Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Father's True Love

You know how you sometimes stumble across those friends who care about you so much they will actually be interested (genuinely, not just for show) in the things you care about? I don't mean sharing common interests--I'm talking about the times when you really just need to vent about your experience at the grocery store, for example, and rather than listening out of pity, your friend is just as emotionally invested as you are. Those relationships are rare, aren't they? But they are beautiful and rewarding.
It has been manifested to me many times, but was reconfirmed today, that this is the kind of love our Heavenly Father feels for us, and the kind of relationship we can have with Him. Because He loves us, He cares about what we care about. The things that matter to us, matter to Him. Not because they are necessarily all that important to Him, in His perfection, but because they are important to us. 
I wrote a song today, as a birthday gift for a friend who lives far away. This friend means a lot to me, and I wanted the song to be special, and of course, high quality. Thinking it over for the past few days, I wasn't getting anywhere. Soon, almost unconsciously, it became a matter of prayer. Just seeking general inspiration and help with this project I had undertaken. As always, I was heard. After real efforts on my part, I was given several gentle nudges which led me in the right way and resulted in a song I genuinely love. 
I don't say this as any kind of brag status. I say this to give credit where credit is due: I know, 100%, that the song did not actually come from me. I listen to it now, and I am amazed that it was produced through my body and coordination. I am humbled to realize that the Lord would take the time and make the effort to expend even a tiny portion of His infinite power, on my behalf. I feel, ever more strongly, how blessed I am to have a Heavenly Father who loves me so deeply, and who is so aware of my life that He would choose to take part in this seemingly insignificant aspect. 
"Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!"

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Eyes of the World

Every day, I come to appreciate my coworkers more and more. I truly feel very blessed to be working at Hanapin, and I believe I am surrounded by some of the most wonderful, creative, passionate, and hard-working people in the world. It's amazing to me that so many people complain about their jobs and work, and here I find myself not only enjoying my time there, but choosing to spend more time with my coworkers when the day ends. 
I was invited to come to "happy hour" after work, and even though I don't drink, I felt it would be a fun experience and a good opportunity to bond with the team a little more and get to know them better. It ended up being my co-trainee and I, with the two people who just finished training, and the VP of the company. Our HR rep joined late, followed by her husband. It was a pleasant evening overall, and no one made a big deal of the fact that I don't drink. The VP did buy a round of shots for everyone, though, and checked with me to confirm I wasn't drinking. Joe had discovered earlier in the week that I don't drink coffee either, and has been amazed by it. He injected this information into the conversation after shots were ordered, and the girl next to me (who just finished her training) made the comment that I must be so healthy on the inside!! She seemed genuinely impressed with what they must perceive as self-control. I didn't respond, because I didn't know what to say besides "Yes, I am. Thanks, Heavenly Father." In truth, although I've had friends who drink, I've never been out with them when that's the activity. I actually had a good time talking and listening to everyone, but through it all, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude to the Lord for His wisdom and His mercy in revealing to us the Word of Wisdom. It has protected me from so many things, and I have felt the power of the blessing promised-- a clear and alert mind. As we walked back to our cars a few hours later, I was relieved not to have to worry about anything clouding my judgement or perception. I still felt a sense of connection and camaraderie, but without any of the weight of conscience attached to it. 
I have never thought about how others must see me, or see members of the church who choose to follow the Word of Wisdom. I always assumed they would look down on me, or think I was sheltered or something. It's amazing how letting myself be in that position--a light in the darkness in a way-- completely changed my perspective. I am forever grateful for this Gospel, and grateful I am choosing to follow it. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Filipino Way

It's been a while since I posted on here. Following the end of my mission (nearly a year ago), I didn't think I would have more to share that fit into this realm. I mean, no longer a missionary, I was no longer writing weekly emails to share my spiritual experiences and the things I was learning and the growth taking place in my life as I continued to strive toward Christlike attributes and figure out my Heavenly Father's plan for me and the steps He wants me to take. Regrettably, this means that nearly all of what I have been through in the past ten months or so has gone undocumented. I hope to, in some way, remedy this going forward. 
On October 9th, I officially moved to Bloomington, Indiana. I had interviewed for and accepted a position with Hanapin Marketing, a firm which specializes in PPC advertising. For the first time, I found myself alone in a two-bedroom, unfurnished apartment, feeling the most adult (both accomplished and terrified at the same time) I have ever felt in my life.
Over the past week, I've been able to make progress in furnishing my apartment and adjusting to my new life. I will hopefully get a chance to tell you about my Portland trip another time. Tonight, I just want to share a few of the things that have made me feel incredibly and overwhelmingly grateful for my new job. 
First, start with the welcome. 
Everyone that I met or talked to during my first day (yesterday) was so kind and positive! Their friendly and genuine outreach made me feel like I was truly joining a team, and they didn't care at all how new I was. I am one of them and that is all that matters. After a day full of meetings and jam-packed with information, I was almost sad to have to go home when 5:00 hit, and was already excited to come back. 
Today was just the same kind of feeling, although my schedule a little less hectic. In one meeting, the woman we were meeting with commented on my necklace (the outline of the Philippine islands) and my co-trainee, Joe, pointed to a place on it saying "I lived there." Intrigued, of course, I had to follow up on this, and soon discovered that he had lived in Davao, Mindanao from birth to the age of about 10. I asked if he spoke Filipino, and he affirmed. He was delighted (and shocked) to find out that I also speak it, and stunned even more that I'm actually more polished than he. But we were able to communicate in a lovely mixed Taglish throughout the rest of the day, and I definitely feel like we have a much more solid connection now than before. Maybe it's just my own perception that has changed, but I was forced to marvel as we discussed with our trainer the fact that Hanapin has (to his knowledge) never had Filipino speakers before (despite being a Tagalog word), and suddenly has two being trained at the same time. I feel like this is just another tender mercy from my loving Heavenly Father, and in a strange way, another confirmation that this is the right place for me and I am exactly where He wants me to be. 
I saw a post the other day with a list of the best things about being Filipino-American. I think I have decided, the best thing is that it really is not so much about your heritage, it is all about your heart. 
I never imagined that I would be living somewhere, so far from family and my closest friends, and yet be so happy and feel so secure. I never knew I could love a job so quickly and so fully, and find more gratitude for it every day. I am infinitely grateful for the blessings the Lord is showering upon me, and I hope that this blog will become the place for me to share those everyday miracles-- all the "little things" that make life so beautiful.