My Starbucks Confession

I’d like to confess something that some of you may already know about me…

I like going to Starbucks.😅

It started when I fell in love with their frappuccinos back in college, even if I did not (and still do not) have a sweet tooth. This love grew when I realized that I could have quality, quiet times in this coffee shop! My introverted self was overjoyed! Starbucks is usually expensive and unhealthy for my body, but ironically, it has been very good for my heart. I can’t even count the number of times the Lord has spoken to me thru His word, broken me, and revealed Himself to me in the various Starbucks shops I’ve stayed at before. There were moments when I would even cry quietly or write songs and poems and not have a care in the world. It has been a safe space for me.

During my quiet time last February 25, 2018, when I was struggling with insecurities, I was encouraged to be intentional in reminding myself of my identity in Christ. Each time I bought a drink in Starbucks, I decided to ask the barista to write one identity on it. Every time they finished preparing my drink, they would call out: “One Java Chip frappuccino for REDEEMED!” or “One Black Tea with Ruby Grapefruit & Honey for FORGIVEN!” …and I would receive it!

It was awkward at first, because the baristas usually gave me a confused look whenever I asked them to write these down. But as time passed by, my barista friends got used to it that even before I said my order, they would ask me in advance, “Hi Nicole! What would be your name for today? :)”

It was a really good way for me to remember my name — WHO I AM — my identity in Jesus! I am forgiven, redeemed, free, never alone, new, beautiful, accepted, alive, and many more! It fueled the desire in me to keep on digging deep in God’s word and seeing myself through His eyes. By God’s grace, this “Starbucks Identity Cups” experience even gave me the opportunities to engage in conversations about the Bible with the baristas that serve my drinks.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” -Colossians 2:6-7 

This afternoon, I was tempted to dwell on my insecurities again. I asked the Lord why He was still allowing me to have them despite me knowing and believing the truth, and even experiencing Him in my life. I didn’t get a specific answer from Him, but somehow, I did feel peace in my heart as I recalled how these insecurities have helped me to run towards Him and His word each time I hurt and fall. I felt the Lord shifting my focus on my struggle and what I can do to overcome it, to who He is and what Jesus, my Lord and Savior, has already done for me when He died and rose again. It reminded me of John 16:33 where it says:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

It has been a year since I started the Starbucks Identity Cups and I am still attacked by insecurities and worries every now and then. But, Jesus has always been constant, faithful, and gracious. And because He is who He is, I will fix my eyes on Him and trust that He will finish the work that He started in my heart. I pray that I will indeed stay rooted and find my true security and identity in Christ alone.

Since this isn’t the healthiest way, I am praying that I will be able to be more resourceful in finding other shops or spots where I can journal and dig deep without being distracted. But until then, I will most likely visit this coffee shop. (Please feel free to give suggestions. :) )

Where to Eat in Hong Kong (Part 2)

Click HERE for the first part of our Food Trip in Hong Kong.

 

DIMDIMSUM DIM SUM SPECIALTY STORE

G/F Tung Choi St. Mong Kok

When we arrived at the place, there were about ten people waiting in line outside the small restaurant. Similar to Tsim Chai Kee, DimDimSum only has a few tables inside. At first, we hesitated to fall in line, but because we saw that it was recommended online and we noticed how the people patiently waited for their turn, we got curious. In less than ten minutes, we were given a table for two. Surprisingly, the service was fast! They were able to serve all of our dishes in less than five minutes. However, I think they didn’t understand our request for chili because after asking three times, they still didn’t give us chili. Hahaha.

We ordered the ff.:

*Steamed Shrimp Dumplings (HKD 27 / PHP 175)

*Pork Dumplings with Crab Roe (HKD 23 / PHP 150)

*Deep Fried Wontons with Sweet and Sour Sauce (HKD 19 / PHP 123)

*Steamed Spareribs with Black Bean Sauce (HKD 19 / PHP 123)

*Milk Tea (HKD 15 / PHP 100)

I recommend everything we ordered except for the Deep Fried Wontons with Sweet and Sour Sauce. It wasn’t worth the money since it was 10% shrimp and 90% fried wonton wrapper. Their milk tea is a bit expensive for me. But, it wasn’t too sweet or too bland, so it was a good ending to our savory meal.

 

STARBUCKS AT DUDDELL ST.

13 Duddell St., Central

I discovered this branch while I was preparing for our itinerary a few days before our trip. It was a must-visit place for me because of two reasons: 1) I love Starbucks; and 2) It was a very unique branch since the interior design gave a cultural experience of Hong Kong. Hidden along Duddell St., this branch was surrounded by tall buildings filled with high-end branded shops. We didn’t expect to find it there, but we were very excited to spend at least an hour inside their lovely store. I wish Starbucks could build more stores around the world which show fusions of the countries’ and Starbucks’ cultures.

 

MISTER SOFTEE

Ice Cream Truck

We saw a truck of Mister Softee near the clock tower at the southern shore of Tsim Sha Tsui while we were waiting for our cruise at Aqua Luna’s ship. You can pay for the ice cream using cash or the octopus card and you can choose to have it in a cone or cup. The ice cream was very light. It wasn’t rich or very creamy too, but, it was a pleasant snack to much on while strolling around the place.

 

MAXIM’S CAKES

Inside and beside various MTR Stations

We wanted to eat a light breakfast before going to Disneyland because we knew that we were going to ride a few rollercoasters. While we were walking inside the MTR station in Mong Kok, we saw Maxim’s Cakes and decided to give their products a try. We didn’t buy the cakes though, since it was 8:30 in the morning. We did, however, enjoy eating their Sausage rolls. I liked the taste! The texture of the sausage was firm and chewy. The bread roll wrapped around the sausage had a sweet and salty taste too. It somehow reminded me of Bread Talk’s sausage rolls.

 

YUM CHA

Nan Fung Tower, 2/F, Nan Fung Place, 173 Des Voeux Road, Central

Yum Cha is  one of the famous restaurants in Hong Kong featured in Instagram! They have found a way to creatively produce savory and sweet steamed buns. We dropped by their branch in Central in the afternoon and enjoyed taking photos and eating the Custard Buns (HKD 49 / PHP 320) and Pork BBQ buns (HKD 49 / PHP 320). Between the two, we enjoyed the Pork BBQ buns more because we just weren’t fond of too much custard.

The Pork bun is similar to Pork Asado siopao in the Philippines, while the filling of the custard bun tastes very much like a thick and creamy egg yolk paste. Do note that they DON’T serve house water. You’ll have to pay HKD 30 / PHP 195 for a teapot of hot drinking water. If you’re willing to spend this, it’s better to just buy a pot of tea to go along with your steamed buns. Moreover, I liked the interior design of the restaurant. It was very clean and spacious. We even sat at a table beside a huge window overlooking the busy street below.

So, there you have it! If we had more time, we would have ordered other recommended food in Hong Kong such as the egg waffles, French toast with condensed milk, pineapple buns, roasted goose, and street food. We really enjoyed the experience of discovering food in Hong Kong. I hope you get to try the food that we tasted! If you have other suggestions, let me know what you think too, so I can try them next time!

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

As soon as I got out from work, I drove thru the nearest Starbucks on the way home. I was excited to finally get my free slice of birthday cake (thanks to the Starbucks card). One of the baristas informed me a few months ago that I could avail of the free slice only until two months after my birthday. Since I was born on the 16th of December and today is February 16, it was my last chance to get it.

While I was ordering, the barista who assisted me checked my card and confirmed that I could get the free slice of cake as long as I order a drink. So, I ordered a slice of Banana Chocolate cake and a tall, Java Chip frappuccino. He handed me a brown paper bag with the slice of cake and my favorite Starbucks drink. While I was paying for my drink, the barista swiped my Starbucks card again, but after swiping it a couple of times, the machine kept on prompting an error about the validity of the free cake.

After talking to his manager, he found out that I was already one day late. We both found out that Starbucks card holders could avail of the free slice of birthday cake only until the day before the two-month period ends. I was a day late and devastated. I quickly prayed and asked God if He could make a way to allow me to still get the free slice of cake. But after confirming it with the manager, the barista unfortunately and politely declined the request. I returned the paper bag with the slice of cake to the barista and kept my drink, since I already paid for it.

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I drove home feeling sad because I spent Php 160 for a drink that I didn’t really want to have tonight and I was tempted to feel irritated towards the barista because he assured me that I could still get the free cake before I ordered the drink. But while I was minutes away from our house, God reminded me of the huge difference it makes when I choose to delay action steps in my life. I was one day late and I couldn’t bring back time anymore. I missed out on an awesome privilege of enjoying a free slice of cake.

This was just a simple act of getting cake and it was quite depressing. But, I realized that there are far more important things in life that I sometimes unintentionally delay or ignore too. Like, being more appreciative or spending more time with the family or sharing Jesus to my friends. I really don’t want to experience being a day late when it comes to these things. It was a gentle reminder for me to be a good steward of the time and resources that God has blessed me with, while I still can.

I then looked at my Java Chip Frappuccino and asked God to take away any negative feeling and thought that I had towards my experience at the drive-thru. God allowed it to happen and He encouraged me to use that moment to honor Him instead. “Why don’t you give your drink to one of the guards in the village? Oh, and tell him that I love him too.”

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I felt like God was sitting beside me in the car because his instruction and voice were so clear. So, I immediately got my pen and wrote on my notebook. As soon as I saw one of the guards our family knew in the village, I stopped the car, said hi, and gave him the drink and note. He gave me a big smile and thanked me. Sometimes, God allows us to go through difficult, irritating, or regretful situations. But, whenever I am faced with these, by God’s grace, He always encourages me to focus on His character. He can use sad situations for the good. He can work and change a person’s heart. We just have to trust in Him and obey when we hear His voice.

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)