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Reflections

Finding Thankfulness in Unexpected Places this Thanksgiving

Here we are! Thanksgiving week already! Do you have any exciting plans? Are you traveling? Hosting? Having a quiet day of reflection? Shopping? If you live outside of the U.S., what are you up to this week? Do you have a celebration of thankfulness in your culture, or anything similar?

Regardless of your traditions or plans, I’ve got a challenge for you. I realized that my list of things I’m thankful for has stagnated. Don’t get me wrong, each and every item on my list is a gift from God. I just haven’t put much thought into it lately. I’m always thankful for my family and friends, pets and paychecks, shelter, and such. This year, I want to make my list more unexpected and meaningful. Will you join me?

Finding Thankfulness in Unexpected Places this Thanksgiving

“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18

There are some things for which we seldom stop to give thanks. But God is good, and He wastes nothing in our lives. I want to recognize the blessings in places I don’t usually think to look. I have 3 examples to show you what I mean.

Pain

The other evening I was out jogging. (Yes! I’m still at it! If you read How An Eerie Scene Provoked Me to Run and Keep Running, you know the crazy story of how that came about.) Anyway, I thought I heard something in the bushes beside me and as I turned toward it, I inadvertently looked directly into the setting sun. It was so bright! Instinctively, I threw my hand up to shield my eyes and the motion aggravated my bum shoulder. Pain shot to my fingertips and my arm fell limp at my side.

My arm has been doing this the past several weeks. I’ve learned that if I stay still for a few minutes, the pain goes away. So still I stayed. Then, perhaps emboldened by my stillness, the most majestic deer stepped out from behind the bush. It stood looking right into my face. We studied each other intently for a while and then it slowly went back about its business.

Deer: Finding Thankfulness in Unexpected Places this Thanksgiving
Photo by Skyler Ewing on Pexels.com
This is not my photo. I didn’t dare move to grab my camera. But this is much like what I experienced (minus the spots and second deer in the background).

The pain in my arm caused me to stop. Without it, I never would have experienced the wonder of looking into those wild brown eyes from just a few feet away. I was – I am – genuinely thankful for the pain. I can’t say I’ve ever put pain on my Thanksgiving list before. What an amazing thing!

Busy work

I work in a lab. I get to do incredible things every day. Science is fascinating! But lab work generates piles of paperwork and time-consuming cleanup. The busy work is not nearly as fun.

I realized this week that busy work never comes up on the list of things I appreciate in life. But why not? I enjoy the job I have. The paperwork and cleanup testify to all that my team and I are accomplishing every day. For the first time, I truly understood that I have many reasons to be thankful for all that busy work. What an incredible realization!

Conflict

I try to avoid conflict. It rattles me. But, let me tell you, there is nothing like it to make me fall to my knees. I need God to help me understand it, navigate it, and handle it well. I feel that I’ve had an unusual amount of conflict lately. Have you heard this saying?

Sometimes, God uses difficult people, like sandpaper, to rub the rough edges off us.

Power sander: Finding Thankfulness in Unexpected Places this Thanksgiving
Photo by Thijs van der Weide on Pexels.com
The abrasiveness of sandpaper smooths and softens

It is not pleasant, but it is effective. Conflict smooths my jagged edges and softens my corners. In it, I see ugliness in me that I must confess and give over to God for refurbishing. I usually start by asking God to change the situation or the other person and end up being so thankful that He changed me. This Thanksgiving, my recent and ongoing conflict is high on my list. God is so good!


Those are a few of my examples. What about you? Where can you find hidden blessings? Are there things for which you haven’t yet thought to be thankful which belong on your list?

If you ask God to show you, I’m sure He will. He loves to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in His people. Will you join me and take up the challenge of finding thankfulness in unexpected places this Thanksgiving?

You’re welcome to join in, whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not. Thankfulness is always in style. I can’t wait to hear what you come up with!

“Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures for ever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Psalm 100:3-5
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Conversations

Three Birthday Cakes, a Turkey, and a Veil

Does that sound like the beginning of a bad joke? Three birthday cakes, a turkey and a veil walk into a bar. Or stand at the pearly gates. Nope, it isn’t bad, and it isn’t even a joke. Although, I must admit that seeing humor in it helps diffuse the stress!

Three birthday cakes, a turkey, and a veil is the description of my upcoming week. My husband’s birthday is on Thanksgiving, my daughter’s is a few days after, followed by my son’s girlfriend’s birthday the next day. And then, two days later, the big event takes place – my daughter is getting married!

Oh, I just caught my breath saying all of that! These five celebrations happen within the span of one week. It is going to be crazy! And so fun!

The title for this post probably could have been “Three cakes, Sushi, and a Veil” because sushi is my husband’s favorite, and he gets to choose on his birthday. I love that his special day falls on Thanksgiving from time to time, because honestly, aside from Jesus, my hubby is my biggest blessing. He just camps out, right there, at the tippety-top of my thankful list!

Sushi: three birthday cakes, a turkey and a veil
Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Pexels.com
Birthday sushi for Thanksgiving? Sure! Why not?

This post is a bit unusual. I have a slightly ulterior motive beyond the peek into my charming chaos. Friends, can I ask your help with two things?

  1. Please pray for me – I don’t want to get so caught up in the craziness of ALL that is happening that I don’t see EACH thing for the blessing it is and the celebration it deserves. I want to cherish each person and the gift they are from God; and there will be so many people. For an introvert like me, it is overwhelming to think about.
  2. Pen a few words to my daughter – I would be so honored if you would take a minute to write encouragement, inspiration, or practical advice from God’s Word. Just a sentence or two, for my daughter and her husband-to-be to read. If you are willing, type it in the comments section below, ‘to Kevin and Mikayla’. I would like to copy and paste your sentiments into a hand-made card or booklet to add to their wedding gifts. I think it would be such a blessing for them!

I know I have access to an incredible wealth of experience, knowledge, and Godly wisdom on this platform. You who visit the Back Porch are top notch! Thank you for coming alongside my family and me in these ways. I am sincerely, from the depths of my heart, awestruck and grateful for each of you.

I have pre-scheduled some posts about different things, so there shouldn’t be too much interruption to the blog in the coming weeks. I look forward to getting back to a regular routine on the flipside of three birthday cakes, a turkey (sushi?) and a veil. God bless you all!

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Recommendations Reflections

5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep

Do you struggle to sleep at night? Maybe you have difficulty falling asleep or even full-blown insomnia. My issue is that I often wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to fall back to sleep. There could be a million reasons why relaxing rest eludes us and an equal number of suggestions for resolution. Today, I want to share 5 habits I have been working to hone, which seem to be making a difference for me.

I am going to add the caveat right here that I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus died for my sins and that when I accepted Him as my Savior, He gave me His Holy Spirit to dwell inside me. Read more on that here. I genuinely do not believe satisfying sleep is a reasonable expectation outside of the peace that comes from knowing God.

But even with the assurance that He has the chaos under control and cradles me in the palm of His hand, I sometimes find myself awake when I want to be asleep. As I’ve prayed for the wisdom to address it, I’ve adopted five habits which have been highly effective for me. I’m sharing them in hopes they might resonate with you as well.

5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep

Tune out

Life is hectic! My brain doesn’t have time to take a break. Or so it likes to think. (Pun intended.) After all, if I stopped controlling things, it would all come crashing down, right? Not even close to right! In fact, if I don’t stop trying to control things, and let my mind rest, I’m much more likely to make mistakes and missteps that will cause everything to come crashing down.

So, I need to tune out. Shut down. Let go. I do this nightly by watching a Hallmark movie or something equivalent. There is science to show that the brain slows significantly when we watch TV, and I am pretty sure a Hallmark movie requires the least mindfulness of anything out there. It is completely predictable with idyllic settings and… I’m getting sleepy just talking about it.

Some people tell me to pray before bed – to give it all to Jesus and walk away. I would never tell anyone not to pray. I know this is a tried-and-true method for many. It does not work for me because praying engages my mind and my emotions. I have to say my ‘bedtime prayers’ before I tune out. My goal is to not be thinking about anything important when my head hits the pillow.

Exercise

I toyed with the order in which I wanted to present these 5 habits to you. I obviously did not choose to put them in chronological order. But stay with me as I work a bit backwards here.

My biggest hurdle is getting my mind to rest. When I have tuned out and my head has hit the pillow, it needs to have a few things neatly wrapped and tucked away. One of those things is the knowledge that my body is tired.

I sit quite a bit at work and writing does not get me moving either. I need to be intentional about exercise. This is a habit I must commit to accomplish early in the day. I’ve mentioned that I’m a distance walker and that I’ve curiously started running again.

If I am physically tired, my mind will be at ease about my body’s cooperation to sleep. It is always worth it – not just for sleep but for overall health as well.

Food

This one has taken some experimentation. I have discovered that carbohydrates at night do not agree with me. They make me feel bloated and uncomfortable and are not conducive to a good night’s sleep. I have basically cut out all carbs, even healthy ones, after 4pm. I have also lightened up on my protein in the evening. Don’t worry – I eat plenty of both, earlier in the day.

Kale salad: 5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep
Kale salad, a frequent dinner menu item.

Dinner for me is comprised of mostly vegetables and healthy fats. I eat early so I can go to bed early because I get up early. Eating foods which agree with my digestive system, and timing it so those processes have time to work before I lay down, has been game-changing for me.

This may seem obvious, but I stopped consuming caffeine late in the day. I used to feel immune to the caffeine because I could drink a cup and still fall asleep. But I do think it hampered my ability to fall back to sleep if I awoke in the middle of the night. And any beverage consumed late increases the chances of needing to get up in the middle of the night. I’m better off without it.

Conscience

Ah this! When I have tuned out, worked out, and cut out, but still wake up at 2am unable to go back to sleep, it can be due to a guilty conscience. Sometimes it is legit and other times it is not. I have tried to just ignore it and go back to sleep but it doesn’t work. My only way around the obstacle of my conscience is to engage.

Fox with ears alert: 5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep
Photo by Petr Ganaj on Pexels.com
When God speaks, even in the middle of the night, I want to listen.

It seems counterintuitive to purposely start my mind thinking, but remember, the one most important ingredient for relaxing rest and satisfying sleep. There is no peace in a guilty conscience. If the conviction I feel is legitimate, I need to confess it to God and repent. I need to receive His forgiveness and resolve to make it right with anyone to whom I may owe restitution. Then, my peace returns. When I feel that harmony with God, I can sleep again.

If the shame I feel is not legit, I need to preach truth to myself and let it go. A good dose of truth brings a rush of peace.

“Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.”

2 John 2:3

Pray

I know some of you are wondering why a Christian would leave prayer for the last bullet point. Is prayer a last resort for me? NOT AT ALL! I rely on constant communication with God to guide my steps and steer my decisions.

Prayer gets its own section because there are still times, when I’ve done everything I’ve learned to do for relaxing rest and satisfying sleep, but I still wake up.

Alarm clock: 5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Sometimes I’m supposed to be awake at 2am.

In these instances, I know God has purposed that I should be awake to pray. I have a list of people who get prayed for every time I am awake in the middle of the night. Maybe one of them is in trouble and I have been awakened specifically because I will pray for them. Prayer releases the power of Heaven and if sacrificing a few minutes of sleep will send that assistance to a loved one who needs it, I’m in!

If I go through my usual list of people and I’m still awake, I start praying for anyone else whose name or face pops into my head. Eventually, I figure I’ve covered everyone for whom I was tasked to pray, because I fall back to sleep.

Even if I’m wrong – if nobody needed my prayers at 2am, my efforts have covered them with God’s presence and that can never be a bad thing. But I honestly believe it is a ministry. The Holy Spirit knows I am available and willing to serve in this capacity in the middle of the night.

Ironically, my habit of intentionally clearing my mind so I can fall asleep and stay asleep makes me a ripe prayer warrior to call upon in the wee hours. And there is a reward. The sleep that comes after being awoken for this purpose and fulfilling it, is the most satisfying of all sleeps!

Kitten asleep: 5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Sleep induced by prayer for others is oh-so sweet!

Well, there they are. Those are the 5 habits to hone for relaxing rest and satisfying sleep. At least, they are the tricks that have been the most beneficial for me lately. There are others, and if you’d like me to post about them, let me know.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Do you have trouble sleeping? Is it a struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep or both? Have you found any helpful hints that you’d be willing to share? Do any of mine ring true for you?

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Recommendations Reflections

The One Most Important Ingredient for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep

Hello, precious person! Welcome to the back porch. If I were to give you a cushy reclining chair right now, with a pillow, and a soft blanket, would you be likely to fall asleep? As much as I’d love to provide a nap for you, I’d rather talk to you about why you’re so tired. You’ve surely heard the saying:

“If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”

Attributed to different authors

Sharing tools to help you sleep, night after night, will serve you better in the long run than giving you a few minutes to nap right now.

I’ve had some sleep issues and as I’ve worked to resolve them, I’ve discovered a few tricks. But first things first.

There is one most important ingredient for relaxing rest and satisfying sleep.

It is my belief that if this one thing is missing, even if the rest of the recipe is flawless, satisfying sleep will elude you. That most important ingredient is peace.

Peace is a must for relaxing rest and satisfying sleep.

Do you struggle to sleep because you feel vulnerable? Anxious? Angry? Confused? Conflicted? Helpless? Hopeless? Are you subject to every whim of the media, politicians, bosses, teachers, and other voices who can’t agree with each other, let alone impart understanding to you?

Please hear me right now. None of them created the universe. Not one of them knows what tomorrow will bring. None of them, even less all of them, will ever bring you peace.

“I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.”

Job 3:26
Alert puppy: The One Most Important Ingredient for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep
Photo by Martin Dufosset
Without peace, we remain on high alert.

The only way to have true inner peace, is to be indwelt with the Prince of Peace.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6

Any other suggestion is a sham. Call me simple, call me dependent, call me whatever you like. I won’t lose any sleep over it because Jesus is my peace. And I would love nothing more than to see you relaxed, able to sleep, and resting in His peace as well.

There are many counterfeit means of peace being touted out there – alcohol, drugs, relationships, wealth, notoriety, what else can you think of? People hope that when they achieve what they’re striving for, they will have peace and be able to relax. They’ll rest then. I’ve heard people say they’ll sleep when they die. But even that is an unrealistic expectation.

“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment…”

Hebrews 9:27

And all of this fails to mention that it is almost impossible to achieve our high hopes and gallant goals if we can’t sleep. Without rest, we lack the energy we need to reach for our dreams, let alone succeed in them. So many people are running on empty and jumping from disappointment to disappointment. Is that you? Would you like a complete reset?

Jesus is the Source of peace.

Friend, how can anyone sleep without peace? How can one have peace without forgiveness? Is there a way to forgiveness without confession and repentance? Jesus wants to wipe your slate clean. He would love to set your feet on His path to purpose. A reset from Him is the only way to have relaxing rest and satisfying sleep. And the amazing news is that He literally died to give it to you.

“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

Colossians 1:19-20

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Psalm 4:8

If you haven’t accepted the salvation that Jesus freely gives, none of the other tricks I’ve learned will solve your sleep problems. There can be no true rest or enduring satisfaction of any kind apart from Him. I believe that to the depths of my soul.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 14:27

If you do not know this peace, but would like to – or even if only your curiosity is piqued, check out this post. It contains more detailed information on the Gospel of Peace. You can also contact me via the ‘Contact’ button on the top of the page or using the comments section below. There is a saying, which is oh-so true, which says:

No Jesus, no peace. Know Jesus, know Peace.

With ALL of that said, even Christians have trouble sleeping. We know Jesus. We possess inner peace. We have confidence in God’s plans and the brightest hope for the future. So why are we… why am I… lying awake at 2am?

I’ve been asking myself this question and praying for wisdom about it. I’ve tried some things which did not make much difference. But there are 5 habits I’ve worked to hone that seem to really be working. Please join me back here Friday to talk about them.

In the meantime, if there is anything I can do to help you with this one, most important ingredient for relaxing rest and satisfying sleep, let me know. The 5 tricks I have discovered are all dependent, and built upon, a foundation of peace. It is imperative to have this piece (this peace!) firmly in place before we move on.

“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 towards you
and give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26
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Reflections

Who is in Charge of My Future? Am I Making Plans or are Plans Making Me?

The other day my granddaughter said to me, “Mima, did you know I have a boyfriend at school?” I blinked the astonishment out of my eyes and cocked my head with interested confusion. She’s five. I hadn’t planned this conversation until well into the future.

Her words flooded my mind with questions. The one that screamed its way to the front was “How do you know about boyfriends?” but I decided not to verbalize it just yet.

Instead, I went with “No, I didn’t know that. What’s his name?”

“I don’t know”, she responded.

“You have a boyfriend, and you don’t know his name?” I was beginning to relax.

“No, I don’t actually have him yet”, she said. “That is just what I plan to do.”

“Oh, do you have anyone in particular in mind?” I wondered.

“Not yet. But I do know a lot of boys.”

I was relieved and a bit distraught, but more than anything, I was amused. This precious child was making plans for something she knows very little about and talking as if she had already accomplished it.

“Silly girl!” I thought. But then I quickly realized, “Oh dear, I’ll bet she gets that compulsiveness from me.”

I think that way. I decide on something for my future and it’s pretty much a done deal in my head. And when I tell God my plans, His face probably looks a lot like mine did; astonished eyes, head cocked in playful dispute.

“If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

Woody Allen

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Proverbs 19:21

I really do like to have settled plans and a direction to be heading. I do not enjoy that feeling when things are ‘up in the air’. But it is one thing to make plans, and quite another to allow the plans to make me. Sometimes I get in a hurry for the future and rush out in front of the Lord. I make decisions and begin acting upon them with tunnel vision as if they were in charge.

Weekly planner: Who is in Charge of My Future? Am I Making Plans or are the Plans Making Me?
Photo by Jess Bailey Designs

I’m working on it. God is working in me. He spoke to me about it a few years back and I wrote this little rhyme in response. It helps to read it every now and then to remind myself to ‘stay in my lane’ so to speak.

Ask Instead of Tell

I wake up in the morning, the "list" commands my day.
I quickly show it to the Lord and ask He bless my way.
He wraps His arms around me and brings me to my knees,
And lovingly requests I "let go of my plans, please".
He says "Thank you for inviting Me to join with you today,
But things will go much smoother, if we live this day My way."
Its important to remember, with my schedule I'd do well,
To take it all before the Lord and ask instead of tell!

I do believe it is ok with God – I’d even go so far as to say it is wise before God – to have direction for my future. But the key is to hold it loosely. I can make plans as long as my plans don’t make me. They are not in charge. I don’t want to be so invested that I can’t be flexible when God’s plans require a different direction than the one in which I was heading.

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

Corrie Ten Boom

“But the plans of the Lord stand firm for ever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”

Psalm 33:11
Planner and flowers on desk: Who is in Charge of My Future? Am I Making Plans or are the Plans Making Me?
Photo by Kaboompics.com

Right now, I have 1-year, 5-year, and ‘down the line’ plans for which I am consistently laying ground work. But honestly, I don’t know if I’ll live that long or whether God has different priorities for me. If the past is any indication, He’s chuckling at what I envision, knowing how different it is from His perfect vision.

And that’s pretty exciting when I stop and think about it. The Christian life is definitely an adventure. I need to relax a bit and enjoy it more.

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ 

James 4:13-15

 “…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Benjamin Franklin

So far, Benjamin Franklin has been correct, but I’d narrow my declaration a bit further. The only thing I can say about my future with absolute certainty is that I’m going to see Jesus face to face. That is the joy of my salvation. I’m thankful that the one thing I know for sure is such a glorious thing.

“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 13:12

I want to live in such a way as to influence my granddaughter to say, “Mima, did you know I’m planning to have a boyfriend at school?”

To which I can reply, “I hope this is at least a 10-year plan! Let’s pray about it.” I’m sure boys will come and go from her life, but I consistently pray that Jesus will always have her heart.

I would love to help her make plans, but I don’t want to see plans make her – unless they are God’s plans. If He is in charge of her life, that is the best I can ask for. His plans give her the future she was created to live!

“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.”

Jeremiah 29:11

“Oh Lord, please guide me to be the example you want me to be. I desire that my plans for the future always bend to yours, and for you to always have charge over me. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.”

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How an Outrageous Act of Kindness Led to This Magnificent Muffin Recipe!

The house was gorgeous! It sat on a corner lot and had tons of natural light. There were huge bay windows and extra-large sliding glass doors. Each room had several windows, and the cross breezes were heavenly. It was more than my husband and I had imagined when we decided to move with 5 small children between the ages of 1 and 8. We moved in, all giddy-like and wonder-eyed.

And then night fell. None of those incredible windows had any blinds or window coverings. We felt like fish in a very clear fishbowl, visible to everyone. And we didn’t know what to do. My husband’s aunty came to our rescue with an outrageous act of kindness. I had no way to repay her, but to feed her. The following is the story that led to this magnificent muffin recipe.

Plate of muffins next to a Bible: How to Repay an Outrageous Act of Kindness - Feel Free to Start with These Muffins!
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Bible study and magnificent muffins? Yes please!

Aunt Jenny lived an airplane ride away. But she is a talented seamstress, and when she heard about our dilemma, she came. She stayed in our guestroom for weeks. She advised us and gave us style options. Whatever we could want, she could create. She took me to the fabric store and was extremely patient while I perused, touched and envisioned each pattern. She helped me to calculate and stay within budget.

She was a Godsend! Aunt Jenny made a total of 3 trips to help us. That was three round-trip flights just to come sew all day, every day. If she took a break, it was to accompany me to the fabric or hardware stores.

She crafted curtains for all our windows and even created sheer drape panels to hang from my girls’ three canopy beds. She made custom window seat cushions and throw pillows to match for each couch and bed. She didn’t stop until there was nothing more we could think to sew.

I tried to repay her with treats whenever possible. I noticed how much she enjoyed the bran muffins at Starbucks. One day, while she was busy sewing, I busied myself where I had a bit of creative talent – in the kitchen. I recreated the Starbucks muffins and received Aunt Jenny’s heartfelt stamp of approval.

I made other meals and goodies to spoil Aunt Jenny, but I think these muffins were her favorite. I made them by the dozens, and we ate them for more than just breakfast. In fact, even after her outrageous act of kindness was complete, she said she’d do it all again for these magnificent muffins!

Muffin with wheat on a fall table: How to Repay an Outrageous Act of Kindness - Feel Free to Start with These Muffins!
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Magnificent muffins make good use of Autumn’s outrageous and bountiful flavors

If you enjoy the satisfying textures of wheat and bran, the soothing spiciness of cinnamon, and the hearty sweetness of pineapple, raisins and carrots, this recipe is for you! I think they are best in the fall, warm from the oven. But truth be told, they are a wonderful treat any month of the year. And they smell absolutely heavenly as they bake!

Mamalava’s Magnificent Muffins

Servings: 24 – Prep time, 1 hour and 10 minutes – Oven temp. 400 degrees

Ingredients:

  • 1and 1/2 cups Raisin Bran cereal
    (or 1 and 1/4 cups bran flakes and 1/4 cup raisins)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable (or preferred) oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 pound carrots, grated
  • 2/3 cup pineapple (chopped, drained and patted dry)
  • 2/3 cup walnuts or pecans (optional)

Instructions:

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Stir together flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine raisin bran, milk, and carrots. Let stand about 3 minutes or until cereal softens.
4. Add eggs and oil and mix well.
5. Add flour mixture to wet mixture, stirring only until combined.
6. Stir in pineapple, and nuts if desired.
7. Portion batter evenly into 2 and 1/2 inch muffin cups. (Can use silicone cups or tins coated with cooking spray or lined with paper.)
8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
9. Serve warm!
I prefer to eat these just as they are. They are also amazing sliced and spread with butter and honey, or cream cheese, peanut butter – however you like!

Notes:

1. If you would rather make a cake or loaf shape instead of muffins, decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Exact baking time will vary according to size of pan. Cakes will need to cool for about 45 minutes and loaves for approximately an hour before slicing.
2. You can change the pineapple or raisins for blueberries, cranberries or other fruit of your liking. This recipe was to mimic the muffins Starbucks was offering at the time, but it is customizable to suit your tastes.
3. I imagine you can swap the sugar and flours for alternatives too, but I’m not an expert at those conversions.
4. If you like seeds, they can be sprinkled on top of each muffin just before baking. Sunflower or pumpkin seeds are my most frequent choices. I’ve also been known to sprinkle these muffins with a pinch of raw sugar crystals for sparkle and crunch.
5. This batter can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. I like to double (or triple) the recipe in advance and quickly bake fresh batches just before serving. If you’re baking cold batter, add 2-5 minutes to the baking time.


Is there anyone you’d like to thank? Do you know someone who would benefit from an act of kindness? Is there someone you’d like to spoil? Maybe it’s you! This recipe is well worth your consideration. A basket of magnificent muffins is sweet to the taste, the appetite, and the heart.

Make gifts meaningful by putting the time in creating them, whether baking and cooking, or in making arts and craft. It will all have more meaning for the giver and receiver.

Lidia Bastianich

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord… since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Colossians 3:23a, 24