Encouraging Tea :)

Chilled milk tea with chewy, black tapioca pearls is definitely one of the most refreshing drinks I’ve had in my life. Interestingly, there are numerous milk tea stores in Metro Manila, which makes it more convenient for me to acquire such comforting beverages. However, last weekend, instead of buying from a milk tea store, I decided to make a couple of milk teas at home. I knew that it was the perfect and simple treat for me because I was sick and feeling physically weak at that time.

God sure does speak to us in different ways and last weekend, He reminded me of how we can be a blessing to others. :)

1. We become a blessing to others when we respond to them in a way that pleases God… no matter what.

I went to a supermarket to buy wintermelon, uncooked black tapioca pearls, and strawberries. Unfortunately, when I got there, I found out that they weren’t selling the tapioca pearls. To make things worse, when I asked one of the staff members in the fruit section if they had wintermelons, he rudely told me “Wala kaming wintermelons!” (In English: “We don’t have wintermelons!”)

Stunned by his response, I was tempted to talk back because it was his duty to respectfully assist the customers in the supermarket and his attitude was unacceptable. But before I could even say a word, God stopped me and helped me to realize that maybe that guy was just having a hard day at work and he unintentionally poured out his stress on me. The last thing he needed was a rude response from me too.

I was reminded of Ephesians 4:29, where it says:
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

By God’s grace, I smiled instead, told him “Ohh, okay. Thank you!”, and left the supermarket with peace in my heart. I realized that it brings much joy to God when we choose to honor Him in the way we respond to others. It makes our hearts so much peaceful too!

2. We become a blessing to others when we consider their interests too.

Hoping that I could still find tapioca pearls in our area, I went to another supermarket the next day. However, they also did not have the pearls. I was already thinking of my Plan B for the treat when I found myself walking near the fruit section. Since I was already there, out of curiosity, I asked one of the staff members if they were selling wintermelons and he replied “Ah, yes, Ma’am! Please follow me.”

My eyes beamed as we slowly approached the pile of fruits. “Wow! Thank you!” I told the employee who assisted me. Before I left, he even gave me instructions on how to slice it properly and warned me that the juice of the fruit may feel sticky too.

Later on, I found out that the fruit he handed me wasn’t wintermelon… it was yellow watermelon. Haha. But nonetheless, I was blessed by the employee’s response and I was inspired to be an encouragement to others too. He could have just led me to the fruit section and continued to do his own thing. But, I saw how he selflessly took the time and effort to try his best to assist me with my concerns about the fruit (as compared to the other supermarket guy :) ).

Do I intentionally reach out to others? Do I sincerely spend time with them and help them out with their concerns/struggles? Or do I just stay in my comfort zone and hope that they won’t ask help from me? Do I pray for others?

 

It says in Hebrews 10:24:

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

3. We become a blessing to others when we help them draw closer to God and give Him the glory.

Desperate times indeed call for desperate measures!

After buying the watermelon and strawberries, I knew that I still needed to get the black, tapioca pearls. Surprisingly, there was a milk tea store (Chatime) nearby and I thought of buying the cooked pearls instead. I asked the person at the cashier if I could buy tapioca pearls and she slightly laughed and smiled at me. But, when she realized that I was serious about buying only the pearls, she eventually assisted me and happily gave me my order.

I couldn’t be happier! :) I thanked God that the cashier lady helped me out because I really thought she wouldn’t allow me to buy only pearls from the store (since it wasn’t allowed in other stores). She was a blessing!

Matthew 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Do we encourage others to know God more or do we cause others to go farther away from God?

I went home that day smiling because I saw how God was in control of my situation. After preparing and drinking these two drinks: Watermelon Milk Tea and Strawberry Milk Tea, I was pleasantly refreshed. But more importantly, I realized that in spite of my weak body, the hassles I experienced as I looked for the ingredients, and even the “rude” employee that I encountered; I still praise God because through these, He reminded me of how I can honor Him by being a blessing to others. By God’s grace and strength and with His guidance through His word and the Holy Spirit, I know that we can be blessings to others. We can bless His Name. :)

So, what are we waiting for?

Encourage others one treat at a time! :)

Disappointing Crinkles :)

“Anytime we look for fulfillment or happiness in anyone or anything other than God, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.” –Nancy Leigh deMoss

 

This principle has so much truth in it, it hurts. It hurts because I know that many times, I’ve fallen into the trap of seeking satisfaction, joy, attention, love, fulfillment, and what not from others than God.

Yesterday, I tried experimenting in the kitchen and made chocolate crinkles from scratch. I carefully followed the recipe, prepared the batter, and let the dough chill in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours (as suggested in the recipe).  However, after baking the first batch, the chocolate crinkles looked… weird.

My first disappointment that night: The powdered sugar didn’t coat the baked crinkle properly.

 

So, I tried to do different techniques in order to perfect the look of the chocolate crinkles. I made round and flat ones; chilled the dough more; and I even tried coating some pieces of dough once, and the others twice. Nonetheless, nothing worked. After baking a few more, the chocolate crinkles didn’t have that signature crinkle look that I was looking for.

My second disappointment that night: Earth-like chocolate crinkles with huge clumps of powdered sugar.

 

At that moment, I was tempted not to finish the batch of crinkles because I assumed that it would only be a waste of time and effort. I paused for a while and prayed to God. I asked Him if I was doing something wrong in the process. I didn’t hear an answer immediately, but because I didn’t want to waste the chocolate batter, I decided to finish what I started.

 

I took a break and asked my older brother (who was observing me from the start) to pray for me and my chocolates crinkles. By God’s grace, I read in the internet that it is advisable to freeze the crinkle dough before coating it with powdered sugar. So, I froze scoops of the chocolate crinkle dough for an hour and gave it another shot. However, when I opened the freezer door, the lock and lock container that I used for the dough fell on the floor and had a huge crack! (Sorry, mom. :( )

My third disappointment that night: Mom’s broken Lock and Lock container.

I felt bad and was again discouraged. But somehow, God kept on encouraging me to bake some more. I coated the frozen balls of crinkle dough with powdered sugar before baking them in the oven. With much anticipation and hope, I baked a batch of the chilled crinkles. And to my surprise, they came out looking worse! Hahaha.

My fourth disappointment that night: The Smurf-like crinkle and other weird-looking crinkles. Haha.

 

Instead of getting frustrated with the crinkles and with myself, I somehow found that moment funny. I was smiling and laughing by myself in the kitchen as I was telling God: “Lord, Kayo talaga o. Nakakatawa ito. Hahaha.” I realized that God was making me smile and was encouraging me in the midst of the disappointments that I was encountering that night. He was reminding me that He still was in control and that I didn’t need to fret about the disappointing crinkles.

 

I remembered Psalm 105:4, where it says: “Look to the Lord and His strength. Seek His face always.”

That night, I did have four disappointments while I was baking. But, God replaced them with four valuable lessons too:

 

  1. Disappointments humble us and help us see our weaknesses.
  2. Disappointments are opportunities for us to trust and depend on God more.
  3. Disappointments help us find joy and strength in Christ.
  4. Disappointments may cause us pain, but God uses them for our good and for His glory.

One of the reasons why we easily get discouraged when we have disappointments in life is because what we wanted to happen didn’t happen. And we forget that even if they didn’t happen, God still remains to be the same faithful, true, gracious, sovereign, and loving God.

Clearly, life is not about us. It’s all about God. And because His ways are definitely better than our ways, there really is no reason for us to stay disappointed.

It says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18,

“In everything, give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

 

I decided to try one last time. Instead of making rounded scoops of frozen crinkles, I flattened the dough, coated it with powdered sugar, and baked them for a few minutes. By the grace of God, I was finally able to make chocolate crinkles that looked like chocolate crinkles!!! :) Woohoo!!

I realized that God could have let me bake the crinkles with ease. He is God. He can do anything. But, He chose not to, and I’m glad that He did. :)

The unique thing about the ‘crinkle look’ is that the powdered sugar cracks all around the crinkle and it shows us what’s inside the cookie (fudgy chocolate)! I found it interesting because it had a similarity to what I learned that night: The ‘sugar cracks’ reminded me of disappointments in life. And just like how the fudgy chocolate cookie is revealed when the sugar cracks, these disappointments help show what’s inside of our hearts too.

 

What is inside of our hearts?

How do we react when we get disappointed with something or someone?

I pray that Christ would always be at the center of our hearts. :)

Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…” (An example of God’s sovereignty in the midst of disappointments.)

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Won’t Take My Eyes Off of You

I’ve always been fascinated with our digital camera’s macro mode. I like how it lets the camera focus on the main subject and sort of blurs the rest of the things behind or beside it. For the past blog entries that I’ve posted here at Encouraging Treats, I’ve used our digital camera to capture the memories I’ve had with the treats I’ve baked and cooked. However, to my dismay, I found out last Saturday night that our one and only camera wasn’t working anymore. I couldn’t believe it.

I was supposed to make my treat last Saturday night, but, I hesitated because I didn’t have a camera at that time. I remember telling God: “Lord, I can’t use my phone to take photos of the next treat. It doesn’t have a macro mode. It’ll only produce mediocre photos, and I can’t use mediocre photos in this food blog…” I sighed and eventually called it a night.

 

I didn’t realize how I stubborn I was until the next morning at church. Pastor Vince Burke shared about fixing our eyes on Jesus and focusing on Him in every situation. God convicted me while I was listening to His word because I clearly focused on the wrong thing. I focused on what was less important: having good pictures for this food blog.

After the service, I spent time with God and confessed what was in my heart. I apologized for my behavior and for focusing on the appearance and presentation of the food/treat, than on the ultimate encouraging treat: God’s Word.

 

I told God, “Sorry, Lord, that I didn’t want to blog this Monday just because I didn’t have a good camera. It was very foolish of me. I know that even without a camera and without photos of the treat, You could still use me and this blog to encourage others to know You more… if it’s Your will. Sorry, for not focusing on You. But, I thank You too, because I still have a camera phone to use.” :)

A few hours later, on our way home, I got a text message from my mom and she informed me that she had our camera fixed. I couldn’t believe my eyes! What a privilege! What an awesome treat! I immediately thanked God for His grace. Despite my stubborn and distracted heart, God still gave me another chance to use a good camera. More importantly, He gave me another opportunity to focus on Him and on His Word.

I spent the rest of the night preparing and cooking a batch of shrimp tempura. In the process of doing so, I decided to use both my phone and our camera (in macro mode) to take photos of the shrimps. It was interesting because I was able to compare the photos taken from both gadgets. Those taken using the camera (in macro mode) were indeed better and clearer than the blurry ones from my phone.

“Wow, Lord!” I told God. “Ang galing talaga ng macro mode sa camera! It really focuses on the main thing and blurs its surroundings. Because of this, I get to enjoy the clear, bright, and beautiful photos of the tempura! Thank You!”

Right then and there, I learned that God wasn’t only letting me appreciate the photos taken using the camera. He was also encouraging me to learn and apply this spiritual principle in my life as well: Just like how the macro mode in the camera allows the lens to focus on the main thing, we must fix our eyes too on the main thing. We must fix our eyes on Jesus.

It says in Hebrews 12:1-2

“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

“We fix our eyes on Him, even if we are in pain.

We fix our eyes on Him, even when our hearts break.

We fix our eyes on Him, even if we stumble and fall.

We fix our eyes on Him, because He is in control.

We fix our eyes on Him, whose love for us never fails.

We fix our eyes on Him, whose mercies are new each day.

We fix our eyes on Him, whose grace will see us through.

We fix our eyes on Jesus, who is faithful, right, and true.”

-Yours Truly

Have we been fixing our eyes on Jesus?

By God’s grace, I know that we can.

And I pray that we won’t take our eyes off of Him each day. :)

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time! :)