Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

2.27.2017

Definitely Maybe



"Maybe" is a difficult word for me.

"Definitely yes": I can plant myself deep in that solid ground, entwine my life around that anchor, and write it in permanent marker on my calendar.

"Ain't gonna happen": I can loosen my grip on the dream, rent a U-Haul to move out of that plan, and pull out the white-out to erase it from my memory.

But "maybe" is another story. Do I turn the page or not? Do I plant deeply or not? {Because spring is on its way and I need to know now...} And when do I pull out the permanent marker versus the eraser?

Yesterday the maybes were eating away at my thoughts. They were a tumble that was rapidly turning into an avalanche. "I can't decide this until I know this, and I can't know that until I figure out the other, and I can't know the other until..." It was an avalanche of unrest and disquiet until God reminded me that  I do have a lifeline: "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." {I Peter 5:7}

So I wrote two columns for 2017: "Maybes" and "Definites."

I filled in the columns and sat back, surprised. I was surprised by how few maybes there really were. And I  was shocked to stare at them in black and white and realize this: they were all enjoyable possibilities, but I was letting the possibility of not enjoying them steal my joy. Not only that, but I knew I couldn't do all of them and couldn't choose between them, yet I had been expending fruitless energy in worrying that God would make a mistake in choosing which things should define my year. So instead of being defined by my definites, I was trying to define my life by my maybes, and the result was an avalanche of anxiety.

The definites, on the other hand, the things I can write in permanent marker, were far more crucial than the maybes:
I will definitely not find the end of God's love this year.
Jesus will definitely not leave me.
God is definitely sanctifying and refining me.

It was a simple exercise of pen and ink, but truth was suddenly illumined.  If God has given me such solid, anchoring, permanent definites, then why don't I trust Him to define the maybes? In what universe does it make sense to let anxiety over the possibility of missing a maybe steal from the joy I could be relishing now because of the definites?

And at what point do I let anxiety over the maybes define my life? I say definitely never. Instead, I will plant myself in the love of God, anchor my soul in His faithfulness, and broadcast in permanent marker that He is good! Because He definitely is.




“Maybe:(,” © 2012 Priscila Tonon Ramos, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/.

9.17.2016

Sherbet Cupcakes



Hello, my name is Mikaela, and I still write and blog...occasionally...every so often...sometimes. Oh dear! How do all you mommy bloggers do it? For five months, I've been thinking about posting a delicious cupcake recipe, but today is the day, my friends! Sarah, my best friend, flew out here over Easter (yes! I said Easter!) for a visit. We got to introduce Liam to her for the first time (definitely the highlight), show her the DC cherry blossoms, spend Easter together, tour a DC art museum, and make cupcakes!




I'm delighted to add another cupcake recipe to my arsenal--especially this one. We knew we wanted to do a bi-flavor fruit cupcake, and it was I who suggested grapefruit, and Sarah who thought of blueberry. We altered a recipe to suit our needs and ended up with an incredible cupcake--my favorite so far, actually!




Here on One Bright Corner, I'm presenting the recipe for the grapefruit flavor, but you'll have to click over to Sarah's blog The Lord's Lass, to get the recipe for the blueberry flavor (her post will be live on Monday)! They are the exact same recipe base, just with the flavor ingredients changed. I'll also show you how to combine both batters into each cupcake to make a beautiful two-tone, two-flavor cupcake, and I've got an incredible icing recipe (It's so fluffy I could die!) that we came up with after altering another recipe.

Please note: Just the grapefruit recipe will make about a dozen cupcakes (and it's brilliant by itself if you don't want the bother of two flavors!), but if you combine it with the blueberry recipe, as it's meant to be, then you'll have 2 dozen cupcakes. The icing recipe is meant to frost two dozen cupcakes, so keep that in mind depending on what you need!

Grapefruit Cupcakes

1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup tapioca starch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup grapefruit juice (approximately half of one grapefruit)
2 - 3 tablespoons grapefruit zest
4 drops grapefruit essential oil, optional (but really brings out the grapefruit flavor! Make sure it's one safe for ingestion; I use Young Living)
2 - 4 drops red food coloring, optional
1/2 cup 2% milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 12 -cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the brown rice flour, coconut flour, tapioca starch, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Whisk until well combined, and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the sugar and coconut oil together with an electric mixer on medium speed. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until a thick, smooth yellow mixture forms.
  4. Combine the grapefruit zest, grapefruit juice, and grapefruit essential oil and food coloring (if using) with the milk in a small bowl. (The milk will thicken and "curdle" somewhat--this is normal.) Add half of the milk mixture to the egg mixture, and beat on low speed until just combined. Add half of the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Repeat with the  remaining milk and flour mixtures. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. If you are making two-toned, two-flavored cupcakes, use a cupcake divider placed in the middle of the muffin
    cup, and fill one side with one batter and one side with the other batter. Slide the divider out and repeat with each muffin cup!
  5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cupcakes spring back when the tops are pressed or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the muffin tin and let them cool completely on a wire rack.


Fluffy Grapefruit Icing

Makes 3 Cups
2 large egg whites
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon grapefruit zest plus 1/4 cup juice
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
  1. Combine egg whites, sugar, juice, and corn syrup in bowl of stand mixer and set bowl over medium saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water (do not let bottom of bowl touch water).
  2. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved and mixture registers 160 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove bowl from heat.
  3. Fit stand mixer with whisk and whip egg white mixture on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and continue to whip until mixture has cooled to room temperature and stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes longer, adding zest, butter, and powdered sugar during the last minute of whipping.





I hope you enjoy these scrumptious cupcakes (without frosting, we called them muffins and ate them for breakfast)! Do let me know if you decide to make them! Since the time I've made these (and the pictures were taken), Liam has progressed to crawling and now (as of five days ago) walking. He's a big one-year old and the most delightful, cheerful guy you've ever met! Perhaps a Liam update is in order next.







Cupcake Party: Chocolate Edition


Lauren's Double Peanut Butter Chocolate
Sarah's Chocolate Chunk Lava Fudge
Mikaela's Hazelnut Mocha



Cupcake Party: Savory Edition


Lauren's Spinach Feta
Mikaela's Cupcakes & Croutons 
Sarah's Carrot Ginger Coconut Muffins 


Cupcake Party: Flower Edition


Lauren Hearts Lavender Chocolate

Sarah Tastes The World Through Rose-Flavored Cupcakes

9.09.2016

What I Would Tell My Younger Self


Cherish the old.

Love the sun-fading on your quilt that speaks of sunny days stored up for Winter's chill.
Smile at the bent pages of your Bible that has fed your soul so many times.
Value the tell-tale wrinkles around the eyes that reveal someone's habitual smile.
Appreciate the outdated technology that encourages you to live real life.
Enjoy that annoying quirk because someday you will give anything to have that person annoy you one more time.
Return to the song that was the soundtrack to so many valleys and mountaintops.
Make that same-old recipe that is somehow just as good as when you were five.
Treasure who you have because they are yours.

The constant pursuit of the next new thing becomes a pursuit of newness itself. It is frivolous, fruitless, and deeply unsatisfying.

Embracing the old for contentment's sake transforms the shabby into the loved, the repetitive into the comforting, the not-good-enough into the simple joy, the despised into the treasured.

"For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content." Philippians 4:11




“One Big Circle- Day 05,” © 2012 Steven Worster, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

8.26.2016

Was Jesus an Introvert or an Extrovert?



I remember the first time a friend enlightened me as to the definition of an introvert: "It means you get your energy and recharge from being by yourself."

I had never heard the concept explained so simply before, and the definition definitely described me. I was fascinated, and I soon noticed this topic cropping up everywhere. In the beginning I chalked it up to the phenomenon that occurs when you learn something new and inevitably the new word stalks you from radio shows and bumper stickers and sky-writing. But as a few years have passed since that first discovery, one would think the phenomenon would pass too, but instead I have noticed two ever-increasing trends:
{scientific statistics alert}

1. A whole lot of people whom I would have dubbed extroverts actually called themselves introverts. And...
2. A whole lot of people in general like to talk about this topic at length. In fact, if you have a self-described introvert who won't make conversation about anything else, simply bring up the topic of introversion, and you will be hard pressed to change the subject. 

Understanding personality types has helped me understand others' perspectives and shape my responses in some very effective ways, but I began to wonder: We're talking about it a lot, but does the Bible have anything to say about introverts and extroverts? Is one more godly than the other? Is all this focus on personality really good or is there a limit to the benefits of navel-gazing?

Fast-forward to another conversation with a different friend, and as I was beginning to ask these questions of myself, I asked her if she were an introvert or an extrovert. She declined to classify herself as either, saying simply that she was trying to avoid a self-focus, and couldn't help but see the wisdom in her response. 
So is there any redeeming value in learning about your personality tendencies? I turned to God's Word, and here is what I discovered:

1. We are uniquely different, but united in glorifying God.
Personality groupings are helpful, but ultimately fall short.

Whether you're an INFP or an AARP, it feels good to belong and fit in with a group of people who "get" you. I know the feeling! It's not wrong to seek commonalities with those around you, but you have to realize that any grouping is ultimately simplistic. Even experts on the subject will readily agree to the fact that these types are generalizations. 

The truth is that God has created us all unique {Psalm 139:16, 1 Peter 4:10-11}, with subtle differences in our personalities and perspectives, our strengths and weaknesses. These differences cannot be wholly grasped by a personality test, helpful though it may be.

And although we are all different, whenever the Bible speaks of gifts or strengths, it speaks of using them for the unified purpose of glorifying God. So if I box myself into the type of an introvert and tell myself that because of my introversion it is fine to not push my comfort zone, I am missing the whole point and indulging in the self-focus my friend mentioned. Selfishness was a nagging problem I had with this whole topic as it is my weakness and can be the weakness of the personality-obsessed as well. "Discover your personality, not so you can better serve God, but so you can keep yourself happy and satisfied."

2 Timothy 3:2 prophesies that "men will be lovers of themselves" in the last days. Feeding my desires for introverted comfort can definitely lead to becoming a lover of self just as feeding extroverted desires could lead to being a man-pleaser. Those are the extremes, I grant you. But here's the bottom line: we were created to glorify God {Isaiah 43:7}, and any understanding of personality type is only helpful as far as it aids in that purpose. Which brings me to the next thing I've learned...

2. We are new creations when we are saved, and all things have become new.
Personality tendencies can be insightful, but should not be used as an excuse.

Are personalities too sacred to be sanctified? Not according to 2 Corinthians 5:17: " Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

K.B. Napier writes,"Man cannot alter his own personality, it is argued, because his personality and 'drives' are inborn and handed-down by evolution. Any defects, nasty as some of them are, must just be accepted as they appear in each individual. This idea runs through much of our social sciences and it is unfortunately expressed by the majority of Christians. And it is wrong. People become new creatures when they are saved....The change of personality by the Holy Spirit is not an option for special types of Christian.  It is required of us all, by God."

Thankfully, God's principles and commands in Scripture provide balance to our lives and personalities. Knowing that I want to be alone when I'm tired or not cram every day full of activity is a helpful insight to not burning myself out. But I have to understand that sometimes these desires turn selfish. God doesn't call me to take the road of ease or least stress, but He does call me to obey Him even when it is the last thing I want to do. 

So if a friend or family member needs help, and I find my blood pressure rising because I was just about to have some "me" time, I have two options: I can use my "introvert" status as an excuse, or I can realize that I am now at the end of myself and my strength, and turn to the power of the Holy Spirit like I should have been doing all along. 

With the right perspective, insight into my natural weaknesses and strengths can actually help me mature in Christ {Mt. 26:41, 1 Cor. 1:27}, but it does not give me a free pass to ignore certain commands of God because they go against my personality. And whether I am an introvert or an extrovert, above all as a Christian I am wholly a new creation in Christ! 

3. Understanding how Jesus related to God and others can help us think Biblically about our personalities.
Neither being introverted nor extroverted is automatically more godly, but both can have this weakness in common: looking to man for fulfillment.

So was Jesus an introvert or an extrovert?
Asking this question revealed a much deeper answer than I was expecting! Matthew 14:23 provides a great example of what was a habitual occurrence in Jesus' life: " And when {Jesus} had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there."

Jesus spent time with the multitudes, and just that word "multitudes" challenges the introverted me.
But there came a time in His day when He sent them away, a difficulty for the extroverts out there.
However, it was what He did in that alone time that is key: He didn't look within, and He didn't look to others; He looked to His Father in Heaven.

So there you have it.
Introverts, we like to look in.
Extroverts, they tend to look out.
Believers need to look up.

“Recharging Danbo Power,” © 2013 Takashi Hososhima, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

8.02.2016

I Want All the Books!

I vividly remember the day that a book first captivated me. Mama sat me down, handed me Little House in the Big Woods, and told me to read for an hour. I was less than thrilled, not sure what the "big woods" were all about, but certain that the "big words" would be dry and dull. Several hours later I had to be pried from the pages, and I was hooked for life. 

So in the spirit of sharing this passion with you, today I am answering a book-lover's tag! (I compiled the questions from several different sources.)
1. Name a book you’re embarrassed to say you haven’t read yet.
The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis.  Somehow, someway, I have read every other Narnia book except for this one...

2. What is the strangest thing you’ve ever used as a bookmark?
The receipt for the book itself.

3. Look at your bookshelf. What’s the first book you see with a yellow spine?
My beautiful Anna-Bond-illustrated edition of Heidi.
 
4. If you could have one new book from a deceased author, who would it be?
This is difficult, but I will choose Jane Austen. I still haven't read all of her books, as I am legitimately concerned about my mental state when I finish the final page of her final book and realize I have to go the rest of my life without a new Jane Austen. So I resort to rationing myself to an Austen a year and admitting that I am a weird book nerd.

5. Name an author who deserves more readership.
G.K. Chesterton, without a doubt. Have you read his books? If not, get thee to a bookstore or library and pick up The Man Who Was Thursday!

6.  Bookmark or random piece of paper?
I want to be a bookmark person, I really do. But most of the time I resort to a random piece of paper (or receipt, as the case may be!).

7. Can you stop anywhere in a book or do you have to finish the chapter?
Anywhere is fine unless the chapters are quite short.

8.  One book at a time or several?
Always several!  Currently reading: The Innocence of Father Brown and The Book That Made Your World.

9.  Do you read ahead or skip pages?
Gasp. Is skipping allowed?

10.  Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
Keep it like new as long as possible!

11. What books do you regret reading?
The Light that Failed by Rudyard Kipling. It was one of those books that you keep trudging through, sure that it cannot get any worse, and that after the main character loses his childhood sweetheart, goes blind, and finds his last masterpiece destroyed by a bitter servant there must be some redeeming ending. But then he died in his best friend's arms, and I was angry at Rudyard Kipling for a year.

12. On average, how many books do you read per year?
I don't really know. Up to 30, I would guess.

13. What book can you read hundreds of times and never get tired of?
The Scarlet Pimpernel--It is the best adventure/mystery tale ever!

14. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a book?
I read the old book Ester Ried when I was 11, and it played a huge part in my maturing process from a baby Christian to a dedicated Christ-follower.  It made me realize that I could be sleep-walking through life without even realizing it, stagnant and unfruitful while thinking that I was fine. This book woke me up to the reality of living for Christ daily.

15. What is the most recent book you’ve read?
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. I only decided to trust Kipling again because I wanted to read the original story before I watched the new movie, and I actually very much enjoyed it!

16. What quote from any book will you never forget? Why is it significant?
“In all they said, in their actions, in their looks, in their persons, could be detected a soft spot, the place of decay, the determination to lounge safely through existence.” -Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim
The book itself was very forgettable, but this quote has stuck with me as a challenge, for I never want this to be true of me.

17. How many books do you own?
Hold on...3 hours later...a total of only 218 books. "Hi, I'm Lauren, and I'm addicted to real books. Kindle just won't cut it."

18. Of the past year, what is the greatest book you’ve read?
The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization by Vishal Mangalwadi. Although I am not quite done reading this tome, it is one of those books that I find myself constantly bringing up in conversation or referencing in my own mind as I observe culture around me. It is a truly amazing read by an incredible man from India who challenges the West from the perspective of someone from the East, saying, "The Bible created the modern world of science and learning because it gave us the Creator's vision of what reality is all about. That is what made the modern West a reading and thinking civilization. Postmodern people see little point in reading books that do not contribute directly to their career or pleasure. This is a logical outcome of atheism, which has now realized that the human mind cannot possibly know what is true and right. This book is being published with a prayer that it will help revive a global interest in the Bible and in all the great books."

So let's start a revival of global interest in all the great books together! If you are a fellow book-lover, I would greatly enjoy hearing your answers to these questions! So comment below with your thoughts or do the tag on your blog and comment with the link so I can get some new book ideas.

Now, if you don't mind, I think I have some books to read!

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