Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Favorite Breakfast Recipes, Part 1

I've haven't written much in the last year or so, but I hope to write more. I like to write and share at least a few people read here. So, I thought I'd start with something easy.

So, we are trying to eliminate as much processed food as possible. However, I am not being a Nazi about it! At first when I have an idea to do something I just jump in whole hog and then burn out, beat myself up and get frustrated, feel like a failure, etc, etc, etc. You'd think by now I would learn that this is my pattern and go little bits at a time with a big endeavor/lifestyle change! But alas, I still do it! That has been the case with trying to not eat processed food (and just about every other endeavor I've tried) and would feel bad for feeding Catherine Multigrain Cheerios which besides bananas and strawberries and milk with molasses, has to be her favorite food! After several falls down this road, I've lightened up a little and decided that I'll just go a little at a time and if we never get rid of the Cheerios, it will be ok!

Catherine enjoying her oatmeal!

After so much reading and research and scouring of the internet and books about food and sugar, toxins, pesticides, organics, etc., etc, I've come to realize that something bad can be said about almost everything we eat, even the whole unprocessed food found on the perimeters of the grocery store. Yes, there are some really bad things I don't want to touch, but definitely not all.

Take eggs for instance. For years we've heard that eggs are bad, they raise cholesterol, etc. But I've read lately that that has been proven not to be the case. And in fact we need cholesterol for our brains and hormones to function properly. Yes, some people have high cholesterol but from what I've read there are other factors coming into play from a myriad of malfunctions that cause this, one of them being our processed food-sugar laden -Western diet, not from eating a pure food like eggs.

But then, what kind of eggs? There are so many options! Just normal? Cage-free? Pastured? Unpasteurized? Vegetarian fed? Added Omega 3???? It is really ridiculous!!!! And this is just for eggs! There are this many options for most of our food! No wonder I almost despise grocery shopping and menu planning. What kind of eggs do I buy? Well, I'd love to buy the ones from pastured chickens, that have been able to run around in the grass eating bugs and worms and seeds and all things that chickens are supposed to eat in the fresh air like the chickens that used to roam around in their yard down the road from us in the village in Lebanon, beside the donkey in the field next door. :) Not cooped up tightly in an artificial environment where they can hardly move! BUT, these pastured eggs are very expensive! So, I've tested a lot of different eggs and I've hit a middle of the road priced egg that I like. I picked the ones that have the brightest yellow yolk. That means there's lots of good stuff in there. These were not from the amish farms or the local farms, but just the Whole Foods brand, not organic eggs.

Trying to buy the purest food can be STRESSFUL and EXPENSIVE, so, I'll do what I can and not fret about it.

All that to say, breakfast has been relatively easy to go unprocessed for us. Yes, we do still eat cereal occasionally, mostly on Sunday mornings when we are in more of a hurry. It is usually some sort of Cheerio type cereal of varying brands with as little sugar as possible along with Rice Chex and/or Barbara's Oat Crunch that I get at Whole Foods or Natural Grocers. But usually I try to add some sort of protein like bacon, sausage, nuts, etc.

But here is out normal routine. On Monday, Wednesday and Fridays, I try to have some sort of oatmeal dish. This normally is comprised of an oatmeal mix I make up ahead of time that has mostly organic quick oats, some cinnamon, chopped pecans, naturally sweetened cranberries and some salt. Let's be honest. I can't eat oatmeal without the salt! Oatmeal has been one of those things that I have a hard time getting down without lots of added ingredients! So, I scoop that mix into our bowls, slap a slab of salted butter in each bowl along with a bit of maple syrup and sometimes a scoop of pumpkin or butternut squash puree. Then I pour hot water over it all, mix it up and let it sit for a few minutes. While that sits, I heat up some chicken apple sausage. (I know many say that microwaves are bad and I would probably agree but I just haven't made it that far down this journey to be able to eliminate it altogether!) Then I add bananas to fare and that is our meal for all of us for at least a few days a week. All my kids love it and me too. Eric gets a variation in that I put a 1/2 cup scoop of my oatmeal mix in a snack bag that he takes to work. He heats it up in water and puts honey on it.

Another oatmeal dish I make from time to time is baked oatmeal. Here is my recipe for that. It is a combination of my sister's recipe and one from Simply in Season, a cookbook I've grown to love and use often.

Baked Oatmeal for a Crowd (or for a family with children & husband that eat a lot!)

Preheat Oven to 350F.

Dry Ingredients: Mix together in a large bowl-
4 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar (or sucanat or raw sugar) - you can use less!
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup total of nuts, seeds & dried fruit of your choice, in any combination.

Wet Ingredients: In a separate bowl, mix together -
2 cups of milk (any kind you like!)
3 eggs
4 TBS coconut oil or olive oil or melted butter (1/4 cup)
1/2 cup each applesauce and pumpkin or butternut squash puree or any 1 cup combo or single.
2 tsp vanilla

Combine wet and dry ingredients. Spread into a 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes.

I've also seen recipes where you can take crumble up this baked oatmeal and heat it in the oven again until it is toasted and then use it like cereal. Put some in a bowl and pour milk over it and voila! We haven't tried that yet though.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Hi Moms,

Here is a link to a devotional that I thought was a much needed reminder for me as a mom of young children. I hope you find it encouraging! And even if you aren't a mom to young children, I think this can be a trap that many of us fall into - finding our identity in something other than Christ and trying to perform in that identity. Enjoy!


Friday, January 30, 2015

A Beautiful Prayer for the New Year

I read this on one of my friends private blogs who serves in a country in Central Asia. I thought would be good to share - a great prayer for the New Year, to pray all throughout the year!

Great God,
In public and private, in sanctuary and home, may my life be steeped in prayer, filled with the spirit of grace and supplication, each prayer perfumed with the incense of atoning blood.
Help me, defend me, until from praying ground I pass to the realm of unceasing praise. Urged by my need, invited by thy promises, called by thy Spirit, I enter thy presence, worshipping thee with godly fear, awed by thy majesty, greatness, glory, but encouraged by thy love. 
I am all poverty as well as as all guilt, having nothing of my own with which to repay thee, but I bring Jesus to thee in the arms of faith, pleading his righteousness to offset my iniquities, rejoicing that he will weigh down the scales from me, and satisfy thy justice.
I bless thee that great sin draws out great grace, that, although the least sin deserves infinite punishment because done against an infinite God, yet there is mercy for me, for where guilt is most terrible, there thy mercy in Christ is most free and deep. 
Bless me by revealing to me more of his saving merits, by causing thy goodness to pass before me, by speaking peace to my contrite heart; strengthen me to give thee no rest until Christ shall reign supreme within me, in every thought, word, and deed, in a faith that purifies the heart, overcomes the world, works by love, fastens me to thee, and ever clings to the cross.  - From Valley of Vision "Meeting God."

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It Is Well - A Real "Let It Go" Song

Here is a true "Let it go song"! I've had to watch Frozen twice to get some of the better points out of it but I still DO NOT like the "Let it go song!"

You have to listen about a third way through to hear the "let it go" part, but it's worth it. This captures the true essence of letting go. Letting go is about letting go of our own control and putting our complete trust in Christ in everything and knowing that in letting go, "it is well with my soul."

This is shared from my friend Chris's play list on Youtube, whose wife, Kelsey went home to Jesus this past July.

Enjoy the other songs on the list too!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

No Other Name

The last few days have been very reflective. Losing a close friend really makes you rethink a lot of things and ponder deeply the things you believe and build your life upon. I have had times in my life where I've had to think deeply about my faith because it was profoundly shaken. I am thankful for those times because now I stand on a firm foundation of faith and I haven't had to wrestle so much with God. Though I have wrestled some, God has made many of the truths of the gospel and His character more vivid and real and have given me great comfort - like His grace and love to send a Savior so that our sin doesn't make death a finality but rather is a transition to eternal life face to face with our dear Jesus if we have made Him Lord over our life. Like His sovereignty that has control over all things even when it seems like the effects (like disease and suffering and famine, etc)  of sin are victorious - His purposes are higher than all things and are for our good and His glory. Sin isn't victorious in the end. Jesus Christ wins! It has made me long for heaven more, to be free of sin and sorrow and the mess of this world but also to see a greater purpose for myself on this earth and to recognize that life is super short. I don't want to waste it. I hold the good news of the gospel much more dear now. And I am comfortingly confronted with the bigness and grandness and glory of God.

There is so much more I can say but I'll end there for now. I bought a couple of cds the day after Kelsey's celebration service. One of them is Hillsong's No Other Name. I've listened to it over and over and over because every song exalts the name of Jesus. Here are two songs that I've had on repeat a lot because of their comforting message of who God is and the work that Christ has done on the cross.

No Other Name

One Name holds weight above them all
His Fame outlasts the earth He formed
His praise resounds beyond the stars
And echoes in our hearts
The Greatest One of all

His Face shines brighter than the sun
His Grace as boundless as His love
He Reigns with healing in His wings
The Kind above all kings.
The Greatest One of all

Lift up your eyes see the King has come
Light of the world
Reaching out for us
There is no other Name
There is no other Name
Jesus Christ our God

Seated on high the undefeated One
Mountains bow down as we lift Him up
There is no other Name
There is no other Name
Jesus Christ our God

Find hope when all the world seems lost
Behold the triumph of the cross
His power has trampled death and grave
Our life found in His name
The Greatest Name of all

The earth will shake and tremble before Him
Chains will break as heaven and earth sing
Holy is the Name
Holy is the Name of Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

This I Believe (The Creed)

Our Father everlasting
The all creating One
God Almighty
Through Your Holy Spirit
Conceiving Christ the Son
Jesus our Savior

Our Judge and our Defender
Suffered and crucified
Forgiveness is in You
Descended into Darkness
You rose in glorious light
Forever seated high.

I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in One
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the Name of Jesus
I believe in You.
I believe You rose again
I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord

I believe in life eternal
I believe in the virgin birth
I believe in the saints' communion
And in Your holy Church
I believe in the resurrection
When Jesus comes again
For I believe in the Name of Jesus.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A dear friend with Jesus

(If you read this a few days ago, I apologize for the many typos. I had to write it on my iPhone in a tiny space on the screen. I would have taken a very long time to correct everything! I have my computer back online now so hopefully all the typos are corrected. This still isn't my best writing though. It's hard to write when your heart is so full of emotion.)

This is going to be long but hopefully worth it.

A dear, much beloved friend of mine, Kelsey Kennedy, from our Norman, OK days is no longer walking this earth. She's dancing with Jesus.  Last April she was diagnosed with a rare form of sarcoma. Her doctors told her it was a nasty cancer but Kelsey was young and strong and healthy and we know god can anything. I felt confident that she would be all right and would walk many more years on this earth. Well, she is more than all right now!! She is completely healed for all eternity. All her pain is gone. She's no longer worrying or fearful or wrestling with sin. The burdens of this world are no more. On Saturday, July 5,  at around 4:00pm Kelsey went home to Jesus.

God prompted me the Monday before (June 30) to drive down to see her the next day. There was a great sense of urgency. I'm so glad I heeded His nudges. The last week has been one of the hardest of my life but also one if the most beautiful. It's one of those times in your life that change you forever. At the moment I'm having difficulty laying out all that God is doing but I am so thankful. He is so good.

I was able to see my friend Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. As I entered the room on Tuesday night it was filled with the beautiful faces of women who love the Lord and Kelsey, some of them great, old friends. One of them was reading something she wrote about how God told her Kelsey would be healed. Well, she is healed. I was only in there a few minutes when we had to leave for a little while. We came back later and sang songs and prayed for Kelsey. It was just beautiful. People in other rooms could hear and said they enjoyed our singing. Praise God! Kelsey was very weak but her spunky self. She wanted to know where Catherine was and said she wanted to see her. So on Wednesday night, I brought Catherine. Kelsey was even more weak but still coherent. Catherine was really tired and a wee bit fussy. Kelsey hunted on her phone for a lullaby and played it for her.

That night, God woke me up and prompted me to write the letter to Kelsey I had been wanting to write since before I arrived. The words flowed easily and I'm so thankful again that I listened to Him and wrote the letter instead of waiting till morning. Kelsey had gotten considerably weaker over night.  Eric had made it in town the night before. We were going to wait until the afternoon to go visit but again, God prompted us to make haste. When we got to the hospital the family wasn't hanging out in the waiting room anymore, they were in her room. They let us join them for almost 3 precious hours. It was really quiet and Kelsey was mostly asleep at first. I really wanted to read my letter to her but didn't think I would be able to. We sang hymns and worship songs for a while. Then she perked up some and I was able to read my letter to her. She spoke sweet words to Eric and I, like a blessing. Thank you Jesus for that sweet time. We all left to let her rest and get lunch. We thought we'd get to go back to see her but she spiked a fever and only wanted a few in there. I'm so glad we went in the morning or we would have missed that precious time with her hubby and his mom and dad, Kelsey's mom and dad and her sister and hubby and a couple of more friends. Chris, her hubby, read many letters that had been posted on Facebook about the blessing of Kelsey's life in theirs. Again, though there were lots of tears, it was just beautiful. That room was so full of peace and hope and even joy that can only come from the grace of God. Chris asked us to come again the next day. Eric prayed with them, read 2 Cor. 4 and they sang a song while I waited outside with our kids. Then I went in a prayed. She was asleep most of the time but raised up and looked me in the eyes when I kissed her on the cheek.

Through all of this Chris has been a pillar of strength. He shed tears, of course, but his perspective has been rock solid. Only God our rock and refuge can do this. I've often heard that God never gives you more than what you can handle but I think that's a false statement. I think God allows things in our life that we can't handle except by the full measure of grace He gives us for each moment we walk through it. If we could handle it then it wouldn't be a testimony of the work of Christ but of our own strength. Chris has clearly been walking and trusting in and relying on  a greater, super natural strength. And really this can be said of all the family and Kelsey and even little Alexa Hope.  Here's a poem Chris posted on their blog a few weeks back that speaks of this.
He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again. 
--Annie Flint

Kelsey was such a blessing to everyone she knew, full of spunk and overflowing with compassion and sacrificially loving people and Jesus and told others about Him and was a witness even in her last days. Many people, patients and nurses at the hospital were touched by her testimony. T- shirts were designed to raise money for her holistic treatments that say C>c - Christ is greater than cancer. And He is. He has won the victory over cancer and death for all eternity. Lots of people wore those t shirts at the hospital so naturally people asked about it. Just another way that Kelsey's life proclaimed the greatness of God.

I know I will have more to write about this as its affects ripple through my life. Below I've attached the letter I wrote and read to Kelsey on Thursday.

My dearest Kelsey,

     You are one of those special friends that god has brought to my life that I can really only count just about on one hand. You are one of those friends I call my sister and you're closer to me even than my own sister. And the beauty of it is that we are so different. This is a testimony of how only god can work in people's lives to bring them together in the most unlikely places who might not have ever met or been friends.
     I'm thankful for that day we met the first time at Starbucks in Beirut. I was so intimidated by you from all that I heard of you and I so wanted to meet your approval and pass the test to possibly date Eric. And now my story of God's beautiful gracious gift of Eric is intertwined with you and isn't complete without you. And you were a friend to me during hard days in Beirut and when I got married and moved to Norman, because I already knew you, that transition was less difficult.
     You are a faithful and trustworthy friend. I've been able to share with you some of my darkest spiritual battles that really only you and Eric know and you didn't judge or reject me or laugh at me but went to battle for me. I can share with you the nastiest ugliness of my sin and know that you will speak truth to me in a way that my prideful heart receives it gladly. In fact the way you dig into your own heart to expose sin and rawness has allowed and taught me to do the same in a way that has helped my heart to understand the gospel more deeply and to be healed and renewed more fully. You have done this like no other friend has.
     You've been so faithful to pray for me when I didn't know how to pray or even want to pray. You've loved me and walked beside me at my worst and lowest. You prayed so faithfully for God to bring us children and so faithfully for my children. You didn't say silly, trite things to me through that trial. You encouraged and spoke sweet truth and prayed. The story of my family is not complete without your walk with me through those trials and your prayers. With your own sweet Alexa I've learned more ways how to love and pray for my children and to teach them about Jesus.
     When I moved away you kept in touch and seemed glad to receive my book length emails. And I've saved all of our email letters back and forth over the years I've been in Kansas City. These too are a precious gift.
     You've given of yourself and loved sacrificially in so many ways - like emails and texts you've sent over the last few months that have been such an encouragement to me when you were probably too tired or hurting too much to do so, and like last night searching for and playing a sweet lullaby for my very tired baby girl when you barely had strength to move. You've taught me how to be this kind of friend to others.
     You've shown me more deeply how to love and be a good friend, to persevere, to walk intimately with Jesus, to hate my sin, to fight, to have courage, to pray, to be dangerous for The Lord.
      Dear Kelsey, this nasty cancer doesn't define you. All that I've written above defines you. You are defined by the light of Jesus Christ that shines brightly through your life even now. Your identity is in Him alone. And yet your rough journey is not wasted. Even in it God has used you to deepen my walk with god, to deepen my perspective on eternity, to give me a greater understanding of Him as I wrestle with Him, to assure me again that wrestling with Him is ok, to be grateful and joy filled by the Spirit moment by moment for all the beautiful blessings in my life instead grumbling over stupid things that don't matter, to not be distracted by inconsequential things, to witness the beauty of the faithfulness and unity of the body of Christ, to better be able to pray and to desire the word afresh and more deeply. I pray with ferocity that i won't forget these things. These are precious gifts too. I don't know why you've had to suffer so much in this but I know it isn't wasted in my life or for eternity. god has a greater purpose for all things toward redeeming his people and advancing his kingdom. I relish and hope in the fact that god has conquered sin and disease and death and injustice by his work on the cross through his resurrection and in his coming again, soon I hope, when he will eradicate cancer and make all the wrong things right, to make all things new again.  And that we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ. He has defeated death and this cancer. He and his promises and his already completed work is your victory. And you my dear sweet sister are a precious gift.

Thank you Jesus for the gift of this special friend. She was an answer to prayer for deep Godly friendships. I will miss her so much!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Knowing God

A few Sundays ago, we started a new Equipping Seminar at our church. That's a fancy name for a more in-depth study of things pertaining to the Christian life. We've had two so far and this is the third. The first one was about how to study the bible. It was so awesome - stuff I'd never heard before. The last one was on the doctrine of the bible. It just went through how we got the bible, it's inspiration, transmission, etc. And this one we've just started is on the doctrine of God, basically covering the attributes of God.

Our pastor asked, "Why Study God?" Here are a few quotes that answer that question that I wanted to share. I found them encouraging and challenging.

"Knowing God is the purpose for why were created and the greatest ambition in our lives"

"What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is the 'eternal life' that Jesus gives? Knowledge of God. 'This is eternal lie: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent' (John17:3). What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight and contentment, than anything else? Knowledge of God. 'The is what the Lord says, 'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me' (Jer. 9:23-24). What, of all the states God ever sees man in, give Him more pleasure? Knowledge of himself. 'I desired...the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings,' says God (Hosea 6:6)...Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life's problems fall into place of their own accord...What makes life worth while is having a big enough objective, something which catches our imagination and lays hold or allegiance; and this the Christian has, in a way that no other man has. For what higher, more exalted, and more compelling goal can there be that to know God.?" J.I. Packer Knowing God

"It is not a cheerful thought that millions of us live in a land of Bibles, who belong to churches and labor to promote Christian religion, may yet pass our whole life on this earth without once having thought or tried to think seriously about the being of God. Few of us have let our hearts gaze in wonder at the I AM, the self-existent self back of which no creature can think. Such thoughts are too painful for us. We prefer to think where it will do more good - about how to build a better mousetrap, for instance, or how to make two blades of grass grow where one grew before. For this we are now paying a too heavy price in the secularization of our religion and the decay of our inner lives. The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him - and of her. A.W. Tozer