Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Blessings - Prayers for Iraq

I admit I am not the best at staying in tune with worldly current events. I watch a little bit of local news and Brian Williams after work during the week, but easily get caught up in my own life happenings without much regard for the world around me. Honestly, I rely on Greg, and sometimes Twitter, to keep filled in on the most important stories.

The Christian persecution happening in Iraq has really made me think. I am not naive to the reality of religious persecution in many other places, including here in America, but the media is focusing on Iraq so that's where my mind is specifically. As a communication major in college, something one professor said regarding the media has always stuck in my mind: "The media doesn't tell us what to think, but tells us what to think about." Now, it could easily be argued certain media channels are more bias towards certain viewpoints over others. That's why I try to read/watch a variety of media outlets to get different viewpoints to make my own conclusions.

Okay, I'm not turing this into a post all about the media. The point is, out of all the issues and events in the world, good or bad, the media is focusing heavily on Iraq and the persecution against Christians. So, through the relatively little knowledge I do have on everything that's happening, the media has caused me to think about this issue more in depth.

I'm also currently doing a Bible study on the book of Daniel by Beth Moore (amazing!!!) with a group of friends. One particular lesson of the study made us deeply question our willingness to be loyal to God even when faced with a fire, like a real life, literal FIRE right in front of us. Would we hold true to our faith and declare ourselves daughters of Christ even if it meant we'd have to walk into the fire?

It is so difficult for me to even comprehend what that would be like. Yet it is reality for far too many people in the world. In my little American suburb, my worst hardships in life are NOTHING compared to something like that. I am ashamed to even call them "hardships."

In the past, I have been guilty of emotionally distancing myself from stories in the news like this. It may seem from thousands of miles away I am disconnected to the persecution, the hate, the torture, and the pain for being identified as a Christian. Then I read this blog post last week after a friend shared it on Instagram. Candace, the author of the blog, wrote inspiring words which have ignited a new flame in me (no pun intended). While I can't physically put myself in their shoes, I am grateful to live in a country where I can do something - I can offer persistent PRAYER openly and freely. I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ facing persecution, not just in Iraq, but all over the world.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lemon Cupcakes & Silicone Baking Cups

La-la-la! LEMON! I'm feeling bright and cheery today, so a bright and cheery lemon cupcake fits in just perfectly. 

You probably remember me saying in the past how citrus-y desserts rarely catch my attention. Vanilla, chocolate, caramel, cinnamon, red velvet...all top picks above anything citrus like lemon or lime. But more often than not, I am pleasantly surprised by them. They're refreshing and offer a balance of sweet and tart that you can't get anywhere else. 

The kind people at The New York Baking Co. sent me these silicone cups (don't worry - they're BPA free!), giving me all the more reason to bake something special. The baked cupcakes pulled away ever so slightly from the cups while baking, making them pop right out without even hardly trying. No falling apart and no leaving half of the cupcake behind in the liner (not that I would ever let that happen anyway). 

Not only do reusable cups like this save on paper and waste, but they're also dishwasher safe. Laundry and kitchen cleaning are the two household chores I dislike most, so anything to make kitchen clean-up easier gets an extra thumbs up in my book.

Enough about the baking cups. The cupcakes themselves did not disappoint. Although, it did take me a day to fully appreciate them. See, I have a problem where I never like what I bake right away. Whenever I try something right out of the oven, or even an hour later, I don't think it tastes good. When I let some time pass and try it again later on, I will want to eat every last bite. So what changes in that time period?

One theory I have is that while I'm baking, I'm usually taking tastes of the batter here and tastes of the frosting there, which may be suppressing my appetite. By the time the real thing is ready to go, I'm not as into it.

Or, maybe it's the idea that things simply taste better when other people make them for you. PB&J, Kraft Mac and Cheese...the simple childhood classics are always best when made by Mom or Dad, am I right? But I usually don't have this problem when it comes to my own cooking. I'm almost always pleased with what I cook (as opposed to bake) straight off the bat.

Whatever the case may be, in the end I loved these little citrus treats and I know you will too.

I followed Jessica's recipe for Fluffy Lemon Cupcakes, only subbed homemade sugar frosting for the whipped coconut cream (only because I didn't have the right kind of coconut milk on hand, but I look forward to trying it next time). 
If you're interested in the silicone baking cups, you can purchase a 12-pack on Amazon for $11.95*.

*I updated this post on 8/7/14 to reflect the increased price I was recently made aware of.

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