My favorite snack mix (Gluten Free!)

If I had to choose a favorite snack, I would probably always pick homemade snack mix (Chex Mix, Crispix Mix, party mix, what have you). My grandmother makes homemade snack mix, my mom makes homemade snack mix, and my friends and I made homemade snack mix while we roomed together in college. I’m obsessed with the stuff. And while there are many different varieties, I have finally pinned down my favorite, based on my mom’s recipe, the original recipe found on the Crispix box, and the original recipe on Chex boxes.

My mom’s snack mix is the stuff of legends: Chex, 4 types of Goldfish, Cheerios, Cheez-Its, mixed nuts, pretzels, and more, depending on what she has available or buys at the store. And while I love this mix, it can be pretty expensive to buy all of these ingredients. I narrowed it down to my very favorites and kept only 3: Chex, Cheerios, and Cashews. Mmmm…

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Music Mondays: Savannah

Today’s Music Monday is really special – I feel honored to share it with you, friends. About a month ago, I posted about having guest musicians share on this blog and today is the first Brianna Branches Out post not written by Brianna ;).

Savannah has graciously written about her musical experiences below, as well as shared a video of her and some family members singing together. It’s awesome, please enjoy:

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23 Goals for Year 23

Yesterday I celebrated my “golden birthday,” turning 23 on the 23rd. Many people, including my mother, did not know what that meant, so I think it’s a recent development in birthdays. I don’t know if it was the title or the amazing outpouring of love I received, but I have to admit it was a pretty spectacular birthday! Thank you, friends and family, for making me feel so blessed.

A birthday card from one of my best friends, Christie, said something that got me thinking. She said, “This year will really shine for you and I can’t wait to see you live it.” Not only is that incredibly sweet, but it made me stop and think about what 23 might have in store. I decided to set some goals and resolutions for this year, like I should have done at New Years 😅. A few of them I have been striving towards for a while, but some of them I just came up with, hah! In no particular order, here are 23 goals for year 23 of my life! Let’s see how many I can accomplish in the next 364 days:

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Hello Again!

Once upon a time I started a blog in preparation for a group mission trip to Taiwan with two friends, one boyfriend (now husband!), and one choir director. We met incredible people, sang some cool songs, visited beautiful parts of Taipei, and left a little bit different than how we began. It was an awesome experience, but blogging was more difficult to maintain than I thought and I haven’t posted since…woops. My life has changed in more ways than one since then, so I thought I’d do a quick catch-up blog and then start posting more regularly, as there are many things on my heart and mind that I’d love to share with anyone who is interested. SO here goes!

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Taiwan is an island (I am not an island)

After a whirlwind of a week, I have been made aware of many beautiful things

  1. God’s grace sustains us
  2. I come from a family of servant hearts
  3. It is an unspeakable joy and blessing to have “forever friends”
  4. I can make mistakes and still succeed
  5. You can never have too much bread. 🙂

I could probably go on and on about the remarkable blessings I have experienced this week, but I don’t want to bore anybody! I just wanted to write a post to thank those who have supported me, to express my praise to God, and to reflect on more life-changing moments.

The other night I heard a piece from John Donne’s Meditation XVII – No Man Is An Island. [As a poet, Donne holds a special place in my heart. A few years ago, I had poems from his Holy Sonnets memorized and they changed my life and my spirituality at the time. Death, be not proud is a particularly meaningful one to me and I’m still drawing understanding from it.]

No Man Is An Island is written in reference to mankind, but today it speaks to me on a much more personal level.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

I am not my own, I belong to the whole. I belong to God’s family. I belong to the relatives who lift me up and call me loved. I belong to the friends who have been part of my journey, even those whose paths went in a different direction than mine. I belong to musicians, composers, and mentors who guided my steps. And I belong to those whom I serve and encourage and motivate, as they do the same for me. I am not an island.

Although it is easy to get caught up in our own priorities, our own struggles, and our own goals, it is important to remember that we are traveling this road of life together. That none of us should cut ourselves off from the guidance, love, and companionship we give and receive from one another. That the joys and sorrows of others affect us and our lives affect theirs.

I am drawn to Romans 12:15 – “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” It is not always easy to put yourself in another’s shoes, but we are called to do so as followers of Christ and as members of mankind.

I have done my fair share of rejoicing and mourning this week, but I was surrounded by loved ones and surrounded by God’s love through all of it. We held on to each other and held on to Him and made it through the weekend. I could NOT have done it on my own. And I wouldn’t have wanted to.

I thank God for all of the people he has put into my life and I am grateful he created us to be in community with one another (Genesis 2:18Psalm 133:1, Romans 12:4-5, Galatians 6:2). I thank my friends, family, and loved ones for helping me through a weekend I will never forget. And I thank the people who have submitted themselves to the idea that we are to be servants of others, not islands belonging to ourselves.

In a couple of months, I’ll be going to the island of Taiwan. I’ll be in a different country, experiencing a different culture, and I will be a foreigner, but I will still not be alone. I will be supported by prayers from home and surrounded by the love of my team, but I will also be forming new relationships with the people I meet.

At last night’s LST session, we talked about how our English conversations/readings are built around the idea of building one-on-one relationships with the readers. It is not a teacher-student relationship, but one of friendship – full of openness, trust, and sincerity. Opening the doors of communication and having a connection with someone is the only way to reach out in a meaningful way. In other words, I must make a link between myself and another person. I must make myself available to them and meet them where they are at. I must refuse to be an island.

I encourage anyone, no matter his or her situation, to be grateful for the influential people that are found in the everyday – and the extraordinary – moments. Allow them to be a part of your life and reach out to be a part of theirs. Do not see yourself as an island.

I have experienced a lot this week, but I am most grateful for the people who experienced it alongside me.

I am not an island

Thanks to Steddon Sikes for the photo!