Mariel Gutierrez: Say “I” if you feel like it’s been a pretty exhausting, confusing and faith shaping few months.
Emirick Haro, Jewel Buenavista, Bernie Rosquites : I!
Mariel: Alright, well you’re listening to Faith and Family, a Christian family community that aims to promote Christian values. Hello, I’m Mariel Gutierrez, and I am a Tired Mom.
COVID-19, lockdowns, homeschooling, financial crisis, bad news on TV— It’s all bad. But we’ve managed to see a lot of good in this as well, right? We’ve been given opportunities to grow and become closer to our family and our faith, and we are adjusting to this new normal.
With the help of our panel moms, we’ll be discussing the ways we’ve been coping through prayer, practicing empathy, and trusting in God’s plan. And at the end of the episode, you’ll hear from Brother Serginio Bayani, a minister of the gospel, for some inspiring words.
But first, here with me are Bernie, Jewel and Emirick. How are you?
Bernie, Emirick & Jewel: Hi. Hello.
Emirick: Doing ok so far. Surviving, exactly.
Mariel: Yeah, like checking in. So, what’s the new normal look like in your house, ladies?
Bernie: I’m going to have to say the new normal for me is the whole homeschooling or distance learning, whatever you want to call it. That’s the new normal right now, you know, but I’m thankful that I have the support of other parents and friends. I’ve been reading a lot, educating myself about how other parents are dealing with the same thing.
Of course, you know, I pray every day, because that’s the one thing that’s keeping me going. You know, without prayer I don’t know. And I had to remind myself that number one: I am not a teacher, and my house, my home, is not a school, and I have to learn to just take one day at a time.
So, we start our day with a prayer and meditation, just to prepare ourselves, and most of the time my 7 year old, you all know Jojo, would be the one to lead the prayer. And he would include both of us in his prayer, and he would ask God to grant us both the patience and wisdom to get through each day, because that’s definitely what we need. Patience is key.
Mariel: He prays for you as well, like your patience and wisdom as well?
Bernie: You know he asks, “Please, you know my mom, she’s trying really hard. Please give her the patience, because he knows, he knows he tests me.
Emirick: He’s like, “God, please help my mom. Please.”
Bernie: Like, “please, help her.” You know I’ve been reading, like I said I’ve been reading a lot of books and talking to other people. Some of the things I’ve learned is, you know, to have a village. Have a mom village where you have the safe space to just cry, laugh, laugh/cry, whatever. And even the kids, you know, their school was their community, but they don’t (have) that (anymore), so I’ve tried to do Zoom meet-ups with his other classmates
Bernie: or even kids from church and, you know, family. And then I’ve also learned that I have to be more forgiving to myself. You know, sometimes you see these things on social media. You look at your feed and some of these parents are telling (everyone that) their kids are learning all these new life skills, and here I am, I’m just trying to get Jojo just to do one thing. And I realize every household is different, every kid, you know we’re paced differently.
Bernie: So I had to be, you know what? It’s all good. Lastly, I think for me was we built a routine. You know, we wake up the same time every day, we dress up, we eat breakfast, you know, all that. You actually still have to brush your teeth.
Emirick: You’re not wearing pajamas all day.
Bernie: Right? You know, and we start our day with a morning prayer and when the day is done, when we’ve done learning, we end it with some type of meditation, kind of like inhale and exhale.
Emirick: My new normal means to slow down and just chill out sometimes. The most challenging thing about being in quarantine was knowing how to positively adjust to the changes, because our pre-quarantine life was so busy. We were going everywhere, all around town, to do cello, basketball, art, swim, choir practice at church.
Mariel: Right, and you brought them tupperwares of food. I remember that.
Emirck: That was our normal, and b doing it and we were fine doing it.
Emirck: and we enjoyed doing it. I mean, even though it was crazy and we were tired and we could use a break, it was what we knew. So when all of it stopped I didn’t know how to slow down, I didn’t know how to chill out.
So I tried to continue that at home. I made schedules and lists and plans. I woke them up early in the morning. I was trying to be like, “Come on. We’ve got to keep it up. We’ve got to keep busy. We’re not going to let quarantine slow us down.”
And then it wouldn’t work so I’d revise the lists and the schedules and the plans. So, I had to pause and reflect and accept that I don’t have all the answers
Emirick: and just work on our relationships, so we all just slowed down. And it wasn’t so that we could be lazy and develop bad habits. You know, that was my fear in the beginning. We can’t slow down because then we’re going to develop all these bad habits. You know, I realized that slowing down was just about admitting that we’re not in control, I’m not in control, and letting God teach us how to pay attention better, you know, how to be a better listener.
So, I just slowed down. I prayed a lot and I realized that right now, it was more important for me to just empathize with my kids, because it is difficult. Everything that they see in the news, in their social media, everything that they were experiencing and just being in quarantine, not being able to see their friends on a normal basis, it was hard on all of us. Even though they didn’t say it,
Mariel & Bernie: Yeah
Emirick: I could see that it was really hard. So, I understood later on that it was more important for them to just feel safe, and to feel understood, and to feel loved, than to force everybody to work hard for something that didn’t make any sense right now, you know?
Mariel: Right. For us in our house grace, grace is a big word, you know?
Mariel: That’s something that I had to vocalize a lot for myself, for my children. Even like, you know, husband and wife relationships, you know, grace and that space for grace. I’m trying to learn, you know, to forgive myself for not knowing everything, not having all the answers, maybe not, you know, giving the kids the best food all the time. Because, again, I’m working and
Bernie: Come on now. Half of us here lived off of hot pockets, so it’s all good.
Mariel: You know, guilty, yeah. I saw them heating up a corn dog and I was like, “Okay, we’ll make it up for dinner,” you know?
Emirick: We get the nutrients in at dinner.
Mariel: Yeah, I’ve been sitting with it a little more, letting myself feel, you know, and then just going through the motions of the feeling. Sometimes you are sad, upset, or angry, you know. And even with my children, sometimes we do have to sit with their feelings as well, you know, and we have to vocalize it. I let them do that too and express that they are upset or sad, you know, and I try not to punish them for it.
What we really try to do is understand the why. Why are you upset or do you want to talk about what’s making you upset, you know? So that’s kind of like where we’re at. There’s a lot of talking and checking in. And there’s a lot of space also to have them understand that this pandemic, where God is, right, amidst the pandemic, and allowing them to sit with the feel(ings) of like, maybe uncertainty and then turning to God, to lean to God because of that.
So that’s where we’re kind of at now. How about you, Jewel? Are you holding up okay?
Jewel: You know, I love listening to everything, what you mamas are saying, because I can literally relate to everything that you’re saying, you know. The first few months, honestly ladies, it was extremely difficult for me. As a business owner, my business dropped like 95%.
Jewel: I didn’t have income for like three and a half months, and then on top of that, the same time, my mom gets diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
My parents were living upstairs, in our upstairs granny flat, and so right away I knew that it was unsafe for her to be going up the stairs. So in the middle of my business dropping, in the middle of pandemic, I had to do major renovations in my house so that I could move my parents downstairs. So to be able to pay for that when income wasn’t coming in was just, “Okay. I don’t know how we’re going to do this, but we’ll make it happen.”
And then on top of that, my kids you know, had to homeschool. And I realized too, for my personality, I need connection. I’m used to talking to people, hugging people, and all of that.
Mariel: Right, yeah.
Jewel: And then suddenly, it’s like, you can’t talk to anybody. You can’t go out. You can’t…
Bernie: You can’t touch anyone.
Emirick: You can’t get a massage.
Jewel: You can’t get a massage. And it was, I realize all of this was just all at once, too much for me to handle. And admittedly, it led me to a little bit of depression to a certain degree. But you know, that’s when prayer comes in, and God is good and this is where I get emotional. And so, because I remember how difficult, and I know that’s how it was for a lot of people, but no. That’s when God knows when you really need help.
You know, it reminds me of that verse where it says, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” And that’s exactly how I felt. I felt helpless and weak. Even my children saw it, you know, but it’s when I know God really takes over. And in all my life, it’s always been like that.
So, that’s what I relied on. I mean, as young as my kids were, we would have a family meeting, and then I would admit to them that, “Hey, kids, mommy’s struggling”, you know, but that’s why we pray. And then my kids, as young as they are, they I would say, “Don’t worry, Mommy, it’s going to be okay.” And it’s like, it’s true.
And so, you know, again, God uses our children to remind us. But one thing that really hit me was when we attend(ed) worship service, and I remember this one lesson. I remember it really well. It reminded us, you know, the minister reminded us that, like, none of this should be a surprise. You know what I mean? Biblically, the Bible talks about how, like pandemics are going to happen, just a lot of, you know, crazy things will happen during this time.
Emirick & Mariel: Yeah. Mmhmm.
Jewel: It’s bound to get worse, but what we have to be reminded is not to worry, and God will take care of them. So literally ladies, that is exactly what I held on to. I mean, I just, it’s to truly learn to let go and let God do His thing, you know?
And so fast forward, so I’m glad you’re asking me this question, because if you did ask me the question a few months ago I would just be mute. I would just be frozen. But now, you know, when you truly learn to let go, and the reason why I get emotional is because it’s beautiful to see God’s miracle happening right before your eyes. You know, I mean, as far as my business, I mean, what I lost in three and a half months, never in my life, you know, has that happened to me. I mean, God made it up in a month, as a matter of fact.
Jewel: God has provided even more opportunities that I’ve never imagined in my career, and so a lot of great blessings happening there. And with my mom, you know, we were able to safely transition her downstairs.
And what came out of that is my brothers, I have four brothers, my brothers and I started a weekly devotional prayer specifically for my mom and her condition. But what’s nice about that is, now, I’ve never spoken to my brothers this much, you know. They all have their own families, but every week I get to see them, we tell jokes, and it’s like, we’re connecting, we’re talking about our families. And so that is a huge silver lining just out of that, you know.
Emirick: I have to be honest, Jewel. When you were telling your story, I was getting very anxious, and you know, and my heart was breaking for you. But man, your silver linings and your, you know, the happy endings, I mean it’s not the end, but like, how much you’ve grown during this time and how much you were able to like, feel God’s love, and I was in tears with you. So I’m so happy for your journey.
Jewel: For all of us, right?
Jewel: It’s God’s way of forcing us to stop and focus on what He wants us to focus on.
Bernie: I think everybody needs a virtual hug right now, and we’re all going through it. I will say one of the valuable lessons we got was from Brother Eduardo Manalo, through one of his streaming worship service, was about not letting these anxieties overcome us. And when I heard that, it just like all clicked it.
Bernie: And it was the best spiritual medicine that I needed. That anxiety, it’s not even the same anymore. Even when I think it is, I’m like, “Let go, let go, let go. Just let it take its course.”
Emirick: There’s a confidence behind it, right?
Bernie: Yes, yes!
Emirick: You’re like, “Okay, we’ve got to get through this to make things better, you know.
Emirick: And so you just look for those silver linings.
Bernie: Yes. And I’m thankful for that. That has been the one, ever since that lesson that he taught just, you know, it’s like what Jewel was saying earlier, like, none of this is new. It’s going to happen. Don’t let that… and I’m a completely different person than I was prior to COVID, like the anxieties (don’t) eat me up like it did. My hair is still thinning, but you know, it’s given it time to grow back, because the anxiety has been crazy so.
Emirick: By the time this is all done, your hair grew back.
Bernie: Right? Yeah. It’ll be alright, everybody. It’s going to be alright.
Mariel: You know, sometimes it’s been tough. You know, even just between the four of us, here, like different situations, right? It’s been a struggle in our own ways, you know, but I hope you all feel, and I can hear that you all feel like we’re not alone, right, in this. God’s definitely got us and He’s been manifesting that in our lives in different ways, you know.
And our listeners as well, you’re not alone either. We’re here, God’s there, you know. If you’re sad, struggling, frustrated, it’s okay.
Bernie: Yeah, remember just pray, trust in God and practice empathy.
Mariel: Well, thank you for listening to this episode of Faith and Family. But before we end this, here’s some inspiring advice from Brother Serginio Bayani, a minister of the gospel in the Church Of Christ.
Brother Serginio Bayani: I believe we can all agree in regard to the faith and conviction of all the four moms who spoke, Sisters Mariel, Jewel, Emirick, and Bernie. These four women have something in common. Because of all the things that they mentioned, during their conversation, they spoke about prayer, and that’s exactly what we should be doing more of, especially during these times that many people now call “the new normal.”
The Bible tells us in Psalm 34, four and six:
I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. … In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; he saved me from all my troubles.
[Psalm 34:4 & 6 New Living Translation]
Brother Serginio: What a wonderful thing to be reminded of this, that as the servants of God, we are the ones whom He gave the right to ask, to pray, to cry out and to make known our cries for help. The Bible said, “In my desperation I prayed.”— “In my desperation I prayed.” If you look up the word desperation in the dictionary, it is defined as this. Desperation: Loss of hope. Surrender to despair.
We live in desperate times. We live in a time of uncertainty. We have to deal with many worries, and cares, and fears right now in our lives. But remember the promise of God. His servant said, “In my desperation I prayed and the LORD listened; he saved me from all my troubles.”
Remember, that’s the promise of God to His servants, and we happen to be His servants, His people in these last days. Even before COVID-19 started, we already prayed to God. We already had our personal and household devotional prayers. We already made known to God the things that we need, the things that we aspire for in this life. But there’s something that we’ve gotten to know about God even more during these times. And what is that?
During these times of desperation, we know that we can count on God. We know that God will not fail. God will not forsake. God will never disappoint His servants. Coupled with our faith in the power of prayer is our obedience to His teachings and commands. And as long as we remain loyal and faithful to Him, we know that God will always be there for us.