Monday, July 30, 2012

Recipe and Story: Strawberry Angels and Getting Closer to Heaven

This afternoon I made one of the easiest yet most delicious set of cookies I've ever concocted. I found the 3-ingredient recipe for these cloud-like, melt-in-your-mouth dreams on (my favorite new internet addiction). It's a Smuckers recipe, and it was very much appreciated at my Bible Study tonight, but more on that later... Here's the recipe so you can make it yourself!

Strawberry Angel Cookies   1 package Angel Food Cake  3/4 cup Smucker's® Strawberry Jam  3 tablespoons mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional) HEAT oven to 325° for 10 to 12 min

Strawberry Angels

  • 1 package of Angel Food Cake mix
  • 3/4 c. low-sugar strawberry preserves
  • semi-sweet chocolate chips (as many as you desire!) 
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. 
  2. The mixture after everything is combined. LOVE the pink color!
  3. Combine the cake mix (the dry cake mix ONLY, no water or eggs or anything else) and jam until moist and thoroughly blended. Add chocolate chips (the more the merrier!)
  4. Ready for the oven! 12 minutes to go!
  5. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes.
  6. Don't those look good? They are now ready to be brought to the Bible Study!!
  7. Cool and enjoy with the "angels" in your life!
 So, I doubled the recipe to make about 4 dozen to bring with me to my new Bible Study called Refuel. A friend of mine I talk to about attending Liberty (my number one school on the list I applied to-- prayers and fingers crossed!!) asked me if I would be interested in going last week, and I decided to meet him at his church to check it out.

I'll admit-- I was scared. I am always scared to go to any kind of fellowship because I am always afraid I am not "Christian" enough. Go ahead, laugh at it, but it's always this feeling I've had in my gut. But going to this amazing Bible study, which includes nearly 50 Christians ages ranging from early teens to early twenties, showed me that there is no such thing as a qualifying list for a Christian-- just that you are who you are and Jesus fills in the rest. What a beautiful way to live and be accepted. These amazing people, far wiser beyond their years, showed me that.

Today we talked about 1 Corinthians 2, and he amazing power of God and His love that consumes all else. Not only was the message tonight great, and the worship music uplifting, but I love that I can go to this group, say whatever I please, and learn and grow and be encouraged. This is one of God's greatest gifts-- the fellowship and interactions we have with others that allow us to see Him more and more. I hope that all of you get a chance to experience something like this.

So, I thought it was only fitting that I share my angel cookies with my own "angels," the group of incredible young people just trying to find their way to Heaven just like me. What a beautiful thing.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Favorite Quote Fridays: 27 July 2012

1 Peter 3:3-4. Every girl should read this.
An idea that I have always struggled with, laid out for me by God!1 Peter3:3-4.
one of the quotes of my life
One of my favorites of all time. I have considered getting it tattooed on myself (yes, I love it THAT much!)  
This quote makes me melt <3
i am a little pencil :)
Such a beautiful way to look at life!
This quote is one that is very special to me. When I was going through the hard times of experiencing the medical turnback last year, a good friend gave me a coffee mug for Christmas that had this design on it. I felt it couldn't have represented my situation more perfectly, and it makes me smile every time I use it!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My Very Own Devotional: In Real Life...

Good morning! One of my favorite ways to start the day is reading the Internet Cafe Devotions website's daily cup of comfort. Today, they challenged me (and all the other readers) to write our own devotional. So here it is (feel free to try it on your own!!):

In real life, I am your typical teenage college student, unsure about most things in life, yet thinking I know it all.

Yet I have been blessed with the experiences I need to learn and grow each day.

In real life, I have tried so many life paths and failed at most of them in pursuit of something I believe is right.

Yet I have been blessed with an abundance of possibilities to work at God's great plan for me.

In real life I fight with my brother and my mom all the time.

Yet we also laugh, enjoy each other, and love each other more than anything.

In real life, I lean on my best friends for support, and love going to church, though it is sometimes hard to get up for on Sunday mornings.

Yet God has allowed me to reach out through volunteering at the church VBS and Open Pantry as a result of being at church.

In real life, I workout and diet more than I probably should, and I don't pray enough.

Yet God has given me grace and unending love, and that is more than enough.

In real life, life is messy and full of stories that we think don't belong. Yet this is God's creation and story, making it perfect and beautiful, giving me hope, giving me a reason to continue on because this story will be incredible-- and that's His promise, and God doesn't break His promises!

God keeps His promises!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Recipe and Story: Goin' Bananas and Best Girlfriends

The best kind of baking has to have two requirements: it must be going to someone you love, and it must have some component of pumpkin or bananas!!

Today's recipe that I made using a combination of a pinterest image, and inspiration from a recipe meets both requirements beautifully. You see, the other day when I went for a run I ran into one of my best friends from high school, Maura, while she was on her morning run. As is usual when we get together, we quickly got tangled up in a conversation that had the momentum to last for hours (we always have to cut them short-- how unfair!!) One of the most wonderful things about my friendship with Maura is how deep and healing our conversations can be, which is part of why I made this recipe for her today!

Eventually, our conversation lead to our love of all things banana-bread-y. So, I made a mental note that I have to try one of my many banana bread recipes for her to enjoy. Today's creation: Healthy Dark Chocolate Raspberry Banana Bread:

Healthy Chocolate Raspberry Banana Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup truvia sweetener
  • 1/4 cup honey-flavored greek yogurt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup fat free buttermilk
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 1/3 cups frozen raspberries
  • 1 1/3 cups dark chocolate chips
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl until combined thoroughly.
  3. The batter with dry and wet ingredients added. Don't worry, it looks better later!!
  4. Mix the wet ingredients until combined thoroughly.
  5. Ready for the bread pan with raspberries and chocolate chips added. Yum!
  6. Add in the raspberries and chocolate chips. Feel free to add more than the recipe calls for-- there is no such thing as too much chocolate in a piece of banana bread!!
  7. As Tom Petty once said, waiting is the hardest part!!
  8. This recipe made me one (greased) 8x4 bread pan, and two custard cups of banana-raspberry-chocolate goodness. Bake the custard cups for about 25 minutes and the loaf for about 40 minutes (or until you can stick a toothpick in the bread and have it come out cleanly.)
So, there you have it! Make like a monkey and stock up on bananas so you can try this one! It's super-healthy, and delicious, if I do say so myself. Enjoy!!


Monday, July 23, 2012

Poem: Days Like Today

Isn't it funny how when the fog drifts
And blankets its soft haze over us
We say it is ugly, drowsy,
We shun the gray and beg the sun to return

No, it is rather peculiar
I smile when that murky, mysterious light
Seeps through the cracks of my window shades
I even welcome the soft pitter-patter of rain drops

I wonder why others do not see
That on days like this the greens become more alive
The colors of the flowers burst with more vibrance
In contrast with that gray.

How can they not feel that calm beauty,
With the air saturated with tragic romance?
How the gentle light licks our skin,
Forgiving in its cool glow

I smile at the contrast.
I thank God for days like today;
That which makes the rest of the world brighter
In its deep darkness and mystery.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Adventure of the Day: Getting Lost in Mt. Tom

I am exhausted! Today, after months of wanting to do this, I went to hike Mt. Tom in Holyoke with my brother Matt. It couldn't have been a more gorgeous day for trekking approximately 1202 ft. in elevation through 6.7 miles of trail, the sun shining and the temperature just warm enough without being too humid. 

The trails were so beautiful! This is what I wrote in my journal about it:

22 July 2012

The trail was littered with shards of rock, as if God had taken pottery and smashed and shattered it against the face of the mountain. The trees, illuminated with the perfect sky's sunlight, let a green glow rain down through its leaves. It was a serene paradise.

Beginning my 6.7 mile hike to the peak of Mt. Tom!!

The trail itself, the Metacomet-Menadnock Trail, was not difficult all together. I'll admit, I got a little nervous when we approached a very steep climb early on in the hike; a set of rock stairs that might as well have been perfectly vertical. However, the trail was a merciful one; while there were a series of steep rock climbing sequences (which I happen to love), there were also several downhill portions. Now, if you plan on hiking this trail, the downhill portions might be misleading-- I know I got confused, because I thought, "Hey, I'm hiking a mountain, aren't we supposed to be going up?!" But, thanks to the many landmarks on the trail, we were able to keep track of where we were. 

The first series of steep climbing... not looking too ready for it yet!
More steep passageways-- now I'm up for it!

One of the best parts of the trail were the countless vantage points with stunning scenic views of Holyoke, Amherst, and other points of the valley. I could make out UMass Amherst, farms, and the Connecticut River from some of the scenic points:

Enjoying the breath-taking views along the way!

We saw some falcons circling some of the vantage points
Matt was particularly fascinated by this tiny lizard we found. Ew.

 Another great part of the trail, as I mentioned earlier, were the land marks that helped you figure out how close you were to the peak and in what general direction you should be headed. You see, the Mt. Tom experience is not the kind that will get you totally immersed in nature like you're some Mt. Everest explorer (although I like to pretend that is the case). Mt. Tom is the broadcasting site for 3 Springfield-Holyoke television stations, so there are several antennae and towers marked on the map to be your guide. There is also the UMass Amherst windmill that is a key point on the trail. In fact, the peak of the trail is among a series of telephone wires, broadcasting towers, and even a star-shaped light display. 

The UMass Amherst Windmill, and me at the peak of Mt. Tom with the star light display! What a view!
After reaching the peak, we decided to hike down the other side of the mountain rather than turning around. It all went downhill from there (if you'll pardon that disgusting pun. I can't help myself!) We got out of the woods and wound up on the side of Route 141 with no idea where we were. Still having the notion that I was a great explorer, I was certain we ought to head East on Route 141 after one look at the map. However, Matt caught on after almost 2 miles of walking the wrong way that we should have taken a left. But, what is life without a few things going wrong to keep things interesting anyways?

This is what utterly and hopelessly lost looks like

After 4 hours of walking, be it hiking gloriously through nature trails or wandering mindlessly along the side of major roads, the trip to Mt. Tom was a great experience! I'm hoping to go again in the fall when the trees are in full autumn color-- it will be like a whole new hike! 


Prayer Journal Entry: Based on 1 Kings 19

1 June 2012

My energy had utterly left me as I lay on the stone cold floor of the cave, its cool touch chilling the fear which set my body on fire. I gazed up at the blackness above me and silently declared defeat. I felt hollow; whatever I once clung to in order to survive or hope for something had drained from my being, as if it had seeped through holes punctured in my soul. I could not even be sad. I could not even care if I felt, thought, or breathed a minute more. Death was an embrace and my ending was a lullaby. With my final ounce of heart in this fight, I begged God to take my miserable failure of a life.

Refusal! I nearly hated my merciful Father for his urging me to press on. Yet He gave me food so I would live on. He showered me with His light so I might have hope. I was not alone, and He was not done with me, as much as I wanted to be relieved from the pain. I could not see Him, I could not even sense Him at some points, but He was there all along. I had a friend, a force pushing me, though I moved with such reluctance. He did not lie and tell me it would be easy. He just said we could. But only together. 


My spirit renewed, I came to believe. He surged through me, saturating my soul with inspiration, filling those holes in my spirit with strength and trust and motivation. He kept His promise, and did not abandon me. I live in Him!