“What? Why? Where are you pushing me to?”
Krystin Bernandez, 36, had just finished her obstetrician checkup at a hospital and was immediately wheeled into the operating theatre.
“The fetus is growing outside of your womb. So sorry, I’m afraid we’ve got to remove it.”
Shell-shocked, Krystin broke down and cried.
This happened in August 2018, just three months after their first miscarriage.
Back then, the situation was as dire as her husband, Joseph Hansel Canlas (“Hansel”), 32, was also down dengue fever when it happened. 2018 proved to be an exceptionally trying year for the couple.
Hansel, said, “Looking back at those months, of course I would not want to go through all those again. But on hindsight, those trials drew us closer to God. We also emerged stronger together, as a couple.”
Stronger together as a couple. This was definitely not how it was at the start.
Both Hansel and Krystin hail from the Philippines and have been working in Singapore for around 10 years. They met the Singapore chapter of Christ Commission Fellowship (CCF) through serving together. Sparks flew and the romance blossomed which eventually led them to tie the knot with each other in January 2017.
Little did they know that their individual headstrong personalities soon revealed glaring cracks in their communication between, and expectations for, each other.
As a gift, their mentors in church paid for the newly-weds to participate in The Art of Marriage® (AOM) organised by Cru Singapore, in June 2017.
AOM is a two-day, one-night retreat that gives couples ample time together, spliced with meaningful couple activities, supported by invaluable perspectives shared by notable Christian leaders over video.
“We loved the time!” Krystin recalls. “One important learning point for us was that in whichever season we are in, we should always remember that ‘love sizzles’–both of us should put effort to not let the marriage grow cold.”
“Our experience at AOM was so positive that we immediately signed up to be part of a HomeBuilders group.”
HomeBuilders groups meet once every fortnight and progressively go through The Art of Marriage® Connect Series, a Bible study for building healthy relationships.
Consists of seven books, they address specific focuses such as Improving Communication in Your Marriage, Building Teamwork, Enjoying Your Marriage in the Second Half and Resolving Conflict in Your Marriage.
“Why is it once-every-two weeks? Because on the week we’re not meeting, there’s specific couple-projects to do.”
“This means every week, we intentionally set aside time for each other, and building up our marriage together with other couples.”
One example of couple-projects is an exercise to practice affirmation. Hansel and Krystin had to sit down, look at each other in the eye, and take turns to say edifying adjectives about each other, from ‘A’ to ‘Z’.
“Through this exercise, we found that there’s actually a lot of words we can say to commend your spouse, but seldom use them and take each other for granted.”
“Why I remember this particular exercise, among many other meaningful ones, was because this couple-project took place right after our first miscarriage.”
Moving forward from the painful episode of losing two children in a span of three months, Hansel and Krystin has now set their sights on spiritual multiplication, discipling men and women in a new cell group which they have been tasked to lead.
“Patrick and Estella (staffers with the FamilyLife ministry of Cru Singapore) have been critical in our 2018 journey. At every step of the way, they were there for us, praying for us, cheering us on.”
Hansel continued, “We humbly look up to them and they are one of the reasons why we would want to follow their footsteps, and become full-time Christian vocational ministers in the future also.
“We’d like to work with other couples and help them grow as well. Our story of what we went through should never be kept to ourselves only. We’re open to where God will lead us to share our lives with. Just as long we are fully maximised for His Kingdom.”
“Life is meaningless if you spend it only for yourself. We are all but slaves for Christ.”
Despite all that she went through, Krystin concluded, “Why should we think that it is our right to only experience good things in life, when we are able to live despite being so small, simply because of the Lord’s own nature to be faithful?”
You may reach out to our FamilyLife ministry at firstname.lastname@example.org for any feedback on the story or to find out more about any flagship programmes. They'll also be hosting an outreach seminar for parents that feature Josh McDowell on 17 March 2019.
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