Not Another Heartbreak 

On an outsider perspective, I believe people who manage to get through heartbreaks are amazing. I’ve watched it in movies, read it in books, and saw it in some of my friends. I can only imagine how painful it could be, and how much courage it takes to accept reality and move on. I think I will not make it if I would have to go through it. At some point, I believe no one really has to.

While I was reading for the 90 Days Challenge, I came across love stories in the Bible. Adam called Eve the bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, and she became her most suitable helper. Abraham loved Sarah, no matter how long it took her to bear him a child. Isaac loved Rebekah and married her; she comforted him through his mother’s death. Jacob worked 14 years for Rachel, but to him it seemed only days, because he loved her. As I pondered upon these stories of old, I realize that God must have been the Author of the best love stories ever told. I know He still is in the business of doing so today. And if so, He must be busy hands on with mine.

There are days when I can’t help but think about the person He is preparing for me. What does he look like? How does his laugh sound like? How would it feel to be his one and only? Ever since I was young, I’ve been dreaming to meet the person I’ll be spending the rest of my life with — my better half, my beloved. Through the years the dream lingers within. It feels like a destiny waiting to be fulfilled.

Life goal: to be as elated as Papa and Mama on their wedding day ^.^

But as my mind wanders about such things, I’m always being brought back to the starting point: God. He is the originator of it all — the Author of life, the Author of love. Without Him, there is no life, no love, no love life. The moment we realize that perfect love comes only from God, it fills us and changes us. Then it overflows to others. That’s why we can love unconditionally — because Christ has shown the example by loving us even when we were undeserving.

That is why I can love. Because He first loved me, I am healed. I am whole. I am set free. And so, I can love unconditionally. No matter what challenge or shortcoming or failure, I can forgive. I can overcome. There is no need to fear, to reason to be insecure. No reason for my heart to be shattered in pieces. Because He shows me what true love is, I’ll know it when I see it coming. Because His is the standard, I’ll know when a love is worth keeping and when it should be let go.

For these reasons, I choose to place my heart in God’s hands. Because if it is God who holds my heart, I can rest assured that He will only entrust it to the man who has His heart, who will value me like He does and will love me til the end like He would. I am assured that when I give my heart, it will not be just another heartbreak.

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Until That Day Comes

In terms of love and distance, I prefer to believe that “distance makes the heart grow fonder.” There is something liberating in going to places other than where I’ve grown — exploring life, meeting new people. But going back at the beginning of everything brings back memories of love, joy, and laughter. Going down memory lane to things I used to love makes me remember the journey with all its triumphs and struggles. It just, well, makes my heart fonder of the years past.

Trips or short vacations to my hometown are such a refresher, because embracing the daily grind of achieving to be the better self brings the tendency to forget one’s roots. The changes are unending! But some few things don’t really change. I am thankful that our leaders at church teach us every single time to remember who we are and where we belong.

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One of the few and treasured extended-family photos! ❤ ❤

When I spent the holiday vacation with people from the earlier decades of my life, God brought me back to my previous life lessons. What resurfaced are realizations that I think must be worth keeping. Some of the significant ones are the following:

1. I am the success of my parents.

I can never thank God enough for my wonderful parents. There are still times when I miss them and wish they were still around. I see that sentiment in the eyes of my aunts and uncles whenever they see us (all the more when they see me, the carbon copy of Mama). It saddens me not to have them in each milestone of my life since 14. But then God reminds me, “That is why you are here, Keren. You are the legacy of your parents. You are their success. And every success you make is theirs, too.”

2. My This life is God’s legacy.

Looking back, it was not really my skills or my talents that saw me through trials and difficulties. We were not even well off financially. But while we lack in wealth we abound in grace. I was swimming in God’s grace since childhood up until today. My breakthroughs, the wonderful people in my life, my amazing siblings. They are all marks of God’s work in my life. I can love unconditionally, because He first loved me.

But His grace doesn’t end there. While I enjoy His favor, the people around me also get the benefit. As He blesses me, He uses me as a channel to others — to bless them, inspire them, lead them, love them. This life story that He writes — it becomes worth telling. It becomes worth living, because day by day it turns out to be His legacy.

3. This lady is a masterpiece in progress.

As I revisit the past years, God shows me how He mightily coursed me through the ups and downs of life. He shows how He molded me to be better, be like Him. But even more, He shows me that there is SO MUCH more to be done. There is more growing, learning, pruning, and letting go to do. There are more training and struggles to overcome in order for more victories to be won. I need to keep reaching for the next level not just for me but for others — because as I overcome limitations, others see that they can, too. As I move on beyond losses, others realize that they are strong enough to do it too.

And then, together, we recognize that the best is yet to come. That the current doesn’t have to be the permanent. For some, today sure is painful, but “joy comes in the morning.” Today can be good, but it surely will get better. And while perfection comes closer through perseverance, we just have to persist even more. Persist until the Author of our hope, He who began the good work in us, comes to carry perfection unto completion.

So until that day comes, Cheers to becoming better and better! Cheers to conquests upon conquests! 🙂

Of Love and Bravery

They say a real friend can sing a song back to you when you have forgotten the words. I say, a true li’l bro can quote a movie back to you when you’ve forgotten the title. I really love the fact that I can last a day just chatting or running movie marathons with my younger brother. He is amazing like that. And more. So when he pushed me to watch Edge of Tomorrow starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, I know there would be some treasure in that movie. I could never be more right.
Here are some of the gems that I got from this movie:

1. “Try and try until you succeed” doesn’t mean doing the same thing again and again.

When Major Bill Cage (Cruise) tried to outdo the tragic end of the battle, he relived the moment more than a hundred times, with each moment working out a different tactic. He tried every single tactic combination to get through the situation and have both him and his love interest come out alive.

In life, things don’t always go as we wanted. Life is tough as it is. But we can always choose to be tougher, and persevere. Wisely.

2. You only get one life.

The problem that Cage faced was complex because it was unfamiliar. But figuring it out and planning to defeat it was easy because he can keep on repeating the scenario from the top by “dying”. He can just keep on “dying” til he gets the answer. But the moment that new blood was transfused into him and dying no longer meant restart from the top, he became more conscious of his steps and definite with his sacrifices.

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This life is the latter. It is a one-take shot with no cuts or repeat from the top. We can’t just “die” when we feel like giving up, and start all over again. One shot is all we got, and we have to make it matter. No matter how pissed off or stressed or worn out or broken we are, we need to learn to let go and move on.

3. Courage comes from knowing what you’re fighting for.

Cage was a coward, and he counted the cost of staying that way. But when he met Rita and got a deeper understanding of the global situation, his motives changed. From barely surviving, he trained and fought to defeat the powerful enemy — and save Rita the entire time. He learned to fight not just for the sake of self, but for a significant other. He did not care then about the world at first. But he cared deeply for Rita.

Rita, on the other hand, was the hero. The angel of Verdun, she endured the battles in place of her brother whom she loved dearly. She was fighting for family. She also took a vow to protect her bigger family from an extraterrestrial enemy. This bigger family is the world.

Some people find courage in defending a cause that scales multitudes of people and impacts the whole world. This is amazing. But some people draw their greatest courage when faced with a challenge that concerns one single person that matters most to them — a friend, family, or a loved one. Whatever the underlying force, the principle remains: courage is not fighting blindly without fear. It is what happens when you value something so great it overpowers whatever stands in the way.

Courage, they say, is not the absence of fear but the mastery of it. I say, courage is the proof of a powerful love winning over fear.

What makes you brave? Whom are you fighting for?

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“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

What Happens When I Wait (For Hours)

Cheers to a blog comeback!

It’s been a long adventurous journey so far, and it’s a shame that my last blog post here was dated more than two years ago! Well, to be honest,  I had a couple of drafts for the past two years but could not bring myself to publish them. Maybe it’s nerving to think people actually read my posts here. Haha. But I think the biggest contributing factor to the delay is time. I’ve got a job and  volunteer work that included mostly writing for the past two years. But rest assured that the passion for writing is still here, and refuses to be kept in.  If you would want to check on what I have been working on, you can view here.

I have also made a comeback on my reading hobby a few weeks back. But after reading six books in a span of less than a month, a feel indebted to write a post myself. I also realized that a lot of what I learn stay longer when I write about them. So here’s a shot on etching my insights on a slate that challenges the passing of time.

1. Book Thief

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One big encouragement I received when I watched the movie then read the book afterwards.

This is one reading that nudged me to get back to personal writing. It revolves on the power of words on people’s lives — from relationships to large-scale movements that impact the world. Moments told from the perspective of Death made me value every minute of living. And by the word “value” I mean evaluating whether each minute has truly been living or plain existence. And I really checked out to see whether Liesel Meminger is a real-life character! Talk about inability to move on.

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What a clear realization: all of us are going to meet Death one time in the future. What matters is that we make the most of the life we have today.

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2. Little Prince

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The little prince left me in tears upon his departure. He taught me never to grow old in spirit but always to see life in the eyes of a child. He challenged me to see things with wonder and needless complexity. The book is a breather from daily stressors, reminding me never to get indulged with figures or routines as the end in themselves. The infamous quote from the book goes, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

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3. The Alchemist

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I began this book with the anime The Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood in mind. Apparently the book had a different focus — an adventure dedicated to pursuing a dream. This book gives encouragement for readers to reach for their dreams no matter how far they may seem, and no matter how big the opposition might be. Paolo Coelho said in this book that, “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” For those who seem to have special people standing in the way of fulfilling their dream, he advised, ” Love never keeps man from pursuing his destiny.” Rather, ” When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”

This learning is affirmed by the preaching of Bishop Oriel Ballano dreams. He said, “Dream is the language of God.” A dream that comes from God is a dream that goes beyond my wildest imagination and impacts a bigger number of people. A God-given dream is a dream that is greater than me and outlives me. This, is the dream worth pursuing.

4. Divergent trilogy

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I’m not a fan of YA fiction, but it is a different thing to be asked by my manager to read a trilogy of it. Employee of the Year, if you bet. Haha This trilogy got me hooked for days; stating that I finished the trilogy in a week is an understatement. The fight that Tris and Tobias endured and overcame in a dystopic world challenged me. Can I fight to the end for what I believe in? Can I vow with my life to preserve what I know is valuable?

Reading Divergent, I would imagine myself fitting into one or two of the five factions. I’m afraid I would be as stiff as Abnegation or unattached as Amity, or tactless as Candor. I wished I could be Divergent — selfless and brave and kind and intelligent and honest at the same time.

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But the last book opened a realization for me: to be Divergent is to be a normal human being as we know it today. It is not something that only a few has; it is what I have. Divergence in the trilogy represents everything a regular person in our day is capable of doing. A genetically healed person. This thought was both a pleasant surprise and a reprimand at the same time. How could I have desired something that is already mine? But then, how could I desire such thing when I have so much better? More than just the genes, I’ve been healed completely as a person. By the wounds of my Savior I am healed, set free, and made new. Now I have not just genetically healed genes, but the DNA of Christ. It freed me from needless desperation, and it empowers me.

To be selfless, one has to be brave. This is another learning I gained from the Divergent trilogy. If I have to do something for the people I love and for the cause I uphold, I would need to muster the courage to let go of my own desires. Tris demonstrated a huge deal of courage — leaving family and all that’s familiar in search of self, and later on to abandon self for the sake of what she calls her family on a bigger scale. (A family = an entity that gives someone a sense of belonging)

I gained so many insights from each of the books I have read — so much that I think I could write a blog entry on each. We’ll see how much time would permit me. Well, this blog post surely has gotten longer than it should be! I hope it has not been a boring read. How I wish I could do this often! Really hoping this would not be the last. So long for now.

 

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PS This post was composed in between countless hours of traveling, waiting on elevators and turns in the comfort room, and printing cards and tickets. Perseverance, yo!

Courageous Kimmy

Does friendship end over two lost concert tickets? Well, it could have been.

I was astonished when one of my closest friends sent me a text message telling me that it is her goal for our relationship to level up this year. I thought, are we not that intimate enough? Didn’t we just practically spend almost our entire college life together? Then I realized that yes, there is more space to grow in our relationship.

Apparently, on the day Kim and I lost two expensive (well, this adjective is relative considering that at the time we were stretching our personal budgets) tickets to a local concert, we almost lost our patience on one another. Almost! And that’s when I saw clearly that there is still more to know and to love about this beautiful lady that we fondly call Kimmy.

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Our first picture together, taken around 2011 (or I think around an earlier date?)
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Second picture together (just the two of us!) taken around 2012. Is the rule one photo a year, Kimmy? 😉

Before plunging into the depth of what I still have to know about Kimmy, let me tell you a few of what I know–and like–about her. Well, she was born on the Day of Valor. At first, I took this fact for granted; only lately did I realize that maybe, God has indeed given this person a gift of courage worthy of inspiration.

Kimmy did not want to celebrate her birthday with many people. Lately, she preferred spending Christmas and her birthday alone at home in her room–spending time meditating on her life and her relationship with her God. It was a little astonishing at first, but on a deeper level it shows how she takes life seriously and not just play around. It shows how grounded she is in her faith in God, and how that faith directs her life on a day-to-day basis. I know a lot of people experience a lot of pressures from different sources each day. And I know it takes courage to accept defeat today, but striving to be better tomorrow. I believe that Kimmy has this kind of attitude. Kimmy has the inner strength, that inner courage, to face each of them head on, determining to know each difficulty in detail and overcoming it.

I remember what I wrote on the college yearbook for Kimmy:

One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears, says Dean Rusk. Kim knows this best and proves it by what she does.

Kimberly Giel Joanne Fiecas is known to be a silent person, but deep inside is a person worth knowing, and worth cherishing. A listening friend, a persevering student, a reliable person, she knows where to invest her resources: her time, her effort, and her words. Kim treasures her family as priceless; she treats her friends as family; she considers her teachers her friends. People who see her in school perceive her as a silent, serious, and structured girl, but aside from her academic life, she has got a fun, social life too. She loves parties, sleepovers and movie marathons. She always aims to balance things up in her life, and knows it’s not always a score of perfect one. Life in UP means both victories and struggles, but Kim has decided to learn from both, and with every failure she is determined to rise up again and do better, all for the First Love who has given His life so that hers would be meaningful.
Life in UP ends so soon, but life itself continues, and for Kim, learning, living, and loving keep going on, as long as there is one soul around her left for her to love.

This beautiful, strong lady might be going through tough times lately, but I believe that she will make it through and emerge stronger after all the trials. I believe that in her silence is her strength. In her silence is her dependence on God. There is so much more to know about Kimmy, but one thing’s sure: deep inside this person is someone worth knowing, and worth cherishing.

I miss you, Kimmy! Hope to see you soon. We’ve still got a lot of pictures of ourselves to take! 😉

This year's goal: more photos together! And a level up in our friendship, of course. :D
This year’s goal: more photos together! And a level up in our friendship, of course. 😀

This past month I’ve been reading The Beautiful Side of Evil. Honestly, there was something in the title that made me want to read it. Could evil truly have a beautiful side?

Apparently, yes. Author Johanna Michaelsen narrated how since childhood she’s been experiencing demonic oppression. Inheriting the talent of her great grandmother as a spiritualist and a trance medium, she would hear ghastly voices, feel a chilly cold presence, and see terrifying, demonic faces. The encounters were predictable but nonetheless haunting. She never did feel comfortable with such encounters and felt extremely alone as no one could relate to her or even understand her.

She tried different pastimes to find a purpose for living. First was theater, then drugs, then mind control. Eventually as she ventured into mind control, she came across a psychic surgeon in Mexico who heals those patients doomed as incurable by medical science. She would see people flock the psychic healer’s house, bringing raw eggs as part of the consultation session. Waiting long hours in line proved to be worth the effort as they would come out of the house healed of their diseases. Johanna felt at home with the surgeon who operated the most hopeless medical cases with just a knife and a pair of scissors. She thought that only God could have done such miracles and so endeavored to be an apprentice.

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Apparently, the evil that acquainted her since childhood had shown her its beautiful side. What seemed to be the genuine work of God proved to be a counterfeit. She found out that the healing miracles did not consistently end in success. Others did not get the healing they wanted; others even experienced hell in the hands of the psychic surgeon. Johanna was confused. Eventually in answer to her prayer, God revealed to her that the healing was the work of the enemy, imitating the power that comes from God. Through intentional searching and with the help of Christian friends, she was able to break free from the bondages of the occult and of darkness in general.

The striking truth in this book is that many people are deceived by the enemy and for so long, they are unaware of it. Our emotions, our experiences, the things we feed our minds daily, our contradicting beliefs and actions–these are all the enemy’s entry points for deception. The enemy crafts half truths and sugar-coated lies so well that we bite into them without second thought. But, as the author raised, it is never God’s will for us to be undiscerning.

We live in the age where deception abounds. The book offered ways on how to ascertain that we are grounded on the truth,  the bottomline of which is to be grounded in the word of God and to have a strong faith in the Lord. We need to ask wisdom in every step we take and awareness that every single thing we do counts–either for good or for evil. It is not enough that we believe; we have to know why we believe.

We need to stay on the right side and be careful what we allow to enter our minds through our senses. Just because we are sincere does not mean we would stay on the right track. Just because we have the right motives does not mean we won’t easily be fooled. We can’t afford to be played with by the enemy. In our present times, seeing is not believing. Every beautiful thing from the enemy is fleeting, and what follows that temporary enjoyment is lasting regret. 

Search the Scriptures. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13)

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No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.

Mary Wollstonecraft

 

This Scary Thing Called Fear

Howdy!

It’s been a really long time since I last blogged, and now it’s 2013! So much had happened in those past three months that I didn’t even have time to blog about them. Anyway, I hope you had a great start for 2013. 🙂

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colorful 2013

For me, I had a great bonding moment with my siblings and relatives on the side of my father. We spent the first day of the year swimming! There was so much fun. It was like I was relieved of all my worries back at home and at work, because I was with my second fathers and mothers, and my siblings were there enjoying with me. Wish I could have more of that this year! Haha. Cousins were just fun to hang out with. And it was then the Lord started speaking to me. He told me what I needed to know to get this year right, on the 1st of January.

So it was fun. But I was there, afraid to learn to swim, afraid to try the BIG slides. I heard myself saying, “Hey, Keren. What’s the big deal?” Trying hard to swim, gathering all my strength just to try one slide down that colorful-yet-scary-structure at the end of the pool, I realized once again that I’ve got so much fear overcrowding my little heart.  Even fear in the small things take up so much space in my heart. God was telling me there is no way I could face 2013 with all this heavy “fear” baggage. I needed to unload them. He asked me, “Child, what are you going to do now?” Of course, other than braving myself up that big slide and learning from my youngest sister the basics of swimming (what a shame for me!), I had to do something with this scary thing called fear.

You can be sure that when God asks a question you can’t seem to answer, He will show you the answer. In the following days, He showed me that for so long I have been living a sheltered life. I grew up in a Christian family, went to a Christian school all the way from nursery to high school, had selected friends in college, and took minimal risks even during my teenage years.

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It might be really cute, but at one point, being sheltered and just sleeping like a baby is boring.

Maybe it is one of the reasons He took Mama and Papa so early–so I would learn to break out of the shell, and stand on my own feet.

The answer became ice clear when I read Bishop Oriel Ballano‘s slogan for this year: No Boundaries. This was the main theme for the preaching he spoke at church on January 6. The key context was in Isaiah 43:18-19:

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”

The message is clear. Forget the former thing. Clarify your focus. Commit yourself to God’s plan. This year, the Lord has greater things in store. He has new miracles to do, newer victories to give, and fresher tracks to lead me in. To be able to receive these, all I need to do is to let go of my fear, go beyond my personal border, and see myself fly.

This is the answer, clear and simple.

Now, I believe I can make it this year.

What about you? Are you done moving on from your failures and victories in 2012 toward a more glorious 2013? 🙂

 

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Shelving “2” and starting anew with “3”. 😉

Perfectly Imperfect: Cyborg Girl

Oh, the power of foreign movies.

In the past two weeks I’ve been sleeping late because of a Japanese movie and a Korean drama series that Ate Michelle lured encouraged me to watch. The movie is Cyborg Girl by a director-writer from South Korea named Kwak Jae-yong.

The story tells of a lonely man named Jiro, celebrating his birthday alone for years because he has no family, until an almost perfect girl came from seemingly nowhere and made his 21st birthday unforgettably magical. But then she had to go. One year passed with no single trace of her. His waiting was rewarded when exactly on his 22nd birthday, she came back–with a message from the future.  She was everything to him. The beauty that left him dazzling. The perfection that made him feel everything is alright. The color that altered his boring life. The strength that rescued him from tragedy. She was everything… but real. She was a cyborg from the future. He loved her, cared for her, revealed his heart to her. But, she could not feel.

The story ended with a literal happy ever after (which I am not going to spill over here). But if you wanna know the story in detail plus the sought-after ending, you can check one good review here. You can find another review here where the movie is analyzed comparatively with the other films directed by Kwak Jae-yong.

I didn’t get the ending at one viewing so I had to re-watch it twice. After it dawned on me, I couldn’t figure out my emotions. But because I tend to over-absorb whatever movie I watch, I reflected on the movie and eventually two questions crossed my mind.

How much do we want to control time, and consequently, life?

Probably like Jiro, it’s a boring life we live today or a sad situation we do not want to be in. Maybe it’s a broken past that keeps on haunting us and affecting every day that we breathe. Or yet, maybe it is a part of the future which we couldn’t wait to know. These are the moments we wish we could control time and twist it the way we wanted.

How much are we controlled by our emotions?

Many times our decisions and actions are determined by our emotions. Be it anger, bitterness, love or any sort of emotion, it has the power to drive us, to determine our lives. Jiro lived the rest of his life building the love story he hoped would last–and it changed the course of his life forever.

This beautiful movie has a lot of implications–on philosophy, time travel, infinity, and many more. It is a launching pad for many to air their personal beliefs. But one insight I gained here is the significance of an All-knowing Being who orchestrates this universe and everything else within and without. Apart from the context of the perfect will of that All-powerful Being, everything is chaotic. Everything is a confusion. Every quest is a search for an answer, to an end which only leads to another quest for what could be.

I am just thankful. With the truth that a loving Creator wonderfully made me to live with Him towards perfection, I am at peace.

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Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.”

Job 42:1-3

It is so striking whenever foreigners speak good things about our country, the Philippines. This is because many Filipinos fail to see the privilege they have as heirs of this beautiful nation.

Kiva Stories from the Field

Anna Cleal, KF10, Philippines

1)    How to smile

At the moment I am working as a Kiva fellow with the field partner organisation Community Economic Ventures (CEVI), based in Bohol, Philippines.  Here there are some of the most fantastic smiles I have ever seen.  It’s the real face lit up, all teeth accounted for, glowing beam that can spread far and wide.

Lesson: Plain and simple – Smile! Remember to smile as much as possible because everyone knows that smiles are contagious!

2)      How to laugh

Another one of those contagiously good qualities – people in the Philippines can’t help but laugh.  I’ve worked in 5 different offices over here with one thing in common, LAUGHTER.  It is very easy to become disillusioned into thinking that your jokes are getting funnier, but in actual fact it’s just that the audience is ever so partial to good ole chuckle…

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Resonates

When the person with the most reasons to be discouraged give out encouragement…

When the most stressed employee walks around to help others see life’s bright side…

When an overwhelmed man talks about strength  to overcome…

the inspiration simply resonates.

Photo from Jonathon L. Jenkins (JLJFOTO)

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That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10 NLT