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How Do You Live?

Recently, I wrote a letter very similar to this to a dear friend.  Although I originally planned to have the letter be something unique to her, it contained such a important concept that I wanted to share it here.  Please read, and share.

Dear Friend,

Live with an Eternal Purpose.

(gasp!) No, it really is not that mind-blowing, but it is something that I think is grossly underestimated.  Although I am not a perfect example (not even a very good example) of living with an eternal purpose, it is something that God has put on my heart both for my life and for others. 

So what does living with an eternal purpose look like?  How do we model it in everyday life? I firmly believe that it is simply another way to say, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and His Purpose.  We live in the moment, only seeing what’s right in front of us.  This is why the silliest arguments and the littlest mistakes make a huge impact.  But when we look at our own lives and the current situation through Jesus’ eyes, we see the importance of it all.  Relationships are richer, experiences are more memorable, mistakes become less important and Jesus becomes fixed in the center when we see life through His eyes.  He uses every situation to grow your trust in Him, and to make His glory known. 

Often times, we miss it.  We miss the opportunity to see His majesty, to love well and live abundantly.  Don’t miss it.  I have wasted so much time missing out on God’s heavenly purpose.  I know from personal experience that the things that are the most important in the moment are nothing in comparison to the glorious call of Jesus.  Whether you are having the best or the worst day, see life how God sees it. Don’t miss it. 

On that day, when we stand in the presence of God, all the things of this world will fall away, and we will be satisfied in Him. 

Live with an Eternal Purpose, it’ll change your life.

Blessings,

Maddie

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The Call of Freedom

I wrote this short, unedited paragraph for a writing assignment this week.  We took a short nature walk and were asked to write about what we saw with a unique perspective. As you read, try to guess my inspiration for the story.  The answer is at the bottom.  I hope this little story touches your heart, as it did mine.  

Freedom.

  It spoke to me.  At first, it spoke gently with the lightest whisper.  Quickly it grew, calling me to come out.  Soon, it grew undeniably loud, penetrating my inner being. Freedom was coming.  For my entire existence, darkness enveloped me.  No matter how hard I tried to escape, darkness held me back.  I was stuck in the muck, in my loneliness, my despair, my emptiness.  There was no one, nothing that could change me, nothing that could break me free.  Then it came.  When hope seemed just out of grasp, it called me.  Freedom.  I was scared, unsure that my present darkness could be overcome by light.  But freedom broke through, shattering my unbreakable chains and bringing me into life.  Now, I live life abundantly.  I leave behind the darkness of my past, and reach forward in hope of the future.  My days are filled with glorious wonder.  Unstoppable, I fly through the air, taking every opportunity as if it is my last. At last, I am satisfied. Nothing can stop me now.

I am free.

   

Butterfly 1

Inspiration from a Butterfly, trying out its new wings and finding joy in simply being free. 

Blessings,

Maddie

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Ravishing Recipes: Almond Granola + Homemade Yogurt!

See other Ravishing Recipes here and here.

My favorite quick-fix breakfast would by Homemade Yogurt with Homemade Jam, Almond Granola and Self-Picked Blueberries.  Over the past few years, my family has grow to love wholesome, homemade meals.  Although not every meal we make is all homemade and natural, I am so happy with the new recipes we are making.  Here is my all time favorite Granola + Homemade Yogurt (a surprisingly yummy dish 🙂 )

Almond Granola*

Ingredients

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

2 cups of raw almond, hand-chopped coarsely

2 cups raisins or other dried fruit, chopped if needed (we use 1 cup dried cranberries, 1 cup golden or regular raisins)

Instructions

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk in oil. Fold in oat and almonds until throughly coated.

Transfer granola mixture to prepared baking sheet and spread across baking sheet into thin, even layer (about 3/8″ thick). Using a stiff metal spatula, compress granola mixture until very compact. Bake until lightly browned, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating pan once halfway through baking. Remove granola from the oven and cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 1 hour.  Break cooled granola into pieces of desired size.  Stir in dried fruit. Store in airtight container. (Makes about 9 cups).

This granola is so, so yummy!  I eat it with yogurt, milk or by itself as a snack. My favorite though, is to eat it with yogurt.  Keep reading to make Homemade Yogurt!

Homemade Yogurt

Although it seems a little odd, making your own yogurt is surprisingly easy and SO inexpensive.  Just follow the instructions and see for yourself!

Ingredients and Tools

– 1 half-gallon whole milk (8 cups). (We make a whole gallon at a time, since there are so many of us.  We also use low-fat yogurt, but it is best to start with whole milk.)

-1/2 cup store-bought, natural, live/active culture plain yogurt as a starter (we use 1-1 and 1/2 cup starter when we make a whole gallon).

-frozen/fresh fruit, jam or honey for flavoring

-crockpot/slow cooker

-thick bath towel or quilt

Instructions 

(Note: Yogurt making takes a while, make it on a day when you are around for a while).

Plug in your crockpot and turn it on low.  Add your all your milk.  Cover and cook on low for 2 and 1/2 – 3 hours.

Unplug your crockpot and let it sit with the cover on for 3 hours. Do not lift the lid or stir the yogurt.

When 3 hours have passed, scoop out 3-5 cups of the warmish milk and put in a large bowl.  Add your starter (the active yogurt) to the bowl and whisk for about a minute.  Put the contents back into the crockpot and whisk for another minute. Put the lid on your crockpot and keep it unplugged.  Wrap your bath towel or quilt tightly around the crockpot.  Let it sit for about 8 hours (we normally let it sit overnight).

Once 8 hours have passed, the yogurt will have thickened (it’s not as thick as store-bought yogurt, but we like it just the same).  Store in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

When you eat the yogurt, add fruit, jam or honey to flavor it. Be creative!  Our favorite is homemade raspberry jam and that Almond Granola.

Making simple recipes in bulk like this is both time-efficient and low-cost.  For our family of eight, using store-bought yogurt even in bulk was just too expensive.  Plus, making your own allows you to be creative and adjust the recipe for your family’s needs.  Please enjoy!

Let me know how your Almond Granola + Homemade Yogurt turns out! What is your favorite on-the-go breakfast?

Blessings,

Maddie

*Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen 

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Blessings on this Resurrection Day

May you experience His hope-filled joy on this blessed Resurrection day!

“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26

A Glimpse of His Splendor
A Glimpse of His Splendor

Blessings to you my friend!

Maddie

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On Sledding in the Rain

Yesterday, some of my siblings and I, and a few friends, loaded up the gear to go snow sledding on Snoqualmie Pass in the Hyak Sno Park.  The Sno Park was a huge hill specifically used for sledding.  Since it was a school day, we had the hill virtually to ourselves.

Snoqualmie Pass *
Snoqualmie Pass *

As we began our sledding, it started to rain, on and off all day.  I don’t know if you have been in the snow while it is raining, but it’s not a fun experience.  Rain makes snow slippery, and makes you wet.

Although the rain was kind of disappointing, we did manage to have some laughs and some good old-fashioned sledding fun.

Snow + Kids = A Bit of Crazy
Snow + Kids = A Bit of Crazy
An Attempt to Ride (with four at once) :)
An Attempt to Ride (with four at once) 🙂

Needless to say, I have complied a fairly exhaustive (though not completely so) list of do’s and don’t’s when sledding, especially in the rain.  Enjoy!

Tips for Sledding (in or out of the rain):

Make a Jump out of snow.  Jumps give some air to your ride, making the sledding a little more fun, but also causes some laughs from falling off the jump.

Bring Lots and Lots of Gloves.  Don’t just bring 2 pairs of gloves for yourself, bring 3 or 4 pairs.  Your friend will end up needing one pair, and your own pair will soak through in five minutes. Bummer. 🙂

Take Risks (Which is hard for the worrier, stay-safe girl that I am).

-But Don’t Be Stupid. As in sledding down the hill laying down, backwards, and headfirst. (I got to see my brother and some of the boys doing tricks like this. Scares me crazy! 🙂 )

-Bring More Food than you ever thought imaginable.  Somehow food not only replenishes energy, but seems to warm you up, even if the food is cold. Plus, junior high boys are always hungry! 🙂

-Share Sleds with Others.  Don’t be stingy about your special sled.  Sometimes the little kids have better sleds than you do!

-Create a Signature Ride that you all will remember.  We tried to sled down the hill with five people on three sleds, all at once!

-Take Your Best Friends Along.  They are the ones that make you laugh, and who don’t care if you look like a marshmallow in all your snow gear.

-Bring an Extra Set of Dry Clothes.  It is no fun to ride home in wet clothes.

-In Fact, Bring Extras of Everything. There will always be a kiddo or friend who needs another coat, or snow-pants.

-Wear Little to No Make-Up. If you do wear make-up, make sure to wear clear mascara. Rain and snow makes a mess of it. Just go with no make-up.  Who cares what you look like, we’re all cold and crazy! 🙂

-Ice Cream is the Best pick-me-up on the long drive home.

-Make Memories That Will Last a lifetime.  These special days should be remembered.

There you have it!  My list of do’s and don’t’s for sledding.  As you can see, we had some mishaps and frozen fingers, but we had so much fun along the way.

My Sister Sunshine, a Good Friend and Me (Please excuse the wet tired me on the left :)
Me, a Good Friend, and My Sister Sunshine (Please excuse the wet tired me on the left 🙂 )

Do you have any other “sledding essentials?” Comment below!

Blessings,

Maddie

*Photo found from the internet. 

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Spring is Coming

Crocus
Crocus in the Snow

Spring is Coming.

From where you are, this may have been evident for whole weeks.  But from where I live, the sun is just beginning to peak through the clouds and shine its radiance on our beautiful land.  The plum trees, bare from the hardships of winter, are bursting forth with thousands of tiny, tender, precious pink blooms.  The daffodils, once buried in the ground, have shot up in a brilliance of yellow and white. The camilla bush, once believed to be useless, fruitless, flowerless, now erupts in dozens of bright blooms. The crocus’, normally hidden by the cold, are found in the out-of-the-way places, in all their humble glory.  This is the spring I see.

Daffodil Splendor
Daffodil Splendor

The blooms of the trees and plants are growing, from small tender shoots, to blossoms of the richest perfume.  The grass, now freshly cut from the bitter treatment of winter, now smell tenderly clean.  Wood-burning fires, consuming the rubble to bring a host of color echoes its smokey fragrances through the nearby land.  This is the spring I smell.

Camilla Blooms
Camilla Blooms

As the sun warms and lights us gloriously, the birds rise to wake us with their unending joy.  They sing out of sheer satisfaction.  Other critters, squirrels and the lie, scurry restlessly, awaiting the bounty of summer.  This is the spring I hear.

Tender Plum Blossoms
Tender Plum Blossoms

I see, smell and hear it all around me, the call of spring.  This is a call of joy, a call of hope, a call of life.

Miracles are happening everywhere.  Growth and changes are enveloping us.  The wonders of spring are captivating us.

This is the call of spring.  This is the call of Jesus.

A call to Life.

Spring is Coming.

Blessings,

Maddie

The Hope of Spring
The Hope of Spring

 

Photos were found from the internet. 

 

Another Reason For Joy, Ravishing Recipes, To brighten your day, Yummy Favorites!

Ravishing Recipes: Mango Banana Smoothies!

See other Ravishing Recipes here.

Hello there!

I’m back with another recipe to share!  We first discovered/created this recipe a couple of days ago, and I am so happy with it!

I love this recipe mostly because it is quick (as smoothies usually are), packed with fruits and veggies, and full of flavor, which makes me happy.

Ingredients (makes one LARGE serving):

1 whole ripe Banana

1 cup frozen Mango

1 cup Spinach

1/4 cup plain Greek Yogurt

3/4 cup milk

3/4 cup water

This recipe could easily be made dairy free and vegan, by using 1 cup almond milk, no yogurt and 1/4 cup water.  

Instructions:

Put ingredients in blender in order.  Blend from medium to high until smooth, light green, with no chunks of fruit or spinach.

I really enjoyed this smoothie.  It came out a pleasant shade between smooth mint and lime green. It was creamy, due to the yogurt, but I could still taste all the fruits.  I could not taste the spinach at all.  Overall, it had a sweet taste that was fresh, and not overwhelming.  This recipe is a winner!

My sister adapted this recipe from The Daniel Plan Cookbook, a guide that is based off of Daniel 1.  The idea is that healthy eating should not just be for weight loss, but should be a central part of our lives.  The Daniel Plan addresses not just the physical side of us, but also how to grow and shape our mind and soul as well. I’m not doing the Daniel Plan right now, but I still enjoy their recipes!

I hope you try this smoothie!  Please enjoy!

Blessings,

Maddie

I was not sponsored by The Daniel Plan for this post.  I really do like their recipes that much!  🙂