Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods."
-C. S. Lewis
(Thanks, A., for sharing this!)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Almost Nutri-Grain Bars

We had a delightful patient the other day. She was one of those infectiously cheerful people. During her waiting room time throughout her 4 hour stress test, she chose to redeem the time by writing out recipes she'd been collecting. (Charming!) During her medication infusion, she shared all sorts of yummy creations and we swapped different ideas for baking and cooking. Before she left, she dropped off treasured copies of some of her favorite recipes.

So in honor of my patient and of P., my, cardiology nurse, I thought I'd share this fun recipe for Nutri-Grain Bars. They turn out pretty well, although I suggest using your judgment with the dough and adding liquid as needed if too crumbly and dry. After they were cool, I cut them into individual bars and wrapped each one in plastic wrap-- tada! Your own little (almost) Nutri-Grain Bars to grab when you need a quick snack!

Almost Nutri Grain Bars (makes 15 bars)

1 c rolled oats
1 c whole wheat flour
2/3 c brown sugar
½ tsp soda
½ tsp salt
¼ c oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
¼ c apple juice
10 0z jam
1 TBS water

Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, soda and salt. Add oil, egg, vanilla, apple juice and mix. Press 2/3 of mixture into 8 x 12 pan. Mix jam with water and spread over mix. Crumble remaining oat mixture over top and bake at 325 for 30-40 min. Cool completely before cutting. Cost per bar 15 cents.

(From Healthy Meals for Less, by Jonni McCoy-- great book! She is also the author of Miserly Moms: Living Well on Less in a Tough Economy.)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Blessing of Real People

John Michael Talbot’s last night of our three-night parish mission was this evening. He ended the time beautifully with the crowd on their knees as he played and sang his beautiful “Surrender” song.

He asked us to surrender all that rises up to hinder our relationship with the Lord, all that rises up to steal our joy.

With a few stray tears lurking in the corners of my eyes, I bowed my head, aware of the things that rise up in my own life keeping me from joy and freedom in Christ. Kneeling beside me on one side was my uncle who lost his teenage son last year. On my left was a beautiful single mom raising her three young children. Both are incredibly sincere and faithful.

And real.

They have shown me true faith and grace and strength by the way they live their lives. They have shown me what it means to be real. No pretense. No appearance of perfection. Just raw beauty and honest striving. And then I see that being real is more beautiful than anything else. It’s more encouraging, more inspiring, than the appearance of perfection.

Because how inspiring can perfection be when it’s not really truth?

I knelt there between the two of them and felt a wave of inexpressible gratitude for all those in my life who have shown me the beauty of being real. Who have opened doors of their hearts, shared messy details, and admitted imperfections--yet still looking up and following after the only One who is perfect.

When I see them being real with the tough stuff, their faith becomes more real to me, too.

Thank you, O. and Uncle D., for your examples. And thank you to the rest of you who continue to show me what it means to be real.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Visit from John Michael Talbot

Speaker and musician John Michael Talbot came to our church this week!

This was super exciting for our parish, as it’s been in the works for about two years. I’m so happy I was able to attend—though I had trouble finding a seat! (Come on, people, this is a church. Do NOT lay your coats across the pews to save seats for those coming later!! Thank you to my choir family for letting me slip in with some of them!)

I digress. (In other words, I'm done with the hypocritical whining!)

Once I was squished in comfortably seated, the rest of the evening proved to be full of deep wisdom and instruction, delightful humor, and stirring music. If you haven’t heard of JMT, you can check out his website here.

I wanted to share with you a beautiful analogy he gave on the Christian life. He reminded us that being a Christian doesn’t mean we no longer have the suffering and trials of this life—but that now we have hope and meaning through them because of our God and Savior.

JMT compared the Christian life and transformation to wheat being made into bread. I’ll break it down for you (pun slightly intended!) as he did…

We (as you guessed) are the wheat. Jesus wants to transform us into bread (something better). But naturally, it’s quite a process.

First, you are cut down. Ouch for my pride!

Then into the thresher we go. Stripping away the stalks from the grain.

Sometimes we’re up in the air in life—not sure where we’re going. Like when wheat is winnowed and tossed into the air for the chaff to be blown away. Not fun, my friends. But keep that finished product in mind!

Ooh, and this next one: grinding the wheat. Whew! Are we done yet?

No, for there’s the kneading. Life pushes us on all sides. We’re beaten down.

But ah! We rise after that. Life is going great! Up, up, up we go…

Only to be punched down! (I wish you could have heard and seen him tell this!)

We’re almost done…but you know the last step…

The oven. It’s hot in there! But the heat is transforming.

Finally, a beautiful loaf of bread that will be nourishing to others is brought forth from it all.

(My brief summary was much less profound and interesting than his storytelling, but you get the idea.)

What a blessing to have this unique and talented man speak, sing, and minister to us. I bought a book by him called Simplicity and look forward to gleaning from that as well. (I just hope it doesn't make me clean out my closet! I love am very fond of my clothes! haha! Have a great weekend, all!)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Life don’t go quite like you planned it
We try so hard to understand it
Irrefutable, indisputable
Fact is
It happens

Ain’t no rhyme or reason
No complicated meaning
Ain’t no need to over think it
Let go laughing."

-A little bit of Sugarland for you ("It Happens")

(I'm not dismissing the seriousness of life and its events with this quote...I just love its reminder that sometimes we I really do need to let go and laugh, knowing that God really is in control!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Day at an Apple Orchard

On our way to the apple orchard on a beautifully sunny Saturday

I think it's just around that bend...

Dreamy orchard paths

Check out the size of this apple!

And we learned about quince fruits...

Ooh...Golden Delicious!

Do we have enough yet??

On our way back to the car

Time for applesauce and other recipes!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"The last of human freedoms-- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances."

-Victor Frankl, concentration camp survivor and author

Saturday, October 8, 2011


The winds are rustling the fields and the trees as I walk the winding road. It’s fall. I see golden colors emerging, a few leaves on the ground. And despite the beauty in this season, my heart feels heavy.

Memories and questions flutter as the wind blows through my soul, disrupting all that was packed away and put on the shelves.

But healing and growth and goodness have come from grief, so why do these feelings emerge? Why does the coming of fall scatter the broken memories as it scatters the falling leaves? These broken memories that refuse to piece together to give a reason, an explanation, an answer.

I breathe in deeply the crisp air and it reaches my lungs but not my heart.

What do I do with all this?

I kneel beside the pieces, unsure if I am to toss them into the fall winds or try to put them back together. Sometimes neither one seems possible.

So I gather them into my arms and carry them to the altar. I silently give them to the One who knows all things, Who sees the beginning and the end. I ask Him to use them however He wills.

And I keep walking.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo...and it's worth fighting for."

-Samwise Gamgee, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dirty Dishes and Glory

It was a quiet Sunday morning after church. No plans for the day, so I had made waffles for breakfast. I love waffles, but cleaning up afterwards—not so much. (All those little grooves that make waffles so yummy when you fill them with peanut butter and syrupy goodness…they make the waffle maker awfully hard to clean!)
I stood at the sink in my great-grandma’s apron, hands deep in water and bubbles. Scrubbing dishes while the rain poured outside and Christian music played on the radio inside.
A new song from Steven Curtis Chapman came on, and the appropriate timing tickled me pink.

“Little stuff, big stuff, in-between stuff
God sees it all the same
And while I may not know you I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes does it matter at all
Well, let me remind you, it all matters just as long as you do

Everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause He made you
To do every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace

with every move that you make
And every little thing that you do.”

Uh-huh. LOVED it. This reminder that it all matters. Whether you’re climbing the ladder in a career…or just making ends meet with unemployment. Whether you’ve been on ten life-changing mission trips…or have quietly, steadfastly lifted others in prayer each morning in your own home. Whether you speak dynamic and inspirational words to hundreds at conferences…or speak kindly to the telemarketer who calls at dinnertime.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, that beautiful woman of great deeds and great love, said: “Do not pursue spectacular deeds. What matters is the gift of your self, the degree of love that you put into each one of your actions.”

I continued washing the dishes, thinking how even this mundane little daily task could bring glory to God.

Okay, then, this is for you, God.

I smiled.

And perhaps, as Steven says in the song, God did, too.