Thursday Tune #33: Steady Me by Hollyn

An SUV almost scratched my car while I was on my way to work this morning. We only had an inch of space between us as we were turning a corner. The driver of the SUV must have been distracted by what was in front of him that he didn’t realize how close he was to me until I pressed on the horn for four seconds non-stop. When he realized that he had almost hit my car, he quickly steered left. We only had a few seconds of eye-contact just before we parted ways. And in that moment, I looked at him through his semi-tinted windows and I gave him an irritated stare that said: “Are you serious?! What were you doing?! You almost hit my car!”

In order to pacify myself, I turned up the volume of the song that I had been listening to since I left the house and started to sing the lyrics as I drove away.

“No matter what the pressure, pressure
You will always be the answer, answer

Only you know how to steady me
Ready my heart for everything that’s coming my way
Help me trust that you’re ahead of me
Going before my feet with every step I take.”

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While I was singing this song, I suddenly felt a slight burn in my heart because I was heaping coals in my head. Why was I so irritated at the driver? Why did I have to give him a stink-eye? Why was I so angry???

Then, it hit me. My proud heart was so concerned with the car’s condition that I forgot about my heart’s condition this morning. 99% of the time, I pray before I start the car’s engine. I pray for wisdom and protection as I drive. But, this morning, because I was focused on memorizing songs on my phone, I forgot to pray and thank God first before driving to work.

I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”-Psalm 16:2

It was also ironic because one of the songs that I was memorizing was the song I mentioned above: “Steady Me” by Hollyn. I did experience God steady my angry heart as He revealed to me the unnecessary things that I did this morning. By God’s grace, I pray that I will learn to seek Him first, depend on Him moment by moment, and humbly trust that even in the midst of stress and problems, He is always with me.

Whew.

I discovered this song while I was searching for new ones on Youtube. I hope that as you listen to it, it will encourage you too.

Beautiful Strawberries in Baguio

I saw a bunch of deformed strawberries on our way home from Baguio. Without any hesitation, I bought them even though they were more expensive than the “normal” ones. One of the strawberries resembled a heart, while another one looked like a small teapot. They were amazing!

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Despite their unusual appearance, I thought that they were very beautiful. I was also reminded of the verse in the Bible where it says: “…The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7

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Most of the time, it’s difficult for us to see our true worth especially when we focus on our flaws and mistakes and view ourselves through the eyes of the world. But, one of the things that I am praying for as I welcome another year is to constantly have the strength to resist these kinds of thoughts and to remember that my true worth and beauty are found in Christ alone. He died for me. He rose again. He loves me more than I can comprehend.

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I also want to encourage you with this song. It’s one of the songs I’ve loved since I was in highschool. May it bless your heart today. :)

 

“Well, you can doubt your worth
And search for who you are and where you stand
But God made you in His image
When He formed you in His hands

And He looks at you with mercy
And He sees you through His love
You’re His child and that will always be enough

Oh, I say the measure of a man
Is not how tall you stand
How wealthy or intelligent you are
‘Cause I found out the measure of a man

God knows and understands
For He looks inside to the bottom of your heart
And what’s in the heart defines
The measure of a man”

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Simple Sunday Snack: Bitterless Avocados

I still remember the first time my officemate brought a gorgeous bunch of avocados to work from their province (more than a year ago). Those avocados stood out from all the avocados I’ve bought from various markets and grocery stores. They were naturally creamy, they didn’t have veins, and even though their skin was still a bit green, they didn’t have a hint of bitterness. Nada. Definitely, the best avocados for me!

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About a week ago, the same officemate brought a few avocados to work again! When I saw the avocados, I shrieked and said “Wow! Can I please buy avocados from you?” She just laughed at the idea, but she eventually agreed to sell a kilo to me at a very affordable price. Yaaay!

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Honestly, I still get traumatized whenever I buy avocados because of my past experience with bitter ones. (You can read more about it HERE.) So, when it was finally time to open the ripe avocados from my officemate, I had mixed emotions. But by God’s grace, they were lovely. Super lovely. And it was interesting because, once again, they were creamy, veinless, and without a hint of bitterness. I loved it.

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With the three avocados that I had, I made two tall glasses of avocado shakes; prepared tuna sandwiches with avocado salad; and enjoyed a bowl of cereal and nuts with cold milk and fresh, sliced avocados.

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When I got back to work, my officemate randomly asked me: “So, how was the kilo of avocados? Haha.” I looked at her, smiled, and said “Grabe! They were the best! They weren’t bitter at all!”

Of course, she just laughed (again), maybe because I was being such a fan and addict of their avocados. But, being able to experience the goodness of perfectly ripe avocados was one of my favorite moments this week. Somehow, it reminded me of how pleasant it is to live life with a heart that doesn’t have a hint of bitterness too.

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While I was enjoying the avocados, I kept telling God how good He is. Only He could make such interesting fruits and remove the bitterness in them at the right time. In the same way, I know that only God can change our hearts and make them more like Him in His perfect time.

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By God’s grace, despite the past hurts and present struggles we have, I know that He is also able to give us the strength to resist thinking of and dwelling on negative thoughts. He is able to help us have the courage and humility to forgive and seek forgiveness. And, He is able to encourage us to trust in Him as we surrender every bit of pride, hurt, and bitterness in our hearts.

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“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” –Ephesians 4:31-32

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“What can be worth more than You? What do I have I wouldn’t lose?

If it means You and I look more alike, that’s what I’d choose.

I just want to be what You want me to be. I just want a heart that’s true, a heart like You.”

[Love and the Outcome]

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

 

 

 

Shrimp Scampi with Guacamole

A few days ago, my younger brother was confined and advised to stay at the hospital for the weekend. I knew that it was a perfect opportunity for me to treat the family with something special. I decided to prepare Shrimp Scampi with Guacamole on toasted slices of Baguettes. I originally wanted to make another shrimp dish; but, I remembered how chefs would always say that shrimps and avocados make a good combination. Interestingly, God taught me two important lessons when I made this dish.

  1. God gives us everything we need in His perfect time for His good purposes in our lives.

I went to the grocery to buy my main ingredients: Shrimps and Avocados. However, to my dismay, all of the avocados were still green and unripe. I wanted to go to another supermarket but since it would be a hassle, I decided to stay instead. In the meantime, I went to the seafood section to get shrimps and started talking to God. “Lord, I don’t know how, but I know that if You really want me to make guacamole, You will provide the avocados. Thank You.” :)

After getting the shrimps, I decided to pass by the avocados again. Would you believe it? Hidden underneath the vegetables beside the green avocados were 3 packs of purple, ripe, Hass Avocados! I couldn’t believe my eyes! “Wow, Lord! Those ripe avocados weren’t here a while ago. Thank You so much!” I immediately grabbed the avocados and paid for my groceries.

The wonderful thing about the hidden, ripe avocados that God gave me was that they were Hass/Haas avocados (the best type to be used for the guacamole recipe that I had). It was really encouraging to be reminded by God that He will continue to provide for our needs and give us what is best for us according to His will.

It says in Philippians 4:9

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

 

2.       How God sees us, rather than how we/others view ourselves, is the only thing that matters.

After making the guacamole, I prepared the other ingredients for the shrimp scampi. I noticed that some of the chefs recommend removing the heads of the shrimps before cooking so that they would look more presentable.

Before I cooked the shrimps, I was torn between removing their heads and keeping them intact. “Is the head of a shrimp really that undesirable?” I asked myself. I then remembered instances before when people would use the term “Shrimp” to describe a person who has a great body, but has an ugly face.

I thought about it more and decided NOT to remove the heads, because I remembered my mom who always used the heads of the shrimps to enhance the flavor of the dish. I knew that there was something in the shrimp’s head that was useful, despite its “ugliness”.

True enough, while I was cooking the shrimps with butter and garlic, I saw some of its juices flow out of their heads. “Thank You, Lord, that I didn’t throw the heads away.” I whispered to God as I took a sip of the delicious sauce of the shrimp scampi.

After taking photos and preparing the dish, I suddenly remembered an interesting trivia about shrimps that I read a few weeks ago. Did you know that a shrimp’s heart is located in its head?* “Hahaha! What a funny trivia, Lord!” I told God. But, amusingly, He used that fact to speak to my heart.

God purposely placed the heart of a shrimp in its head. And it’s amazing because although the head of a shrimp is perceived by others to be useless, not presentable, and undesirable; it actually contains the very thing that gives the animal the ability to live: its heart. Moreover, the head contains certain elements that produce more ‘shrimp flavor’.

In the same way, I am reminded me that God created me for a special purpose and He made me the way I am according to His good will. Moreover, He encouraged me to focus on what’s more valuable to Him (my heart and how I see myself and others through His eyes) than on the opinions and expectations of the people around me.

It says in 1 Samuel 16:7

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Avocados and shrimps definitely make a good combination, most especially, when God uses both ingredients to encourage our hearts. :)

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

 

*trivia taken from www.weirdfacts.com