Joy that Lasts

Some of my friends from college hosted a Mooncake Festival at their lovely home today. It was a fun event because we were able to spend time with them, enjoy the Dice game, win prizes, and experience the privilege of being invited to their place. Because of their family’s generosity, I went home with awesome treats! I won a bar of Twix, a set of Simpsons stationery, and a pack of Hershey’s kisses with almonds.

Playing the Dice game
Playing the Dice game

On my way home from the event, I stopped at an intersection and saw two men, who looked like they were in their late 20’s, resting at the sidewalk. One was carrying the other on his back because the latter couldn’t walk – He had really thin and weak legs. When I saw them, somehow, I was encouraged by God to give them food. So, I quickly looked around to see if there were any biscuits in the car. But after searching, I couldn’t find any.

By God’s grace, just a few seconds before the traffic light turned green, I saw the pack of Hershey’s kisses in my bag, opened the window near the passenger’s seat, called the attention of the two guys I saw, and gave it to them. I will never forget the expression of the man’s face when he received the pack of Kisses. I saw his face light up as he held onto the chocolates. And I saw him look at me and say “Salamat.” (Thank you.)

Angel, Aldwin, and I with our prizes! :)
Angel, Aldwin, and I with our prizes! :)

Two seconds later, the traffic light turned green and I drove straight ahead, leaving the intersection. My heart melted as the moment flashed back in my mind and I said “Lord, thank you for that. It was a blessing to give to others and to see that man enjoy the treat.”

I then continued to think about that experience and wondered if those two men knew God. As I continued to drive, I felt the burden to pray for them and I said “Lord, I saw how joyful the men were when they got the pack of chocolates. But I know that those Kisses would only last for a few hours or days. I pray that you would also allow them to know You more, have a personal relationship with You, and experience the Joy of knowing You. Because You alone can give us joy that would last forever. Thank you for Your love for us.”

Thank you, Pendoza family! <3
Thank you, Pendoza family! <3

It says in John 15:9-11: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

It was my first time to participate in the Dice game at a Mooncake event and I honestly didn’t expect to win anything. But, because God graciously blessed the family who hosted the party, they were able to bless me and the men on the street as well. Thank you, Lord, for simple joys and moments with You. It was and it will always be an honor experiencing You and Your joy in our lives.

Simple Sunday Snack: JELL-O WEDGES

I love how God randomly reveals Himself to us through nature. Nowadays, I rarely get to see sunsets, but when I do, my heart melts because I am reminded of God’s beauty and greatness. Also, whenever I witness seeds grow into fruit-bearing trees, I am amazed because only He can do such a wonderful thing. It really is a delight to experience God through these simple things. Just recently, He gave me another opportunity to get to know Him more while I was experimenting with one of His fruity creations: ORANGES!

I couldn't find the photos of the ones I made, but they looked like the Jell-O smiles in this photo. (Taken from http://quick-dish.tablespoon.com/)
I couldn’t find the photos of the ones I made, but they looked like the Jell-O smiles in this photo. (Taken from http://quick-dish.tablespoon.com/)

A few months ago, I saw random people making Jell-O orange wedges in the internet and I fell in love with the idea. What a simple, delicious, and delightful treat! And so, I bought oranges and packs of Jell-O.

Making the JELL-O Wedges/Smiles involves the following steps:

SLICE THE ORANGES IN HALVES.

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GENTLY SCOOP OUT THE FRUIT. (You may also use the fruit as a dressing for your salad or as an ingredient in your juices/shakes, etc.)

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DISSOLVE THE JELL-O POWDER IN HOT AND COLD WATER.

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POUR INTO THE ORANGE MOLD.

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CHILL IN THE REFRIGERATOR FOR 4 HOURS OR MORE.

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SLICE INTO WEDGES/SMILES.

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I really enjoyed preparing the Jell-O smiles because the steps were really simple. However, in the process of doing so, I unintentionally created holes in 3 of the orange molds that I had. While I was scooping the fruit out, the “inner orange peel” also came out, as seen in the photo below.

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I tried to stuff crumpled foil in it and under it to prevent the Jell-O from pouring out. But, after preparing and chilling the molds, it still leaked and I ended up with half-filled Jell-O smiles.

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In the same way, God used this moment to remind me of the importance of surrendering every part of me and my life to Him. Because even a tiny hole in my life, a hint of sin, or anything that hinders me from knowing, loving, and obeying God will cause me to have a half-filled, mediocre life.

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I praise God for His goodness because we have hope in Him always. It says in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I [Jesus] came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

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Our God, who created us, also desires that we live our lives with Him abundantly. And because of His grace, we can experience this fullness of life when we humble ourselves before Him and accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

I pray that we won’t settle for a ‘half-filled life’, because God deserves the best! He deserves our best effort, time, resources, and praises. He deserves to be honored with hearts that are totally surrendered to Him and lives that are committed to Him. :)

I know that the same God who paints beautiful sunsets and makes fruit-bearing trees grow, can also wonderfully work in our hearts and lives for our good and for His glory! Indeed, nothing is impossible with Him.

Encourage yourself one treat at a time!

To Be Like You

One of the things that I genuinely enjoy about baking is being able to personalize the goodies that I make. I just love how baking allows us to get creative with the quantity, design, colors, size, and taste of the treats. Moreover, being able to see the good, beauty, and “desired look” in the finished products makes it a delightful experience for me.

Recently, I had the opportunity and privilege of sharing some of the treats to my friends at Friday Night Light (FNL). At that time, because we were raising funds for the ministry by selling shirts, I thought of experimenting with sugar cookies and making personalized FNL sugar T-shirt cookies. :)

 

The process of making these treats involved the ff:

Make the cookie dough.

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Use cookie cutters to shape the cookies.

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Prepare the Royal Icing.

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Design the cookies using the Icing.

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Let the Cookies Dry and Serve/Pack

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At that time, I remembered looking at and using the FNL shirts that I had at home as my pattern and guide while making and designing the sugar cookies.  There were moments when I experienced difficulties in applying the icing, rolling out/cutting the soft cookie dough, and even letting the cookies dry. But, God reminded me to continue looking at my pattern and guide (FNL shirts) and persevere in making the FNL sugar T-shirt cookies.

He reminded me of the same principle in the Bible, where it says “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

This verse shows us the reality of experiencing discouragements, weaknesses, and problems in this world. But more importantly, it shows us the peace and victory that we have in Christ even in the midst of these things. What an encouragement! :)

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By the end of the night, I was able to make and pack more than 50 FNL shirt-like sugar cookies! Only by God’s grace. :)

It really was a lovely sight for me because the little shirt cookies looked like the real thing — the FNL shirts I had in my closet!

It was also encouraging  because I was reminded of how God, the One who made us, also desires for us to become more like His Son, Jesus. He takes pleasure in us not because of our “own” righteousness, achievements, status, or strengths, but because of His righteousness and grace in us through His Son, Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

♫ Oh to be like You
Give all I have just to know You
Jesus, there’s no one besides You
Forever the hope in my heart… ♫

[Hillsong]

And so I ask myself this question: “Is there anything in my life that does not look like Christ?”

Thank You, God, for giving us opportunities each day to grow more in our walk with You and become like Jesus. :)

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Stick to the Truth

My dad picked me up from work a few days ago and we had an interesting conversation on the way home. For some reason, we started reminiscing about our experiences at our old house in Cainta and I shared to him one of my “Cainta moments” that I will never forget.

Last June 21, 2009, my family and I were on our way home from church and I remember feeling so insecure about my physical appearance, my height, my status in life, academics, and many more. But God somehow encouraged me to sing “Here in My Life” by Hillsong and I was comforted by the lyrics of the song. When we reached the house, we realized that we didn’t have the house keys with us! We were stuck inside our garage!

From my journal. Dated 6/9/2009
From my journal. Dated 6/21/2009

After a few minutes, I was tempted to complain about the situation, but God encouraged me to help my family find a way to get in our house instead. My older brother and I snuck into the side garage and saw a small window in our kitchen which wasn’t locked. We then weighed the pros and cons of me going through it and tried to measure my body to see if I could fit. Kuya ended up giving me a lift and I miraculously squeezed myself into the small window. I think the window was as “big” as a piece of bond paper.

From my journal. Dated 6/9/2009
From my journal. Dated 6/21/2009
I couldn't find a nice shot of our kitchen window. This photo was taken after we experienced Ondoy. :)
I couldn’t find a nice shot of our kitchen window. This photo was taken after we experienced Ondoy. :)

We were both laughing as we tried to get my body inside the kitchen because it was actually crazy and funny, but by God’s grace, I was able to make it through! I then ran to the front door, opened it, and called my other siblings and parents. God knew what was going on in my heart a few minutes before we got home and He definitely knew how to encourage me. I was insecure about my petite body, but that day, God showed me that He had a special purpose for it.

From my journal. Dated 6/9/2009
From my journal. Dated 6/21/2009

Through that experience, I was reminded of God’s goodness and grace. I was reminded of how He made each and every one of us the way we are for our good and for His glory. And it was encouraging because it also showed me how our loving and powerful God chooses to use people like you and me to experience His strength and greatness in our lives in spite of our insecurities and weaknesses.

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To this day, I still praise God whenever I remember that moment because I am encouraged to seek and focus on Him whenever I struggle with insecurities. Moreover, God continues to remind me of His amazing love for me through the Bible. His truth written on it immediately changes my perspective, wipes off the lies and negative thoughts that I have, and strengthens my heart even more.

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I was spending time with God and his word earlier today and I noticed that I unintentionally kept a lot of my sticky nametags (from past events) in my Bible. Interestingly, when I saw this, God used it to remind me of my identity in Christ. In this world, I know that I would probably have and encounter more thoughts and lies about my self-worth and security, but, God’s encouraging me to keep on sticking to the truth — to His words in the Bible.

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Romans 5:8 says “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

“You showed me how much You really loved me,
When You bought me at the highest cost

There’s no greater love than this, There’s no greater love than this,
That a man would give his life for a friend;
There’s no higher sacrifice than a man would give his life,
You have paid a precious price for me.”

[Don Moen’s “No Greater Love”]

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Thank You, Jesus, for reminding me to look to You every time I struggle and remember that You died and rose for me, You chose me, You love me unconditionally, and that I am Yours for eternity. Indeed, I need not be insecure, because You are more than enough for me. Jesus, You are more than enough for me. :)

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)