A Lady’s Pride and her Lady Fingers

In our baking class today, the head chef taught us how to make lady fingers (a.k.a. Broas) from scratch. He emphasized the importance of piping the batter close to each other to produce more pieces of broas on the tray. When it was my turn to practice piping, one of my classmates shouted “Nic! That’s too close. You have to make larger gaps between them!” I then replied, “But, chef asked us to pipe them close to each other.”

And so, I continued to pipe.

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After doing my part, we moved on to the other steps and recipes for the other kinds of cream cakes we made. However, somehow, my heart felt very heavy. Without a doubt, I saw the pride in me as I still lingered on self-centered thoughts like “I know what I’m doing. I’m just following the chef’s instruction. I don’t need to listen to my classmate’s comments.” But, who was I kidding, right?

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Instantly, I felt a huge thug on my heart as I realized how proud I was. I went to class to learn, NOT to compete or compare myself to others. Without the grace of God and the guidance of our head chef and fellow classmates, I wouldn’t be able to work and bake efficiently and correctly. Everything that I have and everything that I am able to do is only because of the grace of God. Not even 0.1% of the glory should be given to me. I whispered a prayer to God as our instructor’s voice faded in the background. I asked for forgiveness. I asked God to renew my heart and remove every hint of pride in me.

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After I prayed, while the rest of the class was listening to the head chef, I caught a glimpse of the freshly baked lady fingers that we just made. Guess what? The ones that I piped did stick to each other! They were too close! Unfortunately, they were included in the batch of “damaged lady fingers”. Thankfully, though, they were still used inside the layers of our Tiramisu cakes. Sigh. Ahhhh! It was such a humbling moment for me to see the result of my pride.

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By the time the class finished decorating the cakes, our head chef suggested to take a group photo with the finished products. But, before he asked us to pose, he quickly shouted “Okay! We have to clean up first!” It was interesting, really. Since my first day in our Pastry Arts course, I noticed how the senior and junior chefs quickly cleaned the used utensils, tissue paper, bowls in the area while the head chef cooked and baked. There was never a time in the kitchen when the head chef prepared the baked goods in the middle of a messy table or workstation.

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When the junior and senior chefs were busy with other tasks, the head chef even initiated on cleaning his workstation. While he was waiting for the egg yolk and sugar mixture to boil, he wiped the table near it to remove crumbs or cocoa powder on it. He made sure to clean as he cooked and baked. What a humbling sight and reminder for me. Even the head chef knows how to model humility and cleanliness in the kitchen. I should definitely learn to do the same as well.

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It says in Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

When Insecurities Strike

“Words can build you up. Words can break you down. Start a fire in your heart or put it out.” –Hawk Nelson

Recently, a friend said something to me that crushed my heart. That friend didn’t mean to do so, but because the words triggered my past struggle with insecurity, it affected me so much this week. Even though I knew that it was just a joke, I started to believe in the lies in my head and the thoughts distorted my view of God.

During the week, I spent a lot of time pouring my heart out to God and I kept reminding myself of the truth: that God loves me and that my hope and security can only be found in Him. However, despite this, I still felt a huge burden on my heart even while I was asleep. There were times when I would wake up in the wee hours of the morning and feel my heart break again.

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But, by God’s grace, He spoke to me one night while I was writing on my journal. I shared to Him that I think my top love language is “Words”. It fills me whenever people encourage me with words (e.g. in person, through social media or letters, etc.). On the other hand, whenever hurtful words are said to me, my heart cringes.

While I was sharing my feelings and struggle to God, He revealed to me the pride that was lingering in my heart. Why was I so affected by what my friend said? Why do I dwell on what others tell me? Why do I easily get hurt when people intentionally or unintentionally magnify my flaws and weaknesses or compare me to others through their words?

And then, it hit me. My thoughts and feelings were all about me. ME!! Immediately, God humbled me and I confessed the pride in my heart. I also asked God to help me honor Him with my heart and mind. That night, I was reminded that at the end of each day, it doesn’t matter how I compare to the people around me. It doesn’t matter how well I did or didn’t do at work or in my personal activities. It’s not even about how much I’m doing for Christ in ministry. It’s about what Jesus has already done for us. Because of God’s love, Jesus died and rose again to pay for the penalty of our sins, so we could spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

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“Did you hear what I said? Did you read the words I wrote down in red? I was broken once for you and no one loves you like I do.” –‘All the Broken Pieces’ by Matthew West

Nothing should concern me more than my relationship with God. Nothing.

Instead of being affected by what others say to me, God encouraged me to focus on His words and truths found in the Bible. His voice is the only thing we need to hear. Every now and then, I know that I will be tempted to feel insecure. But, I am encouraged by God to keep on remembering who He is in my life. The same God who created the universe and everything in it is the same sovereign and powerful God who can make beautiful things out of ordinary people like you and me. The same God who gave and sacrificed His Son for us is the same loving and gracious God who will continue to love us in spite of our imperfections, struggles, and mistakes.

Whew.

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After going through an emotional roller coaster ride this week, I woke up this morning with a grateful heart because of the hope that I have in Jesus. By His grace, He made today an extra special day for me because my friends from church (the ladies I’m growing with in a discipleship group) surprised me with a pot of flowers and verses to encourage me. They knew that I was struggling this week, so they made a simple but very encouraging effort to help me focus on Jesus again. I loved it so much because it affirmed my decision last night to dwell on God’s truth and His words in the Bible. Aaaaahhhh. You are amazing, God!

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It is my prayer that I may not only seek Him and His words this week, but, that He may also help me say words to the people around me that will edify and encourage them to remember and pursue God as well.

Psalm 19:14 “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

When I Sat on Chocolate Cake

I rarely eat sweets. But, when people offer chocolate cake, brownies, or crinkles, I usually give in. Most of the time, I buy or make these chocolate desserts whenever I crave sugar. I guess eating them is just a delightful thing to do! On the other hand, sitting on chocolate (or chocolate cake, in my case) is a different story. Haha! Let me share with you the highlight of my day.

Chocolate Cake and Outfit of the Day
Chocolate Cake and Outfit of the Day

Before going to work today, I spent time with God by writing my thoughts and prayers on my journal. In my heart, somehow, I knew that I was struggling with pride because I was dwelling on thoughts about “my” strengths or “my” good points. It was crazy. I wanted to share this struggle to God, but instead of acknowledging my pride and asking for His forgiveness, I just wrote “I humble myself before you, Lord, etc” on my notebook. After writing, I felt like I just sugar coated the words that came out of my heart. When I think about it now, it is so weird that I didn’t write what was really inside my heart. Was I worried about getting caught by others who might read my journal? Was I trying to hide my pride? Why was I so afraid to accept and write the truth when I was having a conversation with the One who created me; who knows my struggles even before I confess?

Fast forward to 6pm, while I was leaving the office, one of my colleagues asked if I had my period because it seemed like I had a huge stain on my black skirt. I told her that I didn’t. But, eventually, we realized that I had accidentally sat on a huge piece of chocolate cake this afternoon during our break. I felt so embarrassed because I walked around the building for hours that afternoon and I didn’t notice or feel it. Also, those who may have noticed it probably didn’t know how to inform me. Huhuhu. You could just imagine my reaction when I found out hours after the incident.

As I sat inside the car on my way home, I still felt ashamed. But because I didn’t want to think about it anymore, I tried to process things. I asked myself why I was so bothered by it. And then, I realized that I became so conscious of other people and of what they thought about the chocolate stain on my skirt. Clearly, my pride was affected and I was thinking too much of myself. I then remembered my time with God earlier today.

God spoke to my heart and convicted me of my pride. If I continue to be proud and if I choose not to acknowledge that the “strengths and good points” that I have were all because of God and His grace, I won’t be giving God the glory He deserves. Today’s incident was such a humbling reminder for me to always humble myself before God, acknowledge my weakness, repent, and do my best to honor and obey Him.

“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”-Matthew 23:12

Grateful for today. :)
Grateful for today. :)

In spite of the embarrassing (and funny) situation today, I still thank God for showing His grace to me through these three things:

1.) At least, I was wearing a BLACK skirt. Haha!.

2.) I had a colleague who was kind and brave enough to warn/inform me.

3.) God didn’t want to let this day pass without helping me guard my heart from pride.

 

“Whenever I climb too high
Keep my feet on the ground
And when I get full of me turn me upside down
You know pride and not just summer
Come before the fall
So if You that’s getting bigger
I don’t mind being small”

[Jimmy Needham – Being Small]

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. :)