Before It’s Too Late

I recently learned from my officemates that cooking and then eating dead crabs could lead to seafood poisoning. I guess I didn’t care much at that time because our family rarely buys live crabs. But, just a few days ago, I saw five, huge ones in one of our palanganas (basins) in the kitchen. “Cool! Mom bought live crabs!” I said to myself. I immediately got one of the tongs and started tapping each crab. It was interesting because I saw some of them blink and slowly crawl. However, the others didn’t move at all.

The two, seemingly lifeless crabs caught my attention because I remembered the conversation that I had with my officemates. I thought, “The crabs couldn’t be dead. They just couldn’t be. Sayang naman kung ganun.”

I then called mom and my sister, told them about the “dead crabs”, and reminded them about seafood poisoning. So, mom tried to tap the crabs again and change the water in the basin. (I guess we were still hoping that what we were seeing wasn’t true.) But after a few minutes, I eventually accepted the fact and told my sister “Ate… *sigh* the crabs are still dead.”

She laughed and replied “Of course, they’re still dead, Nix. You can’t bring dead crabs back to life.”

I knew that we can’t bring them back to life, but I guess a part of me just got crushed by the thought of losing crabs; of not being able to fulfill the purpose that we had for them; and many more. In the same way, I realized that just like those two dead crabs, we can’t bring ourselves back to life after we’ve died. After we pass away, we can’t go back and change the decisions we’ve made or the things we’ve done on earth. It makes me think about how I’m living the life that God has blessed me with.

I remembered four days ago when the hashtag #EndoftheWorld was trending in Twitter. People from all over the world tweeted about the things that they wanted to do or say before they pass away/leave earth; before the end of the world. Some said that they wanted to travel the world. Some wanted to profess their love to another. And some even wanted to party all night long.

Although these things aren’t wrong, I was just reminded of how much more valuable our last days on earth would be if we invest in the things that would last forever and remember what matters most in life – Jesus Christ.

 

“As little children we would dream of Christmas morn, of all the gifts and toys we knew we’d find.

But, we never realized a baby born one blessed night gave us the greatest gift of our lives.

We were the reason that Jesus gave His life. We were the reason that our Lord suffered and died.

To a world that was lost, He gave all He could give to show us the reason to live.”

[We Are the Reason by Avalon]

photo by Mike Yap

I learned from the Bible that because of our sin, we were separated from God and we deserve the payment for it, which is death (Romans 6:23). But because of God’s indescribable love for us, He gave us His best and sacrificed Jesus (when He died on the cross many years ago) to save us from the penalty of our sins. He did this so that we could spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

It says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

It brings tears to my eyes whenever I remember what Jesus did for us. He didn’t deserve to suffer, but He willingly obeyed God as He took our place on the cross. What amazed me more is the fact that He not only died for us, but, He also rose again! This just shows how Jesus really is the Son of God… the risen Savior that we need.

If the world did end four days ago (December 21, 2012), where would you be right now? What would have been your last few decisions and actions?

This Christmas season, I’d like to give you a very special encouragement: Don’t wait til it’s too late (just like what happened to the dead crabs).

Get to know Jesus more; spend time with God through prayer and His word; receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior; and thank God for His free gift of eternal life for us, before it’s too late.

Because, really, after all of the accomplishments, success, money, fame, relationships, power, and desires we’ve had… at the end of the day, we know that Jesus matters most in life. And nothing else should concern us more than our relationship with Him.

 

Thank You, Jesus for your unending love and grace! :)

Have a very merry Christmas everyone!

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Who vs. What

I just spent the last 3 and a half hours searching for the best instant waffle mix and doughnuts in town. But sadly, after driving and walking around, I ended up going home empty-handed.

After leaving the office, I had in mind the specific brands of waffle mix and doughnuts that I wanted to buy for tomorrow. I wanted to treat my officemates with extra snacks like crisp waffles and delicious doughnuts (since it was my birthday yesterday). I dropped by the supermarket near our house because I thought that they were selling the brand of waffle mix that I wanted, considering that it is quite a huge store. However, when I got there, the customer service informed me that they didn’t have stock.

I panicked because I already told my officemates that I would bring the waffle mix to the office tomorrow. I then started to call two other supermarkets near our place and asked if they were selling the brand that I wanted. I even used the payphone in the grocery store to call the other supermarkets. (Talk about effort!) But, somehow, God didn’t allow me to purchase that specific brand. None of the supermarkets near our house were selling it.

I bought the next best waffle mix and left the supermarket. I then decided to go to the mall instead because I thought that even if I didn’t get to buy “the best waffle mix”, I would at least get to buy the best doughnut treats before going home.

I briskly walked towards the doughnut shop after parking in the mall and eagerly lined up. When I was already near the cashier, one of the staff members suddenly announced that there were no original glazed doughnuts anymore. “WHAAAT??? You must be kidding me.” I thought to myself.

My spirit was crushed because I wanted to buy those doughnuts. I “needed” to buy those doughnuts.

Because I was already desperate, I decided to search for the next best doughnut store in the mall. However, since I didn’t know where it was located exactly, I ended up going back and forth, and up and down the different floors in the mall. Also, the directions that I got from the different guards I talked to just made it worse, since they contradicted each other.

When I finally saw the next best doughnut store for me, they didn’t have much doughnuts left. At that time, it was already 9:30 in the evening; my body was tired and sleepy; and my heart was very much discouraged. I decided to drop by the food court before going home and got myself an order of siomai and bola-bola siopao (my dinner).

I then started to write on my journal and tell God about my night so far. I wanted to ask God a lot of questions and say tons of things, but my heart led me to write this instead:

“I just feel so tired now and am kind of sad because I ended up not being able to buy what I wanted – what I thought was the best. But, Lord, I just want to thank you still because you’ve shown me how my 3-hour experience is very much similar to how I’ve been living the life that you’ve blessed me with. I try to go through the day and make decisions immediately, without even consulting you first. Sometimes, when I do get to consult you, I end up saying “Please, Lord…” or “Would you… Lord…” And it’s so ironic because I call You, “Lord” over and over again, but I still choose to take control of my life. Sorry that I forget what matters most in life – You, Jesus.”

I realized that God could have easily provided the doughnuts and waffle mix that I wanted today, but he didn’t. And I guess it’s his way of reminding me to remember who He is in my life even if He doesn’t give me what I prayed for. I think that it’s His way of encouraging me to seek Him more than the things that He can give to me.

Many times, I find myself being tempted to get frustrated or disappointed with God especially when He doesn’t answer my prayer requests or give the things that I ask for. But, God gently rebuked me tonight and encouraged me to trust in Him as I find satisfaction in WHO He is and not in WHAT I have (e.g. material things, achievements, relationships, etc.).

Before leaving the food court, I read Psalm 17 and was encouraged by verse 15.

“As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness;
I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.”

Even without having “the best doughnuts” and “the best waffle mix”, I went home with peace and joy in my heart. God knew exactly how to comfort me tonight and I praise Him for His grace.

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time! :)

THURSDAY TUNE #7: Thank You by Jay Enrile

I’ve been surrounded with negative vibes these past few days and honestly, it has been tough. But, God continues to remind me that His love for me never changes; that He will always be good; and that He will always be faithful, no matter what. May this song encourage you today. :)

THANK YOU
By Jay Enrile

Thank you for emptiness, thank you for rage
Thanks for confusion and the labyrinth it’s made
Thanks for denial, thank you for lust
Thanks for rejection and all the hurts from those I trust

Thank you that I haven’t heard the sweetest sound
Because I know
It’s the only way my knees will scrape the ground

Thanks for depression and not wanting to live
Thanks for the nights when I had nothing left to give
Thanks for allowing my world to cave in
I had a life without you that was colored with sin

Now I know that you brought me to a dark and dirty place Just to find that my treasure is hidden in your grace
And its clear that hereafter I wont have to live my days
Apart from you, apart from truth, I found my rightful place
In your arms, beautiful, at home in your embrace
Finally I’m captured by a light that doesn’t fade
The fire in your eyes is why my heart is up in flames

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” -Romans 8:28


Encourage yourself one tune at a time! :)

 

THURSDAY TUNE: http://encouragingtreats.com/thursday-tunes/

The Sweet Struggle

One of my favorite desserts at Starbucks is the sweet and creamy, mini Banoffee pie! It’s just one of those simple desserts that I can’t get enough of. The combination of bananas, crushed graham, chocolate, caramel, and cream works so well! Recently, I had the opportunity to prepare a Banoffee pie at home. I figured that it would take less than two hours to make it, so I started at around 4pm. But to my surprise, it was already around 10 pm when I finished making the dessert.

 

Why did it take me so long to prepare it? Well, it’s all because of the dulce de leche (caramel) in it. I read in a lot of Banoffee Pie recipes that we can actually make our own caramel by heating up the condensed milk until it has reached our desired consistency and color. However, it is crucial to remember that heating the condensed milk directly from the pan won’t be a good step since it would probably just burn the milk easily.

The other two fastest ways to cook/heat up the condensed milk are the ff:

Plan A: This includes simmering (or boiling with a medium heat) an unopened can of condensed milk that is submerged in a pot of water for 2 to 3 hours (or maybe more).

Plan B: This includes double broiling the condensed milk in a bowl on top of a small pot with simmering water, while mixing the milk constantly.

Of course, Plan A sounds easier, but I chose to do Plan B because of some precautions and warnings about Plan A that I read in some news articles. Apparently, some can manufacturers do not recommend cooking the milk in the unopened can to avoid accidents/problems such as: explosions due to overheating and health risks as some say that the cans may release chemicals to the milk once heated.

I started double broiling the condensed milk and actually enjoyed the first few minutes of it. But, when I saw that the color of the milk was still the same even after two hours of broiling, I started to get discouraged. I remember telling God how it seemed that it wasn’t such a good idea to do Plan B. In my mind, I was thinking of the time I was wasting because I was double broiling the milk. And it sort of frustrated me because I couldn’t see any results. The cream-colored condensed milk wasn’t getting thicker and wasn’t turning into brown.

I decided to get a glass of water to cool myself down and went back to the kitchen after a few minutes. When I went near the stove, I noticed a number of ants huddling around and enjoying the few drops of condensed milk on the countertop. At first, I shivered when I saw them because I am not a fan of insects. However, God still used that opportunity to speak to me.

He reminded me of how ants are described in the Bible: HARDWORKING and WISE. They persevere in preparing beforehand and they enjoy their harvest afterwards.

 

I was tempted not to finish cooking the dulce de leche, but God encouraged me to be faithful, like the ants, even in that simple task. He encouraged me to persevere and not to give in to the discouragements around me. But more importantly, He encouraged me to remember who He is (Faithful, Able, Gracious) at that time when I was struggling. :)

Psalm 105:4 “Look to the Lord and His strength, seek His face always.”

(One of my favorite verses in the Bible. :D)

I continued to double broil the condensed milk and decided to stop only when it already reached the caramel consistency and color. By God’s grace, after many hours, I was finally able to have my dulce de leche ready for the Banoffee Pie. Thank You, Lord! :)

“If the struggle you’re facing is slowly replacing your hope with despair.

Or the process is long and you’re losing your song in the night.

You can be sure that the Lord has His hand on you.

Safe and secure, He will never abandon you.

You are His treasure and He finds His pleasure in you.”

[Steve Green’s He Who Began a Good Work]

 

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time! :)