Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Time of Your Eternal Life

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Now Playing: I Can Only Imagine

I Can Only Imagine
by MercyMe

"I can only imagine what it will be like, when I walk by Your side...
I can only imagine, what my eyes will see, when Your Face is before me!
I can only imagine. I can only imagine.

Surrounded by Your Glory, what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you, Jesus? Or in awe of You, be still?
Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing 'Hallelujah!'? Will I be able to

I can only imagine, when that day comes, when I find myself standing in the Son!
I can only imagine, when all I will do, is forever, forever worship You!
I can only imagine! I can only imagine!

Surrounded by Your Glory, what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you, Jesus? Or in awe of You, be still?
Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing 'Hallelujah!'? Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine! Yeah! I can only imagine!

Surrounded by Your Glory, what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you, Jesus? Or in awe of You, be still?
Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing 'Hallelujah!'? Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine! Yeah! I can only imagine!

I can only imagine! Yeah! I can only imagine!! Only imagine!
I can only imagine.
I can only imagine, when all I do is forever, forever worship You!
I can only imagine."

Friday, May 23, 2008

Too Blessed to be Stressed

Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers, 
the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
Indeed we call blessed those who have persevered. 
You have heard of the perseverance of Job, 
and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, 
because "the Lord is compassionate and merciful."  (James 5:10-11, NAB)

The leading of the Holy Spirit for me this season in my life is to face hardship with faith and confidence.  For the longest time, I have abhorred any form of suffering.  Having gone through my fair share in the past, I have made deliberate choices to avoid heartache, pain, and hurt, ignoring their Scripture-based benefits to my faith.

Like a little child who lives in a fairy world where magic cures all ills and rights all wrongs, I have trodden the path of ease.  I have only involved myself in things I would succeed at.  Failure, though a necessary path of life, has become my enemy.  Living in a broken world where all, most of all me, commit mistakes whether they intend to or not, all this focus on perfection has just led me to sheer and utter frustration.

The most uncomfortable and inconvenient truth of all is that to follow a path of righteousness, we have to bite the bullet and plunge head on into the unknown - where everything is beyond our control, where we will experience pain, where we will encounter obstacles, where our strength and joy and confidence will be used up - but where God waits to empower, encourage, and enlighten us.  

Why is it that the search for truth still cannot stop me from denying it?  I have discovered that I am not alone in this quandary - that my favorite writers Philip Yancey and Henri Nouwen have undergone deep moments of doubt and confusion as well - despite knowing and proclaiming the truth of God's amazing love, of this world being His and about us being His children, not His super-children to be shielded from all harm or to have all powers to by themselves conquer evil.

The world does not value this truth, for everything around us tempts us to take control of our lives, to think only of ourselves, to worship ourselves as gods and goddesses, to associate only with similar diety, and not to follow Jesus at all.  Jesus' teachings on the call to discipleship are so contrary to the "values" of the world - for He espouses humility, patience, and generosity, while the world applauds pride, speed, and greed.

To be a Christian is to fight back with refusal, resistance, and responsibility.  It is to find God's voice from within our hearts and to follow Him, whether it is a slow, inch-by-inch process, or we find ourselves to be strong enough to skip and jump and soar.  This is a great challenge, but therein lies true joy.  I have yet to reach that phase.  These days I am starting to acknowledge again how weak I have been and to surrender the worldly attachments I have chosen to be my source of joy.  It is an upward call.

For God did not give human beings the power to fly and to teleport.  Thus, we cannot escape dangerous situations, painful confrontations, and complicated communications.  We are meant to stay put, face our fears with courage, and wait on the Lord.  He WILL sweep us off our feet.  He will carry us in His arms and take us to His heart, where we shall find all the rest, comfort, and love that we need.

My soul cries out to be heard, and this is more important than my tasks at work, my besmirched reputation, and my persistent plans.  Even to take time out to listen to my heart and rest my weary soul is difficult.  Now I am slowly facing those areas I have declared as off-limits to God, and admitting how helpless I am to fight this battle on my own.

My lesson on waiting for today - to persevere, and to learn to have the patience of Job.  Tomorrow is another day.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Prodigal Sister

There was once a story told- a parable- of a prodigal son, his father, and his older brother. The younger son, the prodigal, asked for his inheritance, left his father's estate, and "squandered his property in reckless living" (Lk 15: 13, ESV). When he became destitute, he thought of going home and asking for his father's forgiveness. The image of the father, waiting day in and day out for his long-lost son, is so beautiful, and so comforting, for Jesus showed through this parable the merciful, forgiving, generous, and loving nature of our Heavenly Father.

The older brother's reaction, however, was what led me to write this post. Let's take a look at what happened further in Luke 15:

"Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.

And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’

But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him,

but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.

But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’

And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.

It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

I realized today while I was brushing my teeth that I was this other child before God. I refused to celebrate because I still had issues against Him, of why He did not seem to notice the many years I had served Him, and of how in all those years I did not disobey His commands. I got hurt, further, whenever I saw how others who "squandered his property" appeared to be more blessed than me.

This is selfishness. Sooner or later I would turn out to be "lost" and "dead" if I do not look up to see how blessed I am to have been in my Father's house (so to speak), to be of service to Him, and to be able to hear His commandments and to obey them.

I admit that I'm struggling in this area now.

Lord, help me to see your love from your perspective, not mine. Help me to love You, myself, and others. Help me to receive love from You, myself, and others. Please help me get over these feelings of insecurity, jealousy, inferiority, and envy. They do not glorify You and they are not life-giving to anyone, especially to me. Help me to grow more in love and generosity that the love I give may be purified by Your example. Amen.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Now Praying: Psalm 27

My Macbook has a red indicator light that tells me when it's time to recharge it and I make it a point to do so in order to avoid discharging the battery and losing my files.  I also pay attention to my cellphone's battery level, so fearful am I of losing my network connection for even five minutes.  Even Ipods need recharging and cars need gasoline.  I have learned to diligently plug and recharge these inanimate attachments on a regular basis.

Would that I paid the same attention to my heart and my soul.  When I arrived at the Cenacle this afternoon, I could hear the soothing sound of the chirping of the birds and the rustling of the leaves from outside the gate.  I couldn't wait to get inside in order to breathe in some quietness.  I was a tired old soul when I pressed the buzzer.

I met the Lord inside, or really, He waited for me - at the Upper Room, at the chapel, at the garden, and at the Visitor's Room where I had my sessions with my spiritual directress.  She asked me what my heart was telling me.  I gave her the answers that I thought were right.  She said that she wasn't hearing what I really wanted.  It was all clouded by what others said was right or good for me.  (Even this post is filled with what she said to me, not what I said to her.  If I wrote in full what I felt, this would even be harder to read.)

I had trouble digging underneath all the rubble to find my heart and listen to it.  Earlier today, the priest said during homily that "We don't need the latest gadgets, or cars, or condominiums.  The deepest desire of the human heart is love.  All we need is love."  So I asked him what I could do to find God's love.  He asked me what my heart was telling me.  There it is again, this business of listening to my heart.  I wanted him to simply tell me, to decide for me.  He said I already knew the answers but was just not paying attention.

To drive home the point, probably, tonight I was watching "Fine Living" on TV when the network advertisement said, "If you want to follow something, try that thing that's beating inside your chest."  Even a secular show was speaking to me.  That was clear.

A day isn't enough to hear this one out.  I have some idea of my heart's desires, but they are buried so deep that it would take a while to bring them to the fore.  And to believe that they could come true?  It is a lifelong process; an upward call; a work in progress. 

I wish reading Psalm 27 repeatedly, like I did today, would be enough comfort and strength.  I used to be like David, the writer of the Psalm - confident, faithful, and hopeful.  I have not always been this practical, mechanical, boring, and lazy person doing all her duties and shutting out all voices that sing of unspoken words and yearn for unexplored lands.

Sr. Susay invited me to listen to my heart, to pray this Psalm, and to rest.  I asked if I could stay at the Cenacle for as long as it took to do all that.  The reality was that work and life beckoned, and I could only promise to come back more regularly to rest my weary heart and refresh my tired soul.  

Psalm 27 was an old song in my heart, for "Hide Not Your Face" was based on this psalm, but reading it again took on new meaning, and brought about many questions of why I ceased to be like David, a man after God's own heart, and showed me how I was being pulled down by my fears.  

I pray now that those of us who will re-read this Psalm will be lifted up, to see the One who is calling us to rest in Him.  It is a prayer of faith amidst troubling times.  This is the English Standard Version, and I highlighted the verses that struck me during my half-day of prayer.

Psalm 27 (The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation)

Of David.

27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.

4 One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.

5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.

6 And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.” 
9 Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!

10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in.

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.

13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

My First and Only Love

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 
I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary.
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent." 
-- Revelations 2: 2-5, ESV

 These words pierced my heart when I read them.  Verse 4 came to me on Monday night when I accompanied five officemates who were invited to Lingkod Makati's Christian Life Program.  I was sitting silently listening to the most basic, yet most important, of all talks - God's Love, given by the most familiar of all speakers - Ted.  I was not prepared to hear God speak to me that night.  I did not even want to listen.

But the word persisted.  I sought my bible and read it again and again.  The next morning's prayer time, I heard the Lord telling me to live in Love, and not in Fear.  My reaction was to be afraid - see how stiff-necked I am, just like the Israelites in today's reading from Exodus 34.

As if saying "Now that I have your attention...", God spoke through my officemate-sister.  She approached me at work and said, "The Lord wanted me to tell you that He is pursuing you because He loves you, not because He wants you to serve Him."

That sent me running to the Blessed Sacrament.  I asked what God wanted me to do and why He was calling me again.  I thought I was doing okay - serving Him in the parish, attending Bible study, keeping my prayer time and the sacraments, seeking spiritual guidance from priests and a nun, serving my family, and working hard.  I thought that was enough fervor.

Of course I was different when I first gave my life to the Lord.  That was many years back.  I was in college and still full of myself.  I gave all of my life to the Lord after law school, and that was in Lingkod.  I breathed Lingkod.  Lingkod was my Link to God.  I gave up friends, hobbies, dreams, and opportunities.  I was so on fire that it did not matter.  All that passion broke my heart at some point but I kept on.  Eventually I had to move on, for others' sake and my own.

So I do not understand.  I am probably being dense.  At the sight of true love, I freeze.  Who can fathom God's love?  Whose heart is big enough to receive it?  Whose hands are ready to welcome it?  To welcome Him?

If this is about Love, and not Service, then God is speaking in a language I do not speak.  I have much to learn.  I will go on a half-day of prayer later at the Cenacle.  I will take lessons on loving.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Now Playing: Could You Be Messiah?

by Gary Valenciano

Could You be Healer
To a heart that's been wounded
In a battle that's never seen?
Could You be Teacher
To a mind of confusion?
Tell me what does this all mean?

Are YouDeliverer
Of an imprisoned feeling in chains?
Can You set my spirit free?
And just one more question
Allow me this question
Could You be Messiah to me?
Could You be Messiah to me?

Could You be Father
To a soul that's been abandoned
By a world too busy to hear?
Could You be Friend
To a helpless survivor?
Can You take away my fears?

I heard them all sharing
This newfound conviction in them
Are You all that they make You to be?

And just one more question
Allow me this question
Could You be Messiah to me?
Please be Messiah to me.

Now I've been looking for someone like You
And I'm so tired, I'm tired
I've read every book and I've sang every song
My mind maybe right but my heart feels so wrong
Tell me how much further can my life go along?
Which way do the roads lead where do I belong...

Are You Forgiver
Of my most unknown secrets
Provider of all that I need?
Could You be Brother
The one who knows better?
Would You now stand in the lead?

When all this is over all the thunder and lightning
In the daylight just what will I see
The answers to my questions to all of my questions
Could You be Messiah to me?
Could You be Messiah to me?
Could You be Messiah
Please be Messiah to me...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Bible Blogger

I've been invited to join a Bible Blog Directory.  I told the website owner that this blog is not exactly a Bible Blog, because there are days when I write about trivial, stupid, and personal things, although I try not to post anything irreverent, improper, or impolite.  Perhaps to add more links to their blog, they added me anyway.  I know I'm not worthy!

So I decided that to maximize this opportunity (maybe this is a direction I should have taken a long time ago), I have to put more order into my life.  I used to be part of a Christian Bloggers site, but it has since then folded up.  Maybe it will come back once the owners renew their payment for the domain name.

So my Blogspot friends, I will keep posting Lessons on Waiting on, but anything whimsical, silly, or perhaps even worldly (there have been many such posts here recently, as you may have noticed) will be posted on my other blog,  In other words, I will try to behave.  If my reflections lead me to question things or to express deep emotion, I will still share them as in the past.  But there is a proper place and time for everything.

Multiply readers won't be affected since both blogs are automatically fed into my Multiply site, "Galadriella's Tambayan" .   

Comforting Thought

I read the following excerpt from today's reflection on Word Among Us and felt completely relieved. 

"In this final chapter of the Book of Acts, we see St. Paul near the end of his life. He has at last made it to Rome, after surviving storms, shipwrecks, and even a poisonous snakebite! We might imagine that this dynamic preacher was humiliated at having to spend two years under house arrest. But that didn’t stop Paul from proclaiming the gospel. First he witnessed to the Jewish leaders, and then to whoever came to visit. And he did so “with complete assurance and without hindrance” (Acts 28:31). He didn’t act like someone who was defeated—in fact, he had never been stronger!

"Paul’s spiritual maturity was not something he achieved overnight but the fruit of a lifetime lived for Christ. To his zeal, God added confidence, as he witnessed miracle after miracle and saw how his needs were always provided for. Through his willingness to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and follow wherever Jesus led him, Paul saw his faith deepen and become steadier. What seemed effortless to those around him actually came from decades of obedience and perseverance.

"Sometimes we imagine that we need a conversion experience as dramatic as Paul’s—something that will turn us into super-Christians. But just as Paul did, we too have to take one step at a time—and some of those steps may be painful! As Paul told the Romans, “We even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope” (Romans 5:3-5). We don’t have to feel on top of the world to know that God is working out his purpose in our lives!"  (Emphasis mine)

Yes!  Yes!  Amen to that!  So don't worry about me.  I may be on my way to produce endurance, proven character, and hope.  It's beginning to take shape again.  I'm going to be back, real soon.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Becky Bloomwood, is That You?

I never thought I'd admit this, but I had a Becky Bloomwood moment this afternoon.  Becky is the heroine in Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic books (from Confessions of a Shopaholic to Shopaholic and Baby).  

Let me just explain that I don't consider Becky to be a good role model.  Although she has struggled to grow in maturity and selflessness, her life is all about her, her shopping, her wants, and her needs.  She lies just to get what she wants, even convincing herself that lying is more convenient than telling the truth.  She's hurt her loved ones dozens of times but they've always forgiven her.  

And yet, I read every single book.  It was like dabbling in the dark arts - an experiment, a glimpse into a world I did not wish to live  in.  I could only put down the book and shake my head at her antics.  She was the freshest anti-heroine I had met, and I wanted to bring her to her senses loads of times.

I appreciated the fashion finds and the writer's unmistakable wit, especially in the letters that Becky exchanged with her bank managers, but the books were a guilty pleasure.  I told myself I would not become a Becky.

I guess the books' staying power was that in reality, there's a little Becky inside of me.  I love to shop.  I love clothes, makeup, and coffee.  I love my family and friends.  I would love to meet someone like her husband, Luke Brandon.

Unlike Becky, however, I valued my work and wanted to participate in intellectual conversations.  You see, at the start of "Confessions", Becky was a financial journalist who refused to prepare for her press conferences.  I hated those scenes when she pretended to know about what was published in the Financial Times, a paper she always carried but never read.  I couldn't stand the way she spoke nonsense, and how carelessly she treated her work.

Until this afternoon.  I, the un-Becky Bloomwood, was sent to attend a meeting of a nationwide business organization by our company President.  I knew about the meeting weeks before but got sick last Monday and did not have time to think about the meeting.  I figured I could sit silently in one corner, eat my overpriced lunch, and go back to the office.

I dressed for the part, but that was the extent of my preparation.  I only scanned the papers this week as I was either rushing to the office or sick in bed every morning for this past week.  Excuses, excuses.

The meeting's highlight was a report from a government official on the country's infrastructure projects.  Without sufficient data to support his report, I was skeptical and made a few comments to my seatmate.  He happened to be a top official of a company who had made it to the headlines this week and he started talking to me about that issue.  

I panicked.  I know the equivalent of one sentence about that issue - the only sentence I had read after the headline news.  As I gave what I hoped were intelligent nods and scanned my brain for appropriate responses, I realized what I was doing - I was doing a Becky Bloomwood.  

I excused myself and went to the restroom.  My seatmate was very solicitous and I did not want to display my ignorance of current events much longer.

When I returned to my seat, Mr. Official had invited another gentleman to sit on our side of the table, one who turned out to be a president of a huge company and whose knowledge of business I wanted to absorb via osmosis.  He gave me a lecture on the solution to the rice crisis, and I wished I had paid more attention to my Economics classes (I majored in Economics!  Don't tell my profs!) so I could contribute to the conversation.

I wanted to cover the "Atty." on my nametag.  Surely they expected a lawyer to know more.  I tried a different tactic - I introduced new topics.  This proved to be fruitful, as both men loved to talk about travel and family, two things I was at least more knowledgeable about.  The conversation became so interesting that I noticed that we were the second to the last group of people to leave the hall.  If we had stayed there all afternoon, I wouldn't have minded.  

I learned so much in just one sitting.  They shared their values with me and I stopped pretending I could say anything brilliant, and just enjoyed my moment of ignorance.  The official taught me the quickest route from my house to my office.  The businessman taught me the secret of his grandfather's, his father's, and his own business' success - perseverance and delayed gratification.  We exchanged business cards, shook hands, and wished one another well.

I did not meet my Luke Brandon this time, but I did survive my first press conference.  Next time, I will read more before going to such an event.  More importantly, I will open my mind to new people and the new ideas they could teach me.

There was a blessing in disguise - I left both of my cellphones (work and personal) at home, so I went to that meeting without a distraction.  I couldn't text my friends how the presentation was going.  I was thus more open to conversation from real people.  I'm glad it turned out that way.

Becky soon left her job and had more suitable positions later on in the series, where her skills, interests, and talents were put to better use.  I'm not yet in that part of my book.  I'm still trying to make it work.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Waiting to Exhale

I need a new life.

I'm wishing for a new car, as the one I'm driving is slowly deteriorating and is getting more and more expensive to maintain.  I can't afford to upgrade, however, so I just imagine myself winning in one of those raffles that I keep joining in supermarkets and gas stations.

I broke my digital camera and I'm wishing for a new one, which would allow me to take better pictures.  Cameras are so expensive, I found out, and I might have to wait a bit more for this wish to come true.  When I buy, I want the real thing, or nothing at all.

I have been tempted many times to get a new haircut, as that used to take away my blues.  Some good friends would object to this, I just know it.  For their sake, I have managed to refrain from getting my haircut fix.

I'm thinking for the umpteenth time of getting a foreign scholarship again, a telltale sign that I'm growing a bit restless, for I think of it as a surefire ticket to a whole new world. 

Deep down inside, I know I won't just fly away without a secure job or a generous scholarship.  It would be foolish to leave this country, this life, that I complain about so much, because I know I'd miss all these the minute I enter unfamiliar territory.

I need to shake off these thoughts.  I have to go back to work tomorrow.  I have a good job.  I just wish I were a little good at it.  Instead, it is, as it has been for several months now, a test of patience - not with other people, but with myself.

Some readers might ask, where is God in this picture?  Why have I not written about Him in this post, when surely He would have a say on my wishes and frustrations?

The truth is that I haven't had time to listen to Him.  I haven't been following my advice - of silence in praying and diligence in journaling.  I've been doing all the talking in my prayer time.

A new life He can easily give me.  Perhaps I just haven't allowed Him to do so.  I guess you can tell.  I'm afraid to listen.  I might not know how to respond if I hear Him again.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Lorraine's Coffee Blues

Lorraine heard the doorbell and she jumped to her feet. She was disappointed to see that it was only the messenger from her credit card company. She was waiting for the mailman, to see if she had mail from her man.

So maybe he was not exactly her man yet, but surely he was on his way to becoming one. After all, her friends and even her officemates said, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Greg was very, very fond of her before he left for the States. She was hoping the distance could help push him to grow fonder.

Her younger cousin Rita, who shared her apartment with her, noticed her looking out the window. She rolled her eyes and said, “Lorraine, don’t tell me you’re still waiting for a postcard from the other end of the world. No one sends postcards anymore! It’s just so.. so… I don’t know.. so analog!”

Lorraine pouted and retorted, “You don’t know Greg. He values traditional things. He writes down his notes on yellow pad. He carries a Filofax instead of a Blackberry. He said he would send postcards, and I believe him. Just wait and see.”

Greg was on vacation with his family, with scheduled trips to around seven different states, and he promised Lorraine she could travel vicariously through his postcards.

He had been gone three weeks and all she got was a postcard from the first hotel he stayed in, the Manele Bay Hotel in Hawaii. She was not worried, for it took 10 days before that postcard arrived.

Lorraine covered for Greg’s accounts at work while he was away. It was no burden to her really as they were on the same sales area anyway, and she knew most of his clients. She did not need to e-mail him for anything as he had properly endorsed his accounts to her.

She missed him at day’s end, however, for he usually was the one she had late dinner with. On weekends, he’d drive past her house to take her malling. She often had good suggestions on what gifts to give his mom or his sister. She was his fashion consultant, coffee buddy, office ally, and shopping assistant. It was only a matter of time before he would notice her, she convinced herself. She only had to play her cards right.

Her officemates kept telling her that she was being naïve. Greg had broken up with his girlfriend of seven years because he was not sure if he wanted to get married. He was not in the market for a girlfriend, let alone wife, material – all the things Lorraine hoped to be in his life.

Rita asked her once, “Has he ever complimented you on the way you looked? About your hair, your complexion, your outfit, or even your perfume?”

“Hmm, no… not yet, but-“

“Oh, Lorraine, you are living in a fantasy world! If a guy likes you, he would tell you immediately.”

“I sometimes catch him staring at me…”

“… Is it followed by a request for a cup of coffee from the pantry? Who died and made you his secretary?”

“You’re wrong about this, Rita,” Lorraine insisted. “We have a connection. He’s just not ready for a serious relationship yet. I can wait.”

Rita shook her head and said, “If I were a betting woman, you’d be destitute at the end of this short-lived drama. Wake up and smell the roses. Better yet, read that book ‘He’s Not That Into You’. That should remind you of your place in his life –“

“I’m his best friend”, Lorraine proudly quipped.

“If a man needs a best friend, he’d get a dog”, Rita sagely concluded. “You should quit fooling yourself.”

Lorraine was so upset after this conversation that she decided to e-mail Greg. She knew he had limited Internet access, being on travel and all, but he said she could always reach him through e-mail if she had urgent questions about work.

She asked him about a dormant client who called, but whose account history he did not endorse to her, and very innocently inserted that she had not heard from him in quite a while and was wondering if postcards were already phased out in the States.

She pressed the SEND button before thinking, “Uh-oh. That sounded too needy.”

He did not reply. She kept herself busy while he was away. She arranged his files. She got a haircut. She read a book, not what Rita suggested, but the one entitled “Office Romance: The Guide to Success in Career and Lovelife”. It bored her so much that it became a regular read before bedtime. At least it made her stop thinking of him at night.

On the day before his arrival, Lorraine dropped by his apartment – he gave her the only extra key so she could help him watch over his stuff – to water the plants and hang a “Welcome Home” banner. She also stocked the fridge with his favorite ice cream, and bought him a brand-new French-press coffee maker, the one he kept inspecting at Starbucks whenever they hung out there. She left a tiny note below the bright gold ribbon, “Realized that the best brew is the one I have with you.”

She left the apartment wondering if her note was too affectionate and revealing, and decided that it was but she didn’t care, because surely, after weeks and weeks without her to fix his life, he would be practically running into her arms and begging her not to leave his side for the rest of his life anymore. Her note was a little nudge in the right direction.

She woke up the next day in bright spirits. She dressed carefully for work, hoping that she would get invited for dinner by the man who must have brought home souvenirs and trinkets from all over America, for her.

She checked her watch and imagined his plane landing. She thought of him pulling his heavy suitcase, going through immigration and customs, and finally getting a cab. Before he left, she asked if he wanted her to pick him up from the airport, but he said he did not want her to be absent from work just for him. She knew she was daydreaming again at work so she tried to snap back to reality.

His plane was supposed to arrive at 1 p.m., yet by coffee break time, he still had not texted her to announce his arrival. She checked whether the plane was delayed, and upon learning through the Internet that it had arrived on schedule, she dialed his mobile number. It was turned off. She realized he might not have had the time to charge his phone, or he might have forgotten to turn it on, in the busyness of his flight home.

She could not wait to leave the office and at 6 p.m., she decided to surprise him by bringing his favorite pizza over. She could have just called the pizza company, but she thought her showing up on his doorstep with a box of thin-crust would look so cute.

Her plan turned out to be difficult to execute because the minute she stepped out of her office, fat, heavy raindrops poured from the sky. By the time she arrived at his apartment building, she was soaking wet. The pizza, however, remained protected under her umbrella.

She rang the doorbell. No one answered. She waited. She was about to ring it again when the door opened, and there was Greg, looking like he was showered and ready to go out.

Her heart skipped a bit. She did not know it could actually do that. She thought writers just made it up, but it turned out that words were not even enough to describe the experience.

Lorraine was staring at the man of her dreams, and he was staring back. He did not look as pleased as she had hoped he would. In fact, he frowned a little and asked, “Hi Lor! What are you doing here?”

“Uh, hi. I’ve come to bring you pizza. Thought you would be hungry. And uhh, welcome back!” Needy, stalker, fatal attraction-woman! she chided herself.

A female voice from inside the apartment said, “Honey, it’s raining outside and I only brought my Prada shoes, do you think—“

The voice turned out to be a tiny, Beyonce-big-haired lady in a dress Lorraine was sure revealed more than it covered, who said “Oh. I didn’t know someone was at the door.”

Greg, who had been staring at Lorraine, her dripping umbrella, and her huge yellow box of pizza, seemed to pause for a split-second before saying, “Honey, I want you to meet Lorraine Castro, my officemate. Lorraine, this is Anna. My fiancée. We met in Hawaii. It’s a very long and interesting story. Would you like to come in? You look a little pale, it must be all that rain on your dress. It’s a lovely dress, by the way. You look lovely in it.”

Officemate. Fiancee. Officemate vs. fiancée.

Lorraine was of the mind to drop the pizza, hit Greg with her umbrella, and pour all the rainwater on Anna’s precious little Pradas. Instead she said, “Yes, I’d like to come in for a while, just until the rain stops. Thank you.”

Once inside, she could smell the coffee. Anna said, “I didn’t know you had Starbucks in the Philippines. This made me feel at home immediately. Thank you for your gift!”

Who the ---- was this Anna and why did she touch my French press? Lorraine thought. She wanted to search the apartment for her little note, but realized it was too late. Anna had probably read it already and sized her up as “The Enemy”. Or, she could be gloating inside and thinking of Lorraine as “The Loser”.

She wanted to leave the minute she stepped in that apartment. But she also wanted to hear the story of how Greg met this girl whose suitcases were spread all over his living room.

“Was she planning on staying here?” Lorraine thought, scandalized. Some considered her conservative in her views about man-woman relationships, but she had always seen it as simply doing the right thing in the most important relationship she was going to make in her entire life.

So Lorraine, as polite, proper, and perfect as she had always been, sat down for a cup of coffee with the man of her dreams, and the girl who sat on his lap.

It was a cold, rainy, summer night.  She also thought that writers made up scenes like that, with claps of thunder and bolts of lightning, but such was the picture while Greg regaled Lorraine with stories of his whirlwind romance with Anna, who was silently purring at him, in front of Lorraine's shocked eyes.

By the time she got home, she expected Rita to be asleep, but hoped she would not be.

Rita heard the key turning and waited by the door to ask her immediately, “So, how did the great big reunion go? Did he miss you? Did he kiss you? Why are your eyes red? My gosh, Lorraine, what happened?”

And Lorraine proceeded to tell Rita how right she was. Greg was so not into her.  Lorraine cried the whole night. And the whole week. And the whole month.

At the end of the year, Greg married Anna in Honolulu.

Lorraine was at Starbucks that day, writing in her blog from her cellphone, celebrating the gift of technology, and telling the world of the two things she had learned from that year:

1. If a guy you fancy treats you like his best friend, go buy him a dog, and don’t offer to take it for walks, pick up the tab for the vet, or clean up the poo. It’s his dog, and his best friend. You are a woman. Be one.

2. A woman should stick to her values, but it would not hurt if she wore more dresses instead of suits. They’re cheaper, and actually look lovelier.

(Wrote this on a cold summer night.  I'm looking for  a better title to this story.  Post a comment if you have a suggestion, please.)

To My Google Reader

I've noticed through CQ Counter (linked via the red button on the left panel of this page on Blogger, but not visible on Multiply) that someone reads my blog, but in order to find it, he or she goes to Google first and types "ella del rosario".  While this is mighty good for my Google ratings, I would like to suggest to this person, and please, do email me and say hi ( when you read this or place a Comment to this post - to simply bookmark my page.  On Safari, add this page to your Bookmarks Bar or Menu .  On Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox, add this to your Favorites.  

My blog's URL is, and if you have an RSS reader like Google Reader, you may just add the URL to the list and you will automatically be informed if this blog is updated.  But if you prefer to use Google, I don't mind at all!  Thank you for reading and always checking back if I have updates.  I'm sorry but I don't have much to write about these days.  I am taking too long in getting unstuck from some situations beyond my control, so I've decided that now is the time to live, and when I survive this phase, that would be the time to write about it.