Taming My Tongue

A few days ago, I told my mom that I wanted to cook Sinigang for dinner because I was craving for it. She agreed and mentioned that she would also order pancit and pork barbeque to add to the menu. So, after work, I bought some of the ingredients in the grocery store and hurriedly prepared the meal at home.

While I was cooking the dish, she dropped by the kitchen and said “You only have less than a kilo of meat lang pala.” She sounded a bit disappointed and I got confused because I thought that ¾ kilo of meat was just enough since we were also having pork barbeque and pancit for dinner. After telling this to my mom, we realized that we had a miscommunication. Mom thought that since I chose to cook pork instead of shrimp for sinigang, she wouldn’t order pork barbeque anymore. On the other hand, I thought that she would still order pork barbeque in addition to the sinigang, regardless of whether its meat was shrimp or pork.

with my mom and sisters
with my mom and sisters

One of the moments in my life that I am not proud of happened that night in the kitchen. I sort of ended our conversation by telling mom (with an irritated voice) “Well, I thought you were still ordering pork barbeque po. What will we do now? We only have a few pieces of meat for the whole family. It’s not enough.” I saw her leave the kitchen with a confused and sad look on her face. She then opened the freezer to check if we still had additional meat. But, we didn’t. So, we just settled with what we had.

A few minutes before the dish was done, I decided to taste the soup one last time before serving it. I got a spoonful of soup, blew on it, and slowly poured it in my mouth. You wouldn’t believe what happened next. Apparently, the soup was still piping hot and it instantly burned my tongue. I felt the pain, but I didn’t think of chewing on ice cubes or anything since it was already getting late and we needed to serve the dinner for the family. So, I joined them over dinner and ate the soup and pancit.

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It was only after two days that I felt the effects of burning my tongue. I couldn’t eat, chew, sip, drink, swallow, and speak properly. It was also a struggle for me to brush my teeth and tongue and wear my retainers. Moreover, I had four mouth sores on my tongue and tonsils this week too!

While I was eating breakfast today, I asked God why he allowed me to experience this excruciating pain in my tongue/mouth. I only realized it today (four days after that night with mom) that he is using this painful moment in my life to teach me a very important lesson: TAMING MY TONGUE.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” [Ephesians 4:29]

Dad and Mom went out of town the day after we ate sinigang, so I never really had the chance to personally talk to mom about what happened that night. I knew that I hurt her with my words and with how I said them to her, but I wanted to honor God by honoring mom too.

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After four days of being away, my parents are finally back at home. I stopped typing on the laptop and greeted them a few minutes ago. After saying hi to mom, God gave me the courage to humble myself before her. We both got teary eyed as I recalled what happened that night and I apologized to her. I told her what God was teaching me through this experience and she immediately hugged me and said: “Aww.. it’s okay, anak. How’s your tongue now?”

Thank you, Lord, for my burnt tongue. I still feel the pain every second, but, at least you’re reminding me of honoring You with my tongue every second of the day too.

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It says in Psalm 19:14 “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

 

Thursday Tune #29: You Are My Rescue by Royal Tailor

As I was crossing the street from our office around 3:30 pm today, I saw four fire trucks quickly driving by and heard their sirens ringing. My heart suddenly beat faster as I and the other people on the street watched them hurry to their destination. It reminded me of the time when our house in Kapitolyo, Pasig city burned down. It happened 10 years and a day ago.

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Our helper woke my parents up when she noticed that the house was burning. It was around 1:30 in the morning when it happened. Then, our parents rushed to our bedrooms and gathered us all in the master’s bedroom. At that time, dad tried to fill up large pails with water and he ran to the family den (where the huge fire was) and back to the master’s bedroom to get some more water. After a few seconds, I think he realized that the fire was getting worse so he instructed everyone to leave the house immediately.

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The smoke already filled the air by that time, so we couldn’t clearly see our way. My mom, siblings and I  lowered our bodies, held each other like we were one big caterpillar, and immediately walked towards the main gate. Dad stayed behind to get a few things and after a minute or two, he got in the car that was parked in the garage and he drove it out to the street.  I remember seeing the ceiling (that was covered with fire) collapse and fall to the ground a few seconds after dad got the blue car out. Whew! It took a while (maybe 20 to 30 minutes) before most of the fire trucks came, so the house was pretty much gone by the time they arrived. But, God still allowed this to happen because it was for the best.

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Despite the loss of most of our material things that day, one of the major highlights that our family experienced together was the peace that God placed in our hearts while we were watching the house burn and crumble into ashes. It was a different kind of peace. We didn’t cry nor worry. We were just amazed and hopeful at the same time. God was in control and He will always be in control no matter how terrible the situation is.

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When I saw the fire trucks drive by the street a while ago, I thought about how difficult it is for those who are experiencing a similar situation today. I still don’t know where the fire came from or what their situation is right now. But, seeing these things again reminds me of God’s love for us and how He graciously sent His son, Jesus, to save us from experiencing eternal death in the **fiery lake of burning sulfur. Jesus died and rose again to save us so we can spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

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**“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

I learned about this many years ago, even before our house burned down. By His grace, I repented, acknowledged my sins before Him, and I asked Jesus to be my personal Lord and Savior. He has changed my life and heart ever since. It says in John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

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Whenever our family would remember November 19, 2004, we would always thank God for his grace and faithfulness. We could have died 10 years ago, but God didn’t allow it to happen. And maybe one of the reasons why He added 10 more years to my life was because He wanted me to take this opportunity to share His love and grace to you, dear reader.

He loves you and I want you to know that.

He loves you more than you can imagine and wants you to have an intimate relationship and an abundant life with Him too.  Don’t wait for a ‘fire incident’ to happen before drawing near to God. Don’t wait for the next day. :)

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Before I go to bed tonight, I want to share a song that touched my heart recently. It’s called “You Are My Rescue” by Royal Tailor. :)

 

Encourage yourself one tune at a time. :)

OFF THE PLATE: A Talk on Food Blogging

Through the years, I’ve realized how comfortable it is for me to work behind the scenes than to speak or perform in front of a crowd. If I were to choose between preparing the materials for a show and hosting a show, I would certainly pick the first option.  Hello, introverted me! However, every now and then, God gives me the strength to step out of my comfort zone and He graciously uses me in spite of my weaknesses for His glory.

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Photo c/o Lizette Tan

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Recently, I was invited by UP KKB to speak at one of the classes in the University of the Philippines (Diliman) during their Alternative Classroom Learning Experience (ACLE). After weeks of praying and surrendering my fears and doubts to God, I accepted the invitation and spent the afternoon of October 23, 2014 with a classroom of college students and with my older brother (Thank you, kuya!).

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I’ll be sharing some of the topics discussed during the event. If you’re planning on blogging soon, I hope that this post will somehow encourage you to take the plunge! :)

TIPS ON STARTING A BLOG

PURPOSE: Identify the purpose of the blog.

Brainstorm ideas. What do you enjoy doing or talking about the most? What are your hobbies, daily activites, talents and skills? What are you passionate about? If you have all the resources in the world, what is it that you imagine yourself doing for the rest of your life? Your answer to the last question will most probably reveal what you’re passionate about. Making your passion the theme of your blog will help you express your ideas and skills more since you are very interested in it.

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Another question that you can ask yourself is: “What do you want the readers to take home after reading your blog?” Do you want them to know more about your experiences or skills? Certain products? Photography? Origami? Gardening? Your own business? Latest trends in fashion? New restaurants in town? Lessons you’ve been learning? Blogging is not only a way of expressing oneself, it’s also an opportunity for people to interact and inspire others.

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Photo c/o Lizette Tan

 

BRAND: Take time to think about your blog’s name, logo, and tagline (optional).

When the readers hear about or read you blog name and see the logo, they need to have a glimpse of what your blog is all about. The blog name must be clear, creative, easy to remember, and of course, unique.

Also, take into consideration the colors that you will use in the blog’s logo and theme. The colors need to match what your blog is all about. For food blogs, using royal blue as the website’s background or font might not be as appealing as compared to using colors like yellow, orange, or red. (Notice how most of the logos of the food establishments use the latter colors too?) Feel free to observe and take notes on the different logos displayed at the malls and those featured on the internet.

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RESOURCES: Identify your resources and maximize them.

Before I started Encouraging Treats, this was one of the major factors that I struggled with. I remember feeling discouraged because I didn’t have a DSLR camera and I thought that without it, I wouldn’t be able to produce good photos for the blog. A lot of other discouragements hindered me from starting the blog last 2012, such as our slightly broken (but still usable) convection oven and my lack of experience in writing.

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Photo c/o Lizette Tan

But, God encouraged me to look at the resources that I had at that time and helped me maximize them. I had the ff. resources:

*A simple digital camera that didn’t take good photos in the dark. Haha.

*Internet connection and a laptop that I could use at home.

*An oven that struggled in producing the exact temperatures — which is very crucial in baking.

*Extra money for ingredients and extra ingredients from mom’s groceries.

*Quiet times with God and His Word.

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Photo c/o Lizette Tan

Two years later, by God’s grace, He continues to use the blog to encourage others. And even though I still do not have a DSLR camera, God has been faithful in helping me improve on my photography skills.

Sooner or later, we will get discouraged when we focus on the material things and resources that we have because these things don’t last and they will never fill the desires of our hearts. But, when we focus on who God is and surrender these resources to Him, He is able to do more than all we can ask or imagine.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory… ” [Ephesians 3:20]

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Photo c/o Lizette Tan

 

PLATFORM: Choose your blogging platform

You can have the option of creating a free website or creating your own domain.

For platforms with free accounts, you may try any of the ff: WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr. But personally, I would recommend WordPress since it is very user-friendly, it has a lot of ready-made themes, it can categorize your posts, and it transitions smoothly when converting your free account to your own domain/website.

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Photo c/o Lizette Tan

 

NETWORK: Share your blog and posts.

One of the advantages that we have in today’s technology is that we can easily communicate with others through our various gadgets. Sharing thoughts, promoting businesses, and interacting with other people from around the world are only a few clicks away!

In blogging, you may share your posts through the different blogger-friendly websites such as: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, FoodSpotting, Pinterest, Vine, etc.  Also, taking time to interact with your readers and fellow bloggers by replying and leaving comments in your website and in their blogs help in expanding your network.

Lastly, using links in your posts (whether they are from your previous posts or from other websites) also help in sharing your blog to more readers.

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Photo c/o Lizette Tan

WITH A GRATEFUL HEART

I ended the talk by sharing the first encouraging treat that I posted HERE. I talked about how God used the resources and even the weaknesses of Mrs. Wakefield to bless millions of people by allowing her to create the first batch of chocolate chip cookies!

Afterwards, I gave the participants an opportunity to think about and document their PASSION, PURPOSE, and RESOURCES on a golden paper plate. Then, I asked them to fold the plate into a cookie bowl/container. We all held the bowls as I encouraged them to pray and seriously think about starting a blog. Just like how God used Mrs. Wakefield, I shared to them that He can also work in and through us, the passions, purpose, and resources that He has given to us so that we can honor Him by being a blessing to others as well.

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Photo c/o Lizette Tan

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I really praise God for the wonderful time that I had with the participants of OFF THE PLATE. It was encouraging to see them have the desire to learn more and share their hearts and lives through blogging. Hopefully, I will see them online soon! Thank You, Lord, for this amazing privilege. Thank you also, to UP KKB, for having me. :)

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Photo c/o Lizette Tan
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Photo c/o Lizette Tan
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Photo c/o Lizette Tan

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time.

A Month Without Our Parents

Dad and Mom are finally back! Woohoo! They spent the whole month of October attending conferences, touring, shopping, and visiting our relatives in the United States. It was the first time that we (children) experienced being separated thousands of miles away from our parents for a month, so it was very interesting for us. One of the things that I learned during that time was how valuable it was (and still is) to be intentional in spending time with the family — especially while we’re still single. ;)

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I’ll be sharing some of the moments we’ve had as a family throughout the month of October.

STAYING IN TOUCH

Usually, we would coordinate our schedules and tasks for the day with mom and she would help communicate with the rest of the family. But since mom wasn’t around, we needed to let everyone know (via SMS) what our schedule was and help each other out with the transportation, meals at home, etc. Because of this, my older sister volunteered to use her line to send group texts to me and our siblings. Instead of sending four text messages every time we have updates and concerns, we only needed to text her and she’d send it to everyone. Thanks, ate Michelle! Also, we were able to send updates to our parents and vise-versa thru Viber. Hooray for a user-friendly application and awesome technology that allows us to communicate instantly!

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Moreover, since we rarely get to spend time with our grandmother from mom’s side of the family, we reserved one Sunday afternoon just for her. It was supposed to be a surprise, but we ended up informing her in advance. Thank you, Nanay, for a lovely time with you and for your delicious food.

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SUPPORTING EACH OTHER

Last October 11, the youngest member of our family, Gabo, reached a new milestone in his life. He graduated from college! Way to go, bro! We (older siblings) celebrated with him by treating him out to lunch and dinner with some of our relatives that weekend. Also, even though our parents were still in the United States at that time, it didn’t stop them from celebrating with us too! They sent their video greetings thru Viber/email and we watched them at home after we gave our simple yet awesome graduation gift to our brother. *woofin*

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Graduation gift for Gabo. :)
Graduation gift for Gabo. :)

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Another milestone that our family celebrated last month was the talk that I had on Food Blogging. By God’s grace, He gave me the privilege of speaking to a classroom of students from the University of the Philippines during their Alternative Classroom Learning Experience. It was my first time to speak about blogging and I remember feeling inadequate and weak. But it was only because of God that I was able to do so. My parents and siblings were also very supportive. They prayed for me and sent messages to me on the day itself. It was really very encouraging. I also want to give a special shoutout to my older brother (kuya Michael), who took the day off and accompanied me to the event. He graciously carried most of my things, listened to me while I was getting really nervous in the morning, and assisted me during the talk. I thank God for an awesome support group at home!

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LEARNING TOGETHER

Just to give you a background, we don’t have household help. And because mom usually has a more flexible schedule compared to the rest of the family, she does a huge bulk of the chores at home (e.g. doing the laundry, sweeping, mopping, dishes). Sometimes, we get to help out, especially during the weekends. But, when Dad and Mom were in the states, my siblings and I needed to seriously fix our schedules, go home earlier, and help each other with cooking, cleaning, taking out the trash, walking the dogs, doing the laundry, gardening, cleaning the tables and floor, etc.

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During one weekend, my siblings and I helped each other do the laundry. After finishing two batches of colored clothes and one batch of black/dark clothes, we started to soak the white ones. We were supposed to soak them in the soapy water overnight. But we accidentally left them in the washing machine for four days. It was a disaster! We were so caught up with work and our activities that we forgot about it. Haha. When we opened the machine days later, we saw that the water was dirty and the clothes smelled so bad – like rotten food/waste. We certainly learned our lesson. Yikes! Next time, it would really help us if we set alarms on our phones to remind us of the laundry. Speaking of lessons learned, we also almost burned the place down while my parents were gone, you can read about it HERE.

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Another moment that we had at home was during one Sunday afternoon. My younger brother willingly helped me prepare Sinigang for dinner. He chopped the vegetables, cleaned the fish and shrimps, and cooked the dish. While I was assisting him with cleaning the fish and shrimps, he said something like: “Heeey, cool. You’re teaching me something.” Haha. I think I was showing him how to remove the shell of the shrimp easily. I don’t remember anymore, but I remember appreciating the time that we had learning together through cooking.

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When our parents flew to the states, I had questions in my mind. “What if something happens to them and they never return? What if bringing them to the airport was our last moment with them?” But as I went through the weeks without our parents at home, God used numerous moments and His Word to speak to me. He encouraged me to trust in Him as I make the most out of every situation. It helped me appreciate my family even more. Also, it helped me brush off negative vibes at home because I knew that loving God and loving my family would be pleasing to Him – even in the midst of conflicts and misunderstandings with my siblings.

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“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” [1 Corinthians 13:4-7]

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today”… [Hebrews 3:13]

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)