Top Ten Things I Am Most Thankful For in 2013

1.  I learned to value friends more.  2013 is the year God pruned my relationships.  I had to let go of people I had trusted as friends, albeit wrongly or foolishly.  It wasn’t the easiest of experiences because these were people I had opened my life to and had welcomed into my life with all the trust, care, and respect I could give.  But I learned the hard way that trust and respect should not be easily given.  And that we SHOULD and we CAN choose our friends with wisdom.

Proverbs 11:26 The righteous choose their friends carefully.

As a friend told me, “respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.” And walk away I did, though reluctantly at first because I had thought that my good intentions were enough to make a friendship work but…

There is a way that appears to be right but in the end, it leads to death. –  Proverbs 14:12

I now know the meaning of these verses more deeply because of my personal experience:

2 Corinthians 6:14  Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

Proverbs 22:5  Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.

Proverbs 18:24  One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Psalm 1:1  Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.

1 Corinthians 15:33  Bad company corrupts good character.

After all the pruning, who are left are people whose wisdom and strength I admire. These are people who do not consider themselves strong or wise by their own merit or standard or experiences but only by the grace that comes from Jesus Christ.  They know that on their own, they are weak but with Christ, they have the strength and wisdom that can overcome.  These are people I treasure and am thankful for being in my life.  Through them, with their counsel or rebuke or sharing of experiences, I too become wise and strong.

Proverbs 13:20  Walk with the wise and become wise…

Proverbs 27:17  As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:6  Wounds from a friend can be trusted but an enemy multiplies kisses.

I now look back and I can only be thankful that the friends I have now are those I learn from, who nourish and respect me, and who continue to believe in and trust in me in spite of my own shortcomings.

2.  I learned generosity.  That if you purpose it in your heart to give to whoever or whatever God leads you to, God will enable you to give even when you think you don’t have the means.  Again and again, it was impressed on me this year that generosity is not an issue of the wallet but an issue of the HEART.

Proverbs 11:25  A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

And along with this lesson, I also learned this about people who run away from their creditors: Kung nalungkot ka o nagalit ka dahil tinakbuhan ka ng taong tinulungan mo financially by lending to him, take heart and allow God to work instead because…

If [the thief] is caught, he must pay sevenfold though it cost him all the wealth of his house. –     Proverbs 6:30-31

Evil will never leave the house of one who pays back evil for good. – Proverbs 17:13

One whose heart is corrupt does not prosper. – Proverbs 17:20

I tell you that God is a God of restoration and He will restore what was stolen from you…exceedingly and beyond you can ever hope or imagine…and I testify to that!  But of course, we should also learn to lend wisely.

3.  Provision for the house I am building.  I really believe that my Nuvali home is a blessing from God.  He knows very well my desire to have a house with its own lot (not a condo unit) and with a clubhouse and pool in the vicinity.  The fact that it’s a green development by the Ayala Land is a bonus.  While I had been anxious at first about how to and who would build my house, God assured me that “the blessing of the Lord makes rich and He adds no sorrow with it”  – Proverbs 10:22.  Just when I thought I was running out of funds, God gave me wisdom about financial means that I could take advantage of that were not burdensome at all – non-interest bearing loans, investments that were ready for liquidation, and personal funds that I had forgotten even existed!  As one friend put it, “God’s math is different.  Hindi mo alam kung paano magkakasya, pero nagkakasya!”  So true.  And I say, “I do not understand God’s accounting at all.”

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God even led me to the team who would build the house.  I remember that season when I was asking God whether to get professionals to build it.  You know, the debate about whether to get a legit team with an architect and engineer vs. just a seasoned carpenter who knows how to build well?  During the banquet dinner for the EN Phase 2 construction, with Pastor Joey Bonifacio describing the team who built EN Phase 1 – led by a topnotch architect in the land – and why they used imported materials (sure it cost much upfront but it was worth the investment because maintenance was much less), I got my answer.  Not only did God answer my question, He also led me to the architect.  And it seemed that there was no other person destined to build it because all other people I had thought could help me were not available at that time.  I remember having prayed about this – about a team of professionals with the same values as I… and God answered.

I believe that God provides for me faithfully and generously because I have also been trustworthy with the material blessings He has entrusted to me.  And because I have also been faithful in giving back to the purposes of God.

Luke 16:10  Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.

4. I learned grace.  And that it is available to us for small and big things.

As we were moving to our new building and driving (daily!) became a necessity, I had to wake up as early as 4 a.m. everyday just to avoid traffic and get a slot in the fixed-rate parking lot behind our building.  I don’t know how I managed that and how I continue to do that.  I tell you that being able to drive daily for more than four months now without any accident is a miracle.  Add to that my need to wake up before 5 a.m. on Saturdays so that I could teach!  How I was able to sustain what I considered grueling waking up hours was only because of God’s grace.

Thanks to friends and officemates who encouraged and taught me how to park in reverse and to kanto boys and giving drivers who allowed or helped a reluctant lady driver to pass through gridlock.  In my first few days, I had prayed for God to part the traffic like He did the Red Sea.  There were days when God answered that but there were also days when instead of parting the traffic, He gave me people like kanto boys and gracious drivers to help me through Manila’s traffic.  Indeed, we cannot box the ways God answers our prayers.  Because of these people, I also learned, and continue to learn, to be gracious in driving.

Not only did God teach me grace through traffic but He gave me wisdom and taught me patience (and He continues to do so!).  It would probably take a long time for us as a nation to be disciplined in traffic – buses will be bullies, jeeps will stop anywhere (kaya pala sila hari ng daan hindi dahil sa dami nila kundi dahil bully din sila, kakamutan ka lang nila o tatakbuhan pag nabangga ka nila, sila pa galit!), motorcycles and tricycles will act like they own all lanes, and pedestrians will cross the streets as if they are gallivanting in Luneta – but I need to be disciplined and patient on my own because really, I may not be cursing but my high-beam lights and honking show impatience and rage!  Nahuhulog talaga ang lahat ng bunga pag nagda-drive ako.  So yes, I also need that gentle and quiet spirit and more of God’s grace in this area.

On the other hand, that grace which I availed of in driving was also the same grace that was given to me so I could perform my new responsibilities well.  2013 is also about being stretched professionally.  I was asked and needed to do things which seemed to be beyond my skills and liking – pre-sales, sales, events, marketing, market research, and all these while teaching on weekends.  Imagine a true-blue accountant doing sales and marketing?!  Only by God’s grace.

5.  Sustained healing of my polycystic ovaries and healing of my SVT (heart condition).  No more medicines, no expensive surgery for my SVT.  I am thankful not just for my healing, for my doctors who are God’s instruments to heal me, but also for Papa’s doctors who are channels of healing as well.  Our doctors are generous with their time and effort and are genuine with their care.

6.  My brothers were able to find their respective places in the sun for a certain season in their lives and we were able to make a small business investment for our parents, too.  We also continue to find opportunities to bond with one another…over food, what else?! hahaha…

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7.  I have been able to sustain the revenues of my own business and from this, put up another business with no additional capital outlay.

8.  New adventures – I climbed Mt. Pulag and learned to dive.  The Mt. Pulag climb was a testament of the healing of my heart.

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9.  Another travel opportunity.  Because I had known that the construction of my house would go full swing in 2013, I had declared a moratorium on big-ticket travel (by “big ticket,” I mean any travel that requires flying…hahaha) because most of my funds were really for the house construction.  But God knew the desires of my heart and so when an invitation to travel came, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I could afford to travel.   Again, hindi mo alam kung paano magkakasya, pero nagkakasya.  Magaling rin kasi ang mga travel buddies ko.  They plan trips wisely.  At meron din palang libreng trips na kelangan kong lumipad!

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10.  A greater understanding of who God is.  Sabi nila, mas masarap daw ang samahan pag marami kayong pinagdaraanan.  I really think that this is how my relationship with God grows more intimate every season.  Through everything, God’s presence was with me, going before me, reminding me to “pray for it.”  His presence in my life is more tangible now more than ever. This was one of my faith goals at the start of 2013 and it was granted.

So, thank you God for 2013 and welcome 2014 with more faith, hope, and love love love!

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