All I wanted to do after a tiring day at work was to relax at home, have my quiet time, and eat really good food. However, when my sister and I got home tonight, we were welcomed by an unpleasant aroma. We traced the smell and eventually, we realized that it was coming from our exposed garbage bin in the dirty kitchen — the bin that contained our trash from last night’s cooking and dinner. Immediately, we started tidying the place up and used our air freshener to somehow make our evening more relaxing.
While I was cleaning the dirty kitchen, I thought about what I originally planned to do tonight (to relax) and realized how funny it was that I ended up spending my first hour and a half at home washing the stack of dishes in the sink and cleaning numerous lock & lock containers in the kitchen.
But God, in His perfect timing, used that moment to speak to me. After removing a bunch of the containers from the table in the kitchen, I noticed that there were a few pieces of okra and chili underneath. My brother and I used some of those ingredients last night when we made Sinigang and we forgot to put the leftovers in the refrigerator after.
What caught my attention was a distinct red-orange colored chili in the middle of all the other green chilis! Last night, they were all green, but because we didn’t store them in the refrigerator, one of them ripened fast. It had a lovely look to it, but what made it even more amazing was that it matched the color of the chili’s brand: “Jeremiah 29:11”. (Yes, this Bible verse is one of the brand names of the produce in the supermarket near our place.)
When I saw how beautiful it was, God reminded me of how beautiful His promise is too in Jeremiah 29:11. It says: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I was reminded of God’s love for us and how He desires that we experience Him and His best. Often times, I find myself comparing what I have and don’t have with the people around me and honestly, it gets tiring and discouraging. But by God’s grace, He always gives us hope through His Word and I am encouraged to trust that he made me the way that I am because it is for the best. And if He calls me to do something for Him, He will equip me and provide all the resources I will need. Moreover, even though I may go through very difficult and challenging times in the days to come, I am reminded to trust His heart and thank Him moment by moment.
Originally, the first thing that I planned to do at home was to rest and relax by not doing any work. But just like what Peter Tan-Chi said in one of his messages before: “Rest is not in the absence of work. It is in the presence of God.”
Thank You, Lord, for allowing me to rest in You and in Your promise (Jeremiah 29:11) even while I do chores at home tonight.
A few days ago, my mom handed me a bunch of overripe bananas. Instead of throwing them away, she wanted me to do something useful with them. When I saw the bananas, my instant thought was “Eew… Mushy, slimy, almost rotten stuff. -_-” However, as I examined them more, I noticed that they were still edible and slightly firm. So, I decided to give them a try and make banana muffins.
As I was searching for a nice recipe online, I saw photos about muffins. And to my surprise, it was the first time that I encountered this statement in my life:
“Muffins are just ugly cupcakes.”
In the photo, we can see how some find cupcakes to be more desirable than muffins, maybe because of the texture or the frosting. But, even in this simple idea, we can see how natural it is for us to compare things, ourselves, or even the people around us.
Even though it seemed like it was more fun to bake cupcakes, I still proceeded to make a batch of muffins that day. While I was making banana muffins, God reminded me of three things:
1. INSECURITIES & LIES
I first removed the banana peels and other dark spots on the bananas before mashing them in a bowl. The bananas did not look appealing, but, they were the PERFECT ones to use for the recipe because of their natural sweetness and soft texture.
It was so easy for me to look at the appearance of the overripe bananas and show disgust when I first saw them. In the same way, God reminded me of how I’m easily concerned with how I look, what my status/lifestyle is, how much money I have, and other things that last only for a moment. He also reminded me of those times when I’d be insecure. Sadly, I would tend to compare myself to others and choose not to be grateful and satisfied with how He made me and with what He has given me.
However, I thank God for His encouragement through His word:
“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.””
-1 Samuel 16:7
“Anytime we look for fulfillment or happiness in anyone or anything other than God, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.” –Nancy deMoss
2. HUMILITY & THE ULTIMATE SECURITY
While I was baking the banana muffin batter, I began to appreciate the overripe bananas even more. The sweet smell of the vanilla extract and bananas filled the air and I found myself enjoying it. Once the banana muffins were done in the oven, I immediately placed them in a wire rack to cool down.
But then, I remembered a tip that Alton Brown shared in one of his Good Eats episodes. He suggested that the muffins must be cooled upside down on a thin towel for better volume. I tried doing it and was amazed by what I saw. The muffins looked like they were bowing down. They didn’t look “insecure”. They looked humble.
God spoke to my heart and reminded me that being insecure and being proud are inseparable. I’ve had (and still have) my share of insecurities. But, by His grace, He continues to encourage me to see myself and my situations through His eyes. In the process of doing so, I realize that I shouldn’t be insecure because I know that God loves me and He would only want what’s best for me.
Our security is none other than God Himself. –Pastor Peter Tan-Chi
“Rest in what God thinks about you. He loves you. How do you know He loves you? Remember what Christ did for you on the cross.” –Pastor Vince Burke
“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.”
God works for the good. God loves us. God made us the way we are because He loves us. He is our Ultimate Security. :)
3. PURPOSE & DESIGN
After cooling the muffins, I decided to put the finishing touches. :) I invited my eldest sister to help out and we started working on one muffin at a time. It was fun! We ended up using different toppings on half of the batch of baked banana muffins.
By God’s grace, they all looked so nice and yummy. And I thought to myself, “These muffins aren’t ugly. Haha.” :)
Some say that the difference between a cupcake and a muffin is the frosting that cupcakes have. But, according to Alton Brown, the difference is in the mixing method. In making cakes, the butter and sugar are creamed first until fluffy; eggs are added; and finally, the dry ingredients are incorporated. On the other hand, in making muffins, the dry ingredients are combined; the wet ingredients are combined; and then both wet and dry ingredients are mixed together.
In the same way, God showed me that He also uses different methods in our lives. He had a purpose in mind when He made each of us and we just have to continue trusting in His goodness and faithfulness in our lives.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
“You Were Meant To Be Touching
The Lives That You Touch
And Meant To Be Here
Making This World So Much More
Than It Would Be Without You In It”
-Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Meant To Be”
The day before I made banana muffins, I was struggling with insecurities again. But, God knows exactly how and when to encourage us. Thank You, Lord!
I pray that we may continue to find our security in Him all the days of our lives. God bless you, guys!
Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)
RECIPE: By Ina Garten
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar (I used 3/4 brown and 3/4 white sugar)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 extra-large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 bananas)
1 cup medium-diced ripe bananas (1 banana)
1 cup small-diced almond nuts
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line 18 large muffin cups with paper liners.
3. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.
4. Combine the butter, eggs, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas, and add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Combine well, but don’t overmix.
5. Fold the diced bananas and nuts into the batter. Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each 1 to the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean.