Disclaimer: Strong Enough is Stacie Orrico's, Matt Rolling's, Starstruck Music's, Forefront and Virgin Records'. Lyrics were used for continuity. All rights are theirs. No infringement intended.

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To people who have seen tragedies and disasters in their lives,
Walk on, hope on, move on...

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The Twenty-sixth of the Twelfth Month

I. At Grandma Leila's

So many voices coursing through my mind, each of their pronouncements plucks out my pride. Playing it in their hands, tossing it from left to right and right to left, and passed on to another, and another, and another, until it went along and be swept. Swept by the great waters, along with their lives onto its endless vessel- inseparable with its currents and waves, diminishing and augmenting with its tide.

I've known so well, I've trusted hard enough and I hoped along with the many people, looking through the borders, far onto His shining grace. I know His name and it took me to a higher place, on a pedestal, above those who refuse Him. I've known so well, now it doesn't seem so. So much for the pride shaped by my faith. So much for the voice that I let them hear- a voice that speaks for His greatness, a voice that never wanes even if suppressed.

I ran my palm against the black, sweeping the dust lying over it; dirt adhered on my skin. I wiped it on my jeans thinking I'm ridding it off me; off from my hands and onto the garment wore- ridiculous, dirt was still on me. I sat on the stool, stared long at the traces I made before I reached out to lift the cover. It opened with a squeak and a thud, and the flying of the dust. I turned my head sideways to keep my face away from the cloud of dust and dragged my eyes back when all of it had settled down. The black and white stared back at me like a friend longing, longing for the touch of my fingers, waiting for the soul to pour out the tears. Just a gentle pressure of the fingers against the keys and everything will come rolling, out rolling.

The first key floated about the room, rebounding off the walls, making an eerie repetition of the sound it made. It lingered waiting for the next, and the next, and the next...

Lost. I got lost to an old friend, a friend that responds to my every touch. With my foot switching on the three pedals and my fingers on the keyboard, visions came rolling out- flashes of the scenes on the TV screen, voices of radio announcers, and the worst I could get, sneers. "So where is your mighty God now?" The question made me cringe for in the depths of my soul, I asked the same. But I don't have the heart to turn away and turn to disbelief- not now, not this way, not ever. But the question lingers.

And builds up.

Why did He let it happen? If the world and our lives are in His hands, why didn't He stop it? If He created the world and everything in it, why would He let it be destroyed, just like that? And why did He design the world this way? If everything happens for a reason, what are those lost lives for? Sacrifice for the world's immorality? A call? A call to all that this is the time to hold hands, stay together despite of everything? Or had He simply fallen asleep on His watch? And did it hurt?

God, did it hurt?

I've known so well. I've trusted hard enough. So much for the pride shaped by my faith. I've known so well; now it doesn't seem so. Every word passed on every mouth is a pronouncement that swelters my pride. Headlines, news reports, and sneers, "So where is your mighty God now?"

"He's there somewhere." I whispered to myself. A false self-reassurance for the doubt still plays in my head. This, the dirt on my soul is the dirt that bled through my face. No matter how hard I tried to wipe it off, the dirt is still on me. Dirtied and emptied. Doubts dirtied my soul and emptied it. I feel so far away. So far away...

I hummed along with the melody as my fingers played. My voice broke out harshly because of the lump building in my throat. I swallowed hard within the breaks as I tried to find reason in the solitary silence I donned myself with. In the silence of the piano brings. I wanted to be alone. Alone with my God...

ooo-ooo-ooo

Not an hour ago...

Here, I ran, to Grandma Leila's house- old, abandoned and drafty. The wind swathing my skin felt bitter, bitter and cold. How it smothers my skin. How it smothers the warmth on my cheeks.

But here was the home of my childhood- those days of dolls and pigtails, of sugars and cakes, of nursery rhymes and candy canes. Ghost of my childhood in a pretty little dress ran towards me as I opened the front door. She ran through me with my impish laughter and off to the wild and unkempt lawn. I looked over my shoulder to where I thought she went- to the tire swing still hanging on the acacia tree. Oh those carefree days! Yesteryears and yesterdays...

Yesterday. Yesterday felt so far away, months away from yesterday. And tonight, I have so much to dread.

But here, in the home of my childhood, I came to be alone with Him, to be alone with my God, to seek reason with Him. Here, in my hiding place.

As I rest against this cold hard wall
Oh will you pass me by
Will you criticize me as I sit and cry

ooo-ooo-ooo

The dilapidated curtain filters the light coming from the waxing moon, making creepy shadows on the floor and onto the empty wall. Its tattered fabric danced as the wind flirts with it, swaying, twirling- oddly inviting.

I had fought so hard
And thought that all my battles had been won
Only to find the war has just began

Mama looked at me, so knowingly, the moment I walked out of the backdoor with my jacket on and the flashlight in my hand. She knew where I'm headed- to Grandma Leila's house. I caught a brief glimpse of her eyes. She's been crying since this afternoon and methinks she never rested from it. I meant to tell her I have my share of pain but words are too stiff to come out of me but she must've known of my unuttered words, for when she looked into my eyes, she forced a smile and gave me a nod, allowing me to go out in the night. She must've known of my reasons.

"Mama, you let her!" I heard my sister's voice as I was treading along the stone steps. I imagined her eyes roll through the pitch of her voice. There were times that it was so hard to reason with her and I will not give in, not even in my imagination, not on this night, on this night of many uncertainties. "Please, Nina, do understand." I whispered under my breath as I sauntered away. She must understand, even when she's only thirteen.

I looked into the night sky, into its bejeweled face, into its spectrum-circled moon as I reached the iron gates of Grandma's house. In the darkness, there will always be the light. But tonight, it lost its charm on me, for reasons known to Him. I spoke of Him through shakes and brambles even when no one seems to listen, even when sneering voices tell me, "Your God is as good as our god too, you know." I've known so much about Him; now, it doesn't seem so. And I fought so much for Him; now it seems my voice and my strength are both fading. I'm losing.

Papa is so far away, trying to make a living for our survival, somewhere near the ocean. Now we don't know if he's still alive. Do God cares about my cares, our cares? Believers like me would say, "Of course, He does!" Of course they'd say He does. They don't know what it's like to hang on a thread of hope meaning to be snapped anytime. It's only a matter of time. And when the thread snaps, will my faith snap as well? And why of all people, it has to be me? Why it has to be us? It's so unfair.

Will my weakness for an hour
Make me suffer for a lifetime
Is there anyway to be made whole again

My hands are shaking like something willing to explode, of bottled fears and bottled tears. My voice chokes. Maybe I should cease but I can't stop now. Now that it is all rolling out of me. Is He listening? Will I make it until then? Will I hang on to Him? How long? Until when?

If I'm healed, renewed, and find forgiveness
Find the strength I never had
Will my scars forever ruin all God's plan

I've trusted hard enough, should I trust more?

Is He not strong enough
Is He not pure enough
To break me, pour me out and start again

Until then, will He trust more of me?

Is He not brave enough
To take this chance on me

Now I am more than an Atheist. But can somebody really blame me for asking too much from Him, too much proof of His existence?

Should I trust my life in the keeping of someone so intangible to my very eyes? A man who lived two thousand years ago?

He took my life into his hands
And turned it all around
In my most desperate circumstance...

...will I find my way to Him?

My fingers grew stiff on the keys of the piano making an angry sound that hanged in the air, faded swiftly, and then replaced by my painful sobs.

I see them fading away from my grasp, men of my life who kept me grounded and whole, my father who's faraway, and my Father in heaven.

God, is it you clipping my wings? After this sweeping tide, what will it be until then?

'God, give me a reason to believe more of you and less of my doubts, and less of my own understanding, because I don't want to wander too far from you. God, give me a reason to stay, if you really love me...'

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to be continued....

Not very well-written, I know, but this fic wasn't meant to entertain, neither to educate but to pass on a message that there is hope even when it seems so far away. 'Tisa fic motivated by the Dec. 26 tsunami tragedy.