Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Every good and perfect gift

By the time you read this, the next day will be Thanksgiving! I wrote briefly on how I am attempting to step back and practice gratitude throughout the entire month. One thing I have learned over time is that when you set an intention for yourself - especially a spiritual one - things often go differently than planned. When I pray for humility or patience, God provides me with experiential learning. So it should come as no surprise that oftentimes I had thoughts that were far from grateful. I found myself having moments of self doubt, and I fell into a pattern of thinking "what's next?" rather than being content with my current circumstances. I've mentioned before how powerful our thoughts can be, and so those thoughts left me feeling downright antsy. It wasn't until I took a step back that I was able to recenter myself. Many times I have to tell others exactly what I need to hear, in order to do so. Therefore here is a message for you and me:

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

God's love for you is constant. No matter your attitude, no matter your thoughts, no matter if you can see it or not. He is steady, waiting. Every seemingly mundane good thing that has happened in your life is a gift simply because He loves you. 

The time that stranger held the door open for you.
When someone pays for your breakfast.
Your friend who calls you out of the blue to ask how you are.
A faith community you are a part of.
Your education and your job. 
Family, no matter how complicated.

It is easy to overlook things that are in our daily lives. We begin to take them for granted simply because they are always there. The same is true for God. We forget to thank Him for our lives, for the simple things. How different would our outlook be if we made every mundane task an offering to Him, as a sign of thankfulness? 

I challenge you today to say a prayer of Thanksgiving for the large and the small gifts in your life. Enjoy your holiday. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Overflowing with thankfulness

  1. the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

November is upon us, friends, and I couldn't be happier. The weather is crisp, the leaves have changed to varying colors of red, orange and yellow. While Thanksgiving is at the end of the month, I am challenging myself to practice gratitude throughout November. Often I take the blessings in my life for granted. I would like to make time each day to sit back, take notice, and thank God for them. I love the definition above (thanks Google!) because it reminds us of a key component of gratitude: returning kindness. When we reflect on all of the good in our lives, we respond with love and kindness towards others. In fact, one would say we overflow with thankfulness (Colossians 2:6-7). We cannot help but extend our gifts, our blessings to others.

Gratitude also leads us to prayer. How could it not? I see the blessings in my life: my church, my husband, my daughter, my friends, my education. God is generous to us, and in turn I come to the conclusion that I don't deserve any of it. I once had a friend tell me that humility is just that, knowing you do not deserve the gifts God gives you, but recognizing them and using them anyway. God's love for me is overwhelming, and I need to recognize all the good he has put in my path.

Practicing gratitude means that we as people need to rest. With all of the day's responsibilities, this can be difficult. Resting, taking note of all around us, and whispering a prayer of thanksgiving can challenge us to step outside of our daily grind and truly appreciate our lives on a deeper level. This month I want to rest in God's love. I want to note one thing I am thankful for each day whether that is through journaling or listing them aloud. How can you practice gratitude this month?

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Simple banana bread

Back in April of 2013, my friends and family threw me a bridal shower. All guests were asked by my maid of honor and bridesmaids to bring a recipe card, so I could begin to put my family cook book together.

My friends know me too well. I love cooking. Some of my first memories are of me standing on a stool, helping my grandmother wash dishes or my mother make apple pie from scratch. When I visit friends and family, we inevitably gather around the kitchen island to talk. For my family, food is a simple way to show someone we care. So when I was given family recipes by my friends, it meant so much to me.

One of the recipes included was this banana bread. Sweet, simple, and delicious. Banana bread is a staple in our home, and my husband's favorite breakfast. This recipe requires no special equipment and is easy to adjust to your own personal preferences. In fact I love to call this a "base" recipe that you can use and add ingredients as desired. You can add walnuts, chocolate chips, or cinnamon to the recipe to make it your own. I have done all three with great results! With that being said, you can make it "as is" and enjoy the flavor as well.

Simple Banana Bread

Prep time: 15 minutes 
Difficulty: Easy
Cook time: 1 hour
Yields: 1 loaf

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 large, ripe bananas - look for brown spots
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Cream together butter and sugar using a hand or stand mixer.
2. Beat eggs, add to butter and sugar.
3. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Add to butter mixture.
4. Mash the bananas using a fork, mix in.
5. Add vanilla extract, mixing until combined.
6. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let sit in loaf pan for 5 minutes. Finish cooling on wire rack. 

If you would like to add any ingredients such as nuts, chocolate chips, or raisins fold in before pouring into loaf pan. 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin