Do You Want to Walk?

One of my favorite moments in the morning is when our dog, Copper, tries his best to wake me up so we can go for a walk outside. Usually, he would do this by constantly licking my hands and/or pushing my legs using his furry, front paws. Of course, because of his cuteness, I always end up getting out of my bed early in the morning, finding his leash, and asking him this question: “Copper, do you want to walk?”

I love asking him this question because his response always makes me smile. He would vigorously wag his tail, run in circles, sprint with all his might towards the main door, and sometimes, he would even slightly scratch my legs out of his excitement. He loves it so much that whenever he would hear one of us say the word “walk” (or anything that rhymes with walk) in our conversations, he would assume that we would take him out for a walk.

I really don’t know what goes on in his mind whenever we walk outside. But, every time I get the chance to do so, I take it and enjoy it. There’s just something nice about spending time with the dog I love and seeing him enjoy the walk too. I get to know what spots he usually marks; what he loves to sniff at; how he interacts with other dogs and people around him; what excites him; what brings him fear (e.g. huge dogs, light from flashlights/cars); what makes him angry (e.g. stray cats, angry dogs); and I even get to see how he reacts to a dog he likes.

Copper and his crush, Rain

One time, I was watching a video of Copper that I took (see video below) and it showed his delightful response to my question: “Do you want to walk?” And while I was replaying and enjoying it, I told God: “Lord, why is Copper so cute? He knows the word “walk” and he gets excited whenever he hears it!”

And at that moment, God spoke to my heart and showed me the similarity that it had with our relationship with Him. I looked at myself and wondered if I also show the same excitement whenever God asks me the question: “Hey Nic, do you want to walk with Me?” It was a humbling moment for me because I knew that sometimes, I would prefer to do something else than spend more time with God and His Word.

It says in Galatians 5:16 “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

After that time, little by little, God helped me to remove the things that hinder me from spending time with Him (distractions, pride, laziness, etc.). Also, He continued to encourage me to walk with Him through prayer and His Word every day. It was amazing because He always reminded me of His love for me (even during discouraging days) and it motivated me to know Him and walk with Him more.

Journal from last year

Walking with Copper now gives me a different kind of joy because whenever I ask him if he wants to walk and I see his happy response, I am reminded of how God is pleased too whenever we choose to walk and spend more time with Him each day. Have we been spending quality time with God and His word this week? :)

 

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

 

Through the Eyes of the Chef

Earlier today, I treated myself with a Fillet Mignon from one of the restaurants in megamall. I actually planned on eating a steak this weekend because I wanted to satisfy my craving for juicy meat. Since my siblings had other plans after the church service and I didn’t, I decided to buy the steak and go home immediately.

While I was driving home, all I could think of was how good the steak would taste like. As soon as I could, I prepared my late lunch and took my first bite. After a few seconds of chewing on the juicy piece of meat, I thought to myself, “Umm.. Is it just me or is the flavor of the steak kind of… bland.” I ended up getting disappointed with the dish. It wasn’t what I expected. It wasn’t worth the money. It wasn’t good enough for me, even when I added more spices to it.

But, somehow, in spite of my ungrateful and proud heart, God took that moment to speak to me. Through Him, I realized that maybe the chef who prepared that dish had a special purpose for it. Maybe, he’s used to creating dishes with mild flavors. Or maybe, other customers would like mild-seasoned steaks more. I realized that I shouldn’t let my disappointments hinder me from having a grateful heart. I was having steak for lunch and that was something I can thank God for. :)

After eating, I spent the rest of the afternoon browsing through my old journals and I read my entries last January 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 for a special reason. And it was interesting because when I went through my journal last January 12, 2012, I read a lesson that God taught me when I was dining in one of the restaurants in megamall. The funny thing about it was that the restaurant I mentioned in my journal last year was the same restaurant that I went to a while ago, when I bought the steak.

Photo taken last January 2012

I wrote:

“The moment I got in this restaurant, I noticed the messy, broken, seemingly undone and ugly brick walls around. While I was waiting for my drink, I thought about the walls and realized that the owner of the restaurant really designed and made the walls the way they are right now for a special purpose. Maybe, he wanted them to reflect the place where the restaurant originated from (with matching foreign music playing in the background)..

In spite of the chipped walls, hardened drippings of cement, and partial white painted walls, I somehow began to appreciate the walls when I look at them through a panoramic view. It’s like I’m actually in the country where this restaurant came from. :) Thank You, Lord, because in the same way, You are showing me that it’s so easy for me to look at myself and others and see only the “ugly” things in our lives. It’s so easy for me to dwell on thoughts and think of how I’ll never be good enough or never have enough in this life (similar to these walls.)

Photo taken last January 2012... with my mango shake. :P

But, just like how these walls were carefully made by the owner, I know that You have beautifully created us for a purpose and You’ve given deep thought to every detail in our lives. You remind me to continue looking at my life (and others’ lives) through Your eyes; through the “panoramic view” and see Your goodness and beauty. Definitely, You are more than enough for me, Jesus. Thank You for the encouragement. :)”

Psalm 139:13 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

I couldn’t believe it. God somehow connected what I learned today to what He taught me last January 2012… concerning the same restaurant.

Indeed, even though I got disappointed with the Fillet Mignon I ordered today, I am encouraged to look at the dish through the eyes of the chef who made it and appreciate it for what it is. Maybe it is the chef’s specialty… or maybe it is not. :P Nonetheless, I thank God for the dish and for the privilege of learning through it. :)

THURSDAY TUNE #8: Center of It by Chris August

“Today is not my day.” I’ve heard myself murmur this statement a lot of times a while ago because I made mistakes at work. Although these mistakes weren’t major ones and my colleagues were very gracious to me, I was still bothered by my carelessness today.

While I was on my way to the restroom in the office, I found myself singing one of my favorite songs when I was younger: “’cause you had a bad day. You’re taking one down. You sing a sad song just to turn it around…”

Photo taken a few years ago

And somehow, God caught my attention and reminded of the verses in the Bible that I read before going to work. It is actually my “life passage”:

It says in Proverbs  3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

And it hit me. I saw how I was so concerned with myself that I forgot about God and His character. I was giving in to the idea of having “bad days”, when in fact, there really are no bad days because of God’s goodness.

from tharderdesign.blogspot.com

I thought to myself, “Why am I so disheartened? I made mistakes and I can’t turn back time and change what I did. But, by God’s grace, I know that I can learn from them and improve more in the future.”

I realized that there really was something wrong with the statement: “Today is not my day.” because it’s really not about ME. :)

Right then and there, I thanked God and confessed about how I chose not to trust in Him in those simple moments. I thanked Him even for the mistakes that I’ve made because I know that He can still use those to help me grow as an employee and be excellent for Him. :)

On my way home, I decided to change the song that was playing in my head to “Center of It” by Chris August. This song encourages me a lot to remember that God’s character never changes no matter what situation we are in. He is and will forever be good and faithful. :)

 

If you have the time, listen to this tune:

 

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

Encourage yourself one tune at a time. :)

That One Percent

While I was attending a women’s conference last December, God asked me to do something unusual. He encouraged me to give Him my ONE PERCENT. Now, it might sound amusing because most of the time, we would hear others say “You’ve got to give Him 100%.” Or “You’ve got to work 100% to achieve this and that.” But at that moment, He made that action step very clear to me and I’ll let you know why, in a while.

A few days ago, my mom asked me to cook sinigang na hipon using the leftover frozen, tamarind fruits that I had before. When I heard her instruction, I honestly thought to myself “What?? But, cooking sinigang from scratch is hard work. (You can see the detailed steps here: http://encouragingtreats.com/sinigang-na-hipon/) I still have other plans for the day and I don’t feel like spending a lot of time getting the tamarind puree for the soup.”

I told mom that it’s sort of a hassle for me to cook the sinigang from scratch, but I said that I would do it anyway. On our way to church, God spoke to me and showed me how lazy I was and how it has been affecting me and my decisions recently. He told me “Nic, you’re having that ONE PERCENT moment again.” I smiled and said “Oo nga noh, Lord.” He reminded me of a principle that He taught me a few weeks ago. A principle that helped change my heart. :)

It was the week before my birthday (Dec. 16) when I experienced a drought in my spiritual life. Yes, I did get to spend time with God, but somehow, I knew that I wasn’t always making God the center of my life and decisions. At the conference, we were given 30 minutes of quiet time and I took that moment to share to God how I was feeling and what I was going through.

I spent that time confessing to God how I haven’t been giving my 100% to Him in the different aspects of my life. I told Him that I felt like I was only giving Him 1% and that I only had 1% desire for Him. Also, I knew that He had already forgiven me, but because I only had 1%, I felt that it would be better if I just didn’t go near Him. I thought that I might just end up disappointing Him again.

A few minutes later, He led me to read John 3:16-21.

Verse 21 hit me, where it says: “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

I realized that maybe one of the reasons why I had 1% desire for God at that time, was because I was “hanging out with” and loving darkness more. And by darkness, I mean the things that distracted me from spending more time with God and focusing on Him. (e.g. laziness, being physically tired/not being physically fit, social media, music, etc.)

But, God pointed out to me one of the most amazing truths in the Bible, which is found 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.”

from Google Images

Right then and there, God comforted me as I remembered what Jesus did for us and how He saved us from the penalty of our sins by dying on the cross. What He has already done for us matters more than what we do for Him.

During the last few minutes of my quiet time with God, I wrote this down on my journal:

“Thank You, Lord, for encouraging me to not give up and let go of that 1% desire that I have for You… even if it’s just 1%. I know that there would still be times when I would get distracted and be lazy to spend quality time with You, but You’ve reminded me that You will never give up on me and that You will always love me. And so, by Your grace, I draw near to You again and pray that You will use this 1% desire that I have for You and allow it to continue growing in me each day. May You be honored above all.” :)

I realized that in the same way, just like how I’ve had that 1% desire for God a few weeks ago, I noticed how I’ve also had that 1% desire to work hard and cook the sinigang from scratch last Sunday. But by God’s grace, He encouraged me to give Him that percentage and cook the dish despite the hassle. Why? Because I knew that obeying mom by cooking it bwould honor God.

(By the way, the tamarind puree that I got from the fruits wasn’t enough, so I ended up adding Tamarind spices too. In the end, God also allowed me to experience the convenience of using instant Sinigang mix — what I originally wanted to use. :) )

Even if you only have that 1% desire to love the people around you; to forgive those who’ve hurt you; to thank others; to obey and respect your authorities; to humble yourself before God and others; to spend time with God; to work/study hard; and even to exercise/discipline your body… Do it anyway. :) Even if it’s just one percent, I encourage you to surrender it to God because He can still use it for the good and for His glory. :)

 

Sour Tamarind

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)