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.
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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.
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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.)
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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
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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.
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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:
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.”
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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
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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.
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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.)
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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?”
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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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
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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
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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?)
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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
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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!
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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.
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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
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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.
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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.)
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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.
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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
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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.
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.”
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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
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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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.”
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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.
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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.
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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
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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!
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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.
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YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL
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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
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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.
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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
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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
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AN INVITATION TO KEEP ON GROWING
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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,
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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
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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) 3 .

com.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.. 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. Quezon City. Cubao. except for brief quotations. 4 . (02) 411-7874 to 77 e-mail: sale@shepherdsvoice. No. Layout design by Noli Vicedo ISBN-971-91756-4-8 The stories in this book first appeared in KERYGMA magazine under the column. Philippines 1109 Tel. The BOss by Bo Sanchez.ph All rights reserved. INC. No part of this publication may be reproduced.

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. every time I watch you smile.

6 .

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 .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.

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.

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

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

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

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

16 .

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

Grieving because he was going away.” I muttered to myself. too. He was telling me that he loved me. They were bluish in color. At that point. The doctors told us frankly that he could go anytime. Grieving because it might be the last hug I’ll ever get from him. my tough. He raised his hands towards my face and clasped me on both cheeks. I was both grieving and joyful. “Dad. Hug someone today while there’s time. Today. I whispered to his ear. my father has recovered a little bit. Then he brought me down towards him and gave me a hug. Dad. Joyful because for the first time. I looked at Dad’s hands and face. “I love you.Hug Someone Today. 18 . we should have done this a long time ago. He was also probably bidding farewell. 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. My emotions were running wild inside me. I hug him more often now. Someone doesn’t last too long in that state. unsentimental father gave me a hug. he was only absorbing 20% of the oxygen they were pumping into him. My father gave me a hug.” That was when he regained consciousness for a few minutes. He looked at me with so much sadness in his eyes. narrowly escaping that ordeal.

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

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

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

22 .

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

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

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

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

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

Also. I invite Dad and Mom to hop along the journey. Dad and I are no longer able to take long walks. 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. They love me. They’re praying for me. But from the pulpit. So we’ve gone together to different parts of the world.Let Some Things Not Change What has changed? Today. They don’t give talks or anything like that. 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. And it sells everything else except nuclear reactors and live piranha. Or else they’ll lose their way and die somewhere inside. But when given a chance. some things don’t ever change. Thank God. I’ve become a missionary and that has taken me away from home. 28 . I still do the preaching.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

44 .

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

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

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

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

and I’ll be poorer than a presidential aspirant who has just lost the elections. Instead. cultural preferences and artistic orientation: a place with no entrance fee. wipe my sweat and 49 . Multiply that by 15. 9:00 AM I drive them to a free park (Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City). dancing. screaming and vomiting on each other. I kidnap our ANAWIM orphans and kids. Along the way. I decide to go to a place that suits my personal tastes. all fifteen of them. And where are we going? Not to those expensive amusement parks where people pay P400 per head. 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. and squeeze them into my car for a day of fun. 11:30 AM As I try to catch my breath.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL HAVE FUN WHEN YOU CAN 7:00 AM One Saturday morning. No wonder my car’s air freshener isn’t working well. the kids are singing.

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

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

52 .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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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.
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BELIEVE IN YOURSELF THE WAY GOD BELIEVES IN YOU

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

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

64 .

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

they won’t be happy no matter what happens to them. if they’re not happy now. “I’ll be happy only if my beloved will wait on me 24 hours a day. I’ll never be happy. think of me always. They say.Make Enjoying Life a Master Skill I don’t need the wooden chair or the tiny table or the coffee cup. serve me attentively. wear an Armani. “If I get a new job. I don’t need the good.” or “If I buy a house. talk. “Unless everyone loves me and accepts me. 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. then I’ll be happy. 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. Some people create elaborate. then I’ll be happy.” or “If I get a car.” They’ve got one rude awakening coming up real soon. My conditions to experiencing happiness are pretty simple: 66 . 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. then I’ll be happy. Like. where they are.” Pretty insane. complicated. fat book. Because the truth is. sometimes impossible rules to experience happiness in their lives.” or “If I get married. and eat.

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

68 .

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

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

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

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

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

Finally.. This came to me strongly when one day. Because of the enormous roadwork there. Through dark alleys.” he said. 47 lefts. “Sure. so I’ll refrain from mentioning names here. Through pot holes.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY TRIAL.” And we did. and 13 U-turns. “We’re lost!” they whined. I’m going in that direction. “Can you help us find this address?” my Mom asked a guy driving a little jeep. one family member said. “Oh. I was driving in Novaliches with my family to visit some relatives. We’re being kidnapped! WE’RE BEING KIDNAPPED BY THAT MAN!” (Divulging identities of who said what has proven hazardous to my health. Besides.) 75 . “follow me. In total. “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. All the while. THERE IS A TREASURE I now realize that joy or misery is a choice that we have to make daily. we took 32 rights. “Oh my God. for about two hours! He led us through the inner labyrinths of Novaliches. my family was complaining like crazy.. why all these roadwork at the same time?” another grumbled. we got lost taking alternative routes. Novaliches is famous for an amazingly circuitous network of streets—reminding me of my intestines. Through dirt roads.

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

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

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

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

Because the enemy of the best is the second best. 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. Let me ask you now: What is your primary gift? Live it to the max. I’ve made a decision. 81 .YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL meetings and planning sessions! I was doing stuff like that for years because we were pioneering. I’m focusing on what I do best. But after praying and searching hard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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. maybe just a little. albeit harassed. But I was proud of that busy. Because no matter how hard or how fast I worked. chairman of an aggressive Catholic publications firm and director of a new ministry for the poor. I didn’t have time to live. you’re a workaholic!” Every time I heard that line. “Aw shucks. 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. My relationships weren’t growing. and torpedo my way! In other words. schedule. I had to rush and zoom and dash and whisk and jet and zip and race. I swelled with pride within.YOU CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BEAUTIFUL THE FASTEST GUY DOESN’T WIN THE RACE “Bo. I felt I wasn’t genuinely loving 91 . I was already an avid practitioner. Well one day. I just realized I was doing it all wrong. I didn’t feel I was going anywhere. I was head of several Catholic communities (I lost count somewhere along the way). hid it beneath a shy smile and muttered. I didn’t (and couldn’t) walk or drive from meeting to meeting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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” I told myself. Because my daily prayer was. But it didn’t matter. And each night. And God loves you even more. So this was how it felt. I’d say these lines over and over again. I’d read aloud the Gospel of the day. But it was true! Spontaneously. Or perhaps a writer. and she can be anything You want her to be!” God took that prayer seriously and answered it one day after Christmas. laying our hands on her tummy. So each day. We danced. I straightened my back.” Each night. we prayed for our little miracle. Stuff like. We sang. I also wondered if she’d become a preacher one day. “You see. do you know that I love you very much? Mommy loves you a lot. make her a happy child. Every night. We cried. I spoke to our child. “This can’t be real. 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. “Lord. baby. and added my own homily. 107 . 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. really. we embraced each other for the longest time I can remember. whispering gently. I was going to be a father. too. We acted like lunatics. “Baby.

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

You were never with us.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. 109 . our every move. our every breath. and yet will always be with us. For Angel is your name. for you mention our names before God every day. And no one can take you away from us anymore.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cubao Quezon City 1109 Philippines Tel.ph 127 . (02) 411-7874 to 77 Fax No.shepherdsvoice. (02) 727-5615 e-mail: sale@shepherdsvoice.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. No.ph or contact us: SHEPHERD’S VOICE #60 Chicago St.com.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.

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

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

. This special collection includes the most favorite of Bo’s articles. and your heart will overflow with laughter and warmth. 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. such as..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. he shares common stories with uncommon wisdom. and nationally known author and speaker Bo Sanchez will do what he is best known for: From his heart to yours. Join him in his personal journeys of deep faith and tender love. 131 .

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