miserable pregnancy. Lots of health issues that I didn't talk about publicly because I was afraid verbalizing problems may attract my biggest fear, which was losing the baby. Thankfully that didn't happen and I gave birth to Piero, the happiest little boy in the world but, woah, three kids is suddenly a LOT.
December 2014

I used to think that I can write a book on how to juggle motherhood, marriage, homemaking, career and gorgeousness because I truly believed I had it all. Happy and still very sexy marriage? Check. Adorable, healthy and smart kids? Check. Lovely home? Check. Fabulous career? Check. Still smokin' hot even though I'm a mom? Check. Then the third baby arrived and everything unraveled.

Sex? What sex? You know what a sexless marriage is? It's not fun and it's not intimate. Adorable kids? What adorable kids? They exasperate, infuriate and defy me every day. Lovely home? Well, it's a mess. Legos, crumbs, rice, smelly socks everywhere. Not even my favorite scented candles can smother the smell of those stinky feet and sweaty little bodies! Fabulous career? What career? With three little boys and the last one being a tiny baby, my career fell many slots down my priority list. And smokin' hot? I can't even find the time to shower or brush my teeth. My belly still looks like I just gave birth and everything is flabby and soft.

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I am a wife. I am a mom. I have a wonderful husband. I have three healthy and amazing children. I live in a beautiful home that's fully ours. I have a job that allows me to stay home with my family. I look fine for a 38-year-old woman. I am healthy. I am alive!!! But this past year, all I focused on was not the abundance of this glorious life but the imperfections of it. The mess. The missed opportunities. The little irritations. The busyness. The exhaustion. The feelings of ugliness, resentment, despair.

Then one day, a little verse that I love came to me gently as I was flipping through inspirational blogs. John 10:10 says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." 

This is a favorite verse because I loved the promise when Jesus said, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." Growing up poor, I always wanted that abundant life. Then my eyes wandered to the part of the verse that I always ignored: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy," and I realized that I do have this abundant life. My God! How You have blessed me! But instead of feeling gratitude and wonder at my abundance, I have allowed Satan to steal my joy, kill my spirit, and destroy my peace.

March 2015

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I see now that the past months have been filled with God's calling to me to come out of my malaise. Old friends like JaneMartineGinger and Nicole came calling, encouraging me to focus anew on things I love outside my family, which is blogging and writing. Then God sent new friends my way like Cheka, Rica and Marilen, who talked with me about family and marriage.

I'm sure they didn't know what I was going through and they may not know that God was using them to get through to me, but as we talked about random things online, on the phone, when we see each other, I was refreshed, revived, renewed. And I resolved to take care of myself, my home, my marriage, my passions, my blessings. And I resolved to ignore the negative people, the little irritations, and the whispers of discontent that come my way.

I will fix my eyes on God. I will fix my eyes on my family. I will fix my eyes on loving and positive friends. I will fix my eyes on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8), and those are my children, my husband, my friends, my God. Nothing else should matter!

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My husband is also hard at work with me, making sure this family will be strong and stable. We had our unspoken resentments, which eventually blew up into big fights where ugly words were flung at each other. We simmered in fury and disappointment.

Then just recently, as summer waned and the rains came, Vince and I had a long talk about commitments and vows and how we are afraid we're losing each other. We're together 24/7 but those hours are filled with children and work and we hardly have time to catch our breath so when the rare instances we find ourselves alone together spring upon us, we don't know what to do. We were fast becoming strangers. So we talked and talked and talked, and held hands, and cried, and laughed, and promised we were going to be together till death do us part. Not for the kids' sake, but for ours.

Vince and I are on a mini honeymoon now. Just here at home. We send off the kids to the playground and we relish our alone time together. It feels like we're rediscovering each other and I won't say anything anymore but we are definitely no longer just roommates!


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So yes, it looks like I'm coming out of the woods. But not through my own strength. Whether they were aware of it or not, my husband, my always-forgiving kids, and my friends all helped me along the way. But definitely it was God, patient and calm and steadfast, who pulled me out of that darkness.

As I type this, the day is coming to an end, I'll be faced with yet another crazy evening of a noisy, messy dinner, kids who refuse to sleep because they want one more story, and I will be tired and exasperated, but I will remember (and I hope Vince reminds me should I forget!) that I am living the very best days of my life. The very best.

Don't lose sight of that, Frances! These days will not last forever—the exhaustion of it, the fleeting joys of it. Just cling to God because it is only through Him that I can be the best wife, mother, friend, and me that I can be.

Isaiah 40:31 says, "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." So there, dear mommy friends, God is with us!

Now I gotta go prepare dinner. Time to soar!


(I found so many old photos I've never shared with you! That's why the pics here are of us with different hair haha. Do you want me to share more?)

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24 comments:

  1. I am reminded of this verse.

    2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

    Everyday, I draw on God's grace. I know I cannot do this mothering on my own. Thanks for this reminder.

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    1. Oh, another favorite verse! And yet I keep forgetting it because I keep relying on myself! =(

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  2. Such a great post! I agree that we lose sight of what is important when trivial things happen. I guess ut is human nature to concentrate on the negative aspects and it takes a lot of hard work (and a lot of prayer) to look at the brighter side of things and to be grateful for the blessings that are already right in front of us. Thanks for the reminder and more power to your family. You have such a great family. :-)

    By the way, Piero looks like you. Such a cutie! :-)

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    1. Yes, to rise above negativity is such hard work! Soar!

      And thanks that you think I look like Mr P. I think he looks like his Papa =D

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  3. This is beautifully written. I don't have kids yet but we're so busy with life and making a living that we sometimes lose sight of each other. Relationships are really work in progress and I can't stop building on what we already have. Thanks for the reminder!

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    1. Yes, after all is said and done, it doesn't matter how much money you made, diba? It's how we related to others.

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  4. Oh my God, Frances! This article made me cry. The same situation happened to me two years ago but I was able to do something about it after reading The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.The quote, "What you think, you attract," struck me. I realized that I wasted so much time looking for things that were unecessary when things that mattered the most were just in front of me. I changed my way of thinking and became optimistic. Then everything went smoothly.

    I love this article. I really do. Thanks for sharing this. You are such an inspiration.

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  5. Yes, please! More photos and more posts like this! Always been a fan of yours, Ms. F! Please continue writing because you inspire so many women, myself included =)

    God bless you and your beautiful family!

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    1. Thanks! Vince says I should introduce a new feature called Photo Fridays and he'll just dump all his fabulous photos there haha

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  6. Hi Frances, It's my first time to comment here. I can very well relate to everything you said, except for the "sexy, hot momma", haha. It's really easy to lose focus on what truly is important. Being busy trying to be a supermom or having this "I can do everything" attitude is, I guess, one of the enemy's tactics to make us feel (self)-adequate. When in fact, we're really not. It is only through God's strength grace that we can do all things. If we put Him first place in our life, He'll take care of all the mess. I, too, live by His promise of abundant life. We may be lacking in material riches, but having Him in my life -- His presence, is more than enough for me and my family. And yes, I won't allow the enemy to steal my joy. God bless you and your family.

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    1. Yes, I keep forgetting to turn to Him!!! I know He's there and I know He has everything in His hands but it's the complete giving it all up to Him that I find hard to do. My friends say it's because I didn't have a good relationship with my own father (he wasn't very reliable) and it affects how I view our Heavenly Father. Well, working on it—both me and the Holy Spirit!

      God bless you, too! =)

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  7. Awww... you are blessed! We are all blessed! Let's all continue to be each other's blessings. We're here for you all the way, F ��

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    1. And I will be there for you, too, Jane! Mwah!

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  8. Thank you for this. I, too, am struggling to relish in the wonderful things I have been blessed with.

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  9. OMG Ms. Frances! Hands down to you! I honestly feel you on this. Yung tipong hindi mo na alam kung saan ka pa huhugot ng lakas mairaos mo lang ang isang buong araw. Isip ka ng isip on how to properly organized your marriage life and mom duties makes us all insane! You are really blessed to have the courage to tell and share stories that other moms can't and are afraid of. You are definitely not alone on this. HUGSSS!!!

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  10. Hi Frances, it's my first time to comment as well. I've been reading your blogs whenever I see it on my FB newsfeed. We went to the same grade school & my cousins Rose Ann & Ledda Mae were your batchmates (I'm a batch ahead of you guys). This is a very beautiful post & I can relate to it even if I only have 2 kids. I honestly cannot imagine having 3! We've been living w/ the in-laws for many many years and just 4 months ago we transferred to our new home. I was so overwhelmed by all the responsibilities of being independent from them. Everyone was so happy for me because we have a very beautiful home. I knew we were blessed but my joy was not complete because (the physical & financial) independence was too scary for me. There are days when I'd wish I could just go back and live with the in-laws again. Satan was robbing me of my joy. I was focusing on my fears too much that I failed to see God's goodness and blessing. The stress of running my own household was too much for me that I sometimes feel relieved when the day is over and I dreaded the next day. I was merely "surviving" the day & not "living" it. But then I realized that I shouldn't worry too much. I should just trust that He will provide for our ALL of our needs. Not just SOME but ALL --"And God shall supply ALL your needs ACCORDING to His riches..." Philippians 4:19. Knowing that He is the Creator and Giver of all things makes all the difference. :)

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  11. Thank you for always being so true and honest Frances. You're a blessing and an inspiration to alot of moms. Take care!

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  12. This is the Frances that I know, loved and adored! Beautiful, beautiful piece of work. In fact, I read it as if I'm doing a monologue, as in with feelings, intonations and all, haha! To date, this is my most favorite post of yours.

    P.S.
    Yes, more photos please! :)

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  13. I never would have guessed this, when I sat next to you at the Whole Mom launch. I'm always amazed how anyone can bring their kids to "work" or to events without looking haggard. I know I would be exasperated if I bring my kids. But there you were looking fabulous with your super cute son! (That's right, FABULOUS is definitely YOUR word.)

    Opening yourself up this way makes the rest of us, moms, feel that we're not alone in our struggles, so thank you for allowing yourself to be vulnerable and brave at the same time. I'm in my own version of the "woods" too, and you're right when you say, we fall when we try to get out of the woods in our own strength and diskarte. When really, there's no way to do this but through His strength and grace. This verse speaks to me when I feel like the world is falling apart -- "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." Colossians 1:17 :)

    God bless you!!

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  14. Wonderful post Frances! Wow...that was better that so many homilies I have listened to about marriage!!! I mean that. Thank you for sharing this...you have a generous heart!

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  15. Hi, Mommy Frances!
    This post of yours had me in tears. I am drawing my strength from your words, and from your gentle reminders of the Scriptures. While you are coming out of the woods already, I am still lost somewhere in its depths, with seemingly no sight of the clearing ahead.
    Although I know for a fact that He has never forsaken me, that He has remained steadfast and true, and that He will never give us trials that we cannot handle, I have to admit that He has sometimes taken a backseat in my mind as I went through (and still am going through) the daily routines and stresses of my family and household. It is words such as yours that have given me a little shake to remind me that, "Hey, you are not and have never been forgotten."
    Oh, how I sometimes long for the days when I didn't think much about what went on at home, when I didn't have to think much about anyone or anything. But then I realized, after I read your post, that I had let the thief "steal my joy, kill my spirit and destroy my peace." I will now try to salvage what is left; I will focus on the blessings. Thank you for this. :) - T. Des

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  16. Sex solves everything!!!:P Hahaha, I'm kidding! LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS POST. It looks like the turning point is getting that honest heart-to-heart with Vince, and I love that. New goal to set for myself!

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  17. New reader/fan here. Love this post.. Nakakarelate ako.. Tama.Don't let Satan steal your joy.. Those who hope on the Lord will renew their strength. Amen to this.n😊

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This is all pretty new to me so please feel free to share your mommy wisdom!