Is it the wind, or the water? Listening for our Reassurance

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Welcome

Hiking is one of my very favorite hobbies. Unfortunately, this past year did not afford us many opportunities to hit the trail. I am hoping the new year will be different.

I got my husband hooked on hiking early in our relationship when I could promise a majestic waterfall as part of the destination. Every since our first waterfall hikes together in eastern Tennessee, we have been waterfall-obsessed!

I’m sure it’s pretty amusing to listen to us on the trail sometimes. When we get anxious about what we might see or feel we may have been on the trail a little longer than our GPS shows, we start listening with keen ears. Is that water I hear? Well, it may just be the wind. And we still our bodies and our voices to try to get better auditory feedback, in the hopes that the whooshing sound we hear is in fact rushing water and not rustling leaves.

Our perked ears and periodic stops along the trail are part of our pursuit of reassurance. We want to be reassured that we are on the right path. We want to be reassured that the waterfall being sought is going to deliver in its volume of tumbling water. We want to be reassured that we are getting close. We want to be reassured that we won’t miss it. That may sound surprising, but we’ve been to some amazing falls that we would have hiked right by if we had not had a guide book with very specific directions for how to get to the falls off the trail. Most of all, we probably want reassurance that we are not wasting our time.

Log Hollow Falls
Log Hollow Falls; Pisgah National Forest; North Carolina, USA; It is bigger than it looks in the picture.

Food For Thought

I always say that the hiking trail is a good representation of life. In this instance, I think it reflects my spiritual life pretty well, too. As in, I’m always looking or listening for reassurance.

If the waterfall is the end goal on the trail, then the heavenly kingdom is my end goal for life. This is not the least bit ironic, since I often feel I’m experiencing heaven on earth as I sit in the majestic presence of a waterfall. But just as on the trail to a waterfall, I am frequently seeking reassurance from God that I am on the right path to my heavenly destination.

The trail is hard, with many peaks and valleys, and I’m not talking about the hiking trail here. I’m talking about the trail of life, our daily spiritual walk. And we need to stop and listen, but this time we’re not listening for the rustling of trees or the whoosh of rushing water. This is even more critical for our journey. We need to stop and LISTEN for God.

It took me a very long time to understand and appreciate this, but I fully believe that if we are seeking God’s advice, wisdom, guidance, and reassurance, He will let us know. God has many ways to let us know if we’re on the right path. Or not. Sometimes His communication is subtle and we have to intentionally seek it out, stopping and getting our bodies and minds quiet, straining our ears to listen closely. Other times we get a clear glimpse of God’s plan for our life working out harmoniously.

Here’s what I know, however, about receiving God’s communication of reassurance. Just like I cannot rush down the trail and ignore the signs and surroundings, I cannot rush through my life ignoring the signs. When we are on the trail, there are many signs, both literal signage and natural signs, that let us know we are going in the right direction for our waterfall destination. God puts signs in our life, too, letting us know if we are on the right path or not, but I have to be aware. I have to take the time to stop, look, and listen, keeping my senses sharp for anything that may let me know to carry on with my current path or maybe I found myself on the wrong path and need to make appropriate adjustments.

When I need reassurance from God, I will pray about it. I will seek answers in scripture. I will talk to trusted mentors and church peers. But one thing is sure, no matter where I look for my reassurance, I have to slow down long enough to let the answers come to me. If I’m constantly rushing and hurrying, I am likely to miss some of God’s most important messages for my life.

Today’s Scripture

This is a great verse to lead us through the new year!

On the trail to Burgess Falls, middle Tennessee, USA.

Today’s Recipes

I may know a thing or two about packing food for the trail. Trail mix, granola bars, and fruit are our go-to’s for the backpack, and of course, plenty of water.

When packing food for a full day’s hiking, we are looking for things that are portable, won’t crush or melt, and doesn’t require extra containers or cutlery. We want minimal packaging because we certainly pack out anything we pack in. Nutritionally speaking, we want a balance of carbohydrates and protein, but also easy to digest. During hiking, we burn between 400 and 600 calories per hour, but overeating on the trail will just lead to sluggishness at best, intestinal distress and cramping on the worse end.

Today’s recipes include three portable snack bars that contain whole food ingredients (mostly) and cover the hiker’s nutritional needs without a lot of filler or junk. And these are way cheaper than store-bought energy bars! These three recipes are inspired and tweaked from other recipes so I will be including those links, as well. These bars also make great after-school or post-workout snacks.

M&M Granola Bar Crisps

Ingredients

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup crisp rice cereal
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup M&M candies
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  • Set oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper, aluminum foil, or a silicone mat.
  • Mix first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.
  • In small saucepan, combine remaining ingredients, stirring to melt.
  • Stir butter mixture into dry ingredients, coating thoroughly.
  • Press mixture into prepared pan and bake 15 to 16 minutes.
  • Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.
  • Yields 18 snack-size bars.
  • Store in zip-top bags at room temperature.
  • Recipe inspired by Crafty Morning

No-Bake Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup crispy rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 handful of crushed pretzels (approximately a cup)
  • 5 TBS peanut butter
  • 3 TBS honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 TBS coconut oil
  • 2 TBS peanut butter
  • 2 tsp honey

Directions

  • Line 8×8 square pan with parchment or wax paper.
  • Mix together first four ingredients in small bowl.
  • In medium bowl, whisk together 5 TBS peanut butter, 3 TBS honey, and vanilla until smooth.
  • Pour dry ingredients into peanut butter mixture and stir until well blended.
  • Spread mixture into prepared pan and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • In small saucepan, stir coconut oil, peanut butter, and honey over medium-low heat until melted and smooth.
  • Remove pan from refrigerator and spread peanut butter coating evenly over the top and return to refrigerator for another 30 minutes.
  • Cut into bars or squares. (I cut mine into 16 squares.)
  • I store mine in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator until ready to take on the trail. For transport, I wrap each individual square in plastic wrap before putting in a zip-top bag.
  • Recipe inspired by Chocolate Covered Katie. (This blog is not listed as a secure website and therefore I will not offer a link, but I do encourage you to look up the recipe on her website if you get a chance.)

RAW Chocolate Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 1 cup pitted whole dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp water
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (use dairy-free or vegan chips, if desired)

Directions

  • Line 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper.
  • Place cashews in food processor and pulse until ground fine.
  • Add dates, vanilla, and salt to processor and turn on.
  • While processor is running, add water through the chute until mixture forms a sticky dough.
  • Add chocolate chips and pulse 2-3 more times.
  • Dump mixture into prepared pan and press down firmly and evenly. (I use my hands for this.)
  • Place in freezer for 20 minutes before cutting into bars.
  • Yields 8 bars.
  • I store my bars in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator until ready to transport. Then I wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap before placing in a zip-top bag.
  • Recipe inspired by Oh She Glows

Today’s Helpful Products from Amazon

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