One October 31st

There are a lot of October 31st’s in history. I don’t remember what I did October 31st last year, but everyone remembers what happened 500 years ago today: Martin Luther, a man on the pursuit of what it meant to be a Christ-follower, felt compelled to make a stand. He brought to light what had been in darkness and body presented these things before higher authorities. He did what God had called him to do. On October 31st, many people have risen and fallen. On countless October 31st’s  the unpopular and unnoticed followed God’s calling in their lives and made significant impacts that most of us may take for granted. Martin Luther made the choice to do something big in his life. And we’ve remembered it. But what is big to this world is like a breath of wind to God.

Jesus witnessed a poor widow giving all she had, and it may not have seemed to her as though it would make much of a difference in the ultimate financial need if she inserted the only two coins she had into the offering box at the synagogue. But it touched the heart of Jesus in a very meaningful way. That offering she gave was big in her perspective. That was her step of faith. It was kind of a big deal. Martin Luther nailed the 96 Theses to the church door. That was his step of faith. And we remember the exact date to this day.

On October 31st, 2017, what is your step of faith? On November 1st, will you answer God’s call? On November 2nd, will you choose  to do something for Jesus that is out of your comfort zone? Perhaps your calling is to reach out in friendship to the next Billy Graham who has yet to hear the Gospel. Perhaps it’s to share what God has laid on your heart recently with a random friend. Perhaps your duty in this moment is to benefit God’s Kingdom by being faithful in this season in which God has purposefully place you, or your calling could even include traveling to China for missions work, nail the next 95, or give your next paycheck to Jesus.

Martin Luther and the poor widow both did great things. They may have seemed small in the world’s perspective at the time. Don’t be afraid to step out in faith, out of your own comfort zone as God’s treasured child; you could make a bigger impact than you know.

And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.

Mark 12:41-44

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God Is In Control

God Is In Control

If you don’t read anything else in this post, read this. I don’t care that it’s cliche: GOD’S ACTUALLY IN CONTROL.
He is beyond huge enough to deeply care about your problems.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
-Matthew 10:29-31

When you experience a crisis, what is your go-to solution?
Are you going to try and fix it yourself?
Are you going to blame God for it?
**or**
Will you drop to your knees and seek God as your number one solution?
Will you praise God for another situation that could strengthen your character for God’s Kingdom?
My heart has been CHANGED by the One who has set me free and opened my eyes to see that He is HERE. He is with me at every moment, and He cares, because I am His child, and He grieves when I stumble and lose my way and reject His hand which extends me grace and joy beyond human comprehension.
Abandon the idea that you’ve got this and adopt the mindset that God’s got this.
Because He DOES.
I believe this with all my heart.
Choose to open your eyes and see that He has got everything under control.

“When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you? My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” -Psalm 73:22-26

Recipe 9: Cheese Cake, Quick Method (Ostkaka)

Recipe 9: Cheese Cake, Quick Method (Ostkaka)

In the beginning of June I started working for a quaint little gluten-free restaurant on main street as my summer job, and by the end of the summer they’d given me the nickname “baking Betsy”. I thoroughly enjoyed baking there, but since I began to do it more often I felt incredibly unmotivated to do anything more at home. But I really want to conclude the summer with just one more.

And the grande finale is…cheese cake!

Honestly, it was because I didn’t have the ingredients for the next recipes in alphabetical order.

I had the perfect excuse: my friends and I were bringing food to go watch one of my favorite movies before we parted ways for college. I chose the easy method because I got a late start.

This recipe was very simple: cottage cheese, flour, eggs, sugar, grated lemon rind, pulverized cardamom seeds, and whipping cream. When I let my “guinea-pigs” in on the ingredients, every one of them said, “Hm. Sounds healthy.”
About as healthy as pancakes, if we’re being honest.

[quick side note: I saw a meme recently about how breakfast is so great because it’s the only meal where you can eat dessert for the main dish. Yikes, people!]

On to the procedure: it took me a good 8 minutes to press the cottage cheese as directed through the sieve. But everything else flew by and was fairly uneventful. I actually remembered to record the prep time, and it was almost exactly one half hour. Mom helped me put the pan of cheese cake mix into another large pan of boiling hot water to put in the oven. I don’t actually know why that was required, but apparently this is typical for cheesecakes.

The cheesecake took an hour and a half in my oven out of the hour and a quarter suggested time.

My adorable friends fancied their slices up for the picture. In the pan, it was about an inch and a half thick, and was very typical, yellowish cheesecake color. It only cracked a tiny bit in the middle. The texture was very moist, probably because I was in a hurry to get it out of the oven, but also very highly because it’s the quick cheesecake method.

I served it with raspberry jelly which I mixed with a little water to make it more like syrup to serve. My friends said it was really good with the jelly. I’ve noticed with most of these recipes I’ve done, the recipe itself is a bit bland, but they always offer some sort of topping to go with it which makes it taste so much better.

There were plenty of leftovers, and my grandparents and parents got to enjoy it too. My grandparents absolutely adored it. My mom is a cheesecake fanatic and wasn’t too ecstatic.

In my opinion, if you don’t consider it to be a cheesecake dessert then it’s a great snack.

My rating: ★★★☆☆
(realistically, a 3.5 star rating. But that darned half-star isn’t available.)

Thanks for reading! This has been a fun experiment, and my goal was accomplished: I now love to bake.

Next up (maybe someday…), learning to love cooking. 😉

Recipe 8: Caramel Bread Pudding (Brödpudding)

Recipe 8: Caramel Bread Pudding (Brödpudding)

I rushed up to grandpa as he walked in and asked if he’d like to be the first one to try my creation and also that he’d get to be a model if he did. I handed him a plate of it as soon as he said yes and I snapped some pictures. Forgive me for my camera phone’s quality, but I think my grandpa’s pretty cute:

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The caramel bread pudding was fairly easy to make. I meant to make it the day before, and was completely prepared to track the prep time, but I got distracted with other shiny things. Yesterday, however, I managed to actually make it, and had so much fun that of course I forgot to record the prep time. Again.

I scalded the milk first, then added the melted sugar it required, and the result was not expected! Apparently when you add melted sugar to scalded milk it hardens immediately in a big bubble of what looks like a solidified, brown mushroom cloud. But this candied explosion dissolved in about four minutes, and it made me really miss science classes. Not really. I just wished my science classes had been that exciting.

I had the eggs ready and added them as soon as the sugar was dissolved, then mixed half of that concoction to the prepared bread crumbs in a separate bowl. The half without the breadcrumbs I added vanilla and salt, then put that into the breaded stuff as well. All of that was put into a small casserole dish and into the oven for almost an hour and a half.

It was required to bake for 55-60 minutes, but after several extra 7-minute increments, I gave up and let it be super…moist.

I made some whipped cream to put on top for as soon as it was cooled. No one else tried this dessert without the whipped cream, so everyone in my family gave it a 4 out of 5 stars. Mom said it was a little bit like pumpkin pie. I somewhat agree, but I thought it tasted a little more on the mushed graham crackers side because I was the only one who ate it without the whipped cream, so consequently…

My rating: ★★★☆☆

The recipe was fun and fairly easy to make. But I would personally consider it more of a snack or a breakfast sweet than specifically a dessert. It wasn’t especially unique, and the caramel taste was barely noticeable. I think it would give it a fun taste with some nutmeg or a some such festive spice. But to enhance the caramel flavor it might be helpful to include some corn syrup and butter. Aside from oven time, it probably took me about 15 minutes to throw it together.

On Prayer, Part 2: It Affects You

On Prayer, Part 2: It Affects You

 

I wish we were sitting across from each other at a quaint little coffee shop with ice cold frappes in our hands. The things I want to share with you are so much a part of my life and so impactful on my heart right now I feel as though we must be in person to convey these things accurately. But alas, you’re way over there and I’m way over here. Let’s imagine we have frappes though, because wow it’s warm in northern Illinois right now!

Recently, I was reminded through one of Jesus’ Gospel parables about the importance of praying earnestly. Boldly coming before the Father with your request and taking it to Him not just once but many times is huge. I decided to have a go at this myself, and pleaded with God on behalf of something that has been really impacting my life, and I included the plea for love and joy to fill my heart as I waited. I am so aware that my actions are often so selfish and I can do little about it in my own power, so praying for God to adjust my heart with genuine love and His joy has become a necessary factor for me. Throughout the day, God did not fulfill the initial request, but He changed my attitude about it, and in addition He filled me with a rare amount of a unique love and joy that I hadn’t experienced before. Because of various situations just in that day alone, it couldn’t help but be pointed directly at God, because I knew that I was completely incapable of conjuring up those qualities in myself! And this happened because the Holy Spirit led me to that passage that reminded me of praying to Him earnestly. That day, Hebrews 11:6 became very real to me: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

There have been many times that I have prayed for something in my life to change: for pain to go away, for finances, for getting accepted into a university, for a plethora of things. And you may have heard the saying that either God says “yes”, “no”, or “wait”. Often, it’s the dreaded “wait”, during which you’re not even sure if God heard you. But rest assured, He certainly did. When you come to Him, intentionally seeking Him out, He absolutely does hear you. And that waiting period is so very difficult. But this is what I’ve found to be so very true during those times of waiting and praying earnestly and diligently: He changes your attitude. There have been times when He was preparing me for the death of a dream, and what incurred was the result of a “no”, but He had something far better in store. Sometimes too that initial desire was in preparation for what was to come in its place. Waiting resulting in the answer “yes” is also a good preparation period, during which God is molding your character.

And there is so much more to prayer than even that. Building your relationship with God requires communication just like any other relationship, and this relationship with the Creator of the stars is a life-changing, heart-altering experience. And I can’t wait to tell you more about it soon and continue with our frappes!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah 29:11-13

 

 

On Prayer, Part 1: My Heart’s Song

On Prayer, Part 1: My Heart’s Song

You may have noticed that I write pretty much straight from my heart. When I put my fingers to the keys, I word vomit and don’t look back, especially when I don’t know how or where to begin, which is exactly what I’m doing now. Over the years of filling up diaries I have come to an automatic writing style of journaling that isn’t necessarily essay-worthy, but it’s from the depths of my soul. If I was blatantly honest with anyone it would be to paper, a computer screen, or Jesus.

So guess what?
You’re looking at a screen. 😉
You get to know my heart for a little while.

Lately, this enormously precious topic has been on my heart: prayer. The word makes some people wince, and others shrug. A lot of people would stop reading by now, because prayer is a boring topic that doesn’t make much sense, and isn’t really worth knowing about.

But it’s worth knowing. Let me tell you. It’s worth knowing.

Not only is prayer worth knowing, but it’s a vehicle to the One who is the source of your life. And He’s worth knowing.

There are several elements of prayer that didn’t ever really make sense to me for a long time either. For example, if God already knows my heart, why pray? and How do I know that my prayers actually affect anything?

I’m not here to answer those questions with a philosophical explanation, or even act like I know the real answer to what prayer truly does. Why I’m writing is to convey to you what I’ve learned over the course of the short 20 years I’ve existed in this crazy confusing world. Prayer is one really big thing that has impacted my life on so many truly, truly real levels.

It’s so hard to convey accurately what I’ve discovered about prayer. It’s been an interesting, and honestly perplexing journey over the past three years. But what I do know for sure are these three things:

  1. It affects you
  2. It affects your relationship with Jesus
  3. It affects others

So in the next few posts in this category, I’ll be diving into this topic of prayer and what I’ve come to know that has extraordinarily impacted my walk with Christ. I am still on a lifelong journey of discovering all the different, wonderful aspect of prayer, and I’m certain that I’ll never get to the point of fully knowing what it means to be in relationship-level communication with the Creator of the Universe.

But I suppose if I knew everything about things, life wouldn’t be so intriguing!

“For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears…For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
1 Corinthians 13:9-10 & 12

 

 

Recipe 7: Molded Blueberry Dessert (Blåbärsfromage)

Recipe 7: Molded Blueberry Dessert (Blåbärsfromage)

My boyfriend and I racked our brains for what we should do for a fancy date while he was visiting me from 10 hours away. We’re both broke college students, so even though the rural area I live in has pretty nice restaurants for a decent price, they still kind of made us wince. Then we had the idea to borrow some of my mom’s fancy dishes, candles, and a couple of cute table cloths, and set up our own little restaurant in my grandparent’s gazebo. Mom packed up for us extra Swedish meatballs and a salad she’d made, and I put together this recipe.

Blog--recipe 7

Bless her heart, mom helped a lot with this one as I was on a major time crunch. It started out with putting together the blueberry gelatin base. But since I had bought canned blueberry filling, I used that instead. It was almost exactly the same thing, and tasted marvelous. Though sometime I should experiment with the difference. The next gelatin layer was more challenging. I scalded the milk, added the sugar and salt, then gelatin and water mixture, but I got impatient with its chilling speed and stuck it in the fridge while I took a shower. The next thing I knew, I was blow drying my hair and mom asked if the gelatin was supposed to be tough. “No, it’s supposed to be like molasses…?” I called down the stairs. And mom helped me fix that one. It ended up tasting great, and the texture wasn’t too shabby.

I chose to put pecans in the whipped cream mix, and I halved the maraschino cherries. They didn’t give an exact amount, so I did the abominable and improvised.
I’m terrible at improvising.
But it turned out okay!

Mom also helped by layering it all into the glass bowl and decorating the top with more pecans and cherries.

This dessert was a little thicker than a typical pudding, most likely because I had the whole thing in the fridge for a good hour, but all in all the dessert was thoroughly fantastic. My boyfriend loved it. We weren’t able to eat the whole thing ourselves, only a small serving each, because it was pretty filling. He and I definitely snacked on it later though.

I did share this one with my mom, even though I said I was going to keep it just for my boyfriend and I. She helped make it, after all.

She rated it three out of five stars.
My boyfriend rated it five out of five stars.

My rating: ★★★★☆

Prep time was maybe a half hour…I should stop trying to record the prep time because I never remember to jot it down in the moment.

I seriously loved this dessert, and I’m definitely making it again!