Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dear Sweet Friends,

I joyfully moved my blog over to here: The Delectable Life.  I will no longer post on this blog, so my past writings from this blog will remain until I figure out how to transfer them over to the new blog! Check out the sixty day challenge that we started.  Also, don't wait to hop on until the "opportune time".  Make your own challenge and join us and countless others to become the most healthy, energized, joyful you that the Lord created you to be!  

Much love,

Matt and Laura Bray

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

grace in the midst of storms

Whew.  I haven't been around lately, because class is a BEAR.  I am swamped with homework every day, BUT today Matt and I miraculously have the day off from assignments.  This was a much needed break, and I have been spending it catching up on mission plans, writing friends and family, crafting around, sewing flowers, and loving on my hubs.  So happy.  Music once again, beautifies the world I live in...


I am so thankful to God that he is giving such great joy in this humbling season of life.  I lean on him for strength, for timing, for provision in every way.  There is no better place to be.  Some days, though, my mind and my body are wracked with anxiety and despair that is hard to escape.  On those days, I open up the word and find encouragement from these Biblical characters who have become best friends, mentors, and guides.  Jacob is teaching me how to press in for the blessings that only God can provide.  Press in, friends, to see His face in the beauty around us.  Press in to extract the beauty out of the moments that may appear bleak, or painful.  God's face is in everything.  The might of God touched the strongest fleshly muscle in Jacob's body, breaking him in an act of humbling might.  And Jacob?  He came away with a new name and  a limp.  A limp that would remind Him to rely on the one who saves us all.  The one who gives each of us a new name. 

In the midst of the difficult circumstances, He would have us dance in the joy of our salvation.  Dance. Run. Leap. Skip.  Climb.  Soar.  Weep.  Laugh. Trust.  Victorious.  And so I open the gates of heaven by expressing my thanks.

sparkling pink shoes, oh so fun to wear
Skipping through the flowers
No homework days.
His soft cheek on mine own.
the joy of sweet potatoes.
long walks in the early morning dew
a friendly face passes by 

Counting the joys.  Will you join me?  Begin to list them.  Read the book  1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp, make best friends with the mentors in the great books of the Bible, pray, seek, turn all things around to reflect the joy, grace, and beauty of our Savior.

"A wise mother knows what powerful men can forget — that the way to move heaven and earth isn’t with a strong arm but with a bowed head."
-Ann Voskamp

To all the beautiful mothers, and mine own, thank you for showing us humility and all that is beauty in this world by showing us the face of God.  :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Goodness and Wanderlust...

This was a week of dandelions blowing in the wind, tulips blooming all around, springtime, and farewells. I was blessed to get to find a kindred spirit in Dallas. Her faith reminds me of the peace of God and I am comforted by her gentleness whenever I surround myself with her company. In the much too short time I spent time with her, she cried with me, laughed with me, and just spent time being with me. While the rest of us will carry on in our studies, Gabrielle is moving on to greater adventures following The Lord like a child anxious to know Him better and better each day. I am excited for her walk and blessed to be a newfound part of it! Gabrielle appreciated my weird recipes that go against the grain so I thought I would post her favorite here in honor of her and the love she brought into my life:

Healthy Cookie Dough Dip

1 1/2 cups chickpeas
1/8 tsp plus 1/16 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup almond butter

1/4 cup raw grass-fed cream, or for a nondairy option- ¼ cup fresh coconut milk or raw almond milk

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons almond meal

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (or whatever you prefer)

stevia packets to taste

Combine everything in a food processor other than the chocolate chips. Process until smooth. Taste and see if it needs to be sweeter for your purposes and if so, add one to two packets of stevia, or a bit more honey. Place the mixture into a bowl and stir in chocolate chips! Indulge alone, or enjoy with fruit!

**To make this dip brownie batter dip add in 1-2 tbsp of cocoa or carob powder. You can omit the chocolate chips...or not!

After we said farewell, until next time, perhaps in Cameroon, Africa, Matt and I packed up to head to Kansas for the Easter break from training. For the road, I made these wanderlust bars that absolutely blew my mind! They are budget friendly and very healthy!

Wanderlust Bars
makes one 8x8 tray of granola bars
adapted from

2.5 cups mixed nuts and seeds (I used 1 ½ cups of almonds and ½ cups of pumpkin seeds, ½ cup sunflower seeds since it was what I had on hand)
1 cup dried fruit (I used raisins)
1/4 cup shredded coconut
2 tablespoons cacao powder
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup almond butter
¼ cup raw local honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch nutmeg

Put the nuts and seeds in a food processor and process for about 10 seconds. There should still be some coarse bits. Combine with the dried fruit and coconut in a mixing bowl. In a saucepan over low heat, combine the cocoa powder, coconut oil, almond butter, honey, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir on heat until thoroughly combined and pour into dry ingredients. Stir everything together and place in an 8X8 pan. Freeze for at least 2 hours before eating. Store in the fridge or freezer.

Have a beautiful spring day...until next time!

What are your favorite travel snacks and foods to save money and time while on the road? Feel free to contribute in the comments!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Intentionality and Homemaking

Brilliant purples and the crisp scent of creation ever surrounds me.  Spring abounds!
 One thing the Lord has been laying on my heart lately is a burden for intentionality in my marriage, in my role as a woman, wife, and homemaker, friend, and child of God.  Before I was married, I focused only on my career, my dreams, and what I wanted out of life.  Marriage has taught me about selflessness, balance in priorities, how to love more fully, and of course--about the character of God.

In order to walk more fully in a joyful and God centered marriage, I have resolved to be more intentional.  These are some things I am learning to incorporate:

Spend plenty of time with girlfriends.
As a newlywed, it is really easy to get caught up in spending all my time with my husband.  I think a bit of that is definitely healthy and I would rather err on the side of loving him too much rather than too little.  However, for me to be the most healthy, I need time with the girls and someone other than my husband to lean on from time to time.  Gathering with sisters in Christ encourages me and reminds me how to be a woman of Christ, always seeking to serve others and my husband. 

Learn to take things to the Lord first, then if necessary-my husband.
Overburdening Matt with every trouble I encounter is not good for him or for me.  Instead, I hope to lean on the Lord solely, first, and foremost as the solution to my problems and the source of my strength and hope.

Spend about 2 hours a week and take time to pray about the week ahead, dedicating it to the Lord's plans, seeking Him and what he wants to do, planning appointments, meals, and a general schedule.
Aside from saving a great deal of time during the week, I absolutely love asking the Lord what he would have me do with my day and week ahead.  This helps me stay organized,  but also focused on the Lord's plans rather than my own.  Also, meal planning helps to keep the budget down by getting the right amount of food.  At the same time, it is important for me to plan, but keep the plans flexibly in favor of interruptions from God!

Establish a morning and evening routine.
Ever since I established these routines, I have started and ended the day with so much more peace and focus.  I am able to prioritize and accomplish the most important tasks first thing, and effectively wind down the day.  This is my morning routine (which can be changed depending on changing schedules/time of life):

Morning routine:
Wake up early (7am) and drink 1 full glass of water, daily planning for 5 minutes
Independent bible study, prayer, and meditation
Prayer walk and devotion with my hubby
Get ready
Pick up the house for 10  minutes
songwriting exercises for 10 minutes and/or yoga
(This is all done by about 9-10am)

Begin the day with devotions, prayer, and Bible study.
Doing this first focuses my sights on the Lord for the rest of the day.  I never want to go anywhere without Him.

Pray daily with my husband in prayer walks, and also on my own.  In my own prayers, I always pray for my husband.
This has strengthened our marriage so much as we learn about the Bible and pray for our ministry partners, our marriage, and what the Lord is doing around the world.  Praying for Matt in my independent prayer time helps to profess out loud my faith in him and his ability to lead our family.  We are one and this is one of the most important things I could do for him!  This is a resource I am using to pray for Matt on a regular basis.

Joyfully serve by keeping the home clean and desirable place to be.

It is all too tempting to complain about what isn't happening around the house, or about your husband.  Intentionally practicing a joyful heart through the strength of God always makes serving fun.  I find that when I keep the house clean and work hard to make our home a haven and have meals prepared, I enjoy the peace of The Lord and seeing my husband's grateful face brings me so much happiness!

Have one date night a week.
Matt is very protective over our date night.  This is non-negotiable to him, as a time where we choose to be together and romance each other, as opposed to being together because we are in the same class, we enjoy the same things, or because we live together.  It doesn't have to cost much, and it strengthens our marriage.

Plan ways to bless my husband, friends, children, and stranger each week.

This can manifest in the form of a letter of encouragement, a phone call, affirmation or act of service, or a gift!

Cultivate thankfulness.
Each day, I am trying to intentionally record 4-5 things I am thankful for throughout the day.  My goal is to reach 1000 recorded acts of thankfulness this year.  I am going to post them on this blog, and I encourage you to join me and many others in this!  Refer to the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp to read more on this journey!

 For each way I consume, find a way to produce.

 I'm a big reader and researcher, a lover of hobbies.  It is easy to consume WAY too much.  For each time I consume (read a blog, book, etc.), I try to produce something (blog post, practice guitar, photography, etc.).

Make time for hobbies.
It is really important to have hobbies and give yourself time to explore something just for fun!  On top of class and work, I try to make time to explore photography, songwriting, fitness, guitar, and culinary arts on a daily basis.

This morning, I told my husband that there are times when I feel like I am trying to give tips and ideas that I myself have not perfected, and it sort of makes me feel hypocritical.  In many ways, I am writing this for myself.  I am writing this because the Lord has prompted me to change some things in my life to make more room for Him.  I want to live a life of health so that I can bring Him more glory and know the Lord more fully.  As I learn to put the Lord first, honor my husband, find the beauty in life around me, cultivate my passions-I see more of God, and I hear his whispers more clearly.

What do you do to live intentionally?
What is the Lord prompting you to do to open up more space for Him in your life?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Saving time and money with home workouts (the missionary gym)

Hello!  I created a video to show you all what home equipment and strategies I use to work out on a regular basis.  If you are interested, I can start posting workouts too, so let me know!  I did this to save money, but also to be able to stay active!

Also, for those of you following along with our ministry with Wycliffe, we made a new post here!

What are your favorite home workout strategies? What else would you like to know about home workouts?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cast Iron Chickpea Flour Pizza

Matt and I really love pizza and could EASILY down an entire large pizza all by ourselves.  What can I say?  I have a rather large appetite for my size.  Most pizzas are greasy and made with processed, nutritionally deficient ingredients.  To conquer this travesty, the hubs and I set about to make pizza crust out of chickpea flour.  But...we failed miserably.  We had a stiff and sticky dough, but decided to roll it out and bake the dough anyway and it came out as a flatbread of sorts.  It tasted delicious so we just dipped in some olive oil and herbs.  Yum!  Not so much of a fail, I suppose.  Anyhow, we started over and added more liquid to the flour and it came out wonderfully and resulted in a nice crust.  We decided to enact Friday nights as the official pizza night and have since made a mushroom, cheese, and grass-fed beef pizza, as well as a Thai inspired pizza.  I will tell you that the crust doesn't taste typical, but is much more filling, and has a nice hearty flavor about it.  I think I actually enjoy it more.

So here is a recipe for our Thai inspired pizza, but you can change the ingredients however you like!  Also, I made mine in a ridged cast iron, but you can use a different pan that is suitable for the stove top and to go in the oven under broil (Not a nonstick or plastic handle).



1 1/3 cup garbanzo flour
2/3 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup water
1 tsp rosemary (We used Bragg's Sprinkle)
Coconut oil (or pasture-raised butter) to coat the pan


 Crushed tomatoes, or organic tomato sauce
1 Tbs almond butter (optional)2 Tbs EVOO
Garlic, salt, and pepper

Toppings: (Do whatever you want.  We eyeballed everything so it was loaded to our contentment.)
Raw or Sheep/Goat cheese of your choice grated (we used a combination of raw cheddar and pecorino)
1-2 grated carrots (we used a food processor)
a handful of spinach
a handful of bean sprouts
various spices of choice (red pepper flakes, srirachi sauce)


Sift the chickpea flour and salt together in a medium bowl.  Slowly add in the water while whisking to incorporate.  Refrigerate for a half hour.  In a sauce pan, combine tomato sauce and almond butter until combined and warm.  Take it off the heat.  Preheat the broiler and stir the rosemary into the batter.  Heat up a cast iron skillet (or a different pan) and coat it with a small amount of coconut oil.  Once heated, pour the batter into the pan and spread it out to form your crust.  Cook the crust over medium high heat until the crust is set, about 2-3 minutes.  Next, add the tomato sauce mixture on top of the crust.  Then add the spinach, cheese, carrots, beansprouts (spinach on bottom so it doesn't burn).  Put the skillet into the oven under the broiler for 4 to 5 minutes.  Take it out, top off with nuts, cilantro and spices to taste.  Serve and eat! 

Note:  As far as the amount for toppings, you can just add the toppings according your personal preference.  Be creative! :)

I'm a happy girl...
What toppings are you going to try it with?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sharing the love

This week has been filled with so many profound moments.  I find myself wanting to express myself through so many different mediums.  I am enjoying this exploration that has led me to the art of traditional cooking, photography, guitar lessons, song writing, and planting.  I am captivated by beauty, addicted to it even.  Here are a few things I found this week in my daily reading...

This soup is perfect for the chilly days we have had lately.  It is my favorite kind of soup and the addition of coconut milk sounds incredible!

A beautiful dessert.  Pavlova.  I have never had a bad recipe from this blog, and the photography is gorgeous.

I have definitely been working on eating more mindfully as of late.  Trying to discern when I'm hungry, when I'm bored, or when I just want to eat for the fun of it.

One facet of traditional cooking: Soaking nuts

How to break a cookie habit.

Have a lovely weekend, beautiful friends. :)