Psalms & Banana Bread

Warm, soft, fragrant banana bread. Mmmmm.

During the winter months, curling up under my blankets and reading the Psalms became my pastime. As the snow fell and the ice continued to crystalize outside in the cold, I would cover myself in warm, fur-like blankets, and fall into the pages as my heart warmed to the beauty of God’s love and glory. One night, as I dug into the psalms, I made myself some warm banana bread. Truly, the combination of beautifully written scripture expressing love towards God and the warm spicy scents radiating from the oven is the perfect recipe for feeling cozy and close to Jesus!

As my heart would come alive to the words so magnificently expressed in scripture, I pondered the magnitude of what my eyes were looking at. It’s utterly amazing how powerful the Word of God is. How totally error-free beyond human ability to accomplish and perfect it is. It’s completely trustworthy. Your soul can cling to every single word in that book and know that your soul is holding onto the very purpose of our being. Your soul can cling to every word in that book knowing that it will never rust, mold, or deteriorate, ever. It’s eternal, and putting your hope in Him leads to eternal unwavering delight.

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Matthew 6:21

It’s not the kind of book that you read once and then you tip up your hat and walk away, having gotten all you can out of it.

No, completely opposite, actually.

The more you consume the Word of God into your being, the hungrier you are for it. For Him.

Though He perfectly satisfies the human soul, perfectly fills, perfectly provides all of our richest desires, the more we get of Him, the more intense our hunger for Him becomes. Because we realize that nothing on this earth tastes as good as Him. Nothing even compares. So when we experience intimacy with our Maker, the cry of our soul is satisfied – and our hunger intensifies – all at the same time. We do anything and everything we can to receive more of Him. More intimacy with Him, more of His faithful love filling us, more of His peace, more of His closeness, more of His joy, more of His presence, more of His voice, more of His wonderful company. When we pursue Him like this, He responds. He promises that when you seek Him, you will find Him.

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29

The LORD is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you. Psalm 9:9-10

My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.” Psalm 27:8

Scripture is saturated with God telling us people to seek Him. He wants to be found! He desires us to reach out to Him and allow Him to be our shelter, our refuge, our shield.

A relationship with Jesus Christ is a real, ongoing, close relationship – closer than any other you could possibly have. When He responds and you experience deeper and deeper intimacy and closeness to Him, you then respond back to Him. In the same respect, He’ll pursue us with a relentless, intense, passionate pursuit. He always pursues us, it never ends. He pursues us in countless ways, all you have to do is look around. He woo’s us with glorious sunsets and sunrises. He feeds us with a bountiful assortment of food supplied on the earth. He speaks to our hearts. He draws us in using countless of life situations to get our attention. Some bad, some good. He wakes us up everyday. He heals our bodies. He reveals Himself to you. He convicts your heart of His existence. He comforts you in times of distress. He fills you with His perfect love. He offers peace when you’re anxious. He mends our broken hearts. He fills us with His light, shining Himself through us when we come to Him. He died and experienced gruesome unthinkable torture so that you could live in a close bond with Him forever. He keeps you alive. He gives you breath each moment and wakes you up every morning. He pursues us. 

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. Hosea 2:14

The Sovereign LORD has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will. Isaiah 50:4

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Hosea 2:14 is one of my very favourite Bible verses. It has melted me and excited me. It has filled me and thrilled me and lifted me and has made my heart feel like exploding. It has pulled me in, desiring Him deeply, longing for Him more than air, wanting Him more and more and more. He has touched me and stirred me and warmed me with His presence through this verse. This verse shows of his passionate pursuit of us. He’s a God of love, a God of romance with those in relationship with Him. And there is absolutely nothing that could even compare in this world. It’s so incredible, that when people start to experience His love and who He is, they feel compelled to realize that everything else in this world is a loss compared to Him. He compels people to give up anything and everything just for Him. 

Because there is nothing better. 

To have a God that protects you and pursues you and loves you to no end…is the most blissful feeling that one could ever experience.

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ. Philippians 3:8

Isn’t it beyond incredible that even the most valuable things on this earth would be considered garbage in comparison to having a relationship with Jesus Christ?

This world contains a vast amount of worth, of value, of beauty. I stand in awe of it every day. But it’s all nothing in comparison to God Himself. That’s how immeasurably valuable God is! That even the most valuable things on this earth is nothing compared to Him. To the one who made all of that beauty and worth and value.

One does not realize the immensity of this until they reach out to Him in faith. When you respond to Him in an act of faith, thus beginning a real relationship with Him, you will experience the greatest love, the greatest treasure a man can posses.

You will rack your mind wondering how you lived a single moment without Him prior.

It’s just a beautiful relationship altogether and my heart feels like it’s going to burst when I try to wrap my head around it.

And God was gracious enough to give us His Word. His Word contains His character, His personality, His attributes, His beauty, His love. We get to know Him through this text, this powerful supernatural God-breathed text. The Word of God isn’t a bunch of text written of people’s interpretations of Him – rather, the Word of God is a text written by God about Himself and how much He desires a relationship with us. It’s a love story. The love story. God and the people He has a wild love for.

He reveals Himself through scripture. People, under the complete inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote this holy book and every word in it is ordained and carefully written by God. It’s who He is.

Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20-21

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1: 1-5

The Word is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God. God is the Holy Spirit.

With God, you go deeper and deeper into fellowship with Him in your Christian walk. Until your last breath on this earth, you’re in His loving hands – granted you have a relationship with Him. Going deeper with Him means that as you read a passage, the Holy Spirit will touch and minister to you and stir your heart in new and different ways. He speaks to you through His word, ministers to you through his word, tends to you, comforts you, guides you, holds you, disciplines you, and above all, loves you through his word. Oh, the joys of his love are never-ending, always freshly flowing, and radiantly filling us lowly human beings. He brings incomparable delight to our hearts, taking tender care of us until the day we meet Him face to face.

I am so thankful He left humanity with the gift of His holy Word. His Word is His love letter to us, and once you begin a relationship with Him, His Word becomes a light to your eyes and a lamp to your feet. God’s Word isn’t just a bunch of printed sentences on paper. God’s word is truly Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ is truly, completely God Almighty. Therefore, holding the Bible in your hands is the most valuable physical thing you can hold in your hands. It’s God and his love and his treasures, on pages written out in love.

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

So, reading Psalms again brings a new delight to my heart and a sparkle in my eyes, as I’m taken even deeper into fellowship and understanding of God.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. John 16:13

So as I’m reading the Psalms in my warm fleece cuddly pjs, smelling that banana bread just enhances the experience.

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And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times. Psalm 12:6

We’re not meant to walk through this life alone, wondering what on earth we are here for, spending our days meaninglessly wondering and doing and working and sleeping. We were meant to experience so much more. We were meant to know why we are here, and where we are going. We were meant to know Who made us, and Who loves us with an overwhelming, consuming love. The greatest love.

And when you find this out, you light up brighter than the sun.

A Good Boost of Energy

Protein bars. Energy bars. Granola bars. When we think of these things, we usually think of those packaged ‘healthy’ snacks that take up half an isle. When we need a boost of energy or feel those 3pm hunger pangs kick in, or when we had just worked out and need to refuel, much of western culture buys processed, sugar-laced crack in a neatly shaped bar, wrapped with loud and bright logos. To our dismay, these can even deceive the most trained and passionate athletic gurus into thinking that they are healthy. Those protein bars packed with sugar and a bunch of ingredients we can’t even begin to pronounce are not good for you in any way, shape, or form. Sadly, what manufactured companies advertise as healthy usually isn’t the case. They’re packaged to solicit healthy-lifestyle and workout junkies; however, they aren’t nourishing to your body. Yeah sure, they’ll give you an energetic high. That’s because of all the sugar in them! And yes, protein is good for you, but in manufactured form…not so much. Not even close. Not only that, they charge 4-6 bucks a pop, basically ripping money out of the hands of folks desiring to lead a healthy lifestyle.

According to an article I found on The Globe and Mail, many protein bars contain these horrid ingredients: soy protein isolate, high-fructose corn syrup (HSCS), fractioned/hydrogenated palm kernel oil, artificial sweeteners, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and natural flavourings (which are not natural!). Without making my blog post too entirely long, I didn’t include the descriptions or what they do to your body [please do research!]. But, they aren’t good for you, and I feel grateful to have the opportunity to shed light on them and help encourage another way.

Before I go on any further, I’ll be the first to admit that I will splurge on candy, chocolates, and when my mom lays out a beautiful german chocolate cake in front of me, I won’t say no. Haha. But my argument here is that these bars are packaged to endorse a healthy lifestyle and are geared towards those trying to be healthy. When I eat chocolate cake, I know that it’s a splurge. But I wouldn’t want to eat something I think is healthy and nourishing yet it be anything but that.

I can tell you that it breaks God’s heart to see people deceived and caught up in the advertising and sale schemes of big money-hungry companies, and the people behind them.

Don’t be deceived, my dearly loved brothers. James 1:16

Just because it’s packaged as healthy, doesn’t mean it is. In fact, these corporations don’t even slightly care about your health. They want your money.

Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life. Proverbs 1:19

God doesn’t want the precious human beings that He created to fall into this advertisement, passivity haze. Jesus Christ is the all-powerful, Almighty God, but He also feels so deeply. More deeply than human beings can fully grasp. And His heart breaks when He sees His people nutrition-deprived, especially when he gifts us with an abundance of food that comes from the earth. This goes way beyond packaged bars. It’s the fast-paced convenience-centered culture in which we live. The kingdom of consumerism as an entity spills out into every facet of our lifestyle, and greatly effects our culture, society, and way of living as a whole. It goes deeper, but for the sake of this post, I’m only going to discuss packaged protein bars. The good news is that with the right knowledge, we can go against the grain! We can open our eyes, become purposeful in our well-being, and walk in a different direction.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

God doesn’t want us to blend in with this world. Let Him give you wisdom and insight on how you should take care for yourself and live this ever-so-difficult and pressing life.

Now, I’m not saying all protein bars are bad for you! Nor am I saying you should never eat them. Some bars on the market are clean and whole and good for you, albeit being expensive. Whether you love protein bars or hate ’em, that’s up to you. But, I’d like to provide insight on them because I believe there are so many different possibilities  – ways that invest nutritiously into bettering your mind, body, and overall health. Ways that give you natural energy and satisfy your hunger.

What’s important is fueling the body with real, natural, whole foods.

It’s easy (and fun!) and almost sickeningly quick to make, and for pennies on the dollar of those sugary monstrosities.

Did I mention they are oh-so good? I mean, those manufactured bars ain’t got nothin’ on the homemade whole food versions!

You can really be creative when you make your own energy bars. That’s the beauty of it! Recently, I made move to rid of all things in bags and packaged and put everything into jars. (Okay, I’m kinda obsessed with jars. Once you start, you won’t stop.) I made a huge trip to bulk barn, bought raisins, craisins, dates, nuts, seeds, chia seeds, shredded coconut, flax seeds and more. My heart literally gets excited at filling all of my jars with various foods.You name it, it’s probably in my cupboard. Haha.

 

 

Here, I made energy bars that came out so yummy, filling, and healthy. They are like the homemade version of larabars. Fruit, nuts, dates = yumminess and energy at my fingertips. I made two different kinds! The first batch, I threw in….

Recipe:

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • dates
  • 1-2 tbs. almond butter or any nut butter (use at your discretion – used to hold everything together!)
  • 1 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • dash of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (for good measure, of course!)
  • flax seed
  • chia seeds
  • unsweetened coconut

Put it all in the food processor, mix it all together, then form it into a glass dish! Put in fridge to further seal it all together, and it’ll be ready for you to cut into squares. Batch number two was the same, except I omitted the unsweetened cocoa and chocolate chips, and added a bit more dried fruit almond butter.

 

Here’s some energy balls I made as well:

 

Recipe:

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup nut butter (I used sunflower seed butter! Yum!)
  • 1/3 cup honey, warmed
  • 1/3 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup flax seeds
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tbs chia seeds

In a large mixing bowl, put all ingredients except honey. Pour warmed honey over everything, and mix with a wooden spoon (or your hands!) form into balls, and place in fridge to harden.

They’re amazing squares and balls of goodness! And the best part is sharing them with a friend! There’s a great deal of joy to be said about receiving that text saying, “your bars are so delicious! Thanks!”. Ah, the little things in life that touch the heart. :’)

I hope you enjoy making these. I’d love to hear your feedback on them!

God’s Goodness

Salad. Beautiful, colourful, fresh, nutrient-rich salad.

I feel really blessed in life. Wanna know why? Because I actually love salad. Like, it’s not a job to eat it like many feel when they’re on a some type of diet. I drool over salad. I salivate over salad. Though I love to cook, I’m not a fan of chopping for so long to make the salads…seriously, it takes a lot of chopping! I kind of wish my choice salad of the day would just appear on my counter at my demand.

Unfortunately, the healthier you eat, the more work. It becomes an integrated part of your life, with much thought and effort put into it. When you come to realize that your health and well-being are more important than the feelings of hesitancy to want to spend so much time preparing – scouting out recipes, planning, shopping, chopping, blending, sautéing, measuring, mixing, and worst of all, cleaning! – you’ll do it and not only will you do it, but you’ll enjoy it. Because every ounce of time, effort, prep work, and money that goes into the health of your body and mind is an investment. One that returns to you in abundance.

So I chop. I chop because I want to eat fresh veggies. I chop because it’s good for me. I chop because I feel one with the Creator of the food I eat. I chop because God made these beautiful and tasty foods, and I want to enjoy His creation. I chop because I love salad!

I also reeeeeeeally like eating. I mean, food is amazing. I’m sure you’d never be able to tell, with this blog and all! 😉

But wow. That God in His goodness and generosity would give us, human beings, so many delicious flavours, as well as taste buds to richly enjoy a multitude of flavours just again leaves me in awe of Him. He’s so good and giving and worth all of our love.

The LORD is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation. Psalm 145:9

Some synonyms for compassion are fellow feeling, care, concern, sensitivity, warmth, love, tenderness, tolerance, kindness, and charity to name a few.

Ever think about God like this? He’s the one who created you. He created you with joy and love! He showers His compassion on us through so many endless ways, and you start to see them more and more as you look around and become aware of Him. Because of His sweet love, sensitivity to us, and desire of good things for us, He has given us the gift of taste buds and the ability to taste what seems like an endless array of foods and food combinations. He provides, and He lavishes His love on us in abundant ways.

O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting. I chronicles 16:34

When you really come to know Him, and have a posture before Him of love, adoration, reverence, and humbleness, you come to realize how amazingly blessed we are that He is who He is. That the glorious God of all that exists didn’t have to have His attributes, His character, His nature, His divine beauty and His faithful love. When one comes to realize this, all the things in life once taken for granted becomes radiant in front of our eyes, as we see the Creator and His hand in everything that exists. He didn’t have to give us the ability to enjoy so many things on this earth. But because of His goodness, we are gifted by Him in so many ways.

For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ Acts 17:28

A beautiful truth is that all of God’s kindness is intended to turn people towards Him in love and adoration. It’s intended to bring His created people into a loving and fulfilling eternal relationship with Him. One that satisfies even more than all of the beauty we experience in our lifetime. If you look closely, you can see His passionate pursuit and divine wooing of us through His endless and generous lovingkindness.

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? Romans 2:4

God isn’t mean and controlling. His love literally consumes and he gently and lovingly and sweetly wants to pull us into Him. And one of the ways he does so by lavishing beauty all around us!

I notice this a great deal when I make salads. Yeah, it’s just a salad. I get that. But, it’s also a reflection of God’s goodness. You see, salads are so colourful! Together in one bowl, you can see all the different pretty colours and different tastes all together in a delicious dish.

One of the other things I love about salad is that you get to eat a lot. I mean, when you have a big huge salad in front of you, it takes time to get through that thing. It’s work. Delicious work! Hungry? Put as many veggies as you want in your salad, and chow down. I love making myself massive dinner salads. They’re so satisfying!

So go! Make a big colourful salad! Go to your local store, and find as many different veggies with different colours as you can. Chop them, and put them together for healthy superfood goodness. Red tomatoes, orange carrots, yellow peppers, dark leafy greens, light green cucumber purple (red) onion, dark purple cabbage, and black olives, to name just a few. And there, you have yourself a rainbow of goodness and beauty, sitting in your bowl for your enjoyment.