Thursday, October 24, 2013

Peanut Butter Maple Granola

Someone is feeling human again--so first off, thank you all for the prayers. This is NICE. Thank you, Lord!

So, I've been baking and cooking a bit.  Here's a family fave: Homemade peanut butter granola.

It took me YEARS of testing to work up a decent recipe. The first years were marked by tired jaws, chewing the tough stuff I produced. I scoured the internet for recipes on food websites and private blogs, testing, adapting, trying. Finally, it all came together one day, the lightbulb went on, and I executed this recipe, and then instantly wrote it down for the permanent record when it worked.


3 cups Quick oats (plus additional Quick oats)
2-1/2 cups regular rolled oats, or combination rolled oats, barley, or other rolled grains of your choice
3/4 cup flax meal
1/4 cup flour

1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup maple syrup (can use honey, molasses, or corn syrup)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil or butter (I used coconut oil)
3/4 cup water

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl, set aside.

In saucepan over med/high heat, combine peanut butter, maple syrup, sugar, oil, and water, and bring to a boil. Stir and mix well. If you use natural peanut butter, you will need to stir it a bit more to mix it well.

Pour boiling ingredients over dry ingredients and mix well. You will have a cookie-like dough.

Let the mixture sit for about 5-10 minutes. The hot liquid is actually "cooking" the grains a bit, to soften them and improve their finished texture. This is a good time to get your two baking sheets ready, coated with non-stick spray.

Sprinkle in a light layer of quick oats (above), then using your hands mix it to a "crumbly" texture. (below)

Continuing to mix in quick oats as needed to make the "crumbly" texture, crumble the "dough" onto your baking sheets in a thin layer, making your crumbles "granola" sized.

One batch will make two full cookie sheets, about, but of course, for my family of 8, I make a double batch, which gave me these four cookie sheets (and then some):

Note the cozy woodburning stove in our kitchen, that heats our whole house. Not so cozy when you're on a baking marathon. Welcome to my 90-degree kitchen. Whew! I'm breaking a sweat!

Like I stated above, I had a bit leftover, and someone on facebook asked me if this would work for granola bars. Lightbulb! (Gru's voice).  Of course it would work. I think. Since I had already added in the extra quick oats to make the batter "crumbly," I just added in a spurt of boiling water and a smidge more syrup, pressed the  dough into a greased baking pan, about 1/3 inch thick, cut into bars, then used a spatula to put them on a baking sheet (I think they will bake more evenly if separated).  Because this granola recipe isn't particularly sweet, I dusted these with sugar, and then I think I actually heard the bars screaming for chocolate chips. I simply pressed them point-down into the bars. (Dominoes, anyone?) 

For integrity's sake, I left almost half of them plain. But out of sheer honesty, I will tell you the next time I try these granola bars, I'm putting Nutella in the liquid. But wait... did the granola bars work? I baked them at 300 for quite some time (I really never time my baking, people. I just watch. Sorry). I pulled them out when they were evenly light golden brown all over. So now they're done, and the consensus is... with the chocolate chips, oh my, yes. Almost perfect. Without, they are not quite sweet enough.  If making plain granola bars, I would probably double the sugar in the recipe, and still dust with sugar to bake. But why do that?  Let's just make the chocolate chip ones, folks!

Now comes the patience part.  Bake the granola at about 225 for about an hour, stirring occasionally (just use your hands to move the browner edges to the center--it's not too hot). If you're daring, bake at 300 and check more often--but you must watch or it will get too brown too quickly.  Excuse me... I must go check mine. I will be right  back...

The granola is finished when it is "dry" and evenly golden brown--toasty.  Let it cool completely then store in an airtight container.

Now, make sure you have plenty of ice cold milk or almond milk on hand, and some hungry children!

Oh, how I love adding raisins to this! So, please do. Really, The chewy with the crunchy is just dreamy. When I eat it, I feel like I'm camping in the Rocky Mountains, watching the sunrise. And I should know. I used to live in the Rocky Mountains.

You may want to sprinkle with a little sugar or Stevia. This is not a particularly sweet recipe.  I added some "Nutresse" to mine (a natural sweetener make from monk fruit).

And what a lovely idea for a Christmas gift, people, for those of you who like to bake for others or try to give otherwise useful gifts.  Add some dried cranberries and slivered almonds, or pecans and dried blueberries, or... ... ... you tell me? What can you come up with?

Then, put it in a mason jar or pretty bag with a ribbon.

Oh, my, if people knew what a sacrifice it feels like to bake granola for 4-6 hours, your mouth watering the whole time, then give it up as a present? Whew! What a gift!  I can see it now:'

Me:  "Merry Christmas!" (holding out granola)
Them: "Thank you!" (Tug)
Me: (Tug)
Them: (Tug)
Me:  (Tug)
Them:  (Tug)
Me, smiling, finally letting go. Sigh.

And, FYI, chocolate fans. I have tried adding chocolate to this recipe various ways. I've added cocoa to the liquid, and chocolate chips.  I've even stirred in melted chocolate chips after baking to coat as a glaze.  It just doesn't work.  If you want chocolate in your granola, add some mini chocolate chips to your bowl, or eat a few no-bake cookies with milk. That's as good as it gets, folks. Every time I tried making chocolate, we all voted the peanut butter version was better, hands down.

But, I do plan to try the Nutella route--since that is a nut-based product, I think it may work in the liquid in this recipe. I just keep forgetting to try it because I don't like Nutella (gasp). But my family does.

Thank you, Lord, for the health and your provision that allows me to bake today for my family.  Thank you for those who have been praying for me and bless them!

Happy crunching!  I'm crunching now, and, Yep, this recipe, in my  mind, is all that I claim it to be. Yum.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Our Daily Bread

I love cooking for my family.  I love sharing a bit of what we eat, here.

We've been baking homemade bread here for a year straight. After studying a bit on bread baking, I came up with a recipe that "ferments" the grain a bit, which makes it healthier and easier to digest, especially for those with wheat sensitivities--like me. I can eat wheat, but do better on a gluten-free diet. But wheat bread made this way does not bother me one bit.

Back in the day--like the OT day--yeast didn't come in little packets to be added to the dough.  Bread was made in a fermentation "trough," and the dough was left to stand at least 24 hours, collecting yeast from the air, but more importantly, fermenting the grains, too. (Sourdough is a form of fermentation).

The references made throughout the whole Bible drawing a parallel between "leavening" and "sin" are significant if you understand bread-baking in Bible times.  Leavening was a result of "exposure" to bacteria in the air.  Sin was a result of exposure to foolishness--first starting  with the eyes seeing wrong things, and then being exposed to ungodly ways; like the Israelites deliberately exposing themselves to the idolatrous ways of the Canaanites. Fermentation is also the start of "rottenness." Rottenness is simply fermentation left unchecked. 

It is also proven that people with digestive problems, especially those with gluten intolerance, are greatly helped by eating fermented foods.  I wasn't able to digest regular bread very well, especially after all my illnesses the past few years. But I was surprised when I tentatively tried a piece of toast from this "fermented" bread, and my stomach handled it as well as gluten-free. (Note: I am not completely gluten-intolerant, nor do I have Celiac's.)

Anyway, the method is simple. In the afternoon or evening, I mix up the bread using room temperature water and ingredients, then cover it lightly and leave it to rise overnight. At least 12 hours, if not 15 or more.  This allows for the grains to start fermenting.  I am also able to use WAAAAY less yeast than regular bread recipes call for--like 2/3 or 3/4 less.

My recipe:

Mix with fork in large bowl, in this order:  2-1/4 cups tepid water, 1 Tbsp sugar, 1 Tbsp salt, 2 tsp yeast, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup unsulphured molasses or raw honey (we prefer molasses), 6 cups whole wheat flour (or you can use a blend of whole wheat and unbleached white, 3 parts to 1 part).  Mix thoroughly with fork. Using wet hands, knead until blended well--dough should be sticky and soft. Put in bowl and cover lightly with plastic wrap and leave overnight (12-15 hours).

Next day:  Prepare two 9-inch loaf pans by coating with butter.  Butter your hands, divide into two equal parts and then shape into smooth loaves. Cover lightly, and let rise about 2-3 hours.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Exactly. Turn immediately on to cooling rack.

Perfect for toast--my favorite is toast with homemade grape jam, the kids' fave is cinnamon toast, of course. The bread is so hearty, two slices is a great, simple meal when you add some apple slices and carrot sticks and a yogurt, or a smoothie.

And if you're interesting in learning more about the history of bread, what is healthful bread, and what is not, I recommend this book:

On another note, I do try to get as many vegetables and fruits as possible into our family's diet. Not easy with a wide age-range of kiddos, and the prohibitive cost of fresh produce on a small budget, and me being too ill to garden for several years.  But I have my ways. Like today, for example, I took a very simple and inexpensive lunch idea: A jar of spaghetti sauce (all natural with no corn syrup or preservatives: $1.39 at our discount grocery store), and 1 pound of regular spaghetti noodles ($1), and did this:

I sauteed some chopped fresh spinach and grated fresh organic carrots in olive oil with some garlic and salt, THEN I added the spaghetti sauce. And I got this:  Watch out Chef Boy-ar-dee!

But, no noodles for me.  Our good friend gave us two big bags of beautiful fresh spinach, and I had a row of the last tomatoes from our garden sitting on the window sill, so I've been fixing  myself one of my all-time favorite meals:

No recipe needed. It's just fresh spinach, tomatoes, two soft-boiled eggs, salt, pepper, and a piece of extra-crispy whole wheat toast cut into pieces (add butter if you must, but not needed, really!)

Happy cooking, y'all. I know you're all doing  it all the time, just like me, and doing your best to make it healthy as much as sanity, budget, and time allows.

Got any good tips to share?

Textbooks for sale!

Well, coordinating one 19-yo with five other kids coming and going from naps, choir practice, babysitting jobs, etc... with a one day time-frame before snow hit and the fall leaves were gone. Didn't happen. So I couldn't get a photo this year of all six of my kiddos on the pretty fall road.

But here's one I took last week to include in his college graduation announcements:

Here's what a BSBA in General Management looks like in textbooks.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fall Photos: Then and Now

So, here is a photo I took ten years ago this week:

Gabe and Breton, Age 9 and 4.

And here are photos from yesterday... I think the changes in our family are apparent (and yes, I got yelled at on FB because the 19yo wasn't in I'll try to remedy that today when he gets home from work and post and update).

I love how "girly" my girl looks walking next to all those boys!

I showed Oli (4) this photo (he's on the left), and he sighed and said, "I like Breton the best." Well, I see his point. She is definitely the "pretty" one of the bunch!

Some of you know what a blessing  this photo story is. When I took the  first photo ten years ago, I didn't think I would ever have any more children. I was praying for just ONE more--every prayer request to my friends, and every prayer breathed out of my mouth started with:  "God, please! Please. A baby."

God's funny--not haha funny, but "too wonderful in ways we cannot understand" funny. I just didn't ever see this coming. How could I have known when I was desperate for just one more, that he had FIVE more in His plans for me? That fifth one isn't here yet... due late April.  And now my prayer:  God? Please? A girl?

Happy, beautiful, colorful fall, and blessings to you all.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Best Homeschool Strategies: PUTTING GOD FIRST

This is one of those posts I've been mulling over for weeks, feeling prompted to share, as I pray for so many people who are homeschooling, and as the years go by, I add more and more children to the mix, and so do most of my friends! And I'm passionate about mothering  and homeschooling.

I've given this talk before at homeschool meetings, and written this post before, but I'm not going to even refer to my notes or my old post. Because we grow. I grow. This is my eleventh year of homeschooling now. I now have a college graduate (homeschooled through college), one beginning high-schooler, one middle/upper elementary, two beginning elementary, and one Tasmanian-Devil-related 2-year-old... oh, and one on the way, due late April 2014. And, the past three years, I had my turn at chronic illness--long hospitalizations, ICU, saying goodbyes, and many months as a invalid. That taught me some things!

I'm going to break this down into bits and do a series. One or two things at a time.

But, God bless you all and your homeschooling. If you are a reader here, know I'm always praying for you in this area!

1. God first.

The commandment is simple--the first and greatest commandment, that is:  Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind, and strength."  "Seek first the kingdom of God."  How to do this?  First of all, just don't SAY it. Do it. Do your children SEE you putting God first in your life? In your home?  Most homeschooling families I meet put the academics first, in the name of God. The children are taught (hounded) to get their schoolwork done more than they are urged to love and obey God. They see mom stressing about the academics, not stressing about how much the family is learning the things of God.

I finally made a solemn pact with my children to keep myself from falling into this human trap (which I was always doing): We don't do ANY other school until our Bible lesson is done. We learn God first.  But not just first. Always. I try to put God in every subject, every lesson, and as many moments as possible.  I point out the miracles in math, science. We assess history lessons according to wisdom and foolishness. Our work and play, I try to give continual encouragement and praise for working "as unto the Lord." I encourage love and forgiveness, always reminding them of what Jesus did to make our forgiveness possible. I find moments to speak of eternity--to teach my children to think eternal (something I'm still struggling to learn, WAY too late in the game!).


There is God, and there is nothing else. If you seek and teach God first, you will be lacking nothing. Not even the math and the history and the science. First comes wisdom, then knowledge. That is a Biblical Principle. If you seek knowledge first, you will get knowledge. Worldly knowledge. A house built upon the sand.  Don't do that and don't let your kids do that!

If your homeschool is chaotic, behind, stressful:  I guarantee you are not putting God first in practice. I give you a challenge, because you can put Him to the test. Teach only God for 30 days. Put up your school books for 30 days. Tell your children, "We're putting God first."  SHOW them God is the most important. Live it. If you sit for any lesson, open the Bibles or Godly stories, read verses and discuss them for what they mean to them. For the rest of the day, talk about God and His perfection, ways, and commandments as much as possible. Are you eating lunch? Discuss the wisdom of what you're eating and how to "eat as unto the Lord." Talk about making wise choices to please God (health lesson done). Are you doing chores? Have the children visualize how to complete that chore "as unto the Lord." Have your children evaluate their home, their toys, their actions, their movies, books, and TV shows according to God and His commandments and wisdom. Have your children evaluate how they are treating each other? In brotherly love? Charity?

Oh, did I mention this will hold you pretty accountable to God, too? Consider that a bonus. :-)

If you find you have time to get the schoolwork out (which you probably will), choose prayerfully what is most important/appropriate for each child (different for each), and encourage the children to complete it "as unto the Lord." "Oh, look at your beautiful handwriting! God is pleased when you do your work so nicely!" Assess the schoolwork in wisdom. How much is too much? Is your child just doing busy work? Stressing over learning unnecessary things? What, in God's eyes (not the world's standards), is it WISE for your children to learn? And how much? (Each child is different!) Watch them and pray. Let your children see you are consulting God on all matters. I will discuss this much further in other points!

At the end of 30 days, if you do this, I guarantee you will be amazed at how things have changed. Most likely you will find the chores are getting done, and more schoolwork than ever is getting done, and getting done well.

There is God, or there is nothing. Offer your children God, or you give them nothing! All your years of mothering and homeschooling will be "wasted."  But God is good. He "rebuilds the old wastes,", and "raises up former desolations." (Isaiah 61:4)--Oh! Praise Him for that! He's had to do a lot of rebuilding of wastelands in this home! He continues to raise up beauty out of the ashes of desolation I have sometimes made! He repairs, heals.

But. You've got to put Him first.

Are you?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Mikko is turning TWO!

Oh, what fun!

First, "Sis-Sis" made him these to share with friends at our Friday night Bible study:



And then, a friend of mine posted this idea to Facebook yesterday, so he had a special, surprise, "Birthday Eve Bath." 

First, I ran a nice deep bubble bath, then I activated four glow-necklaces and put them in the water. Then I turned off the lights and shut the door.  I called the three littles for their surprise bath, and when I opened the door, they saw a bath that looked like this (this is my friend's photo--I didn't take one without the kids):

Oh yeah! It was the BOMB!

Getting Mikko OUT of the tub was a different story. I've never had a problem before, but tonight, after I lifted him out, he screeched and dove head-first back into the water. It was too much fun!

But, eventually, I got him out, and dried off, and into his new rocket ship birthday PJs ("Cool!" "Pretty!" he said), and he had a glow necklace to play with!

"Sis-Sis" and Big Brother Aram are going to be busy setting up the living room after he goes to bed tonight so that he wakes up to surprises--presents, balloons and streamers!  

God bless our little Mikko. I pray that God give him a huge measure of faith, and that he is blessed with wisdom, and grows to love Jesus with all his heart, mind, and strength.

Monday, October 7, 2013

S'mores and Smiles

It started with my 4yo coming to me this morning and saying, "Mom, we NEVER get S'mores." Not really true, evidenced by the fact he knows what they are. But I know what he meant.

What could I do?  What would YOU do? 

Okay. NOW they can get dressed! 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

On Being Sick...

Yes. That is me. Sick.

Today, it's just pneumonia (for the second time in 3 months), leaving me in a glossy fevered coughing exhausted state, which triples the fatigue and doubles the gag-reflex of the nausea of my 11-week pregnancy (if my mom reads that, the gig's up--we haven't told yet), on top of still recovering from last year's battle with spinal meningitis--twice--that included a nearly amputated foot that I just started walking on again in May. As I write this post, the fever has been creeping up, and I have already accepted that tomorrow I most likely will have to go to the doctor or the ER, and pray they will allow me to come home with pills instead of admitting me to the hospital with IVs.

Welcome to the other side of my life--the life I have lived since late 2009:  hospitalizations, surgeries, ICU, blood transfusions, chemotherapy, wheelchairs, ports, IVs, medications... all that fun stuff.  All while mothering 6 children (the sixth born in the midst of all that!). I don't talk about it much because I'm really just overwhelmed by it all most of the time... gasping up prayers to God in the moments I don't remember to just leave it all to Him. There are a lot of those moments.

Illness is quite the spiritual classroom. It has done a lot to change my spiritual perspective, as I've struggled to sort out the "why's" behind it all.  What IS God doing when He allows this? And He doesn't choose to heal? What?

Well, I've been learning what. Here's a testimony of things at this point, for what it's worth:

1. Head faith is no good. Watch out for that!  When I first fell ill, my initial response was to be "Super-Christian."  I had all the head knowledge to put up a good front that God was good, all things work together for good, how could I accept good from God and not bad, trials refine our faith, blah, blah, blah.  Head faith only works for so long. The power of the intellectual mind can carry us far, and I found myself able to even sit in a chemotherapy chair with grace and peace.  But that grace and peace slowly failed me as the trial wore on. Suffering despairs the heart, and deeper faith is needed. Not understanding. Just faith. Blind, simple, childlike faith, with no understanding. Like my littlest children trust that they are going to be fed and clothed with no understanding of how that really happens.

2. Faith is in things unseen and unknowable.Faith really is learning that I can't have faith in anything I KNOW FOR SURE--that's not faith. By definition, it is no longer faith if you know all about it, or even think you know. That is why faith is in things unseen, and in things only hoped for (you don't have to hope for things you KNOW!).  I don't understand what God does or why. I don't know what meeting Him is going to be like, or what He has planned for all eternity. The Bible says we can't know it!  If we could, it wouldn't require faith to believe in Him!  Illness leaves me needing to have faith that God is perfect, in ways I cannot understand. If I did understand everything, that would rob me of my faith, which robs me of salvation, because we are only saved through faith.

3. The question of medicines and treatments can be difficult for a Christian. When do you wave the white flag and say, "That's enough!"  What do you do when you really just don't think you can face any more treatments or illness? Well, I learned to take Paul's example.  He knew when he had fought his fight and finished his course, and had peace about going to be with Christ.  When I faced a difficult night, debating whether I should call in my family to say goodbyes, I did not have peace. I begged God for an answer to that. His answer was, "Finish."  I knew I still had a fight to fight--there were still treatment options available to me, and I still had a course to finish--a husband to love and children to raise. I will fight and finish until God has made it clear with His peace that my fight  HAS been fought and my course HAS been finished.

4. Suffering is necessary for perfection. Jesus needed to suffer to be able to offer perfection to us. Suffering is necessary for God's glory.  What glory would there be in God redeeming this body of mine if it were perfectly healthy? But, oh! How beautiful it is going to be when He redeems this broken, sick, tired body of mine. What glory!  And how He will be pleased if I have learned to willingly give this earthly body to Him  in willing sacrifice, just as He gave His  for me.  Oh, the glory and the beauty and the eternal perfect health is coming... and  how glorious it will be!

5.  Illness should not make you stronger. It should make you weaker.  Weaker is always the goal.  The Bible doesn't say He makes me strong when I am weak.  It says that just HE is strong WHEN (while) I am weak. If I am not weak, then He is not strong, because my self-strength shoves Him aside. Lord, let me learn to always be weak and rest in your strength alone. Always.

6.  Weakness is humbling.  There is nothing more humbling than being exhausted, weepy, despairing, sad, crumpled, overwhelmed, unable to cope with one more (hospitalization, pill, IV, fever, headache, nausea spell, tired day, doctor's visit, needle, etc.). There is nothing more humbling than being unable to care for your husband, home, and children. The world tells us we are good when we are able to cope with these things with grace.  The Bible tells us we receive grace when we are humble, and for most of us, it takes a whole lot of crap like this to crumple us into a heap of humility.  Thank you, Lord, for putting me in the position to receive the grace I asked for.  Keep me here.

7. I'm not chronically depressed or suicidal. Being ill for the long term has been hard, hard, hard. I have many despairing moments and days. Lots of tears, crumpled spirits, and overwhelmed moments where I just try to exist.  Satan has tried to tell me there's something wrong with me. That I'm a bad Christian. That I'm weak (ha! Can't fool me on that one!). That I've relapsed back to my old days of mental illness.  But the truth of the matter is I'm closer to Christ, through sharing of His sufferings, than I ever have been before. I prayed to die to self, and I'm dying to self. I feel the death of "fleshly Cam" as my submitting to weakness and humility kills the prideful, greedy, health-hungry flesh. That is painful! It is the sword, and the pruning. It's willful self-death, like God calls for. Not suicidal tendencies! :-)  I WANT my flesh to be dead. And yes, I will mourn it. But not for long!

8.  Illness forces you to find God's rest. It is nearly impossible to learn to rest in the Lord when you don't need rest! When I am so tired, I can do nothing, but I'm surrounded by zillions of things to do (namely a husband, 6 children ages 1-19 who need trained, advised, listened to, played with, and homeschooled, laundry, cooking, chores), you actually can learn that God can handle these things! I had no choice but to give God my to-do list, and let Him give it back one item at a time, as each moment came up.  God is a perfect manager of my to-do list. All gets done that needs be done. As J.R. Miller says in chapter 3 of his book Life's Byways and Waysides, there is only ever one present duty. Here are some lovely excerpts from that chapter (you can read the whole chapter here.)

Duty never is a haphazard thing. There never are a half dozen things any one of which we may fitly do at any particular time; there is some one definite thing in the divine thought for each moment.

We have only to take the duty which comes next to our hand. Our duty never is some far away thing. We do not have to search for it— but it is always close at hand and easily found.

The law of divine guidance is, step by step. One who carries a lantern on a country road at night, sees only one step before him. If he takes that step, however, he carries his lantern forward and this makes another step plain. At length he reaches his destination without once stepping into the darkness. The whole way has been made light for him, though only a step at a time. This is the usual method of God's guidance. 

9.Living today as if it is my last is a lovely way to live. Really, it is. I've always WANTED to live this way. It's a very popular saying, "Live each day as if it's your last." But I couldn't ever do it. But now I can do this much better than before.  Being continually ill, I am faced with the reality that at any moment, I could be rushed right back to the hospital again, unconscious, or in ICU. As I type this post, I know I may very well be in the hospital by tomorrow. This physical life is fragile and fleeting, broken, diseased.  I could meet Him today. That is reality for me. Not head knowledge any more.  These days, most days, I do obey Him more, honor Him more, keep my eyes on Him more, rely on Him more.  My words to my children are more patient and loving--it could be my last day to "mother" them. My actions are quite consciously honoring my husband--I do things I know he likes that I used to not bother with when he wasn't around: like making sure the baby's hands get washed after every potty trip (even if he doesn't touch anything), and choosing more wisely how to spend his money at any given moment. Overall choices change--choices in what to eat, how to spend my time, what to read.  I wish I could say I've got this down completely, now. But not yet. I was never even close before. But now there are days and parts of days I live this way: honoring and obeying the God I may meet at any moment. Maybe another 10 years or so of sickness....

10. Tears and Questions are okay. Anger, Complaining and Whining isn't. It's hard not to get angry and complain. These days, I really have had enough, I feel, and I quickly get angry and want to shake my fist. But I've learned to see my anger as a red flag, heed the warning, and turn it into tears and questions instead. God sees tears. They move Him. Tears are the sign of a broken and contrite heart. The humble heart. God is there, and pouring grace when we are pouring tears.  God accepts our questions:  Why? How long?  They are another sign of humility--a sign of someone who has chosen to wait on Him. Anger, complaining and whining are the sign of a rebellious heart (can you say "Israelites?). The sign of stiff-necked, stubborn, "I don't like this and I want what I want."  No.  We should want only what God wants. Only the will of the Father--even unto suffering and death. Just like Jesus, who only lived to do the will of the Father, even unto suffering and death. Jesus wept. He suffered. He questioned, "If you could just let this cup pass from me... even so, let Your will be done." He loved and trusted His Father completely and knew that all would be beautiful and good when the Father's perfect will was accomplished. That Perfect Will is in effect right now. This moment. It is eternal, with no beginning or no end. I'm trapped in a place I can't see the beauty and perfection right now... but one day I will see it! Which leads to my next:

11. Sickness is a great prompt to think on things eternal, something as Christians we are commanded to learn how to do. The healthy person does not need to think eternally--it is too easy to be "doing," and "planning," and "running," etc.  Oh... eternity with a perfect God. I have no idea what it will be like, and cannot remotely imagine (God tells me in His Word I cannot imagine, so I don't even try).  But this I know, and it is my hope eternal. One day:

All shall be well. All shall be well. And all manner of thing shall be well.
--Lady Julian of Norwich

What hope that is for the person who is despairing and sick. And how much easier it is to learn this SO important way of life. The sick person no longer wants to think on this world--it is horrid. The sick person suffering sees suffering everywhere, and is ready for God to redeem it all.  I did pray to think eternally. God knew what it would take to let me see the HOPE I have in Him. What a precious gift! I am so grateful!

12.  I have to watch out for my selfish motives that interfere with God's Holy work! How many times have I planned strict diets, vitamin or exercise regimens, fasts, or made strict scripture-reading/prayer time commitments. All trying to "force" the hand of God--or gain a means to an end!  Oh, I've learned the folly of this! Yes, I still choose to eat more wisely--but I've weeded out the motive of doing it to improve my health.  Only for the glory of God. Whether healthy or well, I should choose to eat for His glory!  He showed me this by allowing my illness anyway!  A lifetime organic vegetarian can still come down with cancer overnight. Regardless of what we eat, we are sin-cursed, in need of redemption, and God is ALWAYS WORKING to get us to His Perfect end.  How can we know the ways He works?

I know for me personally, God does provide opportunity for my spiritual growth by making dietary restrictions NECESSARY.  I sometimes have to eat a certain way, or I do pay for it. And I praise Him for the opportunity to practice self-control, for His glory!


If you are dealing with illness, beloved, take heart. He is working. He loves you. Oh, how He will be glorified to redeem your broken, sick body one day. Give it willingly, in faith. Cry those tears, and let grace come. Crumple in weakness, and just let HIM be strong. Be nothing. He is everything.

Here are some resources that God used to greatly encourage me:

Revelations of Divine Love, by Lady Julian of Norwich, her writing gave me great little glimpses of the coming beauty and perfection I am unable to see right now. Much. needed.

One Thousand Gifts, by Ann VosKamp

Life's Byways and Waysides, by J.R. Miller (Chapter 3 in particular)

Sarah's Blog, Amongst Lovely Things:  God sent her as a personal gift of grace to me, and her lovely writing has encouraged me through many tough moments and days this year, and without her I wouldn't have been prepared for the places God is now leading me (Really? A baby on top of all this?). Her heart for stopping to see the beautiful in the midst of the hard, to stop and see the grace that Satan works so hard to make sure we miss: She gives love and glory to God.

And a big thank you to my sisters in Christ, those of you I've met through my blog over the years, who have been with me through all of this, praying, encouraging, listening, counseling, and praying! I wouldn't have made it without you! What a special gift and blessing! You know who you are! :-) God bless you 1,000 times in return!

P.S. I have written other posts in the past during this journey, and each time I write a new one, I have learned more. So... this one may be obsolete shortly. I don't know the work God does and don't pretend to know. By next week, I may have learned something completely different! But I do know I will still be following Him! My Shepherd! The One Who first loved me!

P.P.S. And don't even ask or say a word about me being pregnant. My husband and I were mostly rendered dumb and stunned, and we're just feebly waving an internal white flag of surrender to God on the whole matter... and hoping for a girl!