The last day of February was very stressful for me. I think I sat on my chair for only 20 minutes and spent the rest of the day going around the office… finishing urgent tasks. After a long day at work, I went inside the car, sighed, and said to myself “I really need to eat something good.” So, before I went home, I dropped by the mall near our place and bought myself a hot bowl of sinigang, a cup of rice, and a glass of cold, buko juice.
The next morning, I still had a hangover from the stress I experienced at work and I found myself craving for more “comfort food”. I decided to cook my favorite seafood (shrimps) and hoped that it would somehow help me relax.
After preparing the pasta with shrimps, my mom saw the dish and said: “Wow! It looks good! How did you make it? Did you use fresh tomatoes?” I replied, “Yup! I used the last few cherry tomatoes from the plant.”
I said “the last few” because my Cherry Tomato plant started to dry up a few weeks ago due to the extreme summer heat and lack of water in the afternoon. But thankfully, despite its condition, it was able to produce the finest and juiciest tomatoes since the first day it had fruit. Surprisingly, the last few tomatoes I was able to harvest were bigger compared to the previous batches.
It reminded me of how incredible our God is. Indeed, it was only by His grace that the plant grew its best fruits when it was already dry and weak. I also noticed a small green cherry tomato growing on the plant after weeks of not seeing new ones. It gave me hope to continue taking care of the plant and helping it bear more fruit because I know that God can make it grow.
In the same way, I realized that although we may experience heavy, tiring, and stressful days (just like what I experienced last February), God still remains to be in control and He knows exactly what we need — always. Because of this, we can continue to find hope in Him as we trust that He is able to help us get through each trying moment.
Last Friday, I wanted to tell God: “Please don’t let me go through difficult and stressful situations today.” But in the process, he changed my heart and encouraged me to ask Him to help me grow through my circumstances instead, whether or not they were difficult/stressful. He kept on assuring me that I just have to keep on doing my best and to continue finding my joy and strength in Him.
Before my February ended, my colleague (who was with me and who also experienced the same stress and challenges at work that day) told me this: “I was thankful to God that you were my partner in overcoming this because you were still positive even though you were stressed.” And I immediately replied that it was only by God’s grace.
I also shared to her a verse that I read that Friday morning before going to work. Psalm 28:7 says “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me.” It was such a timely encouragement!
Sometimes, we may not always understand why God allows us to go through stressful moments in life. But there is comfort in knowing that He will always cause things to work together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28). In my case, I thank God for the last day of February this year, because my colleague and I were able to experience his grace and were given the privilege of thanking Him together at the end of a stressful day. :)
Encourage yourself one treat at a time!
RECIPE for the Creamy Marinara Pasta
Spiral/Penne pasta noodles
Seafood (I just used shrimps, but you can use squid and clams too)
1/3 cup of Milk
Spices (Salt, Pepper, McCormick’s Italian Seasoning, fresh herbs, 1 green chili (with 1/3 of its seeds) )
5 diced/semi-blended regular tomatoes and 8 cherry tomatoes
3 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 garlic head
Half an onion
- Clean your seafood. Slice, if necessary, and season with salt and pepper.
- Using a mortar and pestle, crush the shrimp heads to get more flavor while adding a few tablespoons of milk.
- Slice onions and crush the garlic cloves.
- Heat the oil and butter in a sauce pan.
- Once the oil/butter is hot, sauté the onions, garlic, and chili.
- Add the tomatoes and stir well. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the spices and the milk with shrimp “extract”.
- Add the shrimps and cook for 2-3 minutes on both sides. Stir the sauce until well-combined.
- Add the rest of the milk, if necessary.
- Add 5 tablespoons of grated cheese (or more) while stirring.
- Serve with cooked noodles and enjoy!