Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins!

Thanks to the mysterious grocery giver from a few days ago, we had some bananas that needed to get eaten. So I thought, “Muffins!” I hadn’t cooked/baked anything with bananas for a long time (because I’m allergic), so when these little beauties popped out of the oven, I regretted creating such untouchable muffins.

Needless to say, if you want to help my husband finish them off, come on over.


Instructions for muffins:

Mix together

  • 3-4 large bananas, all mashed up
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/3 c. melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

In another bowl combine…

  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Pour dry ingredients into banana mixture and stir to combine. Add 3/4 c. chocolate chips, or not. These are okay without chocolate chips. Line muffin tin with liners and fill them 3/4 full. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 17-22 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. 

As I type this, I realize I never put in the vanilla extract into mine. That would make them even tastier! Oh well. 

I’m blessed with a husband who will eat anything I make him. Unless it has mushrooms.  🙂

In other news, my future sister-in-law is staying with us while her fiance is part of a wedding tomorrow! We took her to Pops in Arcadia and introduced her to Firefly. Aren’t we good future siblings?

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Posted by on May 24, 2014 in Food (Noms)


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How To Deal With A Panic Attack

Pirates of Penzance

For one performance of my university’s rendition of Pirates of Penzance, I played a manly pirate.

Now, I know that the phrase “have a panic attack” is a regular saying in American culture. People use the phrase to express an experience of sudden worrying, where they were like, “OH NO!!” And it is something people laugh about later.

But for people with anxiety problems, having an actual panic attack is nothing to take lightly.

What does a panic attack look like? lists some of the side affects of having a panic attack.

  • “Racing” heart
  • Feeling weak, faint, or dizzy
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and fingers
  • Sense of terror, or impending doom or death
  • Feeling sweaty or having chills
  • Chest pains
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Feeling a loss of control

I have a panic disorder, which means I am prone to these kinds of things.

They usually happen this way:

1. I am alone.

2. I am thinking about all sorts of things.

3. Something happens that makes me afraid and/or triggers one of my worst fears.

4. My mind cannot help but go down the worst possible outcome of that fear.

5. I think one of the following: “I’M GOING TO DIE!” “I MUST HAVE CANCER!” “I’M GOING BLIND!” “I’M GOING TO GET RAPED!” “THIS STICKSHIFT CAR IS GOING TO ROLL INTO ANOTHER CAR AS SOON AS I TAKE MY FOOT OFF THE BRAKES!!,” because apparently, those are my worst fears. And they are all equally scary in my mind when it comes to having an attack.

At this point, I’m exhibiting most of those lovely symptoms listed above. But the worst part is, I can’t talk myself down. I can’t distract myself or get myself to think about happier thoughts. All I can think about is how horrible it will be when this fear comes true (as it obviously is immediately coming true). I feel paralyzed. And I’m usually close to weeping by this point.

In a nutshell, a panic attack is what happens when you worry about something and your brain’s ability to cope with the idea shuts down. Your ability to rationally deal with it breaks.Your fear center overreacts. And that can be super scary.

Are you one of the unfortunate people who know what I’m going through?

If you have a panic attack, this is what I would advise you to do (only because it has helped me):

1. Try to slow down your breathing. Focus on the sound of your own breathing–make it nice and even.

2. Stop being alone. Find a friend. Find a family member. Heck, go knock on your neighbor’s door (that is how I made friends with the girl whose wedding I’m officiating next week). Be with someone. Explain to them that you need to talk out your fears. I always appreciate hugs.

3. Talk it out. If you feel brave, tell them what triggered the attack and why it scared you.

4. Bravely answer the question, “what if it were true?” and make an action plan in case that worst case senario would actually happen.

5. Remind yourself that you may have freaked out over nothing. Just maybe.

6. After ten minutes, you will be shaken, but recovered. Eat something and tell yourself it was just a bad dream.

7. Go talk to your doctor about it. I started taking medicine for my panic disorder and it has really helped me.

 The important thing to remember is this: You will feel very afraid. But actually, you are one of the bravest people I know. Because you face your fears.

And panic attacks help you understand when other people are afraid. They teach you to take action against being trapped by fear.

Panic attacks remind you that your fears are lies and that you are not powerless.

You can do something.

You can hold on to the truth: you are loved by God and nothing can destroy you when you are in His hands.


Have you ever had a panic attack? Were yours ever like mine?



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Posted by on May 23, 2014 in This Just In


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My Last Meal

One thing I learned this year is that chefs love to ask each other this question:

If you were able to choose your last meal before death, what would you eat?

I don’t know why this is a big deal for them, but the last supper question comes up a lot. There is even a book with famous chefs’ answers to the question. Here is a link to a slideshow of their final meal ideas. As I read through them, I couldn’t help but think, “What in the world are some of these foods?” Even in our language, they sound foreign and exotic. Gigantic spider crabs? Black truffles? Seaweed soup? Snipes? (Those actually exist?!)

Just this year, I learned how to make tomato bisque, biscotti, and french bread. This year, I tasted creme brulee for the first time. I used a grill for the first time, and used the “broil” setting on my oven for the first time. I made whipped cream by hand and found out that the French way of cutting onions made me cry less.

Oh sweet advanced culinary experience, where have you been all of my life?

Because of exploring this new world of unusually delicious food, there are some new foods on my radar of things to cook someday: risotto, figs with goat cheese, souffle, and ratatouille.

But okay, I will answer the question myself. With my 20 closest friends/family, I would eat the following food:

I would want to eat pasta. Not just any pasta, but freshly-made angel hair noodles with shrimp, scallops, and crab in a cream sauce that is not too lemony. It would have tiny diced tomatoes in it, too. And be served with soft, hot bread with butter.

With it, I would drink orange koolaid.

For dessert, I would have a slice of the lemon-blueberry layer cake with buttercream icing that was served at my bridal shower.

I would finish it off with a small cup of tea. Rooibos with milk.

Quite filled and happy, I would die in peace.

What would you want your last meal to look like?

Who would be with you?

Bridal shower

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Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Food (Noms)


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Storytalk Training #1

Storytalk Training

Once upon a time, my parents were born and raised in the same area of Ohio. My mother wasn’t raised by Christians, and didn’t become a Christian until she was a young teenager, I believe. She started going to Saint John’s Lutheran church in Grove City, Ohio. She loved the leaders of the youth program, Gary and Laurie Pecuch. After my parents graduated from high school, my dad joined the Army. They got married and then spent 23 years moving all over the place. They moved back to their hometown. Gary and Laurie were still at St. John’s. My mother became the youth director and worked alongside them.

Crazy, huh?!

Anyway, they have a great leadership training program for their teens, and every year they have camp that allows the teens to practice their “faith skills.” That includes stuff like praying over a meal, facilitating Bible studies, planning a worship service, etc. This year’s rotation includes something we call “storytalks,” which is really beginning lessons in public speaking. It is the most pain-free way I have ever seen speaking taught. The beauty of this camp is that it is a safe place, where one is surrounded by friends and encouraging mentors, where one is challenged to grow.

I have the privilege of leading worship for that week this year, along with one of the teens who plays guitar.

Anyway, I thought I would use this blog to work on an introductory talk.

The First Storytalk: Introducing Yourself

Hello! I’m Sarah Smith. And I’m a pastor. I am a small group leader. I’m a wife. I am the den mother for the Bible quizzing team. I am a baker and chef. I have a college degree. I am a child of God.

My personality type is a smoother-over, a peacekeeper, a protector, a corrector, a stick-in-the-mud, a rule-follower, a movie-quoter, and a calmer. I do like to get in the way or ride roller coasters. I do not like to hear stories about serious illnesses. I do not like coconut or pranks. I hate cleaning bath tubs. I am terrified of inclines when I am driving our stick-shift Mustang. I am not good at saying the right thing at the right time.

You may not remember these random facts about me. But you may remember me.

Me. The one who laughed at your joke. The one who prayed before she ate. The one who sings all the time. The one who thinks you are really cool. The one who totally read that book too and doesn’t get it either. The one who ate everything with chopsticks that one year. The one who said, “You can do it! I believe in you.” The one who said, “I’m so glad you came to camp!”

I am leaving a legacy. I am keeping the faith.

I am Sarah Smith.


Laurie and I

Laurie Pecuch and I at my wedding shower.

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Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Just Talking/Thinking


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Surely goodness and mercy are following me.


A few minutes ago, there was a knock on our door.

My husband looked at me and said, “Who could that be?” People don’t usually just pop over to see us (which reminds us of the time a policeman showed up at our door…I might tell you that story later). I answer it, and our associate pastor and his wife walk in, carrying boxes full of the most beautiful thing I have seen in a long time.

Now, some of you know that my husband lost his job two months ago, and that it has been rather stressful to watch our carefully saved up emergency fund (thank you for baby step #1, Dave Ramsey!) slowly sink lower and lower. My husband, especially, has felt discouraged in job hunting for something suitable for him. This is what our fridge looked like today.


Not exactly as full as I, the chef of the house, like to keep it.

So imagine our surprise as we saw that the boxes were full of groceries. Really, SO much food!!! Groceries

There was chicken and beef, canned veggies, grapes, bananas, strawberries, blueberry muffin mix, mixed nuts, and so much more! God bless them, they even got us a bag of little chocolates filled with caramel. I’m sure by now my mother is crying as she reads this. I am pretty sure it was the equivalent of three weeks of groceries for us.

Apparently, someone in our church who knew we were going through a rough time wanted to help us. Anonymously.

To that person/couple/family, we say thanks.

And I think God is smiling.


“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
All the days of my life,
And I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” ~Psalm 23:6



Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Vibrant Life


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Three Things I Learned In My First Year of Marriage

I have been married to Mr. Smith for a whole year now. It went by both quickly and slowly–you know how that is. I thought this would be a good time to reflect on what I have learned.

1. If I don’t want him to eat my dinner, I should cover it with mushrooms.

My husband can’t stand those. Actually, this reminds me of a lesson that was hard to learn that first month: “What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is mine.” Anything that I eat or drink or possess is not really “mine,” but “ours.” When we got married, we joined our hearts, but we also joined our bank accounts. It was like I was a kid learning to share all over again, constantly being reminded that there is nothing I can really call “mine.” This is true of our Christian walk, as well. Everything we “own” is given to us by God, who is the Great Provider. This is a reason that married life is like being a monk, who can’t say he owns anything either. Every time my husband was thirsty, I would let him drink from my cup (and he didn’t mind me drinking from his). Everything we have is meant to be shared with whoever needs it.

2. There is no more hiding.

I am an emotional person. I also don’t like to get in other people’s way. So sometimes I hide my feelings or opinion because I want to save other people from dealing with my crap. That doesn’t work when you live with someone. Especially if you are married to that someone. I can’t cry without him seeing and persisting until I tell him what is wrong. I can’t be down in the dumps without him wanting to help. No more pity parties for this lady. I can never face something alone again, because I have this man who will fight for me.

3. There is no more pretending to be perfect.

All of that stuff, all of the crazy, all of the wierdness, that you were able to hide when you were just dating, comes out in the open when you get married. The Tourettes Syndrome tics that only come out when he is at home, I married those. The anxiety and IBS problems I have, he married those. Your spouse becomes a mirror that shows how you really are. Every time you would rather choose the selfish option instead of choosing to love reflects the darker tendencies that a lot of people do not get to see. But it can be a blessing. Married people every day have the choice to grow in holiness, to choose love, to become more like Christ. It is rough, yes. It is real, yes. All of the ways I would rather be passive-aggressive and not deal with problems–my husband loves me too much to let me pick that route.


In other news, I get to officiate my first wedding next week! I am such a fan of marriage, especially when it is entered into not “unadvisedly, but reverently, discreetly, and in the fear of God” like Nazarenes like to say at weddings. When a couple thinks and prays hard over a period of time, and mentoring Christians in their lives think it is a great idea, and when the couple is passionate about serving and glorifying God–it is a beautiful thing. That is the kind of couple I get to pronounce husband and wife next week.

All of you married folks! What are some things you have learned in marriage?

You single folks! What are some things God has taught you in being single?

~Mrs. Smith

Swept Off My Feet


Posted by on May 18, 2014 in Vibrant Life


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Must-Read Books

I have read all of the following, and I think you should too. You know, when you can make time for such soul-feeding words as fill these books.


The Giver by Lois Lowery. Close your eyes and imagine. What if there was a way to take away all pain? All color that divides us? All desires that cause strife? What if everyone knew their place and controlled their emotions? What if there was no history or memories from past generations, but only the Now? Discover this world and meet Jonas, who is chosen to be the next bearer of the community’s memories and must face the reality he never knew existed. Plus, it is being made into a movie! Read it first and then you might get to say the reader’s favorite phrase: The book was better.   

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I have decided to read this story every Christmas. It tells the story of four daughters whose father is off fighting for the Union in the American Civil War. Their mother is trying to raise her “little women” as best as she can. A young female reader cannot help but be mothered while reading the book: encouraged to behave well and love the Lord, to work hard and develop one’s abilities. Your heart will wish they were your cousins.  

Persuasion by Jane Austen. Everyone says read Pride and Prejudice. I say read Persuasion. Why? Because I have become best friends with the main character, Anne. She is a bit of a push-over, but loyal, dependable, and loves poetry. She puts others first. She is persuaded by her elders to break a young man’s heart, and wonders if she can ever get another chance. Beautiful story. 

Night by Eli Wiesel. This is a first-person account of life in the Nazi concentration camps during WWII. It will haunt you, as it should. You should not read this for enjoyment, but because his story needs to be heard. He speaks of the death, despair, and numbing pain that can come from the horror humans with power can inflict on each other. 

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I read this in my Systematic Theology class, to understand the despair of those who are crushed by the powers that be, the least of these. What do you do when you have nothing left and nowhere to belong? It is based on the historical setting of the Dust Bowl in the Midwest. It is an empathy-builder, I think.  

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Set in the French Revolution, this thick book is all about the heroic ending. That is all I will say.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The only resident on a tiny planet, the little prince takes care of his domain, but is terribly lonely. This was a story written in French, seemingly for children, but it is so profound in some places (like his conversation with a fox about the nature of friendship) that it deserves to be read by all ages.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orzcy. A man and woman fall in love and marry, but he hides from her his true identity–that he is the Scarlet Pimpernel, a famous British spy and master of disguise during the French Revolution. Written in 1905, it set the precedence for other superheroes with secret identities like Zorro and Batman. The moral of the story: spouses should not be kept in the dark.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. Now there is a creepy book. I read it in a day because I could not put it down. It is THE classic everyone-goes-to-a-scary-mansion-and-everyone-dies-one-by-one book. If trying to figure out who the murderer is is your kind of thrill, this is definitely for you. 


Other favorites: I’ve also read C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, most of Shakespeare’s comedies, and most of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries. I declare them all delightful and engaging.

Do you have any books that you have read and would recommend to anyone?

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Posted by on May 17, 2014 in Just Talking/Thinking


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