Taming My Tongue

A few days ago, I told my mom that I wanted to cook Sinigang for dinner because I was craving for it. She agreed and mentioned that she would also order pancit and pork barbeque to add to the menu. So, after work, I bought some of the ingredients in the grocery store and hurriedly prepared the meal at home.

While I was cooking the dish, she dropped by the kitchen and said “You only have less than a kilo of meat lang pala.” She sounded a bit disappointed and I got confused because I thought that ¾ kilo of meat was just enough since we were also having pork barbeque and pancit for dinner. After telling this to my mom, we realized that we had a miscommunication. Mom thought that since I chose to cook pork instead of shrimp for sinigang, she wouldn’t order pork barbeque anymore. On the other hand, I thought that she would still order pork barbeque in addition to the sinigang, regardless of whether its meat was shrimp or pork.

with my mom and sisters
with my mom and sisters

One of the moments in my life that I am not proud of happened that night in the kitchen. I sort of ended our conversation by telling mom (with an irritated voice) “Well, I thought you were still ordering pork barbeque po. What will we do now? We only have a few pieces of meat for the whole family. It’s not enough.” I saw her leave the kitchen with a confused and sad look on her face. She then opened the freezer to check if we still had additional meat. But, we didn’t. So, we just settled with what we had.

A few minutes before the dish was done, I decided to taste the soup one last time before serving it. I got a spoonful of soup, blew on it, and slowly poured it in my mouth. You wouldn’t believe what happened next. Apparently, the soup was still piping hot and it instantly burned my tongue. I felt the pain, but I didn’t think of chewing on ice cubes or anything since it was already getting late and we needed to serve the dinner for the family. So, I joined them over dinner and ate the soup and pancit.

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It was only after two days that I felt the effects of burning my tongue. I couldn’t eat, chew, sip, drink, swallow, and speak properly. It was also a struggle for me to brush my teeth and tongue and wear my retainers. Moreover, I had four mouth sores on my tongue and tonsils this week too!

While I was eating breakfast today, I asked God why he allowed me to experience this excruciating pain in my tongue/mouth. I only realized it today (four days after that night with mom) that he is using this painful moment in my life to teach me a very important lesson: TAMING MY TONGUE.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” [Ephesians 4:29]

Dad and Mom went out of town the day after we ate sinigang, so I never really had the chance to personally talk to mom about what happened that night. I knew that I hurt her with my words and with how I said them to her, but I wanted to honor God by honoring mom too.

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After four days of being away, my parents are finally back at home. I stopped typing on the laptop and greeted them a few minutes ago. After saying hi to mom, God gave me the courage to humble myself before her. We both got teary eyed as I recalled what happened that night and I apologized to her. I told her what God was teaching me through this experience and she immediately hugged me and said: “Aww.. it’s okay, anak. How’s your tongue now?”

Thank you, Lord, for my burnt tongue. I still feel the pain every second, but, at least you’re reminding me of honoring You with my tongue every second of the day too.

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It says in Psalm 19:14 “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

 

A Month Without Our Parents

Dad and Mom are finally back! Woohoo! They spent the whole month of October attending conferences, touring, shopping, and visiting our relatives in the United States. It was the first time that we (children) experienced being separated thousands of miles away from our parents for a month, so it was very interesting for us. One of the things that I learned during that time was how valuable it was (and still is) to be intentional in spending time with the family — especially while we’re still single. ;)

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I’ll be sharing some of the moments we’ve had as a family throughout the month of October.

STAYING IN TOUCH

Usually, we would coordinate our schedules and tasks for the day with mom and she would help communicate with the rest of the family. But since mom wasn’t around, we needed to let everyone know (via SMS) what our schedule was and help each other out with the transportation, meals at home, etc. Because of this, my older sister volunteered to use her line to send group texts to me and our siblings. Instead of sending four text messages every time we have updates and concerns, we only needed to text her and she’d send it to everyone. Thanks, ate Michelle! Also, we were able to send updates to our parents and vise-versa thru Viber. Hooray for a user-friendly application and awesome technology that allows us to communicate instantly!

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Moreover, since we rarely get to spend time with our grandmother from mom’s side of the family, we reserved one Sunday afternoon just for her. It was supposed to be a surprise, but we ended up informing her in advance. Thank you, Nanay, for a lovely time with you and for your delicious food.

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SUPPORTING EACH OTHER

Last October 11, the youngest member of our family, Gabo, reached a new milestone in his life. He graduated from college! Way to go, bro! We (older siblings) celebrated with him by treating him out to lunch and dinner with some of our relatives that weekend. Also, even though our parents were still in the United States at that time, it didn’t stop them from celebrating with us too! They sent their video greetings thru Viber/email and we watched them at home after we gave our simple yet awesome graduation gift to our brother. *woofin*

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Graduation gift for Gabo. :)
Graduation gift for Gabo. :)

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Another milestone that our family celebrated last month was the talk that I had on Food Blogging. By God’s grace, He gave me the privilege of speaking to a classroom of students from the University of the Philippines during their Alternative Classroom Learning Experience. It was my first time to speak about blogging and I remember feeling inadequate and weak. But it was only because of God that I was able to do so. My parents and siblings were also very supportive. They prayed for me and sent messages to me on the day itself. It was really very encouraging. I also want to give a special shoutout to my older brother (kuya Michael), who took the day off and accompanied me to the event. He graciously carried most of my things, listened to me while I was getting really nervous in the morning, and assisted me during the talk. I thank God for an awesome support group at home!

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LEARNING TOGETHER

Just to give you a background, we don’t have household help. And because mom usually has a more flexible schedule compared to the rest of the family, she does a huge bulk of the chores at home (e.g. doing the laundry, sweeping, mopping, dishes). Sometimes, we get to help out, especially during the weekends. But, when Dad and Mom were in the states, my siblings and I needed to seriously fix our schedules, go home earlier, and help each other with cooking, cleaning, taking out the trash, walking the dogs, doing the laundry, gardening, cleaning the tables and floor, etc.

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During one weekend, my siblings and I helped each other do the laundry. After finishing two batches of colored clothes and one batch of black/dark clothes, we started to soak the white ones. We were supposed to soak them in the soapy water overnight. But we accidentally left them in the washing machine for four days. It was a disaster! We were so caught up with work and our activities that we forgot about it. Haha. When we opened the machine days later, we saw that the water was dirty and the clothes smelled so bad – like rotten food/waste. We certainly learned our lesson. Yikes! Next time, it would really help us if we set alarms on our phones to remind us of the laundry. Speaking of lessons learned, we also almost burned the place down while my parents were gone, you can read about it HERE.

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Another moment that we had at home was during one Sunday afternoon. My younger brother willingly helped me prepare Sinigang for dinner. He chopped the vegetables, cleaned the fish and shrimps, and cooked the dish. While I was assisting him with cleaning the fish and shrimps, he said something like: “Heeey, cool. You’re teaching me something.” Haha. I think I was showing him how to remove the shell of the shrimp easily. I don’t remember anymore, but I remember appreciating the time that we had learning together through cooking.

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When our parents flew to the states, I had questions in my mind. “What if something happens to them and they never return? What if bringing them to the airport was our last moment with them?” But as I went through the weeks without our parents at home, God used numerous moments and His Word to speak to me. He encouraged me to trust in Him as I make the most out of every situation. It helped me appreciate my family even more. Also, it helped me brush off negative vibes at home because I knew that loving God and loving my family would be pleasing to Him – even in the midst of conflicts and misunderstandings with my siblings.

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“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” [1 Corinthians 13:4-7]

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today”… [Hebrews 3:13]

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

That One Percent

While I was attending a women’s conference last December, God asked me to do something unusual. He encouraged me to give Him my ONE PERCENT. Now, it might sound amusing because most of the time, we would hear others say “You’ve got to give Him 100%.” Or “You’ve got to work 100% to achieve this and that.” But at that moment, He made that action step very clear to me and I’ll let you know why, in a while.

A few days ago, my mom asked me to cook sinigang na hipon using the leftover frozen, tamarind fruits that I had before. When I heard her instruction, I honestly thought to myself “What?? But, cooking sinigang from scratch is hard work. (You can see the detailed steps here: http://encouragingtreats.com/sinigang-na-hipon/) I still have other plans for the day and I don’t feel like spending a lot of time getting the tamarind puree for the soup.”

I told mom that it’s sort of a hassle for me to cook the sinigang from scratch, but I said that I would do it anyway. On our way to church, God spoke to me and showed me how lazy I was and how it has been affecting me and my decisions recently. He told me “Nic, you’re having that ONE PERCENT moment again.” I smiled and said “Oo nga noh, Lord.” He reminded me of a principle that He taught me a few weeks ago. A principle that helped change my heart. :)

It was the week before my birthday (Dec. 16) when I experienced a drought in my spiritual life. Yes, I did get to spend time with God, but somehow, I knew that I wasn’t always making God the center of my life and decisions. At the conference, we were given 30 minutes of quiet time and I took that moment to share to God how I was feeling and what I was going through.

I spent that time confessing to God how I haven’t been giving my 100% to Him in the different aspects of my life. I told Him that I felt like I was only giving Him 1% and that I only had 1% desire for Him. Also, I knew that He had already forgiven me, but because I only had 1%, I felt that it would be better if I just didn’t go near Him. I thought that I might just end up disappointing Him again.

A few minutes later, He led me to read John 3:16-21.

Verse 21 hit me, where it says: “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

I realized that maybe one of the reasons why I had 1% desire for God at that time, was because I was “hanging out with” and loving darkness more. And by darkness, I mean the things that distracted me from spending more time with God and focusing on Him. (e.g. laziness, being physically tired/not being physically fit, social media, music, etc.)

But, God pointed out to me one of the most amazing truths in the Bible, which is found in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

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Right then and there, God comforted me as I remembered what Jesus did for us and how He saved us from the penalty of our sins by dying on the cross. What He has already done for us matters more than what we do for Him.

During the last few minutes of my quiet time with God, I wrote this down on my journal:

“Thank You, Lord, for encouraging me to not give up and let go of that 1% desire that I have for You… even if it’s just 1%. I know that there would still be times when I would get distracted and be lazy to spend quality time with You, but You’ve reminded me that You will never give up on me and that You will always love me. And so, by Your grace, I draw near to You again and pray that You will use this 1% desire that I have for You and allow it to continue growing in me each day. May You be honored above all.” :)

I realized that in the same way, just like how I’ve had that 1% desire for God a few weeks ago, I noticed how I’ve also had that 1% desire to work hard and cook the sinigang from scratch last Sunday. But by God’s grace, He encouraged me to give Him that percentage and cook the dish despite the hassle. Why? Because I knew that obeying mom by cooking it bwould honor God.

(By the way, the tamarind puree that I got from the fruits wasn’t enough, so I ended up adding Tamarind spices too. In the end, God also allowed me to experience the convenience of using instant Sinigang mix — what I originally wanted to use. :) )

Even if you only have that 1% desire to love the people around you; to forgive those who’ve hurt you; to thank others; to obey and respect your authorities; to humble yourself before God and others; to spend time with God; to work/study hard; and even to exercise/discipline your body… Do it anyway. :) Even if it’s just one percent, I encourage you to surrender it to God because He can still use it for the good and for His glory. :)

 

Sour Tamarind

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)