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There’s a good reason why I haven’t watched Snowdogs or Marley and Me, otherwise well-reviewed, excellent-themed movies. But I heard that a dog dies in each of these films, so I opted never to watch them. I don’t think my heart can take it. I easily mentally substitute dogs in film to the ones my sister and I have.

Cherie and I have four. Or rather had four, because we lost one yesterday — our eldest, Pavlov. He died of kidney failure, at a little past 9 in the evening, Philippine time. This handsome Japanese spitz was part of our family for twelve years. He celebrated his last birthday in May.

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When I moved to Sweden two years ago, I feared then, yet hoped otherwise, that I won’t see him again, so I kissed and hugged him for a longer time than I did the other dogs. Yesterday as he lay dying, my sister put the phone near his ears and I cried my final goodbye. I could write about him now, when the tug at my heart doesn’t feel as heavy as yesterday. I pity my sister, who faithfully cared for our sick dog, and who wasn’t spared from the pain of watching him slowly die. I admire her devotion and strength, that she endured to stay with him, for hours and hours, until the end.

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Pavlov was a gift from my father’s best friend’s family. They named him after the Russian psychologist who used dogs to prove the “conditioning” phenomenon. Before he was given to us, he had his first brush with death when a large trunk fell on him. He was just a few weeks old then. He miraculously survived but was left with an uncontrollable shaking of the head. We are grateful that this gradually disappeared over the years, and would manifest only when he got excited or focused on something.

When Pavlov was a few months old, before he could be vaccinated, he got sick of parvo. I really thought we would lose him then, but Cherie did not lose hope. One night, she made us lay our hands on him and ask the Lord for healing. We got our second miracle. The next morning, his health immediately improved. We became more careful after that and took him — and later, the younger dogs — to the doctor for regular care. Pavlov stayed healthy and gave us years of wonderful memories.

We will most miss him:

  • shaking his head when he’s focused on something;
  • pushing the food tray with his nose before he eats;
  • drinking his milk in the morning;
  • sept16-014greedily eating sweet bread in the afternoon;
  • running up and down the stairs;
  • sitting always at our feet during meal times;
  • getting “violently” excited over car trips
    and sticking his head out of the window;
  • gnarling at Yayay when it’s time for his bath
    yet becoming overly-playful immediately after she dries him;
  • barking loudly at anyone who arrives;
  • scratching at the door, and would not stop until you let him in;
  • jumping onto beds
    and trying to jump back again after you push him away
    or giving you that intent look, asking that he be allowed back on the bed;
  • January 15 2005 023licking our faces to greet us good morning;
  • standing by the ac and letting the cold wind blow on his face;
  • getting angry when we pretend to attack Cherie;
  • coming over to us when we pretend to talk behind his back;
  • happily hopping on the grass in the school campus;
  • lying contentedly while the younger dogs lick his ears;
  • chewing on toilet paper cartons;
  • playing hide-and-seek;
  • following us everywhere in the house;
  • and welcoming all of us, with that uber-excited wag on his tail, every time we come home.

Pavlov wasn’t merely our “dog”, he was our “baby”. Mine and Cherie’s. But it was very evident that he was more hers than mine. He was loyal and fiercely protective of her. I had his attention only when Cherie was absent. He loved her more because it was she who loved him most.

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We thank God for the gift of loving a dog. Pavlov made our memories even happier and moments even sweeter. He brought my sister and I closer, and brought out kindness and compassion from those who loved him.

Dec29 2004 001

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Good boy, Paffy.

Mommies love you.


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merry christmas!

Here is one of my favorite “Christmas” songs. I share it in the hope that you, too, will take time to listen and meditate on the truth and power of the words of the song.

God has come to us in Love, bringing Hope and Joy.
God has come to us in Jesus.

MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR

GOD JUL och GOTT NYTT ÅR

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in Swedish, “jag är tacksam eftersom…”

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I have been tagged!

Thank you, Ate Jigzs! Check out my number 4 because you’re one of them ;-)

Some of these may sound cliché but, nonetheless,

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1. God showed His perfect love through Jesus. I cannot imagine what life—and thereafter—holds for me without the grace and mercy of Jesus.

2. I have a truly wonderful(!!!) family. In this I have been extremely blessed in both ways: having been born into and having married into one. My heart swells when I ponder upon the outpouring of love and care and affection from them alone.

3. I am Filipino. This doesn’t mean that I feel we are superior over other nationalities. Not at all! I just feel a sense of pride when I think of the warmth, the happy disposition, the resilience and the adaptability of my people.

4. of mentors and friends. There’s this beautiful song from the Broadway show, Wicked, which says: ”…people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn, and we are led to those who help us most to grow, if we let them, and we help them in return…I know I am who I am today because I knew you.”

5. I have had a relatively quick transition into life here in beautiful Sweden. And I hope someday I can truly call it home.

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And I shall now tag Swedecheese, MatsG, Tint, Lynai, and Eigenliebe.

Here’s how this is done:

1. Re-post the picture/logo on your blog and please acknowledge where it came from. Kindly leave a comment on this post so I would know you’ve posted it.
2. Write down 5 things you are grateful for and the 5 bloggers you are tagging.
3. You may copy this or write your own quote regarding gratitude:
“The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.” – Psalm 145:13b

Thank you for being a good sport :-)  I hope that you will enjoy this exercise, too.

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in Swedish, “när jag känner mig ensam”

I have had an acidic stomach for a while now. Last year the stomach pains were so awful that Jaakko had to rush me to the hospital twice! And early yesterday evening, it went on the attack again.

Being sick here is the worst thing ever. It is during these times that I feel most alone because it’s just Jaakko and me. Actually, these episodes bring us closer as a couple because it brings out his very caring and attentive nature. I have discovered that Jaakko is someone I can really rely on, in good times and bad.

But even so, the longing to be with people back home in Iloilo becomes strongest during these times of “weakness”.

So last night was a dark moment again. After the pain became bearable enough so I could stand, I looked for “something” to renew my spirit, to ease my loneliness. I have learned early on that we cannot easily control our emotions (they just flood in), but God can. So we need His word and His presence to overcome the emptiness.

I was pointed to Job and Mart de Haan. The context of Job’s story is a far cry from how I was feeling (thank God for that!) but somehow I related to Job’s “alone-ness”. He felt away from God; I am away from my family.

Mr. de Haan wrote:

If God didn’t wall us in to a maze of our own (loneliness), would we have any desire to find his amazing grace?

Very true.

I do not know if I will ever get over missing them. I do not know if I will ever feel truly home in this cold, beautiful country. But with this burden, I am drawn more to cling to Him and the promise of His grace and joy. How else could I know that His presence has an amazing, surprising, mysterious power to comfort?

So today I feel renewed. And tomorrow — who knows how I will feel then? But I do know WHO to run and cling to.

I hope you do, too. Have a happy day :-)

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in Swedish, “ljusa och vackra”

For my sister, Cherie, on her birthday

To many of us who are privileged to know her, she is “all things bright and beautiful”.

I could write a whole lot (!!!) of wonderful things about her, but she is terribly shy and self-effacing: “Manang, I don’t want you to write about me in your blog, okay?!”

But compelled I am to share some bits of memory, that you, too, may be inspired by her caring and generous spirit, of which she is known best for.

I once had a migraine incident during a brown-out in our area. Experiencing terrible pain with no air-conditioning in the heat of the day was plain hor-ri-ble. All I could do was just lie down in Papa’s room, which was the coolest in the house, wishing and praying for the medicine to work soon.

My sister, knowing I was sick, came to visit. After checking on me, she took a heavy mattress and dragged it downstairs, laid it on the floor next to the wide-open front door, where one can get the most from what little breeze that came in. Then she let me lay there and she cradled and massaged my head until I finally fell asleep.

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A few years ago, her husband gave her an elegant watch for a special occasion. Immediately after, she began saving up (and most likely did a lot of overtime) to buy a similar one. When she was finally able to afford it, she presented it to me and said,

Manang, I don’t want to have something so pretty that you don’t have.

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Happy Birthday, Babe.

You make Papa and I so proud.

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All things bright and beautiful,

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All creatures great and small,

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All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
Each little flower that opens,

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Each little bird that sings,

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He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.
The purple-headed mountain,

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The river running by,

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The sunset and the morning,

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That brightens up the sky;
The cold wind in the winter,

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The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one;
The tall trees in the greenwood,

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The meadows for our play,
The rushes by the water,

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To gather every day;
He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,

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Who doeth all things well.

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All Things Bright and Beautiful, a hymn by Cecil F. Alexander, 1848

I had a goal to find a good excuse to use all of Windows Vista’s “sample photos” in one post.

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treasure hunt

in Swedish, “skattjakt”

Let’s play Treasure Hunt!

First, please read through Ate Millie’s thought-provoking, soul-disturbing, downright relevant article: Not Just Ordinary Rest.

And at the end of your read, there will be a clue that leads you to the website where I got this free photo from (beautiful, isn’t it?), along with a wealth of more shots.

If you did follow the instructions of the game, may I ask then:

What kind of treasure did you find?

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