Thursday Tune #26: Like I Am by City Harbor

A few days ago, a family friend posted a status on Facebook and encouraged his friends to share a line from their favorite praise and worship song that inspired them a lot. I added a comment and shared a few lines from Steve Green’s song “He Who Began a Good Work”. It is one of my favorite songs because it reminds me of Philippians 1:6 and how God continues to be gracious and faithful in my life despite my weaknesses and struggles.

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The past two weeks have been quite difficult for me because I struggled with different things. One of the similarities that I noticed among my struggles was how I believed in lies and not in God’s Truth. Unintentionally, I allowed my mind linger on my insecurities, pride, past mistakes, failure in different aspects, and a bunch of other very discouraging thoughts.

It was crazy! But in spite of these, God encouraged me to draw closer to him especially when I don’t feel like doing so because I know that He is the only One who can make my heart right. Every time I got zapped by lies and negative thoughts, I humbled myself before God and lifted up my concerns and struggles to Him. In the process of doing so, He reminded me of a verse 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]

It was such a comfort to know that even though we may be attacked by our struggles constantly for the next days, years, and decades, we know that we are already victorious because of Jesus Christ.

“Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 8:34-35,37-39]

Now, THAT is TRUTH — Truth that I need to hold on to moment by moment. :)

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I’ve been listening to a song lately that best captures what was going on in my heart these past two weeks. I hope that you will be encouraged by it too.

“I am not my failures, I am not my flaws
I am not defined by my mistakes, Only by Your love.
But it’s a constant battle to believe what’s true
That Your love is unconditional no matter what I do.”

[City Harbor – Like I Am]

Encourage yourself one tune at a time. :)

Spontaneous Treat: Made In Candy

While waiting for my mom and sisters at the mall, I decided to have my alone time at my favorite coffee shop. However, as I was walking towards the shop, I passed by a store named “Made In Candy” and I ended up staying there for more than an hour. Even though I’ve seen it a lot of times before, it was my first time to really appreciate their special candy and the awesome talent of the candy chefs.

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When I got there, there were about twenty people around me who were also watching the chefs push and pull the chunks of candy. It was an interesting moment because none of us knew what the chefs were doing. They just kept on piling one flattened “candy dough” on top of another and eventually rolled them into a huge log. I heard the two ladies beside me tell each other “I don’t know what design he’s doing and it’s taking a lot of our time. Let’s just leave.”

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I didn’t mind their comment at first because I was very fascinated with the candy chefs’ skills. After about 15 minutes of working on the dough, a candy chef finally took one side of the stretched log, squeezed it, and pulled it until it reached their desired thinness. I, along with other curious viewers, continued to watch them stretch out thin strips of candies. One candy chef, then, took a few strips and quickly chopped them.

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The result? A gorgeous batch of sweet and sour cherry-designed candy. It was amazing!!! The candy chef took a piece and showed it to us, the people who were watching from the outside of the store’s glass walls. One of their staff members, then, got a bowl and filled it with the candies they’ve just made, walked outside of the store, and gave us all a piece or two to enjoy.

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I really enjoyed that moment because God gave me the privilege of seeing the candy chefs work through the candy dough and produce amazing candies. Also, I didn’t know they let the people taste their products every now and then.

Because I loved the experience so much, I went inside the store and checked out the other designs they made. The candies were beautifully made, indeed! I was even surprised to see words and detailed drawings in the center of the candies. How were they able to come up with such creative and cool masterpieces?? Hahaha.

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Before leaving the store, I knew I had to purchase a bag or a small jar with candies. So, I went around and searched for the perfect batch for me. As I was scanning through the candies on display, I noticed a statement printed on some of the products’ plastic bag.

It said “When no two pieces of candy are ever the same, you know we make rock candy lovingly by hand.”

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The first thought that came to my mind was “Hey! It’s just like having unique fingerprints!”

In that simple moment, I was reminded of how God lovingly created us too. Because He made us, He knows everything about us. Our strengths and struggles, our heart’s desires and fears, our past and future! He knows the motives of our hearts, our thoughts and next action steps, how to break and heal us, and He even knows when and how we’ll hurt Him in this lifetime.

But our gracious God had a special plan and purpose for us all when He made us. In spite of how many times we’ve failed Him, He continues to help us get back on our feet and walk with Him again. Because of this, I am encouraged to constantly find my security in God — the One who lovingly crafted me.

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After enjoying my stay at the store for an hour, I remembered the two ladies who were beside me at the start. At one point, they focused on how long it was taking the chefs to finish the candy that they decided to leave instead. If they only stayed for a few more minutes, they would have had the privilege of enjoying the free candies from the store.

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I pray that as I grow through the circumstances in my life, I will keep my eyes focused on God and on how He can continue to work in and through me and the people around me. I pray that my heart wouldn’t be impatient and/or distracted with the things of this world that I lose focus on what matters most — my relationship with Jesus and sharing Him to others. The candy chefs at Made In Candy showed us their remarkable skills in transforming the candy dough to masterpieces. In God’s perfect time, I know that He, too, will continue to transform and use our hearts and lives for His glory.

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“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

–Philippians 1:6

 

I’ll post more photos of the products soon. :)

 

Special thanks to: Made In Candy at SM Megamall

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

THURSDAY TUNE #23: A Million Miles Away

I was driving home from work today when a car abruptly swerved right in front of me. Immediately, I felt my heart beat faster as I pressed the horn for about two seconds and stepped on the brake. “Man! That was close.” I said to myself.

A few meters further, I found myself looking intently at the car and wondered why the driver had to do that. I even saw him talking and laughing with another person who was in his car like nothing happened. And while I continued to drive with my scrunched eyebrows, I felt a strong urge to let go of it and to not hold a grudge towards the driver who almost hit my brother’s car.

But, because of my stubborn heart, I still thought about it for a minute or two and drove with a heavy heart. I even drove faster just to overtake the car. And finally, when I was in front of him, I felt a kind of satisfaction that lasted for only a few seconds. The car, then, drove towards the east and I drove towards the west.

At this point, God was clearly speaking to my heart and was prompting me to humble myself before Him and confess the pride that was in me. By God’s grace, I did. I asked for His forgiveness for being so preoccupied with myself that I let it take control of me instead of lifting the situation up to God. I then expressed my desire to change and honor Him the next time it happens.

Photo was taken two years ago. It was my first time to drive alone. :)
Photo was taken two years ago. It was my first time to drive alone. :)

Sometimes, it frustrates me whenever I give in to my weaknesses, especially when I choose to honor myself and not God. But, God constantly reminds me of his desire for me to walk intimately with Him and my decision years ago to surrender every part of me to Him. So, even if I still struggle in different aspects, I am encouraged to look to Christ instead and find my strength in Him as I improve for Him. He is gracious and faithful and His mercies are new every morning.

After 20 minutes of driving, I finally entered our village. While I was a minute away from our place, I suddenly realized that the car I drove was subject to number coding. I couldn’t believe it. As I parked the car, all I could hear was “Such Grace! Grace… Grace… Grace.” I was so concerned with the other driver’s fault that I failed to see my own careless act of bringing a car out when I wasn’t supposed to.

God humbled my heart and it was only by His grace that I survived today.

It says in Psalm 103:8, 11-12

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love…

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

 

I recently discovered this song by Hawk Nelson through YouTube and it encourages me to get back up again whenever I struggle or make mistakes. Because of His grace, He gives us the strength and desire to choose Him even in the midst of temptations, difficulties, and frustrations.

 


Encourage yourself one tune at a time. :)

Best Before March 4

About a month ago, I noticed two unopened, packs of cream cheese in our refrigerator.  I saw that both packs had “Best when used by March 4, 2013” printed on them. And because I didn’t want to waste cheese or risk eating spoiled cream cheese, I promised myself that I would use them immediately.

But, because I wasn’t able to prioritize it, I ended up forgetting about the cheese! I only remembered it two days ago — two days before the “best before date”!

With the limited time that I had, I decided to make two kinds of no-bake, mini cheesecake cupcakes: Oreo and Blueberry. While making them, I was getting paranoid with the quality and taste of the cream cheese because all I could think of was the possibility of it being spoiled.

“I don’t want to use expired ingredients again. :( Lord, please don’t let this cheese be bad.”

I guess I got traumatized before, when I used “expired” crushed graham crackers for a dessert. At that time, I figured that since they were crushed crackers, they wouldn’t probably taste bad even if it was already past their “Best Before Date”. However, it was so awful that it tasted like carton/cardboard.

That moment flashed back in my mind again and again as I was making the cheesecake cupcakes and I figured that since cream cheese is a more delicate ingredient, it would taste bad after “the date” too!

But, God still encouraged me to learn from that moment; use the two packs of cream cheese this time; and seek the opinions of my mom and sister while I make the desserts.

After hours of preparing and waiting for the cheesecake cupcakes to chill, I was finally able to make 24 no-bake cheesecake cupcakes without using expired ingredients! Hooray!

This cheesecake moment allowed me to experience God’s grace once again. He saved me from wasting more ingredients and motivated me to finish producing the cheesy treats, in spite of my discouraged spirit and past traumas.

In the same way, I know that God’s grace is enough for us no matter what situation we’re in. His timing and His ways are always perfect.

 

Are you going through a rough time? Tempted to worry and give up?

 

It says in Hebrews 4:16:

 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)