Discover a Simple Path to Happiness

BO SANCHEZ
The BOss, Second Collection
Wisdom for a Happy Soul
From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, deliver us Lord!
– St. Theresa of Avila
Haven’t you noticed?
A lot of people who’re supposed to be close to God are
miserable.
I don’t get that. I simply can’t.
Because, in my book, God is a happy God.
In fact, I believe He’s the happiest Being in this whole swirling
universe. I also figure He does a lot of things we’d be totally
shocked if we saw Him in action. Like I know He laughs a lot. He
sings. He jumps up and down. He weeps for joy. I bet He even
dances—what style, I haven’t the foggiest idea.
Because I know God invented laughter and song and dance.
Here’s my question: If some religious guy is supposed to be
close to Him, wouldn’t you expect that even a teensy bit of the
Almighty’s joy gets rubbed off on him?
You Can Make Your Life Beautiful will show you the simple
path to happiness. Open this book and open your heart, and let
your soul be drawn closer to the happy God.
– Bo Sanchez
You Can Make Your Life Beautiful is another special collection of Bo
Sanchez’s articles first published in The BOss in KERYGMA magazine.
They were edited for the purpose of this book.
Y
o
u

C
a
n

m
a
k
e

Y
o
u
r

L
i
f
e

B
e
a
u
t
i
f
u
l
B
O

S
A
N
C
H
E
Z
I
S
B
N
-
9
7
1
-
9
1
7
5
6
-
4
-
8
1
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
BO SANCHEZ
BEAUTIFUL
YOU CAN MAKE
YOUR LIFE
Discover a Simple Path to Happiness
2
Other Books By Bo Sanchez
THE BOSS Series
Thank God He’s Boss
You Can Make Your Life Beautiful
You Have the Power to Create Love
SIMPLIFY Series
Simplify and Live the Good Life
Simplify and Create Abundance
PRAYERBOOKS
Embraced
The Way of the Cross
Special Prayers for the Holy Rosary
3
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
YOU CAN MAKE
YOUR LIFE
BEAUTIFUL
ALSO BY BO SANCHEZ
Book
The BOss (Thank God It Ain’t Me)
Audiocassettes
Bible Study for Catholics (Ten Cassettes)
Spiritual Warfare (Three Cassettes)
How to Love God When He Seems Far Away
(Three Cassettes)
Secret of Sainthood (Two Cassettes)
Romance with God (One Cassette)
Holy Rosary (Three Cassettes)
Way of the Cross (One Cassette)
Tape of the Month Specials
Teaching Journal
Soulfood, Prescriptions for a Blessed Life (monthly)
4
YOU CAN MAKE
YOUR LIFE
BEAUTIFUL
Discover a Simple Path to Happiness
BO SANCHEZ
A KERYGMA Collection Book
SHEPHERD’S VOICE PUBLICATIONS, INC.
You Can Make Your Life Beautiful
Copyright © 2000 by Bo Sanchez
Requests for information should be addressed to:
SHEPHERD’S VOICE Publications
#60 Chicago St., Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines 1109
Tel. No. (02) 411-7874 to 77
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.
Layout design by Noli Vicedo
ISBN-971-91756-4-8
The stories in this book first appeared in KERYGMA magazine
under the column, The BOss by Bo Sanchez.
5
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
Dearest Marowe,
every time I watch you smile,
I’m reminded of two things:
that God plays favorites,
and I am one of them.
Thank you for making my life beautiful.
6
7
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
Cont ent s
Keep the Number of Your Heart Secret 11
You Can Make Your Life Beautiful 13
Hug Someone Today While There’s Time 17
Your Past Doesn’t Define Your Future 19
Make God Your Home 23
God Will Meet You Where You Are 25
Let Some Things not Change 27
Hold Hands 29
Know Your Deepest Desires 31
Say ‘Thank You’ Often 33
Do What Love Demands 35
Give Your Heart Away and Find It Whole 37
Avoid Potholes by Taking Humps 39
Stop for Directions 41
God is a Happy God 45
You Can Choose to be Happy 47
Have Fun When You Can 49
Love with Your Heart 53
You Never Graduate from Love’s Academy 55
Stop Comparing and Start Living 57
Believe in Yourself the Way God Believes in You 61
Make Enjoying Life a Master Skill 65
Nurture Your Secret Life 69
Life is Good if You Love 73
In Every Trial, There is a Treasure 75
Your Primary Gifts Will Lead You
to Your Sacred Mission 79
Friendships are Your Greatest Treasure 83
Only God is not a Season 87
The Fastest Guy Doesn’t Win the Race 91
Wipe While Wet 95
8
Only Love Heals 99
Hard Work Magic Works 103
God Answers Prayer His Way 107
Be a Dolphin, not a Shark 111
Be Good Ads for God 115
9
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
Pr e f a c e
The title of this book is my dream for
you.
You can make your life beautiful.
Because deep down, beneath the mess
of your problems, it already is beautiful.
Because all the happiness that you need
for your soul is found within you.
Take my hand now.
Walk with me and join me in my
sometimes funny, sometimes crazy
journeys.
If in one story, you discover a spiritual
truth that will raise the quality of your life,
or give you deeper joy, or change the
direction of your path—then hold on to that
truth. Stop reading and loiter for a while
until you’ve embraced that gem of wisdom.
Make it your own. Baptize it with your
name. If you do this, you will find that truth
leading you to create wonderful things,
pointing to areas of your soul that need
repair and realignment.
And when you feel that you’re ready,
walk with me on to the next story.
Be as beautiful as God wants you to be.
10
11
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
Can you believe this?
At a time when Kerygma
1
had about 250,000
readers all over the country (there’s more today)—
plus a few more thousands around the world, we only
had two phone lines in our office.
You read that right: Two.
That was like putting the entire Pacific Ocean
through a small two-inch pipe.
And rusty ones, too. Because our phones had the
audacity to break down on us. During that memorable
era of our history, if you called us up—and heard a
ring—you didn’t shout yabadabadoo just yet. Some
actually danced the boogie and bought some ice cream
at that point, but we advised not to do them yet.
Because the phone could have been busted, and all
you’d have heard was the ringing. And the ringing.
And the ringing. And nothing else, except your own
scream: “Aaaarrrrggggggh!” Imagine how our callers
felt. Some suffered a neurotic episode right there.
And if you heard a ring when you called us up, we
asked people to check what time it was: It may have
been two in the morning.
But here was the real miracle. If you finally heard
our receptionist pick up the receiver and say, “This is
Kerygma office, may I help you?” we gave you the go
KEEP THE NUMBER
OF YOUR HEART SECRET
12
ahead signal to break down into joyful weeping and
dance not only the boogie, but the cha-cha and tango
at the same time. Buy the ice cream we told you, and
fly off to Boracay.
Because you beat the odds.
You won.
You out-dialed thousands of callers.
Believe me, probability-wise, you had more
chances of being killed by a terrorist than reaching us
by phone.
Guess what.
Nowadays, I feel that God doesn’t eat ice cream as
often as He wants to.
Because every time He calls us, all He gets is the
busy signal.
Our hearts receive thousands of calls from our
different affections and attachments and ambitions.
This is my suggestion. (it’s really quite simple):
Keep the number of your heart secret. Between you and
God. Please don’t share it to the whole world. Let your
deepest, most powerful affections be for Him alone.
And then no one else will clog your line.
Not your dreams.
Or your idols.
Or your other loves.
God isn’t on a diet.
Let Him enjoy all the ice cream in the world.
————————————————
1
Kerygma is one of the most widely read Catholic inspirational
magazines in the Philippines.
Keep the Number of Your Heart Secret
13
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
I hold her hand.
And stroke her hair gently.
And getting enough courage, I steal a kiss from
her cheek.
And when she finally smiles at me, I think I am
one incredibly lucky guy.
Tracy is already a young woman.
But her head is bent downward, drool flows
through one side of her mouth, and her face is bereft
of any expression. She can’t speak. Or move by
herself. Every once in a while, someone has to shift the
position of her head, her arms, her legs—or else they
become painfully sore. (Doctors regularly give her
painkillers.)
And the hand I hold is small for her age and
contorted. Her limbs are terribly thin, twisted
abnormally short, and have to be strapped in a special
wheelchair.
She doesn’t eat the way you and I do. She’s fed
through a tube attached straight through her
abdomen.
Some would call her a vegetable.
I wouldn’t. Because her name is Tracy.
1
And there’s one thing she does well, despite all these.
Tracy smiles.
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE
BEAUTIFUL
14
And her smile takes your breath away.
You see, she is able to smile when she likes
something.
It’s the only way she communicates.
So I playfully rub the back of her neck and
whisper to her ear, “Tracy, do you like this? Smile if
you do...”
She does and it’s so sweet, you’d fall in love with
her right there. I wipe her saliva with her bib, which is
now soaking wet, and continue to hold her hand for
the rest of the day.
I go home with tears in my eyes.
The next morning, I visit her again.
I can’t get away.
Yes, I know the past days were the most
unproductive days of my life: no articles written, no
preaching made, no songs composed, no meetings
held, no books read, no plans designed.
All I did was hold her hand.
And allowed myself to be loved by a smile.
But the peace I felt!
And I realize why: I was being deeply transformed
by the power of this girl—the one who couldn’t even
move a finger.
Tracy was training my soul to love well. She was
training me to love one person, one face, one heart at a
time. And she was training me to find love in the most
unexpected places.
Even her memory speaks to me, asking me to slow
You Can Make Your Life Beautiful
15
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
down if I want to really love.
I picture her in my mind and she smiles.
She tells me that I always have a choice.
I can make life beautiful.
————————————————
1
Tracy lives in Daybreak, L’arche community in Canada, a special home for
the mentally handicapped.
16
17
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
My father isn’t the expressive, sentimental type.
He isn’t the hugging, “I love you” kind of a guy.
But I recall that, as a young boy, he showed his
love to me the only way he knew best: He spent
enormous time with me. We’d jog together every
night, walk to a pizza joint on weekends and simply
talk. (Actually, I’d do the talking and he’d do the
listening.)
My father was my best friend.
A few months ago, Dad was trying to fix a light
bulb in our garage. Standing on a chair for greater
reach, he lost his balance and went crashing down.
His head hit the concrete floor and, immediately,
blood spurted out like water from an open faucet.
Because of the impact, there was like a dripping
faucet inside his brain as well. Blood clots started to
appear in his X-rays and he began to experience
paralysis in his body. Even after brain surgery, he lost
his language ability because of a new blood clot,
found even deeper than the others—too deep for
another surgery to reach.
The gravest blow was severe pneumonia, an
infection that developed after a few months of staying
in the hospital. His lungs were now filled with fluid
and that was when the crisis hit.
HUG SOMEONE TODAY
WHILE THERE’S TIME
18
He was hooked up to a respirator and the long
wait began. The doctors told us frankly that he could
go anytime. At that point, he was only absorbing 20%
of the oxygen they were pumping into him. Someone
doesn’t last too long in that state.
I looked at Dad’s hands and face. They were bluish
in color. I whispered to his ear, “I love you, Dad.”
That was when he regained consciousness for a
few minutes. He looked at me with so much sadness
in his eyes.
Then he did something that he never did in my
entire life. He raised his hands towards my face and
clasped me on both cheeks. Then he brought me down
towards him and gave me a hug.
My father gave me a hug.
He was telling me that he loved me, too.
He was also probably bidding farewell.
My emotions were running wild inside me.
I was both grieving and joyful.
Joyful because for the first time, my tough,
unsentimental father gave me a hug. Grieving because
he was going away. Grieving because it might be the
last hug I’ll ever get from him.
“Dad, we should have done this a long time ago,” I
muttered to myself.
Today, my father has recovered a little bit,
narrowly escaping that ordeal.
I hug him more often now.
Hug someone today while there’s time.
Hug Someone Today, While There’s Still Time
19
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
YOUR PAST DOESN’T DEFINE
YOUR FUTURE
I can still see it.
There was a bamboo hut I saw while traveling in a
far-flung island in the country. Right smack in the
middle of nowhere, with mountain ranges and
farmlands around it, lay this tiny shack the size of
your regular toilet.
I had to stop to take a good look because it had a
sign on top of it. And the sign was bigger than the
house itself. I read it, in big, bold, bright, red letters:
GLOBAL OUTREACH FOR JESUS
(INTERNATIONAL)
Now they’d be in trouble if that was their central
office.
Then boy, whoever put that sign had faith.
I actually felt like that bamboo hut when, at 14
years old, a prayer group leader “prophesied” to me
that I will preach to different nations all over the
world.
She said she had heard God tell her that in her
prayers.
Wow!
Me, an international preacher.
Ha!
I’m not insane, thank you.
You see, I knew myself. I saw who I was every
20
time I looked at the mirror, which I tried to avoid to
relieve myself of unnecessary stress. I was a small-
packaged, toothpick-structured, pimple-infested,
grotesquely-formed, 14-year-old creature—who also
wasn’t very bright. I was struggling in high school
algebra, chemistry, physics and Pilipino.
I wasn’t much of anything, really.
Oh, I was a preacher all right.
At that time, I was already leading a small prayer
group of 30 people. Impressed? Don’t be. My audience
was um... a little bit biased. The regular members of
my prayer group were the following: my mother, my
father, my five sisters, their husbands, my nieces, my
aunts, their husbands, my cousins and the
neighborhood dogs. Count that and you get 30 very
loyal people with a few representatives from the
animal kingdom.
International preacher?
Lunacy.
But listen. I’m now 33 years old. With lesser
pimples but with a receding hairline now. (I don’t run
out of problems.)
And the insane has happened: I’ve preached to
sooooo many nations all over the world these past
years, I sometimes wonder if my next flight will be to
a planet called Jupiter.
I’m not boasting. You see, I don’t think I can. Ever.
I still see myself as that bamboo hut out in the
middle of nowhere. I’m still that 14-year-old nobody.
Your Past Doesn’t Define Your Future
21
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
All it had to take was God.
And a guy who failed in algebra, physics and
chemistry.
The truth?
Your past doesn’t define your future.
22
23
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
MAKE GOD YOUR HOME
I’ve been traveling too much, I sometimes wake
up in the morning wondering what city I’m in. Am I
in Davao? Or Bacolod? Or Toronto? Or L.A.? Or
Jakarta? Or Cebu? Everything is a giant blur.
But the moment I step outside the sunny day, and
inhale the heavy, poisonous, potent, mutant,
radioactive, genetically-altering, tuberculosis-causing,
cancer-inducing fumes of the air...
Ahhh... (Cough.)
Instantly, I know I’m back in Manila.
This is my city.
Where else are you forced to trust God every time
you inhale? Only here.
And many people complain of its absurd, insane,
foolish traffic jam. It’s phenomenal how we cause
them. I think it’ll become one of our major tourist
attractions.
But I call it sweet traffic. This monstrosity causes
me to do an extra 15 decades of the Rosary in the car.
Cool, hmm?
While doing so, I try to avoid a mad rush of death
machines swerving left and right beside me. (I think
they were called public buses decades ago). I say a
prayer for the crazy drivers, “Father forgive them, for
they do not know what they are doing...” My patience is
24
Make God Your Home
tested and stretched, and little by little, my soul gets
love-trained for heaven.
And when I walk through Megamall
1
and see the
crowd that rivals the sands of Pinatubo—it becomes
the perfect place for earnest intercession. I walk
around, praying for that happy couple eating ice
cream, that crying child on her mother’s breast, that
bored saleslady, that punkish kid.
I pray for hundreds of people during those days.
Suddenly, God becomes very close to me.
If given a choice, I can decide to live somewhere
else—tomorrow if need be. I can escape it all and
move to a tiny hamlet in a remote island of the
Philippines.
I’d escape the heat, the smog, the madness.
But deep in my heart, I believe God wants me
here.
In Manila.
This is my mission place.
And my home is where God is.
And He’s here.
I feel Him in every breath I take. (Cough.)
Listen. Any place can be your home. It’s not the
location. Or the ambiance. Or the scenery. It’s where
God is calling you, pure and simple.
Do you feel Him where you are?
If not, you’re not yet home.
————————————————
1
The biggest shopping mall in Manila.
25
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
GOD WILL MEET YOU
WHERE YOU ARE
I’m taking post-graduate courses in Theology to
remind me of how ignorant I really am. You see, I love
listening to my brilliant professors speak high-tech
“theologese.”
But I guess it’s not just for me. I can’t write straight
with big, heavy-duty words, quoting stuff from super-
duper theologians.
To me is, that work just a little bit less difficult than
doing advanced Trigonometry. But I recall one time
when I took a shot at it. I started pounding on the
keyboard, “Some contemporary approaches to
spirituality convey paradigmatic alterations from
traditional soteriology, rooted in modern Biblical
hermeneutics...”
Ugh... It was pure torture. (I offered my sufferings
for the conversion of the world. And I bet you’d do
that, too, if I wrote that way, hmm?)
But in all this, I’ve learned something quite
glorious.
God is flexible.
He’s made of rubber.
He can stoop down to hallow, lazy brains like
mine.
And He can also meet the best and sharpest minds
of big-time theologians. And still win.
26
God Will Meet You Where You Are
He can be wise to the wise.
And simple to the simple.
I’ve realized that God will meet us where we are.
He can be very tender to you if you need an
embrace.
He can be firm to you if you need some spanking.
He can be terribly awesome when you need a
miracle.
He can be painfully quiet when He wants you to
trust Him.
He will be what you need him to be.
(Note: Not want Him to be. I said, need Him to be.)
Question: What do you really need right now?
Believe me.
He knows about it more than you do.
So let Him meet you where you are.
And let Him love you, right there.
27
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
LET SOME THINGS
NOT CHANGE
I remember a time when life was a little simpler.
During an ancient, pre-historic era, there was only
one Shakey’s pizza store in the country—located in far
away Angeles City. I was only 12 years old when my
father would take me there for a two-hour drive, just
to eat pizza. He’d eat two slices and I’d eat the rest.
More than the pizza, however, I treasure the time I
spent with Dad. In my heart, I knew that my father
loved me. Because he loved me enough to waste his time on
me.
Things have changed now. Today, we no longer go
out of town to eat pizza. We don’t even have to leave
the house. I just dial delivery and Dad and I can eat
pizza. My father’s an older man now and so am I.
(Sniffle.) Sometimes, I pay the bill. (Waaaah!)
But when I really think about it, the deeper things
haven’t changed. Dad still eats two slices, and I still
eat the rest. And I still enjoy his deep friendship much
more than ever.
As a kid, Dad and I walked together to Cubao, and
we loved passing by that tiny Shoemart (SM)—if you
can still remember—that ancient SM that sold only
shoes and nothing else.
I loved those walks!
Just Dad and me, walking man to man.
28
Let Some Things Not Change
What has changed?
Today, SM consumes about 30% of the
geographical land space of the Republic of the
Philippines. And it sells everything else except nuclear
reactors and live piranha.
Also, Dad and I are no longer able to take long
walks. I’ve become a missionary and that has taken
me away from home. But when given a chance, I
invite Dad and Mom to hop along the journey. So
we’ve gone together to different parts of the world.
They don’t give talks or anything like that.
I still do the preaching. But from the pulpit, I could
see Dad and Mom praying at the back of the crowd.
They’re praying for me.
They love me.
Thank God, some things don’t ever change.
Because in this insanely chaotic world of ours, our
kids desperately need to know that they can hold on
to certain realities that remain true for life.
Or else they’ll lose their way and die somewhere
inside.
29
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
HOLD HANDS
Boy and girl.
Sweet young things.
Around their late teens.
Both walking in front of me, lost in their world of
cute cupids, beating hearts and chocolate cream cakes
with caramel toppings.
They walk as if walking on air, hand in hand.
Hip to hip.
Shoulder to shoulder.
Eye to eye.
Nose to nose.
Bad breath to bad breath.
But do they mind?
Of course not. They’re in luv.
I watch this scene with amusement one night,
while going home from one prayer meeting.
At my side was another couple walking home.
Friends of mine.
Not so young.
With three kids. (The eldest is 23 years old.)
Grandparents in the making, really.
In fact, the guy’s balding. There’s nothing on top
except a few overstaying weeds. Airplanes can land in
and out without a problem. He can sing Shine, Jesus,
Shine with superb visual effects. He compensates by
30
Hold Hands
his bushy eyebrows, combing them upwards as far as
possible.
The woman on the other hand is gifted, endowed,
and abundant. Through her, the vastness of the
Kingdom is displayed. She has cellulite deposits with
interest compounding daily. Indeed, she receives all
that life has to offer her. And to her embarrassment,
people always ask her, “When are you giving birth?”
But this fiftyish couple does something that blows
my mind.
They walk hand in hand as well.
And their handholding is so different from the
way the young lovebirds in front of me hold hands.
This time, I know it isn’t just a cutey-sweety
symbol. It’s proven. Full. Real. Unquestionable.
Pregnant! (With meaning!) Backed up by 25 years of
cooking meals, washing dishes, doing the laundry and
raising bratty kids.
Stop reading. And hold the hand of your spouse.
Your mom. Your dad. Your friend. And prove it for the
next 25 years.
And beyond.
31
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
When I was getting married, I cried
“Heeeeeeeeelp!” I wanted to call the Fire Brigade. The
Marines! The SWAT team. Power Rangers! Batman
and Robin. Lois and Clark! Jacky Chan. Anybody!
Why?
Because I felt incredibly awkward.
To say “I was getting married,” was like as saying,
“I’m blonde” or “I’m from Pluto” or “My nose is
gorgeous.” Because if you’ve been reading stuff I
wrote a few years back, you’d probably recall these
lines from me:
“My friends, I want to remain celibate for life. Will He
give me the grace to remain so? I’m giving myself two years
to pray for the blessing of celibacy. If I find it, and I really
hope I do, I’ll make a more permanent decision at that
time...”
Well, that was written in December of 1995.
And I didn’t find the grace. Sniffle.
I prayed for the gift of celibacy.
He gave me the gift of marriage instead.
(Mom, don’t cry too much. My son may be a
bishop.)
In this whole discernment process about my
future, I realized two important things about me.
1) I love being a lay preacher. I love it too much to
KNOW YOUR DEEPEST DESIRES
32
Know Your Deepest Desires
give it up for a roman collar and velvet stole and
church altar. Preaching as a normal human being
works too well for me.
2) My heart longs for a female companion too
much, too often, too strongly. What can I say? I’m
made for luv. (Oh no! I’m watching too many Meg
Ryan movies.)
A friend of mine tells me that searching for the will
of God “out there” is a big boo-boo. Because His will
for us is in the depths of our hearts. We’ll discover His
plan for our lives in our deepest desires. (Still, it’ll
take prayer and time to find out what they are!) When
God made us, He implanted within us a burning
desire for His will. He’ll never twist our arm and say,
“Be a priest!” or “Be a nun!” or “Get married!” or “Be
the Tom Cruise of the Philippines.”
He won’t force.
Because we’ll simply desire His will.
Period.
33
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
SAY ‘THANK YOU’ OFTEN
When I was a kid, I sort of liked getting sick.
Honest.
Not only because I could miss school and stay
home. I liked being sick because Mom would bring me
milk and cookies as I stayed in bed.
In all the times I got sick as a kid (which was about
every other month), I never saw my Mom too tired to
serve me, or feed me, or fuss over me. In my mind, the
earth may shake, the moon melt and the sun explode,
but she was the one thing in this universe that would
never ever change.
Many years later, already as a lay missionary, I
remember getting terribly sick. And there she was, just
as if the decades folded up into mere days, as she
went up to my room for her hourly visits, bringing
food, warm clothes, medicine, prayer, etc. Again, it felt
good having a loving mother to watch over me. All I
had to do was ask and she’d be there for me.
But this time, as her visits progressed, I noticed
how she entered my room almost panting, her breath
short, her words faint, her movements slow. I also
read in her eyes the acceptance of a painful loss: for
the first time, she was discovering that she couldn’t
care for me much longer.
34
Say ‘Thank You’ Often
My suspicions were right. A few days later, she
tearfully shared with me her emotional realization.
“I’m just getting older, Bo. I get so tired these past
few days caring for you. I began thinking that perhaps
it’ll be good for you to get married and have a wife
now.” That was the first time she ever said that to
me—someone who for years always wanted me to be
a priest.
One day, Mom got sick. A rare event when it
happens. So I went to her room, sat beside her and
chatted about everything she wanted to talk about. (To
her, talking to me is better than all the milk and
cookies in the world.) I felt good just being beside her.
I’m writing this to you, Mom.
I know I travel a lot and I’m rarely at home because
that’s the life of a missionary. And I do thank you for your
all-out support for me in my decision to serve the Lord.
But if you do get sick, and no one’s at home to give you
milk and cookies, I want you to know that all you have to do
is call me and I’ll be there for you. Yes, we can talk as much
as you want.
You’re the best mother I could ever wish for.
You may be too old to care for me the way you did but
I’m old enough to care for you now.
In my pride, I don’t show it as much as I should but I
just want you to know that I love you, Mom.
I really, really do.
You have given me your life.
Thank you.
35
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
DO WHAT LOVE DEMANDS
I now own a cell phone.
People who have been reading my stuff for a few
years know how I love the simple lifestyle, ala St.
Francis of Assisi. I’ve always wanted an uncluttered
and free life. I didn’t want ringing, beeping and
vibrating things disturbing my prayer time. And for
the sake of humility (or so I thought), I didn’t want the
status symbol of a cell phone hanging from my belt.
So except for my computer where I write my
books, for many years I’ve avoided all sorts of
personal gadgetry, equipment and other luxuries. No
car, no cellular, no beeper, no wristwatch, no
walkman, no girlfriend, etc.
But slowly, I had to face harsh reality.
My once friendly, gentle and otherwise mentally
balanced staff of 75 people—either working for
Shepherd’s Voice (publisher of this book), or my
Catholic community, or Anawim (our work for the
poor)—have become more and more violent these past
few months.
I hear screams like, “Where were you? Planet
Mars?! We’ve been looking all over the world for you
these past three days!” Suicide attempts have been
reported to me. A few have been acting weird every
time the moon is full. And I have received a few death
36
Do What Love Demands
threats from otherwise very loving people if I don’t
get a cell phone.
I’ve realized that there is one law above every other
law. Yup, even above my desire for simplicity. Or
prayer. Or humility. It’s called the demand of love.
If I love these people, I’m going to get a cell phone.
Whether it’ll interfere with my simple lifestyle, my
prayer life and my great humility. (You see, I’m the
most humble person in the world. I get awards for my
profound humility. You know, I’m so humble that
blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...)
What does love demand in your life?
Disturbing your prayer time because your little
son wants you to carry him? Not attending your
prayer meeting this week because it’s Mom’s
birthday? Saying “yes” to a leadership position even if
you really want something low-key? Saying “no” to
an abusive friend even if everything about you wants
to say yes?
For me, it was the simple act of getting a cell
phone.
I also got myself a girlfriend who is now my wife.
But then, that’s another story.
37
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
GIVE YOUR HEART AWAY
AND FIND IT WHOLE
I now have six children.
One day, I had zero. The next day, I had six.
No, I don’t have six wives that gave birth on the
same day.
Last June 1996, I took in six orphans in my little
bamboo hut in Anawim. Varying in ages, they’re
siblings whose parents died a few years back.
Taking them was a big mistake.
I ate with these kids, prayed with them, played
with them, read them bedtime stories, and whenever I
arrived home, they’d hang on to me like I was a
Christmas tree.
When we’d finish dinner, I’d hear one of them say,
“Kuya Bo, magbasa ka na tungkol kay Jesus...”
1
I recall sitting on the bamboo floor, and the two
smallest kids scrambling for my lap, and the older
ones standing beside and behind me. I’d read slowly,
pointing to the pages of a kid’s picture Bible. A
thousand questions are asked. They’d laugh, share
their simple experiences, and sometimes just listen
quietly. In the meantime, the youngest girl would
yawn, rest her head on one of my arms and sleep
beautifully. I’d look at her cuddled up on my lap and
I’d tell myself again, “This is really one big mistake.”
38
Give Your Heart Away and Find It Whole
One night, I cried. But they were really tears of joy.
I was realizing that my life was ridiculously changing
right before my eyes. Because whenever I left them to
go back to my apartment in Manila, or preach in
different parts of the world, I cannot silence the
persistent ache within me. It throbs like a hidden
wound.
It just takes a sight of a parent carrying his child.
Or a toy left on the floor. Or a store selling children’s
clothes. Immediately, my heart travels a thousand
miles away to my bamboo hut in Anawim. What are
my kids doing now?
I miss them terribly.
I miss their noise, their laughter, their smells.
I miss holding that tiny, sleeping girl in my arms.
I must admit. My heart is no longer mine. It has
been broken and its shattered pieces now reside in
tiny hearts. They do not know the power they have
over me. In their utter helplessness, they now own me.
I love them deeply. I’ve become their prisoner. And I
hope I’ll never get released.
But ironically, in this shattered condition of my
heart, I’ve never felt so whole. So alive. So free.
Yes, it was a big mistake adopting them.
Probably one of the most beautiful mistakes I’ve
ever made in my life.
————————————————
1
Brother Bo, please read to us something about Jesus...
39
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
AVOID POTHOLES
BY TAKING HUMPS
1
They tell me that the average speed of a car in
Manila is 25 kph. That’s catastrophically slow. That’s
just the speed of a turtle injected with steroids.
Aside from traffic, there are two other things that
make vehicles go slow: humps and potholes.
Between these two, I’d rather choose humps.
Especially those that are painted bright yellow and
smooth on the curves, with nice signs to tell us they’re
coming.
But I don’t like potholes, period.
They come in all sizes: tiny Mickey Mouse holes to
nuclear bomb testing craters.
And they never come announced. They just
appear when you’re one inch away, and kabloom. And
kablagblagblag...
Life’s like that.
When God wants you to slow down, He’ll send
you potholes. But He can never give you humps
because that’s something that you should deliberately
make for youself. (More on this later.)
Potholes are the small and big problems of your
life.
When you have a bleeding hangnail, an expensive
Italian shoe isn’t very beautiful. When your doctor
tells you that you have malignant cancer, your
40
Avoid Potholes By Taking Humps
Mercedes or BMW suddenly lacks oomph. And when
you discover that your teenage son is on drugs, your
jewelry doesn’t shine as brilliantly as before.
Like potholes, problems come suddenly. No one
warns you they’re coming. And your whole life goes
kabloom and kablagblagblag...
But because of these kablooms, you’re forced to
stop and think. You ask fundamental questions, like,
“What’s life all about? Where am I going?” Overnight,
your hierarchy of values changes. The most important
things in life––such as your soul, your family, your
God––become painfully obvious. And what used to be
so pressing and insistent and noisy, reveal themselves
to be cheap.
Humps, on the other hand, are deliberately made.
By you.
You plan them out. (And fight for them with your
life.)
A quiet time for prayer each day.
Or Mass during lunch hour.
Perhaps a weekly prayer meeting.
A personal retreat every year.
Humps are special times when you’ll ask the very
same fundamental questions: “What’s life all about?
Where am I going?” But this time, not because you’re
forced to, but because you want to.
Take a lot of humps.
Perhaps potholes won’t come as often.
————————————————
1
Speedbumps
41
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
STOP FOR DIRECTIONS
In my life, I have found three places that give me a
deep sense of the presence of God: 1) a scenic
mountain with lovely forests; 2) a tranquil beach
under a blue sky; 3) and the passenger seat of Roger’s
red ‘86 Corolla.
You see, my friend Roger drives like a mad man.
Once he starts driving, those riding with him
instinctively reach for their wallets and tearfully kiss
the photos of their loved ones.
Every time I ride with him, my prayer life is
enhanced. Deepened. Invigorated. It feels as though
heaven becomes so near to my soul.
One fateful day, I was riding with him again. We
were blazing through a highway like a cruise missile.
Roger looked at me and said, “Bo, I have good news
and bad news for you.”
“What’s the good news?” I inquired between my
Hail Mary’s.
“We’re efficiently moving at an average speed of
140 kph.”
Involuntary spasms shot through my body. “Are
you trying to tell me that we’ll be arriving at our
destination in no time?”
“That’s the bad news...”
“What?”
42
Stop for Directions
“We’re lost. I have no idea where we are.”
“Stop this car Now!” I screamed.
We screeched to a halt, asked around, got info and
turned back. We were efficiently and swiftly driving
towards the opposite direction. At 140 kph!
I realize that’s no isolated incident among human
beings. We’re prone to commit the same idiocy: we get
busy, do a million things, hop here and there, move
fast, get efficient.
But gosh, efficiently going where?
What are your highest dreams, anyway?
Your deepest aspirations?
What do you think will give you gut-level, soul-
deep joy?
Stop for awhile.
Take a break.
Retreat.
Listen well.
Pray desperately.
Read a map of life.
Know His dreams for you.
When I was 13 years old, I saw myself doing two
things: preaching to a crowd of people and helping the
poor. After many years, those two dreams are reality.
I’m a preacher.
And I built Anawim, a home for the abandoned
elderly and a few orphans.
I’ve made a decision.
43
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
I’m not riding with Roger again until I’m 80. (No
matter how much he assists me with my spiritual life.)
Because I think I still have a few more God-dreams
to fulfill.
44
45
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
GOD IS A HAPPY GOD
Let me describe to you a hard-headed, stubborn-
viewed, narrow-minded, obstinate-thinking, stiff-
necked man.
Two guys bump onto each other on the street.
And one says, “Tom? Wow, Tom! My, you’ve
changed! You were so stout before, and now, you’re
soooooo thin! And you used to be short, but now
you’re incredibly tall. And my goodness, you were so
fair-skinned before, but you’re dark now! And your
clothes! You’ve changed your style! You’ve changed
soooooo much!”
The other guy says, “Uh, I’m sorry sir, but I’m not
Tom. My name is James.”
“Gosh!” exclaimed the first man, “You funny boy!
You’ve even changed your name!”
There are creatures like that in the world today.
About 99.99% of the earth’s population, I think.
They’ll insist on what they think, perceive and
feel—no matter what reality is screaming at them.
Another example: like I always believed I was
ugly. But all the girls around me keep telling me I’m
kinda good-lookin’. So what do you think should I
do? Be stubborn or open to the truth?
Some may not like that example very much, so I’m
giving you another one.
46
God is a Happy God
Every time I see a gorgeous sunrise, or play with a
baby, or hear glorious music, or stand on top of a
mountain, or run on the beach, or catch a child smile
at me—I automatically think that perhaps God must
be having fun at that particular moment.
I think: God must be a happy God! Laughing and
having a grand time when He’s creating and
recreating stuff.
Or why would He make those lovely things?
That’s reality. It screams the truth to me!
“Uh, I’m sorry, but I’m not Tom. My name is James.”
But you think I’d still believe the truth the next
day?
“Gosh, you funny boy! You’ve even changed your
name!”
For when I start my routine of the day, I
immediately forget all about my great discovery. In
the monotony of my existence, I revert back to my
programmed idea of who God is, the image I carried
in my brain since I was a scared child spanked by my
religion teacher, scolded by a parish priest, and
severely warned to be silent in church by my parents:
gray throne, long beard, long face, angry eyes.
Suddenly, I’m uneasy with Him. Because He’s too
serious. If I really want to have fun, I’d do it when
He’s not watching.
Too bad. ‘Coz He wants to have fun with me.
I wonder. When will I ever get real?
Please heal my stiff neck, Lord.
47
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
YOU CAN CHOOSE
TO BE HAPPY
I recall a few years back, I felt depressed.
I had a million problems! I had conflicts to deal
with, a few storms in my Catholic community, plus a
number of personal trials as well. To top it all, my
dandruff was getting worse and my pimples were
erupting again. I prayed, “Lord, are you sure you
want me to continue preaching and writing? I know
I’m good-looking (depression has a way of making me
hallucinate), but shouldn’t You have picked someone
much holier and wiser and more loving?”
As I poured out my grief before God, and as I felt
His tender comfort, a crazy question popped in my
mind: “Bo, give me five reasons why you should be
happy today.”
“Happy? Lord, how can I be happy at a time like this?”
But the question remained lodged in my brain,
and I couldn’t give it up.
“Well,” I mumbled, “my five reasons for being
happy are lovely Lily, sexy Sylvia, pretty Pamella,
terrific Tanya, and gorgeous Grace.” (I was still single
at that time, so I could make jokes like these.) Fearing
that lighting may strike me anytime, I decided to
become serious.
“First reason, Lord: You. We have a great
relationship. You love me so much, and uh, I love You
48
You Can Choose to be Happy
sometimes. What a God! Second, I have a beautiful
family. Dad’s 80 years old and Mom’s (bleep!), yet
we’re still together… Third, despite of it all, I have a
great Catholic group. Fourth, I’ve got a fantastic job as
preacher, writer, helping the poor… Can it be better
than this? And fifth, I’m in love with this one girl. (Not
five!) Pretty, sweet, loving, honest, and insane enough
to go out on dates with me.”
And before I realized it, my “lousy feelings” left
me and I felt happy!
You know, it worked so well, even to this day, I’ve
decided to do this daily. Before I go to bed, I recall five
things that happened during that day which I want to
be thankful for. It could be small stuff like, “Today, I
watched the sunset” or “A little kid put her arms
around me today and that felt so good” or “My wife
and I ate at McDonald’s ‘coz that was all I could afford
but felt t’was a candlelight dinner in Shangri-La.”
Because of this practice, the way I see life has
changed. Because from the moment I wake up, my
antennas are up—looking for the five things I’m going
to be thankful for. I’m no longer focused on the bad
things that happen but on God’s great blessings each
day.
Happiness is a choice.
You and I have everything that we need for
happiness. Happiness isn’t “out there” but something
that’s deep within us. We choose to be happy. We
choose to make our lives great.
What will you choose?
49
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
HAVE FUN WHEN YOU CAN
7:00 AM
One Saturday morning, I kidnap our ANAWIM
orphans and kids, all fifteen of them, and squeeze
them into my car for a day of fun. Along the way, the
kids are singing, dancing, screaming and vomiting on
each other. No wonder my car’s air freshener isn’t
working well. And where are we going? Not to those
expensive amusement parks where people pay P400
per head. Multiply that by 15, and I’ll be poorer than a
presidential aspirant who has just lost the elections.
Instead, I decide to go to a place that suits my
personal tastes, cultural preferences and artistic
orientation: a place with no entrance fee.
9:00 AM
I drive them to a free park (Quezon Memorial
Circle in Quezon City), rent old bikes—that cost me
only P400 for everyone! I spend the whole morning
trying to teach the small ones how to balance on a
two-wheeler—and wondering whether the big kids
left the park and were now biking up Kennon Road to
Baguio City.
11:30 AM
As I try to catch my breath, wipe my sweat and
50
Have Fun When You Can
remove the new designs off my shirt and pants (i.e.
bike tracks), I begin to wonder why I ever got into this
thing of putting up an orphanage. Perhaps I should
shift careers now. I begin to imagine entering into
showbiz and making a movie with Cameron Diaz.
12:00 NOON
After failing to catch them with a lasso, or with
ingenious pits that I dig and cover with leaves—I give
up and softly whisper to myself, “Kakain na ako. Kung
ayaw ninyong kumain, ‘di huwag.”
1
Immediately, all 15
are behind me, little angels in a row.
1:00 PM
After budget meals, plus ice drops—two pesos
each—for dessert, I decide on a discovery expedition,
to a place that they’ve never been to. I escort them to a
public toilet. Naturally, they are flushed with
excitement. After that, it was “swings and slides” time
in the park. Life’s pleasures are free indeed.
5:00 PM
I’m driving home with my tired crew. I’m
exhausted, yes, but peeking through my rear view
mirror, I catch a glimpse of the kids sleeping soundly,
and my heart skips a beat.
I love them so much.
One girl was still awake. She sides up to me and
whispers, “Kuya Bo, masayang masaya ako ngayon.”
2
So
I wonder if it was the bike ride, or the swing, or the ice
51
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
drop, or the public toilet. I ask why.
She gives me a tight hug. “Kasi, kasama ka namin.”
3
I try to drive carefully. My tears are getting in the
way.
————————————————
1
If you don’t want to eat, it’s up to you. I’m going to eat now.
2
Brother Bo, I’m soooo happy.
3
Because you were with us.
52
53
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
LOVE WITH YOUR HEART
Let me speak to married men this time.
One morning, let’s say you find your wife in bed
with tears in her eyes. When you ask her why, she
mumbles, “I’m depressed.”
As a husband who has read the Bible, attended
prayer meetings and now active in the parish, the
temptation at this point is to love her with your mind.
“What? How could you be depressed?” You shake
your head in dismay. “Sweetheart, you’re not yet
spiritually mature! Trust God! Follow Proverbs 3:5 and
you won’t be depressed! ‘Trust in Thy Lord with all
thine heart, leaneth not on thine own understanding, in
all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shalt direct thy
paths!’”
If you are the wife, and your husband says that to
you, I’m giving you permission tell to him one of the
most expressive words in our language: “Heh!!!”
Husbands, don’t love her with your mind.
Love her with your heart.
When she says, “I’m depressed,” do this: put your
arms around her, stroke her hair and plant a kiss on
her forehead. And then say, “It’s okay, hon. It’s okay.
Can you tell me why you’re sad? I’m listening.”
Now imagine your wife says, “I’m depressed
because this morning, I looked at the mirror, and I saw
54
Love with Your Heart
so many wrinkles on my face!” (Boo-hoo-hoo…)
Immediately, husbands, you’ll be tempted to love
with your mind again. So you say, “That’s all? Darling,
you’re vain!” you say with a preacher’s bombastic
voice, “Where’s your spiritual maturity? Scripture
says, ‘Seeketh thy treasure in heaven where thieves
doth not break in and steal or moth destroy,’ and
‘Indeed we believeth that when this earthly tent of
ours shall passeth away, we shall findeth a new home,
a dwelling in the heavens, not made by human hands,
but made by God to last forever!’”
Husbands, don’t love her with your mind.
Love with your heart.
1
At this point, she doesn’t need a preacher. She
needs a lover.
Cradle her in your arms again, and if you have a
somewhat tolerable voice, sing to her the love song of
Steve Curtis Chapman, I Will Be Here. (If your voice
chases away cats and dogs, just say the lyrics.)
I will be here,
You can cry on my shoulder,
When the mirror tells us we’re older,
I will hold you,
I will be here,
To watch you grow in beauty….
————————————————
1
There is only one time where you should love with your mind and that’s
during courtship. Think. Analyze. Evaluate. But once the wedding
ceremony is over, the heart rules.
55
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
YOU NEVER GRADUATE
FROM LOVE’S ACADEMY
Carol was peeking through the window again.
Daily, she’d watch the sweet couple next door,
doing their morning ritual: before the husband went
off to work, he’d kiss his wife, give her a hug and
declare to her, “I love you!” for all the world to hear.
Each morning, Carol saw this sight, and every time,
her heart was filled with envy.
Finally, one day, she couldn’t take it anymore.
So Carol confronted her husband Pete. “Why can’t
you be like our next-door neighbor?” She pulled the
curtain for him to take a look. “See? This man kisses
his wife, embraces her and says, ‘I love you!’ every
morning. Every morning! Why can’t you do that?”
Pete’s face was pale. “Honey, I can’t do that!”
“Why?” Carol asked angrily.
“Why, Honey, I… I don’t even know that woman!”
“Sheeeeeesh. Pete, I’m not asking you to do it with
that woman. I’m asking you to do it to me!”
“Oh…” he muttered blankly.
“Tell me that you love me again. I haven’t heard it
in a long time now!”
Pete shrugged his shoulders. “Gee, Carol, I don’t
know. I mean, I said, ‘I love you’ 30 years ago during
our honeymoon. And I told you that if I changed my
mind, I’d tell you. Well, I haven’t.”
56
You Never Graduate from Love’s Academy
By now, I think many wives reading this book
would like to throw a few cooking pans in the
direction of Pete’s head.
Let me ask you a question. Why is it necessary for
spouses to tell each other I love you each day? I mean,
can’t one I love you be sufficient for the next 30 years?
This is the same principle that works for reading
the Bible. Or from learning about God. (Huh?)
That’s right. As mushy as this may sound, the
Bible is God’s love letter to you.
And so, in your daily “Scripture” time, you can’t
say, “This is boring. I’ve read this story before;” or,
“Oh no, today’s reading is the Prodigal Son again.
Gosh, I’ve read this a million times” or “The
beatitudes? Again? I can recite that in my sleep!”
So what? You see, you’re forgetting one thing:
Christianity isn’t just a religion. It’s primarily a
relationship.
It’s a personal relationship where I love you is
repeated a million times.
The temptation among Christians is to look for the
new, the esoteric, the higher learning, the advanced
subjects with big words—thinking that they can
graduate from the basics. Stuff like trust. Obedience.
Humility. Faith. Surrender. And God whispering, I
love you in our hearts again and again and again.
If you feel like you can graduate from the basic
stuff, I think you’re in the wrong religion. Because this
one has no graduates.
We remain students of love forever.
57
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
STOP COMPARING
AND START LIVING
Remember when we were kids?
One little tyke would say, “My grandfather’s
house is so large, it has 42 rooms!”
“Wala ‘yan sa bahay ng Lolo ko!”
1
his playmate
chimes up, “To go from the kitchen to the living room,
you have to ride a tricycle.”
Naturally, the third boy speaks up, not wanting to
be beaten. “Hah! Wala ‘yan sa bahay ng Lolo ko! If you’re
in the dining room, and you want to call the people to
eat, you’ll have to phone them in their bedrooms—
and you’ll have to pay long distance charges!”
Kids do that sort of thing. And we laugh.
But when adults do the same thing—it’s utterly
embarrassing!
But then of course, what should we expect? Where
did the kids learn it from, anyway? (I’m gonna bet we
learned some of it from our mothers.)
I remember the story of the four mothers who
were nursing their babies, chatting over a cup of tea.
One of them said, “My son will be famous when he
grows up. He’ll be a bishop, and when people see him,
they’ll say, ‘Your Excellency…’”
“Peanuts,” groaned the other mom. “That’s nothing.
When my son grows up, he’ll be a cardinal, and when
people see him, they’ll say, ‘Your Eminence…’”
58
Stop Comparing and Start Living
“Tsk, tsk, tsk. Too bad,” piped up the other
woman, “because my son will be pope, and when
people see him, they’ll say, ‘Your Holiness…’”
The fourth mother was silent, patting her little
bundle of joy. So the other women were intrigued and
asked her, “And what will your son be when he grows
up, hmm?”
She smiled. “Oh, he’ll just be a priest.”
“Just a priest?” the others asked incredulously.
“Yes. And he’ll only be a short fellow, maybe 5 feet
tall. But he’ll weigh a horrendous 350 pounds. So that
when people see him, they’ll say, ‘Oh my God…’”
I remember I came from our prayer meeting, and
my friend Mike Joseph Jr. preached to us that day.
Mike’s a terrific preacher, and so I told my mother that
I really loved his preaching. Mom answered, “Yeah, I
liked his preaching, too. But Bo, face it—no one can
preach as good as you do.”
Wow. The president and founder of Bo’s
International Fan’s Club, in action!
I guess we’ve got this crazy thing in us that wants
to know “who’s better,” “who’s bigger,” “who’s
richer,” “who’s more beautiful”—and even “who’s
holier!”
But I believe this is the source of much discontent
in our lives.
Really!
If we can only stop comparing ourselves with others, I
believe that we’ll be happier and more at peace within.
59
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
My suggestion? Be yourself.
Live your life.
Do the best you can, and leave the rest to God.
And you’ll be at peace.
(And finally, our Lolos can rest in peace as well.)
————————————————
1
That’s nothing compared to my grandfather’s house!
60
61
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
THE WAY GOD
BELIEVES IN YOU
Yesterday, I met her again after a long, long time.
Aida.
A mother of six children, loving wife, and pure
Ilocana.
1
A leader of a small prayer group.
Perhaps 20 or 30 people.
I visited her again, and was struck at how so many
things have not changed. I went to the living room
where I used to sit as a 13-year-old boy. The plastic
leatherette chair felt small now. But the old brown
piano was still there—and at once, I could hear the old
charismatic songs of years gone by. This Is The Day and
Oh, What A Mighty God We Serve and Come, Holy Spirit,
I Need You. Funny how everything started to come
back.
I remember how I had a big crush on Aida’s eldest
daughter. She played the piano so gloriously, I wanted
to do the same. Well yesterday, I met her there—
already a doctor, married and with a wonderful baby.
Everything was coming back.
The walls. The picture frames. The windows with
old-fashioned curtains.
The past started coming alive.
“You shall preach next Friday, Bo.”
It was as though I could hear Aida’s voice.
62
Believe in Yourself the Way God Believes in You
A motherly voice that was gentle yet strong.
More than any other, these were the “sacred”
words that changed the direction of my life. The 13-
year-old boy looked up and nodded.
“Okay,” I said meekly to her.
I didn’t know what else to say. But at the back of
my mind, I wondered, “Why me?” I was the youngest
in the group.
So the following week, I preached my first talk.
It was a disaster.
But Aida’s belief in me was unflinching. She
smiled all through my talk. And right after the
“disaster,” she told me to give another “disaster” the
following Friday.
That was more than two decades ago.
Today, I’m a preacher. And I love my job. I have
reached millions of people with God’s Word, all over
the world.
Why?
Because of one woman who believed in me.
One woman who to this day leads a small group of
20 people.
As I say this, I already imagine Aida shaking her
head. She will tell me with a smile, “Well, how could I
not believe in you? God believed in you, Bo.”
As I look back, I sometimes have tears in my
eyes—thinking what I would be now without an Aida
in my life.
May you find one in your journey. (We need a
handful of them around us.)
63
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
People who believe in you so much, they’ll be
willing to accept the early disasters that will flow out
of our budding greatness.
❊ ❊ ❊
I’ve got another idea.
Be an Aida for someone else.
There is always one person out there that you
know who will bless so many others—if only someone
will believe in them, the way God believes in them.
Will you?
God believes you can.
————————————————
1
A person from Ilocos, a Northern province of the Philippines
64
65
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
MAKE ENJOYING LIFE
A MASTER SKILL
I’m in Tagaytay
1
now and life is glorious up here.
I was able to borrow from a friend her pretty
house that sits right on the ridge—with a porch
overlooking the breathtaking Taal Lake and Taal
Volcano.
It’s early morning, and the view is majestic. I
breathe this all in as I sit on a nice wooden chair, in
front of a tiny table—where my coffee cup rests. Not a
styropor or plastic cup, mind you. But china. So that it
makes nice “tinkling” sounds when you swirl your
teaspoon around.
Actually, I’m not a coffee drinker.
But the entire scene “demanded” that I drink one.
While I do this, I read a good, fat book.
Ahhh.
Why is life soooooo good?
Life is beautiful.
If there’s one thing that defines me, it’s this line: I
know how to get a kick out of life. Enjoying life is my
master skill. I’m able to squeeze every drop of joy and
blessing from the simplest, most ordinary experiences
of each day. (Even the most painful ones! But that’s
another chapter…)
Actually, I don’t need the Taal Lake to make me
happy.
66
Make Enjoying Life a Master Skill
I don’t need the wooden chair or the tiny table or
the coffee cup.
I don’t need the good, fat book.
I just need to be me—and I’m happy with me! I
actually like my company!
Some people are very “iffy” about their happiness.
“If I get a new job, then I’ll be happy,” or “If I get
married, then I’ll be happy,” or “If I get a car, then I’ll
be happy,” or “If I buy a house, then I’ll be happy.”
They’ve got one rude awakening coming up real
soon.
Because the truth is, if they’re not happy now,
where they are, they won’t be happy no matter what
happens to them.
Some people create elaborate, complicated,
sometimes impossible rules to experience happiness in
their lives. Like, “Unless everyone loves me and
accepts me, I’ll never be happy.” Pretty insane, right?
Some have other types of complicated rules to
gaining happiness: “I will be happy only if I’ll be able
to buy a BMW, wear an Armani, a Rolex watch…”
Poor creatures!
Others are such demanding lovers that they’re
doomed to always be unhappy in their relationships.
They say, “I’ll be happy only if my beloved will wait
on me 24 hours a day, think of me always, serve me
attentively, and eat, walk, talk, breathe for me!”
God have mercy on their loved ones.
My conditions to experiencing happiness are
pretty simple:
67
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
If I breathe normally, I’ll be happy.
If I feel my heart pumping in my chest, I’ll be
happy.
If the sun shines today, I’ll be happy—even if the
sun shines behind storm clouds!
If I’m able to smile, I’ll be happy.
If I’ll be able to love someone in whatever small
way, I’ll be happy.
And most of all, if God loves me, I’ll really be
happy. (When doesn’t He?)
Haven’t you noticed? I cheat on life. Because I
make my own rules to experiencing happiness, and I
make them so simple, they’re stacked on my favor.
I have a suggestion for you. Examine your
conditions for happiness now.
They may be too darn complicated, you’ll never be
happy in your life.
Too bad.
Because life is too beautiful to miss out.
————————————————
1
A favorite tourist spot famous for its cool temperature and scenic views.
68
69
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
NURTURE YOUR SECRET LIFE
“Your assignment is to clean the toilet every day.”
Many years ago, I was part of a celibate
brotherhood. And on my first day there, an older
brother gave me my assigned chore: toilet cleaning.
“I don’t know how to clean toilets,” I muttered
meekly, “can you teach me?”
“Let’s start with the toilet bowl,” he smiled, as he
grabbed a sponge, sank his hand into the toilet water
and started scrubbing the insides of the bowl. Believe
me, every hair on my body stood on end and my
innards shook violently.
“Gee… uh, I recall Mom using a stick…” I
mumbled but he interrupted, “But this cleans it so
much better,” his forearm almost disappearing inside
the Throne.
With his hand still dripping, he handed me the
sponge and said, “You want to try?” I almost choked
and wondered if God could take my life that second.
“Okay…” I held the foam as manly as I could.
Being at a loss for words, I started praying in tongues.
I plunged my hand into the water and realized that
my state of life discernment was over. That very night,
I was going to escape the brotherhood and get
married.
70
Nurture Your Secret Life
But the days became weeks and the weeks,
months.
I cleaned that toilet for a whole year. And I began
to love it. It became “my toilet” and “my sponge.” I’d
have withdrawal pangs if I didn’t clean the toilet in a
day.
Indeed, the celibate brotherhood taught me the
meaning of The Secret Life.
You see, I was already preaching in big prayer
rallies at that time. After such events, people took my
pictures, got my autograph, and—hear this—tried
very hard to shake my hand. Oh, if they only knew
what I held just a few hours before.
My “public life” was symbolized by the
microphone.
But my “secret life” was symbolized by the
sponge. And it put me in my place, keeping pride
away from my heart.
I love Bill Hybell’s definition of character.
Character is who you are when no one’s looking. It’s
easy to be a disciple in front of an applauding crowd.
But when no one’s looking, was I still a disciple?
Thanks to my sponge, I had an answer: Yes!
I remember one Saturday night. We had a big feast
and all the brothers washed the dishes together. We
even sang happy songs while soaping rinsing and
drying.
That night, I was soaping. When it was almost
over, I was removing a stubborn food particle stuck in
71
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
a fork when I noticed something about the sponge in
my hand. It looked oddly familiar.
I gasped. Because I knew my sponge! What was it
doing here in the kitchen? Just to be sure, I rushed to
the toilet and opened the cabinet under the sink—the
usual place where I stored my sponge. It wasn’t there.
I entered the kitchen hesitantly, wondering
whether to tell the brothers or not. But I saw them
singing and happy. How could I break their cheery
mood? So I decided to join the singing, get my sponge,
and soap the few remaining plates. (To this day, I have
never told them what had happened that night. When
they read this article, they will kill me.)
I have a question for you: How’s your secret life?
Who are you when no one’s looking?
In the unspectacular, mundane, routine of your
day?
I tell you. Nurture your secret life.
❊ ❊ ❊
I believe that on Judgment Day, God will give me a
365-room mansion in heaven. And when I ask Him
why the lavish reward, I’d expect Him to say,
“Because of your preaching to thousands,” or
“Because you founded a home for the elderly,” etc. But
instead, He’d say, “For each day you cleaned that
toilet with love in your heart.”
72
73
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
LIFE IS GOOD IF YOU LOVE
There are some things in life that I deeply enjoy.
Like standing on top of a serene mountain
breathing in God’s beauty.
Or simply reading a delicious book that I can’t put
down.
Or just being hugged by a little child.
Or eating ice cream with friends.
But there is this one specific thing that I do which I
find exquisitely sweet. Awesome even. It’s probably
one of the most profoundly inspiring things that I do.
You might think it’s preaching. Or writing. Or
leading worship.
Believe me, I love doing those things.
But I’m thinking of something else.
(Something downright simple.)
I’m talking about cutting Dad’s fingernails.
And toenails.
You see, Dad is 80 years old and he can’t see very
well anymore.
So whenever I’m at home, this elderly man
lumbers towards me, and very shyly, shows me his
fingernails and toenails. He doesn’t have to say
anything. He just chuckles. And I understand.
So I get my heavy-duty, industrial-strength,
kryptonite nailclipper. And we go to work. I also wear
bullet-proof goggles to protect my eyes, lest they be
74
Life is Good if You Love
injured by flying shrapnel. Beside me is a chain-saw,
just in case my nailclipper won’t do.
But as I do this, my heart melts within.
Because many years ago, I still remember when
he’d do this for me. As a little boy, I’d sit on his lap
and he’d hold my tiny hands and, with great care, cut
my nails. I remember him doing this again and again
and again…
Those were also the days when he’d bring me to the
barber shop. As I’d sit on the high chair, he’d tell the
barber what to do. “Make him guwapo
1
,” he’d command.
Today, things are little bit different. I now bring
him to the barber—after some shy signals from him
that he doesn’t want to look like Freddie Aguilar.
2
With a sheepish smile, he’d form his fingers like
scissors and run them through his grayish hair. And
so I’d drive him to a nearby barber shop, trying to
stop my tears from falling. And when he’d plop on
the chair, I’d tell the barber what to do. “Make him
guwapo like me,” I’d command.
Life is good.
Why?
Because life gives me precious moments to say
“thanks” to special people.
Because life gives me abundant opportunities to
genuinely love.
Because life gives me a way to be a better person,
every day.
————————————————
1
good-looking
2
A famous Filipino male folk singer with shoulder-length hair.
75
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
IN EVERY TRIAL,
THERE IS A TREASURE
I now realize that joy or misery is a choice that we
have to make daily.
This came to me strongly when one day, I was
driving in Novaliches with my family to visit some
relatives. Because of the enormous roadwork there, we
got lost taking alternative routes. Besides, Novaliches
is famous for an amazingly circuitous network of
streets—reminding me of my intestines.
“Can you help us find this address?” my Mom
asked a guy driving a little jeep. “Sure,” he said,
“follow me. I’m going in that direction.”
And we did... for about two hours! He led us
through the inner labyrinths of Novaliches. Through
dark alleys. Through pot holes. Through dirt roads. In
total, we took 32 rights, 47 lefts, and 13 U-turns.
All the while, my family was complaining like
crazy. “We’re lost!” they whined. “Oh, why all these
roadwork at the same time?” another grumbled. “And
who’s this guy leading us anyway? We don’t know
him at all! He could be…” And there was a tense-filled
pause. Finally, one family member said, “Oh my God.
We’re being kidnapped! WE’RE BEING KIDNAPPED
BY THAT MAN!” (Divulging identities of who said
what has proven hazardous to my health, so I’ll
refrain from mentioning names here.)
76
In Every Trial, There is a Treasure
I had to laugh and say, “C’mon, the guy doesn’t
look like a kidnapper at all.”
“Really? Good…” sighed everyone.
“He’s no kidnapper,” I shook my head, “I think
he’s a serial killer.”
Boy, were they mad and miserable.
What was I doing all this time?
Aside from driving for them, I was also singing. I
was having the time of my life. I was excited making
those zigs and zags! Under my breath, I prayed,
“Lord, I thank You that I feel like Indiana Jones
trapped in a maze. What a thrilling adventure!”
Generally, I was thanking God for blessing us. I
was thanking God for those rare times that I’m with
my family—no matter how crazy they may be. I was
thanking God for my car. I was thanking God for the
relatives we were visiting. I was thanking God for
sending us an angel as our guide—using a serial killer
to lead our way. Because I was so busy being grateful,
I realized I didn’t have time to be miserable!
When we finally reached the home of our relatives,
my family stepped down from the car with angry
exasperation. And that was when the real performance
began. (All the complaining they did in the car was
just dress rehearsal.) “We had a terrrrrrrrible time!”
they griped in unison as they greeted our cousins. As
they were replaying their sad ordeal to them, I opened
the car door, stepped down, stretched my tired
muscles, and smiled, “Ahhh… Now was that exciting
or what?”
77
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
One week after, every time my family got together,
they’d still grumble and relive the agony of that trip.
(On some special days, the Nightmare in Novaliches had
matinee shows in the afternoons and main
performances in the evenings.)
But I recall the event with sweetness. And fun!
Because every morning, I face the mirror and tell
myself, “Bo, no one can take away your joy. This is the
day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad
in it!”
Because I believe that in every problem, there’s a
rich blessing.
In every trial, there’s a treasure waiting to be
unearthed.
78
79
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
YOUR PRIMARY GIFTS
WILL LEAD YOU
TO YOUR SACRED MISSION
I’ve always been a communicator ever since I can
remember.
As a small kid, I used to have a collection of
humor books. Like I remember ripping out the pages
of “Laughter, the Best Medicine” from all the issues of
Reader’s Digest and compiling them into a single fat
book. I’d memorize these jokes and retell them to my
family. (There came a time when I told and retold my
jokes so often that everyone memorized them as well.
So in order to save time, we just assigned each of these
jokes a number. For example, I’d scream, “Joke #28!”
and everyone would break out laughing.)
And as a ten-year-old boy, I drew my own comic
books. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and a
slew of Japanese robots came to life at the back pages
of my Science, Social Studies and Math notebooks.
Until I made my own super hero (me), saving the
world from vicious aliens (my sisters).
Sometime later, as an early teen, I tried writing my
own fiction novel. I only reached chapter two and
everyone who read it didn’t understand a thing I
wrote––but hey, at least I could claim I was a budding
novelist.
But at age 13, I gave my first talk in a small prayer
meeting—and I’ve not stopped preaching since.
80
Your Primary Gifts Will Lead You to Your Sacred Mission
At 14, I began writing worship songs.
Years later, I found myself publishing magazines,
writing books, preaching through radio, TV and
teaching tapes. And having enormous fun!
Deep within, I realized that God has made me
His communicator.
Because I love proclaiming truth in a simple,
understandable way.
I love telling stories that inspire, that give life, that
empower.
I love the feel of an old Bible in my hand as I sit in
front of my desk or squat under a tree—praying,
thinking and creating a talk that’ll give hope to those
who’ll hear.
I also love the sight of an empty computer screen. I
feel a rush of excitement in my veins the moment my
fingers touch the keyboard, poised for action, ready to
give birth to an article that will bless many.
That’s how God made me.
And I need to be true to my primary gift—for
there lies my sacred mission.
I don’t know what your first gift is, but you’ll find
in it the handwriting of God. It’ll point you to your life
project, your assigned purpose, your God-ordained
mission.
By the way, it will also point you to your
happiness.
Recently, I’ve unloaded most of my
“noncommunicating” work. Like managing
organizations and communities, and holding endless
81
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
meetings and planning sessions! I was doing stuff like
that for years because we were pioneering. But after
praying and searching hard, God has raised up
others—those whose primary gift is management. I
realize now that I thwart God’s over-all plan if I insist
on taking work that isn’t my primary gift. Because the
enemy of the best is the second best.
I’ve made a decision. I’m focusing on what I do
best.
Let me ask you now: What is your primary gift?
Live it to the max.
82
83
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
FRIENDSHIPS ARE YOUR
GREATEST TREASURE
When I was single, I did everything with
lightning speed.
I remember it took me only nine minutes to eat
breakfast, shower, dress up and get ready to drive off
to wherever. No kidding.
When I got married, preparing to leave home takes
me a little bit more time. (About one hour and fifty-
one minutes more.)
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining.
You see, my wife is a woman.
(Thank God.)
If I wanted to continue my quick pace in life, I
should have remained single. Or married another guy.
Which would look strange, especially that I’m a
preacher.
You see, I’m the typical male that’s totally goal-
fixated. Men are creatures of purpose while women are
creatures of process.
Let me explain it another way. As a man, I don’t
care much for the journey—just the destination. So the
shorter the trip, the better. My wife, however, loves
every inch of the journey. She walks leisurely, hums a
tune, pauses for scenery.
That’s why each morning, she enjoys a cool
shower while I just try to get moist. And that’s why
84
Fri endshi ps Are Your Greatest Trea-
s u r e
she treats as near-sacred her time in front of an open
closet, choosing and re-choosing what clothes to wear.
I, however, just grab what I wore yesterday.
But more importantly, this is the reason why my
wife majors in relationships and I don’t think much
about them. Because relationships don’t have
purposes. The relationship is the purpose.
Like if I sprint out of the house while stuffing
breakfast in my mouth, my wife takes delight in a
slow meal where food isn’t the only thing shared, but
conversation, stories, warmth and laughter.
She also has the time to regularly stop her work to
check on the state of our friendship. She asks, “Do you
love me?” When I respond, “Yes, I do,” she teases,
“How much?” After I tell her, “Very much,” she
peacefully goes back to whatever she was doing. This
dialogue is repeated about 14 times in a regular day.
Because of her, I’ve learned anew an ancient truth:
That friendships are the most sacred, most precious,
most life-giving stuff of human life.
They are our richest treasure!
My friends are many.
God is my first Friend.
I consider my wife to be my best friend.
And I have my family and my community as
wonderful, beautiful friends.
As I waste my time with them and wonder
whether I’m accomplishing anything, I have to
hammer this reality into my head: Friendships are not
85
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
about goals or purposes or results. Because friendship,
in essence, is the journey and the destination.
I’ve now learned that relationships are more
important than accomplishments.
That time-efficiency is second only to love-
efficiency.
That nurturing friendship is the greatest thing that
I can ever accomplish in life.
In essence, that’s my purpose for being.
(Male thinking, hmm?)
86
87
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
ONLY GOD IS NOT A SEASON
Five years ago, I decided to live without a salary.
Just because I felt… well, I felt God wanted me to
do it.
I didn’t care if people called me cookoo or
screwball or ding-a-ling. But I wanted to try living in
trust, waiting on heaven for my next meal, my next
ride, my next haircut. Even just for a season. So I told
my organizations NOT to give me a paycheck.
So there were days when I, Chairman of the Board,
went past a McDonald’s hungry because my pockets
were empty. There were days when I walked home
because I didn’t have enough fare. There were weeks
when I was tempted to don a ponytail because I
couldn’t afford a haircut. (I recall that this ponytail
ordeal came to an abrupt end when I received ten
thousand bucks from a total stranger. I quickly ran to
the barbershop and asked for the most expensive hair-
cut they had, telling them, “You can dye my hair
purple!”)
My season of comfortable poverty lasted for
almost three years.
But ironically, in those same years, I also traveled
to three cities in the U.S., five cities in Canada, one city
in Africa, four cities in Europe, two trips to Israel and
four cities in Asia. All for free, because I was invited to
88
Onl y God Is not a Season
preach and to guide people in pilgrimages. (I
remember leaving for my foreign trips in a nice coat
and tie so no one would think I only had twenty
dollars in my wallet.)
But like the way it began, I felt a surging
inspiration within me that my season of happy
poverty was to end. So three years after, I allowed my
organizations to pay me a salary again. (Would you
believe? I have a savings account now—something I
had to look into the dictionary to find out what the
word meant.)
I have no regrets entering into that season.
Because I believe I’ve learned one great lesson of
life: That seasons of famine are permitted by God to
give us deepened trust.
If we have everything—and everything goes on
smoothly in our lives—we will never know what it
means to really, really, reeeeeeeally trust.
It’s easy to say, “I trust God” when you’re
vacationing in a Luxury Love Boat, dining in one of
it’s classy restaurants, napkin on your chest,
munching on shark meat dipped in wasabe and soy
sauce. But it’s not so easy to say, “I trust God” when
your Love Boat has just capsized and you’re now in
the open sea surrounded by giant sharks with napkins
on their chests, bringing with them their own wasabe
and soy sauce.
But that’s the point! There’s really no difference
between those two scenes! You need to trust God fully,
whatever the season you’re in!
89
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
Two questions.
Are you going through a season of abundance?
Being paid a nice salary, huh? Don’t trust it. Employed
by a large multinational company? I don’t care how
secure you think it is, I’m telling you: it’s not.
In the end, you know who will never fail.
Or are you going through a season of poverty or
hardship or trial?
Believe me. That will end.
Because they are simply that: seasons.
Only God is not a season.
Only He will never end.
90
91
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
THE FASTEST GUY
DOESN’T WIN THE RACE
“Bo, you’re a workaholic!”
Every time I heard that line, I swelled with pride
within, hid it beneath a shy smile and muttered, “Aw
shucks, maybe just a little. But thank you anyway…”
I loved being a workaholic! And I loved it when
others told me I was one!
At a time when the word “multi-tasking” wasn’t
invented yet, I was already an avid practitioner. I was
head of several Catholic communities (I lost count
somewhere along the way), chairman of an aggressive
Catholic publications firm and director of a new
ministry for the poor. Add to that my passion as a
writer and preacher—traveling here and abroad—and
you’ll get an idea of the kind of insane lifestyle I lived.
But I was proud of that busy, albeit harassed,
schedule.
I didn’t (and couldn’t) walk or drive from meeting
to meeting. I had to rush and zoom and dash and
whisk and jet and zip and race, and torpedo my way!
In other words, I didn’t have time to live.
Well one day, I just realized I was doing it all
wrong.
Because no matter how hard or how fast I worked,
I didn’t feel I was going anywhere. My relationships
weren’t growing. I felt I wasn’t genuinely loving
92
The Fastest Guy Doesn’t Win the Race
people anymore. Nor was I enjoying life. Even God
seemed far away.
I woke up and realized that workaholism was a
disease. (For me, it was an addiction of trying to win
the love of people. I was running away from who I
was, which deep within, I didn’t like very much.)
So finally, one glorious day, I made a crucial
choice.
I decided to semi-retire.
And I decided to really live.
Because I realized I got the rules all wrong.
The fastest guy didn’t win the race.
But the guy who had the most love—and joy and
peace—when he got to the finish line.
Winners were those who had the relaxed time of
smelling beautiful flowers along the way. Winners had
the ability to stop whatever they were doing to
encourage other wounded runners. And winners had
the power to sing most of the way.
One day, I simply gave up 80% of my
responsibilities to friends who could do a better job.
(When you think that I was doing the work of five
men, giving up that 80% only meant that I’m finally
doing what one man should be doing!)
Now, I have time to smell the flowers.
To taste my food.
To breathe fresh air.
To enjoy majestic scenery.
To listen to the music of the wind.
To gaze at my wife and see how lovely she is.
93
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
To laugh with old friends and thank God for each
of them.
And to love.
(To really, really, really love.)
94
95
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
WIPE WHILE WET
“Let’s have our apartment repainted!” my happy
wife announced one day.
“Great idea!” I nodded with glee, “and you know
what? I’ll do it myself!”
Suddenly, her demeanor changed. Even her skin
color grew pale. She was speechless, her jaw agape.
(The last time I saw that “God-help-me” look on her
face was when I first proposed to her.) “Umm, on
second thought,” she muttered weakly, “I think our
home looks just fine. The old paint in fact adds
character and charm…”
But it was useless. I was already off to the
hardware. And I knew what my wife was thinking:
That I had never painted a house before. But didn’t
she know that I painted a lot of other stuff? So when I
arrived with 25 gallons of paint in my car trunk, I tried
to cheer her up. “Honey, don’t worry. I water colored
in kindergarten. In fact, my teacher displayed two of
my art works on her bulletin board!”
Well today, our tiny abode is newly painted. But so
is everything else in it, under it, above it, around it––
including the mailman that came at the wrong time
when I was putting a twenty-sixth coat on the front
door. Even my teeth had paint on them. The only part of
my body that didn’t have paint on was my intestines.
96
Wipe While Wet
In other words, being totally ignorant about
painting, I dripped, spilled, smudged, smeared,
splashed paint on every dead or living object found
within a two-mile radius of our apartment. (I literally
painted the town red. And white, blue, brown…)
But you know what? My clumsiness was saved by
one of the greatest contraptions ever invented by
humankind: A wet rag. No kidding.
Whenever my brush dripped, slipped or painted
something that shouldn’t have been painted, all I had
to do was wipe it off with a moist cloth—and eureka!
It was gone.
But here’s the rule: Wipe while wet. I mean, don’t let
a minute pass by. Never, ever let it dry. Because if it
does, God have mercy on you. Like it took me two
weeks to scrape, rub and peel the dried-up paint
around the house. I used thinner, detergent, cleanser,
muriatic acid, sulphuric acid, even ascorbic acid. I
even sprinkled holy water.
May I have your full attention please?
This isn’t a lecture on painting houses. This is a
reflection on the life of a soul.
You see, we make mistakes quite often. We spill,
smear, splash our souls dirty. All of us do. We think
foul thoughts. Dirty thoughts. Vengeful thoughts. Evil
thoughts.
But here’s the catch. With one stroke, we can
remove them easy––as long as they’re still wet. Trust
97
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
me, they don’t stand a chance. As long we don’t take
too long, we can get rid of evil from our minds—and
lives.
Oh yes, they do return. Again, and again, and
again. They’re pretty stubborn, these fellows. But with
one stroke, we can wipe them off. Again, and again,
and again.
The point: Be as stubborn as they are. If we don’t,
we’re going to scrub dried-up sin in our souls for
days, perhaps months, possibly years—even a
lifetime. Because our thoughts become our deeds, our
deeds become our character, our character become our
destiny.
Because of this, I now know what hell may look
like: It’s a place where the soul is violently, fiercely
scrubbing off evil from every square inch of its skin––till it’s
one grotesque body of festering wounds—but he’ll just keep
on scratching and rubbing and scraping for all his painful
eternity.
My friend, carve this on stone: Wipe while wet.
It might just save you an eternity.
98
99
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
ONLY LOVE HEALS
Yesterday, I read about this woman who bought a
parrot from a pet store. But she went back the next day
complaining to the sales lady, “It hasn’t spoken a
single word!” So the sales clerk advised, “Why don’t
you buy a mirror? Some parrots need to see
themselves to get them talking.” Excitedly, the woman
bought a mirror and went home.
The next day, she came back and said, “It ain’t
talking yet!” The sales clerk suggested a ladder this
time. “Moving up and down the ladder may stimulate
the parrot to speak.” So she purchased a tiny ladder
for the parrot.
But the next day, she came barging back into the
store declaring, “Nothing has worked! It hasn’t made
a sound.” The sales clerk was equally frustrated and
said, “How about a nice seesaw? That sometimes
helps them get more verbally active.” So off the
woman went with her seesaw.
Finally, the next morning, the woman returns
forlorn. “It’s dead,” she groaned.
“Oh no!” The sales lady inquired, “Did it even say
one word before it died?”
“Well, yes,” the woman sighed, “before it dropped
dead, it said, ‘Doesn’t that pet store sell any food?’”
I’ve been part of Catholic communities most of my
100
Only Love Heals
life and one of the humbling realizations I have had is
that as members, we can get very enamored and
impressed with the mirrors, the ladders and seesaws
of community life. We’re green with envy when we
hear that other “bigger” communities have “more” to
offer—more teachings, more ministries, more
programs. So we get very busy to be like them,
creating sophisticated teaching programs, detailed
organization charts, with complex outreach ministries.
And yet at the end of the day, do we starve ourselves
dry?
We can get so preoccupied with other stuff, we
don’t have time to love people.
Because we can have the best preachers, the best
evangelists, the best teachers—but if our leaders are
not first of all lovers, community life will not last.
(The forms, activities, and structures may remain, but
if you look inside, it’s hollow. People are dying
because they’re not receiving love—or giving it to
each other.)
That’s pathetic.
The more I live in community, the more I believe
that it’s essentially about “loving friends.” That’s as
corny, as simple, as glorious as I can define it. Bottom
line, community is about loving each other in
ordinary, nondramatic, unspectacular ways.
A phone call when someone is sick.
A simple meal together with lots of laughter.
A small note for a discouraged companion.
A prayer intention.
101
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
A warm hug for an older member of community.
A small cash gift when a friend is out of job.
An offer to baby-sit for a tired mother.
(In the end, these are the simple things that will
make us saints!)
As a leader, I know I can’t personally love every
single member of my community—for they number in
the thousands. But if I can try to love—and be a real
friend—to those closest to me, then perhaps that love
will be passed on.
Because only love heals.
Only love nourishes.
Only love makes community.
102
103
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
HARD WORK MAGIC WORKS
I smiled at the lovely woman beside me.
She smiled back, her large round eyes singing.
Hard as I tried, I couldn’t recall gazing at a more
ravishing sight in my life. And it wasn’t just physical,
mind you. It was her peaceful presence, her gentle
nature, her bearing both feminine and strong at the
same time.
“Good day, isn’t it?” I intoned, attempting to hide
my nervousness.
“Yes, though it’s a teensy bit warm,” her soft voice
whispered.
In truth, the day was hot and the air quite still. But
I was oblivious to it, caught up in the vision of the
angel before me as though the very air I breathed was
part of this apparition of loveliness.
“Are you… uh, doing anything tonight?”
The princess chuckled. “Why do you ask?”
“Well, I was wondering if you’d like to spend it
with me. Alone, if possible.” My voice trembled and
my chest felt like it wanted to explode.
“Aren’t you going a little too fast?”
Her naughty grin gave me confidence, so I shook
my head. “Nope. In fact, I think the timing is more
than perfect.”
104
Hard Work Magic Works
She squinted. “We’ll see. If you do the right things
and say the right words...”
Suddenly, the bishop—who was in front of us—
announced, “Dearly beloved, this is the wedding of
the century!” At once, a thousand people cheered
behind us. Marowe, radiant in her white wedding
gown, gave out a shy giggle. I laughed more
uproariously.
His Excellency asked us a number of questions.
I recall answering, “Yes, I do,” to each of them. He
told me to put a ring on her finger, and I followed the
instructions to the letter. I guess I did the right things
and said the right words that day, because my bride
obliged my request. We did spend the rest of the day
together. And the next 365 days thereafter.
Yes, it’s been a year since, and I’ve learned some
truths about being a lover.
One is that all apparitions of loveliness, no matter
how lovely, will not last. After a while, every
enchanting princess becomes a broom-riding witch.
(And I, the gorgeous prince in her eyes, turns into an
insect-munching, slimy-skinned, foul-smelling toad.)
This happens to everybody. No exceptions.
But here’s the second truth I’ve learned: That this
too isn’t a permanent condition.
That if I keep on doing the right things and saying
the right words each day—I can bring our romance
back to life again. If I continue to say “Yes” to God’s
questions of love and follow His instructions to the
105
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
letter… the apparition of loveliness in my heart
returns. No doubt about it.
With a kiss, the frog becomes a prince again—and
the witch a lovely princess once more. Yes, it is magic,
but magic that you work very hard for.
To my forever bride, thank you for a magical first year.
The many times we laughed. The many times we cried.
Even the many times we fought—and ended up in each
other’s arms before the end of each day. Yes, you are the
most beautiful gift God has ever given me. Next to God, you
will always be the greatest thing that ever happened to me.
106
107
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
GOD ANSWERS PRAYER
HIS WAY
When my wife announced to me that she was
pregnant, we embraced each other for the longest time
I can remember. We acted like lunatics. We sang. We
danced. We cried. So this was how it felt.
I was going to be a father. “This can’t be real,” I
told myself. But it was true! Spontaneously, I
straightened my back, expanded my chest and
beamed a brand-new Daddy’s smile.
So each day, we prayed for our little miracle,
laying our hands on her tummy. Every night, I spoke
to our child, whispering gently, “Baby, do you know
that I love you very much? Mommy loves you a lot,
too. And God loves you even more.” Each night, I’d
say these lines over and over again. And each night,
I’d read aloud the Gospel of the day, and added my
own homily. Stuff like, “You see, baby, the Greek word
logos in John 1:1 is epistemologically rooted in a very
rich hermeneutic context…”
I imagined my little baby nodding her head. I also
wondered if she’d become a preacher one day. Or
perhaps a writer. But it didn’t matter, really. Because
my daily prayer was, “Lord, make her a happy child, and
she can be anything You want her to be!”
God took that prayer seriously and answered it
one day after Christmas.
108
God Answers Prayer His Way
We were spending the holidays with the poor, the
elderly, and the orphans in Anawim. That afternoon,
my wife saw a small drop of dried blood on her
undergarment. Was this something to worry about?
We didn’t think so.
We were wrong.
Two days later, at 6:00 AM, I found my wife
sobbing and shaking uncontrollably in the bathroom.
She pointed to the mass of blood in the toilet bowl. I
quickly grabbed my trembling wife and held her in
my arms.
We lost our baby.
“Angel shall be your name,” I managed to say, my
voice failing me, “and I baptize you in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Yes, Baby Angel is your name.
Not once did we feel what it was like to cradle you in
our arms.
Not once did we feel the thrill of watching you make
your first tiny steps.
Not once did we feel the inner pleasure of hearing you
say, “Mommy” and “Daddy.”
But you see, that doesn’t change the fact that you are
our child.
And Angel is your name.
God did answer our prayer. You are a happy child today,
far more than we can ever imagine. And He made you what
He wanted you to be.
For God so determined that it is you, Angel, who now
cradles us in your arms of prayer. And it’s you, Angel, who
109
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
thrills in watching our every step, our every move, our
every breath. And it’s you who have not stopped saying
“Mommy” or “Daddy” since you entered the portals of
heaven, for you mention our names before God every day.
You were never with us, and yet will always be with
us.
And no one can take you away from us anymore.
For Angel is your name.
110
111
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
BE A DOLPHIN, NOT A SHARK
A guy with a large black Bible clutched under his
arm rode the jeepney I was on. At once, I noticed that
peculiar glazed look on his eye and the friendly smile
on his face—and I knew it wouldn’t be too long before
he’d make his first move. In my next breath, bingo, he
cornered his first victim—a college girl beside him—
with the question asked in a typical preacher’s
modulated voice, “Friend, are you saved?”
Instantly, the young woman nervously faced the
other way.
Undeterred, the zealous evangelist turned next to
the fiftyish man in front of the woman and inquired,
“Do you know Jesus Christ?”
You won’t believe what this man did: he signaled
the driver to stop and got off immediately. But I
shivered when I realized I was the only passenger in
the jeepney left to talk to. We smiled at each other and
I wondered what his opening line would be.
“Friend, if you die right now,” he asked with utter
seriousness, “do you know where you would go?”
My eyes squinted. “Um, let me see… Funeraria
Paz? Eternal Gardens?”
My evangelist’s jaw fell to the floor.
I chuckled and held out my hand to him, “I’m Bo.
I’m also a Christian.”
112
Be a Dolphin, Not a Shark
He laughed and asked, “What church do you
attend, brother?”
“The Catholic Church,” I said as matter-of-factly as
I could.
“Oh… that,” he muttered, swallowing hard. His
face likened that of one whose mother had just passed
away. “Then, you are not a Christian,” he said
somberly, “for I too was a former Catholic until God
saved me from that Babylonian religion.”
At that point, I regretted why I ever began the
conversation. I’ve been in these situations before
where I defended my Catholic faith, but always I felt I
was talking to a brick wall. So I decided to do what
one does to brick walls.
I avoid them. “I’ll see you in heaven!” I told him,
as I stepped off the jeepney.
As I watched the vehicle roar away, the evangelist
was now talking to the driver.
Now don’t get me wrong. I admire guys like him.
Their zeal, their sincerity, their courage to talk to total
strangers. But it’s the same type of admiration that one
has for killer sharks. As long as you see them from a
distance, or on TV, that’s fine—you admire their
strength, their speed, their raw power. But my
admiration never makes me want to swim with them
in the same pool.
For the past 20 years of my life, I’ve been an
evangelist as well. I write, I preach, I do all sorts of
things to tell people about God’s love.
113
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
In fact, I sometimes talk to total strangers, too.
I remember knocking on the doors of my new
neighbors to give them fruits, a piece of chocolate cake
or even cookies. No preaching. No testimonies.
Sometimes, I just greet them a happy morning and
buzz away. Small acts of kindness. Nothing much,
really.
Hopefully, if after a few days, they feel my sincere
love for them, they get a tangible experience of God’s
sweet love—without hearing one word from me.
And perhaps, later, my neighbors may want to talk
and I’d be there to listen.
And perhaps, later still, I’d pray with them, and
share my faith to them.
No, I don’t want to be a shark. I’d rather be a
dolphin.
Even kids love to go near dolphins—and I love
kids.
It’s not only more effective.
It makes my life—and my mission—immeasurably
fun.
114
115
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
BE GOOD ADS FOR GOD
“You need to talk to my sin-infested, vice-ridden,
devil-possessed husband!”
I finished preaching in a prayer meeting when this
huge woman approached me and said these acidic
words. She went on, “My no-good husband’s here to
pick me up. But can you meet him first and pray that
his depraved soul doesn’t go to hell?”
“Uh, sure…” I said. During these awkward times,
I end up wondering why I didn’t become a plumber
instead of a preacher. After fixing leaky pipes,
plumbers can go home. After I preach a sermon, I can’t
go home. I still have to fix leaky pipes—like this
woman who “leaked” all that I preached about that
night on love, humility, kindness, etc.
“Just a moment,” she said, hastily turning towards
the door. In a few minutes, I saw her with her not-so-
pleased husband in tow.
“Here he is, Bo!” she announced as she pulled him
towards me. “He’s a lazy drunkard, a gambler, a
womanizer. He doesn’t have the Holy Spirit! He’s so
far from the Lord!” I wondered when this tirade
would end. Humiliating and lambasting her husband
seemed to be her spiritual gift. I pitied the guy who
was now trying to hide his face behind the collars of
his denim jacket. I swear his neck had totally shrunk
116
Be Good Ads for God
and his head was getting shorter and smaller as the
minutes wore on.
Finally, I had to interrupt and greeted the man,
“I’m happy that you’re here. I can see you’re a very
caring husband for picking up your wife tonight.”
From the corner of my eye, I saw his wife’s
shocked face glaring at me.
“Well, yes, I do care for her…” he said sheepishly.
“And I apologize for your wife’s, uh, ways,” I
winked.
“I’m used to her,” he chuckled, “she does this all
the time!”
I bent over and whispered to his ear, “Let’s pray
that God will fill her with the Holy Spirit. She might
just change, you know.”
He laughed uproariously. His wife interrupted,
“Brother Bo, don’t talk too softly! I can’t hear you!”
Her husband whispered back to me, “Is there hope
for her?”
“God can change anyone.” I declared, “Hey, you’re
invited to attend the prayer meeting next time,” I
smiled, “so that you could pray for your wife’s
transformation.”
As the couple walked out of the prayer meeting
hall with the man’s head back to its normal position
and his dazed wife right behind him, I began
wondering. How many people don’t come closer to
God because of His lousy advertisements?
Hey, the “product” itself is great: Salvation,
Forgiveness, Heaven, True Joy!
117
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
But God has chosen ads that are the pits: human
beings called Christians.
We are appointed to advertise God to others but
we do it bizarrely. We advertise God by condemning,
judging, acting self-righteously, pulling rank, boasting
and so on.
Friends, be good advertising.
God’s counting on you.
118
119
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
5UB5CP!BE TD KEPYSMA!
The #T InspíraLíonaí Macazíne ín Lhe 0ounLrv
ßo Sanchez is lhe main vriler of KLRYGMA, lhe ~1 inspiralional
magazine in lhe counlrv. Gel a vhole-vear subscriplion of 12 exciling
issues for onlv I5OO. Ieed vour soul vilh God's Word al lhis afford-
able price!
Call us al (O2) 411-7874 lo 77 or e-mail us al VDOH#VKHSKHUGVYRLFH
FRPSK, or vrile lo Shepherd's Voice, ~6O Chicago Sl., Cubao, Òuezon
Cilv 11O9. Check oul our vebsile al ZZZVKHSKHUGVYRLFHFRPSK. or
hllup lhe order form belov.
5ubscribe now! You'II be bIessed 12 times a vear!
25'(5)250
RCash (Php 500 per subscripIioh) RCheck RMohey Order
R8ahk deposiI Ihru LquiIable PCI8ahk S/A No. 1280-00165-8
(validaIed deposiI slip ehclosed)
RI am auIhorizihg LquiIable Card NeIwork Io charge my Visa/MasIercard
ih Ihe amouhI o! P
Card humber:

Lxpiry daIe:
SighaIure:
LasI 3 digiIs aI back o! Ihe card

Name: 8-day:
Address:
1elephohe humber(s): DaIe sehI:
L-mail address:
25'(5,1*,6($6<
· By Fax : fax this form to 7275615 or 7269918
· By Mail: return this form with your payment (PMO or check payable to Shepherd's Voice)
60 Chicago St., Cubao, Quezon City
Online: www.shepherdsvoice.com.ph
120
U ||a+c|e |°ò U 0+|+¡ |°ò U :+||+t| |zz! `|/e|c|| :cs| |/: (s/c||/:|s|¹
U tema+a|ea |1I° `|/e|c|| :cs| |!^^ (s/c||/:|s|¹
Please allow 4-5 weeks for dellvery of your ñrst copy. |f you don't recelve your purchase after
5 weeks, please call Customer Servlce at (02)72699l8/4ll7874 to 77.
Prlces subìect to change wlthout prlor notlce.
4VCTDSJCFOPX
4UBSU ZPVS EBZ SJHIU
&WFSZ EBZ
25'(5)250
RCash (Php 500 per subscripIioh) RCheck RMohey Order
R8ahk deposiI Ihru LquiIable PCI8ahk S/A No. 1280-00165-8
(validaIed deposiI slip ehclosed)
RI am auIhorizihg LquiIable Card NeIwork Io charge my Visa/MasIercard
ih Ihe amouhI o! P
Card humber:

Lxpiry daIe:
SighaIure:
LasI 3 digiIs aI back o! Ihe card

Name: 8-day:
Address:
1elephohe humber(s): DaIe sehI:
L-mail address:
121
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
Acknowl edgment
Books like these are born from
communities and families, and this one is
no different. It is a garment of praise that
has been woven from the blessings that
friends have left with me.
My children by acquisition, I love you!
My spiritual community, the Light of
Jesus, my dearest friends.
My fellow elders, Pio Español, Jill
Ramiscal, Toj Calaycay, Jun Fontecha––
working with you is God’s special gift to
me.
My dedicated directors, Omec Roderos,
Roy Pasimio, Hermie Morelos, Tim Duran,
Eng Si, Dong Matias, Lito Saura, Banjoy
Santillan, Vic and Ditas Español, Marisa
Chikiamco, Tita Neneng Mangahas. His
light shines through you!
My spiritual mentor, Mike Joseph, Jr.
My angels in God’s work, Eliza
Manaloto, Lucy Limpe, Betty Roxas-Chua,
Felicitas Sy.
And our donors all over the world who
believe in the mission. You are His
encouragement to me.
Priests assigned to my life, Bishop Ted
Bacani, Jr., D.D.; Fr. Steve Tynan, MGL;
122
Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD; Fr. Dong Alpuerto,
SVD; Fr. Andy Biller, SVD.
My co-laborers in other vineyards of the
Lord: Omy and Rosanne Romero, Jeanne
Young, Jake Yap, Francis Iturralde, Ken
Noecker, Pete Lapid, Sis. Angelina Lim, and
Adrian Panganiban. Thank you for always
having a difficult time saying no to my
requests!
My fellow fulltime staffers in
Shepherd’s Voice, Anawim, the Light of
Jesus (LOJ) Community, the LOJ
Counselling Center, and the LOJ Training
Center. I thank my God for each of you.
My loving parents, Gene and Pilar. I
embrace you each day.
My family: my sisters, their husbands,
my nephews and nieces, and my first
grandchild––hugs!
My parents-in-law, Ruben and Linda,
for loving me as your favorite son-in-law.
My team in producing and distributing
this book: Alma Alvarez, my excellent
editor, and Tubby, the book’s layout artist;
editor-at-large Chay Santiago; finance whiz
Weng Cequeña; sales evangelist Mon
Toledo; distribution expert Bebeth Bacolod;
and admin servant Cindy Calderon. To all
123
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
my friends distributing God’s Word across
the country and the world, He delights in you!
My wife, Marowe, for always being my
best friend.
124
125
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
In June of 1996, Anawim began its full
operations when an old man in dirty rags
entered the bamboo gate of its rustic
compound. The following week, a whole
family of eight orphans arrived from the
mountains. A few days later, a mother and
her five children were running away from a
physically abusive husband and father.
Within three years, the Anawim Center
has become a refuge for 20 abandoned
elderly, 15 poor children, two mentally
handicapped persons, and countless of
transients who seek for inner healing.
Anawim, a Hebrew word meaning, “the
poor of the Lord” began with a simple
dream of Bo Sanchez and the Light of Jesus
Community. They wanted to love.
But giving love to the poor is costly.
Feeding sixty persons each day—composed
of the poor, the volunteers, the transients—
is no small task. Medical bills are extremely
expensive for the elderly. We spend
P250,000 each month for this work of love.
Should you wish to help this work,
contact or write to: ANAWIM, #56 Chicago
St., Cubao, Quezon City 1109 Philippines.
725-8564. They need your love.
THEY NEED YOUR LOVE
Anawim: Refuge for the Poor
126
127
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
Should you wish to continue following
the spiritual path explained in this book,
you can read any of the inspiring
publications of Shepherd’s Voice or listen to
the power-packed teaching tapes of Bo
Sanchez and other speakers.
Check out our products online at
www.shepherdsvoice.com.ph
or contact us:
SHEPHERD’S VOICE
#60 Chicago St, Cubao
Quezon City 1109 Philippines
Tel. No. (02) 411-7874 to 77
Fax No. (02) 727-5615
e-mail: sale@shepherdsvoice.com.ph
AN INVITATION
TO KEEP ON GROWING
128
AN INVITATION TO KEEP ON GROWING
129
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
Dear Reader,
I pray that this special collection has blessed your
life and drew you closer to God. It was a thrill writing
these stories for you.
If you wish to send me a message, my e-mail
address is bomail@shepherdsvoice.com.ph Because of
the amount of mail we receive, I may not be able to
respond to you. But I do promise to read your
message.
We have a prayer hotline. If you have any prayer
requests, e-mail us at
praybox@shepherdsvoice.com.ph and we will be glad
to pray for you. You can also mail us at our home
office at Shepherd’s Voice, c/o praybox, #60 Chicago
St., Cubao, Quezon City 1109 Philippines, or call us at
tel. no. (02) 411-7874 to 77.
Aside from the publications and teaching tapes we
produce at Shepherd’s Voice, I also hold seminars
through the Light of Jesus Training Center, Inc. I hope
to see you in one of them.
May His love always be the fire in your heart.
I remain your friend,
130
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bo Sanchez started preaching
at the age of 13 and wrote his
first book at the age of 20. He is
the publisher and main writer
of the KERYGMA, the number
one inspirational magazine in
the country. Today, he
continues to preach to millions
worldwide. And for years now,
his inspirational books have
never left the top ten list of
bestselling books of the country.
He founded many organizations, such as Anawim, a
special home for the abandoned elderly, and
Shepherd’s Voice, a media ministry that publishes the
widest read Catholic literature in the country. He also
founded’ Light of Jesus Community and the Light of
Jesus Counseling Center.
But above all these, Bo believes that his first call
from God is to be a loving husband to his wife
Marowe and a devoted father to his son Benedict.
They live in Manila, Philippines.
Visit him at www.bosanchez.ph and subscribe to
receive a free inspirational email message from him
each week.
131
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
This beautiful book about making life beautiful is a
second collection of the BOss articles from
KERYGMA, and nationally known author and speaker
Bo Sanchez will do what he is best known for: From
his heart to yours, he shares common stories with
uncommon wisdom. Join him in his personal journeys
of deep faith and tender love, and your heart will
overflow with laughter and warmth.
This special collection includes the most favorite of
Bo’s articles, such as...
Give Your Heart Away & Find It Whole
Avoid Potholes By Taking Humps
Nurture Your Secret Life
The Fastest Guy Doesn’t Win the Race
Wipe While Wet
Only Love Heals
This book can profoundly change the way you
look at life.
132

YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL

YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE

BEAUTIFUL
Discover a Simple Path to Happiness

BO SANCHEZ

1

Other Books By Bo Sanchez THE BOSS Series Thank God He’s Boss You Can Make Your Life Beautiful You Have the Power to Create Love SIMPLIFY Series Simplify and Live the Good Life Simplify and Create Abundance PRAYERBOOKS Embraced The Way of the Cross Special Prayers for the Holy Rosary
2

Prescriptions for a Blessed Life (monthly) 3 .YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL ALSO BY BO SANCHEZ Book The BOss (Thank God It Ain’t Me) Audiocassettes Bible Study for Catholics (Ten Cassettes) Spiritual Warfare (Three Cassettes) How to Love God When He Seems Far Away (Three Cassettes) Secret of Sainthood (Two Cassettes) Romance with God (One Cassette) Holy Rosary (Three Cassettes) Way of the Cross (One Cassette) Tape of the Month Specials Teaching Journal Soulfood.

(02) 411-7874 to 77 e-mail: sale@shepherdsvoice.. No. Quezon City. INC.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL Discover a Simple Path to Happiness BO SANCHEZ A KERYGMA Collection Book SHEPHERD’S VOICE PUBLICATIONS. without the prior permission of the publisher. Cubao. No part of this publication may be reproduced. The BOss by Bo Sanchez. Layout design by Noli Vicedo ISBN-971-91756-4-8 The stories in this book first appeared in KERYGMA magazine under the column. 4 .ph All rights reserved. except for brief quotations.com. You Can Make Your Life Beautiful Copyright © 2000 by Bo Sanchez Requests for information should be addressed to: SHEPHERD’S VOICE Publications #60 Chicago St. Philippines 1109 Tel.

every time I watch you smile. 5 . Thank you for making my life beautiful.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL Dearest Marowe. and I am one of them. I’m reminded of two things: that God plays favorites.

6 .

YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL Contents Keep the Number of Your Heart Secret You Can Make Your Life Beautiful Hug Someone Today While There’s Time Your Past Doesn’t Define Your Future Make God Your Home God Will Meet You Where You Are Let Some Things not Change Hold Hands Know Your Deepest Desires Say ‘Thank You’ Often Do What Love Demands Give Your Heart Away and Find It Whole Avoid Potholes by Taking Humps Stop for Directions God is a Happy God You Can Choose to be Happy Have Fun When You Can Love with Your Heart You Never Graduate from Love’s Academy Stop Comparing and Start Living Believe in Yourself the Way God Believes in You Make Enjoying Life a Master Skill Nurture Your Secret Life Life is Good if You Love In Every Trial. There is a Treasure Your Primary Gifts Will Lead You to Your Sacred Mission Friendships are Your Greatest Treasure Only God is not a Season The Fastest Guy Doesn’t Win the Race Wipe While Wet 11 13 17 19 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 45 47 49 53 55 57 61 65 69 73 75 79 83 87 91 95 7 .

not a Shark Be Good Ads for God 99 103 107 111 115 8 .Only Love Heals Hard Work Magic Works God Answers Prayer His Way Be a Dolphin.

Walk with me and join me in my sometimes funny. or change the direction of your path—then hold on to that truth. you discover a spiritual truth that will raise the quality of your life. Stop reading and loiter for a while until you’ve embraced that gem of wisdom. You can make your life beautiful.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL Preface The title of this book is my dream for you. Make it your own. If you do this. If in one story. pointing to areas of your soul that need repair and realignment. Take my hand now. it already is beautiful. or give you deeper joy. sometimes crazy journeys. Baptize it with your name. walk with me on to the next story. Because all the happiness that you need for your soul is found within you. And when you feel that you’re ready. beneath the mess of your problems. Because deep down. 9 . you will find that truth leading you to create wonderful things. Be as beautiful as God wants you to be.

10 .

YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL

KEEP THE NUMBER OF YOUR HEART SECRET
At a time when Kerygma1 had about 250,000 readers all over the country (there’s more today)— plus a few more thousands around the world, we only had two phone lines in our office. You read that right: Two. That was like putting the entire Pacific Ocean through a small two-inch pipe. And rusty ones, too. Because our phones had the audacity to break down on us. During that memorable era of our history, if you called us up—and heard a ring—you didn’t shout yabadabadoo just yet. Some actually danced the boogie and bought some ice cream at that point, but we advised not to do them yet. Because the phone could have been busted, and all you’d have heard was the ringing. And the ringing. And the ringing. And nothing else, except your own scream: “Aaaarrrrggggggh!” Imagine how our callers felt. Some suffered a neurotic episode right there. And if you heard a ring when you called us up, we asked people to check what time it was: It may have been two in the morning. But here was the real miracle. If you finally heard our receptionist pick up the receiver and say, “This is Kerygma office, may I help you?” we gave you the go
11

Can you believe this?

Keep the Number of Your Heart Secret
ahead signal to break down into joyful weeping and dance not only the boogie, but the cha-cha and tango at the same time. Buy the ice cream we told you, and fly off to Boracay. Because you beat the odds. You won. You out-dialed thousands of callers. Believe me, probability-wise, you had more chances of being killed by a terrorist than reaching us by phone. Guess what. Nowadays, I feel that God doesn’t eat ice cream as often as He wants to. Because every time He calls us, all He gets is the busy signal. Our hearts receive thousands of calls from our different affections and attachments and ambitions. This is my suggestion. (it’s really quite simple): Keep the number of your heart secret. Between you and God. Please don’t share it to the whole world. Let your deepest, most powerful affections be for Him alone. And then no one else will clog your line. Not your dreams. Or your idols. Or your other loves. God isn’t on a diet. Let Him enjoy all the ice cream in the world.
———————————————— 1 Kerygma is one of the most widely read Catholic inspirational magazines in the Philippines. 12

YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL

YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL I hold her hand.
And stroke her hair gently. And getting enough courage, I steal a kiss from her cheek. And when she finally smiles at me, I think I am one incredibly lucky guy. Tracy is already a young woman. But her head is bent downward, drool flows through one side of her mouth, and her face is bereft of any expression. She can’t speak. Or move by herself. Every once in a while, someone has to shift the position of her head, her arms, her legs—or else they become painfully sore. (Doctors regularly give her painkillers.) And the hand I hold is small for her age and contorted. Her limbs are terribly thin, twisted abnormally short, and have to be strapped in a special wheelchair. She doesn’t eat the way you and I do. She’s fed through a tube attached straight through her abdomen. Some would call her a vegetable. I wouldn’t. Because her name is Tracy.1 And there’s one thing she does well, despite all these. Tracy smiles.
13

Even her memory speaks to me. She was training me to love one person.” She does and it’s so sweet. The next morning. no books read.. no preaching made. I can’t get away. But the peace I felt! And I realize why: I was being deeply transformed by the power of this girl—the one who couldn’t even move a finger. no plans designed. asking me to slow 14 . which is now soaking wet.. and continue to hold her hand for the rest of the day. no meetings held. You see. It’s the only way she communicates.You Can Make Your Life Beautiful And her smile takes your breath away. you’d fall in love with her right there. do you like this? Smile if you do. All I did was hold her hand. I know the past days were the most unproductive days of my life: no articles written. I visit her again. And she was training me to find love in the most unexpected places. I go home with tears in my eyes. one heart at a time. And allowed myself to be loved by a smile. one face. So I playfully rub the back of her neck and whisper to her ear. Yes. “Tracy. I wipe her saliva with her bib. no songs composed. she is able to smile when she likes something. Tracy was training my soul to love well.

She tells me that I always have a choice. I picture her in my mind and she smiles. I can make life beautiful. ———————————————— 1 Tracy lives in Daybreak. a special home for the mentally handicapped.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL down if I want to really love. 15 . L’arche community in Canada.

16 .

walk to a pizza joint on weekends and simply talk. an infection that developed after a few months of staying in the hospital. he lost his balance and went crashing down. he showed his love to me the only way he knew best: He spent enormous time with me.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL HUG SOMEONE TODAY WHILE THERE’S TIME My father isn’t the expressive. But I recall that. he lost his language ability because of a new blood clot. His lungs were now filled with fluid and that was when the crisis hit. (Actually. I’d do the talking and he’d do the listening. as a young boy.) My father was my best friend. there was like a dripping faucet inside his brain as well. 17 . Because of the impact. Even after brain surgery. “I love you” kind of a guy. Dad was trying to fix a light bulb in our garage. Blood clots started to appear in his X-rays and he began to experience paralysis in his body. He isn’t the hugging. blood spurted out like water from an open faucet. immediately. Standing on a chair for greater reach. The gravest blow was severe pneumonia. found even deeper than the others—too deep for another surgery to reach. His head hit the concrete floor and. A few months ago. We’d jog together every night. sentimental type.

too. They were bluish in color. While There’s Still Time He was hooked up to a respirator and the long wait began. Then he did something that he never did in my entire life. Dad. He was telling me that he loved me.” That was when he regained consciousness for a few minutes. 18 . Grieving because it might be the last hug I’ll ever get from him. unsentimental father gave me a hug.Hug Someone Today. At that point. he was only absorbing 20% of the oxygen they were pumping into him.” I muttered to myself. The doctors told us frankly that he could go anytime. my tough. Hug someone today while there’s time. Someone doesn’t last too long in that state. Joyful because for the first time. He raised his hands towards my face and clasped me on both cheeks. He was also probably bidding farewell. I was both grieving and joyful. Grieving because he was going away. we should have done this a long time ago. I looked at Dad’s hands and face. My emotions were running wild inside me. Then he brought me down towards him and gave me a hug. My father gave me a hug. “I love you. narrowly escaping that ordeal. Today. “Dad. my father has recovered a little bit. I whispered to his ear. I hug him more often now. He looked at me with so much sadness in his eyes.

I saw who I was every 19 . And the sign was bigger than the house itself. Then boy. I knew myself. an international preacher. bright. You see. I actually felt like that bamboo hut when. at 14 years old. lay this tiny shack the size of your regular toilet. She said she had heard God tell her that in her prayers. Right smack in the middle of nowhere. Wow! Me.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL YOUR PAST DOESN’T DEFINE YOUR FUTURE I can still see it. thank you. whoever put that sign had faith. a prayer group leader “prophesied” to me that I will preach to different nations all over the world. Ha! I’m not insane. red letters: GLOBAL OUTREACH FOR JESUS (INTERNATIONAL) Now they’d be in trouble if that was their central office. I had to stop to take a good look because it had a sign on top of it. with mountain ranges and farmlands around it. in big. bold. I read it. There was a bamboo hut I saw while traveling in a far-flung island in the country.

I sometimes wonder if my next flight will be to a planet called Jupiter. You see. their husbands. my father.. chemistry. grotesquely-formed. physics and Pilipino. Count that and you get 30 very loyal people with a few representatives from the animal kingdom. I was already leading a small prayer group of 30 people. 14-year-old creature—who also wasn’t very bright. I don’t think I can.Your Past Doesn’t Define Your Future time I looked at the mirror. 20 . I was struggling in high school algebra. I wasn’t much of anything. The regular members of my prayer group were the following: my mother. a little bit biased. At that time. my cousins and the neighborhood dogs. Ever. my five sisters. (I don’t run out of problems.. pimple-infested. But listen. I was a preacher all right. my aunts. My audience was um.) And the insane has happened: I’ve preached to sooooo many nations all over the world these past years. I still see myself as that bamboo hut out in the middle of nowhere. I’m still that 14-year-old nobody. International preacher? Lunacy. my nieces. toothpick-structured. their husbands. really. I was a smallpackaged. Impressed? Don’t be. Oh. which I tried to avoid to relieve myself of unnecessary stress. With lesser pimples but with a receding hairline now. I’m now 33 years old. I’m not boasting.

The truth? Your past doesn’t define your future.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL All it had to take was God. And a guy who failed in algebra. 21 . physics and chemistry.

22 .

This monstrosity causes me to do an extra 15 decades of the Rosary in the car. cancer-inducing fumes of the air. I know I’m back in Manila. for they do not know what they are doing. But the moment I step outside the sunny day. hmm? While doing so. This is my city. Am I in Davao? Or Bacolod? Or Toronto? Or L.) Instantly. radioactive. It’s phenomenal how we cause them.. Ahhh. and inhale the heavy. foolish traffic jam. And many people complain of its absurd. mutant. genetically-altering. Where else are you forced to trust God every time you inhale? Only here.. I say a prayer for the crazy drivers..? Or Jakarta? Or Cebu? Everything is a giant blur.. But I call it sweet traffic.. Cool. potent.” My patience is 23 . I try to avoid a mad rush of death machines swerving left and right beside me. I sometimes wake up in the morning wondering what city I’m in. poisonous. insane.. (I think they were called public buses decades ago).YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL MAKE GOD YOUR HOME I’ve been traveling too much. tuberculosis-causing. “Father forgive them.A. I think it’ll become one of our major tourist attractions. (Cough.

If given a choice. I can decide to live somewhere else—tomorrow if need be.) Listen. I pray for hundreds of people during those days. Or the scenery. the madness. God becomes very close to me. I walk around. that bored saleslady. praying for that happy couple eating ice cream. But deep in my heart. that punkish kid. And my home is where God is. pure and simple. Any place can be your home. Suddenly. I feel Him in every breath I take. And He’s here. In Manila. you’re not yet home.Make God Your Home tested and stretched. that crying child on her mother’s breast. my soul gets love-trained for heaven. ———————————————— 1 The biggest shopping mall in Manila. Do you feel Him where you are? If not. I believe God wants me here. I’d escape the heat. Or the ambiance. (Cough. the smog. and little by little. I can escape it all and move to a tiny hamlet in a remote island of the Philippines. It’s where God is calling you. And when I walk through Megamall1 and see the crowd that rivals the sands of Pinatubo—it becomes the perfect place for earnest intercession. 24 . It’s not the location. This is my mission place.

But I recall one time when I took a shot at it. I’ve learned something quite glorious. You see. To me is. that work just a little bit less difficult than doing advanced Trigonometry... It was pure torture. “Some contemporary approaches to spirituality convey paradigmatic alterations from traditional soteriology. quoting stuff from superduper theologians. heavy-duty words. 25 . I can’t write straight with big. too.. And still win. hmm?) But in all this. He can stoop down to hallow.” But I guess it’s not just for me. And I bet you’d do that. And He can also meet the best and sharpest minds of big-time theologians. God is flexible. if I wrote that way. I started pounding on the keyboard.” Ugh.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL GOD WILL MEET YOU WHERE YOU ARE I’m taking post-graduate courses in Theology to remind me of how ignorant I really am. (I offered my sufferings for the conversion of the world. I love listening to my brilliant professors speak high-tech “theologese. He’s made of rubber. lazy brains like mine.. rooted in modern Biblical hermeneutics.

right there. And simple to the simple.) Question: What do you really need right now? Believe me. He can be very tender to you if you need an embrace. He can be firm to you if you need some spanking.God Will Meet You Where You Are He can be wise to the wise. He can be painfully quiet when He wants you to trust Him. And let Him love you. need Him to be. So let Him meet you where you are. He will be what you need him to be. He can be terribly awesome when you need a miracle. I’ve realized that God will meet us where we are. He knows about it more than you do. (Note: Not want Him to be. 26 . I said.

I just dial delivery and Dad and I can eat pizza. 27 . we no longer go out of town to eat pizza.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL LET SOME THINGS NOT CHANGE I remember a time when life was a little simpler. And I still enjoy his deep friendship much more than ever. I was only 12 years old when my father would take me there for a two-hour drive. In my heart. (Sniffle. (Waaaah!) But when I really think about it. Because he loved me enough to waste his time on me. just to eat pizza. pre-historic era. My father’s an older man now and so am I. More than the pizza. and we loved passing by that tiny Shoemart (SM)—if you can still remember—that ancient SM that sold only shoes and nothing else. walking man to man. Dad and I walked together to Cubao. During an ancient. the deeper things haven’t changed. He’d eat two slices and I’d eat the rest. Today. I pay the bill. and I still eat the rest.) Sometimes. however. Dad still eats two slices. I loved those walks! Just Dad and me. As a kid. We don’t even have to leave the house. Things have changed now. I knew that my father loved me. there was only one Shakey’s pizza store in the country—located in far away Angeles City. I treasure the time I spent with Dad.

I’ve become a missionary and that has taken me away from home. 28 . So we’ve gone together to different parts of the world. They’re praying for me. some things don’t ever change. But when given a chance. Thank God. our kids desperately need to know that they can hold on to certain realities that remain true for life. They don’t give talks or anything like that. Because in this insanely chaotic world of ours. But from the pulpit. Dad and I are no longer able to take long walks. And it sells everything else except nuclear reactors and live piranha. I invite Dad and Mom to hop along the journey. SM consumes about 30% of the geographical land space of the Republic of the Philippines. I could see Dad and Mom praying at the back of the crowd. They love me. Also.Let Some Things Not Change What has changed? Today. I still do the preaching. Or else they’ll lose their way and die somewhere inside.

really. There’s nothing on top except a few overstaying weeds. With three kids. In fact. Friends of mine. Jesus. while going home from one prayer meeting. But do they mind? Of course not. lost in their world of cute cupids. Not so young. the guy’s balding. hand in hand. At my side was another couple walking home. Sweet young things. Shoulder to shoulder. Bad breath to bad breath. Eye to eye. (The eldest is 23 years old. They’re in luv. They walk as if walking on air. I watch this scene with amusement one night. Hip to hip. He compensates by 29 . Both walking in front of me.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL HOLD HANDS Boy and girl.) Grandparents in the making. Nose to nose. beating hearts and chocolate cream cakes with caramel toppings. He can sing Shine. Airplanes can land in and out without a problem. Around their late teens. Shine with superb visual effects.

The woman on the other hand is gifted. “When are you giving birth?” But this fiftyish couple does something that blows my mind. Real. and abundant. Your mom. They walk hand in hand as well. Stop reading. Your friend. endowed. she receives all that life has to offer her. It’s proven. And beyond. And prove it for the next 25 years. Unquestionable. I know it isn’t just a cutey-sweety symbol. This time.Hold Hands his bushy eyebrows. washing dishes. Indeed. Through her. And their handholding is so different from the way the young lovebirds in front of me hold hands. Your dad. combing them upwards as far as possible. And hold the hand of your spouse. doing the laundry and raising bratty kids. She has cellulite deposits with interest compounding daily. And to her embarrassment. Full. 30 . people always ask her. the vastness of the Kingdom is displayed. Pregnant! (With meaning!) Backed up by 25 years of cooking meals.

” was like as saying.. If I find it. (Mom. 1) I love being a lay preacher. and I really hope I do. He gave me the gift of marriage instead.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL KNOW YOUR DEEPEST DESIRES When I was getting married. Sniffle. Anybody! Why? Because I felt incredibly awkward. I want to remain celibate for life.” Well. To say “I was getting married. Power Rangers! Batman and Robin. don’t cry too much. you’d probably recall these lines from me: “My friends. Will He give me the grace to remain so? I’m giving myself two years to pray for the blessing of celibacy. I realized two important things about me. And I didn’t find the grace. My son may be a bishop. I cried “Heeeeeeeeelp!” I wanted to call the Fire Brigade. I prayed for the gift of celibacy.) In this whole discernment process about my future.. I’ll make a more permanent decision at that time.” Because if you’ve been reading stuff I wrote a few years back. I love it too much to 31 . “I’m blonde” or “I’m from Pluto” or “My nose is gorgeous. that was written in December of 1995. Lois and Clark! Jacky Chan. The Marines! The SWAT team.

“Be a priest!” or “Be a nun!” or “Get married!” or “Be the Tom Cruise of the Philippines. too strongly. We’ll discover His plan for our lives in our deepest desires. Preaching as a normal human being works too well for me. (Still.) A friend of mine tells me that searching for the will of God “out there” is a big boo-boo.” He won’t force. He implanted within us a burning desire for His will. Period. 2) My heart longs for a female companion too much. 32 . Because we’ll simply desire His will. too often. it’ll take prayer and time to find out what they are!) When God made us.Know Your Deepest Desires give it up for a roman collar and velvet stole and church altar. Because His will for us is in the depths of our hearts. What can I say? I’m made for luv. He’ll never twist our arm and say. (Oh no! I’m watching too many Meg Ryan movies.

just as if the decades folded up into mere days. as her visits progressed. bringing food. warm clothes. etc. medicine. I liked being sick because Mom would bring me milk and cookies as I stayed in bed. I remember getting terribly sick. already as a lay missionary. or fuss over me. prayer. her breath short. 33 . I noticed how she entered my room almost panting. it felt good having a loving mother to watch over me. the moon melt and the sun explode. Again. I sort of liked getting sick. the earth may shake. but she was the one thing in this universe that would never ever change. I never saw my Mom too tired to serve me. In all the times I got sick as a kid (which was about every other month). her words faint. her movements slow. All I had to do was ask and she’d be there for me. But this time. she was discovering that she couldn’t care for me much longer. as she went up to my room for her hourly visits. Not only because I could miss school and stay home. or feed me. In my mind.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL SAY ‘THANK YOU’ OFTEN When I was a kid. And there she was. I also read in her eyes the acceptance of a painful loss: for the first time. Many years later. Honest.

she tearfully shared with me her emotional realization. In my pride. I get so tired these past few days caring for you. A few days later. I really. (To her. Mom got sick. 34 . Yes. You may be too old to care for me the way you did but I’m old enough to care for you now. Bo. I don’t show it as much as I should but I just want you to know that I love you. So I went to her room. really do. I want you to know that all you have to do is call me and I’ll be there for you. You’re the best mother I could ever wish for. Thank you. And I do thank you for your all-out support for me in my decision to serve the Lord. Mom. “I’m just getting older. One day. You have given me your life. I began thinking that perhaps it’ll be good for you to get married and have a wife now. we can talk as much as you want. and no one’s at home to give you milk and cookies. But if you do get sick. I know I travel a lot and I’m rarely at home because that’s the life of a missionary. A rare event when it happens.” That was the first time she ever said that to me—someone who for years always wanted me to be a priest. sat beside her and chatted about everything she wanted to talk about. talking to me is better than all the milk and cookies in the world.Say ‘Thank You’ Often My suspicions were right. Mom. I’m writing this to you.) I felt good just being beside her.

no cellular.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL DO WHAT LOVE DEMANDS I now own a cell phone. People who have been reading my stuff for a few years know how I love the simple lifestyle. or Anawim (our work for the poor)—have become more and more violent these past few months. gentle and otherwise mentally balanced staff of 75 people—either working for Shepherd’s Voice (publisher of this book). I’ve always wanted an uncluttered and free life. Francis of Assisi. So except for my computer where I write my books. no walkman. No car. no girlfriend. or my Catholic community. A few have been acting weird every time the moon is full. etc. beeping and vibrating things disturbing my prayer time. I didn’t want ringing. no wristwatch. But slowly. I hear screams like. And for the sake of humility (or so I thought). My once friendly. equipment and other luxuries. I had to face harsh reality. And I have received a few death 35 . for many years I’ve avoided all sorts of personal gadgetry. ala St. I didn’t want the status symbol of a cell phone hanging from my belt. “Where were you? Planet Mars?! We’ve been looking all over the world for you these past three days!” Suicide attempts have been reported to me. no beeper.

Do What Love Demands
threats from otherwise very loving people if I don’t get a cell phone. I’ve realized that there is one law above every other law. Yup, even above my desire for simplicity. Or prayer. Or humility. It’s called the demand of love. If I love these people, I’m going to get a cell phone. Whether it’ll interfere with my simple lifestyle, my prayer life and my great humility. (You see, I’m the most humble person in the world. I get awards for my profound humility. You know, I’m so humble that blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...) What does love demand in your life? Disturbing your prayer time because your little son wants you to carry him? Not attending your prayer meeting this week because it’s Mom’s birthday? Saying “yes” to a leadership position even if you really want something low-key? Saying “no” to an abusive friend even if everything about you wants to say yes? For me, it was the simple act of getting a cell phone. I also got myself a girlfriend who is now my wife. But then, that’s another story.

36

YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL

GIVE YOUR HEART AWAY AND FIND IT WHOLE I now have six children.
One day, I had zero. The next day, I had six. No, I don’t have six wives that gave birth on the same day. Last June 1996, I took in six orphans in my little bamboo hut in Anawim. Varying in ages, they’re siblings whose parents died a few years back. Taking them was a big mistake. I ate with these kids, prayed with them, played with them, read them bedtime stories, and whenever I arrived home, they’d hang on to me like I was a Christmas tree. When we’d finish dinner, I’d hear one of them say, “Kuya Bo, magbasa ka na tungkol kay Jesus...”1 I recall sitting on the bamboo floor, and the two smallest kids scrambling for my lap, and the older ones standing beside and behind me. I’d read slowly, pointing to the pages of a kid’s picture Bible. A thousand questions are asked. They’d laugh, share their simple experiences, and sometimes just listen quietly. In the meantime, the youngest girl would yawn, rest her head on one of my arms and sleep beautifully. I’d look at her cuddled up on my lap and I’d tell myself again, “This is really one big mistake.”

37

Give Your Heart Away and Find It Whole
One night, I cried. But they were really tears of joy. I was realizing that my life was ridiculously changing right before my eyes. Because whenever I left them to go back to my apartment in Manila, or preach in different parts of the world, I cannot silence the persistent ache within me. It throbs like a hidden wound. It just takes a sight of a parent carrying his child. Or a toy left on the floor. Or a store selling children’s clothes. Immediately, my heart travels a thousand miles away to my bamboo hut in Anawim. What are my kids doing now? I miss them terribly. I miss their noise, their laughter, their smells. I miss holding that tiny, sleeping girl in my arms. I must admit. My heart is no longer mine. It has been broken and its shattered pieces now reside in tiny hearts. They do not know the power they have over me. In their utter helplessness, they now own me. I love them deeply. I’ve become their prisoner. And I hope I’ll never get released. But ironically, in this shattered condition of my heart, I’ve never felt so whole. So alive. So free. Yes, it was a big mistake adopting them. Probably one of the most beautiful mistakes I’ve ever made in my life.

———————————————— 1 Brother Bo, please read to us something about Jesus... 38

But I don’t like potholes. there are two other things that make vehicles go slow: humps and potholes. your 39 . I’d rather choose humps. But He can never give you humps because that’s something that you should deliberately make for youself. They come in all sizes: tiny Mickey Mouse holes to nuclear bomb testing craters. Between these two. an expensive Italian shoe isn’t very beautiful. When you have a bleeding hangnail. with nice signs to tell us they’re coming. and kabloom. Life’s like that. Especially those that are painted bright yellow and smooth on the curves. (More on this later. period. He’ll send you potholes.) Potholes are the small and big problems of your life... And kablagblagblag. That’s just the speed of a turtle injected with steroids. When your doctor tells you that you have malignant cancer. And they never come announced. That’s catastrophically slow. When God wants you to slow down.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL AVOID POTHOLES BY TAKING HUMPS1 They tell me that the average speed of a car in Manila is 25 kph. Aside from traffic. They just appear when you’re one inch away.

your family.. And your whole life goes kabloom and kablagblagblag. Perhaps potholes won’t come as often. problems come suddenly. By you. reveal themselves to be cheap. Humps. Humps are special times when you’ll ask the very same fundamental questions: “What’s life all about? Where am I going?” But this time. on the other hand. your hierarchy of values changes. not because you’re forced to. Take a lot of humps. “What’s life all about? Where am I going?” Overnight. Or Mass during lunch hour. Perhaps a weekly prayer meeting. The most important things in life––such as your soul. ———————————————— 1 Speedbumps 40 .. your God––become painfully obvious. And what used to be so pressing and insistent and noisy. You plan them out.) A quiet time for prayer each day. you’re forced to stop and think. And when you discover that your teenage son is on drugs. No one warns you they’re coming. Like potholes. but because you want to. (And fight for them with your life. A personal retreat every year.Avoid Potholes By Taking Humps Mercedes or BMW suddenly lacks oomph. But because of these kablooms. You ask fundamental questions. are deliberately made. your jewelry doesn’t shine as brilliantly as before. like.

“Are you trying to tell me that we’ll be arriving at our destination in no time?” “That’s the bad news.” “What’s the good news?” I inquired between my Hail Mary’s. Deepened. “We’re efficiently moving at an average speed of 140 kph. Once he starts driving. Every time I ride with him. Roger looked at me and said. I was riding with him again. I have found three places that give me a deep sense of the presence of God: 1) a scenic mountain with lovely forests. my friend Roger drives like a mad man. One fateful day. 2) a tranquil beach under a blue sky..YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL STOP FOR DIRECTIONS In my life. You see. It feels as though heaven becomes so near to my soul.” Involuntary spasms shot through my body. “Bo.. those riding with him instinctively reach for their wallets and tearfully kiss the photos of their loved ones. We were blazing through a highway like a cruise missile. Invigorated. my prayer life is enhanced. I have good news and bad news for you. 3) and the passenger seat of Roger’s red ‘86 Corolla.” “What?” 41 .

Know His dreams for you. get efficient. Take a break. And I built Anawim. I saw myself doing two things: preaching to a crowd of people and helping the poor. efficiently going where? What are your highest dreams. But gosh. anyway? Your deepest aspirations? What do you think will give you gut-level. a home for the abandoned elderly and a few orphans. We’re prone to commit the same idiocy: we get busy.Stop for Directions “We’re lost. those two dreams are reality. We screeched to a halt. move fast. I’ve made a decision. asked around. Retreat. Listen well. We were efficiently and swiftly driving towards the opposite direction. I’m a preacher. At 140 kph! I realize that’s no isolated incident among human beings. Pray desperately. I have no idea where we are. do a million things.” “Stop this car Now!” I screamed. When I was 13 years old. got info and turned back. hop here and there. souldeep joy? Stop for awhile. After many years. Read a map of life. 42 .

) Because I think I still have a few more God-dreams to fulfill.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL I’m not riding with Roger again until I’m 80. 43 . (No matter how much he assists me with my spiritual life.

44 .

but you’re dark now! And your clothes! You’ve changed your style! You’ve changed soooooo much!” The other guy says. so I’m giving you another one. So what do you think should I do? Be stubborn or open to the truth? Some may not like that example very much. Two guys bump onto each other on the street. and now. obstinate-thinking. “You funny boy! You’ve even changed your name!” There are creatures like that in the world today. I’m sorry sir. perceive and feel—no matter what reality is screaming at them. I think. stubbornviewed.” “Gosh!” exclaimed the first man.99% of the earth’s population. They’ll insist on what they think. but I’m not Tom. And my goodness.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL GOD IS A HAPPY GOD Let me describe to you a hard-headed. you’re soooooo thin! And you used to be short. stiffnecked man. But all the girls around me keep telling me I’m kinda good-lookin’. you were so fair-skinned before. About 99. Tom! My. narrow-minded. “Uh. “Tom? Wow. you’ve changed! You were so stout before. 45 . And one says. but now you’re incredibly tall. Another example: like I always believed I was ugly. My name is James.

the image I carried in my brain since I was a scared child spanked by my religion teacher. I’m sorry. ‘Coz He wants to have fun with me. or stand on top of a mountain. When will I ever get real? Please heal my stiff neck. you funny boy! You’ve even changed your name!” For when I start my routine of the day. 46 .” But you think I’d still believe the truth the next day? “Gosh. but I’m not Tom. Or why would He make those lovely things? That’s reality. I revert back to my programmed idea of who God is. If I really want to have fun. or play with a baby. I wonder. or hear glorious music. I’m uneasy with Him. Suddenly. In the monotony of my existence. long beard. It screams the truth to me! “Uh. or run on the beach. angry eyes. or catch a child smile at me—I automatically think that perhaps God must be having fun at that particular moment. Too bad. and severely warned to be silent in church by my parents: gray throne. I immediately forget all about my great discovery. long face. scolded by a parish priest. My name is James. I think: God must be a happy God! Laughing and having a grand time when He’s creating and recreating stuff.God is a Happy God Every time I see a gorgeous sunrise. Lord. I’d do it when He’s not watching. Because He’s too serious.

) Fearing that lighting may strike me anytime. “Lord. are you sure you want me to continue preaching and writing? I know I’m good-looking (depression has a way of making me hallucinate). and I couldn’t give it up.” I mumbled.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL YOU CAN CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY I recall a few years back. I love You 47 . a crazy question popped in my mind: “Bo. “First reason. Lord: You. sexy Sylvia. my dandruff was getting worse and my pimples were erupting again. To top it all. I felt depressed. give me five reasons why you should be happy today. “Well. so I could make jokes like these. I decided to become serious.” “Happy? Lord. You love me so much.” (I was still single at that time. but shouldn’t You have picked someone much holier and wiser and more loving?” As I poured out my grief before God. We have a great relationship. and as I felt His tender comfort. pretty Pamella. a few storms in my Catholic community. and uh. plus a number of personal trials as well. I had a million problems! I had conflicts to deal with. I prayed. terrific Tanya. how can I be happy at a time like this?” But the question remained lodged in my brain. “my five reasons for being happy are lovely Lily. and gorgeous Grace.

” Because of this practice. Because from the moment I wake up. helping the poor… Can it be better than this? And fifth. “Today. the way I see life has changed. I’ve decided to do this daily. We choose to make our lives great. We choose to be happy.” And before I realized it. it worked so well. Happiness is a choice. I have a beautiful family. What will you choose? 48 . loving.You Can Choose to be Happy sometimes. my antennas are up—looking for the five things I’m going to be thankful for. I recall five things that happened during that day which I want to be thankful for. honest. despite of it all. yet we’re still together… Third. Before I go to bed. It could be small stuff like. even to this day. What a God! Second. Happiness isn’t “out there” but something that’s deep within us. I have a great Catholic group. You and I have everything that we need for happiness. and insane enough to go out on dates with me. writer. I’m no longer focused on the bad things that happen but on God’s great blessings each day. sweet. I’ve got a fantastic job as preacher. Dad’s 80 years old and Mom’s (bleep!). (Not five!) Pretty. I watched the sunset” or “A little kid put her arms around me today and that felt so good” or “My wife and I ate at McDonald’s ‘coz that was all I could afford but felt t’was a candlelight dinner in Shangri-La. Fourth. my “lousy feelings” left me and I felt happy! You know. I’m in love with this one girl.

and squeeze them into my car for a day of fun. I kidnap our ANAWIM orphans and kids. all fifteen of them. and I’ll be poorer than a presidential aspirant who has just lost the elections. Multiply that by 15. Instead. Along the way. No wonder my car’s air freshener isn’t working well. dancing. cultural preferences and artistic orientation: a place with no entrance fee. wipe my sweat and 49 . 11:30 AM As I try to catch my breath. 9:00 AM I drive them to a free park (Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City). I decide to go to a place that suits my personal tastes.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL HAVE FUN WHEN YOU CAN 7:00 AM One Saturday morning. And where are we going? Not to those expensive amusement parks where people pay P400 per head. the kids are singing. rent old bikes—that cost me only P400 for everyone! I spend the whole morning trying to teach the small ones how to balance on a two-wheeler—and wondering whether the big kids left the park and were now biking up Kennon Road to Baguio City. screaming and vomiting on each other.

One girl was still awake. they are flushed with excitement. She sides up to me and whispers. Naturally. or with ingenious pits that I dig and cover with leaves—I give up and softly whisper to myself. and my heart skips a beat. After that. I’m exhausted. yes. 1:00 PM After budget meals. I love them so much. I escort them to a public toilet. Life’s pleasures are free indeed. Kung ayaw ninyong kumain. or the ice 50 . I decide on a discovery expedition.Have Fun When You Can remove the new designs off my shirt and pants (i.”2 So I wonder if it was the bike ride. “Kakain na ako. “Kuya Bo. I begin to imagine entering into showbiz and making a movie with Cameron Diaz. 5:00 PM I’m driving home with my tired crew. Perhaps I should shift careers now. little angels in a row. to a place that they’ve never been to. but peeking through my rear view mirror. or the swing. bike tracks).” 1 Immediately. ‘di huwag. 12:00 NOON After failing to catch them with a lasso. I begin to wonder why I ever got into this thing of putting up an orphanage. I catch a glimpse of the kids sleeping soundly. all 15 are behind me. it was “swings and slides” time in the park. masayang masaya ako ngayon.e. plus ice drops—two pesos each—for dessert.

My tears are getting in the way.”3 I try to drive carefully. 51 . I’m soooo happy. 3 Because you were with us. ———————————————— 1 If you don’t want to eat.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL drop. She gives me a tight hug. kasama ka namin. 2 Brother Bo. it’s up to you. I ask why. “Kasi. or the public toilet. I’m going to eat now.

52 .

the temptation at this point is to love her with your mind. let’s say you find your wife in bed with tears in her eyes. and I saw 53 .YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL LOVE WITH YOUR HEART Let me speak to married men this time. and He shalt direct thy paths!’” If you are the wife. One morning. hon. I looked at the mirror. I’m giving you permission tell to him one of the most expressive words in our language: “Heh!!!” Husbands. stroke her hair and plant a kiss on her forehead. “I’m depressed. she mumbles.” As a husband who has read the Bible. and your husband says that to you. It’s okay.” Now imagine your wife says. When she says. “I’m depressed because this morning. “Sweetheart. And then say. Can you tell me why you’re sad? I’m listening. you’re not yet spiritually mature! Trust God! Follow Proverbs 3:5 and you won’t be depressed! ‘Trust in Thy Lord with all thine heart. “I’m depressed. “It’s okay. “What? How could you be depressed?” You shake your head in dismay. attended prayer meetings and now active in the parish. leaneth not on thine own understanding. When you ask her why. in all thy ways acknowledge Him. don’t love her with your mind.” do this: put your arms around her. Love her with your heart.

Think. you’re vain!” you say with a preacher’s bombastic voice. So you say. I will hold you.Love with Your Heart so many wrinkles on my face!” (Boo-hoo-hoo…) Immediately. Love with your heart. “Where’s your spiritual maturity? Scripture says.1 At this point. “That’s all? Darling. When the mirror tells us we’re older. and if you have a somewhat tolerable voice. To watch you grow in beauty…. (If your voice chases away cats and dogs. you’ll be tempted to love with your mind again. a dwelling in the heavens. 54 . I Will Be Here. She needs a lover. Cradle her in your arms again. the heart rules. sing to her the love song of Steve Curtis Chapman.) I will be here. just say the lyrics. she doesn’t need a preacher.’ and ‘Indeed we believeth that when this earthly tent of ours shall passeth away. Evaluate. husbands. ‘Seeketh thy treasure in heaven where thieves doth not break in and steal or moth destroy. we shall findeth a new home. not made by human hands. You can cry on my shoulder. don’t love her with your mind. but made by God to last forever!’” Husbands. But once the wedding ceremony is over. I will be here. ———————————————— 1 There is only one time where you should love with your mind and that’s during courtship. Analyze.

I… I don’t even know that woman!” “Sheeeeeesh. Honey. Well. So Carol confronted her husband Pete. her heart was filled with envy. I’m asking you to do it to me!” “Oh…” he muttered blankly. give her a hug and declare to her. I haven’t. “I love you!” for all the world to hear. Daily. ‘I love you’ 30 years ago during our honeymoon. “Why. I can’t do that!” “Why?” Carol asked angrily.” 55 . Every morning! Why can’t you do that?” Pete’s face was pale. I don’t know. “Why can’t you be like our next-door neighbor?” She pulled the curtain for him to take a look.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL YOU NEVER GRADUATE FROM LOVE’S ACADEMY Carol was peeking through the window again. she’d watch the sweet couple next door. I mean. “Honey. and every time. she couldn’t take it anymore. embraces her and says. I haven’t heard it in a long time now!” Pete shrugged his shoulders. Carol. I’d tell you. I said. one day. And I told you that if I changed my mind. he’d kiss his wife. Each morning. I’m not asking you to do it with that woman. doing their morning ritual: before the husband went off to work. “See? This man kisses his wife. Finally. Pete. “Tell me that you love me again. Carol saw this sight. ‘I love you!’ every morning. “Gee.

Humility.” or. And God whispering. Or from learning about God. can’t one I love you be sufficient for the next 30 years? This is the same principle that works for reading the Bible. Because this one has no graduates. It’s primarily a relationship. As mushy as this may sound. I’ve read this story before. Faith. Surrender. If you feel like you can graduate from the basic stuff. It’s a personal relationship where I love you is repeated a million times. And so. the esoteric. Why is it necessary for spouses to tell each other I love you each day? I mean. you can’t say. I think you’re in the wrong religion. the higher learning. Let me ask you a question. “This is boring. Obedience. Stuff like trust.You Never Graduate from Love’s Academy By now. 56 . “Oh no. Gosh. you’re forgetting one thing: Christianity isn’t just a religion. I love you in our hearts again and again and again. the advanced subjects with big words—thinking that they can graduate from the basics. (Huh?) That’s right. in your daily “Scripture” time. I’ve read this a million times” or “The beatitudes? Again? I can recite that in my sleep!” So what? You see. today’s reading is the Prodigal Son again. We remain students of love forever. the Bible is God’s love letter to you. I think many wives reading this book would like to throw a few cooking pans in the direction of Pete’s head. The temptation among Christians is to look for the new.

) I remember the story of the four mothers who were nursing their babies. “My grandfather’s house is so large. he’ll be a cardinal. they’ll say. you’ll have to phone them in their bedrooms— and you’ll have to pay long distance charges!” Kids do that sort of thing. they’ll say. “To go from the kitchen to the living room. not wanting to be beaten.” groaned the other mom. it has 42 rooms!” “Wala ‘yan sa bahay ng Lolo ko!”1 his playmate chimes up. you have to ride a tricycle. ‘Your Eminence…’” 57 . “That’s nothing. the third boy speaks up.” Naturally. anyway? (I’m gonna bet we learned some of it from our mothers. But when adults do the same thing—it’s utterly embarrassing! But then of course. “Hah! Wala ‘yan sa bahay ng Lolo ko! If you’re in the dining room. and when people see him. ‘Your Excellency…’” “Peanuts. He’ll be a bishop. When my son grows up.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL STOP COMPARING AND START LIVING Remember when we were kids? One little tyke would say. And we laugh. chatting over a cup of tea. what should we expect? Where did the kids learn it from. “My son will be famous when he grows up. and you want to call the people to eat. and when people see him. One of them said.

” “who’s more beautiful”—and even “who’s holier!” But I believe this is the source of much discontent in our lives. “Oh. maybe 5 feet tall.” Wow. And he’ll only be a short fellow. and my friend Mike Joseph Jr. “Yeah. and when people see him. ‘Oh my God…’” I remember I came from our prayer meeting. they’ll say. Too bad. preached to us that day.” “who’s richer. But he’ll weigh a horrendous 350 pounds. But Bo. they’ll say. “because my son will be pope. Mike’s a terrific preacher. Mom answered. I liked his preaching. “And what will your son be when he grows up. Really! If we can only stop comparing ourselves with others. patting her little bundle of joy. 58 . face it—no one can preach as good as you do. “Yes. The president and founder of Bo’s International Fan’s Club. and so I told my mother that I really loved his preaching. too. So that when people see him.Stop Comparing and Start Living “Tsk. tsk. I believe that we’ll be happier and more at peace within.” piped up the other woman. he’ll just be a priest. in action! I guess we’ve got this crazy thing in us that wants to know “who’s better. tsk. So the other women were intrigued and asked her. hmm?” She smiled. ‘Your Holiness…’” The fourth mother was silent.” “who’s bigger.” “Just a priest?” the others asked incredulously.

YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL

My suggestion? Be yourself. Live your life. Do the best you can, and leave the rest to God. And you’ll be at peace. (And finally, our Lolos can rest in peace as well.)

———————————————— 1 That’s nothing compared to my grandfather’s house!

59

60

YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL

Yesterday, I met her again after a long, long time.
Aida. A mother of six children, loving wife, and pure Ilocana.1 A leader of a small prayer group. Perhaps 20 or 30 people. I visited her again, and was struck at how so many things have not changed. I went to the living room where I used to sit as a 13-year-old boy. The plastic leatherette chair felt small now. But the old brown piano was still there—and at once, I could hear the old charismatic songs of years gone by. This Is The Day and Oh, What A Mighty God We Serve and Come, Holy Spirit, I Need You. Funny how everything started to come back. I remember how I had a big crush on Aida’s eldest daughter. She played the piano so gloriously, I wanted to do the same. Well yesterday, I met her there— already a doctor, married and with a wonderful baby. Everything was coming back. The walls. The picture frames. The windows with old-fashioned curtains. The past started coming alive. “You shall preach next Friday, Bo.” It was as though I could hear Aida’s voice.
61

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF THE WAY GOD BELIEVES IN YOU

May you find one in your journey. Today. these were the “sacred” words that changed the direction of my life. Bo. I’m a preacher. But at the back of my mind. One woman who to this day leads a small group of 20 people. But Aida’s belief in me was unflinching. I have reached millions of people with God’s Word. And right after the “disaster. She smiled all through my talk. I sometimes have tears in my eyes—thinking what I would be now without an Aida in my life. I wondered. (We need a handful of them around us. I didn’t know what else to say.” she told me to give another “disaster” the following Friday. “Well. More than any other. all over the world. Why? Because of one woman who believed in me.” As I look back. That was more than two decades ago.Believe in Yourself the Way God Believes in You A motherly voice that was gentle yet strong. And I love my job. So the following week. “Okay.) 62 . She will tell me with a smile. As I say this. The 13year-old boy looked up and nodded. I already imagine Aida shaking her head. It was a disaster.” I said meekly to her. how could I not believe in you? God believed in you. I preached my first talk. “Why me?” I was the youngest in the group.

———————————————— 1 A person from Ilocos.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL People who believe in you so much. Will you? God believes you can. There is always one person out there that you know who will bless so many others—if only someone will believe in them. a Northern province of the Philippines 63 . they’ll be willing to accept the early disasters that will flow out of our budding greatness. ❊❊❊ I’ve got another idea. the way God believes in them. Be an Aida for someone else.

64 .

I read a good. I breathe this all in as I sit on a nice wooden chair. 65 I’m in Tagaytay 1 . While I do this. Not a styropor or plastic cup. Ahhh.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL MAKE ENJOYING LIFE A MASTER SKILL now and life is glorious up here. I’m not a coffee drinker. So that it makes nice “tinkling” sounds when you swirl your teaspoon around. (Even the most painful ones! But that’s another chapter…) Actually. mind you. I don’t need the Taal Lake to make me happy. Why is life soooooo good? Life is beautiful. Enjoying life is my master skill. and the view is majestic. it’s this line: I know how to get a kick out of life. I was able to borrow from a friend her pretty house that sits right on the ridge—with a porch overlooking the breathtaking Taal Lake and Taal Volcano. I’m able to squeeze every drop of joy and blessing from the simplest. fat book. Actually. But china. in front of a tiny table—where my coffee cup rests. It’s early morning. most ordinary experiences of each day. But the entire scene “demanded” that I drink one. If there’s one thing that defines me.

” They’ve got one rude awakening coming up real soon. Like. where they are. I don’t need the good. then I’ll be happy. They say. think of me always. fat book. then I’ll be happy. complicated. Some people create elaborate. My conditions to experiencing happiness are pretty simple: 66 . they won’t be happy no matter what happens to them. “Unless everyone loves me and accepts me. then I’ll be happy. wear an Armani. Because the truth is. “I’ll be happy only if my beloved will wait on me 24 hours a day. if they’re not happy now. “If I get a new job. I just need to be me—and I’m happy with me! I actually like my company! Some people are very “iffy” about their happiness. then I’ll be happy. I’ll never be happy.” or “If I get married.Make Enjoying Life a Master Skill I don’t need the wooden chair or the tiny table or the coffee cup. right? Some have other types of complicated rules to gaining happiness: “I will be happy only if I’ll be able to buy a BMW.” or “If I get a car.” or “If I buy a house. a Rolex watch…” Poor creatures! Others are such demanding lovers that they’re doomed to always be unhappy in their relationships. breathe for me!” God have mercy on their loved ones. walk. and eat. sometimes impossible rules to experience happiness in their lives. talk.” Pretty insane. serve me attentively.

And most of all. Because life is too beautiful to miss out.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL If I breathe normally. If I feel my heart pumping in my chest. I have a suggestion for you. I’ll be happy. If the sun shines today. they’re stacked on my favor. ———————————————— 1 A favorite tourist spot famous for its cool temperature and scenic views. 67 . I’ll be happy. you’ll never be happy in your life. (When doesn’t He?) Haven’t you noticed? I cheat on life. if God loves me. Because I make my own rules to experiencing happiness. and I make them so simple. Too bad. If I’ll be able to love someone in whatever small way. I’ll be happy. I’ll be happy—even if the sun shines behind storm clouds! If I’m able to smile. They may be too darn complicated. Examine your conditions for happiness now. I’ll be happy. I’ll really be happy.

68 .

Being at a loss for words. he handed me the sponge and said.” his forearm almost disappearing inside the Throne. “You want to try?” I almost choked and wondered if God could take my life that second. Believe me. I started praying in tongues. every hair on my body stood on end and my innards shook violently. an older brother gave me my assigned chore: toilet cleaning. 69 . “can you teach me?” “Let’s start with the toilet bowl. as he grabbed a sponge. I recall Mom using a stick…” I mumbled but he interrupted. With his hand still dripping. “Gee… uh. I was going to escape the brotherhood and get married.” he smiled. That very night. “I don’t know how to clean toilets.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL NURTURE YOUR SECRET LIFE “Your assignment is to clean the toilet every day.” Many years ago. And on my first day there. “But this cleans it so much better. “Okay…” I held the foam as manly as I could.” I muttered meekly. I plunged my hand into the water and realized that my state of life discernment was over. sank his hand into the toilet water and started scrubbing the insides of the bowl. I was part of a celibate brotherhood.

After such events. was I still a disciple? Thanks to my sponge. Oh. I cleaned that toilet for a whole year.Nurture Your Secret Life But the days became weeks and the weeks. That night. I was removing a stubborn food particle stuck in 70 . keeping pride away from my heart. And I began to love it. I was soaping. Indeed.” I’d have withdrawal pangs if I didn’t clean the toilet in a day. the celibate brotherhood taught me the meaning of The Secret Life. But my “secret life” was symbolized by the sponge. We even sang happy songs while soaping rinsing and drying. I love Bill Hybell’s definition of character. But when no one’s looking. if they only knew what I held just a few hours before. I had an answer: Yes! I remember one Saturday night. I was already preaching in big prayer rallies at that time. months. You see. got my autograph. Character is who you are when no one’s looking. When it was almost over. And it put me in my place. My “public life” was symbolized by the microphone. and—hear this—tried very hard to shake my hand. It became “my toilet” and “my sponge. We had a big feast and all the brothers washed the dishes together. people took my pictures. It’s easy to be a disciple in front of an applauding crowd.

❊❊❊ I believe that on Judgment Day. they will kill me. get my sponge. But instead.” 71 . “Because of your preaching to thousands. mundane. I rushed to the toilet and opened the cabinet under the sink—the usual place where I stored my sponge. But I saw them singing and happy. (To this day. I entered the kitchen hesitantly. It wasn’t there. When they read this article. I gasped. He’d say. routine of your day? I tell you. How could I break their cheery mood? So I decided to join the singing.” or “Because you founded a home for the elderly. “For each day you cleaned that toilet with love in your heart. God will give me a 365-room mansion in heaven. Nurture your secret life.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL a fork when I noticed something about the sponge in my hand. It looked oddly familiar. and soap the few remaining plates. wondering whether to tell the brothers or not. I have never told them what had happened that night.” etc. I’d expect Him to say.) I have a question for you: How’s your secret life? Who are you when no one’s looking? In the unspectacular. And when I ask Him why the lavish reward. Because I knew my sponge! What was it doing here in the kitchen? Just to be sure.

72 .

It’s probably one of the most profoundly inspiring things that I do. Or eating ice cream with friends. kryptonite nailclipper. You might think it’s preaching. He just chuckles. Or writing. Dad is 80 years old and he can’t see very well anymore. (Something downright simple. And we go to work. industrial-strength. I also wear bullet-proof goggles to protect my eyes. I love doing those things. Believe me. Awesome even. So whenever I’m at home.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL LIFE IS GOOD IF YOU LOVE There are some things in life that I deeply enjoy. and very shyly. So I get my heavy-duty.) I’m talking about cutting Dad’s fingernails. But there is this one specific thing that I do which I find exquisitely sweet. Or just being hugged by a little child. shows me his fingernails and toenails. Or simply reading a delicious book that I can’t put down. this elderly man lumbers towards me. You see. And toenails. And I understand. But I’m thinking of something else. He doesn’t have to say anything. lest they be 73 . Like standing on top of a serene mountain breathing in God’s beauty. Or leading worship.

As a little boy. he’d form his fingers like scissors and run them through his grayish hair. Beside me is a chain-saw. he’d tell the barber what to do. “Make him guwapo1 .2 With a sheepish smile. trying to stop my tears from falling. Because life gives me a way to be a better person. ———————————————— 1 good-looking 2 A famous Filipino male folk singer with shoulder-length hair. I now bring him to the barber—after some shy signals from him that he doesn’t want to look like Freddie Aguilar. every day. cut my nails. Because life gives me abundant opportunities to genuinely love.Life is Good if You Love injured by flying shrapnel. my heart melts within. 74 . But as I do this. And when he’d plop on the chair. Today. Life is good. I’d tell the barber what to do. I remember him doing this again and again and again… Those were also the days when he’d bring me to the barber shop. “Make him guwapo like me. with great care. Why? Because life gives me precious moments to say “thanks” to special people. And so I’d drive him to a nearby barber shop. As I’d sit on the high chair.” he’d command. I’d sit on his lap and he’d hold my tiny hands and.” I’d command. things are little bit different. I still remember when he’d do this for me. just in case my nailclipper won’t do. Because many years ago.

“Oh my God. my family was complaining like crazy.. “And who’s this guy leading us anyway? We don’t know him at all! He could be…” And there was a tense-filled pause. Through dirt roads. “We’re lost!” they whined. Because of the enormous roadwork there. one family member said. THERE IS A TREASURE I now realize that joy or misery is a choice that we have to make daily. Finally. “Oh. Besides. so I’ll refrain from mentioning names here. I’m going in that direction.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY TRIAL. “Sure. All the while. why all these roadwork at the same time?” another grumbled. 47 lefts. for about two hours! He led us through the inner labyrinths of Novaliches. we took 32 rights. “Can you help us find this address?” my Mom asked a guy driving a little jeep. we got lost taking alternative routes.. We’re being kidnapped! WE’RE BEING KIDNAPPED BY THAT MAN!” (Divulging identities of who said what has proven hazardous to my health. “follow me. Through pot holes. In total. Through dark alleys.” And we did. I was driving in Novaliches with my family to visit some relatives. and 13 U-turns. Novaliches is famous for an amazingly circuitous network of streets—reminding me of my intestines. This came to me strongly when one day.) 75 .” he said.

And that was when the real performance began. “Lord. I realized I didn’t have time to be miserable! When we finally reached the home of our relatives. I was thanking God for the relatives we were visiting. As they were replaying their sad ordeal to them. were they mad and miserable.” I shook my head.) “We had a terrrrrrrrible time!” they griped in unison as they greeted our cousins. I opened the car door. I was thanking God for those rare times that I’m with my family—no matter how crazy they may be. “He’s no kidnapper. I thank You that I feel like Indiana Jones trapped in a maze. I was thanking God for blessing us. (All the complaining they did in the car was just dress rehearsal. What a thrilling adventure!” Generally. What was I doing all this time? Aside from driving for them. I was also singing. stepped down. I was having the time of my life. I was thanking God for my car. “I think he’s a serial killer.In Every Trial. Because I was so busy being grateful.” Boy. “Ahhh… Now was that exciting or what?” 76 . I was excited making those zigs and zags! Under my breath. my family stepped down from the car with angry exasperation.” “Really? Good…” sighed everyone. There is a Treasure I had to laugh and say. I prayed. “C’mon. stretched my tired muscles. the guy doesn’t look like a kidnapper at all. and smiled. I was thanking God for sending us an angel as our guide—using a serial killer to lead our way.

“Bo. In every trial. no one can take away your joy. let us rejoice and be glad in it!” Because I believe that in every problem. there’s a rich blessing. (On some special days. the Nightmare in Novaliches had matinee shows in the afternoons and main performances in the evenings. 77 . I face the mirror and tell myself.) But I recall the event with sweetness.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL One week after. This is the day that the Lord has made. every time my family got together. they’d still grumble and relive the agony of that trip. And fun! Because every morning. there’s a treasure waiting to be unearthed.

78 .

Superman. I tried writing my own fiction novel. Like I remember ripping out the pages of “Laughter. I’d scream. (There came a time when I told and retold my jokes so often that everyone memorized them as well. For example. But at age 13. saving the world from vicious aliens (my sisters). Social Studies and Math notebooks. “Joke #28!” and everyone would break out laughing. I’ YOUR PRIMARY GIFTS WILL LEAD YOU TO YOUR SACRED MISSION 79 . As a small kid.) And as a ten-year-old boy. I only reached chapter two and everyone who read it didn’t understand a thing I wrote––but hey. at least I could claim I was a budding novelist. the Best Medicine” from all the issues of Reader’s Digest and compiling them into a single fat book. Until I made my own super hero (me). I drew my own comic books. we just assigned each of these jokes a number. I’d memorize these jokes and retell them to my family. Batman. as an early teen. I gave my first talk in a small prayer meeting—and I’ve not stopped preaching since.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL ve always been a communicator ever since I can remember. So in order to save time. I used to have a collection of humor books. Wonder Woman and a slew of Japanese robots came to life at the back pages of my Science. Sometime later.

and holding endless 80 . By the way. that give life. Because I love proclaiming truth in a simple. I’ve unloaded most of my “noncommunicating” work. And having enormous fun! Deep within. understandable way. Like managing organizations and communities. I don’t know what your first gift is. your God-ordained mission. Years later. preaching through radio. thinking and creating a talk that’ll give hope to those who’ll hear. your assigned purpose. I feel a rush of excitement in my veins the moment my fingers touch the keyboard. It’ll point you to your life project. TV and teaching tapes. I began writing worship songs. writing books. That’s how God made me. And I need to be true to my primary gift—for there lies my sacred mission. I love the feel of an old Bible in my hand as I sit in front of my desk or squat under a tree—praying. I realized that God has made me His communicator. that empower. I found myself publishing magazines. poised for action. Recently. but you’ll find in it the handwriting of God.Your Primary Gifts Will Lead You to Your Sacred Mission At 14. I also love the sight of an empty computer screen. ready to give birth to an article that will bless many. I love telling stories that inspire. it will also point you to your happiness.

But after praying and searching hard. Because the enemy of the best is the second best. I realize now that I thwart God’s over-all plan if I insist on taking work that isn’t my primary gift. I’ve made a decision. 81 . I’m focusing on what I do best. Let me ask you now: What is your primary gift? Live it to the max. God has raised up others—those whose primary gift is management.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL meetings and planning sessions! I was doing stuff like that for years because we were pioneering.

82 .

I’m not complaining. When I got married. You see. especially that I’m a preacher. loves every inch of the journey. my wife is a woman. however. I should have remained single. That’s why each morning. Let me explain it another way. shower. Which would look strange. Or married another guy. And that’s why 83 . I’m the typical male that’s totally goalfixated. pauses for scenery. (About one hour and fiftyone minutes more. (Thank God. As a man. I did everything with lightning speed.) Don’t get me wrong.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIPS ARE YOUR GREATEST TREASURE When I was single. You see. I remember it took me only nine minutes to eat breakfast. Men are creatures of purpose while women are creatures of process. My wife. the better. dress up and get ready to drive off to wherever. No kidding. preparing to leave home takes me a little bit more time. hums a tune.) If I wanted to continue my quick pace in life. I don’t care much for the journey—just the destination. she enjoys a cool shower while I just try to get moist. She walks leisurely. So the shorter the trip.

Like if I sprint out of the house while stuffing breakfast in my mouth. choosing and re-choosing what clothes to wear. my wife takes delight in a slow meal where food isn’t the only thing shared. They are our richest treasure! My friends are many. most life-giving stuff of human life. I have to hammer this reality into my head: Friendships are not 84 . “Do you love me?” When I respond. Because relationships don’t have purposes.” she peacefully goes back to whatever she was doing.” she teases. “Yes.Friendships Are Your sure Greatest Trea- she treats as near-sacred her time in front of an open closet. I. This dialogue is repeated about 14 times in a regular day. And I have my family and my community as wonderful. She also has the time to regularly stop her work to check on the state of our friendship. But more importantly. however. just grab what I wore yesterday. As I waste my time with them and wonder whether I’m accomplishing anything. I’ve learned anew an ancient truth: That friendships are the most sacred. God is my first Friend. beautiful friends. warmth and laughter. but conversation. this is the reason why my wife majors in relationships and I don’t think much about them. I consider my wife to be my best friend. Because of her. stories. most precious. She asks. “Very much. The relationship is the purpose. “How much?” After I tell her. I do.

hmm?) 85 . That nurturing friendship is the greatest thing that I can ever accomplish in life. is the journey and the destination. In essence. in essence. (Male thinking. Because friendship. that’s my purpose for being. I’ve now learned that relationships are more important than accomplishments.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL about goals or purposes or results. That time-efficiency is second only to loveefficiency.

86 .

went past a McDonald’s hungry because my pockets were empty. Just because I felt… well. one city in Africa. my next ride. There were days when I walked home because I didn’t have enough fare. I also traveled to three cities in the U. All for free. “You can dye my hair purple!”) My season of comfortable poverty lasted for almost three years. because I was invited to 87 .. I decided to live without a salary. So I told my organizations NOT to give me a paycheck. two trips to Israel and four cities in Asia. telling them. Even just for a season. But I wanted to try living in trust. But ironically. Chairman of the Board. four cities in Europe. (I recall that this ponytail ordeal came to an abrupt end when I received ten thousand bucks from a total stranger.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL ONLY GOD IS NOT A SEASON Five years ago. five cities in Canada. I quickly ran to the barbershop and asked for the most expensive haircut they had. I felt God wanted me to do it. I didn’t care if people called me cookoo or screwball or ding-a-ling. So there were days when I.S. There were weeks when I was tempted to don a ponytail because I couldn’t afford a haircut. my next haircut. waiting on heaven for my next meal. in those same years.

“I trust God” when your Love Boat has just capsized and you’re now in the open sea surrounded by giant sharks with napkins on their chests. munching on shark meat dipped in wasabe and soy sauce. “I trust God” when you’re vacationing in a Luxury Love Boat.) But like the way it began. It’s easy to say. I felt a surging inspiration within me that my season of happy poverty was to end. But it’s not so easy to say. dining in one of it’s classy restaurants.Only God Is not a Season preach and to guide people in pilgrimages. (Would you believe? I have a savings account now—something I had to look into the dictionary to find out what the word meant. So three years after. bringing with them their own wasabe and soy sauce. I allowed my organizations to pay me a salary again. really. (I remember leaving for my foreign trips in a nice coat and tie so no one would think I only had twenty dollars in my wallet. whatever the season you’re in! 88 .) I have no regrets entering into that season. If we have everything—and everything goes on smoothly in our lives—we will never know what it means to really. But that’s the point! There’s really no difference between those two scenes! You need to trust God fully. reeeeeeeally trust. napkin on your chest. Because I believe I’ve learned one great lesson of life: That seasons of famine are permitted by God to give us deepened trust.

Because they are simply that: seasons. you know who will never fail.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL Two questions. That will end. 89 . Only God is not a season. huh? Don’t trust it. Are you going through a season of abundance? Being paid a nice salary. Employed by a large multinational company? I don’t care how secure you think it is. Only He will never end. Or are you going through a season of poverty or hardship or trial? Believe me. In the end. I’m telling you: it’s not.

90 .

I was already an avid practitioner. I felt I wasn’t genuinely loving 91 . albeit harassed.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL THE FASTEST GUY DOESN’T WIN THE RACE “Bo. maybe just a little. Because no matter how hard or how fast I worked. I swelled with pride within. I just realized I was doing it all wrong. schedule. I had to rush and zoom and dash and whisk and jet and zip and race. Add to that my passion as a writer and preacher—traveling here and abroad—and you’ll get an idea of the kind of insane lifestyle I lived. But I was proud of that busy. I didn’t have time to live. chairman of an aggressive Catholic publications firm and director of a new ministry for the poor. I was head of several Catholic communities (I lost count somewhere along the way). But thank you anyway…” I loved being a workaholic! And I loved it when others told me I was one! At a time when the word “multi-tasking” wasn’t invented yet. you’re a workaholic!” Every time I heard that line. I didn’t (and couldn’t) walk or drive from meeting to meeting. hid it beneath a shy smile and muttered. Well one day. and torpedo my way! In other words. My relationships weren’t growing. I didn’t feel I was going anywhere. “Aw shucks.

92 . (When you think that I was doing the work of five men. Winners had the ability to stop whatever they were doing to encourage other wounded runners. I was running away from who I was. I didn’t like very much. giving up that 80% only meant that I’m finally doing what one man should be doing!) Now. I simply gave up 80% of my responsibilities to friends who could do a better job. which deep within. Because I realized I got the rules all wrong. Winners were those who had the relaxed time of smelling beautiful flowers along the way. To listen to the music of the wind. And winners had the power to sing most of the way. One day. I made a crucial choice. The fastest guy didn’t win the race. To enjoy majestic scenery. I woke up and realized that workaholism was a disease. Nor was I enjoying life. To taste my food. To breathe fresh air.The Fastest Guy Doesn’t Win the Race people anymore. I have time to smell the flowers. But the guy who had the most love—and joy and peace—when he got to the finish line. I decided to semi-retire. To gaze at my wife and see how lovely she is. it was an addiction of trying to win the love of people. (For me. one glorious day. And I decided to really live.) So finally. Even God seemed far away.

YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL To laugh with old friends and thank God for each of them. really love. really.) 93 . And to love. (To really.

94 .

Even her skin color grew pale. But didn’t she know that I painted a lot of other stuff? So when I arrived with 25 gallons of paint in my car trunk. around it–– including the mailman that came at the wrong time when I was putting a twenty-sixth coat on the front door. I was already off to the hardware. “I think our home looks just fine. (The last time I saw that “God-help-me” look on her face was when I first proposed to her. The only part of my body that didn’t have paint on was my intestines. my teacher displayed two of my art works on her bulletin board!” Well today. “Great idea!” I nodded with glee. In fact. our tiny abode is newly painted. I tried to cheer her up.) “Umm.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL WIPE WHILE WET “Let’s have our apartment repainted!” my happy wife announced one day. above it. She was speechless. I water colored in kindergarten. don’t worry. But so is everything else in it. And I knew what my wife was thinking: That I had never painted a house before. her demeanor changed.” she muttered weakly. “Honey. her jaw agape. “and you know what? I’ll do it myself!” Suddenly. 95 . under it. on second thought. Even my teeth had paint on them. The old paint in fact adds character and charm…” But it was useless.

slipped or painted something that shouldn’t have been painted. I mean. I even sprinkled holy water. I used thinner. Never. Whenever my brush dripped. God have mercy on you. Dirty thoughts. This is a reflection on the life of a soul. Because if it does. Like it took me two weeks to scrape. brown…) But you know what? My clumsiness was saved by one of the greatest contraptions ever invented by humankind: A wet rag. smear. We think foul thoughts.Wipe While Wet In other words. all I had to do was wipe it off with a moist cloth—and eureka! It was gone. And white. splashed paint on every dead or living object found within a two-mile radius of our apartment. detergent. All of us do. I dripped. we can remove them easy––as long as they’re still wet. smudged. muriatic acid. May I have your full attention please? This isn’t a lecture on painting houses. We spill. You see. don’t let a minute pass by. With one stroke. being totally ignorant about painting. spilled. even ascorbic acid. splash our souls dirty. But here’s the catch. (I literally painted the town red. But here’s the rule: Wipe while wet. ever let it dry. rub and peel the dried-up paint around the house. smeared. blue. Vengeful thoughts. Evil thoughts. No kidding. we make mistakes quite often. Trust 96 . sulphuric acid. cleanser.

Because our thoughts become our deeds. we can wipe them off. and again. our character become our destiny. I now know what hell may look like: It’s a place where the soul is violently. My friend. they do return. and again. 97 . If we don’t. they don’t stand a chance. They’re pretty stubborn. It might just save you an eternity. As long we don’t take too long. we can get rid of evil from our minds—and lives. Again. these fellows. possibly years—even a lifetime. The point: Be as stubborn as they are. Oh yes. perhaps months. and again. we’re going to scrub dried-up sin in our souls for days. and again. But with one stroke. Again. fiercely scrubbing off evil from every square inch of its skin––till it’s one grotesque body of festering wounds—but he’ll just keep on scratching and rubbing and scraping for all his painful eternity. Because of this.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL me. our deeds become our character. carve this on stone: Wipe while wet.

98 .

it said. “Oh no!” The sales lady inquired. the woman returns forlorn. ‘Doesn’t that pet store sell any food?’” I’ve been part of Catholic communities most of my 99 . “Why don’t you buy a mirror? Some parrots need to see themselves to get them talking. yes. she came back and said. Finally.” So she purchased a tiny ladder for the parrot.” The sales clerk was equally frustrated and said. “Moving up and down the ladder may stimulate the parrot to speak. the woman bought a mirror and went home. she came barging back into the store declaring.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL ONLY LOVE HEALS Yesterday. “It hasn’t spoken a single word!” So the sales clerk advised. “before it dropped dead. The next day. “It’s dead. “How about a nice seesaw? That sometimes helps them get more verbally active. But the next day. “Did it even say one word before it died?” “Well. But she went back the next day complaining to the sales lady.” she groaned.” Excitedly. “It ain’t talking yet!” The sales clerk suggested a ladder this time. “Nothing has worked! It hasn’t made a sound.” So off the woman went with her seesaw. the next morning. I read about this woman who bought a parrot from a pet store.” the woman sighed.

as simple. we don’t have time to love people. and structures may remain. with complex outreach ministries. community is about loving each other in ordinary. Because we can have the best preachers. A prayer intention. (The forms. A small note for a discouraged companion. A simple meal together with lots of laughter.” That’s as corny. So we get very busy to be like them. the ladders and seesaws of community life. People are dying because they’re not receiving love—or giving it to each other. A phone call when someone is sick. community life will not last. more programs. detailed organization charts.) That’s pathetic. nondramatic. creating sophisticated teaching programs. 100 . And yet at the end of the day. the best evangelists. as glorious as I can define it. we can get very enamored and impressed with the mirrors. We’re green with envy when we hear that other “bigger” communities have “more” to offer—more teachings. but if you look inside. do we starve ourselves dry? We can get so preoccupied with other stuff. Bottom line. the best teachers—but if our leaders are not first of all lovers. the more I believe that it’s essentially about “loving friends. unspectacular ways. The more I live in community.Only Love Heals life and one of the humbling realizations I have had is that as members. it’s hollow. more ministries. activities.

(In the end. 101 . Only love nourishes. Only love makes community. An offer to baby-sit for a tired mother. I know I can’t personally love every single member of my community—for they number in the thousands. A small cash gift when a friend is out of job. then perhaps that love will be passed on. Because only love heals. But if I can try to love—and be a real friend—to those closest to me. these are the simple things that will make us saints!) As a leader.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL A warm hug for an older member of community.

102 .

“Good day. I couldn’t recall gazing at a more ravishing sight in my life. her bearing both feminine and strong at the same time. though it’s a teensy bit warm. isn’t it?” I intoned.” My voice trembled and my chest felt like it wanted to explode. so I shook my head. her large round eyes singing. Alone.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL HARD WORK MAGIC WORKS I smiled at the lovely woman beside me. her gentle nature. attempting to hide my nervousness. I think the timing is more than perfect. Hard as I tried. mind you. But I was oblivious to it.” 103 . caught up in the vision of the angel before me as though the very air I breathed was part of this apparition of loveliness. She smiled back. And it wasn’t just physical. “Yes. It was her peaceful presence.” her soft voice whispered. “Are you… uh. doing anything tonight?” The princess chuckled. “Why do you ask?” “Well. I was wondering if you’d like to spend it with me. In fact. In truth. the day was hot and the air quite still. if possible. “Aren’t you going a little too fast?” Her naughty grin gave me confidence. “Nope.

a thousand people cheered behind us. this is the wedding of the century!” At once. But here’s the second truth I’ve learned: That this too isn’t a permanent condition.. And the next 365 days thereafter. I guess I did the right things and said the right words that day. “We’ll see. and I’ve learned some truths about being a lover. I do. will not last. radiant in her white wedding gown. I laughed more uproariously. No exceptions. He told me to put a ring on her finger. After a while.” to each of them. because my bride obliged my request. If I continue to say “Yes” to God’s questions of love and follow His instructions to the 104 . it’s been a year since. the bishop—who was in front of us— announced. “Yes.Hard Work Magic Works She squinted.. Yes. gave out a shy giggle. His Excellency asked us a number of questions.) This happens to everybody. no matter how lovely. slimy-skinned. and I followed the instructions to the letter. turns into an insect-munching. “Dearly beloved. the gorgeous prince in her eyes.” Suddenly. Marowe. We did spend the rest of the day together. (And I. That if I keep on doing the right things and saying the right words each day—I can bring our romance back to life again. I recall answering. One is that all apparitions of loveliness. every enchanting princess becomes a broom-riding witch. If you do the right things and say the right words. foul-smelling toad.

The many times we laughed. the frog becomes a prince again—and the witch a lovely princess once more. No doubt about it. thank you for a magical first year. Next to God. Yes. Yes. Even the many times we fought—and ended up in each other’s arms before the end of each day. it is magic. To my forever bride. 105 . but magic that you work very hard for.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL letter… the apparition of loveliness in my heart returns. you are the most beautiful gift God has ever given me. you will always be the greatest thing that ever happened to me. The many times we cried. With a kiss.

106 .

the Greek word logos in John 1:1 is epistemologically rooted in a very rich hermeneutic context…” I imagined my little baby nodding her head. “This can’t be real. make her a happy child. And each night. “You see.” Each night. So this was how it felt. We danced. we embraced each other for the longest time I can remember. I’d read aloud the Gospel of the day. Because my daily prayer was.” I told myself. Stuff like. do you know that I love you very much? Mommy loves you a lot. really. too. “Baby. But it was true! Spontaneously. I also wondered if she’d become a preacher one day. I was going to be a father. So each day. We cried. expanded my chest and beamed a brand-new Daddy’s smile.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL GOD ANSWERS PRAYER HIS WAY When my wife announced to me that she was pregnant. I straightened my back. We acted like lunatics. laying our hands on her tummy. Every night. whispering gently. Or perhaps a writer. “Lord. 107 . we prayed for our little miracle. baby. And God loves you even more. I spoke to our child. I’d say these lines over and over again. We sang. But it didn’t matter. and she can be anything You want her to be!” God took that prayer seriously and answered it one day after Christmas. and added my own homily.

the elderly. And He made you what He wanted you to be. my wife saw a small drop of dried blood on her undergarment.” But you see. And it’s you. and of the Son. That afternoon. who 108 . I found my wife sobbing and shaking uncontrollably in the bathroom. “and I baptize you in the name of the Father. And Angel is your name. Baby Angel is your name. Not once did we feel the thrill of watching you make your first tiny steps. Two days later. For God so determined that it is you. Was this something to worry about? We didn’t think so. Not once did we feel the inner pleasure of hearing you say. God did answer our prayer. at 6:00 AM. that doesn’t change the fact that you are our child. who now cradles us in your arms of prayer. We lost our baby. Angel. my voice failing me. Not once did we feel what it was like to cradle you in our arms. and of the Holy Spirit.God Answers Prayer His Way We were spending the holidays with the poor. “Angel shall be your name. You are a happy child today.” Yes.” I managed to say. I quickly grabbed my trembling wife and held her in my arms. Angel. and the orphans in Anawim. We were wrong. She pointed to the mass of blood in the toilet bowl. “Mommy” and “Daddy. far more than we can ever imagine.

And no one can take you away from us anymore. and yet will always be with us. for you mention our names before God every day. our every move. For Angel is your name.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL thrills in watching our every step. And it’s you who have not stopped saying “Mommy” or “Daddy” since you entered the portals of heaven. You were never with us. 109 . our every breath.

110 .

I noticed that peculiar glazed look on his eye and the friendly smile on his face—and I knew it wouldn’t be too long before he’d make his first move. I chuckled and held out my hand to him. “Friend. NOT A SHARK A guy with a large black Bible clutched under his arm rode the jeepney I was on. the young woman nervously faced the other way. are you saved?” Instantly.” he asked with utter seriousness.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL BE A DOLPHIN. “I’m Bo. he cornered his first victim—a college girl beside him— with the question asked in a typical preacher’s modulated voice. “Friend. “do you know where you would go?” My eyes squinted. the zealous evangelist turned next to the fiftyish man in front of the woman and inquired. We smiled at each other and I wondered what his opening line would be. bingo. “Um. “Do you know Jesus Christ?” You won’t believe what this man did: he signaled the driver to stop and got off immediately. I’m also a Christian. Undeterred.” 111 . At once. let me see… Funeraria Paz? Eternal Gardens?” My evangelist’s jaw fell to the floor. if you die right now. But I shivered when I realized I was the only passenger in the jeepney left to talk to. In my next breath.

but always I felt I was talking to a brick wall. As long as you see them from a distance. I regretted why I ever began the conversation. But it’s the same type of admiration that one has for killer sharks. I write. But my admiration never makes me want to swim with them in the same pool. their sincerity. “I’ll see you in heaven!” I told him. “Oh… that. I do all sorts of things to tell people about God’s love. the evangelist was now talking to the driver. as I stepped off the jeepney. their speed. Now don’t get me wrong.” At that point.Be a Dolphin. His face likened that of one whose mother had just passed away. that’s fine—you admire their strength. swallowing hard. “What church do you attend. Not a Shark He laughed and asked. For the past 20 years of my life. “Then. I avoid them.” he muttered.” he said somberly.” I said as matter-of-factly as I could. or on TV. I’ve been an evangelist as well. their raw power. As I watched the vehicle roar away. I preach. their courage to talk to total strangers. So I decided to do what one does to brick walls. “for I too was a former Catholic until God saved me from that Babylonian religion. Their zeal. I admire guys like him. brother?” “The Catholic Church. 112 . you are not a Christian. I’ve been in these situations before where I defended my Catholic faith.

they get a tangible experience of God’s sweet love—without hearing one word from me. Hopefully. I’d pray with them. I’d rather be a dolphin. Sometimes. 113 . It’s not only more effective. later. I just greet them a happy morning and buzz away. if after a few days. I sometimes talk to total strangers. really. No preaching. And perhaps. Nothing much. my neighbors may want to talk and I’d be there to listen. I don’t want to be a shark. they feel my sincere love for them. No testimonies. It makes my life—and my mission—immeasurably fun. Even kids love to go near dolphins—and I love kids. No. Small acts of kindness.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL In fact. I remember knocking on the doors of my new neighbors to give them fruits. too. And perhaps. and share my faith to them. later still. a piece of chocolate cake or even cookies.

114 .

I end up wondering why I didn’t become a plumber instead of a preacher. But can you meet him first and pray that his depraved soul doesn’t go to hell?” “Uh. sure…” I said. “He’s a lazy drunkard. vice-ridden. During these awkward times. etc. I saw her with her not-sopleased husband in tow. “Just a moment. I still have to fix leaky pipes—like this woman who “leaked” all that I preached about that night on love. She went on. humility. After I preach a sermon. “Here he is. In a few minutes. Bo!” she announced as she pulled him towards me. hastily turning towards the door. After fixing leaky pipes. I swear his neck had totally shrunk 115 .” she said. I pitied the guy who was now trying to hide his face behind the collars of his denim jacket. Humiliating and lambasting her husband seemed to be her spiritual gift. “My no-good husband’s here to pick me up. I can’t go home. a gambler. kindness. He doesn’t have the Holy Spirit! He’s so far from the Lord!” I wondered when this tirade would end. plumbers can go home.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL BE GOOD ADS FOR GOD “You need to talk to my sin-infested. a womanizer. devil-possessed husband!” I finished preaching in a prayer meeting when this huge woman approached me and said these acidic words.

“I’m happy that you’re here. I began wondering. “Well. Heaven.” As the couple walked out of the prayer meeting hall with the man’s head back to its normal position and his dazed wife right behind him. I can see you’re a very caring husband for picking up your wife tonight. “Let’s pray that God will fill her with the Holy Spirit. True Joy! 116 . “Is there hope for her?” “God can change anyone. yes. “Brother Bo. I saw his wife’s shocked face glaring at me. ways. uh. “Hey.” he chuckled. Finally.” I smiled. How many people don’t come closer to God because of His lousy advertisements? Hey. “I’m used to her. Forgiveness. you know.” He laughed uproariously. “so that you could pray for your wife’s transformation. She might just change.” I declared. the “product” itself is great: Salvation. “And I apologize for your wife’s. I do care for her…” he said sheepishly.Be Good Ads for God and his head was getting shorter and smaller as the minutes wore on.” I winked. you’re invited to attend the prayer meeting next time. I had to interrupt and greeted the man. don’t talk too softly! I can’t hear you!” Her husband whispered back to me. “she does this all the time!” I bent over and whispered to his ear. His wife interrupted.” From the corner of my eye.

judging.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL But God has chosen ads that are the pits: human beings called Christians. be good advertising. acting self-righteously. God’s counting on you. Friends. We advertise God by condemning. We are appointed to advertise God to others but we do it bizarrely. pulling rank. 117 . boasting and so on.

118 .

YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL 119 .

120 .

Mike Joseph.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL Acknowledgment Books like these are born from communities and families. Banjoy Santillan. Fr. His light shines through you! My spiritual mentor. D. Lucy Limpe. It is a garment of praise that has been woven from the blessings that friends have left with me. My dedicated directors. And our donors all over the world who believe in the mission. my dearest friends. Eliza Manaloto..D. My children by acquisition. Dong Matias. the Light of Jesus. Bishop Ted Bacani. Tim Duran. My fellow elders. Pio Español. 121 . Priests assigned to my life. Jun Fontecha–– working with you is God’s special gift to me. My angels in God’s work. Toj Calaycay. MGL. Jr. Felicitas Sy. Vic and Ditas Español. I love you! My spiritual community. Jr. You are His encouragement to me. Marisa Chikiamco. Roy Pasimio. Betty Roxas-Chua. and this one is no different. Steve Tynan. Eng Si.. Jill Ramiscal. Omec Roderos. Lito Saura. Tita Neneng Mangahas. Hermie Morelos.

and Tubby. finance whiz Weng Cequeña. Sis. Gene and Pilar. and the LOJ Training Center. I thank my God for each of you. Ken Noecker. My team in producing and distributing this book: Alma Alvarez. Jeanne Young. for loving me as your favorite son-in-law. and admin servant Cindy Calderon. Pete Lapid. the book’s layout artist. I embrace you each day. distribution expert Bebeth Bacolod. Angelina Lim. and Adrian Panganiban. their husbands. Andy Biller. Fr. My family: my sisters. SVD. Thank you for always having a difficult time saying no to my requests! My fellow fulltime staffers in Shepherd’s Voice. Fr. Dong Alpuerto. editor-at-large Chay Santiago.Fr. Anawim. To all 122 . Ruben and Linda. My co-laborers in other vineyards of the Lord: Omy and Rosanne Romero. my nephews and nieces. the Light of Jesus (LOJ) Community. SVD. My loving parents. and my first grandchild––hugs! My parents-in-law. SVD. Francis Iturralde. Rudy Horst. my excellent editor. the LOJ Counselling Center. sales evangelist Mon Toledo. Jake Yap.

Marowe.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL my friends distributing God’s Word across the country and the world. for always being my best friend. He delights in you! My wife. 123 .

124 .

125 . “the poor of the Lord” began with a simple dream of Bo Sanchez and the Light of Jesus Community. Should you wish to help this work. a mother and her five children were running away from a physically abusive husband and father. Anawim. contact or write to: ANAWIM. Within three years. The following week.. 15 poor children. the transients— is no small task. the volunteers. Anawim began its full operations when an old man in dirty rags entered the bamboo gate of its rustic compound. But giving love to the poor is costly.000 each month for this work of love.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL THEY NEED YOUR LOVE Anawim: Refuge for the Poor In June of 1996. Cubao. a Hebrew word meaning. Feeding sixty persons each day—composed of the poor. A few days later. We spend P250. a whole family of eight orphans arrived from the mountains. Medical bills are extremely expensive for the elderly. They need your love. 725-8564. #56 Chicago St. and countless of transients who seek for inner healing. two mentally handicapped persons. Quezon City 1109 Philippines. They wanted to love. the Anawim Center has become a refuge for 20 abandoned elderly.

126 .

No.com. you can read any of the inspiring publications of Shepherd’s Voice or listen to the power-packed teaching tapes of Bo Sanchez and other speakers.ph or contact us: SHEPHERD’S VOICE #60 Chicago St.ph 127 . (02) 727-5615 e-mail: sale@shepherdsvoice. Cubao Quezon City 1109 Philippines Tel.com.AN INVITATION TO KEEP ON GROWING YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL Should you wish to continue following the spiritual path explained in this book. Check out our products online at www.shepherdsvoice. (02) 411-7874 to 77 Fax No.

AN INVITATION TO KEEP ON GROWING 128 .

c/o praybox. I may not be able to respond to you. #60 Chicago St. Inc. It was a thrill writing these stories for you. You can also mail us at our home office at Shepherd’s Voice. I also hold seminars through the Light of Jesus Training Center. If you have any prayer requests. I remain your friend. Aside from the publications and teaching tapes we produce at Shepherd’s Voice. Quezon City 1109 Philippines. no.com. e-mail us at praybox@shepherdsvoice.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL Dear Reader.ph Because of the amount of mail we receive. or call us at tel. May His love always be the fire in your heart. We have a prayer hotline.com.ph and we will be glad to pray for you.. 129 . I pray that this special collection has blessed your life and drew you closer to God. I hope to see you in one of them. my e-mail address is bomail@shepherdsvoice. But I do promise to read your message. (02) 411-7874 to 77. If you wish to send me a message. Cubao.

his inspirational books have never left the top ten list of bestselling books of the country. such as Anawim. He founded many organizations. Bo believes that his first call from God is to be a loving husband to his wife Marowe and a devoted father to his son Benedict. and Shepherd’s Voice. the number one inspirational magazine in the country. 130 . He is the publisher and main writer of the KERYGMA. They live in Manila. Philippines. a special home for the abandoned elderly. He also founded’ Light of Jesus Community and the Light of Jesus Counseling Center.ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bo Sanchez started preaching at the age of 13 and wrote his first book at the age of 20. And for years now.ph and subscribe to receive a free inspirational email message from him each week.bosanchez. he continues to preach to millions worldwide. a media ministry that publishes the widest read Catholic literature in the country. Visit him at www. Today. But above all these.

he shares common stories with uncommon wisdom. This special collection includes the most favorite of Bo’s articles.. and your heart will overflow with laughter and warmth. such as. and nationally known author and speaker Bo Sanchez will do what he is best known for: From his heart to yours. Give Your Heart Away & Find It Whole Avoid Potholes By Taking Humps Nurture Your Secret Life The Fastest Guy Doesn’t Win the Race Wipe While Wet Only Love Heals This book can profoundly change the way you look at life.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL This beautiful book about making life beautiful is a second collection of the BOss articles from KERYGMA.. 131 . Join him in his personal journeys of deep faith and tender love.

132 .

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful