It's Not Always About the Tomatoes





I like to travel with buddies and rename them.  I vacationed in Costa Rica with Lupe who loves margaritas and gets a little loopy.   I don’t drink but I’m a fun gal.  Just ask my co-worker, Frank.  I nicknamed him Jellyfish.  I packed my underwater camera.  Jellyfish can hold his breath really long.  He modeled for my underwater photo shoot in the colossal pool at the resort our company chose for us.

I am fascinated with rain forests so my favorite thing to do in Costa Rica is to take walks in them.  I signed up for the tour of an organic cacao working farm.  Lupe chose it too.  A group of us piled into tractors to view crops of watermelon, mango, rice and cattle while we chewed on natural sugar cane, their largest product.  We observed monkeys, Toucans, and sloths.

The best part of the tour for me taught about climate change and harvest time as we walked single file among papaya trees, cacao trees, as well as banana, pineapple, palm and macadamias.  


After hours in the rain forest, we returned hungry.  The friendly owners of the ranch served the Peruvian version of Ceviche for lunch.  Their recipe consists of salad ingredients using hearts of palm, tomatoes, limes, celery, avocado, and cilantro. Some of us have allergies to shrimp and onion so the hospitable family left those ingredients out.   We enjoyed it with chips, salsa and ice tea.  I returned to the states and prepared it for my family and got three cheers.


Lupe stayed at our house last weekend and we mulled over photos of lush Costa Rica.  We decided to prepare Ceviche and I hunted for my largest salad bowl.  We gathered most of the ingredients but found only one lonely small almost shriveled tomato in my fruit basket!

Lupe insisted we go all the way into town to buy a tomato but I gave her a big ugly frown.  She carried on:  “Let’s try that store at the corner.”   I sat aimlessly in my car in the parking lot of the country store while Lupe inquired.  They sell liquor, cigarettes, lottery tickets, candy, milk and no tomatoes.  I would tell her: “Told you so.”   I worried when twenty minutes passed and no sign of Lupe.  Finally, she opened the car door carrying two big tomatoes. 

On the drive back to the house, I listened to Lupe’s story about her quest.  In that two-bit shack of a store, Lupe encountered a woman preparing sandwiches to sell.  A hurting woman, a desperate woman hopeless because life is hard and she wondered if anybody out there cared.  God cared!  He sent her Lupe with her incredible gift of encouragement.  She took the time to speak life into the despondent woman.  The woman was grateful and gave Lupe not one but two tomatoes for her listening ear and advice.

We all ate Ceviche that afternoon and it turned out to be the best version ever!  Joy filled the rooms of our home as we gathered to pray not only for the food but for one hurting woman’s heart and future.

It's not always about the tomatoes.


The words of the wicked are like a murderous ambush,
    but the words of the godly save lives.

Proverbs 12:6












































Want to get creative and make Ceviche?  I'll share my recipe with you:  here

Comments

  1. Beautiful photos and I love the Toucan! :)

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    1. Linda, he perched on my forearm. Oh, my beating little heart. You would have loved him!

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  2. I'm going to make it some time, looks delicious! The adventures you have had with the travel you have done :) So neat God ordained the visit with Lupe and the lady with the tomatoes; I'm sure neither one will forget each other.

    betty

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    1. Very healthy recipe the way I first ate it! My local grocer said he's never had it with Hearts of Palm. That is a favorite ingredient in Costa Rica!

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  3. I love your stories, Mary. It's awesome how God used your lack of tomatoes to lead Lupe to the lady who needed encouragement. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. It was an eyeopener, Bernadine. It's our lack of anything and God's provision of the best thing. I feel so small in His great big plan...sigh.

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  4. I love the pictures. And I love the story even more about Lupe providing encouragement. God is so good to give just the right opportunities at the right time and place! Thanks for sharing this, Mary.

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    1. True, Lisa. God can use anything even a hick town like mine to do His work. It's all a matter of being in tune with our Creator and allowing Him to use our everyday vessels and circumstances.

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  5. I didn't know you were in Costa Rica ... what a wonderful experience; and I love how you 'rename' your chums!
    Lupe's ministry has touched my heart.

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    1. Two company trips to Costa Rica, my happy place for sure. Gorgeous & lush place with lovely people. The rain forest is dramatic.

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  6. What a great story, Mary. I love 'loopy lupe' and 'jellyfish frank'... you ARE fun!! And the tomato part was precious. We never know, do we, when we will encounter answers we need when we share ourselves. Great story!

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    1. Encounters...who knew? I must admit, my attitude wasn't "in tune" as Lupe. I felt annoyed that she kept persisting we go hunting for a tomato when my shriveled one would suffice. Here it was God all along. I am totally humbled, Sonja, by Lupe's obedience to that following. I want to be more like her.

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  7. What a lovely story, sweet friend. :) I loved reading it all, but my favorite part was about the way God used Lupe to minister to this sad, hurting woman. It was a Divine appointment, I have no doubt. He knew all along that THAT was where you and Lupe were supposed to go, because He knew she could reach the woman. SO neat how God orchestrates our lives! Thank you ever so much for sharing! Sending you much love and many blessings. :)

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    1. I agree! He is the orchestrator of our lives. Oh to be in tune with Him. Great things happen! Hugs, Cheryl.

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  8. God is good. He comforts his hurting child in very special ways. Its a blessing to be able to encourage and bring hope to the hopeless. Blessings!

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    1. It does make me wonder about the woman in the deli of that store. Was she calling out to God for help? And I know in my own life, how far a smile or a special chat goes when I'm down. Good lesson for us for both sides of the picture!

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  9. Hi Mary! What a wonderful experience. I have never been to Costa Rica, and you make it look so amazing. Beautiful photos!

    I agree with some of your other commenters that the episode at the little store was a Divine Appointment. God is so surprising, isn't he? He shows up with his 'angel chores' in the most unlikely places. But that's what Jesus was like too, don't you think?

    Your salad looks great! Healthy too :)
    Ceil

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    1. Hey, Ceil, remember those Rice a Roni commercials when we were teens? That’s my post, haha, bringing Costa Rica into your home with my recipe just like you were there! Yes on the “angel chores”—Oh yes! Wonderful comment.

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  10. What a blessed miracle when the Spirit guides the footsteps, and then rewards with two fresh tomato.

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  11. What a special time the two of you had together in Costa Rica, and then again as you remembered that special time, and the Lord blessed again! A wonderful story... you have a great gift for storytelling, my friend! :)

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    1. You love photos like I do and KNOW the way the memories come pouring back!!!! Thank you...one who writes always loves hearing somebody liked their story!!

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  12. It is amazing how God will provide (even tomatoes) and a bit of encouragement to a woman working hard to make ends meet. What a lovely trip to Costa Rica. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

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    1. It's the everyday stuff that reminds me how personal and loving my God is!

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  13. What more can I ask for? This post made me laugh. Made me smile with all those wonderful pics. Made my mouth water for that awesome recipe. But most of all, my heart rejoiced in the way the Lord orchestrated that need for tomato and used His child, Lupe, to minister to a hurting woman. So many hurting around us. The need to be loved, to be understood, to be accepted, masked by a smile. So beautiful...to know when a hurting heart senses the love of the Savior through His children...and in so much gratitude, gave not one but "two" tomatoes. It could be everything she had that day. You're right. It's not about the tomatoes. Everything we do to survive here is always about our Savior. Thank you for this. The laugh. The recipe. Reminded me of my sweet mom who loved hearts of palm when she made her fresh veg. rolls. God bless and love you in Christ.

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    1. When my sister shows up and leaves a comment written more beautifully than my post. You stinker! True, you say it well. I’m glad I made you smile. You are the frosting on my cake. Love you.

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  14. Oh I love this post sweet lady. And you are so right....it isn't always about the tomatoes! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

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    1. Let's never stopped being surprised, Cindy!

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  15. It's so important to yield to the leading of the Lord isn't it? It sounds like Lupe has it down! And you got some delicious ceviche on top of it all. That's what we call a win/win.;-)

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  16. Wow... isn't that just how God works? That shriveled tomato was now coincidence. It's truly a blessing to be that close to the handy work of our Father. You must be doing something right, Mary.

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    1. Yeah, if He can use a shriveled tomato, He can use anything to get his kids where He wants us to be!

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  17. I cannot tell you how much I loved this story! I just love how God *shifts* things into His purposes. We just never know what we might miss if we keep focusing on *tomatoes* and forgetting that He is fashioning a feast!

    GOD BLESS!

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    1. You are so right, Sharon, about the focus part. Hope I learn that from my own experience here.

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  18. Ceviche! I'm really curious about that. :)
    And I enjoy reading your story. Life could really take us by surprise.

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    1. Hi, Lux!
      You're going to love it! Delicious.

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