Thank God I Failed

Have you ever experienced exerting so much effort on a certain project or goal only to watch it fail in the end? Well, I have. For those of you who know me, you understand that gardening is very close to my heart. One of the most disheartening experiences I’ve had was when I saw my watermelon vine slowly deteriorate during the rainy season. Despite my attempts to keep the beautiful leaves and watermelon flower buds dry and safe from the constant heavy rain, it just didn’t survive.

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Slowly, I saw the flowers turn from green to light green to yellow to brown. I took a deep sigh after I realized that it could no longer be revived. The dream of growing a watermelon at home was washed away by the rain as well. What a bummer. I think it took a couple of days for me to finally let go of what happened.

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Even before I planted the seed, I knew that we were approaching the rainy season already and it wasn’t advisable for fruiting vines. If I only waited for a few more months, it would have been possible to grow the fruit in a container. But, I failed. I failed to grow a watermelon at home. Nonetheless, I still thank God that I did because it helped me to be wiser in the way I use the resources that I had. It also encouraged me to still put my confidence in Him and in His perfect timing even in my gardening adventures.

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Seven months after that incident, by faith, I decided to plant a melon seed. This time, I planted it at the start of the year, so I was sure that it wouldn’t encounter daily heavy rains anymore. After taking care of the vine for two and a half months, by God’s grace, I was able to harvest my first homegrown melon at home. While I was eating a slice of the sweet melon, I couldn’t help but feel overjoyed because it finally happened! I also remember telling my siblings how mind-blowing and heartwarming it was to eat fresh fruits and vegetables grown at home.

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Through this experience, I was reminded of my former blog post about growing watermelon at home and how God’s timing is always perfect. Yes, it may have been rough for me at first, especially when I saw that my efforts were “put to waste”. However, I’m learning that disappointments, failures, and discouragements will always be around. But, these things shouldn’t give us an excuse to stop trying and doing our best again. What I appreciate about disappointments and failures too is that we get to have opportunities that help us grow more in wisdom, knowledge, and character.

Mary Pickford once said “If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down.”

Maybe some of you are also going through a rough situation. Maybe some of you have experienced failure recently. I want to encourage you today to get back up again and keep on doing your best. By God’s grace, you can! I pray that in spite of the pain or struggle you may be feeling, you will still find hope in the goodness of the Lord.

“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.

-Proverbs 3:5-6

Note: I’ll share more about the process and experience of growing melons at home in another blog post. :)

I Gave an Apple Away

It is quite challenging to get a nice parking space at the office every Wednesday morning because our colleagues from the satellite offices usually gather and have meetings at the main branch. So, this morning, I did my best to leave the house early. However, despite my efforts, I still encountered heavy traffic which caused me slight delays. At one point, I was starting to get impatient especially when the traffic enforcer signaled me and the cars beside me to halt while we were about to turn around a rotonda.

I pressed on the brakes and sighed because I was running a bit late. But, as I looked around, I noticed a woman who was collecting garbage and scouting for food inside the open rotonda. She wore dirty clothes and looked like she was really hungry. I then checked the car to see if I still had extra crackers that I could give to the woman, but I only saw a big, juicy, and fresh Fuji apple in my bag. At first, I hesitated to give it to the woman because I wasn’t feeling well a while ago and I thought that eating the fresh apple would help boost my immune system. However, I felt a nudge in my heart to give it to the woman instead.

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I got the apple from my bag, opened the window of the car, and called the woman. She was only about a meter away from the car, so it was easy for her to reach out and get the fruit from me. I gave her a big smile and she said thank you while she looked at me. A few seconds later, the traffic enforcer called my attention and the cars beside me and he gave us the signal to drive and go around the rotonda.

As I drove away, I saw the woman eating the apple and I told God how grateful and joyful I was at that moment. It’s amazing how ones heart can feel so full even after giving something away. God’s grace really is remarkable.

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After a long day at work and a lot of challenging moments in the office today, I went home with a tired heart. But, on my way home, God reminded me of the apple incident that I had this morning and encouraged me to be grateful still. Despite the delays and hassles in any situation, I am reminded that God is greater still. And even though we may not always realize it at first, I know that He causes all things to work together for the good. If the traffic enforcer didn’t stop me and the other cars beside me this morning, I wouldn’t have been able to give the apple to a hungry stranger in the rotonda. In the same way, I trust and know that He can cause good things to happen through the difficulties we experienced at work today. Tomorrow is a new day, a new opportunity to give an apple away. :)

“You know there’s always another story, another side to every coin. And how you see your circumstance is all about a choice.”-33 Miles

 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”-Romans 8:28

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.

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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. :)

Choosing to be Grateful

A few weeks ago, my dad asked me to try making one of our family’s favorites: Sansrival. But, because the recipes I found were either too complicated or expensive, I decided to try making Silvanas instead.

The first step included beating the egg whites until they were stiff. It was a challenge for me because I couldn’t use my broken, electric hand mixer. I had no choice but to manually whisk it.

I thought to myself, “If only I had a Kitchen Aid mixer right now (my dream mixer)…” I was tempted to complain because it would have been so much easier for me to whip it with a mixer. However, God reminded me to use what I had (my hands) at that time and do my best to work with the egg whites, instead.

After attempting to whisk them, I also asked help from my older brother, Michael, to assist me in producing the desired consistency of the whipped egg whites. By God’s grace, we were able to make a stiff batch of egg whites (with the perfect consistency for the meringue).

I continued to do the next steps in the recipe and prepared the different layers.

 

After making the layers, the only thing that I needed to do was to put finely crushed cashew nuts all over the Silvanas. The recipe suggested to use a food processor for the nuts, but, I didn’t have a food processor. And I found myself thinking about what I didn’t have again. “If only I had a food processor, this step would have been so much easier…”

But, God (being the awesome God that He is) gently rebuked me and said: “What’s up with you, Nic? Why do you focus on what you don’t have and keep on complaining? Have I not given you the things that you need?”

Right then and there, God showed me how foolish I was to practice that kind of attitude. I still have hands that I can use to bake/cook. And besides, even if I didn’t have a food processor, I could use the blender we have to easily crush the nuts for the Silvanas.

 

 

I realized that every time I choose to focus on what I don’t have and complain about it, I miss out on the privilege of being able to thank God — for who He is and for what He has given me. I remember reading this quote* in one of the images in Google: “What if you woke up today with only the things that you thanked God for yesterday?”

It was a good reminder for me to constantly have a grateful heart, not because I am afraid that God would take away what I already have (material things, relationships, etc.), but because God simply deserves the best. He deserves my best thanks and praise! :)

 

 

Moreover, it says in Hebrews 13:5:

“…be content with what you have, because God said, “Never will I leave younever will I forsake you.”

I like how God related ‘being content’ to ‘acknowledging His presence’ in our lives. I realized that one of the reasons why we aren’t content/grateful is because we forget how much our Father God loves us. We forget how He is more than enough for us.

 

What’s keeping us from being content? From being grateful?

 

I learned that we may not always get what we want, but God provides for us everything that we need for His good purposes to be fulfilled in our lives. Ultimately, He is all we need.

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time! :)

 

*I still don’t know who said the statement I quoted earlier. If you do, please let me know, so I can properly cite him/her. Thank you! :)