Sunday, May 10, 2015

My Mother

There are so many things that I could say about my Sweet Mother.  For those of you who know her, you know that when I say "Sweet" I am not just throwing around southern charm.  My Mother is genuinely probably the sweetest person I know!  She is an amazing woman, who has impacted my life in so many ways.  Every day I am grateful that I have the honor of being one of her daughters.  Through the years she has taught me more than I could chronicle, but here are a few of the ways she has encouraged me to be the woman I am today.

She carried me in her belly, birthed me, fed me, clothed me, and cared for my every need as an infant.

She taught me to tie my shoes.

She taught me how to read music - before I even knew how to read books - using a church hymnal.

She sang to me almost every night of my childhood, with a voice that I still believe to be the most beautiful my heart has ever heard!

She read Dr. Seuss and Little Golden Books (almost) to my hearts content.

She taught me the very valuable lesson of learning to listen before I speak.

My mother stayed by my bed through two years of hip surgery, physical therapy, re-learning how to walk, and a LOT of teenage anger and angst.

She laughed at me when I told her that moving to Missouri just in time for a blizzard was proof that hell could freeze over.

She encouraged me to take all of the thoughts and feelings that ruffled up inside me and write.

She has always been willing to give me a little (even a lot) of what was rightfully hers and not mine.

My Sweet Mother -- affectionately known as Momy -- has taught me to be a woman of integrity and excellent character!  She has taught me to be gentle, kind, loving, graceful, courageous, creative, funny, tender-hearted, and most important she has taught me to be a woman of faith!  She has always encouraged me to bow my knees before the Lord, give Him thanks, count my blessings, trust in His goodness, and listen to and apply His words in my life.


Happy Mother's Day to my amazing, beautiful, caring, giving, and ever-loving Momy​.  I am so thankful for you and I can not imagine my life without you in it!  You never cease to amaze me!  You have risen through adversity and learned to soar!  Thank you for the time, love, support, and overall energy that you have poured into my life!

I love you THIIIIS much!!!

Happy Mother's Day

Today is another Mother's Day.  It is always a bitter-sweet day for me.  I am so thankful to have a day that is set apart to honor my Momy (just go with it) and the other Mamas in my life.  There is also a spot in my heart that aches each year on this day, because my dreams of being a mother are yet to be realized.  It may seem strange to some, but I also know there are a lot of women who can absolutely understand what I am about to say!

I can almost hear the sounds of little feet walking through the house to bring me a "Mother's Day breakfast in bed", I can imagine the card I would get from church or preschool with a tiny hand-print or foot-print and a cheesy poem about how I have contributed to the growth of the child who's prints are on the page, I can feel in my heart the sweet joy of baby giggles.  No, I am not crazy!  I am a mother.  I don't have any children of my own (yet - I hope), but in my heart of hearts, I am a mother.  I know this about myself and have known it my whole life.

As a small child, I loved nothing more than caring for my baby dolls and stuffed animals.  I even had a baby carrier that I took EVERYWHERE I went.  (Thank you Mom for indulging me!)  As a pre-teen, I BEGGED for the opportunity to babysit or play with little children.  I stalked my poor neighbors that had children and accosted them as soon as they drove into the driveway to ask if I could "help" them watch their babies.  Most of them genuinely seemed appreciative, but I can only imagine that there were probably a few times that they just wanted to send me home and didn't have the heart to do it.  Then as a teenager, I had finally arrived!  I could babysit!  There was hardly a Friday or Saturday night that I wasn't taking care of someone's children...even when I was on crutches for an entire year of my life!  Move forward in life, and I have been a nanny, teacher, children's minister, family coach, and doula.  I just LOVE caring for family!  It's how I was made.

I write this, because I know many other people who have a similar longing to be called Mom.  We are often ashamed, embarrassed, or feel hidden in this heart-aching, stomach churning, life-call.  We ask the question, "Is it in the cards for me?  Will it ever happen?  Am I ok with never being a mother?".  Occasionally we will tell our dearest friends that our hearts hurt because of this longing, but more often than not we will swallow the lump in our throat and cry out to the Lord (or into our pillow) and remind Him once more that all we really want is to have a family.

For all of my friends (and people I don't even know that may read this), I encourage you to hold onto your identity as a mother and live it out to it's fullest -- even if you don't have children of your own.  It doesn't take away the sting of staying seated at church when the pastor lovingly calls for all of the moms to stand up so they can receive a clap offering.  It doesn't change the fact that you didn't have a child bring you runny eggs, burnt toast, and a half-spilled cup of orange juice this morning.  But what it does do, is make you a person of character, love, and faith!  We hold onto the promises of the Lord even when we don't see the fruit!  Why?  Because we know that His plans are greater than our own.  We know that HE does not discount the little things in life.  He sees, and He knows the desires we hold in our hearts.  We don't know what the future brings, but if you are someone - like me - who has only ever dreamed of being a mother, I encourage you to do just that!

A mother is not just a woman who has given birth or raised her own children.  A mother is someone who has invested in the lives of others.  She is someone who has cleaned up scraped knees, prayed for a fever to break in sickness, taught someone how to accomplish something of value; a mother is one who has loved another greater than herself!

So to everyone one of you, I say "Happy Mother's Day"!  You deserve to be recognized!  Walk through today with your head held high.  If you go out to lunch and someone offers you a Mother's Day flower, take it!  Receive the blessing!  Receive the promise!  And know that you too, are a mother in some capacity!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Serving In Excellence

If there is one thing I know, it is that I was created to serve!  It brings out my very best.  The joy that God himself breathed into me as He knit me together is rooted in serving others.  It doesn't really matter if it is preparing materials for an event, washing dishes, concocting a gourmet meal, or simply sitting with someone who needs a sympathetic heart to connect with.  However it comes out, it is a genuine joy.

For the past five years, I have been honored to serve a church as their Weekday Children's Ministry Coordinator.  I have attempted to serve this body with excellence every day that I have been there.  I have been greatly impressed to "serve the least of these as unto The King", and it has been my hearts greatest intent to do this! 

When I started in this position, I was (happily) overwhelmed that someone saw in me the ability and desire to serve children and families in such a way.  In the time I have been with this church, I have learned to become more flexible, to further humble myself before the Lord for strength, to accept the assistance of other's around me, to plan events out several months in advance or the week of, and to trust in my abilities to do things I never knew I was capable of.  I have learned to not be afraid of college students...yes, I was quite intimidated by them before I started this job.  I tapped into my innate ability to train and mentor these college students as I helped to mold their desires to teach.  I have walked with them, and I have learned to more readily lean upon the Lord to help me as I show them the unfailing love that He has for them.  I have met amazing parents and even more amazing children whom I have prayed with, cried for, laughed at, and on occasion lost some hair over.  I have grown to love each of these individuals with a tenderness and jealousy that can only be described as a mothering heart!

Somewhere along the line, I realized that this was my mission field!  I realized that I have been called to be a laborer in this field, and the joy and the heartache of serving these families and caregivers ignited a purpose that the Lord spoke into me a long time ago.

I have always genuinely loved children!  Teaching came naturally to me.  Creating activities, games, and craft projects that tell a story is so much fun!  Getting to live out the Gospel of Christ and share His love with others while doing these things has been the icing on the cake!  

Don't mistake me to say that everything has been perfect.  There are many things that have been hard!  I work a full-time job for part-time pay, I am always on-call to families and caregivers, I often scramble to fill in gaps because someone is sick, has a test, or forgot their shift, and I carry the burden of embracing the spiritual health of a multitude of people.  In my life, I recognize the scripture that to whom much has been given, much will be required.  I don't just work for one boss, I work for every child, every parent, and ultimately the very God who put breath in my lungs!  When I fail, I feel the weight of failing every one of those that I work for!

With the ups and the downs and the joy and the sorrow, I have genuinely LOVED what I do!  The thought of leaving this position and finding another field within which to labor is devastatingly heart-breaking!  And sadly, that is exactly the place I find myself.  The church that I have worked with is looking for a new someone and at some point in the (who knows how near) future, I am going to be asked to leave so that this new person can come in and walk with the church as it continues to grow.

My pride is hurt.  But so very much more than my pride being bruised that I am not enough, my heart is wrecked and ravished at the prospect of leaving.  The thought of saying good-bye to these little ones who I have poured my very soul into, of waving away those caregivers that I have mentored, and of walking away from those parents who invited me in to be such an integral part of their lives is honestly more than I know how to process.  My heart is stalled.  My brain is a whirlwind.  A piece of joy and life feels like it is being taken away from me.  And I find myself wondering what it looks like to continue to serve in excellence in this place of grieving.  

Additional notes for those who want to read a little more...

I am challenged!  I AM a laborer in this field!  I continue to be a laborer in this field, until the day that God Himself calls me out of it!  I still see work to do.  I know that little hearts are still seeking to understand the mystery of their Maker!  There are more caregivers to be hired and trained, there is curriculum to be developed, there are Lent and Holy Week services to plan.  An entire semester is about to take place - and there still needs to be someone to plan and implement.  Ministry is still happening.  There are still families who are going through divorce, have ailing family members, and are managing developmental struggles with their precious children.  There are still papers to sort and file and shred.  The work doesn't stop or slow down just because change is on the horizon.  

So how do I finish well?  

How do I continue the day to day management, grieve the losses, and search and look forward to the future all at once?  How do I continue to labor in this field; serving this church with excellence?  How do I acknowledging the heart-ache but not allow bitterness to develop a root?   How do I see my value and put myself out there for other positions, when what I feel is that once again I am not enough?  

My hearts desire is to continue to serve with faithfulness; and yet there is a fear in me that I will not do this well because of the time-bomb ticking away.  I have held ownership to something that is really not mine to hold to.  These children, parents, and caregivers; they are Gods!  This job was never "mine".  It was an assignment that He placed me in.  And oh my, He has been faithful to expand the territory that I work in!  How foolish of me to think that the Father would take it all away, with nothing else for me.  So I cry out to the Lord to give me the grace to finish well!  I need Him to give me the stamina, the endurance, and the humility to continue serving in excellence!  After all, it is for His glory!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Because I'm a Teacher...

So technically I am a Children's Minister, but here's a fun little list I put together that will resonate with many.  

Because I'm a Teacher...

*I own just about every color of marker that Crayola has ever made. 

*I have a bag that hangs next to my front door that I collect toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, and egg cartons in.

*I color...a lot!  

*I can't decide if Pinterest is my best friend or my greatest enemy.

*I can tell you the "tax exemption" process for most stores in the Austin area.

*I spend my workday, evenings, weekends, and even my dream-time thinking about new and creative ways to teach information to children that is fun, cost-effective, and most important memorable!

*At the drop of a hat, I can tell you at least 25 ways that you can use paper plates to make a craft.

*I have perfected "The Look"

*I have accidentally used "The Look" on friends, family, and co-workers.

*In any given week it is pretty much a guarantee that I will get glue on my pants, paint in my hair, and snot on my shoulder.

*I am strong!  Teaching is not for the faint of heart!

*I carry at least three different bags with me at all times...often more!

*I have the privilege of praying for more than 150 children, 25 caregivers, and 50 plus families.

*I laugh a LOT!  The cliche, "Kids say the darnedest things", is very true!  (I once had a child tell me that she liked my hair because it reminded her of a zebra -- it was black and white stripes all over).

*I have brown (not black) and silver (not white and not grey) hairs peeking through - many of these are probably due to my profession.

*I have a collection of art, cards, and little trinkets given to me by children.

*I have learned how to alter lesson plans and activities because I couldn't get to Michael's to buy red cellophane, cardboard circles, foam board, etc. before they closed.

*I hoard Sharpies, Paper/Binder Clips, and Scissors...don't mess with these items! (Insert "The Look" here).

*I intentionally consume Vitamin C in inordinate quantities because there just isn't time to get sick.

*I always have a Google window open on my computer that has at least 10 different ideas for crafts, games, stories, etc.  I live with a small amount of fear of my computer will close down and the hours spend brainstorming will be lost.

*I have gotten very comfortable being on the floor.  I can even do this in a skirt - although I prefer jeans!

*I have been thrown up on more than once.

*I will never tire of seeing little hands get bigger.

*I feel overwhelmingly blessed to have been called into this service!  I love what I do!

What is your list?  I know there are at least 100 different things that I could have listed, but these are what came to mind first.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


As I was driving to work this morning, I was listening to an account on 105.9 about how worship music has made an impact on one particular individual.  I started reflecting on all that has happened in the past year or so and how my hearts desire in the good and in the bad truly is to worship God.

This past year has probably been one of the hardest in my adult life so far.  There has been tremendous loss, heart break, health concerns, loneliness, and questions of my value in others' lives.  There has also recently been a heart-wrenching (but very heart-healing) adventure to encounter new freedoms from old pains.  But through it all, my go-to is worshiping at the feet of the Lord.

I have said it before - transparency is hard.  I try.  But really, I am terribly afraid of other people's opinions and possible rejection.  And so, I keep most things hidden away inside of my heart.  I don't think that it is the healthiest thing for a heart - and really it isn't the easiest - but it is a process that I am working through.  On my bathroom mirror I have written, "My value is not found in the opinions of other's, but in knowing who and whose I am."  I need to read this each day, to keep my heart focused on the truth.  So, because I think it will be good for my own soul, I am going to write about some of the challenges of my journey over the past year and a half.

Loneliness: I feel like there is a vital piece of me missing!  I am alone.  Most all of my friends have moved away from the Austin area over the past year.  I am not "attached" to any community.  My day consists of caring for wonderful children, but there is not really any adult camaraderie.  I have a church, but it is not a church home.  I go, I worship, I listen, I leave.  I have a couple of friends, but do not feel connected or know HOW to feel connected -- it isn't organic for me.  And as the days go on, my soul longs more and more for a help-mate.

Grief: As I mentioned, many friends have moved away and there has been a need to mourn the loss of having someone to be with me ... to get coffee, have a fun shopping day, cook a meal, or just hang out with.  I mostly do these things alone now, and it just isn't as much fun.  In addition to friends moving, my oldest sister -- my very best friend in this world -- also moved ... to Arizona.  I miss her so much!  Sure we talk, but I miss "Baby Sister Day", sister hugs, and lazy Sunday afternoon movies with her and her husband.  And from that list, I think it's the hugs that I miss the most.  To add to this sadness, in April (almost one year ago) my dear Grandfather (Mom's Dad) passed away and then less than six months later my Grandmother (Father's Mom) passed away.  She was my last living grandparent, and having her pass away made my heart feel so very empty.  And grief does not limit itself to the loss of relationships - I have also grieved health issues, childhood pain, and other "losses".

Health: My battle continues.  7 years ago I had debilitating migraines, severe pain, loss of ability to move properly, and a myriad of other "symptoms" that made no sense.  With many doctors looking at me like I was either insane, excessively needy, or just a hypochondriac; I continued to pursue "figuring out" what was "wrong" with me.  Finally, I said the right combination of things to the right doctor (who by the way had encouragingly and repeatedly told me that he would not give up on me) and a diagnosis came in the summer of 2007 -- Advanced Rheumatoid Arthritis with organ involvement (or what the Dr. refers to as Lupus Tendency).  I immediately went into a rigorous treatment plan involving some horrible medications.  Shortly after the diagnosis of RA, came the addition of Celiac Sprue Disease.  And shortly after that, my list of food allergies began to exponentially multiply.  Although this all occurred over a long period of time, my body has continued to attack itself to the point that last year the proverbial rug got pulled out from underneath me.  I do not have health insurance and because of that, once I got to a "maintenance" point in RA treatment, I stopped taking most all prescription medications.  There was an immense amount of provision from the Lord to get me to this point and I do not in any way want to discredit the miraculous thing that this was!  However, a little over a year ago I had an injury to my neck that led to a herniated disc. Treatment began for this, but I was in an overwhelming amount of pain - which led to additional flare-ups of RA, which led to additional joint damage and fatigue, which led to a further compromised immune system, which led to an additional need for medications... And so the saga goes!  I have been doing my very best to manage my health, but I feel extraordinarily limited.  I am in pain - both physical and emotional - and I am weary!

Finances:  Isn't it always the case that we could think of a thousand ways to spend just a little extra money?  I am always very reticent to mention finances because I want to be sensitive to my readers.  And even more-so, it is very important to me to have a grateful heart!  The challenge is that I also want to be able to be honest about where I need prayer, support, and a greater measure of faith!  This is it.  And very very honestly, health is the largest financial fight that I have!  I have been amazingly blessed several times this past year in the way of finances.  In part because of this, I don't stress about money nearly as much as I once did.  I have learned that somehow it usually works out.  :)  Having said that, I do still experience stress here.  There has not been a single month in the past year that I haven't needed financial support in some way.  I HATE IT!!!  I am a very independent person AND I really do want to be a self-supporting real-life grown up! Not to mention I feel like I am not able to prepare for the future because I am so financially caught in the moment.

So where does that bring me?  First of all, please do not read this and think that I have forgotten all of the good things this year has brought.  There has been much to rejoice over and thank the Lord for!  And that is where this started!  Through all of this pain and misery, I find myself lost in worship!  When my heart aches, I am before the Lord seeking comfort.  When I am overwhelmed with gratitude, I am in His presence declaring His might and faithfulness!

And through it all I can smile, laugh, rest, and declare that God is good...ALL THE TIME!

Sunday, March 17, 2013


This week has carried with it a load of sadness.  Not so much for myself, but for several that I care about.  This week came with the death of four different individuals who are family or friends of friends of mine.  Even though I do not know well those who passed away. my heart still feels heavy and sad.  In a year where I have lost several loved ones, I know quite intimately the pain of death.  Whether it comes as a surprise or as an expected experience, the passing of a loved one hurts.  Tonight my heart goes out to the friends and families of the two women who lost their lives in car accidents, to the parents and community that lost a baby with an illness, and to the friend whose father passed away this morning.  My prayers and sympathy are with you all.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Just a Few Notes

I have so much that I could talk about, including another recipe.

I had a friend ask me last week if I plan on turning my blog into a cookbook.  Probably least not anytime in the near future. But for the time-being, I will post recipes as I am inspired to do so.

This past weekend, I took a trip to Abilene.  This is where I went to college...many moons ago.  I still have a couple of friends who are there, but this past year my friend Wendy moved to Abilene as well.  She was one of my roommates a few years ago and she became a wonderful friend.  I stayed with her and we had a lot of fun.  

Some of my high points of the weekend were meeting my dear friend Olivia's daughter.  Long story here, but basically I don't know if I have ever been as excited to see a baby as I was with this one.  She is absolutely amazing!  On Saturday, Wendy and I went shopping for some new work clothes and then we went to the opening game for the Abilene Roller Derby Dames.  This was the first Roller Derby for both of us.  On Sunday we chilled out and played games at a coffee shop.  Then on Monday, on my way out of town, I had lunch with a fabulous friend, Lauren.  

In addition to having fun time with friends, this trip was also about making some space for my heart to explore some things.  I needed some time-out with God and an opportunity to ask Him what He is wanting to do in my heart, mind, body, and soul.  WOW!  I had some treasured time with Him, and then on the way home prayed for 3 straight hours declaring all of the places in my life that I want freedom.  I had an amazing time of honesty with my Maker, telling Him what I want, asking Him what He wants, and discussing what I think I am and am not ready for.  Not to negate the special times that I had with my friends, but I think this was the true purpose and need of this trip.

I got back home, and pretty much jumped back in to life as normal.  However I feel like I have a better sense of peace and resolve as I walk into a season where I am expecting change and healing!  Just fabulous!

And now for another recipe (or two).

Last night I made an Herb Baked Salmon.  I was at Whole Foods and the Sockeye Salmon (a personal favorite) was on sale for 9.99 per pound as opposed to the standard 14.99 per pound.  I got a whole fillet and it was just over a pound.  I cut off 1/3 of it on the tail end and pan cooked those pieces for tonight's dinner.  The other portion I baked in the oven with some fresh herbs from my patio garden.  So here are the recipes.

Herb Baked Salmon

1 Sockeye Salmon Fillet
Fresh Herbs - thinly cut (I used Indian Basil, Thyme, Sage, Oregano, Marjoram, and Chive)
Sea Salt
1 lime thinly sliced
1-2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1-2 Tbsp Bacon Drippings
1 Tbsp Raw Honey
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (if desired)
Drizzle of Lemon infused Olive Oil

In a baking dish, drizzle Bacon Drippings.  Rinse Salmon, remove pin bones, and make certain it is cut to fit the baking dish.  Place skin-side down.  Sprinkle Sea Salt and herbs across top of Salmon (include Crushed Red Pepper Flakes if desired). Drizzle Lemon infused Olive Oil and Honey over herbs and then  place a single layer of thinly sliced limes over the top.  Thinly slice 1-2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter and layer on top of the limes.  Cook in oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, until cooked.  DO NOT overcook this fish or it gets dry, rubbery, and kind-of yucky.  

I paired this with some baby carrots that I steamed and added a little honey, cinnamon, and cloves to.  It was YUMMY!

Now for tonight's dinner: 

Ok - so anyone who knows me well knows that tuna fish salad makes me gag like nothing else.  I find it to be detestable!!  Some may consider this is a upgraded version of tuna salad, but it is YUMMY!

Creamy Salmon Salad:

Here is what you need...

Pan Seared Sockeye Salmon (keep reading for how I made this) (about 1/4-1/3 pound)
Fresh Herbs (I used the same combo that I did the night before)
1-2 Ribs of Celery; finely chopped
1 small Apple (I used a Pink Lady; but Gala, Winesap, and Honeycrisp are all great options)
1-2 Green onions with chives; finely chopped
Raw Honey
Chia Seeds
1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
Sea Salt and Pepper
Earth's Best Olive Oil "Mayo"

To make the Pan Seared Salmon, I took the tail end of the fish and cut it into 1 inch thick strips (with skin), salted with sea salt, and squeezed fresh lime on top.  In a hot pan, I added about 1 Tbsp Olive Oil and then placed the salmon skin side down in the pan.  LEAVE IT BE until it lifts itself away from the pan surface.  If you mess with it, the skin will stick and the fish will fall apart.  Once it will easily move, flip it and sear the top.  Flip again to cook the sides.  All together, the fish is in the pan for less than 10 minutes.  Refrigerate and leave for the next day.

To make the Creamy Salmon Salad, heat a small skillet on the stove top and add butter to melt.  Add in the celery, apple, and onion and cook until the colors are bright and mixture is just beginning to soften. Add in the herbs, a pinch of salt and pepper, and 2 tsp Raw Honey.  Cook a minute or two longer.  Set aside to let it cool.

In a small bowl, take each salmon piece and pull off skin and flake the salmon.  Add 1 Tbsp "Mayo", 1-2 tsp Chia Seeds, lemon zest and juice, and celery mixture.  Stir together and place in freezer for a few minutes to "chill".  

I paired this with some pre-made rice crackers and Garlic Broccoli.  I cut up four crowns of broccoli, including the rabe.  In a hot skillet, I placed 1 Tbsp Bacon Drippings, broccoli and rabe, and 2 tsp chopped garlic.  Stir quickly to cover all broccoli with garlic and fat.  Add a small amount of water for steam.  Cook for about 5 minutes so broccoli still has a small amount of bite and is bright green.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Bacon Basil Burger served on Thick Cut Roasted Sweet Potato "Bun"

This dinner was super easy to make, but it did take a total of 3 pans.  Not a huge deal around my house, but I can see how it may be a challenge for some.  One way to "simplify" this would be to cook the bacon in the microwave instead of on the stove top.

The Burger:
1/2 lb Ground Bison
1/2 lb 10% fat Organic Ground Beef
6 Fresh basil leaves (Chiffonade)
2 Tbsp fresh Chives (Chiffonade)
1 1/2 tsp Sea Salt (more or less to desired taste)
1 tsp Dry Ground Mustard
Cracked Pepper (to desired taste)

The Sweet Potato:
2 Large and Round Organic Sweet Potatoes
Organic Canola Oil

Maple Ketchup:
4 Tbsp Organic Tomato Paste
1 1/2 tsp Organic Dark Maple Syrup
1 tsp Lemon Juice

4 Slices Thick Cut Bacon (I use an All Natural Applewood with No Preservatives)

Mix all of "The Burger" ingredients together in a large bowl, divide into 4 portions and round into patties.  Place in an oven-safe skillet and put in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes (to desired temp.).

Slice the sweet potatoes into 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick slices (to make 8 slices total).  Lightly oil each slice with canola oil and place in an oven-safe baking dish.  Cook for approximately 20 minutes while cooking the burger patties.  Tip: You don't want to overcook or you will not be able to make a "bun" with this.

While burgers are cooking make the Maple Ketchup by mixing all of the ingredients together in a small glass bowl.  Store leftover covered in the refrigerator.  

Pan fry 4 slices of bacon.

1 Sweet Potato Slice
One Burger Patty
A smear of Maple Ketchup
One slice bacon
Top off with 1 more Sweet Potato Slice


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!