2015 Verse of the Week #17: Psalm 139:14

2015-04-26 21.09.02

Mike and I are on a mini-vacation right now, and have enjoyed time with friends and family over the past few days. Mike’s vacation is over now, as the purpose of our travel was actually for him to attend a work training today and tomorrow, but it’s allll vacation for me! 🙂 Today I am writing in comfort and peace, but from my parents’ home instead of my own.

My 17th verse of the year is Psalm 139:14. The Seeds Family Worship song is called “Wonderfully Made,” track 5 on “The Power of Encouragement.”

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

Psalm 139 is a treasure trove of wisdom and truth that informs our hearts of the work and character of God, seen through the lens of David’s appropriate response to God’s perfect character and acts: wonder, awe, praise, and a desire for righteousness.

This verse supports several fundamental truths about God that we find throughout the Bible: he is our creator, he loves and cares for us, he sets his people apart, and he enjoys his craftsmanship.

When I saw that this verse was coming up, I contemplated it briefly and thought, “Is this going to be a body image post?” Because it could be. I cannot say I know full well (like embracing or living in) the truth that I am wonderfully made as a work of God. I may know it, but I don’t always live it. Trust me, I’m working on it. I am trying to navigate around the pervasive (and sometimes simultaneous) “hate your body” and “love your body” messages I hear from our world and pursue the message of the Bible. The Bible tells me that my body is a work of God, something I should respect and care for, a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit, but also imperfect and not my permanent home.

I sometimes find myself internalizing the messages of the culture more than God’s message found in the Bible, and that is a concern to me because my desire is to live God’s way in every area of my life, even if it kills me… which it will, because I cannot achieve that goal on this side of eternity. But I digress. When I read this verse I am reminded of my need for God’s renewing work in my mind so I can see myself as he sees me. It is something he does through his power, but only when I yield to him and allow him to do the work.

When I recognize that I am God’s creation– his child– and that he sees me as wonderful, I can be kinder to myself. I can be grateful for the ability to get up in the morning and take breath after breath as I walk through each day. I can be grateful even when the days bring pain or sadness, because my body still has the strength to endure it. I can appreciate the physical things, like my eyes opening and my legs carrying me around, but I can also appreciate that my mind and soul are alive and growing.

The broad message I’m drawing from this verse is to live in light of being one of God’s wonderful creations. Right now for me that means aligning myself with God’s message and allowing him to work in my mind, which leads me to be kind to myself when the world tells me I’m not good enough. I can also share God’s perspective with people who are hurting because of the messages they hear and believe from our culture.

What does this verse say to you?

Advertisements

Gluten-free, Egg-free Bread?

Spoiler alert: the answer is YES!

I’ve been cooking & baking up a storm lately, which may be what led me to act on a whim over the weekend and attempt this pesto bread from Sweet Paul magazine. I didn’t want to mess around with baking it in jars, so I used a regular loaf pan. It worked out alright, but because I didn’t bake it in jars the center was gooey for a long time, and of course the longer I baked it the crustier the outside of the bread became.

Mike and I both ate the pesto bread, and it went well with our meal so it was mostly enjoyable. I’m sure this was due largely in part to dipping it in oil & vinegar. 🙂  But what really impressed me was how well the recipe handled my gluten-free flours. So I tried it again last night, without the pesto. And I was so pleased that I had to share!

When this bread was baking, it smelled warm and delicious and normal. But I was nervous because no eggs, no gluten. I peeked in at it in the oven and saw that it had a nice, golden crust on top… and was still nervous. When I took it out of the oven and it looked perfect, but I had to use a knife to ease the edges away from the pan… I was still nervous. Can you tell I’ve been burned– figuratively and literally– by allergy friendly recipes? So I just left the loaf to cool for a bit before doing anything, because… nervous. And I got busy doing my things (“things” on this night involved packing for a road trip, which we know = neurosis), and before I knew it the bread was cool and ready to pack up, and I figured the time was right to try it.

And it was good! To me. I always feel like I have to say something about how my taste buds may not be “normal” because I eat so alternatively, so… it tastes good to me, and you are welcome to try it if you are a fellow un-normal food person. But it tasted just how it smelled! Warm and a little nutty (I think that’s the teff), dense but still chewy, and surprisingly not too dry.

2015-04-24 00.53.29

This is almost too easy. Maybe you’d like to try it?

Gluten-free, Egg-free Bread with Rice, Teff, and Tapioca Flours

*Adapted from Sweet Paul Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 heaping tablespoons dry active yeast
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup + 1 cup warm water
  • 1.5 cups tapioca flour/starch
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 cup teff flour (I used a mix of ivory and brown)
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Instructions:

  • Mix the yeast, honey, and 1/2 cup warm water in a bowl and let sit for 5-10 minutes to get nice and frothy. (I let mine sit for up to 20 minutes because I keep my yeast in the freezer. I have no idea if this is correct or not, but it’s what I do.)
  • In the bowl of a mixer (or in a large mixing bowl), combine the flours and salt.
  • Add the oil, water, and yeast/honey mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until a smooth dough is formed.
  • Cover the bowl and put in a warm place to rise until it doubles in size (45 minutes)
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees
  • Transfer risen dough to a greased loaf pan and bake for about 20 minutes until golden and crusty on top.
  • Cool on a wire rack, or enjoy it warm if you just can’t wait!

2015 Verse of the Week #16: John 16:33


With the sun shining and crisp, cool air moving through the windows, I am feeling grateful for this peaceful Monday morning.

My 16th verse of the week is John 16:33. The Seeds Family Worship song is called “Take Heart” and it’s track 4 on “The Power of Encouragement.” Here is the verse (in the NIV translation):

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I know I don’t fully understand this verse. Jesus’ overcoming the world is a large, far-reaching concept. But what I do understand about this verse touches my life in many ways. It contains important truths about God’s character and our lives.

In the first part of the verse it is important to look back at John 16 as a whole. (33 is the last verse of the chapter.) Jesus has just shared with his followers what is about to unfold: Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension, and the coming of the Spirit. He tells them that the Father loves them. He also tells them that they (the disciples) will leave him (Jesus) and be scattered. But he speaks plainly and honestly, and they recognize that he is doing so in verses 29 and 30. With “I have told you these things” in the beginning of verse 33 we see that Jesus is honest and trustworthy. This informs our understanding of the character of God. With the next part, “so that in me you may have peace,” we see Jesus’ (and therefore God’s) love and care for us. He wants us to know peace in our hearts as a result of trusting his words.

When Jesus tells his followers that they “will have trouble,” he is both stating a fact because we live in a sinful world, but also foretelling how life would change for his followers after his death and resurrection. This shows again that Jesus is honest and trustworthy, and cares for us enough not to sugar-coat the truth.

But “you will have trouble” is not the end! It is not consistent with the character of God to share honestly about the troubles we will face without offering hope and a solution, hence “Take heart!” “I have overcome the world” is the part I know I don’t fully understand. This must have been a mind-blowing thing for the disciples to hear, as well; maybe not in that moment, but probably when they looked back on the conversation. Jesus had not yet died, risen again, or ascended, yet he had already overcome? Yes, of course, because he was not just fully human, but also fully God, and knew what his death and resurrection would accomplish. And he did it anyway, and he told his followers about it plainly, and he wanted them to place their trust in him as they navigated life in light of what was to come.

I understand Jesus’ overcoming the world to include his victory over death, as well. So there is the implication that in this world we will have trouble, but in the next world there will be no trouble, so the hope of heaven and God’s new earth is part of how we “take heart.”

Jesus wants the same for us as he did for his disciples: to take heart and trust in the one who has overcome the world. The Bible tells us Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and there are countless other passages in Scripture that tell of the consistency of God’s character, his love for us, his plan for redemption through Jesus, and his promises to be with us as we walk through this troubling world. And all a person needs to do is believe that Jesus is the son of God who overcame the world in order to take part in his victory.

As I reflect on this verse today, I come to this conclusion: I should not be surprised when I face trouble. I should not judge God to be unfair or unkind. Rather, I should be thankful and joyful for a Savior who told me the truth (that I will have trouble). I should trust him to be with me, strengthen me, encourage me, and guide me as I go through my troubles. Today is not a very trouble-filled day, but those days have come and will come again. When they do, I can “take heart” and not be overtaken by the trouble of this world because I trust in the one who has overcome. I kind of feel like a “woohoo!” is in order here!

Finally, I have used this verse in preschool in the past, and would like to share a printable from BibleStoryPrintables.com for it. They have a variety of coloring and tracing pages that you could use with a pretty wide range of ages for this verse (and many more).

image from BibleStoryPrintables.com

image from BibleStoryPrintables.com

How does this verse speak to you? Are there other verses that come to mind as you think about the concepts Jesus touches on with just one sentence?

Allergy-friendly recipe roundup

When I looked back at all the recipes I’ve tried since last Friday, I was amazed. How did I find the time?!? The answer is that my husband was out of town for a few days. I love spending time with him, but I also relish time by myself and time tinkering in the kitchen.

The more experience I’ve gained in the kitchen, the more I have learned to read a recipe and decide if I even want to attempt it based on the ingredients and process. While this still holds true with most main dish recipes (like the meatballs I’m sharing today), I have entered a whole new world with baking since going gluten- and egg-free and trying to be as sugar-free as I can. There have been many baking “fails” in my kitchen in the past couple of years as I’ve adapted to this new way of eating, so when I find good recipes, I share! I don’t want others to have as many fails as I have. This week I tried out two new baking recipes, one new dinner recipe, and enjoyed a dinner recipe that has become a staple for me. With nary a fail among them. Huzzah!

Let’s get started:

Mini Asian Meatballs in Lettuce Cups: If you know me, you know I have a knack for finding free magazine subscriptions online. I recently snagged one to Martha Stewart’s Living and didn’t expect to find allergy-friendly recipes in it, but lo and behold, this one was mostly safe and entirely delicious. It calls for a mayonnaise sauce, which I can’t do, and I don’t think fish sauce technically fits my diet, but I used it anyway because it’s like only a teaspoon. I used grass-fed beef in the meatballs and whipped up my own drizzling sauce with cilantro, garlic, lime juice, olive oil, and spicy crushed red pepper flakes. I served it with brown rice to help the meat go farther, but ultimately there was not enough left over to constitute another meal for two. Next time I make this I will have to double the recipe, because the only thing worse than slaving over a meal– no matter how delicious– is having to do it all again the next day.

2015-04-16 18.32.24

my own photo

 

Easy Spicy Mac ‘n Cheese: This recipe from the Simple Veganista is surprisingly good, but probably not for every palette. I love it because I can’t eat normal things and have, in fact, all but forgotten what many normal things even taste like, so this does the trick for me. Is it pasta? Is it yellow? With a tangy flavor? Good enough. The only change I make to this recipe is to stir in some shredded almond cheese (about 1/4 cup) to give the sauce more of a melty, almost-actual-cheese consistency. I’ll freely admit that this stuff tastes kinda weird, but I happen to like it. I like it so much that I ate it as part of a nutritious dinner three nights in a row while Mike was away. And I might eat some more for a late lunch today!

from thesimpleveganista.blogspot.com

Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies: These cookies from Primally Inspired are probably even better if you use eggs and dairy and sugar, as called for in the recipe. But I used flax and coconut oil and stevia and ended up with a dry-but-tasty batch of lumpy cookies. They’re dunkers, for sure. But like I said before: if you’re not eating normal things, a dry cookie is better than no cookie at all. Next time I might add some honey and experiment with my flax “eggs” to see if I can get the cookies to spread and flatten in the oven, but in the mean time I’m not having any trouble snacking on them.

from primallyinspired.com

Simple Vegan Banana Bread: This was a Pinterest find that caught my eye because there were some bananas on my counter that were growing spottier by the day, and I knew I couldn’t eat them all by myself. So I threw 4 into this recipe and was pleased with the result. Any time a recipe is already eggless and can withstand my substitutions I hold onto it. Next time I might add a little more baking powder to get more rising action, but it really was good with my gluten-free flour blend and stevia in place of sugar. I had a big slice with my breakfast this morning.

from VeganCookie on low-cholesterol.food.com

 

If you are like me and can’t eat normal things, check out my allergy free meals/sides and allergy free treats boards on Pinterest!

Happy weekend, and bon appétit!

 

 

2015 Verse of the Week #15: Psalm 55:22

2015-04-14 07.17.57Wow, spring is bringing with it a quickened pace of life. Why am I always surprised? It does seem to happen every year. Today was another busy one, much different than I thought it would be. But while I was busy and a little flustered by the loss of my routine at moments, I felt blessed that I have so much flexibility in my life right now. I have the time to sub at preschool, run errands, and spend leisurely time talking to a friend who I rarely get to see. I’ve still gotten everything done that I needed to… so far. There are some dishes haunting me, so I’d better hurry up and share this week’s verse with you! And then live in its power in my own life.

The verse is Psalm 55:22, the Seeds Family Worship song for which is titled “Cast Your Cares.” It’s track 3 on “The Power of Encouragement.” The song uses the old NIV but I have pasted the new NIV below. There is only a slight difference.

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

I need this verse today. Sometimes my cares are small, like today when I was concerned (mildly, but still concerned) that I had to work out at a different time and my dinner time didn’t line up with the tv schedule. Big deal! I knew I had to write about this verse as I was fussing in my head about the change to my routine, so I let the Holy Spirit take over. All of a sudden, I was able to enjoy what I was doing in the moment: cooking, listening to music, thinking about all the good things that happened in my day.

I definitely need this verse when cares are large, like when I’m unsure how we will pay for an upcoming expense, or I’m discouraged about my health, or I feel the distance from friends and family, or I feel my very real inadequacies in some other way. These are the times when we may feel like we’re about to fall, or like giving up, or like giving in to feelings of hopelessness.

As I wrote when Philippians 4:12 was the verse of the week, God’s Spirit does not allow me to give up or fall away when life gets tough. That is God’s sustaining work in our lives. His power and love are real. And unfailing. And offered in spite of (because of?) our inadequacy, helplessness, and sin. God knows we can’t stand up under the weight of ourselves and this world. Even though we made the choice to oppose him with our sin by trusting in those things, he will always provide a way through our circumstances. Whether it’s a visible light at the end of the tunnel like finding a twenty dollar bill when you’re $20 short, or if it’s a quiet assurance in your heart that you will make it through, our gracious God will hold his children up. When we belong to God, he makes us righteous. We are given a new nature– his nature. We will not be shaken, and we will not fall.

Some other powerful verses that came to mind with this one:

It’s very early in the week, yet I’ve already had ample opportunity to put this verse into action. How about you?

Friday Fun

After a very dreary, rainy week the sun is shining! I’m not usually too affected by gray skies, but I realized it had gotten to me this time when I found myself on Wednesday planning an outfit of sweats for after work on Thursday. Those sweats felt downright cozy yesterday when it was chilly and drizzling outside, but I’m looking forward to more activity today, and cuter clothes.

I thought I would share some of my Internet finds from the week as we head into the weekend.

A recipe: I’ve been craving caramelized onions for a few weeks now, and finally made some on Wednesday using this slow-cooker recipe (with olive oil instead of butter). Genius! Now, I could have just eaten them as-is because they were delicious, but I didn’t think my husband would appreciate a “meal” of slimy brown onions in a bowl. So I used this Martha recipe as a starting point and cooked up a skillet of pasta, ground turkey, kale, and my yummy yummy onions. Success!

This is Martha’s. Mine looked… similar.

A smell solution: As super-delicious as my onions were, I did not want everything in the house to smell like them. I’m always hyper-sensitive to onion smell; it really bothers me, especially on my hands and clothes! I found an easy little recipe for a natural fabric refresher made with water, baking soda, and essential oils. I used my lavender and lemon oils from Plant Therapy in a little travel-sized spray bottle and misted my furniture and my clothes. It seemed to help, although the smell didn’t vanish altogether. I also applied some citrus oils to my hands (with a carrier oil) which did eliminate the smell from my skin. Thank goodness!

A hair helper: Unrelated to onions (unless the smell got into my hair?!?), I have been looking for a new dry shampoo. Years ago I used cornstarch for cheap, easy, hair de-greasing, but now I’m supposed to avoid corn for health reasons AND my hair color is darker, meaning the white powder doesn’t blend in like it did when I was blonde. I’ve found that the aerosol sprays blend in pretty nicely, but the chemicals are a bit of a concern and the cost adds up. I decided to try this natural diy from Brit + Co, and while the brush application takes some getting used to, I like it overall. I subbed in arrowroot powder for cornstarch, and I like the addition of cocoa to darken the color for better blending. I followed the recipe and added a few drops of Plant Therapy’s Germ Fighter blend, but next time I might leave that out because the oils seemed to make the mixture a little clumpy.

Exercise encouragement: Most years I have jumped right into fitness in January and been able to keep it up for most of the year. This year I’ve been dragging, and was looking for something to get me back into shape. I find that I am a better person inside and out when I exercise. This is my second week following the Tone it Up girls’ Love Your Total Body Workout, and I’m feeling stronger already! I’ve been doing this routine three days a week and trying to do the treadmill or take a walk outside on the off days. I love doing Tone it Up workouts (as you can see from my Fitness board on Pinterest), but I am sharing this one with a grain of salt, and I’ll explain why.

As with most workout videos, the trainers are attractive and wearing clothing that allows them to move freely and demonstrate the moves. Many of the Tone it Up videos I would share without hesitation; it is typical workout fare with typical workout clothing and a playful attitude. Their target demographic seems to be young single gals, so “looking sexy” is assumed to be part of the viewer’s goal. I find this pretty easy to disregard because I see results with the workouts, and the girls really are encouraging and informative as trainers. But if you’ve got little ones around you may want to screen the videos from this series. It is sponsored by Victoria’s Secret, and the intro devotes some time to highlighting lingerie, and it’s definitely more sensual or risqué than the other TIU videos.

However, TIU is GREAT about offering printable versions of all of their workouts. I would say that once you’ve watched the video to see what the techniques look like in action, you could safely follow the printable on your own if you are seeking to limit the amount of lingerie-clad ladies that appear on your tv or computer screen at home. This is the track I take with most of their workouts anyway because I get annoyed having to LISTEN to a video over and over. Usually I will follow the video the first time and then opt to follow the printable (either on paper or on my phone) so I can play my own music while I work out.

Do you have any tips for food, home, hair, or fitness to add to any of the above? I’d be especially interested in onion-odor-elimination advice. It bothers me big time!

Enjoy your Friday and weekend!

2015 Verse of the Week #14: Philippians 4:8

File Apr 06, 5 07 53 PM

I’m hitting the ground running after Easter with a pretty full week, but I’m looking forward to it all. The only thing that’s bumming me out a little bit is the weather. We enjoyed a few days of sunny skies and almost-warm temperatures over the weekend, but now the clouds have rolled in and we are supposed to see drizzle, rain, and maybe thunderstorms all week. I guess it’s not bumming me out too much, though, because I do enjoy the extra time to dress in layers before summer hits. 🙂

This week’s verse (only 1 verse!) is Philippians 4:8, and the Seeds Family Worship song is called “Think About It,” track 2 on “The Power of Encouragement.” I have pasted the old NIV version below; the new NIV is the same except for the addition of “sisters” to the beginning.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

I have to admit that I have never fully memorized this! I always seem to miss at least one item on the list, so I’m looking forward to getting into it for a week and learning ALL the words. This might be one of those times where I write the verse out and feature hard-to-remember words more prominently.

The picture above is actually of a plaque hanging in our kitchen. I love it, although considering my little dilemma of not knowing all the words to this verse, it’s too bad that my pretty plaque doesn’t have all the words! 😉 But it’s pretty and contains most of the verse, so I keep it around.

This verse certainly has the power to convict, which I have seen in my own life when my thoughts are in need of a makeover. Having this verse (mostly) memorized has allowed the Spirit to take thoughts captive that do not fit the Philippians 4:8 bill, and replace them with thoughts that help me grow closer to God. This is the process of mind-renewal that we read about in Romans 12.

This verse is also aspirational, because a mind is not renewed overnight. A mind is renewed one second and one thought at a time as we work out the salvation we were so graciously given. The Holy Spirit, our Helper, will guide our minds toward what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

There is so much more that could be said, but I don’t have the time or really the wisdom to say it all. I don’t want to give the impression that this verse is about mere positive thinking, willpower, or a moral how-to list. I do want to present this verse as an encouragement to followers of Christ to remember that our thoughts matter to God, and even though they sometimes run wild and seem uncontrollable, they are redeemable and redeemed when we receive and work out our salvation.

I have seen the Spirit change my thought life in a variety of ways over the years, and can remember a few of the actual moments when I noticed the change. And it hasn’t been a feeling of being “busted” for having a bad thought, but a feeling of relief that because of God’s Holy Spirit, accessible to me through Christ’s sacrifice, I can choose something better that brings me closer to God. It’s a feeling of relief and appreciation, of encouragement and motivation.

How do you view this verse? How have you seen it at work in your own life? I feel insufficient at explaining it today and would love to hear from you. 🙂