The Banana Paradox

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Who doesn’t like banana cake?

Even people who won’t eat bananas seem to like banana cake or bread. It seems to be one of those desserts that is universally liked. In fact, each year we celebrate National Banana Bread Day on February 23rd.

And what kind of bananas do you use to make a banana cake? Only the most uniformly yellow, firm, spot-free, perfect ones, right?

Wrong.

Counterintuitively, banana cake or bread is made using mushy, overripe, spotted, or even brownish-black bananas. The kind that no grocery store would even think of trying to sell. The kind that look sort of yucky, to be honest. The kind no one wants to eat. The kind that was used as an insult in the Christmas song about Mr. Grinch: “You’re a bad banana with a greasy black peel!”

Whenever we had those sorts of bananas in the kitchen when I was little, my Dad would say to my Mom, “Honey, why don’t you throw those things out? They look awful!”

My mother would interpose her body protectively between my Dad and the bananas and say, “No, no! I’m saving them for a banana cake.”

You see, Mom understood the banana paradox. She knew that the mushiest bananas make the best cake. She could see beyond the decaying exterior to what the banana could become.

She saw what my Dad couldn’t see: their potential.

In the same way, God can see beyond our faults and failures to what we can become. God sees the potential in people who have been written off by others, who seem to have disqualified themselves from ever achieving anything great for the Kingdom. God can still use those of us who feel our record is too spotty, that we have too many black marks against us.

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Fear Of Missing Out

Image by Wolfgang Eckert from Pixabay

Do you suffer from FOMO?

No, it isn’t some dreaded disease.

Rather, FOMO stands for “Fear Of Missing Out.”

It’s a natural human tendency to worry that we might be losing out on something that others are enjoying or acquiring.

This trepidation can sometimes filter into our spiritual lives, as well.

We might be afraid that if we do things God’s way, we’ll somehow miss out on something.

Perhaps we won’t get to do the things we really want in life, or we’ll have to give up some things we’re already doing. We fear we’ll miss out on all the fun.

We fear God might withhold something crucial from our lives, and our “cake” won’t rise without it: our life will feel diminished.

But we needn’t worry. God only withholds things for our good, and He won’t deprive us of things we truly need.

Our cake will still rise as believers, but on God’s terms.

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The Secret Is Out

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Do you know people who are secretive about their best recipes?

Perhaps they have a killer brownie recipe that everyone covets. Or a special formula for making lasagna that is simply to die for.

But they won’t share the recipe with anyone, not even their best friends. Their famous dishes are their hallmark, and they’re quite proprietary about them.

Many companies are the same. They have closely guarded recipes for their top products, whether it’s the ingredients for Coca-Cola or the coating mixture for Kentucky Fried Chicken.

I can understand them wanting to keep the recipe under wraps: after all, it’s the secret to their success.

But Christians have a recipe that we want to share with everyone:

It’s the recipe for a fulfilling life through belief in Jesus.

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The God of Ice Cream

I truly think that God is in favour of ice cream.

Don’t believe me? Let me try to convince you.

In the Old Testament, the children of Israel were told that God would be bringing them into the Promised Land, a land “flowing with milk and honey.”

Well, milk is a dairy product, right? And honey is a sweetener. If you’ve got a dairy product and a sweetener, you’re halfway to ice cream right there. (To get all the way, see the recipe for homemade strawberry ice cream below.)

Too bad the ancient Israelites hadn’t invented freezers, or they could have enjoyed ice cream on the shores of the Mediterranean. Nothing tops eating refreshing ice cream on a sunny day at the beach, does it?

I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek with this, of course, but I do believe there’s a lesson that we need to learn from God’s promise to the Israelites about a land flowing with milk and honey.

It shows us that God delights in giving His children good things.

But sometimes we may find this hard to believe.

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Date Night With God

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

If you’re married, do you have a “date night” with your spouse?

Some people set aside time each week when they get together with their spouse, just the two of them, and do something special.

Life is so busy these days that we sometimes have to actually schedule time to spend with our spouse. We have to juggle work, raising children, community involvements, caring for aging parents, hobbies, and so on.

There are so many demands on our time that we often have difficulty making sure we’re giving enough attention to the person most important to us.

And besides, we know that our spouse is aware of our love for them. So we let things slide and don’t make the relationship a priority.

In this way, however, the bond between you starts to suffer. Without regular conversations and one-on-one time, a distance can start to grow in the relationship.

It’s the same with our relationship with God: we’re so busy with family and work commitments that we sometimes fail to fit Him in to our schedules.

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You Can’t Go Wrong With These Ingredients!

Woman peering anxiously into oven. Image by press 👍 and ⭐ from Pixabay

When you’re trying out a new recipe for the first time, do you ever get apprehensive that it won’t work out?

I certainly do. That’s why I usually stick with one of my mother’s tried-and-true dessert recipes.

I worry that if I bake a dessert I’ve never attempted before, I’m bound to mess it up. I fear that I’ll disappoint the people I serve it to, and tongues will wag.

As I walk by, people will whisper, “There’s that woman who serves fallen soufflés!”

Or, “Isn’t she the one who bakes cookies that are as hard as hockey pucks?”

In the worst-case scenario of my imagination, my baking debacle will be so embarrassing that I’d have to leave town.

With some recipes, however, you really can’t go wrong, even if you’ve never tried them before.

Brownies, for instance.

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Which Body Part Are You?

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pixabay

Don’t you just love cookies shaped like little people, such as gingerbread men and women?

I always start munching on gingerbread people at the head. According to a survey conducted by the folks at Dunkin’ Donuts, I’m not alone. Almost two thirds of people surveyed start at the top when eating a gingerbread figure. A fifth of people begin with the legs, while the remainder go for the arms first. (To make some gingerbread cookies yourself, see below for a classic recipe.)

We seem to have a penchant for foods shaped like bodies, or at least named after various body parts.

There are chicken fingers, kidney beans, artichoke hearts, navel oranges, black-eyed peas, heads of lettuce, ladyfingers and elbow macaroni.

The Italians have given us pasta shapes like orecchiette (little ears), linguini (little tongues), and capellini (angel’s hair). In France, cotton candy is called, “Dad’s beard.”

Our bodies are precious to us and are wondrously made, so it’s no wonder we pay tribute to them by naming foods after our various body parts.

But did you know that if you’re a believer, you don’t just have your own body, you’re a part of another body, too?

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Making Butter Yourself

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Some things are better when they don’t come too easily, aren’t they?

Like making butter yourself. When I was a child, I had the chance to do just that.

On a visit to my grandparents’ farm, my grandmother handed me a closed jar with rich cream inside it from their dairy cows. She instructed me to shake the jar vigorously.

I did so, but didn’t see much happening. I wanted to give up, but Grandma told me to keep agitating the jar. I obeyed, and soon started to see clumps forming inside the jar.

Grandma knew it wasn’t ready yet, however, and instructed me to keep going. My little arms were getting tired, but eventually Grandma told me I could stop. The cream had finally transformed into the right consistency.

I had made butter! (Well, technically, I suppose most of the credit should go to the cows.)

It was hard work making that fresh butter, but the taste of it was heavenly on fresh bread. It was vastly superior to the blocks of chilled butter you buy in the supermarket. Not only did it taste wonderful, I appreciated the butter more because I’d put in the work myself to make it.

Sometimes God lets us go through the effort of doing things for ourselves, doesn’t He?

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A Gardener’s Worst Enemy

Garlic Mustard
Photo by Simone VomFeld on Pixabay

Gardeners may not realize it, but they’re a bit like soldiers in wartime. Their enemies aren’t people, of course, but an even more insidious foe:

Weeds.

Weeds infiltrate our gardens like enemy invaders: dandelions, nettles, thistles, couch grass and garlic mustard, to name a few. They may seem innocent enough when there are only a few of them, but make no mistake: their ultimate aim is to take over and occupy your territory.

One vanguard weed may sneak in and settle, and you think nothing of it. If you’re not vigilant, though, that lone plant will soon multiply into an overwhelming host.

Or you pull up a dandelion and think that’s the end of it, but unless you’ve been very thorough, part of the taproot remains deep in the soil. The weed will come up again long after you thought you’ve eradicated it.

The seeds of weeds may stay in the soil of your garden and remain viable for years. They lie in wait like sleeper agents, waiting patiently for the right opportunity to spring up and attack.

The mission of weeds is simple but deadly: to compete with other plants for light, water and nutrients and crowd them out so they die. They’re dastardly adversaries, often needing less sunlight and water than other plants to survive.

And the worst part of it is that they’re very hard to kill.

Weeds are sort of like sin, aren’t they?

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Chocolate: Everybody’s Friend

Photo by Jean Beaufort, PublicDomainPictures.net

One of the wonderful things about chocolate (and there are many), is how well it pairs with other foods.

Chocolate seems to go well with just about everything. It marries happily with fruits like strawberries, raspberries, pears, cherries and bananas. It perfectly complements the flavours of nuts, such as peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, almonds and macadamia nuts.

Chocolate cheerfully coexists with citrus, coconut, ginger, caramel, coffee, dairy or mint. It has even been known to blend with the flavours of chili and meat in some Mexican dishes.

Some adventurous people claim that chocolate goes well with broccoli (well, perhaps…if you held the broccoli).

You’ve got to hand it to a food that is uncompromising about its own flavour yet harmonizes with such a wide variety of other substances.

Did you know that the Bible implies that we should be a bit like chocolate? Not in so many words, of course, but the concept is still there.

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