The Rotten Apple in the Car

I’ve been wanting to have the car washed since the start of June, but every Saturday morning (my preferred time), I either sleep in or do other activities at home. However, today, I mustered enough strength to get out of my bed and drive to a nearby car wash store. After a month of being driven around different cities under the sunny and stormy weather, it was finally given a well-deserved bath.

I stayed at the waiting area while I watched two men clean the interior and exterior parts of the car. In a few minutes, the car was completely covered with white, foamy soap and was being scrubbed and rinsed until it was squeaky clean. It was the most refreshing five minutes of my day, so far. After washing the car, they cleaned the rug inside using a vacuum cleaner and then they turned over the car to me.

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After paying for the fee, I left the place with a smile on my face as I was feeling very satisfied with a cleaner vehicle. I played some music in the car, sang a few songs on my way home, and felt good that the car didn’t have dried leaves and dirty windshields anymore. Everything was superb UNTIL I checked the backseats and noticed a horrifying sight. There was a rotten apple on the backseat of the car and it had a colorful display of fungi and molds. It was crazy!

Some of my immediate thoughts were: “What in the world? Why is there a rotten apple in the car???” “Why did the two men leave it and other tissue papers on the backseat?” “This certainly isn’t my apple. The only food I brought inside the car this past month was my take out order from KFC. Maybe it’s from one of my siblings! Huhuhu” I felt a mix of disgust and shame as I stared at the apple. I really am not a fan of fungi or anything rotten.

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But, even though it was a disappointing moment, I found it really random and funny. When I got home, I knew that God wanted me to experience the car wash and learn from it this morning. Yes, the apple may not have been mine in the first place. But, I have the responsibility of keeping the car clean regardless of the source of dirt. If I was more intentional in having it cleaned earlier (start of June), I may have discovered the apple when it was in a much better state. However, because I didn’t, I now have to face the consequence of unintentionally nurturing a rotten apple in the car. This explains the small critters I found roaming in the car! (Side note: In the past month, I noticed two tiny roaches on the rug of the car. I guess it was already a warning sign for me to have it cleaned. But, I chose to delay instead.)

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I was also tempted to feel disappointed towards the two men who cleaned the car but left the rotten apple on the backseat. I thought that they didn’t do a good job in that aspect. But, now that I think about it, they did clean the rug (which was requested by me) and they just placed the things that they found under the seats on top of the seats for me to see. Beside the rotten apple, there were a few pieces of newspaper and tissue paper. But, there was also a usb cable that I lost a week ago. I guess it was their practice not to remove any of our belongings inside the car. Amusingly, mine happened to include a rotten fruit. Yikes.

If there’s one lesson that I could take home from this experience today, it’s this: We all have blind spots and we all need help in identifying them.

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Can you imagine how I felt after seeing the rotten apple on the backseat and realizing that it was hiding somewhere in the car for almost a month without me knowing? EEK! I felt shivers down my spine. I realized that it’s very similar to having blind spots in life, relationships, or even at work. There are certain behaviors, thoughts, and things that I have and do that may not be helping me grow as a person or benefiting those around me. Maybe it’s my choice of words or the way I randomly tease my colleagues. Maybe it’s my simple acts of laziness especially when I have to do chores at home. Maybe it’s depending solely on myself than on God in my recent day-to-day activities. If I don’t humbly seek the help of my accountability partners or family members and friends who can graciously point out my blind spots to me, I might as well be like a rotten apple in the car.

“Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.”

-Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

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Incidentally, every Saturday afternoon, I have the privilege of meeting up with a group of ladies from church who help me grow in my walk with the Lord, in the way I build relationships, and in my personal goals in life. Maybe this morning’s car wash experience was another reminder for me to keep being accountable, teachable, and humble.

Oh, and hopefully, my next car wash won’t be on August 2. Please, no. If you remember me a week or two weeks from now, can you remind me about this? Hahaha.

Simple Sunday Snack: Cheesy Baked Tahong (Mussels)

When my siblings and I were still kids, our mom would prepare a huge bowl of hot mussel soup with onions, ginger, and leaves of chili and a generous serving of cheesy “baked” tahong at home. Sometimes, she even let us help out by putting garlic, melted butter, and cheese on the mussels before they were toasted. More than a decade later, I still enjoy these dishes. Not only are they very easy to make, but they also have a naturally sweet and rich taste as well.

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Since the market and supermarkets close to our place rarely sell fresh mussels, we don’t get to cook mussels as often as we did before. So, when I had the opportunity to visit Farmers Market in Quezon city a few weeks ago, I only had one goal in mind: To buy fresh mussels. Hahaha. Okay, fine. I had three goals. The another two were: to scout for fresh ingredients and take photos around the market just because it was my first time to visit the place. After a few hours in the market, my mom, brother, and I went home with plastic bags full of fresh fruits, vegetables, root crops, and seafood. Yes, including a kilo of fresh mussels. Yay!

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As soon as we got home, my mom and I started to work in the kitchen. For our dinner that night, I was assigned to do the baked mussels and my mom was in-charge of the other dishes. While I was cleaning the mussels and trimming the beards (stringy part in the mussels), I noticed one opened mussel. My mom taught me about bad mussels when I was still a kid, so I knew that the opened mussel was a bad one. The shells of fresh mussels must be tightly closed before they’re cooked or they should at least close tightly when they are tapped. Otherwise, they are already dead and not fresh enough for us to eat.

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I was a bit disappointed because the opened mussel was going to go to waste. So, in my attempt to salvage it, I double checked and asked my mom again: “Mom, are you sure we really can’t cook and eat this anymore?” She looked at the mussel and said: “Yes. We can’t since it has already been open and dead. Opened mussels may be contaminated too.” And just like that, it became clear to me again. I realized that I shouldn’t use it anymore.

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While I was assembling the cooked mussels, I remembered the bad mussel in the trash. It would have been crazy if I decided to include it in the batch of fresh mussels for our dinner. Thankfully, my mom was there to reassure me of how to distinguish fresh mussels from bad ones. In that moment, I realized that it’s sort of similar to being accountable to a family member, a friend, and God in the different moments in our lives. Yes, we know what is true and what we ought to do. But, sometimes, we get distracted along the way and we think that it’s okay to do things our way or to depend on our knowledge and strength.

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It is during moments like this where we see the good and beauty in accountability. When my mom reassured me that it was a bad mussel, she was helping me understand the nature of mussels and was protecting me and our family from possible sicknesses and bacteria that may come from it. In the same way, having family members or friends who can graciously correct and guide us according to God’s Word is one of the many privileges and blessings that God allows us to experience. When we remain accountable to God and others, we can be more intentional in fleeing from sin, making wrong decisions, or stepping out of our comfort zones so we can grow in areas of weaknesses.

It says in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” It might sting a little, but it would definitely be a good practice for us to have our hearts checked by others regularly.

How can we encourage accountability at home, in school/office, or at church? Let me know your thoughts about this! :)

Oh, and feel free to make Cheesy Baked Mussels this week!

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  1. CLEAN. Rinse and scrub the shells to remove the dirt. Trim the beard attached to the mussels.
  2. STEAM. In a large pot, bring two cups of water to a boil. Cook the mussels until they open up.
  3. OPEN UP. After removing them from the pot, open up the mussels and separate the shells from each other by breaking off the hinges.
  4. ASSEMBLE. Place the shells with mussels on them on a tray. Add crushed garlic, butter, and grated cheese on each shell.
  5. TOAST/BAKE. Using an oven toaster, heat the mussels for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese on top starts to sizzle and become brown. Using an oven, bake the mussels in 375 F for 10 minutes.

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Good Friends are like Stars

…You don’t always see them, but you know they’re always there. [Christy Evans]

Photo taken five years ago... I think. :)
Photo taken five years ago… I think. :)

After more than three years, we were finally complete! Aina, Angel, Maiel and I first got together at a college retreat last 2008. We enjoyed each other’s company so much that after the retreat, we regularly spent time together, before and after classes, and in our college ministry.

Balboa at the East Wing of Shangri-La
Balboa at the East Wing of Shangri-La

 

Balboa's pretty menu design.
Balboa’s pretty menu design.

However, because we eventually had different priorities and responsibilities, we weren’t able to continue spending time together in college. This went on even after our graduation. But, in God’s perfect time, He made us all available a few days ago and it was really an encouraging night for us to once again share a meal and have hearty conversations with each other.

Buffalo Mozzarella
Buffalo Mozzarella

We took turns updating each other with our lives for the past three years. It was an interesting moment for us because we were able to talk about our past, the lessons we’ve learned from our experiences, our deepest secrets, and even our dreams for the future.

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Prosciutto, Mushroom, and Arugula Pizza
Prosciutto, Mushroom, and Arugula Pizza
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Fresh Spinach Tagliatelle Adriatico

 

By God’s grace, He continues to faithfully work in our hearts and help us grow into the women that He desires us to be. One of the valuable lessons we’ve learned that night is the importance of staying connected to God and being accountable to others regularly. This helps us guard our hearts, minds, and bodies for His glory.

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Beer-Battered Seafood

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” –Colossians 3:16

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Photo taken four years ago.

I pray that we will still continue to encourage each other to grow in our walk with God even if we don’t get to see each other regularly.

Thank You, Lord, for the privilege of growing with these ladies. May You bless their hearts more and more as they know You and grow with You each day.

:)
:)

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

 

By the way, Balboa served us excellent food that night. It’s a must-try! I also loved how well they designed the restaurant!

BALBOA

4F East Wing, Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong city

(0932) 878-3984