Saturday, November 17, 2012


Just wanted to check in quickly about my NaNoWriMo project!  Roughly halfway through the month, I am far less than halfway through my novel.  But to share a word from Beth Moore and Hebrews 10:36, we need to persevere!  So, I have about 35,000 words to go.  Feels insurmountable, but I am 15,000 words in and my story is rolling.  Thank goodness for creative juices and a husband that doesn't mind babysitting occasionally.  Regardless of whether I finish by November 30th, this process is teaching me that I can be a writer, if I'm serious about it.  So here goes--persevering!!

He's "Up There"

So, God is real, y'all.  Let that sink in a minute.  There is a living, breathing, all-powerful, all-loving holy God and he is REAL.  I've believed it for a long time.  I've pledged my life by it.  And then sometimes, despite knowledge of that fact, I drift out of my passion for Him and fall back in love with the world.  I stick God in the closet and relegate Him to "up there."  Maybe looking down on us fondly like a loved one that has passed away, perhaps occasionally angrily.  But God doesn't like to be contained in His heavenly dwelling--He prefers to be all up in our business here on earth, stirring things up. 
Today I had a conversation with my sister-in-law.  God is doing AMAZING things in her life and has infused her with a spirit of truth, do yourself a favor and check out her blog.  Today.  
The thing is, in spite of the minuscule portion of time and energy I give to Him, God decided to let me share a portion of His blessing with her.  Lately, He's been telling me to pray for her.  I didn't have a huge revelation, or specific details on what to pray about, and I wasn't even sure why.  In fact, sometimes I felt like it was something I'd just made up in my head and decided was from God.  But today I talked with her and she confirmed that He's been doing something great, and it's been my privilege to be a tiny part of it.  
So, in conclusion--I'm not feeling eloquent and I don't really have the time to be, but--God is real.  He's doing things, and He wants to do things in YOUR life.  Hit your knees today, listen for Him, and check out Redeemingthedays.  You're welcome.

Monday, November 5, 2012


I almost lost him.  The whole experience was only about 2 minutes long, possibly only a minute, and yet its now a defining moment in my 2 years as a parent, in my roughly 10 years as an adult!
The day was going as it normally does.  Ezra being his typical 2 year old self, banging, throwing, singing, etc.  We were running late and came through the door in a whirlwind, gotta get baby in bed was the only thought on my brain.  So I left him to play while I put her down for her nap.  She was mostly asleep, in that pivotal moment where eyes were heavy and she was ready to drift off, as long as nothing distracted her.  I heard a double-bang, loud enough to make the eyes widen slightly, but go back to closing. 
I don't know about you, but around here, a bang really doesn't mean a whole lot.  But something about this particular bang, kicked my mommasense into gear.  I'm gonna say it was God, moreso than the noise.  I just needed to see what it was!  So I dropped baby into crib and believe me she let me hear about it.  But I went to track down big brother and when I first glanced into the living room, rather than seeing him playing my eyes went straight to the source of the bang--our back door. 
I've seldom felt a spike of adrenaline that pure.  I ran to the back door while my mind blazed a mile a minute--did I leave the door open when I came in and am now overreacting?  No, I DEFINITELY remember locking it.  He's never tried to go out before, or managed the bottom lock!  Even as I stuck my head out into our huge yard, yelling his name I was thinking, there hasn't even been enough time for him to disappear; he's probably busy flushing toilet paper down the toilet.  So I popped inside yelling his name, using my "game voice," the one most likely to elicit a response because it means something fun.  Nothing.  I ran outside, this time frantic.  Barely even scanning the yard I curved the side of our house down the driveway and-there.he.was.  Squatting by the hose, in perfect focus, wondering how he could get it to work completely ignoring screaming mother closing the ground between us faster than he's ever seen me move.
Still in panic mode I had him around the waist sprinting into the house at which point I went completely non-PC on his rear end.  Then he was bawling.  Then it was my turn.  We hugged.  I explained thoroughly why we don't EVER go outside by ourselves.  When Daddy came home Ezra told him all about it.  "Daddy, I scared Mommy!"  And then he was over it.  I'm still not.
The thing is, in that 60 second space, about a million different things happened in my mind, and I have NEVER been so scared in my life!  My chubby-cheeked toddler has no idea how many horrible fates his mother was able to conjure during her panicky search.  And he never will, unless he one day becomes a parent and experiences that same feeling.

I think this is probably a rite of passage.  Last week over the intercom at Ultra Foods they called for "______'s Mommy to the floral department."  I think most parents have that shaky, terrified moment when they realize their child, their charge, has wandered off or otherwise disappeared.  I mean, this isn't just me, right?  Maybe parents of only children won't agree, but after I had my second child a significant portion of my brain just dissolved, so I really don't think this is my fault!! 

New rule.  First step in the door we take off shoes, coat, hat, and socks, no matter the crying baby.  Hopefully lack of dexterity and freezing temperatures will be a strong enough deterrent for now.  Until my recent purchase arrives.  Who knew it was so hard to kidproof lever door handles!?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Second Wind

Its been awhile, I know.  And I harbor no pretensions that anyone will actually stumble across this blog accidentally after over a year of no posts.  But before you get all judgy, don't forget I've been a little busy chasing toddlers and having babies and moving across the country! 

Anyway, my main reason for this post is that I've decided to do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this November, and what better way to get creative energies going than take 5 minutes to revive my good old blog?  Ok, yes, the main reason is actually to procrastinate.  I'm already 6,000 words behind for the month!  Plus, I still harbor the hope that one day I could become a pinning sensation that is so out of control blogspot crashes and I have to add one of those little "pin it" buttons at the bottom of my blog.  A girl can dream, right? 

Even if that never happens, tonight I have a REAL treat just for you, that random person that stumbled across this blog accidentally while googling a CS Lewis book.  Hopefully you like food, at times like to cook, and often don't have time to do it, because this recipe is the easiest one I have ever made, and had my husband raving and 2 year old popping chicken pieces like they were animal crackers.  It took 4 ingredients and about 10 minutes of prep time and no ingredients of questionable integrity.

That's right, Swiss cheese, Balsamic vinegar, Italian style breadcrumbs, and chicken tenderloins (I used frozen from Trader Joes).  Pull the chicken out of the freezer the night before and defrost in the fridge.  About 40 minutes before dinner, I put 8 in a gallon sized zip lock bag and pounded them flat (I guess about 1/4 an inch?).  I added 1/4 cup of balsamic (that's a lie, I usually eyeball, but I made sure all the chicken was coated but not drowning in it) and let it sit in the plastic bag for about 5 minutes while I chopped the swiss cheese into small, 1 oz-ish chunks.  Wrap the chicken around a chunk of swiss and roll it in the bread crumbs.  Place in baking dish and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until the juices run clear.  That's it!  (And if you don't like it--not like you wasted too much time!)

My husband graciously sat there while I grabbed my camera.  Seriously?  You are taking a picture of my plate?  But considering the relatively short wait for a delicious dinner, I don't think he minded too much.  Try it out!  I hope you like it!  The bitterness of swiss cheese was really well balanced by the sweet and tangy balsamic, but if you can't handle that, a provolone cheese would probably work really well too.  Enjoy your dinner -- and the extra time to write!
PS--this post was 466 words...can that count? 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sassy Blueberry Spice Muffins

My big brother texted yesterday, a rare event.  "I'm so over this whole TX thing."  By that he meant he misses us!
The momentousness of the occasion caused a familiar feeling of homesickness to well up and somehow I found myself googling homes for sale in St. Charles.  I guess it wasn't serious, at least not for right now.  God seems to have us where he wants us right now, and as many guesses as I may have to his reasons, I don't really know why or until when. 
So, stuffing down my desire to plan and conspire, I embraced my feelings by making my favorite treat from home, that I used to beg my mom to make for me, with my own personal kick.  And I had help from my favorite person ever!

These muffins are made with lots of whole grains and get a brown nutty flavor from the almond meal.  Instead of white sugar I went with brown rice syrup, which provides the sweetness you need but its low glycemic value means you skip the sugar rush (a very important factor for a baker with a devoted sweet tooth and with a family history of diabetes!) My very special helper ate almost all the blueberries, but fortunately I had some fresh blackberries on hand, so I deviated from your traditional blueberry muffins by going for extra tangy.  I then played around with lemon juice and sour cream.  Ezra loved the topping made with dry milk powder (added calcium) and real maple sugar.  Sweet enough to conquer your cravings but savory enough to enjoy as a warm breakfast with a nice slab of butter. Mmm.  Oh, and for my gluten-intolerant friends, go ahead and substitute 1 cup of your favorite all-purpose flour mix for the whole wheat and all-purpose portions. 

Sassy Blueberry Spice Muffins:
(adapted from Good to the Grain)

Nut Topping (opt):
1c walnuts
1/4  c unsulphured molasses
1 TBSP sugar
Pinch kosher salt

Sweet Topping (opt in place of nut topping):
1 c dry milk powder
1/4 c maple sugar

Dry Mix:
1 c Almond flour
1/2 c quinoa flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/8 c sugar
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 TBSP cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cloves
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

Wet Mix:
1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c rice syrup
1/4 c sour cream
2 TBSP lemon juice
2 eggs
1/2 pint blueberries
1/2 pint blackberries

Preheat oven to 350 and toast walnuts 10-15 minutes until golden.  Mix together dry ingredients and beat in butter until it has a cornmeal texture.  In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients, then beat in with the flour mixture until just mixed.  Add berries and scoop into muffin tins until even with the top of the pan. If using nut topping, chop walnuts and combine with molasses, sugar, and salt.  Top each muffin and press gently into the batter.  If using the sweet topping, sprinkle each ingredient lightly over top of the batter.  Place in oven and bake for 24-26 minutes, rotating half way.  Allow to cool slightly before removing and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

No Friend to Fear

Who is this person?  I don't know, can't think, because I am paralyzed by my own fear.  Fear--a relatively new and shockingly frequent emotion for me these days.  What happened to the girl who valued boldness and excitement?  The one who lived to be matched against a bigger, stronger forward in basketball, or for the soccer games that required constant dives and 1-on-1 confrontations and ended in shoot-outs?  Who could not imagine a better life than one filled with globetrotting, bungee jumping, and sky diving.  Broken bones, mono, lack of money, terrorist activities, and scary mysterious lung illnesses--none of this prevented me from continuing with life or caused me to worry at all.

But now, everything is different.  One touch from the tiny, burning little fists, accompanied by the slightest exhausted and uncomfortable whimper, and I am totally gripped by this alien emotion, fear.  Anxiety makes its complete hostile takeover.  I am out of my depth, out of control, out of ideas.

I had noticed the night before that something was off.  But there was no accompanying fever or other symptoms.  In the morning there was a low-grade fever, but otherwise he was back to his normal self.  Then that afternoon, after babysitting Rachel told me he'd fallen asleep on the couch while listening to music.  What?  It sounds like a whisper to me, because my thoughts are whirling furiously, anxiously seeking to bring order to what is happening, while concern bumps gently against the corners of my mind . For my son to fall asleep in the middle of the day, in the middle of a room, unaided...that is just completely unheard of.  Something is going on here.  When I pick him up his skin feels hot.  He is clingy.  I am grateful it was Rachel that was with him while I was gone.

I do my best to comfort him, nurse him for a few minutes, although he's recently been weaned from daytime feedings.  He is straining towards me physically, mentally, emotionally, needing me to DO something.  Our bodies are fused as one, and I move us to the living room.  His fever feels out of control, so I give him ibuprofen.  Before it hits the back of his throat, its up.  And out, and all over me, the floor, the couch, the dog.  He is vomiting up more than I thought possible for his small body to hold, and he's trying again to bury himself into me, protect himself from these violent convulsions.  I have a moment's clarity to think I'm so glad we don't have carpets and then its coming again and I'm holding both of us over the sink, trying to comfort him as he heaves and whimpers.

It's the whimper that forces a crack in my reserves and allows the fear to come sweeping in.  It is tiny and powerless and barely there.  Since the moment my son burst onto the scene a year and nearly 2 months ago, his vocal prowess was there with him, round, full, and LOUD.  Even as an infant he was short on cutesy gurgles and big on grunts, deep belly laughs, and all out cries that were powerful enough to shatter a few windows.

So, I find us sitting in the tub, fully clothed, my normally aqua-crazed son only mildly interested in the warm stream.  The dog walks in casually, clearly having done her part to clear up the mess on the floor, and my own desire to heave has me wondering if whatever germ is attacking Ezra is in my system as well. This is the state my husband finds us in.  My wonderful husband who lovingly shoulders the burden of care, sharing this moment with me, cleaning and dressing our slightly less feverish son while I wash the sickness from me.

The night does not include much sleep for any of us.  Ezra finds the fever left his lungs unaffected, and having rediscovered his voice is determined that his father and uncle share in his wakefulness in spite of my best efforts.  It is hours of battle, but at some point in the early morning hours, his fever finally breaks, and his sweat-drenched body instantly gives in to a restful sleep in my arms.

I am not so lucky, as my mind is racing and spirit heavy.  I alternately pray and soul-search, feeling guilty any time my focus slips to my own soul, rather than steadily interceding on behalf of the helpless one in my care.  Finally, because my brain insists and will not receive sleep until I give it what it wants, I allow myself to dwell on what is in my mind.  Who is this person?  Fear is not a reaction I enjoy or condone.  But while I have never feared for myself, I cannot seem to shake my terror for this little child that I love so much.  That I love so much.  The voice nudges me.  I try to ignore it, but it persists, louder.  That I love so much.  That I love more than you.  That I created.  That I delight in.  That I have a perfect plan for.  Finally I let it wash over me.  God, who loves Ezra more than even his own mother is able, has a perfect plan for him.  But is it one that I trust?  Intellectually, yes.  But emotionally?  Not because I don't believe God to be good, or that his plan for Ezra is good.  I could never doubt that.  But because I do not want to relinquish the semblance of control I have over this child's life.  Because I fear that God's perfect plan could also include pain or separation for me.  I choose safety and comfort over goodness over and over, every day.  You forget, that steady voice interrupts my thoughts.  I love you as much as I love him.  I delight in you.  I have a plan for you, and it too is good.  Trust me.  

 I find myself relieved at the reminder of this very basic truth.  And I realize that for God to have trusted me with the care of this tiny, finite being, Ezra must not be so fragile as I think.  And at the very end of every day, God is always good.  If I let myself be ruled by apprehension about fevers and falls and every possible evil in this world, I will miss out on all the bounteous goodness this life has to offer.  And, as my mother loves to remind me, if there is any justice in the world one day my son will probably run off to Africa anyway.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Weight of Glory

Frustrated.  Joel and I pick up our protesting almost-one-year-old and hop in the car out of parental desperation.  I'm not frustrated at my son, necessarily.  Frustrated that he woke up at 5 this morning, yes.  Frustrated that he refused to nap anywhere near his normal schedule or close to the amount he needs, definitely.  And frustrated that he can't communicate whatever it is that is bothering him, not hurting him but making his day ever-so-off until we are clamoring to find something within a 50-mile radius that will distract him for a few hours. 
On my way out the door, on a whim, I grab my book, Sacred Parenting.  Not sure if I want to hear what it has to say today, but pretty sure I need it!

The tagline: How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls.  On many days, I feel like raising a child has made my soul worse.  On other days, it tears it to shreds.  And on still other days I see reflections of glory.  In reality, raising a child shows my soul in its unaltered state, in all its ugliness and vulnerability, and of is greatest potential to love.

Chapter 12: Sacrifice. "In many ways, sacrifice defines love."  Regularly parents and children have conflicting wants.  Often, they have conflicting needs.  In these situations, whose needs prevail?  It is the right of the child to receive more than just the leftovers.  To an extent, my life ended when my child was born. On these days, where Ezra is straining me to my core to care for him and love him fully, I have faith that God is buffing away the ugly parts of my soul, those tarnished bits and pieces that have never been touched by anyone else!  And he does it all through the most precious of gifts, that I love more than I ever thought imaginable, while at the same time see my own extreme selfishness as I resent lack of time, sleep, energy, privacy, stimulation, list could go on.  Then God reminds me, he's entrusted this small soul to me.  The eternal significance of my work now at times buries me under the weight of glory.  But I persevere.  I raise my child.  I love my child.  And trust that in my weakness He is strong!