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From the Editor-in-Chief of Kerygma,

IF YOU’RE IMPATIENT TO FIND OUT WHAT LIFE the Country’s No.1 Catholic Inspirational Magazine

Confessions of an Impatient Bride


HAS IN STORE FOR YOU, THEN DON’T PUT THIS
BOOK DOWN!
In this delightful, girl-to-girl, let-your-hair-down book, Rissa Singson-Kawpeng
shares her funny, tear-jerking or sometimes downright embarrassing
Confessions
experiences as a woman finding her place in this world.
Taken from her column “Just Breathe” that appears in Kerygma, the
of an
country’s no. 1 selling inspirational magazine, this paperback chronicles
her struggles and victories as a single woman in pursuit of her calling in the
Lord and, later, how God fulfilled His many promises regarding marriage and
having a family.
Through her stories and godly insights, learn how you can:
• Nurture your soul with God’s Word and discover His grace at work in
your circumstances
• Eliminate your worries and enjoy life where you are — right here, right
now
• Enjoy your single life to the hilt while waiting for Mr. Right to take you
to the altar
• Overcome your trials and sorrows with the strength of God Godly Lessons
• Stay happy even when life isn’t going according to your plan
• Discover God’s presence in the mundane and the ordinary You Can Learn
• And many more life-changing lessons! While Waiting
for Mr. Right
Rissa Singson-Kawpeng has been proclaiming God’s
Rissa Singson-Kawpeng
Word through radio, TV and print media for over two
decades. In her many years as a single woman, she
traveled around the Philippines and the world to share
Jesus with others. She has served extensively in youth
and singles ministries and is an inspiration to many
women in living godly lives.
Today, Rissa is a wife and mother, and continues
to give hope and encouragement to many.

Cover concept by Work Casalme


ISBN 978-971-007-002-2
Cover artwork by Israel Nuevaorlanda

Rissa Singson-Kawpeng
www.shepherdsvoice.com.ph
Foreword by Bo Sanchez
40 Things I Learned Before I Turned 40

To Chris and Charlize

Inspiring You to Live a Fantastic Life

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2
40 Things I Learned Before I Turned 40

From the Editor-in-Chief of Kerygma,


the Country’s No.1 Catholic Inspirational Magazine

Confessions
of an
Impatient Bride
Godly Lessons You Can Learn
While Waiting for Mr. Right

Rissa Singson-Kawpeng
3
Confessions of an Impatient Bride
Godly Lessons You Can Learn While Waiting for Mr. Right

ISBN- ISBN 978-971-007-002-2

RISSA SINGSON-KAWPENG

Philippine Copyright © 2009 by Rissa Singson-Kawpeng

Requests for information should be addressed to:


SHEPHERD’S VOICE Publications, inc.
#60 Chicago St., Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines 1109
P.O. Box 1331 Quezon City Central Post Office
1153 Quezon City
Tel. Nos. 725-9999, 725-1115, 725-1190
Direct Line: 411-7874
Fax. No. (632) 727-5615
e-mail: sale@shepherdsvoice.com.ph

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be


reproduced, except for brief quotations, without the prior
permission of the publisher.

This is a KERYGMA collection book.


These writings first appeared in KERYGMA, a Catholic
inspirational magazine, as monthly articles written by Rissa
Singson-Kawpeng in her regular column, Just Breathe.

Layout and design by Rey de Guzman

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40 Things I Learned Before I Turned 40

Foreword
If you’re a single woman searching for answers to life’s
complicated questions, this book is for you.
Years ago, when Rissa took on the job as editor of Kerygma
magazine, she was still single. But this beautiful woman who was
in her mid-30s (but who still looked like she was in her 20s!)
wanted to get married. She felt this was God’s call for her. So she
prayed to God for a husband.
It wasn’t easy. Being her friend, I witnessed the roller-
coaster ride she was on. Rissa went through a couple of failed
relationships, bucket-loads of tears and many days when she’d
rather hide beneath her blanket rather than face another day of
despair.
Until she found Chris. And as they say, the rest is happy
history. They now have a lovely family with a cute baby girl who
is utterly adorable.
Indeed, the wait was worth it.
That is why this book will inspire you.
It will teach you to hold on and persevere in your trust in
God.
Rissa will open her heart to you, and she’ll pour out her
struggles, her stories, and her faith in God. She’ll inspire you with
her message — that God has great plans for you far better than
whatever you can dream of for yourself.
Read this book.
Be very inspired.

May your dreams come true,

Bo Sanchez


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40 Things I Learned Before I Turned 40

An Introduction
This Is the Story of a Dash
It’s just a short stroke — a small mark — but it felt like
forever before it got attached to my name.

She was four years old when she had her first crush. He was
a bespectacled boy named Nestor and he was her classmate in
Nursery.
They had a tradition in that small preschool that whenever
it was anyone’s birthday, the whole class would line up to kiss the
celebrant.
One day, it was Nestor’s birthday. After singing the birthday
song, all the kids made a beeline to greet him. As the little girl’s
turn approached, her heart pounded with excitement. When
she found herself in front of her crush, she kissed him and was
instantly in heaven. As soon as she landed back to earth, she
scooted to the back of the line again for another kiss. She did this
for a few more times until she was the only one left in line.
This little girl was me.
With a history like this, it’s not hard to guess that I’d grow
up to be a dreamy romantic who couldn’t wait for her Prince
Charming to show up.
I was impatient to grow up. I couldn’t wait to turn 13
because then I’d be a teenager who, I thought, would be ready
for love. But then my mom handed down the no-boyfriend-till-
you’re-16 rule, and so I was in a hurry to be Sweet Sixteen.
Then I came to know Jesus in a personal way and joined a
Catholic Community. No boyfriend and no suitors until you’re
23, our norms dictated.
Again, I was raring to be 23.
Suffice it to say that it took many, many more years of
waiting and longing for Mr. Right to come my way.
By then, my age was way past the numbers on the calendar.

7
Years rolled by mercilessly, leaving me still loveless and
aging. By then, I was as old as the numbers on a thermometer.
A couple more years passed and my age equaled the
temperature of a slight fever. And still I was single!
Aaaaargh!
My desperate prayer was, “Lord, please send the man You
will for me to marry before I get a convulsion!”
Thank God, just when my age reached the temperature of a
full-blown fever, I finally walked down the aisle.
So now my name has a dash.
People often take note of my new family name — and
almost always fumble over it! — but hardly ever notice that little
dash between Singson and Kawpeng.
Unknown to them, it represents my long journey from
singlehood to married life.
The following pages contain these stories and the lessons
I learned from my experiences. These articles first appeared in
my column in Kerygma, the no. 1 inspirational magazine in the
Philippines, from 2004 to 2009.
The lessons before each chapter are actually my confessions
of faith as I got to know the Lord and myself more.
Some of these stories are serious. Some are funny. And a
few are downright embarrassing.
As you read through these pages, I invite you to share in the
struggles, frustrations and victories of an impatient woman who
couldn’t wait to be a bride.
In the end, I hope that my experiences will help you to
know Jesus a little better as you forge your own path from point
A to point B.

Rissa Singson-Kawpeng

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40 Things I Learned Before I Turned 40

Table of Contents

1. Decoding X, Y, Z 1

2. Under Water 3

3. Big God 5

4. Wait Training 7

5. No “If’s,” No “But’s” 9

6. God Is Good 11

7. A Community of Sinners 13

8. Sisters 15

9. Peppercorn 17

10. Something Greater Than Clarity 19

11. Hug Somebody 21

12. Time-Consuming Habits 23

13. Missing Mommy 25

14. The Teamwork in Miracles 29

15. Greener Pastures 31

16. What I Learned in Law School 33

17. Crooked Lines 37

18. When People Are Forgiving 39

19. Murdered, She Wrote 41


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20. Reach Beyond Your Grasp 43

21. Listen to the Children 45

22. Something’s Gotta Give 47

23. Wholesome Eavesdropping 51

24. When Bells Ring 53

25. The Upside of Settling Down 55

26. The Sanctuary of the Ordinary 57

27. Don’t Call Me Kepweng 59

28. The One Best Thing 61

29. You Get What You Pay For 63

30. turning 65

31. Rear View 67

32. Baby Talk 69

33. Choosing Faith 71

34. The Debt of Life 73

35. What My Parents Failed to Teach Me 75

36. The Greatest Birth Story Ever Told 77

37. Give Us This Day Our Daily Milk 79

38. The Happiest Christian on the Block 81

39. Valentine Blues 85

40. Turning 40 87
EPILOGUE 89
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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #1: Read my lips: God loves you.


Decoding X, Y, Z

W
We were at an afternoon party at my best friend’s house, a group
of adolescents with raging hormones. I was only 11 then but my
best friend, who was a year older and more mature than me, was
matchmaking me with the cutest guy in the group. (You know my
type: tisoy, can qualify for a Close Up commercial; turns bronze
when tanned, not red like a tomato.)
So my crush and I were standing by the buffet table near the
swimming pool. We were exchanging small talk. (What can you
expect when you’re 11?) Then he leaned towards me, his tantalizing,
dark brown eyes gazing into mine. With all the self-control I could
muster, I managed to keep the flutter of my eyes to a minimum.
He whispered something into my ear. My heart leaped out of
my ribcage and pounded so loudly I didn’t hear what he said.
“Come again?” I asked as I smiled back sweetly.
“X, Y, Z,” he mumbled tenderly.
Sweet nothings. Innocent me immediately concluded it was
a code. I deciphered he was saying, “I love you!”
“Huh?” I asked again coyly, baiting him to come right out
and express his feelings.
“X, Y, Z,” he repeated, more sure of himself.
“X, Y, Z? What’s that?” I asked, feigning innocence, all this
while keeping my batting eyelashes from deliberately making
“beautiful eyes” at him.
“X, Y, Z!” he replied forcefully this time, “eXcuse me, Your
Zipper is open!”
My eyes popped out of its sockets before I managed to
direct my gaze toward my pants. And there, in all its glory was my
unzipped fly!
I went ballistic. Like a stray rocket with a lit fuse, I went out

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Decoding X, Y, Z

of control and ran off to take cover — under the buffet table. As if
an open zipper wasn’t bad enough, I had to embarrass myself even
more by ending up down there.
OK, quit laughing. End of story. Now to redeem this pathetic
tale.
God’s presence envelops you. He spreads His love like a
banner over you and whispers in your ear, “I love you.”
“Ha?” you reply unbelievingly. Thinking it’s a code, you
discern that His message means He’s asking you to measure up to
His love. So you increase your one-hour prayer time to two, add on
more novenas and double your tithes and love offerings.
“I love you,” the Lord says to you on another occasion. You
squirm as you reply, “Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening.” And
the “revelation” hits you. God is asking you to be celibate for life,
to become an ascetic and join a religious congregation, or give up
your dream career so you can serve full-time in a ministry. It’s so
far from what’s in your heart but you know that doing anything
less would displease Him. So you give up the life that you know,
pack your bags and leave behind all that’s near and dear to you.
The Lord speaks to you again. “I love you.” By now you’re so
afraid to find out what He means. What will He ask of me this
time, you ponder anxiously. And, quoting Teresa of Avila, you say,
“God, if this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so
few of them!”
BRAKES! Stop right there. Now backtrack.
When God says, “I love you,” He means just that.
No strings attached.
No conditions you have to meet before He gives it.
No hidden meanings.
No codes.
He loves you. Period.
Unzipped fly and all.

It is precisely in this that God proves His love for us: that while
we were still sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #2: There’s one thing you have to do to


experience God’s love — just breathe.
Under Water

B
Breathing. It’s the most natural thing to do. I don’t even think
about breathing… unless I’m scuba diving. That’s when breathing
takes on a whole new perspective.
Yesterday, I went down for the first time in 15 months.
Experienced divers would say, “That’s OK, it’s like riding a bike.
You never forget.” Well, not for me. Scuba diving is a little bit more
complicated than that. If I bike and forget to balance, I just fall and
maybe get a scraped knee. But if I dive and something goes wrong
while I’m 90 feet under water… hmmm… now that’s a problem.
I geared up and made sure I told the dive master (DM) that I
hadn’t been diving for almost a year and a half. He assured me we’d
have an easy dive and then reoriented me with the hand signals.
Then our party of five headed for the Pinnacle, a coral reef wall just
three minutes by boat from our resort.
I’m sure the Pinnacle was a sight to behold. Unfortunately,
I never made it there. The remnants of a cold that I was hoping
wouldn’t give me any problems kept me from going deep. After
descending to 25 feet, I couldn’t equalize and my ears just couldn’t
take the pressure. I signaled to the DM that I would just stay by
the anchor line and explore the corals there by myself. After he
made it clear that I was not to let go of the line, they left me.
All alone under 14.7 pounds per square inch of water, prayer
came more naturally than breathing. Instantly, the corals became
a sanctuary where the Lord and I communed. I marveled at the
vibrant colors of the corals, the bright yellows and electric blues
that the fishes came painted in, the various shapes and sizes of the
creatures that swam past me. Praise You, Lord….
As more thoughts turned into prayer, I felt that familiar Voice
speaking to me. “You put more emphasis on how you should love
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Under Water

Me and not enough on how much I love you.” His word left me
momentarily breathless — not exactly a good thing when you’re
under water. I checked my gauge to see how much air I had left in
my tank. A conversation like this could take time…
After I made sure I had ample air left, I pondered on what the
Lord had just said and realized that I was guilty. Guilty of being
overly concerned that my prayer life wasn’t “active” enough. Guilty
that I exerted more energy on the treadmill than on serving the
Lord. Guilty that at a time when even non-religious people were
acquiring purpose-driven lives, my goals seemed so domestic.
The Lord had to take me under water to reiterate that there
was no height or depth where His love could not reach me. On sea
or on land, all I have to do is just breathe. The rest is up to Him.

For the spirit of God has made me, the breath of the Almighty
keeps me alive. ( Job 33:4)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #3: Our God is bigger than our failures.


Big God

D
Darkness had fallen over Caleruega. All alone on a bench
overlooking the hills of Nasugbu, Batangas, the cold breeze made
me pull my jacket tighter. I stared into the blackness of the night
and the stars above me. I couldn’t see much but I knew there was
a vast horizon before me.
I had been to this retreat place before but I never saw the
expanse as a reflection of God. In fact, I had never perceived God
to be this wide, this open, this spacious. Lord, You’re so big….
The dark night was reflective of what my soul was going
through. I was at a point in my life when the very ground I stood
on had crumbled and I was desperately clutching for a branch, a
crevice, anything to hold on to in this precipice I was in. I didn’t
know it then but I was in search of grace.
Grace. The sound of the word itself is soothing to the soul.
It means “unmerited love or favor.” Something you got that you
didn’t deserve, because the minute you did anything to earn it, it
was grace no more.
I was not one to easily operate in grace. After all, I was the
older brother in the story of the Prodigal Son. For most of my life,
I felt I’ve been the good one — the one who stayed home while
others went out to party, the one who gave up her dreams to follow
the master’s wishes, the diligent child busy about the Father’s
business. I was blessed because I was obedient. I experienced
abundance because I labored in His vineyard.
But now I had no cause for boasting. I had no burning
convictions to tout, no fiery passion with which to serve, no noble
mission to accomplish, no sterling witness to speak of. Surely all
His blessings had to stop.
It was in this place that the Lord taught me about how big
His heart was. His love was not reserved only for the faithful

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Big God

servant but extends even to the adulterous woman and the corrupt
tax collector. This was the side of the Father I didn’t know. It was
hard for me to accept that I didn’t have to do anything to earn His
love.
I rejoiced in the revelation that there was room in God’s
house for failures and rejects, for those who didn’t make the grade
and those who didn’t meet the standard, for the weak and the
cripple. God is so big, His arms are long enough to embrace even
the one who runs away from Him. He is so big, He can be found
by whoever seeks Him and in whatever way He is sought. He’s so
big, His will isn’t just one choice out of a million or even one out
of two. He is so big that His love can cover all offenses.
Corrie Ten Boom, a Nazi concentration camp survivor, once
said, “There is no pit too deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”
Just when I thought I had fallen too hard and too deep with no
strength left to stand again, the Lord swooped down and carried
me.
I’m glad I have a big God.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the
mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path and steadied me as I
walked along. (Psalm 40:3)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #4: Life has its seasons and we need to


learn to respect them.
Wait Training

I
I used to read a lot of romantic novels when I was a tween. While
my classmates read about the mystery adventures of Nancy Drew
and the Hardy Boys, I was into the passionate love stories of Mills
and Boon.
The storyline would always be the same.
A modest-looking office girl would cross paths with an
average guy who is “overly arrogant and cynical.” (That’s how I
learned those words at a young age.) They can’t stand each other’s
guts but of course the reader knows it’s just romantic tension.
A final, big conflict happens that would seem to end their
relationship forever. But the man realizes that he’s in love with the
woman so he runs after her. Only then does the woman discover
that her average man is actually a wealthy and important guy. And
that the events that led up to their breakup were but a series of
misunderstandings.
The man and woman end up in each other’s arms and live
happily ever after.
The plot never changes from book to book. But do you know
what I’d do every time I got to the part where circumstances seem
to conspire against the two lovebirds?
I’d jump a few dozen pages forward and read the ending.
And then I’d go back to my original page and finish the book.
Why do I do that? Because I’m impatient. I can’t wait to find
out how it ends so I jump the gun.
An attitude like that doesn’t do much harm when you’re just
reading a book. But when it comes to real life, being impatient
and running ahead of God’s perfect timing can have disastrous
consequences.
I’m one person who believes that the Lord has ordained
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Wait Training

certain times and seasons for everything. A baby needs nine


months in his mother’s womb and being born prematurely brings
on complications. You can’t pull out an emerging butterfly from its
cocoon or else you’ll cripple its wings for life. Hurrying a fruit to
ripen doesn’t make it as sweet as when it does so on its own.
Life has its seasons and we need to learn to respect them.
One of the hardest things God has asked me to do is to
wait:
To wait for Him to speak.
To wait for His plan to unfold in my life.
To wait for a long overdue answer to prayer.
Often, when God asks us to wait, it seems like a waste of
time. “Nothing’s happening, Lord!” we want to cry out.
But then I read a story about potters in Japan that forever
changed my perspective on waiting.
The story goes that after molding the clay, experienced potters
put the vessels on shelves and keep them there for some time before
putting them in the fire. This stage is called “resting the clay.” They
do this to allow the air trapped in the clay to escape.
But inexperienced potters, out of impatience or lack of
knowledge, would shortcut this process and immediately put
the vessel inside the furnace. When they do, the bubbles in the
clay expand with the heat and burst out, causing the vessels to be
deformed.
So you see, God has a purpose for our waiting. He’s actually
preparing us so that when it’s time for us to move on, we won’t
crack under pressure.
Now, if I could only jump to the end of my story…

Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God


chooses. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #5: Where we are is where God wants


us to be.
No “If ’s,” No “But’s”

O
One Christmas, I went shopping with a friend to look for a
particular toy in a department store. When we couldn’t find the
exact model we wanted, my friend asked a salesperson for help.
After my friend described the toy, the salesperson replied,
“Oh, we just ran out of stock.”
“Ha?!” my friend cried in disappointment. “What time did
you run out?”
I guffawed at his useless question.
What did it matter if the last piece was sold a minute ago or last
week? The fact remained that the toy was out of stock and we wouldn’t
be able to buy it there even if we had all the money in the world.
His moot query is a classic example of how we can fret over
things we cannot change.
Often, we expend so much energy brooding over “what if ’s”
that end up leaving us with regrets over the past or uncertainty
over the present.
A book called The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom changed
my perspective about my “if ’s” and “but’s.”
The book tells the true story of Corrie’s ordeal during the
Holocaust. Although a Dutch Christian, she and members of her
family were arrested in February 1944 for harboring Jews. Corrie
and her sister Betsie served time at a Nazi concentration camp
until December of the same year. Betsie died in camp days before
Corrie was released and the latter lived a long life telling the world
that “there is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”
Somewhere in the book, Corrie tells of the time when the
Germans had begun invading Holland. She was already in bed
when warplanes flying overhead, shelling the night, kept her
tossing and turning. She heard Betsie moving about in the kitchen.
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No “If ’s, No “But’s”

Corrie decided to get up and have tea with her. After their snack,
the night was still and they each returned to bed.
Before lying down, Corrie patted her pillow and a sharp object
cut her hand. It was shrapnel from a bomb, about 10 inches long!
Trembling, Corrie returned to her sister and showed her
her bloody hand. As her sister bandaged her wound, Corrie
said, “Betsie, if I hadn’t heard you in the kitchen….” But Betsie
interrupted, saying, “Shhh… there are no if ’s in God’s world. The
center of His will is our only safety.”
I’ve held that as truth in my life.
There are many things I have questioned about my faith
throughout my walk with the Lord. But one thing has remained
solid in my belief — that God is sovereign. Even if I’ve made
mistakes in discerning His will, been faulty in my obedience to Him
and even if I’ve succumbed to others who may have erroneously
guided me, He is big enough to right those wrongs. He can write
straight on crooked lines. No matter what I or other people want
to do, it’s still God who has the last say.
You came late and the applicant before you got the job.
You said something that sparked a fight that ended the
relationship.
You missed your ride so you didn’t make it back home in time
for your mom’s last breath.
The chapter you skipped during your review was the basis of
the whole exam.
So, opportunities have been missed. And time has been
wasted. And love has been lost.
Or so we think.
If we believe that there are no if ’s in God’s world, then we
can rest assured that where we are right now — and how we got
here — is where God exactly wants us to be.

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord,
plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future
full of hope. ( Jeremiah 29:11)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #6: God is good. Drill it in your brain.


God Is Good

S
Some friends and I were chatting at a small prayer gathering. We
were talking about the Lord and what He was doing in our lives.
Then one of the women told me, “Rissa, you know what I’m afraid
of? That God will take my son from me.”
This woman is a single mom with an only son she simply
adores.
“Why would He do that?” I asked, puzzled.
“Because He knows how much I love him,” she replied
matter-of-factly.
Immediately the alarm bells went off inside me.
“Wait, let me ask you a question,” I said. Knowing that this
woman was close to her father, I asked her, “Would you think your
dad would do that — deprive you of something he knew you really
wanted?”
“Of course not,” she replied. “My dad would do anything to
make me happy.”
“So why do you think that way of God?”
I drove home my point. Many times, we think of God the
way we should think of the devil.
Just take the story of Job’s wife.
Satan wanted to test how faithful Job was to the Lord. So
the devil killed off all his cattle and flocks and stole his sons and
daughters. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the fiend did it all in a
day. It was like winning the lottery, only in the negative.
Oh, and it didn’t stop there. Job won the consolation prize
too. Over and above that, his skin erupted in severe boils that
covered the top of his head to the soles of his feet.
So what did Job do? Scripture records, “In all this Job did not
sin, nor did he say anything disrespectful of God” ( Job 1:22).
But Job’s wife didn’t exactly share his sentiments. Seeing her

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God Is Good

husband’s miserable fate, she scoffed at him, saying, “Curse God


and die!”
Wait a minute.
Who killed the cattle and the flocks?
The devil.
Who stole the camels?
The devil.
Who slew all their sons and daughters?
The devil. (Read the story for yourself in Job 1 and 2.)
But who did Job’s wife want to curse?
God.
Can we just make it clear here that the devil is the bad guy?
But often we react the way Job’s wife did.
We talk of God as if He were the villain.
“I wanted that job so badly maybe that’s why the Lord didn’t
give it to me.”
“If only God would give me the man of my dreams. But God
knows how much I want him so I doubt it.”
“I’m so scared that the Lord will call me to the priesthood.
He knows how much I want to marry that’s why He’s asking me
for this sacrifice.”
Hellooo! Remember Martin Nievera and his mantra at the
end of his TV show?
“God is good, all the time! And all the time, God is good!”
Martin’s fame may have waned but the truth of that line still holds.
God is good. Drill it in your brain.
So the next time life hits you with a pain strong enough to
make you curse, remember these few lessons from Job:
Jesus knows about it.
And if He knows about it, He’s in control.
And if He’s in control then He’s working it out for our good.
And all we have to do is wait for our happy ending.
End of story.

Thus the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his earlier
ones. ( Job 42:12)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #7: Something is wrong if the lost are


not welcome in our communities.
A Community of Sinners

A
A couple of months ago, I received an email from a friend. “I’ve
been very carnal ever since I went out of (community). I still have
a personal relationship with the Lord, but I’m not like before
anymore… so passionate, so self-righteous… Hehe.”
I smirked because I understood exactly what she felt. If there
was an award for being the Queen of Self-Righteousness, I would
have probably won the crown.
There was a time when I believed that holiness meant cutting
myself off from sinful humanity and to relate to them only to
preach but not to make friends.
I was popular among renewed Christians but was hardly able
to bring any of my friends to the Lord. Why? Because I separated
myself from them when I judged that they were unholy people.
And why not? Didn’t the Bible say, “Do not yoke yourselves
with unbelievers?” I applied that passage to people who were not
Charismatic or born again. If you were just a normal, nominal
Catholic, I considered you an “unbeliever.” It didn’t matter if you
were a regular Sunday Mass goer and you went to Confession.
And if you used to be from a community and you left, then all the
more I considered you an “unbeliever.”
But I later realized that something is wrong if sinners are
not welcome in our communities and groups. Author Brennan
Manning writes, “Though it is true that the church must always
disassociate itself from sin, it can never have any excuse for keeping
any sinners at a distance.”
Once, there was a woman who went to a prayer meeting for
the first time. She was wearing a skimpy, body-hugging outfit with
a plunging neckline. During the time for praying over, one of the

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A Community of Sinners

elders approached her and sternly told her, “Next time, don’t come
to the prayer meeting dressed like that.”
I wouldn’t blame that woman if she never wanted to go to
another prayer meeting ever again. But it’s precisely people like
her — not the sanitized, Bible-toting, saintly Christians — that
our communities should be seeking to befriend. This puts us in a
place where we can share the Gospel with them.
When will we ever take to heart what author Morton Kelsey
said — that “the church is not a museum for saints but a hospital
for sinners”?
I read the story of a public sinner who was excommunicated
and forbidden to enter the church. He complained to God, “Lord,
they won’t let me in because I’m a sinner! They said I was self-
willed, disobedient to the elders, I didn’t tithe and my line of work
is not godly.”
God replied, “What are you complaining about? They won’t
let me in either!”
I was reflecting on this and thought: if Jesus came today,
a number of Charismatic communities and born again groups
would probably have rejected Him. Think about it. He violated
many of our norms. He drank. He hung out with bad company. He
didn’t keep the Sabbath. I could easily see myself and many other
professing Christians as among the Pharisees who condemned
Jesus.
Instead of being a house of fear and condemnation, our
communities should be a place of grace. And that’s easier said than
done.
Because grace, if you really understand it, is scandalous.
It’s a concept that self-righteous people cannot accept.
The irony of it all is that the Greek word for grace is charis,
from which we, Charismatics, take our name.

“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not
sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
(Matthew 9:12-13)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #8: The world may run out on you but


your family is there to stay.
Sisters

I
It’s an often abused title. “Sister ______” we call each other in
our prayer meetings and communities. “Sis!” I call out when my
deplorable memory can’t recall the name of a co-worker at the
office. “Seezterrr” we say when we just want to poke fun and call
someone’s attention.
But what does it really mean to have a sister?
I’m blessed to have three of them — all beautiful and talented
women I’m proud to call my own. They come in three sizes too:
small, medium and large. Or, if you use a different standard of
measurement, it’s light, medium and heavy. (Oh, I can almost hear
them arguing about who should be the last!)
And when it comes to talent, they’re a reservoir of gifts that
would make many suspect that God plays favorites.
Becky, the eldest among us, is a famous doctor. An
obstetrician-gynecologist to be exact. I get the impression that
every other woman in Metro Manila and beyond is her patient.
But of course that’s not true. She stitches so well that after giving
you a Caesarian section, you can wear a bikini without anyone
noticing you had your stomach sliced.
If you think that’s great, wait till she whips up a meal for you.
But you know what’s even better? Going on a vacation with her.
Because she spends for everything! (You have to be a sister though
to experience the last two favors.)
Next comes Ronna. This one is a steel magnolia. Borrowing
the words of poet La Belle Rouge, Ate Ron is a unique lady of
fierce determination who neither crumbles or collapses under the
weight of sorrow.
When she prays for something, she’s like a Rotweiller that
won’t let go of its prey until it tears off what it has sunk its teeth
15
Sisters

into. If it’s possible to will a miracle, then Ate Ron can do it. But,
alas, it isn’t possible to will a miracle. And that’s an even greater
quality that she has — the ability to surrender to the One who can
allow or refuse a miracle.
Last, and definitely not the least, is Kelly. At 5’8”, she’s the
tallest and fairest among us. But don’t let her fair looks and mild
manners fool you.
Need something that requires drilling around the house? A
bookshelf perhaps or a laundry line? Kelly’s the Mrs. Fix-It who
can do the job. She’s the kind of stay-at-home mom who paints
her daughter’s bedroom and landscapes her own rock garden. One
day, I found her in our garage wielding a saw to make a picket
fence!
By now you must suspect that I’m bragging about my sisters.
Well, you’re right. You see, there was a time when I didn’t think
they were that great. I looked down on them. I took them for
granted. I was so self-righteous that I actually thought I was better
than them all. I gloried in the fact that I was like Mary who sat at
the feet of Jesus and who had chosen the better portion. What I
didn’t realize was that I had Martha’s bad attitude of thinking that
everyone should be doing what I was doing. I failed to realize that
my sisters, and many others who were not like me, had their own
unique calling for their lives.
After years of alienating myself from them, I realized what a
treasure God has given me in my three sisters. When I ran out of
friends and “sisters,” Becky, Ronna and Kelly were the ones left to
stand by me.

He who is a friend is always a friend, and a (sister) is born for the


time of stress. (Proverbs 17:17)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #9: It’s easier to stop sin at the beginning


than when it’s full-blown.
Peppercorn

T
The minute I descended the stairs and stepped into the dining
hall, I knew I was going to have a great weekend. The sapphire
sea beckoned beyond the viewing deck where large pillows were
scattered for lounging. Divers milled about — some in their
wetsuits, others in beach outfits. And to top it all, I was there for
my checkout dive, the culminating activity that would certify me
as an open water diver.
But all that was merely icing on the cake. Because the cake
was sitting at the far end of the dining hall, chatting with his
friends. He was gorgeous, more than met my height requirement,
lean and buffed but not bulky, and the kind of tisoy that bronzes
when sunburned. He looked so familiar, I wasn’t sure if I had seen
him in my dreams or in a commercial.
My heart skipped a beat when he looked my way.
But I knew that was as far as I’d get with him. Divers usually
come in groups and, since none of my friends knew him, chances
were slim that I’d meet him.
So in between meals, our checkout dives and free time we
spent lounging at the viewing deck, I looked forward to stealing
glances at Mr. Gorgeous.
After our final checkout dive the next day, my head began
to throb so badly that I slept on the viewing deck. The rest of
my friends ate lunch around me. I woke up still with a headache
and quickly ate my food. We had one last fun dive but I knew I
wouldn’t enjoy it with the pain I was in. So I told my friends to
go ahead without me. After they had boarded the banca and sailed
away, I went to the washing area to rinse and pack my gear.
And who else would be washing his gear but Mr. Gorgeous
himself! “God is alive,” I whispered under my breath.
17
Peppercorn

I mentally prayed that my hair was in place, considering I


had just come from a dive before I slept on the viewing deck with
my hair wet. My saving grace was that my hair was in a ponytail.
We exchanged dive stories as I pretended to be busy rinsing
my gear. Gosh, he’s even more gorgeous up close, I thought, even as I
self-consciously tried to look cute without overdoing it.
After we finished rinsing our stuff and parted ways, I floated
up to my room and went straight to the bathroom mirror. Hahhh…
I heaved a sigh of relief as I looked at my reflection. Not a strand
of hair out of place. There is a God.
I looked at myself a little while longer and was pleased with
how I looked. I was about to turn away when I smiled into the
mirror to check my teeth. I nearly fainted. There, wedged between
my pearly whites, was a sizeable piece of black peppercorn from
my barbeque lunch!
Sin is like that. It’s a tiny piece of black peppercorn that can
ruin an otherwise made-in-heaven encounter. It’s so insidious
that everything can appear perfect on the outside but beneath the
surface it lurks, waiting for a chance to strike and destroy. At times
we can be aware of it but instead of dislodging it, we choose to
hide it. And if it stays there long enough, it can cause permanent
damage.
But no one in her right mind would even toy with the idea of
having peppercorn in her teeth while chatting with Mr. Gorgeous.
No, you’d want to be your cutest self before him.
And that’s how I want to be before the Lord.
By the way, I later discovered why Mr. Gorgeous looked so
familiar. He was the guy smiling back at me from my Close Up
toothpaste box. Rats.

“If you do well, you can hold up your head; but if not, sin is a
demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be
his master.” (Genesis 4:7)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #10: When God doesn’t reveal His plans


clearly, maybe He’s teaching you
something better.
Something Greater Than
Clarity

I
I once read the story of John Kavanaugh, a brilliant ethicist, who
once volunteered for three months at Mother Teresa’s house of the
dying.
He was at a crossroads and was searching for what best he
could do with the rest of his life. On his first day at the house of
the dying, he met Mother Teresa, who asked him what he wanted
from her.
“Pray for me,” was all he requested.
“What will I pray for?” asked Mother Teresa.
“Pray that I have clarity,” Kavanaugh replied.
Mother Teresa refused his request. “Clarity is the last thing
you are clinging to and must let go of,” the wise nun told him.
“But you seem to have the clarity I long for,” Kavanaugh
said.
Mother Teresa laughed and said, “I have never had clarity;
what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust
God.”
That story made such an impact on me because I’m one
person who craves for clarity in life.
I grew up in a world of black and white.
Things were branded simply as good or evil.
People were either for us or against us. Lifestyles were either
holy or worldly. God’s will was only one path. And if you missed,
you had to settle for God’s permissive — not perfect — will.
So I pursued my calling with clarity.

19
Something Greater Than Clarity

As a young teenager, I saw talented and intelligent, young


people give up promising careers and lofty ambitions to serve the
Lord full-time without pay. I said to myself, “I want to be like
them.”
So when I was in college, I just couldn’t wait to graduate so I
could pursue ministry work.
I was sure this was what God wanted for me.
But as I grew in my faith, I realized that He didn’t always
speak with the clearness I longed for.
There were times when He would lead me along uncertain
paths, not revealing the fullness of His plans but, still, telling me
to go.
It’s the kind of faith that Abraham displayed in Genesis
12:1 when the Lord said to him, “Go forth from the land of your
kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show
you.”
It seemed like a simple instruction, but if you think about it,
Abraham was called to leave everything that was familiar to go to
a land that he had never seen.
He had no assurance that it even existed! Yet, “he went out,
not knowing where he was to go” (Hebrews 11:8).
I end the year with many loose ends and face the New Year
with many uncertainties.
How I wish I could twist God’s arm to reveal His plans with
clearness for the days ahead. But there’s a greater gift than clarity
that He wants me to have.
So, with ruthless trust in Him, I forge ahead.

Happy those whose help is Jacob’s God, whose hope is in the Lord,
their God… (Psalm 146:5)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #11: When you give an embrace away,


it’ll surely come back to you.
Hug Somebody

I
I grew up with more than my fair share of hugs and kisses. Mommy
was an affectionate woman who was generous when it came to her
expressions of love.
We would hug every time we bumped into each other in the
house. And when Mom hugged, it wasn’t just an embrace. First
she’d hold you close. Then she’d rub your back. Then she’d smother
you. And just before you think you’d pass out for lack of air, she’d let
you go, making you feel that everything in the world is perfect.
I lived for those hugs. Even when my friends started having
boyfriends to hug — and I remained “suitorless” — I somehow
found security and solace in Mom’s embrace. (I had no choice so I
made the best of what I had.)
I remember the first time my heart was broken. I had spent
almost a year faithfully writing every week to a guy I had a mutual
understanding with. He was studying abroad and when his summer
vacation came up, I couldn’t wait to see him again. The day he
arrived was the longest day of my teenage life. I waited — almost
glued to the phone — for his call. When the day ended without a
call from him, I figured that his flight arrived late that night. So
the next day I waited again. And the next. And the next. Then a
couple of weeks later without any word from him, I saw him at a
party with another girl.
Ouch. I think my heart ripped in a thousand pieces that
night. And I cried my eyes out in bed until the next day.
Then Mommy came to my room. She just hugged me with
her trademark embrace that somehow didn’t work its full magic.
After reassuring me that I’d live through this heartache, she let me
go. But not without saying, “You know, come to think of it, he’s a

21
Hug Somebody

small guy. Pandak ‘yon. You’ll outgrow him.”


Ngek. What a consolation. But it did almost make me laugh.
And time proved Mom right. I didn’t just outgrow my puppy love;
I even grew taller than him!
With an upbringing like that, it’s no wonder that physical
touch became my primary love language. When I am hugged,
patted, held or rubbed at the back, my love tank fills up.
I researched about the power of touch and learned that
it doesn’t only feel good; it’s also necessary for good health.
One researcher went as far as saying, “Touch is as important as
breathing.”
Studies made in orphanages revealed that babies who weren’t
touched enough lost weight, got sick and even died. For adults who
are deprived of touch, they become depressed and their immune
system suffers.
When we’re touched or hugged, our bodies release oxytocin,
a happy hormone that lowers blood pressure and stress levels and
even affects how fast our wounds heal.
Now that I know this, I’m more generous when it comes to
touching those I love. And you know what biblical lesson I learned
about embracing? In the measure you give, so shall you receive. Because
every time I give a hug, I get one myself.
So make it a habit. Hug a lot. And let your touch bring
healing to those you love.

Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched
him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” (Mark 1:41)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #12: Waste your time on your loved ones.


Time-Consuming Habits

I
I live in a house with a security guard. He has numerous guard dogs
that bark ferociously at every passerby on our street, including me
when I go home anytime of the day. (Annoying, if you ask me.) He
stays up late at night and usually won’t turn in until every member
of the household has arrived.
He takes his job so seriously that he once bought a miniature
camera that he installed in our garage. This he attached to a tiny
TV and put it right in front of his easy chair. There he can easily
monitor all activities at our front gate even as he watches his
favorite shows on another bigger TV behind it.
No matter how late I come home, I’m almost always sure that
our guard will still be up waiting. So as soon as I drop my stuff,
I head to his room for a midnight snack. Over butong pakwan or
chicharon or chocolates or whatever we find in the fridge, we watch
tennis matches and exchange stories. I’m no fan of the sport but
he is. And even if I still don’t understand how they keep score in
that game, I watch it with him anyway. (Love, 15, 30, 40 — didn’t
anybody teach these people how to count?)
If it’s not tennis season, he turns to any channel, which we
don’t really watch, and talk the night away. Sometimes I tell him
about what happened to my day. Other times, he tells me stories
of his childhood, how life was during the Japanese time or how
he made serendipitous career choices that landed him a better
position each time.
By the time my lips are white from eating butong pakwan, we
usually end the night by looking at the wall clock and exclaiming,
“O, 1:30 na pala!” Then, like a sacred ritual, I help him turn
down his bed, folding the sheet in synchronized movement and
creaseless precision. I then shut the light as he turns on the lamp
at his bedside.

23
Time-Consuming Habits

“Good night, Dad,” I kiss him, before I head back to my


room.
It’s a time-consuming habit that I’ve gotten used to since I
moved back to my parents’ home three years ago.
I have other time-consuming habits when it comes to my
loved ones.
I don’t mind procrastinating before a “deadly” deadline or
foregoing a few hours of sleep if it means hanging out with them.
Or waiting an extra half hour after teaching my exhausting one-
hour class so I can treat my six-year-old niece to ice cream and
take her home from school. I’m a sucker for Sunday lunches with
my family that last until merienda or even dinnertime. And I don’t
mind being a fanatic when it comes to my boyfriend or showering
him with extra-expensive gifts. (No matter how hard I try, I can
never outdo him.)
Call me impractical.
Extravagant.
Excessive.
Even wasteful.
But think about it.
We flit from one appointment to the next, hurling only flying
kisses to family members we keep running out on. We interrupt
precious time spent with loved ones so we can answer a cell phone
call from the office far away. We keep yielding to the tyranny of
the urgent by leaving behind the important that’s already before
us.
When was the last time you wasted time with your loved
ones? If you can’t even remember, go out and buy a bag of butong
pakwan. Then share it with the family and exchange stories until
your lips turn white.

One man is lavish yet grows still richer; another is too sparing yet
is the poorer. (Proverbs 11:24)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #13. Never ignore irritating questions


from an aging loved one.
Missing Mommy

A
A friend of mine was whining to me about how irritating his
mom was. “She walks into the kitchen, sees me there and asks, ‘O,
dumating ka na ba?’”
“Why does she do that?” he asked me.
“She’s just trying to make conversation,” I said, adding, “Be
patient with her. She’s 70.”
“Yeah but why does she have to ask all these irritating
questions?” And he goes on with a litany of his mom’s rhetorical
queries that get on his nerves.
I laughed some more and said, “I wish my mom would do
that to me.”
She used to, I remember, and it drove me up the wall.
I would snap back at her and say, “MA! You just asked me
that question five minutes ago!” And then I’d turn my back and
leave her there with a hurt look on her face.
Now she no longer asks me anything.
She doesn’t even talk to me anymore.
And sometimes, when I lean over to kiss her, she turns her
face away.
It’s not because she’s angry.
It’s just that she’s forgotten me.
Alzheimer’s made her forget.
If I had known then, maybe I would have been more
understanding.
More patient.
More willing to answer her repetitious question just one
more time.
Today, while she remains physically healthy and strong, she
can no longer utter an intelligible word or even understand. When
25
Missing Mommy

she’s not asleep on the sofa, she walks around the house stooping
to pick up non-existent objects, waving to an unseen companion
or just staring out into space.
Mom wasn’t much of a teacher when I was growing up,
but most of what I am I learned from her. I used to get jealous
of my classmates when I’d hear that their moms helped them
do their homework, braided their hair, or stormed the school to
reprimand a teacher for being mean to their daughters. Mom
always told me I had to do things for myself and fight my own
battles.
She also taught me the power of a smile. During the days
when you needed a sticker to pass through Fort Bonifacio, she
would wave and smile at the soldiers in their post every single time
she passed by. “Whenever you drive by guards at the gate,” she said,
“wave at them. It’s the only consolation they get for their job.” I
didn’t forget that lesson either. So when I learned to drive, I’d smile
and wave to the guards. I stopped smiling though in recent years,
after a guard flagged me down to ask for my phone number! Since
then I’ve limited myself to just a wave.
But Mommy was like that — she always had a smile for
everyone, especially the “small” people, like the cleaning lady at
a public toilet, the salesgirl in a shop or the security guard at the
gate.
Mommy also used to go to Mass every single day since she
was a teenager. She was the one who brought me to a seminar
where I came to know the Lord in a personal way. Together, Mom
and I grew in the Lord as we read our Bibles every day and attended
weekly prayer meetings and Bible studies.
Today, she can’t even go to Sunday Mass.
I miss her.
I miss telling her about my problems.
I miss praying with her when there’s trouble in the family.
I miss her when friends tell me they argued with their
moms.
Oh, what I would give to hear her ask me one more
question.

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the


child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget
you. (Isaiah 49:15)

27
Missing Mommy

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #14: The impossible isn’t as hard


as you think.
The Teamwork in Miracles

D
Do you remember what project you did for your college thesis? I
do. In fact, I don’t think I’ll ever forget it because of the tremendous
lessons it taught me.
For those of you who don’t know, I didn’t take Communication
Arts or Journalism for college. Nope. My course was B.S. Computer
Science major in Computer Technology. In simple terms, my four-
year course focused on the hardware side of computers more than
software programming. So instead of being overly concerned with
algorithms and computer languages, my classmates and I were
working with chips, wires, power supplies and circuit boards.
When our thesis proposal came, I got this marvelous idea
of turning an ordinary dot matrix printer into a Braille printer.
During that time, in 1990, (yes, that’s how long ago I was in
college!) Braille printers for the blind were huge machines that
cost you an arm, a leg and a liver. They were for industrial use
rather than the personal desktop kind. So we were ecstatic when
our thesis proposal was accepted, meriting us a passing grade for
that subject.
The problem came the following term when we had to
implement my wise idea and come up with a working prototype.
Nothing we had learned the past three years prepared us for the
brain-racking challenge we faced. Even electronic engineering
professors couldn’t help us design a circuit and a contraption that
could emboss dots on thick paper.
Every night I prayed, “Lord, please give me that circuit design
in a dream.” Just as God had given Noah the design of the ark
complete with materials and dimensions, I believed He would do
the same for us. But every morning I’d wake up dreamless to face
another depressing day of failure.
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The Teamwork in Miracles

Three terms had passed and our thesis was still a heap of
junk. Meanwhile, the rest of our batch had already graduated and
were off either to their last vacation or their first job.
Still, I persisted in prayer. “Lord, give me the design! Just like
you gave it to Noah, remember?” I pleaded.
Then one day, as we worked on our thesis in the lab, a
classmate who had already completed their project dropped by. “I
was in the library and I saw this circuit in a book,” he said casually,
“thought it might help.” Then he tossed a Xerox copy of a page in
front of us.
I looked at the circuit design. Suddenly, I felt like heaven
opened, the angels sang Alleluia and the paper fell from the sky.
Eureka! It was the circuit design that we needed!
That afternoon, we went to Raon St. in Quiapo, bought the
components specified in the circuit, plugged them all together and
voila — our thesis worked!
Ask me today about what went into that Braille printer and
I won’t be able to name more than a handful of its aspects. But I
haven’t forgotten the details of how God miraculously gave us the
circuit design that stood between me and my college diploma.
Since then I’ve learned that if we let God be God, He never
disappoints. St. Francis of Assisi wrote, “Start by doing what is
necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the
impossible.”
We do everything in our power to accomplish what we
can then leave the rest to Him. With that teamwork, we get the
miracles we pray for.

But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are
possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #15: The grass is always greener


on my side.
Greener Pastures

I
I graduated with a degree in Computer Science major in Computer
Technology at the De La Salle University. (Why I’m into publishing
is something you need to ask the Lord.)
My whole college barkada has gone abroad to seek greener
pastures. I’m the only one left behind in the Philippines. Two of
them married each other and now live in Edmonton, Canada. They
have four children and, recently, I heard they bought a huge home
with six bedrooms.
The rest are in the US. I visited two of them last year and we
had a blast. It didn’t escape me how prosperous their lives have
become. One shops to his heart’s content, sleeps on Ralph Lauren
sheets and buys $1,000 Gucci bags while faithfully sending enough
money every month to put his siblings through school and give his
mom a comfortable life.
Another one lives in an apartment that makes you feel like
you’ve just stepped into the set of Melrose Place. His tastefully
appointed home looks like something you’d see in a magazine.
He’s also just bought a new silver Mercedes — the kind that talks
to you and tells you to slow down because you’re turning right at
the next exit.
Me? When they took me to the outlet mall, I stood in the
Coach store for almost 30 minutes looking at a black leather bag
that I wanted and needed. (Needed because the bag I was using
during the trip was tearing apart). I kept pounding on my calculator
to convert its price to pesos. Half an hour later, I stepped out of
the store still lugging my pathetic handbag. I ended up buying an
unbranded purse that was on sale for less than one-fifth the price
of the Coach.
31
Greener Pastures

I look at my college classmates and I’m happy that they’re all


doing well. I know they would never have been able to afford the
lifestyles they have now if they stayed in the Philippines.
But I also know that there are other things they’ve sacrificed
to get to the Land of Milk and Honey. They’ve left families and
friends behind. They’ve left the convenience of having maids
around and have to do their cooking, cleaning and child rearing
all by themselves.
I stayed with another friend and saw how lonely his life was
in the US. He came home to an empty house with nothing but
computers on all day so he could chat with his family members
back in the Philippines.
Yes, it’s great to live in a first world country like the United
States. Nothing beats the economic benefits, the efficiency and the
technology available to everyone.
But I still love the Philippines. With its inefficient systems,
its unbelievable tangle of traffic and its circus-like politics.
No matter where you take me, my grass will always be greener
on this side.

You, Lord, are my shepherd. I will never be in need. You let me


rest in fields of green grass. You lead me to streams of peaceful
water, and you refresh my life. (Psalm 23:1-3)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #16: Discovering God’s will isn’t


rocket science.
What I Learned in Law
School

W
When I was about to graduate high school, I wanted to take up
Law for college. I told my mom about it and she replied, “Don’t
take up Law. Ang taray-taray mo na, maglo-Law ka pa. Wala nang
manliligaw sa ‘yo!”1
Trusting in her maternal wisdom, I took her advice and chose
another course.
I still didn’t have any suitors!
After four years, I left college with a diploma in Computer
Science and no love life to speak of. (Sometimes, I don’t know
where moms get their logic.)
Then last year, with a lot of time on my hands and clueless
about where my life should be headed, I started toying with the
idea of going to law school. Is that what the Lord wanted for me?
I wasn’t sure if Computer Science qualified as a pre-law
course so I checked out the requirements of different universities.
Hmmm… any four-year course would do.
I then zeroed in on a school. Ateneo Law School in Rockwell
or bust. It was the most convenient location for me since I couldn’t
imagine driving to UP Diliman from the south where I lived.
I still couldn’t decide whether I wanted to put myself through
four years of grueling study. Besides, did I want to compete with
students 10 years younger than me? Plus, I would have to quit a
job I loved. How would I put myself through school if I didn’t
work?

1
“You’re already so snotty, you won’t have any suitors!”

33
What I Learned in Law School

All these concerns began to worry me. I was half praying and
half fretting when the Lord clearly spoke to me.
“Why are you so worried? Didn’t I always make my will clear
to you? When it’s time, you will know.”
Immediately, the anxiety ceased. And my prayer became,
“Lord, if it’s not Your will, make me fail the exam.” (OK, OK, it
was a cop-out prayer.)
As I continued to seek the Lord’s will, I took the entrance
exam in November. The results came out in April and I went to
Rockwell to find out how I fared.
The names of those who passed the entrance exams were
posted on the bulletin board. Q… R… S… Singson, Rossana. There
I was! I made it!
I continued reading the announcements. Those who passed
were scheduled for an interview and mine was set… a week ago,
when I was traveling in the Visayas preaching with Bo. Beside the
posted schedule was the final list of students accepted for the new
school year. No Singson there.
A hint of disappointment began to creep in as I entertained
thoughts like, “What if I found out earlier? What if I made it to
the interview? What if…”
Then a voice spoke in my heart.
There are no “ifs” in God’s world.
I left Rockwell thanking the Lord for fulfilling His word.
How clear could His will be?
Sometimes we make such a hullabaloo about finding out
God’s will.
We cut the Bible.
We recite a dozen novenas.
We ask for signs. A white rose. A red shirt. A cloud formation
that spells “yes.” A Sto. Niño statue doing back flips.
We beg God to reveal His will regarding what college course
we should take, what job to accept, which guy to date, what model
of cell phone to buy. In the meantime, we freeze in our steps and
hold our breath until He speaks.

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

It’s a good attitude to wait on the Lord. But sometimes we


tend to complicate things.
I believe God makes it easy for us to know His will. He’s built
it into the very fabric of our being. He engineers circumstances
to manifest it. He closes doors and opens bigger ones to lead us
there.
All we have to do is to seek.

He will be with you to teach you — with your own eyes you will
see your Teacher. And if you leave God’s paths and go astray, you
will hear a Voice behind you say, “No, this is the way; walk here.”
(Isaiah 30:20-21)

35
What I Learned in Law School

36
Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #17: God has an unbelievable knack of


turning seemingly negative circumstances into
blessings.
Crooked Lines

W
When I left the community I had been in for almost 20 years, I
thought I was through with ministry work. Having been in full-
time ministry even before I finished college, I never worked in the
“real world” and never had a need to apply for a job. So, for the first
time in my life, I had to write a resume.
I sent out my application to several multinational companies.
A couple of them contacted me expressing their desire to get me.
But somehow, in spite of their interest, nothing materialized. By
then, I had been jobless for three months. With badminton as my
only schedule week in and week out, and with hardly any savings
to tide me over, I was beginning to get worried.
Then one day, a friend and I were killing time at Valle Verde
Country Club. We were about to leave when I saw Catholic
preacher and best-selling author, Bo Sanchez, seated at one of the
tables. I hadn’t seen him in a long time so I approached him just
to say hi.
It turned out that he was having a Kerygma editorial meeting.
The mag’s executive editor was there too. Knowing her from way
back, I told her, “Hey, if you need someone, I’m looking for a job.”
She replied, “You’re kidding, right?”
I said, “No, I’m not.” The editor, of course, knew me to be
full-time in my community.
So she asked again, “You’re kidding, right?” And again, I
replied, “No, I’m not.”
Incredulous, she asked for the third time, “You’re kidding,
right?”
For a moment, I thought there was a glitch in the matrix and

37
Crooked Lines

the scene kept skipping. “No, I’m not,” I said again.


“Bo, let’s fire two people and hire her!” the editor squealed
before handing me her card.
The next morning, I was still asleep when I got a call from a
third party, asking when I would call them. Before I knew it, like a
fish in water, I was back doing what I do best — ministry work.
Just when I thought I was through with ministry, God yanked
me right back into His vineyard. It was as if He was saying, “You
think I’d invest 20 years in you just to let you go that easily? No
way!”
So here I am, many years after that chance encounter, writing
and editing for the country’s number one Catholic inspirational
magazine.
I’m glad that God can write straight on crooked lines. He has
this unbelievable knack of taking seemingly negative circumstances
and turning them into blessings. In spite of the twisted and tangled
mess we’re in, He manages to work things out according to His
original plan.

“Is anything too marvelous for the Lord to do?” (Genesis 18:14)

38
Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #18: Life is easier when we’re forgiving


of others’ faults.
When People Are Forgiving

I
I woke up late that Friday. Five minutes before 8 to be exact. So
you can imagine the panic I was in considering I had to be at the
office by 9 a.m. Oh, and did I mention that I was in Parañaque and
our office is in Cubao?
My usual “diesel engine” self didn’t have the luxury of warming
up. Instead, I zoomed to the bathroom, hurriedly finished my
business there and stood in front of my closet to pick out an outfit.
Still in a daze, I couldn’t, for the life of me, choose anything to
wear. C’mon, you’re already late, I coaxed myself. I went for jeans,
t-shirt and rubber shoes — my cop-out fashion.
I grabbed my laptop, my lunchbox and water bottle before
jumping into my car. Turning on my booster engines, I went into
hyperdrive mode and rammed through Edsa in a blur.
Can you believe that I arrived at the Shepherd’s Voice office
a little before 9 during rush hour? As my car halted in front of the
office, I imagined a black and white checkered flag flapping in the
wind signaling my victory. Hmmm… when I get tired of writing I
can be a racecar driver, I said to myself as I turned off the engine.
I was almost settled at my desk when Reeya, my boss, rang my
cell. “Hi!” I perkily greeted her, the adrenaline still rushing through
my body. “Hi, where are you?” she asked with an equal amount of
perkiness in her voice. “At the office,” I answered proudly. “What
are you doing there?” she asked. Before I could dutifully answer,
“Why, working, of course,” she said, “We have a meeting with
Archbishop Rosales, remember? At the Arzobispado?”
OH… MY… GOD. Of course I didn’t remember. Besides,
even if my racecar driving skills could get me to Manila in a jiffy, I
was in jeans and rubber shoes.
What a disaster!
39
When People Are Forgiving

Thankfully, Reeya just laughed it off and said they’d go on


ahead without me. She was with Bo, my “ultimate” boss, who was
the one who asked that I join them in that meeting. I texted Bo to
apologize and ask what I could do to make it up to him. He just
texted back, “No prob.”
Haaay. Life is so much more pleasant when people are
forgiving.
After their meeting, Bo went to our temporary office for the
first time. (Construction was ongoing at our original location so
we transferred our operations two doors away.) He peeked into
the one and only restroom in the unit, a dilapidated toilet that had
seen better days… decades ago. He looked up and saw the gaping
divide in the ceiling that showed the G.I. sheets of the roof. He
then commented, “Wow, open air!”
I laughed at his remark, remembering how far different my
reaction was the first time I saw the bathroom.
Another officemate, Bogey, saw the decrepit tiled bathtub in
the same restroom (I told you, there’s only one) and exclaimed,
“Nakakainggit naman kayo, may Jacuzzi pa!”
Somehow, after hearing their comments, I never saw that
rundown bathroom the same way again.
We can choose to be critical, exacting people, unforgiving
of others’ faults and adamant about what’s due us. Or we can be
forgiving.
The choice is ours.
But the benefit is everyone’s.

It is good sense in a man to be slow to anger, and it is his glory to


overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11)

40
Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #19: I can beat myself up for not being


perfect, or I can come before my perfect God
and ask for forgiveness.
Murdered, She Wrote

D
“Do you know that I used to cry at every issue of Kerygma
that I read?” Weng, the head of our administration and finance
department, told me as we waited for our meeting to start.
“Really?” I said. A number of books and magazine articles
have touched me in the past but I couldn’t remember any that
consistently brought me to tears.
“Yeah, that was before, in the early days,” she qualified. “But
the story of Raymund Narag made me cry again after a long time,”
she added.
If you read the August 2006 issue of the magazine (Ex-
Catholics: Why They Left; Are They Right?), Raymund was a college
student who got involved in a frat rumble that resulted in the
death of a student. He was jailed for almost seven years pending
the duration of the trial before he was declared innocent.
“That story really made me cry,” Weng reiterated.
“Oh really? I cried over that one too,” I said with a meaningful
smile.
It took Weng a second before she got my drift and broke out
in laughter.
“Raymund Narag: Charged with Murdered” (emphasis
added).
Yup, that typographical error didn’t just make it to print; it
even made it to the cover of the magazine. (Bet some of you didn’t
even notice.)
After editing the stories a couple of times, and proofreading
it another couple of times more and checking it again before the
press runs, still, typos and grammatical errors remain.

41
Murdered, She Wrote

It was a mistake that cost our company tens of thousands of


pesos to remedy. After mailing out 6,000 apology letters to our
subscribers and covering the rest of our stocks with a sticker on the
cover page, the editorial staff met, came up with a better process to
catch errors and resolved to do better in the issues to come.
And, what do you know? Not long after that, in fact in the
very next month, we had more mistakes.
Haaay. Despite our best efforts to cross every “t” and dot each
“i,” errors still make it through.
Doesn’t that sound like the story of our spiritual lives? We go
to confession and resolve not to sin again but soon find ourselves
lining up to confess the same transgressions.
That’s why at the end of the day, I can only do two things: I
can beat myself up for not being perfect or I can come before my
perfect God and ask for forgiveness.
Isn’t it great that we have a God who doesn’t require us to
flagellate ourselves for every wrong we’ve done? Instead, He took
our sins upon Himself and bore the punishment that should have
been ours.
I still can’t understand the logic of His mercy but that doesn’t
keep me from receiving it.
And now, as we put out yet another issue, I read and reread
the pages, checking for errors and hoping that we get them all this
time.
I’m still holding my breathe.
Gotcha. That should have been “breath.”

For the just man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked
stumble to ruin. (Proverbs 24:16)

42
Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #20: You can be part of something great


if you’re attached to something bigger
than yourself.
Reach Beyond Your Grasp

D
Dad is an electronics hobbyist. Even before McGyver wowed TV
audiences in the mid-eighties with his uncanny ability to hotwire
cars with paperclips and construct just about anything with his
Swiss Army knife and duct tape, there was Dad.
He could fix anything! If the car stalled, he knew what to
do under the hood to make it run. When the water pump broke
down, he’d put out his wrenches and work until water reached the
second floor of the house. When something was wrong with our
electricity, he’d crawl into our ceiling and trace the wiring. He flew
passenger jets for a living but when he wasn’t on a flight, he was
building remote control airplanes and flying them. He’s the only
person I know who has a hobby room attached to his bedroom.
But nothing beats the time when he arrived from a flight
with a box marked “Heathkit.” This was in the 70s, when remote
control TVs were just beginning to make their way into homes.
He proudly announced, “I bought us a new TV — with remote
control!”
I was excited! I couldn’t wait to lay my hands on the cool
gadget. So imagine my disappointment when he opened the box
and all it contained were a million and one nuts and bolts and
chips and transistors and a thick manual instructing him how to
put them all together.
But after months of laboring over that project, Dad put them
all together and voila! We had our very first 25-inch color TV with
remote! And that Heathkit set served our family for many, many
years. It didn’t look as sleek as the Sony our neighbor had but it was
the best TV on earth because Dad put it together from scratch.

43
Reach Beyond Your Grasp

In God’s universe, we’re all chips and wires and nuts and
bolts. But when He puts us together, we’re able to accomplish
so much more than we could on our own. Just like the Gestalt
Principle, the whole of us becomes greater than the sum of our
individual parts.
On my first working day at Shepherd’s Voice Publications,
I was flabbergasted at the decrepit state of the office. “What did I
get myself into?!” I asked myself. If I knew that the facilities were
this bad, I wouldn’t have accepted the job.
But someone gave me this advice: “Join a company that you
want to grow with, that you want to help build.” I knew that this
was where God wanted me to be. Yes, Shepherd’s Voice was the
kind of enterprise that I was willing to dedicate my life work to.
In just barely four years, I’ve seen Shepherd’s Voice grow in
leaps and bounds. Literally. From a rundown house-turned-office,
we camped at an even more dilapidated apartment for almost two
years while our building was being constructed. But today, we work
in brand new facilities with the best equipment we can afford.
I’ve become a part of something that’s bigger than myself. It’s
an organization that’s growing so fast because people have come
together to pitch in their gifts and talents to achieve something
bigger than themselves, to serve a God who is bigger than the
universe.
And because of that, our reach has exceeded our grasp.
So be a part of something greater than yourself. Who knows,
you might be the next Heathkit in God’s Kingdom.

For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do
not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body
in Christ and individually parts of one another.
(Romans 12:4-6)

44
Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #21: There is much wisdom you can learn


from kids.
Listen to the Children

A
A few years ago, I taught a three-month Bible course at a school in
Parañaque. It was the first time I was doing something like this so
I was naturally nervous.
Oh, I wasn’t anxious about the fact that I’m no Bible scholar.
Neither was I concerned that I had no formal training in Theology
save the four units we were required to take in college.
I was tense because the 13 students who were enrolled in my
class were from six-and-a-half to 12 years old.
I’ve given talks here and abroad. I’ve conducted retreats and
conferences for young and old. I’ve sung and danced at concerts
too many times to count. I’ve acted and hosted on stage and on TV.
When I do these things, often, I don’t even get nervous anymore.
But my first day at Bible Class was different. I was
apprehensive as a new student in a foreign school. Because I’ve
never been assigned to the kids’ ministry in all my years of serving
the Lord, I didn’t know if I could communicate, much less hold the
attention, of kids who had an attention span of 20 minutes or so.
I walked tentatively into the classroom armed with an outline
and a number of activity sheets. But before I could even say “Good
afternoon,” an eight-year old blocked my path. She looked at me
with awe and said, “My mommy likes you. She said you write for a
magazine — I forget the name.”
Immediately I knew I was going to enjoy this job.
I started the class with a roll call. The class list wasn’t arranged
alphabetically so when I called out the name of a six-year-old with
the same family name as an older girl I had previously called, I
exclaimed, “Oh, she’s your sister!” The boy immediately objected.
“No! I’m her brother!”

45
Listen to the Children

I was the only one in the class who guffawed. Yep, I’m gonna
love this job.
Then there was a nine-year-old boy who bullied one of the
older, pretty girls. He called her all sorts of names and bad-mouthed
her at every possible chance throughout the class.
One of the kids, reacting to the boy’s continued harassment
of the older girl, asked the bully, “Do you like her?”
I listened, amazed at the simplicity of these kids in being able
to see right smack into the real issue. It was then I understood. He
wasn’t a bully; he had a crush on her!
“Of course not!” the boy quickly denied.
“Then if you don’t like her, why don’t you just ignore her?” the
kid retorted.
Wise logic from a mere child.
I pondered on that incident and realized how complicated
we become as grownups. We age and we inadvertently learn to
add layers on our core issues to cover up what we really feel. We
get so adept at hiding what’s real inside us that we can even fool
ourselves!
So let the Christ Child uncover the veils that mask what’s
in our hearts. Let Him expose the anger we pass off as a mere
dislike, the resentment we claim we do not have, the frustration
that expresses itself in irritability, or maybe even the love we fear
might break our hearts.
And let’s pray that we will become children again, even if
only in our hearts.

In that day the wolf and the lamb will lie down together, and
the leopard and goats will be at peace. Calves and fat cattle will
be safe among lions, and a little child shall lead them all. (Isaiah
11:6)

46
Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #22: You won’t know what God can do


through you until you go out on a limb.
Something’s Gotta Give

F
For days, I wait anxiously for that letter.
On my way to the office, I pass by the front desk and ask the
attendant, “Do I have mail?” She searches through the pigeonholes
and returns with the same reply she gave me yesterday. “Wala po.”2
I come home late that night and pass by the front desk again.
This time, a guard on the nightshift is manning the desk. “Do I
have mail?” I ask. He checks the rows of mailboxes behind him,
sorts through some junk mail before replying, “Wala po.”
I go through this routine for a few more days. Then one day,
it finally comes. My much awaited mail. I haven’t been this excited
over a letter since I was 14, when I had a pen pal from Belgium. I
rushed to the privacy of my room to open the envelope. I was sure
it would come, and now, it was in my hands.
With a hint of anxiety, I tear the envelope open and the
orange stationery falls out. I can’t wait to read it.
“Current amount due: P186.35.”
It’s my first-ever Meralco bill.
I know. I’m a little looney. Normal people hate getting bills
in the mail.
Not me. And not with my first-ever Meralco bill.
You see, a few months ago, I did a brave, scary, stupid thing.
I moved out of the comforts of my parents’ home and ventured to
live on my own.
Yup, I said goodbye to the yummy, healthy, home-cooked
meals that Yaya Jenny prepares from scratch. I left the security of
having Daddy wait up for me until I got home in the wee hours of
the morning. I gave up the luxury of having a driver regularly clean
my car and maids to tidy up my room and sanitize the bathroom
daily. I surrendered the privilege of having my clothes washed,
1
None. 47
Something’s Gotta Give

pressed, folded and arranged in my closet. I said farewell to having


someone load my laptop and my breakfast in the car every morning.
I also left a bill-free existence where my only monthly overhead
was gas for my car and my cell phone bill.
And what did I do? I rented an apartment on my own,
brought my mattress from the house and slept on the floor for
the first few nights of my independence. In my empty apartment,
I ate my first meal on the floor with an old poster of Bo Sanchez’s
face as my placemat. (Sorry, Bo, I also used you to line my shoe
cabinet.)
Now, I measure time in terms of my next rental payment, credit
card bill, Meralco statement, water bill, parking payment….
So why am I excited to get my Meralco bill? Because I have
the money to pay for it. And I feel that God has expanded me and
my borders through my decision to step off the cliff and fend for
myself.
Before I moved out, I did the Math with Chicken Little, my
significant other. He added and subtracted and subtracted some
more and always came up with the same conclusion: I can make it
on my own but I’ll miss bankruptcy by a hair’s breadth at the end
of every month.
But I knew in my heart that it was time to go off on my own
and grow up. And you know what? When I took the leap, the Lord
just got creative with more ways to meet my growing needs. And
I don’t know how it happens, but at the end of every month, after
I’ve paid all my bills, I still have the same amount of money I tuck
away for investment as I did when I lived with my parents.
I’m not making my experience into a doctrine or anything
like that. But just as God had proven to me in the past, He has not
failed to meet me where I am.
A preacher once said, “It won’t matter if it takes a billion
dollars to buy a loaf of bread — God can afford it!” In my case, I
wouldn’t have known what He could afford through me until I put
myself in the position of dependence upon Him — not upon my
parents, my sisters or even a future husband.

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

This Christmas, my Meralco bill will surely cost more than


the previous months. But with every twinkling light on my tiny
tree, I will count the numerous ways that God has provided for
my every bill. And with each blessing, I’ve grown and bloomed a
little more.

“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it


remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much
fruit.” ( John 12:24)

49
Something’s Gotta Give

50
Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #23: Look around you and be thankful


for your many blessings.
Wholesome Eavesdropping

I
I sit in a coffee shop taking advantage of a one-hour waiting period
by catching up on my editing backlog. The restaurant is almost
empty except for a couple in the far end of the room. I am in the
“zone” — tweaking lines deftly, replacing weak verbs with accurate
ones and restructuring sentences for maximum impact. When I
reach this kind of high in my work, I feel God’s pleasure upon
me. I’m functioning at my best using the prime gifts He has given
me.
My productive mode is cut short when a couple sits at the
couch behind me. Their yakking shatters my concentration so I
pull out my headset and turn on some music. Unfortunately, my
headset, which I use for chatting on the Internet, has only one
earphone. My right ear is left exposed to their conversation.
The business portion of their meeting is over and the
interesting part of their conversation has begun.
“So what part of Korea are you from?” the man asks.
I didn’t hear what the woman answers but the longer I listen,
the more I sense some flirting going on.
“Maybe one day I’ll visit you in Korea,” the man baits the
girl.
She giggles and gives a nonchalant reply. I drift back to my
work and, before long, the couple left the restaurant.
Ahhh… peace at last.
Before I could even resume my pace, another couple arrives
and sits at the same table. They cling to each other like lint charged
with static, whispering sweet nothings in between their intertwined
embraces.
How sweet they are, I think.
Envy begins to creep in. But before I could wish the same for
51
Wholesome Eavesdropping

my relationship, I hear the woman say, “So what did your wife say?
And when will I see you again?”
Ngek!
In an instant, the sugarcoated atmosphere melts into gooey,
dark molasses and all the magic disappears.
I get lost in my own thoughts and forget about the couple
behind me. (OK, maybe I eavesdrop a little more.) Then in my
heart, I start to thank God.
I thank Him that while I’m getting old and still single (grrrr!),
I am free to love the person I’ve chosen.
And I thank Him that my life is boring and devoid of
encumbrances like a former spouse.
And I thank Him too that while I fear my problems will
cause me to actually look my age, they’re not as complex as what
others have to grapple with.
I left the coffee shop with a silent prayer for the couple and a
grateful heart for what God has done in my life.
So what’s the lesson?
Eavesdrop.
I don’t mean the offensive, stalking, chismosa kind, which by
the way was punishable by law in ancient times.
“Eavesdrop” on what is happening in other people’s lives so
you can pray for them.
“Eavesdrop” so you can be grateful for what He’s doing in
your life.
Better yet, “eavesdrop” on what God is saying about you.
It might just make your day.

Thank God at all times. This is what God wants for you
in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #24: Some things are worth the wait,


even if it’s a darn long one.
When Bells Ring

W
When I was 17, I made a personal vow to the Lord that I would
not date or even entertain suitors until I was 23. But even before
I turned 23, the Catholic Charismatic community I belonged to
came up with a norm that before we could start dating, we had
to undergo a process of discernment to find out if we were for
marriage, the religious life or single-blessedness. I was 28 before I
began that discernment process. A year later, I was discerned for
marriage. After all those years of avoiding intimate relationships
with men, finally, I could start dating and move on to marriage.
But I had only one problem. No one was asking me out! Year
after year, I prayed on bent knees for the Lord to send the man
that He willed for me to marry. Since I hardly had a social life
outside of the community, I held on in faith that he would come
knocking at my door.
And one day, he did! After months of courtship and passing
through a needle’s eye, I said yes to the first boyfriend I ever had.
By then I was 33, the age when Jesus was crucified.
I thought this guy would be my last boyfriend too. After all,
the whole exercise of abstaining from dates, discerning my state
of life and waiting until I was ready for marriage was supposed to
keep me from the heartache of trial-and-error relationships. But
despite my best intentions, fervent prayers and an engagement
ring that was waiting for me, Boyfriend #1 and I didn’t end up at
the altar.
The Lord must have a better plan, I consoled myself. And He
did. Shortly after, I met another man who was everything I had
ever dreamed of. Surely this was God’s gift and it was well worth
the wait. We wasted no time in talking about getting married and

53
When Bells Ring

browsing through wedding catalogues to pick out my gown. But


just as quickly as things developed, the relationship fizzled.
I was devastated. How could the Lord dangle a lollipop in
front of me only to yank it back? How could He be so mean?
It took a while for me to recover from that heartbreak. But
through the depression, I did one thing: I put one foot in front
of the other even when I didn’t feel like getting up. Just like the
paralytic in the Gospels, I had to stand on my own feet and not
expect the Lord to do the walking for me.
I organized get-togethers among old friends. I hung out in
the homes of old pals to get through the lonely nights. I played
badminton with strangers instead of brooding alone at night. I
took up golf to fill my days. I tagged along with my sisters as they
brought their kids to school or went about their daily routines. I
even went on blind dates — something I thought I would never
do.
And then February 14, 2005 came. It was the night of the
Valentine’s Day bombings when some terrorists set off some buses
on Ayala Ave. with explosives.
At the same time, somewhere in Pasig, a different kind of
explosion was happening. I was at a potluck dinner that my high
school classmate, Tessa Portillo-Sy, had organized so I could meet
a guy she wanted me to date. His name means “Christ bearer” and
although he’s nothing like I had dreamed of, I learned that he’s
everything I want and need in a lifetime partner.
Sparks flew and since that Valentine’s we’ve been together
almost every day.
And you know what? This year, I hear wedding bells ringing
clearly.

The Lord God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will
make a suitable partner for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #25: “Settling down” doesn’t mean


“settling for less.”
The Upside of Settling
Down

S
Settling down. I never thought I’d do it. I don’t mean the part about
getting married. I’ve imagined that as far back as I can remember.
What I mean is, literally, settling down. I’ve always thought
that “settling down” was a negative term for tying the knot. No, I
will not settle! was my battle cry.
When you say “settle,” you mean you’re agreeing to something
or someone that’s less than satisfactory. At least that’s how Webster
defined it. And I wasn’t about to do that. I wanted no less than
what I hoped for.
But far from the storybook proposal I dreamed of, here’s how
my story actually went…
The pamanhikan that betrothed me to Chris Kawpeng was
a simple affair. Chris came with his mom, his eldest brother and
his sister-in-law. My three sisters plus their husbands were present
too.
When lunch was coming to an end, Chris quietly mentioned
to my dad that he had already reserved the church and Wack Wack
Country Club for July 15. My dad joked, “Ha? Bakit? Ano bang
meron?”1 By then, everyone’s attention was on them. We laughed
and Chris stammered and his brother interrupted in jest, “Oh,
I thought we were here because it was Rissa’s birthday!” And
everyone ganged up on Chris with other similar comments. By
then, Chris was as red as a tomato!

1
“Why? What do you have?”

55
The Upside of Settling Down

After the word “wedding” was finally out, one of my sisters,


joked, “So how many cows will you give in exchange for our sister?”
And Chris’s brother said to him, “OK, I give you permission to
open the freezer and bring out meat. Putol-putol nga lang.”2 As
long as they could complete one animal — four lamb legs, ribeye,
tenderloin, a head of a chicken — the wedding was on. And then
we all had a good laugh. Meanwhile, the color on Chris’s face still
hadn’t subsided.
By the way, Chris unceremoniously slipped me an engagement
ring before lunch started. He had planned to give it to me earlier
so he dropped by my condo unannounced. But after he rang my
doorbell, he checked the box to find that he had forgotten to put
the ring in the box! So when I opened the door, he just handed me
the box. “Ring to follow,” he said sheepishly.
At my Dad’s house, he slipped the ring on my finger and said,
“There, wear that in case they look for a ring. But you’ll return that
to me, OK?”
He didn’t get the ring back after the pamanhikan so I guess
that made the engagement official.
Through the months that we prepared for the wedding, the
real meaning of “settling down” slowly dawned upon me.
It meant not getting our top choice of design for the wedding
rings because someone had already bought bands for us.
It meant scrimping on other expenses of the wedding so we
could channel our savings to our future home.
It meant giving in to many things that the other one wanted
simply because we love each other.
It even meant being exchanged for a Frankenstein of a cow
instead of a thousand cattle on a hill.
Yes, “settling down” has taken on a new and positive light. I
realized that acquiring this fine art is one of the skills I will need
for a successful marriage.
And because of that, I’m happily settling down.

Serve one another through love. (Galatians 5:13)

2
“It’ll just be all chopped up.”

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #26: Find the presence of God wherever


you are, and the ordinary becomes sacred.
The Sanctuary of the
Ordinary

I
I walk through the clean hallway leading to my condo unit and
I’m overcome with sentimentality. In a few short weeks, my lease
on the first place I ever called my own will be up. I scramble for
my keys and I throw the door open. The familiar smell of home
invades my senses. “I’m gonna miss this place,” I think as I take a
sweeping glance at my tiny kitchen cum dining room.
The mess in the bedroom is beginning to pile up with the
gifts I’ve received from bridal showers. All things come to an end.
My one-year exercise of living alone to prepare for marriage was
about to come to a close.
I think of the lessons I’ve learned…
First, I learned that the instructions on those easy-to-cook
meals are not complete. The first time I followed one for a pasta
sauce, it instructed me to sauté the mushrooms in a little oil and
the seasoning that came with the package. I did that. Only to learn
later that onions or garlic are essential to sautéing. Nowhere in the
instructions did it mention those ingredients!
Thank God for unconditional love, my boyfriend ate the
blandest pasta on earth and still managed to sincerely say, “It’s OK.
It’s not that bad.”
Second, I learned that television is not necessary for survival
— even when you live alone. When I moved in, I purposely didn’t
bring a TV set. Because I’m one person who thinks that watching
TV is a social activity, I’d rather do other things when I’m alone.
Reading, thinking, praying or surfing the net are some of my
favorite “by myself ” activities.

57
The Sanctuary of the Ordinary

Third, I learned that it’s OK to get your hands wet and dirty.
Aside from cooking, my next biggest hurdle was washing dishes
and doing household chores. You see, I’m obsessive-compulsive
when it comes to my hands. They always have to be clean, which
means I wash my hands often. Consequently, they become dry.
And I can’t stand dry hands. And so I have to put lotion on them.
And when I have lotion on them, they easily attract dust. Which
makes me want to wash my hands again…
But I learned to love washing dishes. In fact, it became
therapeutic for me whenever I came home late at night. It was
almost like a quiet time with the Lord.
In the midst of the most common, everyday things, I learned
to find God’s presence. The Kitchen Prayer, attributed to Saint
Teresa of Avila, captures my experience of the past year:

Lord of all pots and pans and things, since I have


no time to be a great saint by doing lovely things, or
watching late with Thee, or dreaming in the dawnlight,
or storming heaven’s gates, make me a saint by getting
meals, and washing up the plates.
Warm all the kitchen with Thy Love, and light it
with Thy peace; forgive me all my worrying, and make
my grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food, in room, or by
the sea, accept the service that I do — I do it unto Thee.

Find the presence of God wherever you are, and the ordinary
turns sacred.

Be still, and know that I am God… (Psalms 46:10)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson # 27: Enjoy your single life to the hilt.


Don’t Call Me Kepweng

O
Omigosh.
Pant, pant, pant.
My heart is thumping violently.
And I’m getting the heebie-jeebies.
Because it’s July.
Not December. Not June. But July 2007.
This month, I say goodbye to 38 years of being single. (OK,
you can pick up your jaws from off the floor now. I myself can’t
believe that I’m so close to the big 4-0. How did I get here so
fast?!)
I look back and count the benefits of having been single for
a long time.
For one, I spent over two decades of unhindered, no-holds-
barred, I’ll-lay-down-my-life service for the Lord. I was able to
travel around the world to give talks, attend Christian conferences
and seminars, watch concerts featuring the top Christian artists
in the world, perform before the Pope and trace Jesus’ steps in the
Holy Land.
Second, I had a long youth. At the time when women my age
were busy preparing baons for their grade school kids and thinking
about where to enroll them for the summer, I was packing my bags
to conduct retreat camps for kids half my age. And the beauty of it
all was that I blended in quite well with them. When some of the
kids discovered that I watched the original Star Wars when it was
first shown, one of them gasped, “Ate Ris, you mean you actually
watched Star Wars in the movie house?!”
Third, I was spared from the crazy, emotional rollercoaster
of immature romantic relationships. You know, the kind of silly
jealousies that ate you up when you were a teenager? “He offered
to get her soft drinks twice while I had to ask him for a cup of

59
Don’t Call Me Kepweng

water.” Or, “He said he couldn’t go out tonight but I saw him with
another girl at a party.” No, I spared myself from all that. Because
whenever I had the remotest attraction for a guy, I had to lay it on
the altar of sacrifice to live up to a personal vow I made to the Lord
not to date until I was ready to marry.
As I close a chapter in my life, I’m filled with hope as I start
a new one, this time with someone who’ll be my partner until
death. Someone once told me that your life partner shouldn’t
just be someone you love, but someone who’ll be your home. The
house where we will live is just an address; my home is really in
the presence of this person I’ve chosen to spend the rest of my life
with. Wherever I am, as long as he’s there, I’m home.
There’s just one thing that’s giving me cold feet. The fact that
people will most likely misread my new family name. So take a
close look and read that again. And whatever happens, don’t ever
call me Mrs. Kepweng.

Complete your outdoor tasks, and arrange your work in the field;
afterward you can establish your house. (Proverbs 24:27)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #28: You can’t even begin to imagine the


wonderful things God has in store for you.
The One Best Thing

I
It was like a beautiful, perfect dream. Only it was better because
it was real.
I sat at the back of the silver Mercedes Benz waiting for the
right moment to alight. Through the glass doors at the back of the
church, I could see my family, close friends and the family of my
groom, Chris, milling around excitedly.
As I sat alone in the bridal car, my heart pounded with
excitement. I heard the beautiful voices of my officemates George
Gabriel and Nova Arias as they sang “The Prayer.” One by one, I
saw my entourage move away from my view heading towards the
altar. As the crowd at the back of the church thinned, I knew my
time was about to come.
“They’re playing your song,” Ria Espiritu, my wedding
coordinator, said as she assisted me out of the car, covering my face
with my veil. The beautifully blended voices of K5 — Kerygma
preachers Arun Gogna, Alvin Barcelona, Obet Cabrillas, Jon
Escoto and Adrian Panganiban — beckoned me to march. As the
glass doors swung open, the church burst with applause. The aisle
was lined with faces of relatives and friends who beamed with love
and support. Before I could reach the altar to be with my groom,
I broke up in tears.
Meanwhile, Chris was cracking up because his best man,
Paul Co, and cord sponsor, Warren Sua, were grabbing his butt.
That was only the beginning of a comic yet Spirit-filled
ceremony. Kerygma preachers Mike Joseph, Arun Gogna and
Bo Sanchez did the readings. When the homily came, Fr. Erick
Santos, parish priest of the Sto. Niño Parish in Tondo and a stand-
up comedian in his own right, raised the roof with his side-splitting
sermon.
61
The One Best Thing

“When Rissa called me to say that they were getting married,


I was very much against it,” he started out. “Masyado pa silang
bata eh” (“They’re still too young”). The church reverberated with
thunderous laughter since Chris and I were both in our late 30s.
It was exactly what Chris and I wanted for our wedding. A
touching service with beautiful music that was also a hilariously
unforgettable one.
At the reception, more surprises followed. Reuben Laurente,
former member of The Company who has since gone solo, graced
the affair with two song numbers. Ninong Joey Lina wowed the
guests with his rich tenor voice and impressive high notes. He also
rendered a duet with his son and dear friend of mine, Pipo, who had
earlier sung solo. Two elder brothers of the groom gave a speech that
warmly received me into their family. Then we showed an MTV of
the song “Butterfly Kisses” as a tribute to my dad, retired pilot Capt.
Ricardo Singson. The video culminated with photos of him giving
away each of his four daughters during our weddings.
I ended the program with a final surprise for my husband
by singing a song I wrote for him. “ You are the one best thing that
happened to me,” went the refrain. And because of that, so many
other “bests” have followed.
This month, we celebrate our first wedding anniversary. I’m
also due to give birth to our first baby girl. So many major “firsts” in
such a short time.
I feel like I’ve just stepped across the threshold of the rest of
my life and I like what I see. The Lord has blessed me awesomely
and all I can do is live every day in gratitude to Him.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what
God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians
2:9)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #29: Some things aren’t worth getting at


a bargain.
You Get What You Pay For

I
It was the first liquid eyeliner I ever bought.
For a long time, I used an eyeliner pencil but it didn’t have
that distinct line that the liquid kind could give you. I noticed that
a friend used a liquid eyeliner so I asked her about it. It was an
imported brand that cost her P500 then.
“Five hundred pesos?!” I gasped.
I wasn’t really into makeup so I didn’t know how much they
cost. Besides, whatever little cosmetics I had were mostly hand-
me-downs. “Forget it,” I said, “I can live with my eyeliner pencil.”
Then one day, I drifted into a store and saw some liquid
eyeliners. They were made by a local brand and I was ecstatic when
I turned it over to see the price tag: P50. Sold! I immediately rushed
to the cashier and paid for it. I gloated that I spent only 10% of
what my friend shelled out.
As soon as I got home, I tried on my find. It wasn’t as easy
to use as the pencil. By the time I was able to apply the eyeliner
evenly, I had a one-fourth-inch thick line on my eyelids! Oh well,
with a little practice, I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it, I figured. For
P50, how can I go wrong?
The next day, I realized that things do go wrong with a cheap
purchase. Because when I woke up that morning, I had styes in
both eyes even if I had removed my makeup the night before. My
friend had the last laugh when I told her what happened.
“You get what you pay for,” she said with a smirk.
Now I use liquid eyeliners but guess what? It’s one that costs
more than P500.
I’ve learned the hard way that there are some things that are
worth paying for at full price.
Like that priceless first night with my husband.
63
You Get What You Pay For

As I lay on a king-sized bed in our honeymoon suite on the


night of our wedding, I silently thanked the Lord that I saved
myself for my husband to give myself completely to him at this
moment. Unfortunately, I think I prayed with my eyes closed.
Before we could do anything romantic, I was asleep — exhausted
from the wedding.
My poor husband, with his pent-up hormones, had to toss
and turn in bed until he just had to wake me up an hour later.
There are other things worth paying for. Like the priceless
moments we spend with our family.
Many may take this for granted. But in my experience, the
older I got, the more valuable my family became to me.
Because my dad was a pilot, I can count with my fingers
the number of Christmases that our family was complete for the
holiday. That’s why I will never forget the Christmas of 1997. It
was the first time in 14 years that our entire family was together.
Not even the cost of a roundtrip, first-class ticket from the farthest
corner of the earth could buy the memories we made that year.
So keep this in mind when you go about your everyday life.
Haggle over things that are fleeting.
Pay full-price for the things that are important.
And splurge on your priceless treasures.

Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for
what fails to satisfy?… Come to me heedfully, listen, that you
may have life. (Isaiah 55:2)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #30: Change is constant. That’s why you


need to be anchored to Jesus, our Rock.
Turning

J
July 16, 1990. I was in the dining room at home with my mom and
an uncle when the very earth beneath us shook. And just when I
thought it would stop, the ground shook some more.
It was the first time I heard our house creak. The Sto. Niño
on top of our fridge wobbled back and forth until it fell from its
perch. It would have crashed to the floor if my uncle hadn’t been
fast enough to catch it. As the structure of our house groaned with
the incessant quakes, I waited for the walls to collapse.
Where do you run when the ground you stand on cannot be
trusted?
I lay in bed later that day thinking how flimsy our world is.
In a span of 45 seconds, buildings in Baguio and other cities in
Northern Luzon had collapsed or been damaged. Hundreds died
and lives were changed. Forever.
Change. It’s the only thing that won’t.
One seer, disguised as a child named Eli, put it so well.
A six-year-old with bright eyes and an endearing smile, Eli
never runs out of stories to tell. One dinnertime a few months
before he turned six, the topic of age and birthdays came up. Eli
started to rattle off how old his siblings and cousins were. “Seline
is turning four. Adi is turning three, Tom is turning eight and I’m
turning six,” he said as he fiddled with the utensils on the table.
Then he concluded, “Everybody’s turning.”
The adults on the table, me included, laughed at his insightful
comment.
Yes, Eli, everybody’s turning.
I look at the kids running around the house and I know that
before long, they’ll be teens whining about zits and dates; entwined
in never-ending texts, phone calls, online chatting and whatever
65
Turning

kind of communication media they’ll have at their disposal by


then.
As for me, I’ve been turning a lot in the past four years. And
I don’t just mean in age.
I’ve changed residence four times.
I’ve made at least five major life-changing decisions —
including giving up my name and my, ahem, virginity, to a man I
still mistakenly refer to as my boyfriend.
I’ve moved office three times, lived with three different
families, packed and unpacked so many times that I think I can
start a movers business.
While my new family name is Kawpeng, Change has become
my middle name.
And it can be disorienting.
My life in recent times has undergone so much change so
soon that sometimes it feels like that day in 1990 when the ground
underneath me shook.
And when all the changes threaten to engulf me, I rejoice
that through it all there is One who never changes. One who is
constant, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Jesus is the ground I stand on. No earthquake can topple
Him.

Blessed be the Lord, my rock…. He is my steadfast love and my


fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in
whom I take refuge… (Psalm 144:1-2)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #31: Look back to appreciate the beauty


that lies in the past.
Rear View

W
We emerged from the cold subway to an even colder plaza. My
husband and I were pooped, not just from the plane ride from
London, but from the 20-kilo luggage we each pulled, pushed,
dragged and carried. Up the escalator. Down the elevator. Onto
the subway train. Up the stairs. Until we finally reached our station
and emerged from underground.
The minute I looked back, the scene took my breath away.
Behind us loomed a colossal Gothic cathedral with its towering,
black spires piercing the blue sky. It was so surreal that it would
have looked more believable on a backlot in Universal Studios.
But I was in Cologne, Germany and the cathedral was no
movie set. I later discovered that it housed the Shrine of the Three
Kings where their bodies are laid to rest in a gilded sarcophagus.
It would be the first of many breathtaking “rear views” that I
would encounter during my honeymoon in Europe.
The next one I recall was in Füssen, a small town two hours
away from Munich by train. My husband and I joined a tour to see
Neuschwanstein Castle (pronounced Noy-shwan-stine), which
Walt Disney copied for Cinderella’s castle in his theme parks.
Perched high up on a hill by the Bavarian Alps, the castle took my
breath away not only because of its fairy-tale spires and towers.
The “20-minute walk” — which turned out to be a half-hour hike
for my husband and me — got us panting all the way up the hill.
Even the senior citizens got to the top faster than we did! But we
were greatly rewarded by the view we got from the pedestrian steel
bridge opposite the castle, which hung a dizzying 305 feet above
the ground.
Upon the advice of our tourist guide — and against our better
judgment — we walked down the hill via the longer but more
67
Rear View

scenic route. The fantastic view of the gorge that snaked through
the hillside made us forget how tired we were. And as we carefully
descended the stony path on the hillside, I looked back at the trail
we came from. Again, I was left breathless. My “rear view” revealed
a waterfall jumping so many feet down, surrounded by trees, rocks
and mountainside. Despite our tight schedule and the tourists
behind us, we managed to make a detour and take a few photos.
These unforgettable “rear views” taught me to keep looking
back throughout our trip. Whether it was a steep subway escalator,
a train station, a view outside our hotel window or just an archway
at a bridge, I acquired the habit of checking out the view at where
I came from. More often than not, I was rewarded with a scene as
beautiful as the one that lay ahead of me.
“Look back! Look back!” each place seemed to tell me.
As we leave 2007, I skip happily into the New Year, excited
about the fresh blessings I will receive. At the same time, I will
remember to look back at the year I will never forget for the rest
of my life.
After all, it was the year the Lord fulfilled so many promises
He had given me years ago — the year I married the most caring
and perfect man for me and embarked on a new chapter of a
blessed life together.
For these and more, I say, “Thank You, Lord.”

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, your wonders of old I
will remember. (Psalm 77:12)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #32: The odds may be stacked against


you but, with God on your side, nothing is
impossible.
Baby Talk

A
“Are you planning to have kids right away?” people would ask me
now and then. In this day and age when couples usually plan when,
where and how they’ll have their children, it’s a natural question to
be directed to a newlywed like me.
Quickly, I’d answer, “Of course! It’s now or never!”
After all, I am pushing 40. And despite other people’s
objections that I don’t look my age, my sisters would bluntly remind
me, “No matter how young you look, your eggs are still gurang!”1
(Only your real sisters can be that mean to you and still make
you laugh.)
Other friends would tell me, “Oh, that’s OK. Your sister is
an OB naman. She’ll take care of you.” To that I’d reply, “Yes, but
she’s not God.”
Add to that the number of couples much younger than my
husband and me who’ve been trying to get pregnant for years and
the long lines you see at infertility clinics, then you’ll understand
why I’m a bit anxious about getting pregnant.
The odds are stacked against us. A couple has a 20% chance
of getting pregnant in their first month of trying. In the age group
of 35 to 39, the pregnancy rate for women is only 52% within 12
months of trying.
Since our long honeymoon was scheduled two months after
our wedding, we planned to get pregnant then. It was no easy feat
considering how hectic our one-month vacation was. Every three

1
old

69
Baby Talk

days we were catching a train to another city with more than 20


kilos of luggage each in tow. More than anything, I resorted to
prayers for the Lord to bless us with a baby before the year ends.
A few days after we arrived from our honeymoon, I couldn’t
stand the suspense. Still suffering from jetlag, I woke up at dawn
and after the sun rose, I headed off to a drugstore to find a pregnancy
test kit. The result was a hazy second line, which made me doubt if
I really was pregnant. My OB sister said I was but added, “Have an
ultrasound in two weeks before you start telling everybody.” Still, it
was enough to make her choke up in joy.
It was the longest two weeks of my life. Meanwhile, my body
began to exhibit classic signs of pregnancy. When I finally went
for my ultrasound (not with my sister because her machine was
down then), I was a bit nervous. Doubts clouded my mind even
as my faith pushed them away. Then the doctor said, “There’s the
heartbeat,” as she pushed the monitor towards me. It was a tiny
speck of pulsating light but it was enough to make me break out
in tears.
“Hon, that’s our baby,” I told my husband who stood behind
the doctor. The tears continued to flow.
“You’re crying,” the doctor said.
“I’m old na e,” I reasoned, wiping my tears.
Yes, I’m old and I’m pregnant and we’ve defied statistics. But
more than that, I cried because of the Lord’s goodness in blessing
us with a honeymoon baby.
Skeptics may say the worst isn’t over yet. But I choose to
believe that the good has already happened. And with the Lord, it
can only get better.

You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.


I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your
works! (Psalm 139:14-15)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #33: Ten thousand things can go wrong


but I can choose to focus on what’s going right.
Choosing Faith

I
It’s funny what people tell you when they find out you’re
pregnant.
“You know, I had two miscarriages before we had our
firstborn.”
“Did you hear the horror story about this girl who got
pregnant? She was about your age…”
“I was on bed rest for the whole nine months of my
pregnancy!”
“It’s not true that only the first trimester is critical. I know
someone who lost her baby at six months.”
“You don’t have morning sickness? Oh, just wait a few more
weeks.”
“I know someone who was on her way to the hospital to
deliver her baby when the infant just died in her womb.”
Don’t get me wrong. These people are all well meaning. Their
aim is to show you that they care. Their desire is for your welfare
and your baby’s. But along the way, unintentionally, they sow fear
instead.
Between them and the baby books I’ve been reading, I’ve
gotten my own fair share of fears.
In the early weeks of my pregnancy, I was afraid to get up
from bed on my own. I thought that any exertion on my stomach
muscles would dislodge the fragile embryo in my womb. I walked
ever so slowly thinking that a little jarring movement might cause
a miscarriage. I kept checking if I had spottings, almost expecting
it because the pregnancy seemed too good to be true. I was hesitant
to tell others I was pregnant because I was afraid that I’d have to
take it back if I had a miscarriage. And every time I sneezed, I
thought, surely, that was strong enough to cause a complication.
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Choosing Faith

But every time these fears would crowd my mind, a still, small
voice would speak to my spirit.
“Trust your body.”
It was the unmistakable voice of the Holy Spirit.
“Trust your body. I created it for this. It’s how I wired your being.
Your body was made to procreate. It’s the most natural thing in the
world.”
Then I would notice the gazillions of kids in the squatters’
area. And I would see pregnant women walking in the streets. And
I would think, “Surely I have better nutrition and care than they
do; yet they have healthy babies.”
And I look at my own sisters who’ve had no trouble getting
pregnant and having babies. And I look at all my friends, my
officemates, all my relatives, my whole neighborhood and the
entire world and realize that every person alive today came from a
successful pregnancy. It is the most natural thing in the world!
And I realize that I’ve been putting faith in my fears instead
of trusting in the Lord.
Fear is the opposite of faith. It believes in the negative, the
pessimistic, the evil instead of believing in what’s good and true
and of the Lord.
Today I choose faith.

You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the
shadow of the Almighty, say to the Lord, “My refuge and fortress,
my God in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)

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Lesson #34: Love isn’t love without sacrifice.


The Debt of Life

I
I miss having straight hair.
Actually, when I was born, God packed me into my mom’s
womb with a head full of curls. When I was little, people would
call me “Kulot”1 until they learned I was “Kulit”2 too. Relatives
compared my tresses to the telephone cord. While most of my
classmates in grade school looked neat and well-groomed in their
ID photos, I always looked like a mischievous kid who just did
something I should be punished for. Since they always took our
ID photo in the afternoon, my hair would be in all its curly glory
by then. Meanwhile my classmates’ straight hair always looked the
same way as when they arrived at school that morning.
All I dreamed about while growing up was to have straight,
ever-tidy looking hair.
Then hair straightening was invented. Mommy warned us,
“Those chemicals will make you bald!” The threat worked on me but
not on my sister who tried it. Sure enough, the abrasive chemical
landed on her scalp and caused a bald spot near her temples.
But science soon caught up with beauty. And by the time
hair straightening, relaxing and rebonding diversified into a dozen
other techniques, I was already sporting straight, shiny hair without
fear of humidity.
For many years, I had sunk a small fortune into maintaining
the hair of my dreams. That’s why when my husband met me, dated
me and eventually married me, he was under the impression that
I had straight hair.
Until I got pregnant.

1
Curly
2
Importunate

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The Debt of Life

That’s also when I learned that the selflessness of motherhood


begins with conception. Because of the risk that the chemicals
might affect the fetus in the womb, any kind of hair straightening,
curling or coloring should be avoided during pregnancy. So as
my pregnancy progressed, so did my glorious curls. They were so
majestic that when I woke up in the morning, I’d have to search for
my face hidden beneath a forest of mane. (My husband woke up
one day wondering why his wife was missing and why Chewbacca
took her place.)
I’ve also had to screen the moisturizers and toners I put on
my face. (Some studies have shown that high doses of Vitamin
A found in certain anti-aging creams can be harmful to the
unborn.)
All in all, I feel like pregnancy has stripped me of my vanities.
Gone is the flat tummy I worked to keep flat all my life. Gone too
are my days of wash-and-wear hairdos. These days, it’s more like
wash, tame, tame some more, gel into place and tie in a bun. And
my wardrobe is practically useless because I can’t fit into most of
my clothes anymore.
When I think of all I’m going through for this little buddy
that I haven’t even met, I can’t help but think of my mom and all
the sacrifices she made for me. Mom, it’s payback time.
And this ultimately brings me to the Lord, and all He did so
that I may live.
It wasn’t just straight hair and a slim physique that He gave
up. And for that I’ll ever be living my days to pay back the debt of
life He selflessly gave up for me.

Yet [women] will be saved through childbearing — if they


continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. (1
Timothy 2:15)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #35: Sometimes it’s what you don’t teach


that makes a big impact on others.
What My Parents Failed to
Teach Me

T
These days I’m having a difficult time breathing. I take a few steps
up the stairs and I’m panting like a mad hyena. I talk for three
minutes straight during a meeting and I’m catching my breath
like a runner in a 100-meter dash. And even when I’m just lying
down, I feel like I’m wearing a straightjacket that’s compressing
my lungs.
I’m a week away from delivering my first baby so that explains
the breathlessness. But there’s also the realization that I’m on the
brink of parenthood, a journey with no turning back that will last
for the rest of my life. Will I be a good mom? Will my daughter
grow up to be a wonderful person because her parents molded her
well?
I always say that we take a four-year course in college to
prepare us for a career that will last us till we’re 60. But for marriage
and parenthood, which lasts a lifetime, we have at best a two-day
seminar. Isn’t there something wrong there?
So most of us take our cue on parenting from what we saw
our parents doing. Looking back now at the lessons I learned from
Daddy and Mommy, I realize that it’s the things they didn’t teach
me that I want to pass on to my own children.
Here’s a short list of some of those things:
1. To fight in front of their children. There was only one
time I ever heard my parents fighting and it was behind
two doors locked shut. I didn’t realize that they made
it a point never to fight in front of us until I witnessed
another married couple constantly fighting in their own
home.
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What My Parents Failed toTeach Me

And while my mom can be a feisty woman, I never


heard her raise her voice to my dad or call out his name
in anger. That’s how much she loved and respected him.
2. To keep a grudge. There are people who “bequeath” to
their children their grudges against others. King David
did this towards the end of his life when he charged his
son Solomon not to let Joab and Shimei go unpunished
for what they had done to him (see 1 Kings 2).
My parents, on the contrary, bequeathed to us their
debts of gratitude. I remember Mom telling me when I
was much younger, “When we had nothing, this tita of
yours put everything they had on the line so we could
loan money and put up our own house. Don’t ever forget
that. If the time comes that any of her kids need anything,
be sure to help them.”
3. To live beyond their means. Daddy and Mommy lived
a life of delayed gratification. They could have afforded
a more luxurious lifestyle when we were growing up
but instead they invested their money. We had what we
needed but not a lot of the things we wanted. And because
of that, they’re able to leave a significant inheritance to
all six of their children and have more than enough to
live on for the rest of their lives.
I’ve spent sleepless nights thinking of how I’ll retire
like my dad did.
4. To criticize others. Unfortunately, I learned this one all
by myself.

So as you can see, Dad and Mom are a tough act to follow.
But by God’s grace, I’ll do my utmost to walk in their footsteps.

“Take care… not to… let them slip from your memory as long
as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s
children.” (Deuteronomy 4:9)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #36: Live in a way that the Word


becomes flesh in your life.
The Greatest Birth Story
Ever Told

L
Late that morning, I checked into Asian Hospital for my
scheduled Caesarian section. There was no line at the counter
and soon enough I was settled in a small but comfortable room
on the 10th floor. My operation was at 4 p.m. which left me with
ample time to relax, chat with my husband and a friend, and then
bathe.
Minutes before they wheeled me away, my sister called to
pray over me via phone. Then, with a rosary at hand, off I went to
the Genesis Center.
She was dirty and exhausted from such a long journey. And
now her contractions were coming more frequently. The time for her
delivery was at hand. But inn after inn they were turned away. There
was no vacancy anywhere.
As she cringed in pain to endure another contraction, the donkey
she rode hobbled along, adding to her soreness. Relief wouldn’t come
soon.
My sisters and my husband kept me company at the holding
area until it was time to wheel me into the operating room. The
temperature dropped as I entered the sterile environment and
I shivered. A nurse quickly covered me with a blanket to keep
me warm. Soon, they stuck a needle into my spine to administer
anesthesia. I was awake but numb to the pain the operation
would inflict.
Finally, left with no choice, they found shelter in a dirty stable.
Even on that wintry night, she was sweating and cold at the same
time. Her carpenter husband patted some hay into a makeshift pillow
where his young wife laid her head. The contractions increased. And
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The Greatest Birth Story Ever Told

after a big push, a tiny babe landed in the calloused, grubby hands of
His stepfather.
The angels sang. Heaven shed a happy tear. And the world
would never be the same.
When I first saw my baby, she was hanging inverted in the
sterile, gloved hand of my sister, the OB, crying her lungs out.
Groggy from the anesthetic, all I could do was shed a tear at the
great blessing before my eyes. And my life was changed forever.
Surrounded by filth and stench, the Sinless One was born. The
Lord of the Universe did the unthinkable. He took the form of man
— not as a mighty ruler — but a helpless baby who cried just as my
baby did.
Nobody who has given birth will look at the Nativity story
in the same way again. At least I won’t.
The experience has given me a new appreciation for
what God went through to fulfill His promise of a Savior for
mankind.
At the first Christmas, the Word became flesh. This
Christmas, as we recall this wonderful Incarnation of Christ, may
we allow the Word to become flesh again — this time in our lives.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us….
From the fullness of his grace we have all received one
blessing after another. ( John 1:14, 16)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #37: Life isn’t about how to survive the


storm but how to dance in the rain.
Give Us This Day
Our Daily Milk

M
My life these days has been confined to a short list of tasks to be
accomplished every two hours.
Feed.
Clean and change diapers.
Pacify.
Put baby to sleep.
And before I can rest or do something for myself, the cycle
begins anew.
When you’re a few days into healing from a Caesarian section
and you don’t get to sleep because of the repetitive tasks you have
to do, then add to that post-partum depression, it’s easy to forget
to count your blessings.
That the Lord has blessed my husband and me with a
beautiful, healthy 7.7-pound baby girl with five fingers in each
hand. (When I was pregnant, I had a nightmare that she had six!)
That my CS delivery happened with hardly any glitch.
That I gave birth in a comfortable, stress-free hospital in the hands
of the country’s best obstetrician. (I’m biased — she’s my sister).
That I had family and friends who came to share their
presence, prayers and gifts for my baby and me.
But all that was easy to overlook in the face of frustration.
I didn’t have milk!
And because I was dead set on purely breastfeeding my baby,
I stubbornly refused to give her the bottle so she wouldn’t forget
how to suck from the breast. (Babies become lazy to breastfeed
when they get used to feeding from the bottle because it’s much
easier to draw milk that way.)
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Give Us This Day Our Daily Milk

The result was a very hungry baby and a very stressed mom.
“Jesus, give us milk!” was my constant prayer. It reached a
point when I feared every time she would wake up because I knew
she’d be hungry again.
We were headed towards dehydration by the time I caved in and
gave my baby some formula. And for the first time, she was satisfied.
Still reeling from not being able to provide ample nourishment
for my baby, I checked my mail and found a Soulfood Newsletter
from Bo. (Subscribe for free at www.bosanchez.ph.)
“What do you do when your best plans don’t happen?”
Bo asked, as if he singled me out of his tens of thousands of
subscribers.
Yes, I had prayed — even listed it among my seven dreams
for 2008 in my Novena to God’s Love1 — that I would be able to
breastfeed my baby. Because my husband has so many allergies, I
figured we’d have a greater chance of keeping our daughter allergy-
free if I breastfed her exclusively.
But God has His own ways and His own reasons. And while I
can complain that I don’t have enough breast milk to satisfy my baby,
I can be thankful that God did give us milk. It just came in a can.
I read somewhere that life isn’t about how to survive the
storm but how to dance in the rain. In my walk with the Lord,
there have been many times when I prayed for sunshine and got
a typhoon instead. But I’ve learned that Christianity is not about
getting the highest batting average in answered prayers so much as
it is growing in the knowledge that Jesus is there right at your side,
no matter what storm you face.
So, milk or no milk, allergy or no allergy, I dance.
This time with a beautiful baby in my arms.

Many plans are in a man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose


for him that will stand. (Proverbs 19:21)

1
A novena booklet written by Bo Sanchez where you write down seven dreams you’re asking the Lord to fulfill in your life for that year.
Available through Shepherd’s Voice. Email sales@shepherdsvoice.com.ph or visit www.shepherdsvoice.com.ph

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #38: You’d be happier if you didn’t


grumble and complain.
The Happiest Christian on
the Block

M
My two-month-old Charlize is generally an easy baby to care
for. When she cries, you can console her by giving her milk,
burping her or changing her diaper.
But there are days when she can be fussy. She’s full. She’s
burped. She’s dry. But she’s still crying. When she’s like that,
it can be frustrating.
Thank God for my classmates in Rome Kanapi’s
Childbirth Preparation Classes that my husband and I
attended. After we finished the course, the wives kept in touch
via email — sharing our birth stories, breastfeeding woes and
successes, and new mom challenges.
When one of the mommies sent out an SOS on how
to pacify her colicky infant, another one responded with a
solution taken from the book The Happiest Baby on the Block
by Dr. Harvey Karp. His five “S’s” to calm down a baby works
for Charlize but it also got me reflecting on how we Christians
can sometimes act like colicky newborns.
We’re fed. We’re comfortable. We’re blessed. But still
we grumble and complain. What to do when we’re “colicky”
Christians? Try the five “S’s”:
1. Swaddle – According to Wikipedia, swaddling is the
practice of wrapping infants snuggly to restrict their
movement. It goes back to ancient times when they
believed that it was essential in the development of a baby’s
posture.
The most famous record of swaddling is in the New
Testament on Jesus’ birth. Interestingly, in the Old
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The Happiest Christian on the Block

Testament, when an infant was not swaddled, it symbolized


that he was abandoned (Ezekiel 16:4).
As a Christian, I’ve been “swaddled” by the Lord.
Because I came to know the Lord when I was 14, I was
“taken captive by God to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:26)
even before I could be corrupted by worldliness and vice.
Though there have been many times when I could have
chosen to stray, God’s grace kept me on the straight and
narrow.
2. Shhh – Turn on a vacuum cleaner, a hair dryer or you can
just say “shhh” out loud. This works because when she was
a fetus, the sounds she heard in the womb were louder than
a vacuum cleaner.
For the colicky Christian, this translates to our
quiet time with the Lord. In our noisy world, if we don’t
deliberately spend times of silence to listen to Him, we’ll
find it difficult to hear His voice. The psalmist wisely
advises, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:11).
3. Swing – Rock your crying baby with small, jiggly movements
allowing their heads to bob just a little.
This reminds me of how the Jews worship. They gently
rock back and forth in prayer in order to fulfill the Greatest
Commandment to “love the Lord with all your strength”
(Mark 12:30). Worshiping the Lord is a sure-fire way to
quash our grumbling.
4. Side – Babies don’t like lying down on their backs so
putting them on their side or on their tummies will soothe
them.
For us, this means a change of perspective. Oftentimes,
we grumble and complain because we only see our side of
a situation and overlook heaven’s view.
But God sees not as man sees (1 Samuel 16:7). During
the first two weeks of Charlize’s life, when I realized that I
wouldn’t be able to breastfeed her because of my low milk
supply, I easily succumbed to frustration and grumbling.
But later, as I chose to see my glass half full instead of half

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

empty, I started to thank God for the freedom that bottle-


feeding had given me.
5. Suck – Nothing soothes a baby as quickly as sucking from
a breast, bottle or pacifier. As Christians, feeding on God’s
Word is the best way to cure our grumbling spirits.

“Be as eager for milk as newborn babies — pure milk of the


spirit to make you grow unto salvation now that you have
tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:2)

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The Happiest Christian on the Block

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #39: God is faithful even when we are not.


Valentine Blues

F
For many years, Valentine’s Day was a holiday I didn’t look forward
to. While the whole world was swathed in red — from hearts to
cupids to flowers — mine was drenched with the blues.
Even when I was surrounded by loving family members and
close friends who were single like me, somehow there was that
emptiness over not having a special someone on the day of hearts.
There were some years when the pain was so real, it drove me to
tears.
Today, I type this chapter with a diamond ring and a glittering
wedding band on my left hand. Valentine’s Day has also taken a
new meaning. It’s a day I will forever celebrate because it was then
when I first met my husband.
Still, I haven’t forgotten how painful it can sometimes be
when you’re single. When you’ve waited as long as I did, you don’t
easily forget…
The lonely nights after you’re done watching the rented
videos and you still lie awake. (These were the times when I prayed
most fervently, “Lord, please naman, have mercy on me! Send me
the man that I will spend the rest of my life with. And can you
please make it happen before Your Second Coming?”)
The comments you get from well-meaning relatives who keep
asking when you’re getting married. (I’ve learned to memorize
comebacks like, “I was planning to do it today but it’s getting late.
Maybe tomorrow.”)
The disappointment of coming home from another blind
date that’s a dead-end. (The knight in shining armor you hoped to
meet turned out to be a loser in tin foil.)
The silent panic you feel when your birthday rolls by. (Blip-
blip. Blip-blip. I search for my cell phone thinking it’s the alarm
until I realize it’s my body clock reminding me of my age.)

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Valentines Blues

The hopelessness that grips you when you attend your niece’s
wedding. (Yes, you still remember how she looked in her diapers.)
The bitterness that rises when you hear that someone is
marching down the aisle for her second marriage. (Hey, give a
chance to others! You’ve already had your turn!)
I could go on and on.
That’s why I sympathize with single people who are still
impatiently looking for their one true love.
To all the single, lonely people out there, take heart.
There’s hope.
Take it from someone who prayed for two decades and
concluded it wouldn’t happen.
But when it did, God more than made up for all those lonely
Valentine’s Days.
God is faithful. Even when we are not.

You changed my mourning into dancing; you took off my sackcloth


and clothed me with gladness. (Psalm 30:11)

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Lesson #40: Don’t deny your age. Defy it!


Turning 40

I
It sends shivers down my spine. The thought that I’m hitting the
big 4-0 in January 2009. I mean — could it be true — half my life
is over? But I’m just getting started! I got married a year and a half
ago. I delivered our first child last year. And this year we’ll start
building our house.
The only thing that makes me feel better about admitting my
age is the thought that you probably have to pick up your jaw from
the floor, saying, “WHAT? Rissa is 40?!!! She doesn’t look it!”
I know, I know. Life’s unfair. How can a 40-year-old still be
mistaken as a 27-year-old? Just a few, short years ago, I was asked
for an ID to prove I was above 21 when I entered a bar in the
US!
Since then, my motto has been Melanie Griffith’s battle cry:
“Don’t deny your age. Defy it!”
Think about it. There’s no better time to age than the present.
In 1900, the average lifespan of the Filipino was 35. Forty was
considered old age and 55 was extremely old. Now, in just over a
century, that number has doubled. Research says that in 60 years,
people could expect to live up to 100.
So if I have another 40 or so years to live, what can I expect?
In the Bible, the number 40 had a special meaning. Forty
days or 40 years represented a period of trial or probation that
ended with a time of restoration or renewal. Some Bible experts
add that 40 denotes a time of preparation for a time of grace.
Noah endured 40 days of rain that ended with a new start for
the world. Elijah took a 40-day trip to Mt. Horeb, culminating in
an intimate encounter with God that strengthened him to continue
with his ministry. Moses spent 40 years in the desert to equip him
to answer God’s calling to lead Israel. And Israel spent 40 years on
a journey that ended in the Promised Land.

87
Turning 40

If any of these are indications of what I can expect in my


next 40 years, then the best is yet to come.
Here are more reasons why it’s great to be 40:
• You can still get married, have kids and enjoy
them growing up.

• You can shift careers or go back to school and still


have the time to be successful in your new field.

• If you do go back to school, you no longer have


to type your term papers on a manual typewriter
(with keys that would sometimes get stuck) using
carbon paper to make two copies.

• You’re so much wiser than women half your age


but you can still get away with looking like one of
their their barkada.1

• You’re more confident that God loves you and


that He has a hand even in the seemingly negative
circumstances in your life.

• You can do extreme sports and not have to worry


about arthritis (yet).

• You’ve learned to love yourself — warts and all.


And whatever you don’t love, you have the money
to pay Vicki Belo to fix it!

My list actually reached 40 but I had to cut it down


due to space constraints. Anyway, given that I’ll be alive for
many more years, I have all the time in the world to share
the rest of it in the future.

Good people will prosper like palm trees, and they will grow
strong…. They will be like trees that stay healthy and fruitful
even when they are old. (Psalm 92:12,14)

1
group of friends

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

Epilogue:
It Came to Pass
The other day, I pulled out my journal of the year 2000 to verify
some dates and facts. In the process, I read through some of the
entries I wrote down.
Most of them were passages and promises from Scripture
that I had received from the Lord during my prayer time. Others
recorded my struggles, my admission of loneliness, my longings
and prayers for a lifetime partner.
As I reminisced and remembered the emotional turmoil I
endured then, I couldn’t help but smile.
In the light of the desk lamp, I could see my husband dozing
in the dark. And a few steps away, in the next room, was my
daughter sleeping in her crib.
Two things came to me clearly that night.
First, God fulfills His promises.
The Word was made flesh.
It was lying right there on the bed and in the crib.
It took many years for the promises to come to pass but they
did.
Second, the trials I experienced then didn’t come to stay. They
came to pass.
So the next time you’re struggling with something, remember
this:
God’s promises come to pass.
So do our trials.
Everything that happens in between — that’s grace.
May you live each day walking in the amazing grace of our
Lord Jesus.

Rissa Singson-Kawpeng

89
About the Author

Rissa has been in the Charismatic Renewal since she was 14 years
old. She has served extensively in music ministry and has headed
both youth and singles ministries. But her primary ministry is in
proclaiming God’s Word. She does this not just through preaching
but also through media, especially in the publishing ministry.
Although a Computer Science graduate from De La Salle
University, Rissa began to write when she got involved in the
publishing ministry of a Catholic community. She moved on to a
career in Christian publishing where she was mentored by a former
editor of The Wall Street Journal.
Rissa’s skill in crafting stories and editing them
was further enhanced when she took a magazine
writing course at the San Francisco State
University, where her teacher was a former
Newsweek correspondent. Rissa finished the
course with straight As.
Today, she is the editor-in-chief of
Kergyma magazine and writes for the other
publications of Shepherd’s Voice
Publications. She lives in Manila
with her husband, Chris, and their
daughter, Charlize.

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

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Confessions of an Impatient Bride

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ORDER FORM
Name: B-day:
Address:
Telephone number(s): Date sent:
E-mail address:
❏ Cash ❏ Check ❏ Money Order
❏ Bank deposit thru BDO S/A No. 397-000070-4
or BPI S/A No. 0123-4832-94, Allied Bank S/A No. 3160-00255-7,
Metrobank S/A No. 3-2655-0807-4 (validated deposit slip enclosed)
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Learn to live a fantastic life. Log on to www.bosanchez.ph

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