My dearest Boys, I love you so much. I am writing this because I want you to make right choices when you grow up. I want you to pray, have wisdom and be guided by the Holy Spirit when it comes to relationships.
I had eleven relationships prior to Dad – NOT good
If there is one biggest regret I have in my life it is not waiting for my husband, your Dad. In our generation, it is cool to have a lot of relationships because it somehow makes a woman feel beautiful. Many even advise, “collect and select”. There is that vacuum to have some soul ties to fill one’s longing for love. In my case however, it was rooted from a heart awakened for love not in the right time by reading pocket books. My emotions were stirred to have my own romance. To also have my knight in shining armour. And this is even growing inside the church. We weren’t guided well. Many of our youth camps even centred in eyeing a catch (and be “caught” for the girls) instead of revival and a genuine encounter with God. But it changed in April of 2003 when I gave myself to God fully. I flew to Germany to be alone and be trained for the Gospel through a Disciple Training School and in there I made a vow never to be in a relationship again until God brings my husband. God changed my heart after that. I was solely devoted to Him. I did not envy sweet couples every time I see one. I was not enslaved to be a part of the wave of clubbing, meet ups, online dating and text relationships anymore. I even stopped looking at every man I met as my potential husband. I treated everyone at church as my brothers in the Lord. The Nazarite vow lasted for 2 years plus another 2 years came before God opened my heart again. It was long but because I prayed that God will only open my heart for the right person, I had the peace to wait.
Acquaintance to best friends
Your Dad was always around even before I left for Germany. He introduced himself to me. I was inside a taxi about to leave from their Bible School (I volunteered as the interpreter) and he came with a wide smile. “You’re Paul’s sister right?”, he initiated. “I am AJ by the way.” Girls at church, Filipino and foreigners alike flocked him. 🙂 They found him tall, dark and handsome, on fire for God, and so talented especially with drums. Thus many were easily attracted with him. But not me. Well at that time… 🙂 I even asked my brother why do most girls like him when he’s not that handsome. I found my brother more “crushable” than him. His fashion was off and he was too skinny. Heeheee… But then I had a dream. I dreamt that a great wave (of revival) came rushing and submerged the whole city. It was too strong we had to hide ourselves on a bridge. We had to wait for Michelle and Alexis to also hide or else they will be washed away. We all got saved and felt the bridge trembled as the wave roared underneath us. It was a good dream! The weird part of the dream however was your Dad and I were holding hands when it came. We were just an acquaintance prior to this dream. We were on a ship from The Jesus Revolution in Manila when I told him about this. We just shrugged it off after talking. Went back to our normal lives. It was only when we were at New Carmen (Davao City dump site) that we got to be friends… We’ll I noticed him back at BCC’s (Pastor Lagat’s church) event. There was a team from FIRE at that time and he played drums. The presence of God was so strong in worship and there was a moment there when everything stopped and just the drums played. It was so anointed. I felt like every drum beat was a summon for God’s army to move forward to the battleground. That was the first time I turned my head on your Dad. No attraction, just pure “hmmm… he’s really good in drums! What an anointed drummer!”. I even told him after that and he thanked me for the compliment. At New Carmen your Dad came out of the dark and talked to me. We were doing Bible studies there and spend the night with the community sometimes. In one of these nights, they talked about people in God’s Generals book. Your Dad got “frustrated” and went out of the house. He saw me so he came close to disclose his thoughts. “Why is it that there are no Filipino (God’s) General?” This is how our friendship started. I knew we talked more after that question but later that night I told him that we can have a covenant that we will keep each other accountable that we will live ourselves for the Philippine revival. We will pray for each other and give each other the right to “rebuke” if one compromises. After that we started praying for each other, we started going to the hospital to pray for the sick together – he loved ministering in the Ortho, Neuro and ICU wards while I went to the Neonytes (lol! I feel so lame). We talked a lot and our friendship grew into something pure and beautiful.
A Couple? A Couple.
Two years of good friendship… When we were about to hit third year, your Dad started acting weird. He would send me sweet messages like “Don’t forget to get your daily doze of the Spirit today,” or “Take care”. I know it sounds friendly but with the standards we lived in our community in our time, those words were already “different”. He didn’t have money but he really made an effort to get PHP10 credit everyday just so we can talk a little. If not, he called from their their landline. He also started calling me “Grace” instead of “Ate” (I am 4 years older than your Daddy). It is but normal that younger people call those older than them Ate (women) and Kuya (men). What’s even weirder is I caught myself smiling few months after all the care and sweet gestures. Your Mommy’s heart started opening up! I am a very detailed person and I want everything thought-out, prepared and organised. But this thing that your Dad did to Mommy caught her off guard.
But he did not court me or anything!!! No official “I love you”. Not a word to make the courtship official. SO I TALKED TO HIM ABOUT MY FEELINGS! I told you dear Sons, Momma is a very organized person. 🙂 I wanted my feelings in the right place. It was bursting all over the place into a beautiful mess and I did not like it. At Dunkin Donuts (San Pedro branch), we met. I told him all the emotions inside me as a response to what he was doing and that I don’t want to break our promise that we will be covenant-friends like we agreed back in New Carmen. I told him that he needed to confirm if my interpretations were right. That he loves me. Cause I was already falling in love… That we can be a couple… Your Dad’s answer?
“Grace… you know you’re very special to me. But marriage, I still did not hear anything from God.”
A bomb just fell. I was teary and paralysed for few minutes. WHAT??? You did all those things for the past months in pursuit of my heart and now you tell me that???!!!
Mommy’s heart was shattered Boys. I cried. Really hard. I even asked God “Lord, we agreed that You won’t open my heart to anyone until he’s the one, but why is this happening?” I cried some more and gave it all to God. That rainy cold night ended with lots of tears, a deep prick in the heart and then a complete surrender to His peace. “Thy will be done Lord. Thy will be done.” I told no one but Brenda Manilag alone. Cause she’s our best friend. We were the 3 musketeers.
Brenda told me that your Dad may be my Isaac. God tested my heart to see if I remain devoted to Him despite the promise fulfilled. That He will just give him back after the testing. It was good what she said. But my heart was fixed. He’s an Isaac or not I did not consider him anymore to possibly be my Husband. I was determined. There was a closure. I surrendered all to Jesus. The next morning came and guess who called me as early as 7am? Yep, your Dad. We remained friends. But I did not “misinterpret” all the cares anymore. I started to pray for my Husband thinking it’s another man. We went back to sharing who our crushes were (his crushes were always a humour to us after, lol!). Our coffee times went back to talking about God and our phone conversations went back to being prayer partners.
I went to Paranaque with Ms. Sandrina Olivia Ruiz-Walston to attend a 10-day administrator’s conference for School of Tomorrow. We had a rigid schedule. Sessions in the morning, lots of reading and writings at night. He would always call despite the fact the he was also sick with Pneumonia at that time. March 10 (also Maricel’s [my roomie that time] and YOUR dedication day in a month), Sunday, we were back from the conference but he wasn’t in church to meet us. He was still recovering. But then he called and told me we’ll meet after lunch cause he missed me. So we met at Victoria Plaza food court and enjoyed our fave Arozcaldo. Your Dad was in his ugliest that day. 🙂 He wore this big thick denim coat looking like a dad coming home from Saudi. He was skinny because of the sickness. He had a tall old umbrella in his hand. His hair was longer and he was just ugly. I admired his handsome physique of course but this day was an exemption.
“You look very pretty with your dress.” He greeted.
I just smiled thinking “Yeah right, I won’t be fooled with those words anymore…”
“I miss that smile too.” He added.
We shared our experiences about the 2 weeks we weren’t together as if we did not talk on the phone every day the whole time I was there. When the Arozcaldo was done, he started blurting out words that blew my whole being out for days…
“So Grace… I asked you to be here, not really so we can talk. But I wanted to tell you something…”
I was just there listening thinking… “Oh-uh… What’s going on?”
“WILL YOU MARRY ME???”
Yes Boys. That’s what your Daddy said. Not I love you, but these words. I was literally dumb-founded. All the emotions went back rushing inside me. My thoughts of God’s promises in my life raced in my head.
“NO JAY, YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THAT!”
You see, as much as I loved what was happening, I also did not want to be selfish. My initial thoughts were like he was doing me a favour. That he wanted to be the Love of my life because I was already 27 and was still single. Because he heard me share about my struggles as a single woman in the ministry before. Thus, I did not want to ruin his life. I did not want him to be my Husband for pity and friendship’s sake. But while I was explaining that, he always cut me off with…
“SHUT UP GRACE!” Just shut up and listen (which I did eventually). No you don’t understand. FOR MORE THAN 2 YEARS now I struggled with this love I have for you (I was just about to faint… [Big smile].) Cause you know, you’re Grace. You’re up there. I couldn’t get to you. Yes, I pursued your heart. I am sorry I told you those words at Dunkin Donuts. I got scared with the responsibility. I wasn’t ready (There’s reality. Good. This is not fairytale. — my thoughts). But I love you. I have been in love with you and for so long I kept this inside me. Please, do marry me.”
Waaaaaaa!!!!!! Eeeeeeee!!!!!!! Wooooohhhooooooo!!! Jesussssss!!! I was overjoyed. I wanted to jump and squeal right then and there in happiness but… NO WORDS CAME OUT OF MY MOUTH. I couldn’t believe what went on. This handsome prince just asked me to marry him. The man that opened my heart to love again. The man that made me smile and listened to my cries these past years. My bestfriend asked me to marry him. I was ecstatic. I froze…
And before I could day a word your Daddy panicked that I would say no so he quickly said, “Well, I guess silence means ‘Yes’ so that means we’re officially a couple now. Let’s go get some coffee!” Lol! My romantic moment just ended…
Nope! It just started. And it keeps on even now… We strolled around the mall some more. Looked at some cellphones. Then went home. All his sweetness felt right now. It was official. We’re bestfriends turned to lovers.
Let Him write your Love story…
Ever tried screaming at the top of your voice in happiness but not making any noise because you don’t want anyone to hear? That’s what I did. I covered my mouth with pillow. I was shouting “Yay!!!” “EEeeEeEeee!!!” voiceless. I was like a teenager flipping, flapping, jumping in my bed and kicking. I was so happy that night for God has granted the desires of my heart. Everything I prayed for a Husband 10 years ago are all in your Dad. I couldn’t stop myself but also cry in gratefulness. We serve a loving God. He healed me. He made me whole again after all the pains. And He wrote me a beautiful love story His way. My heart went on a rocky and difficult journey. But for the first time after 13 years of pain, emotional would and healing of the soul — it felt HOME. This is the reason Boys my song for your Dad on our wedding day was “Feels Like Home”. This is also the reason why I was at peace that God will protect our love for He has been and will always be the centre of our relationship.
So this is how I met your Dad, Tice and Sovi. Hope these lessons guide you later on:
1. Pray for a wife, not a girlfriend. Don’t make the same mistake like Mommy did. My heart was already bruised when your dad came. That God though for His power to transform us a new. Give your wife a whole and pure heart. 2. Devout yourself to God. Love will find it’s way to you. Don’t collect and select. Don’t give in to peer pressure.Our God is powerful enough to give you The Best in His perfect timing. Focus on Jesus. He will do the rest. Just believe. 3. Allow God to open your heart. Don’t allow it to be awaken before it’s time. Don’t do it in your own strength. Beware of evil suggestions. Choose what you read, watch and listen. Stay pure and at peace. 4. Righteousness rewards itself. As my Mom often said it, “If you start right, you’ll end right”. Thus set standards. Imagine that you’re heart is worth millions and it’ll take the right price (person, given by God) to have it. When you seek what is godly, you’ll end up happy.
We told our leaders (Millers first then the rest of the 5 families) and families after. We set 10 righteousness standards to live with while dating for accountability. We faced trials in our 2 years of dating period. We dealt with our own issue and many more. But because He was our foundation He was always there to guide and bring the best of every situation. Miracles upon miracles took place. Then the rest was history… He wrote a beautiful His-tory in our hearts. Praying God will write a beautiful for each of you too. Just trust His love and faithfulness.
Again and again I love you both so much.