friday chats

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Hello all you beautiful people and happiest of Fridays to you!

It’s technically still Thursday as I sit writing this at our coffee table, AK next to me with her math book open, and an open box of nerds as our little reward to ourselves. (This is what happens when you buy candy for your neighborhood trick-or-treaters a week before the actual holiday.) It’s a cozy autumnal day, the scent of the pumpkin bread we baked this morning still fills the house, and I’m looking ahead to a beautiful weekend.

We just got a delivery of a few packages, their arrival being heralded by our ever-faithful Winnie. One of these packages was from christynockels.com and carried with it a candle and a cd that I had ordered when she had a sale last week! I was so excited to finally purchase a copy of Be Held: Instrumental as the lyric-filled version of the CD has been beloved in our home since before Jack was born. I am an absolute sucker for a fall candle and when they are packaged as sweetly as this autumn one then I must bring one home. Also, her podcast is one of my top two favorites. I highly encourage a listen.

Another package was from Old Navy with the long peacoat I ordered on another great sale last week. Unfortunately, they are out of the color I ordered it in online, but they still have it in a dark heather gray. The fit is terrific — which has been a struggle for me with peacoats, to not have them look too boxy — and it’s nice and snugly warm. It’s a good staple coat and I’m glad to have it!

We are having a soup night tonight with a dear friend and we are quite excited about it! We’ve been anticipating it all week and the weather is just right for a cozy night of sitting around the table with bowls of hot soup, slices of crusty bread topped with cheese, and a glass of wine. For dessert we are going to use some of the orchard apples we picked last weekend to make this apple tart from the Pioneer Woman. It’s fall in a bite when you drizzle caramel sauce over it and, if you so desire, you can always nestle it next to a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Speaking of my top two favorite podcasts, the other is Journeywomen. It is just so good, you guys. Truly, I am so grateful for the podcasts Hunter and her team put out every week. What a gift! Every episode I am challenged, encouraged, spurred on, and just filled with reminders of good our God is and what profound grace He has shown to us! This past weeks episode on The Will of God with Jen Wilkin was fantastic. I have learned so much from Jen’s writing and speaking over the past several years and, more than anything else, she encourages me to be ever pursuing a greater knowledge of God and His Word, and I am so grateful for her example.

I don’t have quite as many favorite things or everyday joys to share with you all today, friends, but to be honest, this mama is tired. So it’s off to bed for me! Share with me anything that’s a favorite thing for you this week, if you’d like to. I always enjoy that. And I hope that you all have a simply lovely October weekend!

recipe || pumpkin bread & cream cheese spread

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I know I have shared my sweet Mama’s pumpkin bread recipe here before, but rather than just reposting the same one, I feel that it deserves a second post for this autumn season. There are many recipes that my lovely Mother makes that are favorites, but two that always always always come to mind first are her granola recipe and this pumpkin bread recipe.

*Sidenote: I made a different granola recipe the other day and J took it to work with the next morning and when he pulled out his lunch bag later that evening he told me, “Yep, Mom’s granola is a whole lot better.” She’s just wise in the kitchen, my friends.

This bread is the first thing I make as soon as that first fall chill hits. Since it makes two I usually add in chocolate chunks to one loaf for AK and keep the other plain because, though I am a wholehearted chocolate lover, when it comes to this pumpkin bread I will always choose the plain. And spread the cream cheese mixture over top of it and ohhhh my gracious, you’ll be dancing!

Pumpkin Bread

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking sode

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 teaspoons cinnamon

3 teaspoons nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ginger

3 cups sugar

4 eggs

2/3 cup water

2 cups canned pumpkin

1 cup oil

Directions

Combine dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and beat well. Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans or into seven mini loaf pans and fill 2/3 full. Bake loaf pans at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

It’s truly the BEST!

Spread: Whip up 4 ounces softened cream cheese in a bowl. Add (eyeballing) powdered sugar, a bit of milk, and a dash of vanilla. Whip together, adding in extra of whatever’s needed. (Start with less milk and work your way up.) Put into a small bowl and store in refrigerator.

Happy Baking, lovely ones!

that all too familiar struggle

The thoughts of insecurity came flooding in; the thoughts about all the things I don’t like about myself, the thoughts about all the things I wonder if people think about me, the thoughts about all the things I wish I was better at. The thoughts of comparison quickly followed; the thoughts of wishing I looked more like _____, the thoughts of wishing I was as creative or as well-spoken or as witty as ______, the thoughts of wishing I had someone else’s opportunities. It was a rollercoaster of thoughts, full of loops and hard turns and sharp jerks to the side. All those thoughts hit me like a ton of bricks, seemingly out of nowhere.

I knew that wasn’t true, though. I knew all those thoughts sprang from a place where they had found roots somewhere in my heart. The circumstances of the social settings or the form of the picture that was taken or the conversation that took place may have been different than before, but the thoughts themselves were nothing new. I knew those thoughts very well. All the familiar thoughts, the well-known lies that I was tempted to believe, were back in full force and it was awful.

It had been a while since I had struggled this intensely and, frankly, that was one of the hardest parts. I was so discouraged by the constant barrage of thoughts, the minute by minute battle to get outside of myself, the tears that would insist on falling. I was tired of this. I was over every bit of hearing those same thoughts circle around in my head. I was weary of this path I had walked many times beforehand because I knew where it lead, I knew the emptiness of it, and I knew what was so much better.

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That last phrase there is where the shift happened. It happened because of the better thing. It happened because the better thing, the better Being shed light on the roots of this all too familiar struggle and reminded me again of what truly defines me. He showed me Himself. This struggle is what He died to save me from; the struggle of being absolutely gripped by the lies of sin. It doesn’t define me anymore. The constant barrage of thoughts doesn’t have to be where I stay, the minute by minute battle has been ultimately conquered by Him, the tears can truly turn into joy when I remember what is truest about me.

God is so kind to meet us in those low places, to open our eyes to the truth that is so beautiful and so good. On one day last week when this struggle was especially painful I left my Bible open on the kitchen island all day. It was opened to the Psalm I had read that morning, Psalm 116, and the verses that I read multiple times that day were 5-7:

“Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful. The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.”

That last sentence, verse 7, was on repeat in my mind and out of my mouth that day; it was the prayer I prayed all day long. I wanted to know that rest again, the kind that rests because of what He has done, because of who He is, because of who I am in Him. He HAD dealt bountifully with me! I knew it to be fully true! Speaking those words of truth to myself, reminding myself of the evidences of His grace and goodness that truly abound in my life, began the shift of pulling my gaze off myself to something so much greater and more lovely. And then when I remembered that that greater and more lovely One made me His and that is the very definition of my worth!? That shatters every single lie that would say something different.

Trying to find my security in a picture, or a conversation, or someone else’s thoughts about me will always leave me wanting. No matter if the picture is a good one, or the joke well-timed, or the compliment is received, I will always always want more. It doesn’t satisfy and I have to keep reminding myself of this. Those insecure thoughts will return, ready to fight another day, but their roots in my heart have loosened some more, with healthier ones taking their place.

C.J. Mahaney writes, “Humility isn’t thinking less of ourselves, but thinking about ourselves less.” As I’m sitting here typing this my AK is listening to a song and the line that just played was, “Lift your eyes! We are His radiant bride!” That’s a rather beautiful picture, and that’s what we are. We are prized and treasured by our God. He doesn’t call us to think less of the very ones He created to be His clearest imitators, but He calls us to do that very thing: to imitate Him. To make much of Him and less of ourselves. I want that to be the truest thing about me.