Faith

What is LOVE?

2:36:00 PM

Valentine's Day was never a holiday or day that I particularly cared for growing up. Until I started dating my husband, in fact, I had NEVER had a Valentine (and we met when we were 19). Even then, Valentine's Day was still a very Hallmark holiday that seemed over done. But now that I have kids, I kind of love Valentine's day. A day to celebrate LOVE. Cliche, I know, but I love love. But, what is love?


Well, the bible has a LOT to say about love. Here are just a few verses:

  1. "For God so LOVED the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
  2. But God demonstrates his own LOVE for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
  3. "LOVE is patient, LOVE is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. LOVE does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. LOVE never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
  4. "And now these three remain: faith, hope and LOVE. But the greatest of these is LOVE." 1 Corinthians 13:13
  5. "There is no fear in LOVE. But perfect LOVE drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in LOVE. 1 John 4:18
  6. "If you LOVE those who LOVE you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners LOVE those who LOVE them...But LOVE your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back." Luke 6:32, 35a.
  7. "LOVE must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." Romans 12:9
  8. "Greater LOVE has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:13
  9. "But I tell you LOVE your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."Matthew 5:44
  10. "Above all, LOVE each other deeply, because LOVE covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8
I honestly could go on and on forever. The word love appears in the bible 681 times (in the NIV version). So I think it could actually be an important thing for me to talk about with my kids. That I love them so much, but their Father in Heaven loves them even more. That love is an action, a verb that we live out, minute by minute. Not just an ooey, gooey mushy feeling. It is something we should be actively trying to show to those around us, even those who have wronged us in some way. 

So whether you celebrate Valentine's Day or not, I think we all can get on board with celebrating love and the ultimate love God has shown to us by giving up His son, Jesus. And if you don't have a Valentine this year, don't fret. God is the ULTIMATE Valentine in that He gave EVERYTHING for you. He loves you to the ends of the universe and will never stop pursuing you and loving you. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. And that is what we are going to celebrate in our house this Valentine's Day.

Adventures

Travel Diaries :: Israel (Part 1)

2:29:00 PM

Our recent vacation to Israel was nothing short of a dream. We were there for 9 days and honestly I could have stayed so much longer. Israel was truly a magnificent country, filled with culture, history, and the majesty of our Creator. It is no surprise after spending time there that it is the Promise Land. It is truly breathtaking.

Caperneum - Sea of Galilee

I'm going to break this up into a few posts as we did a LOT and there is much to share. Let me know if you are interested in a summary post with a look at our itinerary and some advice from our experience on traveling to Israel with 3 kids at the end. I am no expert, but I am happy to share what I can.

Although Israel is quite a small country it is so rich in culture and history, whether you are religious or not, there is so much to experience and love about this beautiful country. As a Christian family, it was beyond special for us to experience all of the places from where Jesus would have walked and lived out his life and ministry here on Earth as well as many places significant in the Old Testament. It was truly life changing.

A brief outline of our itinerary

Here is a general look at our itinerary and how we laid out our trip. We have friends in the Tel-Aviv area, so naturally we started there and spent some time visiting with them our first couple of days. Then we traveled up the coast and hit some key spots on our way to staying in the Sea of Galilee region. We then met up with our friends again to see the Jordan River and do the Dead Sea region before doing another couple of days on our own in Jerusalem. We jam packed as much as we could into our 9 day itinerary and even though we saw and did so much I know that I will go back again some day, because it was just that amazing! 


ISRAEL PART ONE :: JAFFA + CEASAREA + BA'HAI GARDENS

JAFFA
Our first stop after a long day of travel was Jaffa, near Tel-Aviv. This was the perfect start to our trip as we were all very tired and jet-lagged when we first arrived. A slower paced day spent with friends.

We ate yummy hummus along the water and explored some of the old city. The marina here was where Jonah jumped a boat trying to escape God's instructions to go to Nineveh. You may know the story. Swallowed by a large fish/whale Jonah prayed for God's forgiveness and after 3 days he was spit back on dry land, praised God and obeyed going to Nineveh telling all the people there about God's love.


Another fun thing to do in this town is the Jaffa flea market. We didn't go through it this day, but came back at the end of our trip to explore. Streets lined with vendors carrying all sorts of nick-knacks and treasures. A fun, off the beaten path place to explore for the afternoon, followed by a coffee or lunch. You don't need a whole day here, which is why if you have a long travel day getting to Israel, this may be the perfect way to ease your way into your trip.

CEASAREA
The next day we took a trip up the coast to Ceasarea and Haifa.



Ceasarea is a pretty cool place to see, especially for those who appreciate history. Tucked right on the Mediterranean Sea, this city, that now lays in ruins, would have once been a bustling, beautiful place to be. Ceasarea was built by King Herod in the first century as a refuge and to show his allegiance to the Roman empire at the time.

It is amazing to see how innovative and advanced they were even over 2000 years ago. Also a little heart-breaking to see where those once thriving cities are today after centuries of discord between the Israelite people and other nations and peoples around them. A pile of ruins, only for us to dream and imagine what life must have been like during that time. Definitely a must see if you come to Israel. This was a great place for the kids as they could just run and climb on the ruins and collect rocks and seashells along the shore.


Pictures will not do any of these places justice and let's face it, I am not a professional photographer. But I did my best to capture the magic and beauty of all of the places we went.

HAIFA - BA'HAI GARDENS
After we walked through Ceasarea we headed North to the the city of Haifa. A huge, bustling port town. We didn't do too much here, just grabbed a delicious lunch and then went through the Ba'hai Gardens. A gorgeous, symmetrical cascading gardens up the side of Mount Carmel.


I have always loved to travel and had a passion for seeing the world, but after our time as a family in Israel, I have a renewed fervor for showing my kids more of the world. Different cultures and experiences outside our Western bubble we live in. Yes, I love this bubble, it is home, but there is so much more that this beautiful planet has to offer that I absolutely cannot wait to see and share with my kids.

Stay tuned for part two of our trip... Sea of Galilee, Nazareth and the Jordan River.

Recipes

Gluten + Dairy Free Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

9:46:00 AM

I don't share a ton of recipes on here, but a little over a year ago our family went gluten free for my oldest son (no he does not have celiac disease, but we discovered by process of elimination he is intolerant to it and thus it was effecting other areas of his body, mostly his mood and behavior. Maybe I will do another post on that sometime.) and ever since then it has been a process learning how to eat, finding new recipes and adjusting recipes that I already have.

I have tried making banana muffins multiple times throughout the past year and this recipe by far has been an overwhelming favorite in our family. I think I finally found a good balance of flavors and a great texture. If you have individuals in your household or life that have allergies, give these a try!


GLUTEN + DAIRY FREE BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS

INGREDIENTS:
3 medium very ripe bananas
1.5 cups GF all purpose flour (I use Bobs Red Mill gluten free 1-to-1 baking flour)
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. baking soda
½ Tbsp cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
2 eggs
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life brand - they are dairy and soy free - very good for all of the big allergies. They sell semi-sweet minis, dark chocolate regular and semi-sweet chunks so you can play with these options depending on your level of sweet tooth). We use the minis so our muffins are just a little sweet.

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 375°
2. Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and salt) in a large bowl. 
2. Smash bananas (I use a fork) and combine eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla in medium bowl. Once mixed well add to your dry ingredients.
3. Mix well and stir in cinnamon
4. Fold in in chocolate chips.
5. Bake for approx. 18-22 minutes
6. Let cool for about 10 minutes and ENJOY!


My oldest son, Gabriel and I had so much fun baking these the other day. We had even more fun eating them 😉


I hope you enjoy these as much as my family does. And if you give it a try let me know in the comments below! HAPPY BAKING FRIENDS!!

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