Thank God I Failed

Have you ever experienced exerting so much effort on a certain project or goal only to watch it fail in the end? Well, I have. For those of you who know me, you understand that gardening is very close to my heart. One of the most disheartening experiences I’ve had was when I saw my watermelon vine slowly deteriorate during the rainy season. Despite my attempts to keep the beautiful leaves and watermelon flower buds dry and safe from the constant heavy rain, it just didn’t survive.

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Slowly, I saw the flowers turn from green to light green to yellow to brown. I took a deep sigh after I realized that it could no longer be revived. The dream of growing a watermelon at home was washed away by the rain as well. What a bummer. I think it took a couple of days for me to finally let go of what happened.

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Even before I planted the seed, I knew that we were approaching the rainy season already and it wasn’t advisable for fruiting vines. If I only waited for a few more months, it would have been possible to grow the fruit in a container. But, I failed. I failed to grow a watermelon at home. Nonetheless, I still thank God that I did because it helped me to be wiser in the way I use the resources that I had. It also encouraged me to still put my confidence in Him and in His perfect timing even in my gardening adventures.

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Seven months after that incident, by faith, I decided to plant a melon seed. This time, I planted it at the start of the year, so I was sure that it wouldn’t encounter daily heavy rains anymore. After taking care of the vine for two and a half months, by God’s grace, I was able to harvest my first homegrown melon at home. While I was eating a slice of the sweet melon, I couldn’t help but feel overjoyed because it finally happened! I also remember telling my siblings how mind-blowing and heartwarming it was to eat fresh fruits and vegetables grown at home.

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Through this experience, I was reminded of my former blog post about growing watermelon at home and how God’s timing is always perfect. Yes, it may have been rough for me at first, especially when I saw that my efforts were “put to waste”. However, I’m learning that disappointments, failures, and discouragements will always be around. But, these things shouldn’t give us an excuse to stop trying and doing our best again. What I appreciate about disappointments and failures too is that we get to have opportunities that help us grow more in wisdom, knowledge, and character.

Mary Pickford once said “If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down.”

Maybe some of you are also going through a rough situation. Maybe some of you have experienced failure recently. I want to encourage you today to get back up again and keep on doing your best. By God’s grace, you can! I pray that in spite of the pain or struggle you may be feeling, you will still find hope in the goodness of the Lord.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

-Proverbs 3:5-6

Note: I’ll share more about the process and experience of growing melons at home in another blog post. :)

Hello, 2016!

It’s the first day of 2016 and I couldn’t be more excited! Woohoo! There’s always that wonderful feeling whenever I am reminded of a brand new start. Because of the New Year, I’ve been seeing quite a lot of resolutions in my news feed. Some of my friends plan to avoid eating junk food this 2016, while, others will do their best to refrain from shopping for a year.

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I’m still working on my action steps and resolutions. But, more than these things, I find delight in knowing that we can place our hope in God, whose mercies are new every morning. It is because of Him and through Him that we can experience breakthroughs, miracles, and personal transformations this 2016. Yes, regardless of our past, weaknesses, and fears.

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” –Lamentations 3:21-23

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As we welcome another year, I would like to share one of the treats that remind me of having and enjoying a fresh start. It has been two years since I last prepared Jell-O. So, recently, I tried to make a batch again. This time, I used oranges and watermelon as my base. If you have the time, I encourage you to give it a try as well! For starters, I recommended making the orange wedges first, since the watermelon is a lot more tricky to handle.

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Here’s to enjoying a brand new start and to having a hopeful and fruitful year ahead! God bless you!

“You’re making me stronger. You’re healing my heart.
With Your hands You hold me and You set me apart.

Now I’m made new because of You.

You hold my head up. You remind me who I am.
You hold my head up, I’m alive in You again.
I’m made new.”

-Lincoln Brewster’s “Made New”

(Special thanks to Mom and ate Camille for lending a helping hand. :P )

ORANGE JELL-O WEDGES

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WATERMELON JELL-O SLICES

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God is Always on Time

I have recently embarked on a new gardening adventure at home. By faith, I am growing watermelon vines in a container bed! Yay! It all started when I was eating a slice of sweet watermelon in the cafeteria at work. My colleague and I were talking about some of the vegetables I’ve planted and I made a joke about planting the watermelon seeds from the slice of fruit that I was eating. Nonetheless, I went home that day with a small container filled with seeds and I planted them in a cup of soil. I really enjoy planting and growing seeds because I get to experience the privilege of knowing God more and I get to witness the seeds grow and bear fruit. I still have a couple of months to go before I harvest (by faith!) sweet watermelons. But, for now, I would like to share more about what I am learning from the vines I’m currently growing and how I am encouraged by God — who is always on time.

Watermelon vine
Watermelon vine

About a week after I planted the seeds, I came home from an out-of-town trip with friends and I remember checking my plants first before I slept that afternoon. To my surprise, I saw several sprouts growing in the cup where I planted the watermelon seeds! The sprouts looked so sturdy compared to the other fruit/vegetable sprouts I’ve grown. Also, they were beautifully long and happy. They even had the brown watermelon seeds attached to the leaves which gave me the assurance that they weren’t just weeds.

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watermelon seedlings

When the sprouts grew bigger, I transferred them to a larger bed. Every day for five weeks, I watered the plants and provided fertilizer and mulch to help them grow. Taking care of vines at home is pretty exciting especially since it’s my first time to grow them. As I studied the different stages that the vine goes through, I learned that watermelon plants have male and female flowers too. When I found out about it, I remembered how my corn plants also had male and female flowers and how they also needed to be pollinated by hand in order for them to produce kernels of corn.

Pollinating the male and female watermelon flowers by hand.
Pollinating the male and female watermelon flowers by hand.

However, the main difference between pollinating corn plants and watermelon flowers is the TIMING. Yes, for both plants, it is advisable to pollinate in the morning so that the sun’s heat can help activate the pollens once they touch the female flowers. BUT, corn plants can be pollinated everyday for a week since the tassels can produce pollens for days. If you missed a day, you can still pollinate the corn plant the next day. On the other hand, for the watermelon vines, the female flower opens its petals for only ONE DAY. If we don’t get to brush the pollens from the male flower to the female flower in the morning on the only day it opens up, the watermelon fruit from that female flower won’t grow. It will only dry up and die.

Talk about PRESSURE. Haha.

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watermelon vine

Last June 28, I saw the first few male flowers growing on the vines. Every day after that, 1-2 male flowers would grow and then, dry up. I was already starting to panic because more and more male flowers were growing and I knew that in a few days, the female flowers would then start to appear and open its petals for only a day. Finally, two days later, the first female flower appeared. You could tell that it was a female one since it had a small watermelon-like body below its petals. The male flowers only had a thin stem. But since the petals of the female flower weren’t open yet, I had to wait until the morning to pollinate them.

Male and female flowers of the watermelon vine.
Male and female flowers of the watermelon vine.

Before I slept that night, I remember thinking about it and telling God “What if it doesn’t open tomorrow morning before I leave for work? What if it opens when I’m already out of the house? If that happens, I’ll miss out on pollinating the flowers and the fruit won’t grow!” I guess it was nerve-racking for me because after weeks of taking care of the vines, as much as possible, I really would want them to bear fruit. So, I prayed about it that night and surrendered the concern to God. If He wanted it to happen, I knew that He would allow me to pollinate in the morning.

Watermelon vine's female flower
Watermelon vine’s female flower

When I woke up the next day, I rushed to our veranda (where the vines were) and I saw that the female flower had already bloomed. Oh my goodness. It was time! By God’s grace, the flower opened its petals early and I had the opportunity and time to pollinate it! It only took a few seconds, but the future of the watermelon fruit greatly depended on it. Haha.

After pollinating the flower and watering the plants, I was ready to take a shower and go to work. However, while I was preparing my clothes, my mom informed me that there were some concerns with our transportation. To make the long story short, my sisters and I needed to help each other and my dad go to our respective destinations that morning using only one car. Because of the slight delay, I knew that I was going to go to work at a later time. So, while waiting, I decided to make good use of the extra time that I had at home. I ended up making a temporary cover/shield to protect the seedlings and plants from heavy rains, which was something that I couldn’t do in the evening.

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watermelon vine

After about an hour, my sister graciously drove me to work and I remember thanking God in my heart for His perfect timing that morning. Even though I was worrying about the flowers the night before, He gave me peace to trust in Him and to wait on His best timing the next day. He certainly knows how to grow watermelon vines. He created them! So, I really didn’t have any reason to worry about not being able to pollinate on time or not being able to grow fruits from the vines.

I started the day with a grateful heart because I was encouraged by God to always trust in His perfect timing even when things don’t make sense or when I am faced with the unknown. God can and He will do anything if He thinks it’s for the best.

“Faith in God includes faith in His timing.” –Neal Maxwell

Male and female flowers. Watermelon vine.
Male and female flowers. Watermelon vine.

When I went home that night, an interesting thing happened. It suddenly rained after a hot day. It didn’t rain in the morning while I was pollinating the flowers. It also didn’t rain while I was preparing the covers and shields for the plants. But, by God’s grace and in His perfect timing, it rained at night when everything was done and alright.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
 They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”

[Jeremiah 17:7-8]

watermelon female flower
watermelon female flower

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Encouraging Tea :)

Chilled milk tea with chewy, black tapioca pearls is definitely one of the most refreshing drinks I’ve had in my life. Interestingly, there are numerous milk tea stores in Metro Manila, which makes it more convenient for me to acquire such comforting beverages. However, last weekend, instead of buying from a milk tea store, I decided to make a couple of milk teas at home. I knew that it was the perfect and simple treat for me because I was sick and feeling physically weak at that time.

God sure does speak to us in different ways and last weekend, He reminded me of how we can be a blessing to others. :)

1. We become a blessing to others when we respond to them in a way that pleases God… no matter what.

I went to a supermarket to buy wintermelon, uncooked black tapioca pearls, and strawberries. Unfortunately, when I got there, I found out that they weren’t selling the tapioca pearls. To make things worse, when I asked one of the staff members in the fruit section if they had wintermelons, he rudely told me “Wala kaming wintermelons!” (In English: “We don’t have wintermelons!”)

Stunned by his response, I was tempted to talk back because it was his duty to respectfully assist the customers in the supermarket and his attitude was unacceptable. But before I could even say a word, God stopped me and helped me to realize that maybe that guy was just having a hard day at work and he unintentionally poured out his stress on me. The last thing he needed was a rude response from me too.

I was reminded of Ephesians 4:29, where it says:
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

By God’s grace, I smiled instead, told him “Ohh, okay. Thank you!”, and left the supermarket with peace in my heart. I realized that it brings much joy to God when we choose to honor Him in the way we respond to others. It makes our hearts so much peaceful too!

2. We become a blessing to others when we consider their interests too.

Hoping that I could still find tapioca pearls in our area, I went to another supermarket the next day. However, they also did not have the pearls. I was already thinking of my Plan B for the treat when I found myself walking near the fruit section. Since I was already there, out of curiosity, I asked one of the staff members if they were selling wintermelons and he replied “Ah, yes, Ma’am! Please follow me.”

My eyes beamed as we slowly approached the pile of fruits. “Wow! Thank you!” I told the employee who assisted me. Before I left, he even gave me instructions on how to slice it properly and warned me that the juice of the fruit may feel sticky too.

Later on, I found out that the fruit he handed me wasn’t wintermelon… it was yellow watermelon. Haha. But nonetheless, I was blessed by the employee’s response and I was inspired to be an encouragement to others too. He could have just led me to the fruit section and continued to do his own thing. But, I saw how he selflessly took the time and effort to try his best to assist me with my concerns about the fruit (as compared to the other supermarket guy :) ).

Do I intentionally reach out to others? Do I sincerely spend time with them and help them out with their concerns/struggles? Or do I just stay in my comfort zone and hope that they won’t ask help from me? Do I pray for others?

 

It says in Hebrews 10:24:

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

3. We become a blessing to others when we help them draw closer to God and give Him the glory.

Desperate times indeed call for desperate measures!

After buying the watermelon and strawberries, I knew that I still needed to get the black, tapioca pearls. Surprisingly, there was a milk tea store (Chatime) nearby and I thought of buying the cooked pearls instead. I asked the person at the cashier if I could buy tapioca pearls and she slightly laughed and smiled at me. But, when she realized that I was serious about buying only the pearls, she eventually assisted me and happily gave me my order.

I couldn’t be happier! :) I thanked God that the cashier lady helped me out because I really thought she wouldn’t allow me to buy only pearls from the store (since it wasn’t allowed in other stores). She was a blessing!

Matthew 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Do we encourage others to know God more or do we cause others to go farther away from God?

I went home that day smiling because I saw how God was in control of my situation. After preparing and drinking these two drinks: Watermelon Milk Tea and Strawberry Milk Tea, I was pleasantly refreshed. But more importantly, I realized that in spite of my weak body, the hassles I experienced as I looked for the ingredients, and even the “rude” employee that I encountered; I still praise God because through these, He reminded me of how I can honor Him by being a blessing to others. By God’s grace and strength and with His guidance through His word and the Holy Spirit, I know that we can be blessings to others. We can bless His Name. :)

So, what are we waiting for?

Encourage others one treat at a time! :)