Every November 19, our family celebrates our fire anniversary. We have this special occasion because eleven years ago, our whole house burned down at 1:30 in the morning. But, by God’s grace, He saved us from the fire and allowed our family and helper to get out of the house just in time. You can read more about the experience HERE.
Whenever we celebrate our “fireniversary”, we usually eat out at a restaurant with grilled food (since it reminds us of the fire) or we sometimes have a special meal together at home and remember God’s faithfulness. However, last Thursday (Nov. 19), we couldn’t meet up and have dinner as a family since we had prior commitments that we couldn’t postpone. We also tried to have breakfast or dinner together last Saturday, but some of us needed to attend other important activities too.
Hopefully, within the week, our plan to have dinner as a family will push through. (Hello, family! If you’re reading this, you know what to do. Haha!) In the meantime, I’ll be sharing one of my favorite snacks when we were still living at our old house in Kapitolyo. The lovely, gooey, and yummy S’MORES! But, this time, I made a little twist. Instead of using whole graham crackers as the base, I added crushed graham crackers to my waffle recipe and used the waffles to complement the toasted marshmallows and nutella spread. I hope you can try this one soon! It’s really a simple snack that can be prepared in 20 minutes or less. Enjoy!
Special thanks to my Dad and Mom for lending a helping hand (literally. hehehe.)
NUTELLA S’MORE WAFFLES
Recipe makes 8-9 square waffles
2 cups of all-purpose flour
4 tsps. of baking powder
½ tsp. of salt
½ tsp. of cinnamon powder
1 tbsp. of white sugar
1/3 cup of crushed graham crackers (For the basic recipe, no need to include this.)
½ tsp of vanilla extract
2 cups of whole milk
½ cup of vegetable oil
Nutella (or other chocolate spread)
Big, white marshmallows (4-5 marshmallows per pair of waffles)
Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl.
Whisk the wet ingredients in another bowl.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine well.
Cook the batter in the waffle machine.
Once the waffles are done, you can spread the nutella chocolate on each piece and top them with toasted marshmallows.
In case your waffles cool completely, you can heat them up in the toaster for 3 minutes. Make sure to spread the chocolate on the waffles and add the marshmallows before toasting them.
Note: Waffles can be stored in a sealed container in the freezer for a week. When ready to eat, you can bring them out from the freezer, store at room temperature for 5 minutes, and toast for 3-5 minutes.
Our family has this tradition where we celebrate birthdays in the middle of the night. But, when it comes to celebrating the birthdays of our two dogs, we usually do it over dinner. Two days ago, I sent a message to my siblings and invited them to join me after dinner to have a mini-bonfire and s’mores birthday party for Clue (our schnauzer) at the clubhouse. Originally, my two sisters and I wanted to start early so that we wouldn’t sleep late, but since my older sister and I suddenly needed to work overtime, we had to postpone the party.
I got out of the office at 8 pm and rushed to the nearest grocery store to buy a portable and affordable grilling pot and charcoal. However, it was only until an hour later that I was able to buy the ingredients and materials I needed. Before leaving the grocery store, I sent a message to my siblings and informed that the mini-bonfire will push through and will start at 9:30 pm. I honestly didn’t think that they would make it because we were already three hours late. But, some of them replied and confirmed that they would be joining me, so I hurried home.
As soon as I got to our house, we prepared the ingredients and things we needed for our midnight “bonfire” party and we left a note (“Bonfire near the pool”) on our front door for my dad and older brother who were still out for a meeting/work. We then went to the clubhouse and started our attempt to make fire. It wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be. We tried to burn coals for an hour, but most of our methods didn’t work. Haha. Thankfully, dad arrived and joined us in our next few attempts and after ten to fifteen minutes, more coals were burning.
While some of my siblings continued to help dad with the fire, my older sister and I played with our two dogs, Copper and Clue, on the grass. Our fluffy dogs really enjoyed their night out with us and we had fun hanging out with the family too! We took turns fanning the burning coals, playing with the dogs, and stargazing while enjoying the cool breeze. When the burning coals were ready, we started arranging the graham crackers and chocolate chips on a plate and roasted our own marshmallows on the sticks. After a while, I heard my dad shout “Hey, kuya!” (referring to my older brother). I think it was already past 12 midnight at that time and my older brother just arrived from work. Woohoo! We were finally complete!
While my dad and younger brother were helping us with the fire, I remember them giving us a tip: “We have to start with one coal first. Once that coal is burning, that’s when we add more coals beside it to help spread the heat.” I’ve only tried to make fire with coals twice or thrice in my life. So, it was really interesting for me to try it again and learn from the experience with my family. The tip my dad and brother gave us reminded me of the similarity it has with developing the relationships we have in the family. Just like heating up the coals, we don’t always have to start big, we don’t always have to come up with extravagant plans or spend time together only when there are birthdays or special events. Sometimes, all it takes to maintain good relationships within the family is to heat up one coal at a time, to regularly do small things with and for the family.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:3-4
Doing small things like, sharing what’s in our hearts after a long day at work or giving each other a hug or a pat on the back every now and then or planting more vegetables in the garden with your mom or discovering how to make origami schnauzers with your older brother or picking mangoes with the siblings while walking the dogs or sending encouraging words to each other via SMS or patiently listening to and sharing with the joy of your sister who can’t get enough of her favorite band and music (HAHA. Thank you, dear family. You know I love you.), etc. Sometimes, the smallest things we do with and for the family make the biggest impact.
During Clue’s birthday, I knew that my dad already had a previous commitment for dinner that night and that my older brother would be working late at the office, so I didn’t really expect them to make it to our family’s mini-bonfire party. However, it was encouraging to see God use certain delays that evening (e.g. when I experienced delays in the grocery store, when my older sister and I suddenly worked overtime, when we struggled with starting the fire) to allow our family to be complete at the party. If there weren’t delays, we would have started and finished the bonfire party earlier, without the company of my older brother and our dad.
That mini-bonfire party was a reminder for me to always find joy and have hope in Him who loves families, who desires for families to stay together. Sometimes, it can be quite disheartening to feel hurt or witness unresolved issues within the family. Sometimes, there may also be delays in extending forgiveness, grace, and unconditional love towards each other. But, God is able to help us burn one coal at a time. He is able to encourage families to spend time together. And more importantly, He is able to change hearts and help families become more like Christ.
We ended up sleeping at 1:30 in the morning after the mini-bonfire, but the late night hangout with the family was definitely worth it. Here’s to making some more memories with the family. Happy birthday, dear Clue!:)
For the past few months, I’ve been praying for God’s direction for me in ministry. Specifically, if it is His will for me to continue serving Him at CCF Makati’s Friday Night Light (FNL) and be a facilitator at the True Life Singles Retreat or to serve in another ministry. I was praying for this because I was struggling with managing my time and resources since I get off from work late and I don’t live near CCF Makati. For the longest time, I felt like God was so silent about this, but by His grace, He gave me an answer three weeks ago.
Last August 3, I had my quiet time with the Lord at home. I poured out my heart to him again, humbled myself before him, and told him: “Lord, I want to hear your voice more than anything else right now. I’m listening, Lord. Please speak to me tonight. Please give me direction. Thank You…” After writing that, I stared at space for a few minutes and when I was about to write some more, I noticed this…
The word “You” was on the next page and it was the only word written there at that time. God was showing me that life really is all about Him. It’s all about Jesus. Ministry is about Him and not about my comfort, or my skills in serving Christ, or about the number of girls I handle, or where I’m active in ministry, or who I’m friends with in ministry, etc. It’s all about “You”, Jesus.
I spent the rest of the night reading the first part of Genesis 12 and it was about the Call of Abram. He obeyed God when he was instructed to go the land that God will show him. And one of the things that struck me in that chapter was verse 7, where God said “To your offspring, I will give this land.” It made an impression on me because a few verses before that, I read that Sarai was barren. And now, God is telling Abram that he will give that land to his offspring.
It was encouraging because it reminded me of God’s sovereignty, faithfulness, and power even in the midst of my weaknesses and “impossible” & difficult situations. Abram built an altar after God said “I will give this land” and it was also nice because it showed that Abram acknowledged God’s presence at that time and in that place. I was encouraged to trust in God again.
After having my quiet time, God prompted me to read through my old blog posts, to remind me of my moments with God for the past year. I then happened to read my blog post about S’more Cookies & last year’s FNL teambuilding (https://encouragingtreats.com/smore-cookies/) and while I was reading it, it seemed like I was a different person back then. I was so full of encouragement, light, peace, and joy.
I even wrote this: “Maybe God gave us the sticky situations/rollercoaster ride to remind the FNL team that in the future as we serve Him in ministry, we may also encounter similar sticky situations and even sudden changes in our plans. However, I’m learning that sticky situations actually encourage us to focus on God’s grace, faithfulness and love. They are opportunities for us to seek Him more especially as we make decisions. Also, they help develop our hearts and character as we trust in His sovereignty.”
God humbled me that night as I read through my old blog and He encouraged me to be like the Nicole who blogged about this last year. She didn’t worry about her struggles and concerns in ministry. She was focused on Jesus.
Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
At the end of the blog post, I noticed something that struck me. “Did you know that the original name for “S’more” was “Some More”? This is because when the people tasted S’mores before, they constantly asked for more! Similarly, in our teambuilding experience, I realized that although we didn’t ask for more, God decided to give us some more problems and sticky situations for His good purposes. I’m glad He did! :)”
And that was it. God spoke to me. I honestly believe that God answered the prayer of my heart that night because when I read S’mores or “Some More” in my blog, I remembered this year’s True Life retreat which was entitled “Something More”. By faith and by His grace, I went to the retreat last weekend. :)
I praise and thank Jesus for the privilege of serving and knowing Him more in the True Life Singles Retreat. I’ve witnessed so many changed lives and hearts surrendered to Him and I know that it was only by His grace. It really was a humbling experience for me because I was reminded of God’s indescribable grace and love for me.
I really cannot imagine my life without You, Jesus. You have been and you will always be everything to me. I just can’t explain how you’ve changed and renewed my heart, mind, and life. Thank You so much for dying on the cross for me so that I can spend eternity with You in Heaven. Thank You so much for being with me and for being my Risen Savior, Lord, and best friend.
Jesus, You are worth my every cent, every second, every breath, and every step. :)
“Too much to make sense of it all
I know that Your love breaks my fall
The scandal of grace, You died in my place
So my soul will live
Oh to be like You
Give all I have just to know You
Jesus, there’s no one besides You
Forever the hope in my heart.
It’s all because of You, Jesus.”
[Scandal of Grace by Hillsong]
And if I may just add, the food committee served s’mores in the retreat. When I saw those treats, my heart melted and I smiled because I remembered how God encouraged me to step out in faith and serve Him in this ministry. Thank You, Lord! :)