Sunday, January 27, 2013

New Granola Recipe

It is so yummy, I had to write it down.  

3 Cups Gluten Free Old Fashioned Organic Oats
1/3 Cup Coconut Chips
1/3 Cup Organic Pumpkin Seed
1/3 Cup Organic Sunflower Seed
2 TBSP Organic Flax Seed
1/2 Cup Organic Almond (Raw, Whole, Unsalted)
1/2 Cup Organic Cashew (Raw, Whole, Unsalted)

1/4 Cup Organic Raw Honey
1/4 Cup Organic Dark Maple Syrup
1/4 Cup Natural Almond Butter (Creamy No-Stir)

1 TBSP Organic Lemon Infused Olive Oil
3 TBSP Organic Canola Oil
1 tsp Cinnamon (I use a blend of Ceylon, Saigon, Vietnamese, and Korintje)
1/4 tsp Celtic Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Vanilla

1 TBSP Zest from an Organic Orange (about 1 Orange)
1 TBSP Organic Lavender Flower (Dried, Edible)

1) In a large bowl, combine Oats, Coconut, Seeds, and Nuts
2) In a large measuring cup, combine Honey, Maple Syrup, and Almond Butter.  Microwave in 30 second increments just long enough that these can be mixed together into a thick syrup-like state.  (Usually takes 1-2 minutes.)
3) Add oils, Cinnamon, and Salt to Syrup and blend well.  
4) Pour over Oat mixture and cautiously mix well with spatula until all ingredients have been coated.
5) Place in preheated oven at 215 degrees.  Bake for 1 hour, mixing well every 15 minutes to prevent burning.  Add Orange zest and lavender flower.  Bake approximately one additional hour, stirring every 10 minutes.  Watch carefully in this final hour as it can go from toasted to burned very quickly.

The Granola is done when the syrup mixture has dried and other ingredients are well toasted. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan.  Store in airtight container or bag.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Pain of Love

One of my many "roles" in life, is that of nanny to two of the most precious little boys that have been a part of my fabulous life journey.  The oldest is 4 (as of last week) and the youngest is 1 (also as of last week).  I have been one of this families caregivers for almost 3 1/2 years.  That means that for more than 3/4 of the oldest ones life, he has been an integral part of my identity.  

The relationship of nanny to child is a very special and very unique one.  I can't imagine the degree that a mother or father feel for their child, but I can tell you that not a day of my life passes without thinking about and praying for these two boys!  They are somehow included in every story I have.  Most every decision I make about my career, future, and even where I may choose to move at some point includes them in some way.  In some sense, they are my family.  

Today was quite possibly one of the most painful days in my life.  This child that I have snuggled and cuddled, loved on, cooked for, cleaned for, prayed for, sacrificed for, banged ouchies for, struggled through the terrible two's...and three's with, and tried with all of my might to teach to have joy, love, honor, and respect; somehow managed to tear my heart to shreds today!  No, my love for him has not diminished.  In fact it may have grown.  But today, this 40 pound, 40 inch, 4 year-old child brought to my heart a sadness that I don't think I have ever quite experienced to this depth.  

As he is growing and establishing his own will and ability to choose for himself, there are certain to be bumps in the road.  This I know.  I have seen mother's weep because their precious baby said something like "I hate you" or "I don't like you".  I imagine this feeling they experienced in these moments is probably something like what I experienced today.

One little boy, who I love so very much, managed in one day to try my patience like it has never been tried by a little boy before.  I think that maybe the difference here is that I love this child more deeply than I have ever known love before.  In a heartbeat I would climb mountains, swim oceans, give my life to protect his!

But perhaps what hurts most of all is that today I witnessed this precious, seemingly innocent baby sin.  It was big, it was bold, and it was brash.  And I find in my heart a bit of anger that the enemy managed to influence this amazing little boy into making a series of such hurtful choices in one day.

He refused to eat, he threw big tempers, and the very ugly words "shut up" came out of his tiny little mouth...hurled at me.  He didn't trust me to provide for him.  He didn't allow me to comfort, console, or convince him to change his path as he tread the deep and dangerous waters of defiance.  In one day, he managed to lose every toy in his bedroom.  With a painful but mouthy smirk he told me he didn't care if I took his toys away for the day - and he was NOT going to stop screaming at me!

I have been caring for children since I was twelve years old and teaching them for fifteen years now.  I have worked in daycare, preschool, private kindergarten, mother's day out, church programs, early childhood intervention, family shelters and the like.  I have been a nanny (live-in and live-out) for multiple families.  I currently work as a children's pastor as well as a nanny for this particular family.  I am not a stranger to discipline or tough love.  I am not a push-over or a pansy.  I am firm, stern, and absolutely loving!  I have a patience and resolve with children that only comes as a gift from God.  I cherish every child I work with, and have a special bond with those children who are labeled strong-willed or difficult.  Probably because I was (and still am) a very strong-willed person.  I know that these battles happen.  And I know they can have the power to be lasting lessons for good.  I know that when a child asserts their will over something as small as refusing to eat the egg (that they asked you to cook for them), there is often a much bigger battle taking place.  And I feel pretty safe in declaring that it is a battle of the spiritual nature.  

But even with all of the "practice" I have had in molding, shaping, pruning, and relinquishing to the Lord these small people; my heart was pricked ever so much more painfully today.  Children - just like all of us adults - are on a journey.  It is one of both wins and losses.  And children - just like all of us adults - need to know that sin can be forgiven.  It may leave it's scar - at least for some time - but there is forgiveness.  This child has been forgiven!  But right now, my heart still bears that very fresh wound that hurts all the more because it came from the mouth, hands, feet, and will of my precious sweet boy!

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Healing is exactly what I am crying out for!

Please stick with me for a moment while I complain and explain.  And then I will move on.

I have a growing list of food allergies (about 32 at current count), multiple auto-immune disorders, and am about 120 pounds overweight.  I am constantly fatigued, feel as though my brain is always going at light-speed in 40 different directions, and sustain myself on a VERY limited diet.  For years now, my diet has been almost 100% gluten, dairy, yeast, preservative, and egg free.  This past year peanuts, mushrooms, strawberries, a multitude of spices, and several different types of fish got added into that mix.  I even had to go without lettuce...yes I did just say lettuce...for six months and can now sporadically eat it with limited problems.

In an attempt to manage and reduce food allergies, I have done restricted, elimination, and rotation diets.  In hope that my body would "reset", I even attempted a vegan diet...for about two weeks.  But I soon realized that due to hunger and low blood sugar I was pretty much chewing up and spitting out every person that crossed my path, so I abandoned this experiment.  

Through all of this, my food allergy list has grown, my diet has become more limited, and my weight has stayed the same.

I try to prepare most of my meals at home, from scratch to monitor the ingredients I am using.  Going out to eat is ALWAYS an adventure, so I tend to not stray from the places I know.  Whenever I do choose to go out, I feel like a super-pest because I am asking for a manager, requesting my food to be prepared in a separate pan with no seasonings, no sauces, and a very watchful eye to ensure that nothing touches it that could possibly contaminate it with a single speck of gluten, msg, peanuts, or any other enemies of my immune system.  Then when I get my food, I carefully inspect it to make sure I don't see any possible culprits for anaphylaxis, eczema, migraines, or wrenching stomach pains.  After confirming that everything was prepared just so, I PRAY PRAY PRAY that I will not have any food reactions this time.

I am not content! I do not like things the way they are.  I want something different!

There are so many amazing and wonderful things about myself and in my life that I LOVE.  But there are these few things that on occasion just leave me feeling absolutely, utterly, overwhelmingly DEFEATED!

And the only response that I have is to cry out to Jesus for healing to materialize.  I ask for more faith to expect to see the revolutionary, transforming power of God in my life!  I look to Him and declare that on my own I am weak, helpless, and so very desperately in need of seeing, feeling, and hearing His love for me!  I know that I carry in me the most powerful and amazing thing in this world!  I carry the power of Christ.  

I know there are so many of us who are crying out for healing for one thing or another, so I ask the Lord to pour it down on us!   For myself, I ask for healing from food issues, a wonky immune system, and the fear that I will somehow never be everything that the Lord created me to be.  For ALL of the brokenness in my life, I ask; because I NEED HEALING!