Tag Archives: No Greater Love

Parallel Worlds: A Call To Action


I am watching two kids playing while writing this. We are in a huge room with a play house and all sorts of toys. Both kids were playing independently. One was into trucks and little people, while the other was into cooking sets and teddy bears. Both minding their own business not talking to each other.

Parallel play.

This what you call this phenomenon in my world. There may be variations but the explanation is simple: two kids play along side but independent of each other. I play here. You play there. No interaction. No fighting. We may pick similar toys or exchange toys at some point but that’s all the interaction we’d ever get.

Ring a bell?

Isn’t that how you treat your office mates? Isn’t that your attitude when you walk around town? Isn’t that how you treat others from half way across the globe? Isn’t that how you treat people on the internet?

I am not pointing fingers here because I do those, too. I am also guilty.

The world has slowly become apathetic that we don’t care what happens in other parts of the world. We think our poor internet connection is a huge problem or the lack of spoon and fork in the McDonald’s you ordered is the end of the world. Little do we know that there are people who don’t even know what a computer is or don’t even have food to eat. There are people who don’t even have homes or are doomed to die even before they were born.

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

Praises to God there are people like the Benkert Family whose patriarch, Levi, was willing to stake his family’s lives to God and live to tell of the experience. In his book, “No Greater Love,” we are plunged into the life of a missionary family in Ethiopia.

Levi Benkert is actually a real estate businessman with a failing business due to the real estate crisis of the late 2010s. He brought his family from the US to Africa to organize and establish a fledgling orphanage. Due to a strong cultural belief, some parents were forced to kill their children or the whole village will suffer the consequences. Levi and family were to save these kids from death and put them in an orphanage.

We are told of their difficult transition from being a successful business magnate in the United States to God’s humbled and struggling soldiers in the forefront of Ethiopia’s tribal culture. The story telling is so heart warming, anyone reading the book would fight the urge to jump into a plane bound for Ethiopia the first chance he gets.

Believe me, I almost did.

Yet for someone like me who has seen the situation of children here in the country – the orphans, the children with disabilities and many others with special needs, the urge to stay was stronger than the urge to leave. In fact, as I am jotting these words down in my cellphone, I realized the weight of the work in the country.

As of this writing, I am here in the airport and I have just finished a side line job of assessing and evaluating children with disabilities in Davao City (my third time). In the several times that I have been here, I was able to meet and talk to parents who have been waiting for professionals who could help understand their children’s condition. Some of them travelled miles just to get their kids assessed and finally find some clarity in what to do with their child. It is hard to ignore their pleas.

The truth is, even though we may see Africa as more in need than our country, there exists a parallel problem.

Unknown to most, orphanages are full to the brim. There may be sponsors and willing hearts who could help, but there is still a need for better facilities. There is still a need for beds, toiletries and education services. Blame the government all we want, but as long as no one would take the leap of faith to help them, nothing is going to happen. Unknown to most, children with special needs outside the metropolis cities like Manila, Cebu or Davao are usually tied up to posts or put in cages to prevent them from roaming around. Their parents, in their shame and poverty, could not get the necessary knowledge or training they needed to handle their own son or daughter. Their neighbors and the whole town, in their ignorance, treat this family as either pariah or curiosities. While efforts are being done to educate and help, it is often not enough.

After reading the Benkert family’s story, I knew deep inside me that the way to help is not to go out of the country but to go deeper in it. Saying that Ethiopia is poorer than us or blaming it to our corrupt government wouldnt justify our inaction and inability to help. The Benkert family thought at first that giving money is enough. Yet once they experienced the need in Africa, they learned that being in the forefront of the battle is more life changing and more meaningful than just sending materials and supplies.

In the same way, would we just sit and give what was excess in our fat wallets or would we take that leap of faith, leave the comforts of your home and learn to surrender to God in the field?

The question is for me than for you.

WorthyWorthy Habla is speech pathologist by profession. Obviously, he’s a bookworm and blogger by passion. Aside from being a nature enthusiast, he’s empowered being an Adventist Youth Leader, a deacon, a deaf ministry co-coordinator and volunteer.

As much as he loves to capture memories, he is fond of chasing the wind through running. He strives to rise above the state of mediocrity, and literally, he challenges himself to conquer heights though hiking.

Check out more of his musings through his blog, MANACLED.

*Worthy is the first guest blogger, Curly Bookworm ever had. Grateful for his gaiety in responding to a bookworm challenge. Kindly read the blog post by clicking the title beneath:

BOOKWORM CHALLENGE: BOOK CHANNELING

It’s not in the blogosphere where I first bumped with this creative writer. I got acquainted with his articles in CQ (Collegiate Quarterly). It’s just surprising how we end up collaborating. And I’m grateful for God’s gift of friendship authored by the Heavenly Wordsmith.

Keep posted for the other guest bloggers! Who knows, the next could be YOU! 🙂

© 2015 LAF

Note: Photo credit to Worthy Habla. This blog has a copyright. The photos and articles should not be used, reproduced and manipulated by any means without a written request and consent from the author.

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Bookworm Craze: Curly Bookworm’s BOOKS on SALE!


Few months ago, I read an article entitled: “THE BOY WHO CRIED BOOKS”. It was so fascinating because it’s about an impoverished young man who paves his way to secure education through selling books. Isn’t it amazing that he creatively make money to sustain himself to acquire the key to success?

I actually thought of going to where he sells books, bring some of my books to donate, so he could make good use of it, and let him know I highly appreciate his determination to obtain an education in a noble way. I also want to see some books to buy from his mini shop. I even encouraged friends to do the same. But since I’ve traveled a lot in the past months, flying here and there, seeing new and picturesque places for ministry and business trips, the thought was gone with the wind.

Later on, I thought of selling my books for a cause. I have another personal ministry so close to my heart: Pathfinder ministry. I want to save money for the Pathfinder Bible, and some resource materials for instruction since I get invitations to speak or give lectures on Master Guide training. aww

Crazy for a Cause

Then came the impression to pursue selling my books for a good cause: to save funds to donate to BRING LOVE IN, a non-profit organization which help sustain communities of orphans and widows, and impoverished families in Ethiopia. I wouldn’t have much, but I believe: “Great things start from small beginnings.” God provides and blesses the willingness to extend a hand.

It took me reading NO GREATER LOVE to realize more that others’ needs sometimes matter than my own. It teaches selflessness rather than selfishness, it promotes generosity and cheerful giving. I learned much from the selfless dedication of Benkert family who sold everything they have, left the comforts and greener pastures of USA to live in the poverty-stricken Ethiopia.

If you haven’t read my previous article, please STOP; kindly read it first so you’ll fully understand this cause:

Bookworm Challenge: Book Channeling

But Philippines is also poverty-stricken!

I have some ideas to help local related institutions I’ve visited and their advocacy. I’ll share about them later.

Letting Go, Letting God

Sounds so dramatic. haha

I’ve been with my books for many years, some, for many months. I thought many times if I really want to sell them away. I wouldn’t have the chance to see them again unless I sell them to my friends. In case I miss my books, I could visit them and see their bookshelves. LOL. Attachment. I really don’t know if you’re thinking I’m simply crazy. But it’s good to learn how to detach from personal stuff. Let go. haha

Why not just give them away? I thought about that before. It’s a relief to see my shelf with new space for new books. And to think that many others would be blessed with the books, I almost did. But I realized, I lent a lot of books to friends before, only few were returned. Maybe some forgot, or others presumed it’s given already. I’m guilty of the latter statement. I need to return the books lent to me as well. haha

For me, books are investments. They feed the mind, make your brain work more, and when applied to life the principles learned, huge blessing! So, ROI (return on investment) is expected. But it all depends on me how to handle my investments. I hope you’ve got my point. I understood that people oftentimes give greater value to things they acquired with money associated with it. When they bought them, they care more and make use of them more. Sometimes, people keep them to maintain its newness. So does with books (gifts as well). haha

I’m selling my books for low and reasonable prices. I’m selling them preferably to my friends because if other people buy them and they live abroad, the cost of shipping would surpass the amount of books. But who knows, they won’t also care for the extra charge? I have a new-found friend in Australia who bought four copies of new Health & Home (hard bound) and didn’t mind the cost of shipping (extra charge), to help my student ‘literature evangelist’ brother. Another friend from Saudi who had vacation last year bought two copies, there’s greater cause to deliver it personally. Grateful to have experienced generosity.

Bidding My Books Goodbye

Here are some of my books. Others are slightly used. Some, bought and never used – ‘tsundoku’ effect.

Take Time for Your Life (self-help) P150 – I personally learned a lot of practical lessons from the New York Times’ #1 best-selling author and lifestyle expert who supports busy people in achieving personal success without compromising their quality of life. Cheryl Richardson’s works were covered widely by the media, including The Oprah Winfrey Show and the New York Times.

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Crucial Confrontations (self-help) P150 – This help me most to deal with my weakness – confronting controversial and complex issues at work and at home. Much more of conflict management book, this national bestseller encourages never to walk away again from another conflict, but to deal with it maturely and intelligently. The award-winning team of authors produced two New York Times bestsellers, including this. They’ve been sought-after speakers and consultants.

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Wellness at Warp Speed (healing) P180 – The cure you seek is within! The body has its power to heal, you just need to discover the best way to heal yourself with nature’s help, and of course, the Great Physician. This is about the unique perspective of a physician and patient, what he discovered to have brought miracles. Dr. Noah McKay had his own dramatic recovery from life-threatening heart disease at age 33.

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Remember (inspirational novel) P120 – This is a moving and inspiring story about tragedy, healing and the importance of remembering. I understand that sometimes, people wanted to forget or to have selective amnesia to forget a dark past, a deep hurt or great loss. But this is something to learn from: heartfelt acceptance and forgiveness. Karen Kingsbury is America’s #1 inspirational novelist, written more than 40 novels over 15 million of copies.

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What Once We Loved (inspirational novel) P120 – This is an inspiring story about a circle of courageous women who discovered the meaning of independence, forgiveness and love in poignant and heartwarming ways. Jane Kirkpatrick is an acclaimed author of two-non-fiction books and seven novels, including the award-winning A Sweetness to the Soul.

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Singin’ and Swingin’… (autobiography) P120 – This is a memoir of remarkable accomplishments and travels. It also serves as an entertaining companion for travel, as you learn more of the world’s renowned best-selling author, poet, singer, thespian and actress. Maya Angelou received the Ladies’ Home Journal “Woman of the Year Award” in 1975.

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The World According to Clarkson (funniest memoir) P120 – Never been so entertained with a very hilarious, and roller-coaster ride of reading experience. Jeremy Clarkson has a strong dose of common sense, and his sarcasm is quite brilliant, LOL. He made his name presenting a poky motoring programme on BBC2 called Top Gear.

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Memoirs of Emma Courtney (classic literature) P120 – This is an Oxford World’s Classic. A gem, if you’re quite a feminist, LOL. Aside from hilarious entertainment, this is partly autobiographical and is based on Mary Hays’ own struggle with romance and Enlightening philosophy. The author is a feminist, and she reveals the lamentable gap between ‘what women are’ and ‘what women ought to be’.

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Things Fall Apart (classic literature) P120 – First published in 1959, it was widely sold in the United States, more than two million copies. Worldwide, there are eight million copies in print in fifty different languages. This is Chinua Achebe’s master piece, often compared to the great Greek tragedies. This is uniquely and richly African, yet many diverse culture could relate to the plight of the man he wrote about.

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The Lovely Bones (fiction) P100 – This #1 National Bestseller novel was made into a major motion picture. This is mesmerizing, but horribly scary at the beginning, but the ending was beautiful. I’ve wondered if I could be a sleuth and mystery stories were my favorite then. Alice Sebold is a gifted and phenomenal author. She received numerous praise for her works.

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The Magician’s Nephew (inspirational fiction) P80 – NARNIA…where Talking Beasts walk… this is part of the series of the Chronicles of Narnia which has been made into a major motion picture. Who doesn’t know the story? Clive Staples Lewis or best known as C.S. Lewis is a world renowned professor at Cambridge University. He wrote numerous books on Literary Criticism and on Christianity.

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The Uncommon Reader (fiction) P75 – A funny and superbly observed novella about the Queen of England and the subversive power of reading. Authored by one of England’s leading dramatists since the success of his other craft, Beyond the Fringe in 1960s. Alan Bennett won six Tony Awards in 2006, with his recent play-turned-major motion picture, The History Boys.

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A Self-Portrait (classic literature) P50 – This memoir, containing most of personal letters is a mirror of his soul. Kahlil Gibran is a Lebanese-US Arabic novelist, essayist, poet and painter. This booklet is a jewel from a romantic mystic and visionary.

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The Practical Writer (writing) P120 – Another remarkable book for aspiring wordsmiths! It helped me practically, from inspiration to publication (most of my published works are online and some printed (magazine articles). I’m fascinated with several pages for Grants and Awards section, as well as conferences and residencies, and much more resources. Therese Eiben and Mary Gannon have worked for Poets and Writers Magazine, known for their superb accomplishments and leadership.

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Perfect Phrases for Cover Letters (writing) P50 – New booklet but bought on sale, this would be very helpful for writing cover letters. You’ll find right phrase for every situation, any time! It’s important to make lasting impression on your first encounter with prospective employer, so this tool is a must. Michael Betrus conducts seminars and workshops in career guidance and has written numerous career guides.

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Ultimate Guide to Google Adwords (online entrepreneurship) P250 – How to access 100 million people in 10 minutes? It’s impossible. This is a very helpful tool for entrepreneurs and online marketers. Even for common blogger like me, it gave much information which I could make use of to empower my presence in the blogosphere and the web. Perry Marshall is the #1 author and world’s most-quoted consultant on Google advertising. Bryan Tood is an international marketing consultant and Google Adwords specialist.

Google There would be another set of books for the next book sale. 😀 Keep posted!

© 2015 LAF

Note: Photos credit to Franz Fronda for taking the shots and Google photo (pile of books). This blog has a copyright. The photos and articles should not be used, reproduced and manipulated by any means without a written request and consent from the author.

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Filed under Bespectacled Books, Life story, NaBloPoMo GROW 2015, Superb Authors, Vicissitudes

Bookworm Challenge: Book Channeling


Contemplating on the main objective of my main blog, I realized that I rarely publish book reviews. Curly Bookworm was conceptualized and conceived on August 2011. While having a quest with insurmountable queries of life during our family’s great crucibles, I found most of my comfort reading the Holy Writ and inspirational books. But naturally, I love books, and as much as I’m obsessed with reading, I’m fascinated and fond of writing and blogging.

When at times, friends aren’t enough to share burdens with, instead of sulking, I would spill my thoughts on the blogosphere. But of course, when answers to life’s trying trials and questions aren’t enough, there is Jesus. He is more than just an answer to my prayer. I have kept a journal as well to savor sanity.

Confessions of a Bookaholic

hahaI have bad habits to confess. I don’t know if many of bookworms out there can relate. As much as I want to hoard books for good reasons, often I compromise with ‘tsundoku’. Even tight of budget, if I would wander in a book store, especially with a book sale, I would end up buying books and later on wonder if it’s really a need. “Buy the NEEDS, not WANTS” I would always remind myself, but most of the times rationalize when the charm of books would take their spell.

While I wanted to uproot my old and bad habits, I am grateful that God inspired me some ways to replace them. Negative thoughts can only be overcome with positive ones, and so bad habits are replaced with good ones.

Thus actions repeated form habits, habits form character, and by the character our destiny for time and for eternity is decided. Christ’s Object Lesson, p.356

For several months, my new acquired books from a book sale (I occasionally buy 4-10 books on sale, 1-2 books on regular) have stood unmoved on the bookshelf, teasing me as they gather dusts. I would sometimes skim and scan them. But there are times, I would read books and don’t stop until I devoured the last page. No matter how blessed or entertained I am, I would think of blogging a review; then procrastination kills the initiative. No wonder you wouldn’t find much here. But I’ve written memoirs and musings. My life has been an open book after all.

No Greater Love

I skimmed and scanned them at the book sale. Having the aspiration to help establish and run an orphanage some day, I was thrilled to have found “No Greater Love” and “In a Heartbeat.” They are wonderful books about unconditional love and the memoirs about adopting African and Afro-American kids, and yeah, about orphanage! So, without an ‘if’, I secured them.

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

But they’ve waited long enough on my bookshelf. I started reading “In a Heartbeat” last week, but when I am at the middle, I started reading “No Greater Love” and I didn’t stop until I finish the latter. Actually, my sister Zola read “No Greater Love” first. I’ve focus more on this life-changing book. I’ll tell about the other book next review.

Throughout the roller-coaster ride of emotions, vividly imagining the thrill, triumph, tears and trials of Benkert’s sojourn at Ethiopia, which are unfathomable, I reflected on my own life’s purpose. I tried to fit my feet in the missionary couples’ shoes, but I know I would never fully understand until I go to Ethiopia and experience their plight. To leave all things behind and be out of comfort zone to face the challenges of the unknown, has been the great leap of faith which Levi and Jessie Benkert. They’re unsung heroes, they are selfless champions for children. I believe, they were called to be world changers, and with God by their side, they turned the world of ‘mingi’ kids upside down, and so the orphans and widows of Addis, Ababa.

As much as I want to spill the beans, and to spoil the reader, I want this book review to be enticing. I wouldn’t. I personally challenge you guys to grab a copy of “No Greater Love” (check it out in their website) or be part of my challenge: book channeling. This one is too precious to be missed. Imagine a mysterious and ancestral practice of parents killing their own babies with the fear for superstitious beliefs of spirits getting angry at them if they keep their baby born out of wedlock, or if they conceive a child without telling the tribal elders beforehand. Or worse, if the baby’s top teeth grow first instead of the bottom teeth. They call the babies with such circumstances, ‘mingi’ (cursed). If they keep the baby alive, living in their village, the Kara tribe believed for generations that it can drive the spirits to fury. As a consequence, the spirits might kill all their family, causing disasters like drought and plagues, to name a few. That kind of practice was drastically discovered and stopped, through God’s miraculous working and providence. They had a great role in the lives of the ‘mingi’ kids and tribes of Jinka.

God has a greater purpose of sending Benkert family to Ethiopia, to be beacons of light at its darkest nights.

God has a greater purpose of sending Benkert family to Ethiopia, to be beacons of light at its darkest nights.

Who would have thought that God can use a MESS and turn it into a MESSAGE! Levi’s life was totally in a mess, especially financially and spiritually, before God called him to serve full-time with his family in Ethiopia, rescuing mingi kids. But the Living Messenger had done a great deal in his life. I can relate in some lil’ ways. When our family was in the fiery furnace of tribulation, the pain of losing three family members in quick succession was too much to bear. But then, we’ve received the best spiritual gains despite our great loss. Our trials turned out to be triumph. I was inspired to write a tribute to my late father, “Pain: A Blessing Not Everyone Appreciates” and testimony about my late older sister and younger brother, “When SOON Lingers”.

“No Greater Love” is truly a wonderful testimony of God’s redemptive discipline, God’s rescue and His wondrous grace. The book was not just well-written by Candy Churd. Behind its process was a Divine Wordsmith who carefully and creatively guided the gifted hands. This life-transforming story should be channeled to many people.

Words can change. The WORD changes, yet His love knows no change. (John 1:1-4, John 3:16). I praise the LOVE that makes me whole again – No Greater Love indeed!

Kindly read the news re mingi children and their rescue: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/11/05/world/africa/mingi-ethiopia/

Whatsoever is done out of pure love, be it ever so little or contemptible in the sight of men, is wholly fruitful; for God measures more with how much love one worketh, than the amount he doeth. ~ Ellen G. White

Bring Love In

The Benkert’s high hope to establish not just an orphanage, but a community of loving people (orphans, widows, less fortunate, collaborating with missionaries and sponsors) was finally made into a reality. I was thrilled browsing the website! I had a regret of not having it read or discovered earlier. But God has a perfect timing! So true with “Bring Love In” as well.

The family who serves and prays together stays happily together. Levi and Jessie, with their lovely children, Nickoli, Luella, Ruth and Edalawit (Everly).

The family who serves and prays together stays happily together.
Levi and Jessie, with their lovely children, Nickoli, Edalawit (Everly), Luella and Ruth.

“Bring Love In is a community (not just an organization) that exists to show the love of God by giving families to children who have none.  We are based out of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where we couple orphans who are given to us by local authorities, and widows from within local Christian church communities, to create new forever families here in Ethiopia.” ~ Levi & Jessie

Check their website: http://bringlove.in/about/

Yesterday, after feasting on the last page of the book, I was moved to utter a sincere prayer of empowering my eye of faith so I could be more sensitive in helping others, especially those beyond my reach. I let go of some emotions that I’ve been harboring on the past months, struggling with the reality, my identity and ministry. I thought my tear ducts were drained already then, but a good cry is healthy.

I was a missionary for many years then, and I always wanted to be one. “You don’t need to go across the sea to be a missionary” was the lyrics from the song, my youngest brother used to sing then. That’s so true! I dreamed of going to Africa, Cambodia or India, to be a medical missionary or missionary teacher there. I still don’t let go of that aspiration. But how can I be a missionary in a faraway place if I don’t live by it at home and within the sphere of my influence? Yesteryears have a history. My future would be more of HIStory.

Inspired by the efforts of Levi and Jessie Benkert, I wanted to adopt the inspiration to ‘bring love in’ wherever I go. Be a missionary anywhere, everywhere. Nothing is impossible as long as self is submitted to Christ.

I’ve enjoyed publishing ministry during high school years, and I have always believed in the power of printed pages. With this in mind, I’m moved to have a book challenge (especially for myself): to share to as much as many people I can about a book that made a lasting impact in my life. My vision is to inspire people to read memoirs of unsung heroes, exceptional people like the Benkert family. To transpire the blessing of being changed for the better. Those who are willing to join the challenge could be a channel of change.

  • Share a wonderful book by lending it for a specific period of time (at least a week).
  • The next person would lend it to the person who is willing to read it. It would be tracked (then goes the same cycle).

For example: I finished reading NO GREATER LOVE. The first 10 people who would e-mail me: lafronda7@gmail.com (subject: Bookworm Challenge: Book Channeling) with the intention to join the challenge will be accommodated. Let’s consider extending the list later.

  • This chain of book channeling would create a bond among readers, passing the book to one another, until it return to me.
  • A personal book review is encouraged to be done. I will feature it here in my blog as a part of the series about this book challenge.
  • It isn’t compulsory, but I encourage you to donate to BRING LOVE IN, or encourage others to do so by sharing this blog post. Learn about donation and how to donate: http://bringlove.in/needs/

Book Channeling: A Book Travel

Literally, the book travels too as the bookworm pass the book for challenge to another bookworm. So let’s see how far “No Greater Love” could go and how far its influence could reach. You can also do the same challenge, choosing a wonderful memoir or inspirational book. Just follow my steps: make a book review, encourage readers to join the challenge, lend the book and let it travel. Certainly, we could create a book club with a cause.

I found out a greater purpose for my blog. I would be glad if you’re willing to join force; so together, we could change the world, one bookworm and blogger at a time.

Find out my first step to financially help “Bring Love In”. Bookworm Craze: Curly Bookworm’s books on sale. (Click the title to read about the book sale). The proceeds will go to this wonderful organization. I’m saving a particular amount to donate. This could be small to jump start. But great things start from small beginnings right? Any creative idea to share how to raise funds for the orphans and widows? You can leave a comment, or write an e-mail to me: lafronda7@gmail.com (subject: Creative Ideas for Bring Love In).

If you aren’t a subscriber yet to this blog, I encourage you to enlist at the bottom left corner of this blog for you to keep updated.

Let’s keep the book rolling. Join the Bookworm Challenge!

© 2015 LAF

Note: Photos credit to Levi Benkert, CNN and Google. Videos credit to (Bring Love In) YouTube and Vimeo . This blog has a copyright . The photos and articles should not be used, reproduced and manipulated by any means without a written request and consent from the author.

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Filed under Attitude of Gratitude, Bespectacled Books, Life story, Ministry, NaBloPoMo GROW 2015, Superb Authors