When Prayers aren’t Answered Instantly

There’s something about baking from scratch that excites me. It helps me be more creative and personal; especially when I would customize the recipes I use (ingredients, design, etc.). Also, one of the things that I like about baking from scratch is that I am able to learn so much in the process, even if the results are uncertain and it would require more work. But, don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy baking using the instant mix products. In fact, when I was younger, one of the first desserts that I baked was Betty Crocker’s fudge brownies. The brownies were fudgy (obviously :P), moist, and very delicious!

A few days ago, I read the news that General Mills Philippines was going to stop getting more sales orders starting this September. According to Franz de la Fuente (a reporter for Business World), the company will only continue to sell until their supplies last. I couldn’t believe it! :( :( :( I love Betty Crocker and Pillsbury! (Honestly, I haven’t even tried Haagen-Dazs yet. Haha) Moreover, around 60 employees would be dismissed from the company. (Although the company did say that they would provide for packages and services for these employees.)

I was resting on the couch and reading the news article when God spoke to me. He said: “Hey, Nic! Do you remember those times when you would send your resume to General Mills Philippines? I remember seeing you get discouraged every time you didn’t get a reply from them.”

“Oh yeaaah. Oo nga noh, Lord!” I replied. “For several times, I applied online and I even went to their office once to give my resume.”

“Yes!” God confirmed.

“Oh wow! Now, I get it! You didn’t allow me to receive any reply from them because you already knew their situation. You knew that they would be halting their business operations soon. And I just realized that if I did get the job, it’s possible that I would also lose it by the end of this year.” I added.

“Exactly.” God whispered to me.

That very moment, I suddenly had the desire to support General Mills Philippines, buy Betty Crocker products, and bake using the instant mix products! During the weekend, I bought and baked instant brownie and blueberry muffins. It was so quick and easy to do! Everything was already measured. Moreover, even before I finished baking, I knew that they would taste great because they had been tried and tested. Unlike baking from scratch, I wouldn’t have to experiment with the recipe anymore. True enough, instantly, I was able to make moist and delicious brownies and blueberry muffins.

God used that moment to speak to me again. Similarly, I realized that whenever we ask something from God, we want our prayer requests to be answered immediately. We want to see the results now!

When I wasn’t getting any reply from General Mills Philippines a few months ago, I was tempted to get impatient and complain because it seemed like God wasn’t listening to me; He wasn’t answering my prayers immediately. However, at that time, God reassured me that He is always in control and that He always hears and understands me completely. And so, I surrendered my anxieties to God. :)

Now, I don’t know the people behind General Mills Philippines and I understand that this is a tough time for them. I also don’t know if they prayed and asked God to save their business or make them successful in their career. But, I do know one thing: Even if their prayers aren’t answered instantly, God still remains to be sovereign. He has always been and He always will be.

It amazes me how God continues to reassure me of His sovereignty in our lives, even through the simplest things like baking and a news article. I’m learning that sometimes, God doesn’t answer our prayers immediately because He wants to prepare us first. And, more importantly, I believe that He uses our waiting time as an opportunity for us to seek Him even more than what we’re praying for.

It may be tough at times, but I am comforted by the fact that our sovereign God is always in control. Our sovereign God knows everything and what’s cool about Him is that He knows the desires of our hearts more than we do.

 

Jeremiah 33:3 says “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

                Have you been praying for something for quite some time now and you still don’t have an answer from God? I’d like to encourage you to keep on doing your part, pray, read His word, and know Him more. :) There is hope in God. There really is. In God’s perfect time, according to His will, and only by His grace, I know that He will answer your prayers… maybe not always in the way that you would expect. But, afterwards, you might also realize that His answers, His ways, His thoughts are the BEST.

 

“Even when answers slowly unwind, it’s my heart I see You prepare.

I still believe in Your faithfulness.

I still believe in Your truth.

I still believe in Your Holy Word.

Even when I don’t see… I still believe.”

-Jeremy Camp’s “I Still Believe”

                As I end, I would just like to appreciate the company, General Mills Philippines, for bringing in some of the products that I love (Betty Crocker and Pillsbury). Thank you for giving us the opportunities to conveniently purchase those products and enjoy them. I pray that God would continue to give the people behind that company, wisdom and blessing in their future endeavors.

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time.

 

*Disclaimer: I am not associated in any way with the company: General Mills Philippines. :) Thus, the content of this blog is composed of my reflections and opinions.

*Credits:

Family, for the support :D (Kuya, thanks for helping me edit and Ate, thanks for your USB. I will buy my own soon. hahaha)

God, for being so gracious. :)

Pretzels and Passions

One of the chefs in our company made pretzel bites in the office last week. Because of that, I was inspired to make soft, whole pretzels at home. I didn’t know why, but, I had a strong urge to bake that certain treat. Haha. I was excited because it was my first time to make them. :)

I remember thanking God for giving me time to bake pretzels. Honestly, last week, I tried my best to manage my time wisely. However, there were days when I wasn’t able to prioritize studying God’s word. Yes, I did read the Bible every day. However, I knew and felt that I missed out on the privilege of really learning more from meditating on His word during those times. I know that it is only by His grace that I am still able to bake/cook and blog. It is only by God’s grace. :)

Going back to the pretzels, I actually enjoyed making them, even though the process required a lot of work. The funny thing about it is that even if it took me 6 hours to prepare it (including taking photos, waiting for the dough to rise, and cleaning the kitchen) and was, in fact, tiring (with all the yeasting, rolling, boiling, and baking), I would still do it again and again if given the opportunities in the future. I guess it’s because of my passion and love for baking and cooking. :)

Making the pretzels was a comfort and a challenge at the same time. It was comforting because I liked kneading the soft and fluffy pretzel dough (it was softer than the pasta dough I recently made here: (http://encouragingtreats.com/homemade-pasta-dough/). However, it was a challenge too because the tricky part in the process was when I had to flatten the dough using a rolling pin and roll it again using my hands (to form a rope-like shape).

It was harder too because I stuffed the dough with bits of cheese and bacon before rolling it. There were times when I would see twists and holes (in the dough) which eventually resulted to pieces of uneven rope-like pretzel dough.

I then remembered what Alton Brown said in one of his Good Eats episodes (“Pretzel Logic”): “Now, if you start to see a twist formed right into the middle of the dough while you’re rolling it, know that you do not have your hands coordinated, and that twist could become a breakpoint when baked.”

While I was fixing the dough, God spoke to my heart and helped me see that in the same way: If I do not coordinate with Him; if I choose not to follow Him when I make decisions, etc., it is possible that I would eventually have twists and holes (possibly mistakes, problems, insecurities, compromises, etc.) in my life that can become my breakpoints — especially, when I would go through really tough and uncomfortable times.

By God’s grace, I was able to fix the pretzel dough with some of the excess dough that I had. I have to admit that it was frustrating to fix the dough. :/

But, I guess, God allowed me to experience it because He used it to remind me of His grace. He showed me that even if I did have or do have twists and holes in my life, He still has a purpose for me and He still is able to use me for His glory. Hope, definitely, is found in Him.

When the pieces of dough were already fixed, I took a piece and shaped it into the famous pretzel knot shape. I did it again, but, with the other pieces of pretzel dough. I really was fascinated by their interesting shape. And it was really cool because I noticed how the pretzel’s shape showed these two things: the shape of a heart and the symbol for infinity. Instantly, I knew what God was trying to tell me; why He wanted me to bake the whole pretzels.

If you were able to read my previous blog post (http://encouragingtreats.com/celebrating-strawberry-cake/), you would remember how God gave me my first job offer on June 8, 2012 (in the afternoon). It was also during that day that He encouraged me through His word (in the morning) to seek Him first above everything and place my security only on Him… not on the things that are temporary (including my desire to have a job at that time) – the things of this world.

Although I didn’t know that God was going to give me a job offer that day, it was such a perfect and comforting reminder for me to desire Him more than anything or anyone else. And at that moment, I actually surrendered my future job to the Lord. By His grace, I got the job by the end of the day and started working last Monday. 

After going through my first week at work, God encouraged me again… but, this time, through the pretzels. The heart and the symbol for infinity actually are gentle reminders for me to remember that God is the everlasting God and His love for us never changes; it never fails.

I thank God because even if we sometimes fail to prioritize Him, He still loves us the same. I praise Him because He gives us the opportunities to try again and do our best in loving Him more than anything.

                I recently declared that I have a passion for baking and cooking. But, I am reminded that even these good things will fade away someday. And so, it is my prayer that I would always choose to set my heart on things above (Colossians 3:2) and live life not for my own, but for my God — my One consuming passion.

Psalm 73:25-26

    Whom have I in heaven but you?

        And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

    My flesh and my heart may fail,

        but God is the strength of my heart

        and my portion forever.

*Other posts that include homemade dough:

1. Pizza (Thank God I Got Stuck) – http://encouragingtreats.com/god-stuck/

2. Pasta (Dough Not Give Up) – http://encouragingtreats.com/homemade-pasta-dough/

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Recipe by: Edward Lee (from www.epicurious.com; October 2009)

Celebrating with Strawberry Cake

Last Wednesday, I was thinking of baking Strawberry cake with strawberry cream cheese frosting for today’s blog entry. I wanted to bake a cake because it was my way of celebrating God’s goodness in my life. After eight months, He has answered one of my major prayer requests and I am very, very grateful! By God’s grace, today marks my first day at work! Woohoo!

strawberry cake
strawberry cake

After purchasing the ingredients last Wednesday, my mom and sister suggested that I bake on Thursday instead because it was already getting late. At first, I was hesitant because I wanted to bake already, however, I eventually agreed.

After a few minutes, I realized that I didn’t have parchment paper at home! I knew that I couldn’t bake the cake without it because the batter would just stick to the pan after baking and it would just end up in a mess. I was actually tempted to use wax paper; but, I knew that it would not stand the heat of the oven. It was obvious that in order for me to produce the best cake possible, I had to wait until the next day to buy parchment paper.

“Okay, Lord, I will wait.” I whispered before going to bed.

The next day, I immediately made phone calls and asked if certain stores were selling that type of paper. There was a time when I was already losing hope because it seemed like I was never going to get it. I told God something like this: “Lord, I really want to bake this cake today. I know that if it’s your will, you would provide the parchment paper. But, I thank you still, because I even have this opportunity to bake. Thank you, in advance, because I know that you will provide and make this a beautiful cake.”

I tried making a few more calls after praying and finally, I was able to find parchment paper in one of the nearby stores! Woohoo!

While I was already baking the cake, I was thanking God for being so awesome that day. Then, I realized that he actually allowed me to go through the “parchment paper hunting” experience to remind me of how the past eight months have been for me (and my job hunting). Talk about perfect timing!

strawberry cake batter
strawberry cake batter

I want to share snippets from my journal (conversations with God) about my job hunting experience, so you can understand my situation more. :P

November 8, 2011 12:04pm

…I’m feeling a bit sad because I still don’t have work… But, I thank you because even if I don’t see how things will work out, I still believe in your faithfulness…

strawberry puree
strawberry puree

December 8, 2011 4:00pm

…Sometimes, I’m still tempted to sulk and to compare myself to others. Some of my friends already have work and I wonder why I still don’t have a job. *sigh* But, you continue to remind me to trust in You and I do trust in you. Thank you for speaking to me again through your word and reminding me that I have hope in you. I just pray that I would continue to have the desire to love you more than anything/anyone else…

January 8, 2012

Pastor Peter asked us: “If you had one request to ask from God, what would it be?” Of course, I remembered my prayer request to have a job. However, you reminded me that that one request actually shows what is most important in my life. And Lord, more than asking for a job, I want to request that I may be more intimate with You in this waiting period. You are more important than my future job…

February 8, 2012 10:53am

…No work yet. But, by Your grace, I can say that I am actively waiting for the best first job you have for me. Thank you also for reminding me of your promises in the Bible and helping me dwell on your different characteristics…

March 8, 2012 10:15 am

I want to work… But, even if you don’t answer my prayer immediately, I still choose to thank you, Lord. I trust you so much. You are in control.

One of the things that I learned from 2 Samuel 2 today is to always seek your opinion first before making decisions. For the past months, I’ve had the opportunities to be interviewed by different companies, but somehow, you still haven’t given me the blessing. Please continue to give me wisdom…

April 8, 2012

(Our family was touring Singapore and sadly, I wasn’t able to write in my journal and read the Bible that day. Although I had some prayer time with God, I still missed the privilege of learning from his word. Looking back, I realized that God never changes. Even if I sometimes am unfaithful in my walk with Him, He still is faithful. He still loves me the same. What an amazing Father! :) )

May 8, 2012

There are times when I still feel pressured by the people around me, especially when they say something like this: “What? Wala ka pang work? Ang tagal mo nang naghahanap ah.” I just laugh when I remember those moments, but, of course, it still stings a bit when I think about it. *Sigh* But, I thank you because you continue to encourage me to continue doing my best in job hunting and to trust in You, my Hope. :)

strawberry cake
strawberry cake

 

I read this in my quiet time “Psalm 21:2 You have given him his heart’s desire” and it reminded me of how you answer prayers. Sometimes, I’m still tempted not to believe it. But, Lord, you are God and I am not. You can do anything.

June 8, 2012

7:23am

Thanks for today! I have an interview later. I’m kind of nervous but, Lord, I will get out of my bed, I will step out in faith and do my best later because I believe if it’s your will for me, you would provide this job for me. You are in control. I read psalm 49 this morning. Thank you for reminding me not to place my security on earthly things. You’re everything, Lord. You know I will praise You no matter what happens today. :)

4:30pm

WOW, LORD. I GOT THE JOB. WOW. WOOOOOOW. o_O Thank you!!! :”)

strawberry cake
strawberry cake

YESSSSSSS!!! After 8 months, more than 60 applications sent, a number of unsuccessful interviews/job applications, a rollercoaster ride (emotionally and spiritually), consultations with God and people around me, etc… God has answered my prayer request to have a job! :) Woohoooooo! :D :) :D :)

strawberry cake
strawberry cake

SO, TODAY, I CELEBRATE AND PRAISE GOD BECAUSE:

1. God is God – He is sovereign. He knows what He is doing. He knows what’s best for me.

2. God’s timing is always perfect – Even if I got the job eight months after my graduation, I can clearly see the reasons why He allowed it to happen; that this is His best for me; and that this is where he wants me to be now.

3. God understands – Throughout the past eight months, He has comforted me in so many ways and He has reassured me of His love for me, especially when I was at my lowest moments.

4. God is faithful – in spite of my unfaithfulness sometimes.

5. God answers prayers – He gave me the desires of my heart: to be more intimate with Him and to have a job. Interestingly, He gave the job to me when my heart was fully surrendered to Him. Only by His grace!

After baking the strawberry cake, I got so amused that I started doing research about strawberries more! According to www.whatscookingamerica.net, strawberries that have been harvested do not ripen. This means that it is important to wait for the strawberries to fully ripen before picking them.

That simple trivia reminded me of how God let me go through the long wait before picking me and placing me in the workplace that I am in right now. I guess He wanted me to be “ripe” first. He wanted me to focus more on Him and have my character molded by Him before giving me the privilege of having work.

Thank You, Lord! You are forever amazing… and I want everyone to know that! :D

Encourage yourself one treat at a time! :)

Recipe by: Brandi from www.lookimadethat.com