Sweet Friendship: Receiving Notes of Gratitude

So, my last post I talked about how I was planning on writing thank you notes to people who have been significant to my life and may not realize it. Mostly, teachers came to mind, and I’ve written several of my letters (but haven’t postmarked them yet.)

The day after I decided to focus on gratitude in the form of handwritten letters, I received this from a very dear friend:

We’ve only gotten close this semester, but there is a kindred spirit within her. She is beautiful, wise, affirming. She is the first friend I seek out when I am fighting past demons, and her words always bring me inner calm and help me wage the storms. I will be writing about her wisdom in a later post. Receiving a letter helped affirm the project I am doing this week: her words were touching, and I will treasure them. Knowing the joy I felt reading her card, I’m excited to send my letters to other people.

She wrote, “I chose this stationary for you because birds represent to me freedom, grace, and beauty, and  believe you have an can achieve these things. You have beauty, grace, and strength, and through Christ and love you can achieve freedom.” 

Since I just moved from my dorm to the Vista House, I was packing up several cards and letters I’ve received this year. Here are some of my favorites that will hopefully encourage you to write those you love and those who have impacted you, and brighten their days!

This one is from Archana, the beautiful young woman I sponsor through Compassion International. She’s actually about a week and a half older than I am!

This comes from my mother and is a thank you note for her birthday gift. The inside says: God is able to make all grace abound in you, from II Corinthians 9:8.

  My sister Megan has a gift. I’ve probably received more letters and cards from her than from anyone else–she is so thoughtful and affirming. Included with this card was some wonderful Toms toothpaste with propolis. I used to guest blog for her business, and did a focus on bees.

Here is another one of her postcards. So beautiful!

 This is from the girl I nannied for my last two years of high school. She is so sweet and mature, and this letter MADE MY WEEK! 

What is your favorite letter you’ve received this year? 

Do you have plans to write anyone this week?

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Vegan Banana Muffins + The Comparison Trap

Hello all!

A few days ago a friend invited me to have dinner with her and bake banana bread…I have such wonderful friends! God has blessed me with some very wise and wonderful women in my life, and these two ladies that I ate with and baked with are definitely in that category.

We started talking about the problem of labeling and choosing to follow a vegan diet. One of the other girls is also a vegan, and one is vegetarian. These past two weeks I have really been struggling with my vegan lifestyle, which is another topic for another time. This conversation came around to the inner battle we face with comparison. I know I constantly compare myself   to other women, wondering why my thighs aren’t as thin and toned, why I’m not as petite or dainty, why my hair isn’t as shiny and healthy, why my skin isn’t as clear and smooth . . . I could continue, on and on, which is really sad. I am perfectly unique and perfectly created, with a healthy and strong body that can do just about anything I ask of it.

God really works creatively. Before this conversation, I had spent a few hours on my computer looking up blog posts about body image and how to achieve a healthy one. I found this list, and one thing that continues to resonate with me is this quote: I choose to stop comparing myself to other women, including the woman I was in the past. That for me is huge. Obviously I have gained weight since I stopped restricting and over-exercising, which is a healthy change. Sometimes, it is hard for me to see that–I look at pictures of myself when I was smaller, and look at my bit of extra cushion now and feel wistful. But this is the other important thing about that quote: I have to make a choice to stop comparing myself. It won’t just happen that one day I stop comparing myself, it is a choice. Now, every time I’m tempted to compare myself, I use that as a reminder to redirect and repeat to myself that I am beautiful. I’m going to keep saying it until I believe it.

When I was really in the midst of my eating disorder, I had pushed away God completely. I knew that if I let God in, I wouldn’t be able to treat myself the way I was. If our “ideal body” is unhealthy and we still try to attain that, our emotional, mental, and spiritual selves will suffer. One of us asked, “do I want a relationship with God, or do I want thin thighs?”  If you spiritually identify differently, the question could be posed “do I want to respect myself and live abundantly, or do I want thin thighs?” When put like that, the choice seems really simple, but it’s still hard. It’s still a daily, an hourly, choice.

Today, I choose to believe the truth! And on to the muffins, modified from this recipe. Not too sweet and completely tasty, with completely safe, lickable batter:

Banana Muffins

4 Mashed bananas
1/3 cup truvia (or other stevia granules)
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 flaxseed/chia egg (1 tsp ground flaxseed, 2 tsp chia seeds+2 tablespoons water)
1/4 cup earth balance (or other vegan butter)
1/4 cup apple sauce (you can try all applesauce in place of the vegan butter, or vice versa)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1. Make “egg” by mixing water and seeds. You want to do this first so it has time to get a little gelatinous!
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Mix together mashed bananas+sweeteners.
4. In separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
5. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients + mix.
6. Melt earth balance, add applesauce and vanilla+ stir into mixture.
7. Pour into muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes.