April 26, 2018, 7:44 pm
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Our CCF family breakthrough retreat

This Holy Week was an amazing one for our tribe. I’m saying “our tribe” instead of “our family” because we now have four married children with families of their own. Ergo, our tribe is composed of five independent family units now. Indeed. We’ve taken the command, “Go forth and multiply...” seriously. 

We all attended an intimate family retreat conducted by our church, Christ’s Commission Fellowship (CCF) for some of its elders, pastors, and ministry heads. Being an optimist at heart (a learned experience which finally rubbed off on me after years of being with some optimistic friends),  I looked forward to this family retreat with excitement and joyful anticipation. I was expecting, at the very least, that it was going to be FUN because all our kids and grandkids were going to be with us for four days and three nights --in five adjacent rooms. I made sure that I reserved those rooms very early!

You see, my husband and I are trying to master the Art of Grandparenting in this splendid season of our lives. The best season we’ve experienced so far! 

Well, let me get to the bone marrow of the matter. (Because I just love bulalo and bone marrow floating in my piping hot soup.) This family retreat had an amazingly relevant menu of lectures. Let me just recall some of them. We listened to practical, down-to-earth, raw and authentic talks and personal testimonies on an interesting range of topics that are huge issues in families today (in the order that I remember them, not according to the program sequence) : forgiveness, sexual abuse, dealing with insecurities, digital addiction, pornography, sexual immorality, homosexuality, marriage.’ parenting, communication, resolving conflicts, handling family finances, raising your children to love the Lord, how to leave a godly legacy, protecting your family from destructive influences, etc. 

Quite a comprehensive and fearless menu, right? We had fierce personal inventories and open-heart family discussions after the talks. We asked each other brave, soul-stirring, ego-crushing questions like (my personal paraphrase) : In what ways have I hurt you? How can I improve? In what ways have you hurt me? How can you improve? 

Of course, some families took hours to talk about their unresolved hurts, disappointments, and issues -- some had been buried and festering for years, even for decades. Our children call them “father wounds” or “mother wounds,” or “sibling wounds” -- depending on who wittingly or unwittingly inflicted the wounds. We heard testimonies of addictions to computer games, pornography, sex, even addiction to recognition and admiration from others.

These untreated wounds of the body and the heart, some of them self-inflicted, had become infected -- creating rotten, festering relationships that continuously  poison minds and hearts. 

I think we witnessed some serious open heart surgeries in many families during this retreat. We can become such experts at putting up appearances that we fool even ourselves into thinking that everything is ok at home. But eventually things will unravel and fall apart. Eventually, things will reach a tipping point, for good or bad. Our masks eventually crack and disintegrate. 

It’s a global epidemic -- people hardly communicate with each other anymore. We find our phones, gadgets and computers more interesting than our spouses or children. We find an electronic screen more beguiling than the faces of family and friends. We lavish our attention, affection and money on objects -- but we leave each other famished, malnourished, and starved for love, attention and guidance. 

Consider this: we can be so diligent and generous about throwing the most fabulous Easter egg hunts but be horribly mindless and ignorant about teaching our children how to love God, and live a life that’s based on the Bible -- God’s Manual of Success for life here and for eternity. 

It’s amazing stupidity, right? So many parents are constantly and mindlessly investing on the wrong things for their children and grandkids. And they are diligently passing on a legacy of mindlessness and materialism. 

Is it any wonder, then, that millions of people are wallowing in wasted,  damaged lives, starting in their own marriages and families? There’s an epidemic that’s more pernicious and destructive than cancer, drug addiction, depression, crass materialism, or modern-day addictions -- I call it The Epidemic  of Mindless Distractions. So many of us waste our lives on empty distractions: amassing wealth and symbols of success; striving to gain worldly fame or recognition; grabbing power at all costs and displaying sheer hubris.  People think they’ve arrived when they’ve attained any of these things. They invest their whole lives in pursuit of these things. And they pass on these destructive values to their own children.

No wonder the world is such a big mess: the atrocities of war, the countless killings and torture happening now  -- the brutal executions and bloody murders in our streets (I don’t call them EJKs) -- these are just the tip of the iceberg. I believe that all the cruelty and unspeakable evil we see in the world today were birthed and developed in families, in the smallest units of society that bred once-innocent children raised on the wrong values -- to become evil, hardened, and cruel adults one day. 

I thank God that in His mercy, He knocked some sense into us 32 years ago. My husband and I were mindlessly but systematically destroying our marriage. Our children were waiting to be collateral damage. But because someone took the time to share with us how we could entrust our lives to Jesus Christ and live by His rules for success here on earth -- we left our mindless, precarious way of living to live a life of meaning and eternal purpose.

And by God’s grace, this is what we have been passing on to our children, our grandchildren, and hopefully, generations after us. We call it passing on a Godly Legacy. If you ask me, this is an infinitely better investment than money, fame or power. 

If you really love your children and want REAL, ETERNAL SUCCESS for them -- teach them to love Jesus Christ,  and to live according to His commands which were given to lead us,  protect us, provide for us, and bless us. 

We ended our CCF Family Retreat by discussing and crafting a mission-vision statement for our tribe, and here it is: “To love, honor and serve God and others, leaving a Godly legacy until Jesus Christ returns.” 

Our son sketched and designed our coat of arms, reflecting our family’s vision-mission statement. It’s an Ateneo-Armani eagle (haha), wings magnificently spread out in mid-flight, its powerful talons clutching a Bible. Wish I could show you a picture here, but I can’t. So just imagine it! 

We chose the following core values for our family: Integrity, Love for God and others, Faithfulness, Generosity, Joy, and Godly Legacy. 

Our goal for 2017 is to conduct a Family Retreat this November for friends and other CCF church satellites (improving on the family retreat we attended this Holy Week). We have already given assignments to each other. Some will give talks, some will take care of the logistics, some will make the marketing collaterals, flesh out the retreat program and activities, etc. 

We are excited to do this for God and for others. Our desire is that they, too, will experience the abundant, meaningful life that our tribe is experiencing -- only because of Jesus Christ, no credit to us at all. 

Jesus Christ is real. He is alive. He can give you a truly purposeful, meaningful life if you surrender your life to Him. 

Start with praying this, sincerely: “Dear Jesus, I surrender my life and family to you. Please be my personal Lord and Savior. Come into my heart, my life. Make me the person You want me to be. Amen.”
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