Why 2020 Might Be the Most Important Year of Our Lives


Pacific City is one of my favorite stretches of beach on the Oregon Coast. I love climbing the huge sand dune there and overlooking the frothy, wind-foamed waves. But at the height of this peaceful viewpoint there is a sign as out of place as a ringtone in the midst of a lullaby.

“Danger!” it proclaims. “Beware of unstable areas and shifting sand.” It seems dramatic, and a definite fun-killer, but when you learn the back story—how many people have fallen off the unstable bluff and drowned—you realize the kindness of such a sign. It’s not a disruption, but a revelation.

And that what I’ve come to realize 2020 has been for me.


I never would have said my faith was in my freedom. 
I never would have claimed my hope was in the predictability of my life and job. 
I never would have admitted that I found my joy in what I could accomplish.


But my emotions this year have often revealed it for me. I have certainly felt the unstable areas and shifting sands in the world around me and the ground beneath me and my heart within me. 2020 has put on display all that is unstable in this world, and all that is unstable in my heart and affections.  I certainly have not suffered like I know so many have, yet even missing my minor comforts, conveniences, and companionship has made me feel the gloom and isolation of the year. And I have had to ask myself: why is my heart so heavy when others are suffering so much more? God, where are you in 2020?

Standing atop that dune in Pacific City, if you let your eyes trail beyond the garish “Danger!” sign, you will see Haystack Rock. It is as solid and steady and unmoving as the bluff is shaky and temporary and sinking. Therein lies the symbolism of why 2020 may just be the most important year of my life. Because through all the hardship it has been like that sign, not just warning me of the dangerous ground my fleshly heart clings to, but also pointing me beyond. Pointing me to the Rock that is higher than I, who has been here this whole time.

My faith is not shaken, for it rests in the unshakeable God.
My joy can never dry up, for the Lord is its bottomless wellspring.
My hope cannot die, for it is in Christ.


“God is not dead, nor does He sleep”—even in 2020! So what greater mercy could there be than to remind me to place my hope on the solid Rock of Christ instead of the sinking sand of earthly comfort? What richer kindness could exist than for the Lord to reveal where my heart was beginning to cling to unstable ground? It is not cruel to take away the things that distract me from God, for in Him is my ultimate satisfaction.

I am reminded of why the persecuted Christians of North Korea said they were praying for us: “Because Christians in the West still have some wealth and freedom and power. Most have not yet experienced what it is like when all you have in life is God.*”

2020 has begun to answer their prayer. I am still learning to view this year and the next not so much as disruption but more as a kind revelation that all I have in life really is God. A sign warning me the unstable bluff is sinking, but also reminding me the Solid Rock still stands against the storm. What could be more important than that?



*These Are the Generations, Mr. and Mrs. Bae, as told to Eric Foley


You're Never Too Young to Consider Your Epitaph

Artwork from yesterday: Uncle Mel's epitaph verse
Yesterday I sat before the coffin of my Great-Great-Uncle Melvin, a man who watched kamikaze pilots dive for the deck of his ship during WWII and providentially miss. A man who graduated high school even after his father left him to make his way in the world as a hired farm hand--at 12 years of age. A man who did everything from pastoring to jet engine testing. A man who celebrated 100 years of life just a few months ago, and, when he realized his memory was failing, decided that meant he needed to memorize more Scripture. A man who read a chapter of the Bible every day of his life. A man who wanted his epitaph to list not his accomplishments, but what was accomplished in him: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

100 years--and he lived them so faithfully. As a 26 year old sitting before his coffin, beginning my race as he crossed the finish line, I had to ask myself if I was on track to being the kind of 100 year old that Uncle Mel was. Because I want to be. And as a young person, it is easy to get bogged down in daily, seemingly important goals and forget the marathon goal: if God grants me old age, I want to be an old woman who still faithfully loves and follows Jesus. 100 years puts things into perspective.

So here are the top lessons I've learned from my 100 year old Uncle Mel:

1. Unabashedly love the people God puts in your life.

He was my Great-Great-Uncle, and the only Great-Great-Uncle I even ever knew. He could have categorized me as a distant niece whom he was fine with seeing now and again at family reunions, yet he and Aunt Ina and his whole family chose to invest in my family and treated me with such love each time we were together that he made me feel precious to him. He was not stingy with his love...he loved wholeheartedly and unabashedly. He risked relationships even when he might get nothing out of them. He went out of his way for people, because he loved whomever God had him cross paths with.

2. Bitterness is not worth it.

His father, for various reasons, moved to the East Coast when Uncle Mel was a young boy and started a new family. Uncle Mel had every reason to indulge bitterness at his father, yet when as a man he heard his father was dying, he scrounged gas ration coupons to drive cross-country to make sure his father heard the Gospel before he died.

Uncle Mel's mother died when he was young, and two of his brothers died one right after the other just when WWII was ending, and he could have shaken his fist at God and lived a shriveled life of anger. I have met wizened old men who chose just that path. But not Uncle Mel. He trusted and loved God implicitly, and although I'm sure he walked the valley of grief in a real and human way, he never allowed his heart to be walled in with bitterness. He chose forgiveness and trust instead.

3. Spend time with God every day.

While in the Navy in WWII, his destroyer took part in the Battle of Okinawa. Uncle Mel had no idea if he would survive from one day to the next. But one day during that time he made a promise to God that if he did survive, he would read a chapter of the Bible every day of his life. And by all accounts from his son {who heard this story as a young boy while watching him read the Bible} to his son-in-law {who watched him in the last years of his life reading each day}, he was faithful to that promise. And not as a ritual that he was compulsively bound to, but because he truly loved his Jesus and wanted that precious time with Him each day. As a result, the Gospel was profoundly important to him, and even through his death the Gospel was preached and souls were saved!

I rejoice that Uncle Mel is in Heaven, and I thank God that I had a spiritual giant like him in my life for as long as I did. It may take me 100 more years to implement all the lessons I learned from him, but I honestly cannot think of a better life goal than that.


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/.


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


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.
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