Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I got into my Plan B school!

My thought is, if I'm going to spend 2 years in grad school, I want to be a Nurse Practitioner at the end of it. However, if I don't get into Midwifery school (Plan A) and have to wait 1-2 years to re-apply, I may just get a Masters of Science in Nursing in the meantime (Plan B).

By 2015 nursing Master's programs are becoming Doctorate programs. If I get a general MSN now, I will have less work to do if I decide I want a Doctorate later on. Neonatal Nurse Practitioner school is also still floating in the back of my mind-- I've already applied there as well even though the next round of applications isn't due until next December and I won't find out until this time next year if I got in (if I'm not in Midwifery school at the time instead). I guess we'll call that Plan C.

Anyway, que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be.

In the last month I've gotten a call to work PRN in another hospital's NICU. But it was a night shift position, so I turned it down. I applied for a Labor and Delivery position at a different hospital, but they hired a more qualified applicant instead.

So right now, I'm just trying to learn as much as I can, not 'argue' with the residents too much, and not complain a whole lot about the chaos of a split unit (we're on two different floors due to our census). I'm loving on all the babies and enjoying my "easy" days with lots of cuddle time.
Hindsight is 20/20 and hopefully in a few years I will see how this was all meant to play out. After all, I suffered through a terrible, prolonged undergrad experience only to be thankful I stayed in Texas an extra summer because that's how I met Ross. Now working with a pregnant Brooke at the Urbavore farm made me think seriously about nurse Midwifery again, even though the actual farm apprenticeship didn't work out.

It's all a huge puzzle right now, and I'm trying to be patient because I know I can't see all the pieces yet.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

440 Miles

In the past year, I've run 440 miles.

121.87 hours.

0.02 times around the world.

A year ago today, I ran 2.2 miles with an average pace of 12:16 minute/mile. Today I ran 2.3 miles with an average pace of 10:46 minute/mile. I don't think my running has gotten faster, but I have gone from alternating 2 minutes of running and 2 minutes of walking, to walking 1 minute out of every 10.

Not every mile has been fun or felt great, but I don't regret a single one. In fact, I'd love to increase my mileage now that I have a solid base! God-willing, I'd love to run 520 miles by next March 29. I think an average of 10 miles per week is totally do-able!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Help Yourself

I remember when I was young, I wanted to climb a tree in our front yard. I knew I could do it, if only I could reach the first branch. Without even trying to scramble or shimmy up the trunk, I asked my mom to lift me up to that branch and she said, "I only help those who help themselves." So I whined and then found something else to do instead (things don't change much, huh?).

I think the lesson was that if I wasn't big enough to reach the first branch, I probably shouldn't be climbing the whole tree. But I've also heard that phrase a lot as an adult, worded like this: God helps those who help themselves. It's an interesting argument, easily misinterpreted, and not always applicable. However, I've been relying on it this Lent. I've applied to two different grad school programs and now I've done all I can. I have to sit back and wait and I'm sure hoping God's message is pretty clear regarding which, if either, to choose.

When I was perusing Screwtape Letters again for my church post, I came across the following lines written in response to the 'patient' starting a new church life, but also interestingly applicable to my Lenten journey in trust and surrender:
The Enemy (God) allows disappointment to occur on the threshold of every human endeavour... It occurs when lovers have gotten married and begin the real task of learning to live together. In every department of life it marks the transition from dreaming aspiration to laborious doing... Desiring their freedom, He therefore refuses to carry them, bu their mere affections and habits, to any of the goals which He sets before them: He leaves them to 'do it on their own'. And there lies our (the demons') opportunity. But also, remember, there lies our danger. If once they get through this initial dryness successfully, they become much less dependent on emotion and therefore much harder to tempt.
I don't believe in The Secret (what a creepy concept when you really look into it!), but I do believe that there are aspects of life in which you have to put "positive thoughts" or dreams or goals out into "the universe" (God's hands) and wait for them to return to you in a clearer form. Yes, God is capable of immaculate conception and parting the seas, but he loves it more when our free will leads us into His arms even on very little faith.

Sure, God could somehow get me into Midwifery school without me applying, but that doesn't make much sense. I have to put the work in first and evaluate my priorities and balance the pros and cons of my current job with the pros and cons of an Advanced Practice nursing job.  And after all, even Wayne Gretzky knows, "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

Ross and I put work into finding a good church (more work at some times than others when we were too lazy to get up on a Sunday). And we have finally been rewarded with a church home. We're only human and positive reinforcement works wonders. I have complete faith that God will bring a similar outcome with grad school and I have no doubt I'll end up right where I was meant to be.

I handed in my Nurse Midwifery application this morning and scheduled my first interview. My odds of getting in are fairly low, and it's a scary leap of faith to even admit I want this. But no matter the outcome, I am so glad I took the initiative.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

WTF, spring?!

Snow Shower

Currently 36 degrees, "feels like" 28.

What ISN'T wrong with this picture?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Stovetop BBQ Chicken

Ross and I may argue who does BBQ better: Texas or Kansas City. But we both agree that Rufus Teague's Blazin' Hot sauce is some of the best store-bought BBQ sauce we've found. This stuff is unbelievably good: sweet, savory, spicy, smooth. (Don't tell Ross it was born and raised right here in KC).

A few weeks ago, I threw some stuff in a pot in an attempt to make BBQ chicken. It was AMAZING. This week, I tried to replicated my haphazard efforts and met with success. This is worth having to deal with raw meat germs in my kitchen.

Stovetop BBQ
serves 4 (or 2, with leftovers to spare)

1 cup warm water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup BBQ sauce (we used Blazin' Hot)
1 lb pork loin or chicken breasts (thawed, not frozen)

Mix the water, sugar, vinegar, and sauce in a saucepan and add meat. Turn stove to high and poke holes in the meat with a fork on both sides. When mixture comes to a boil, flip meat, place lid on pan, and turn heat to low. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes, flipping meat every 5-10 minutes.

When meat is cooked through, shred with a fork and mix in another 1/4 to 1/2 cup BBQ sauce and serve warm.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies Take 3

Version 1 is the original and my first love.
Version 2 was completely my own creation and while delicious, it didn't play nicely on a cookie sheet
Version 3 here is based off of a great vegan and gluten-free recipe from Elana's Pantry, but I un-veganized it with success (and sorry Elena, but I used Bob's Red Mill almond flour and it worked just fine).

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/2 cups almond flour/meal
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbs. coconut oil or butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together almond meal, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl. In a small bowl, mix oil, egg, vanilla, and sugar. Add wet to dry and mix well (I used a hand mixer). Add chocolate chips and mix until evenly distributed. Roll into 1 inch balls and flatten slightly with your fingertips. Bake for 7-10 minutes, cool, and serve. Makes 12-15 cookies.

These aren't as sweet as the other two versions, but they are pretty darn close to Version 1 as far as texture goes: soft and chewy. I gave one to Ross when he got home and only after I asked him if he liked them for the third time did he narrow his eyes and ask, "what secret ingredient did you hide in here?" I told him it was almond flour and he shrugged and went back for seconds. I'd call that success!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Home Sweet Home

We've been in KC almost a year and a half, and I'm FINALLY so happy to say we've found a church home. I went to Church of the Resurrection Downtown last week and fell in love. Ross went with me this week and loved it as well. We avoided visiting this "branch" of Church of the Resurrection-- a megachurch South of us-- for so long for two reasons:

1.) The other downtown chruches we tried were too "cool" for us if that makes sense. We were a little too preppy amongst the tattoos and piercings and we felt like people were there to be seen. I know that's a terrible generalizaztion, but it's important to fit in when it comes to a church home.

2.) It's a Methodist church. Ross is Baptist, I'm Catholic. We found common ground with a non-denominational Christian church in Ft. Worth-- do we really need to add another denomination to this confusion? But when I was there last Sunday, the pastor made an aside comment in his sermon to the extent of: when a Christian's faith is based on the cross and resurrection, do petty denominational differences really matter? I couldn't agree more. (Disclaimer: I know there are some not-so-subtle differences between some denominations, but I don't want to get into an argument about it-- I had enough of those when I was planning a Catholic wedding to my Baptist fiance, thankyouverymuch).  In the end, if a denominational difference is leading us away from God, we're focusing on the wrong things.

C.S. Lewis speaks of the Church "spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners" as opposed to the "half-finished Gothic erection on the new building estate." Inasmuch as a denomination of Christianity focuses on a church as the "body of Christ" and believes in the resurrection, we are all worshiping the same God, right?

This church has quite a few perks which may seem superficial, but really made us feel at home immediately:

-Last Sunday I signed up as a guest and by Wednesday, we had a packet in the mail with a hand-written card from the pastor. The papers explained more about the church and listed ways to get involved in small groups, church life, and outreach. That may seem overambitious to some, but after feeling invisible at a lot of the churches we visited, this was impressive.

-It's in an old church downtown and it looks like a church. Again, I know this sounds superficial, and I know worship is valid and possible in any environment, but some of the churches we visited seemed based around the stage for the band and I like a more traditional altar.

-It's a small church, but it's still part of a larger church. This means we get the perks of a big church (retreats, service opportunities, etc) but also the perks of a small church (close-knit community, recognizing the same people ever week).

-A couple came up to us after service on Sunday, introduced themselves, and asked if we wanted to be a part of their newly married small group! We really hope to join this summer when Ross doesn't have night class on Thursdays.

AND I somehow don't work a single Sunday during Lent so we can attend weekly for a while (sadly, I do work Easter weekend, though). What a wonderful gift in my Lenten journey! THANK YOU to our parents and friends who have been praying that we would find a church here-- better late than never!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring in my Step

Yesterday I practiced living in the moment. And-- dare I say it?-- the day was a success. I actually woke up feeling terrible: stuffy nose, sinus headache, general malaise. I puttered around, made cookies (what? you don't bake when you wake up?), drank a bunch of water, took some Robitussin, Advil, and Benadryl, and went back to bed. 

I ended up reading in bed for a while before trying to go back to sleep. Seriously, this is one of my favorite things in the entire world. One of the blessings about our current situation is that I have the time-- the luxury-- to enjoy a good book on my day off. I know this won't always be the case, so instead of complaining about being bored I've been much better at ENJOYING this time and relishing these little luxuries. Jeez why have I been complaining about boredom for so long?! I just needed a good trip to the library.

Anyway, I don't know that I really slept, but I finally felt well enough to get back out of bed around 1:30pm. Throughout the afternoon, any time my heart started to race and I started to think about grad school, job changes, or any other anxious topic, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I've done all I can and the answers now lie in the realms of time and patience.

Then I took advantage of 62 degrees and partly cloudy. I went for a 4 mile run. My longest run since my half marathon in November! (Has it really been 4 months? Yikes!) My run was nothing fast or fancy, but I finished!

After my run, I got to go on a date with Ross. Again, nothing fancy, but we've both fallen in love with Lulu's-- a little Thai noodle shop near Ross' office. Yet another perk of Ross' job is that his co-workers can get him to try food that I can't. Thai, Chinese, and even Indian are now acceptable date night dinners. I can't even express how excited I am about that!

All in all, it was a good day. In the words of Trace Adkins, "you're gonna miss these days, you're gonna want this back, you're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast. These are some good times, so take a good look around. You may not know it now, but you're gonna miss this."

Friday, March 18, 2011

Healthy Cookies

I swear, I do eat things besides cookies and brownies! But the best meals I make are stright out of cookbooks, so I can't really share those recipes. And sweets are more fun to share anyway.

As you can probably tell, I'm finding that oat flour and almond meal make great substitutes in baked goods when I'm trying to avoid wheat. My latest success comes almost straight from a recipe on 101 Cookbooks-- no substitutions required. The original recipe has no sugar and I fully meant to add some honey, but forgot. Thankfully, the cookie is actually sweet enough thanks to the coconut and coconut oil! (Much sweeter than the buckwheat bakes). Next time, I'll add some walnuts as well.

Vegan Gluten-Free Cinnamon Raisin Cookies

3 large, ripe bananas, well mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup almond meal*
1/3 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup raisins

*again, you can make your own almond meal by pulsing almonds in a food processor until they are the texture of sand-- but don't go too far or you'll end up with almond butter.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl mix the bananas, vanilla, and coconut oil. Set aside.

In another bowl whisk together the oats, almond meal, shredded coconut, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the raisins. The dough will be a bit looser than normal cookie dough, but don't worry about it. Drop rounded Tablespoons of the dough onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 12 - 14 minutes.

Makes about 2 dozen small cookies.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Blessed be Your Name

I had a great talk with a good friend yesterday. It's always nice to know that Ross and I aren't the only ones without a life plan laid out before us. There have been so many little ups and downs lately and we're not sure where this crazy road is headed. I'm also learning I can't ride this high of knowing that God is in control for long without putting the work in: daily time talking and listening to the Creator.

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing Your pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkenss closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's all as it should be
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
Whe the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord blessed be Your name

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It is Well

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Peanut Butter Brownies with Sweet Walnut Frosting

There was a bake sale at work yesterday with goodies from Jay WaLe's Bakery. If you live in Kansas City, you need to try this little gem. The owner is so sweet and the sweets are AMAZING. Yes, I had one. Nope, they're not gluten or dairy free. I relished a piece of lemon raspberry cake and every bite was delicious.

But I was dragging by that afternoon, and craving sweet more than normal for the rest of the day. It was more motivation to actually stick with my gluten-free trial. But I brought a toffee brownie home for Ross and he had one bite and put the rest in the freezer "for later." It's been taunting me all day. I now realize that this gluten and dairy-free trial will fall flat on it's face if I don't have an alternative in place.

So, emboldened by my gluten-free cookie success, I once again scoured the cupboards for inspiration and found a half-used jar of chocolate PB2.

I bought this thinking it'd be a lighter alternative to Peanut Butter & Co's Dark Chocolate Dreams. But nothing can replace true love, so it was banished to the back of the pantry. However, I figured it can't be that different from peanut flour, right? I used it as the base of my recipe and it gave the brownies a very subtle hint of peanut butter. This jar expires next month and rest assured I will use it for another batch of brownies before then-- it will not go to waste!

Peanut Butter Brownies  
(vegan and gluten-free)

1/2 cup chocolate PB2
1/4 cup oat flour (I simply processed some old-fashioned oats in the food processor for this)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (if using almond meal or peanut flour in place of chocolate PB2, increase to 1/3 cup cocoa powder)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir PB2, oat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Mix applesauce, syrup, sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl.

Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring well, and then add the chocolate chips until evenly incorporated.

Spread in a greased 8x8 or 9x9 pan and bake for 20 minutes or until brownies are set and edges are coming away from the pan. Allow to cool before frosting and cutting.

Sweet Walnut Frosting
(a genius recipe from Peas and Thank You)

3/4 cup raw walnuts
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbs. butter (or Earth Balance)
3-4 Tbs. milk (I used So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk)
1 Tbs. cocoa powder

Add all ingredients to food processor and blend until smooth. Add more milk as needed to reach desired consistency.

I was afraid these brownies would have a rubbery texture or else fall into crumbs when you tried to cut them. But they actually had great integrity and tasted and felt almost exactly like the whole-wheat brownies I usually make. Now I have my own stash to put in the freezer!

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Funny Thing

Today, I tried a funny thing. Two things, actually.

First, I smiled at myself every time I looked in the mirror. I didn't want to, but I did. And by the end of the day, I started to like what I saw.

Second, every time I thought something negative, I told myself the exact opposite was true.

This work day is never-ending.
I'm so glad I work 13 hour shifts!

My hair is so frizzy.
My hair is beautiful!

I hate cold weather.
I love this spring snow!

Okay, so it wasn't always true, but sometimes I was surprised at what was true. For example, I DO love 13 hour shifts because it means I only work 3 days a week instead of 5. What a luxury!

Corny? Yes. Effective? Yes. Try is sometime.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Vegan Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I like to think I make an amazing batch of chocolate chip cookies. I almost always make the Toll House recipe but use half the butter (so the cookies are fluffier) and mix extremely well with a beater (so the gluten bonds form to make a nice, chewy cookie). But that idea falls flat without wheat flour and I've avoided buying fancy gluten-free flour mixes at this point because I'm not sure how long I'm going to avoid gluten.

But after lunch both Ross and I wanted something sweet. So I took stock of our pantry staples and improvised. The final product was a gooey, sticky cookie mess but even Ross came back for seconds-- that's a sure sign of a tasty recipe!


3/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tbs. butter (or Earth Balance margarine)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
heaping 1/4 cup brown sugar
heaping 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 chia or flax egg (or just one egg if you don't want to eat copious amounts of dough before baking)
2-4 Tbs. almond or coconut milk (or regular milk)
1/2 cup chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Individually process the oatmeal and the almonds in a food processor or high-speed blender and blend for 1-3 minutes until coarse-- but watch closely so they don't turn into a paste! (Of course, you could use almond meal from the store or a gluten-free flour mix here, but I used what I had on hand).

2. When you have a coarse flour-like consistency, mix the oatmeal and almond meal together in a small bowl. Add baking soda and salt, mix well with a fork, and set aside.

3. In a larger bowl, mix together butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Add the egg or egg replacer and continue to mix until smooth.

4. Add the flour mix to the wet ingredients a little at a time, mixing well. If batter seems dry, add 2-4 Tbs. milk to reach the cookie-dough consistency you know and love.

5. Add chocolate chips and mix until incorporated.

6. Place 2 Tbs. batter into individually greased muffin tins or ramekins and bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool for several minutes and turn pan upside-down on a plate to remove cookies. If you use ramekins, no need to remove the finished product-- just add a scoop of ice cream and serve while still warm!

Makes 12 thick cookies.

Infinite Yes

i thank You God for this most amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

-e.e. cummings

I read this poem a few days ago, and started thinking about "that which is yes" and the "no of all nothing" that stems from doubt. When Ross got his job at Derek Porter this January, the possibility of us staying in Kansas City for the long-term became much more real. This set off a bit of a panic reaction in me. We've been here a year and a half, but I'm still biding my time. Waiting to reach out and make friends, avoiding getting involved. This serves no one, least of all myself.

Living in Kansas City is an answer to an infinite number of questions. It can be a "no" and it can be a "yes." It doesn't have to be either/or, black and white. We can live in shades of gray, and the other colors that stem from that multi-faceted prism when we allow the light to shine through.

With all these thoughts in mind, this passage from 2 Corinthians caught my eye the other night, when normally I would have glazed over it:

I planned to visit you on my way to Macedonia and... then to have you send me on my way to Judea. When I planned this, did I do it lightly? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say, "yes, yes" and "no, no"?

But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not "yes" and "no." For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was not "Yes" and No," but in him it has always been "Yes." For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God... He put his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

2 Corinthians 1:16-22

This week, I'm praying for God to make me more open to His infinite yes.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thoughts in Solitude

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
-Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"

At the start of this week, I had the distinct feeling that I was going to have to slog through it. Do you ever get that feeling? Like you're dragging a heavy load through sand, in a daze. You can't see anything clearly and you know that you just have to keep chugging away slowly if you ever want to get out of it.

I've also had the nagging feeling that I've described before when it seems like I'm on the cusp of... something. I just don't know what. These are the times when God confronts me and asks if he can help me sort through my baggage and lay my burdens down in order to prepare myself for bigger and better things He has in store.

His offer? "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

Time after time, I consider this offer to cross that invisible barrier in my mind and accept His invitation. I think how nice it would be to lay down the cares of this world. But it could also be painful to sort through things. And, well, this is my baggage. It's part of my identity. What do I have if I lay it down? Who will I be?

So instead of trusting the God who knit my innermost being, I cling my burdens to chest and flee. Every. Single. Time. I back down from the challenge because avoiding the freedom also means avoiding the responsibility.

This probably breaks God's heart, just like it hurts me to watch those I love in pain. But if I offer myself the same grace and love I want to offer to others, I have to realize: why would I want to be anywhere else than safe in God's heart? Running away from Him is foolish and immature.

Yes, the unknown is scary. The responsibilities He could hand me might be overwhelming. I might have to deal with new and frightening obstacles instead of the same old head-banging traps I set for myself.

This afternoon, when I couldn't stand my own thoughts in solitude any longer, I headed outside to soak up some sunshine. I have never understood people who say they use their workout time to talk to God, but today moving my body was what I needed to move my heart. I had put some good music on my iPod and told myself I'd just walk and run if I felt like it.

I ended up walking and running, but my mind wasn't on the task at hand. Ever single line of every single song seemed to speak to me and, yes, I was singing and praising God as I ran.

In the past, I have gotten to this point, felt the fear, and ran. I don't want to run away this time.

If you need to sit down (or take a walk) and think over some things in your own life, I highly recommend this playlist:

"Walk by Faith" by Jeremy Camp
"Let the Waters Rise" by Mikeschair
"Something Beautiful" by Needtobreathe
"Voice of Truth" by Casting Crowns
"I Will Rise" by Chris Tomlin
"You Are" by Jason Castro
"Healing Hand of God" by Jeremy Camp
"You Never Let Go" by Matt Redman
"Bring the Rain" by MercyMe

*Be JOYFUL in hope, patient in affliction, 
and faithful in prayer.* Romans 12:12

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Blueberry Banana Buckwheat Bakes

I love oatmeal for breakfast. It's already basically gluten-free (since I don't have celiac disease, I'm not worried about cross-contamination), it's so much cheaper than breakfast cereal, and it's versatile. In the summer it's great in overnight oats, mixed into yogurt with fresh fruit and nuts, or as homemade muesli with dried fruit and milk. In the winter, it's a nice, hearty, warm breakfast that fills you up. But in between seasons, I get a little sick of it.

Lately I've been wanting eggs or pancakes or smoothies instead of my classic oatmeal. And it's always nice to have muffins in the freezer to warm up when you want just one. Enter, this gluten-free buckwheat muffin alternative that's great served with a smoothie or fresh fruit on the side.

Blueberry Banana Buckwheat Bake
makes 6-8 servings

8 Tbs. raw buckwheat flour*
2 Tbs. raw buckwheat groats
1 banana
1 egg
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup blueberries
1/2 tsp baking powder
8 Tbs almond milk
2 Tbs. chia seeds
optional for filling: 1 Tbs. coconut butter per muffin

*To make the flour, simply dump 8 Tbs. of groats into food processor and grind until it resembles coarse flour. The groat is surprisingly soft and we don't need it to be super-processed for this recipe.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

2. Mash banana with a fork until gooey and whisk in milk, vanilla, and egg.

3. Then add buckwheat flour and groats, cinnamon, blueberries, baking powder, and chia seeds.

4. Grease baking vessels. I used a 6-muffin tin as well as 2 additional small ramekins. Fill almost completely with batter-- these don't rise much.  Here, I added 1 Tbs. coconut butter halfway through filling each of the ramekins with batter for a sweet filling.

5. Bake for 25 minutes and allow to cool before removing from ramekins.

The banana and blueberries are really the only sweetener in this recipe, so my first impression was that they were really bland. However, I solved that by dumping the muffin into a small bowl, adding a drizzle of maple syrup, a splash of coconut milk and microwaving for 30 seconds. Sweet, syrupy goodness.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wouldn't it be Lovely?

1 Corinthians 14:33 "For God is not a God of disorder, but of peace."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


God works in mysterious ways. I had a pretty good day at work Monday- the NICU is full enough that they've split into two units again and "my twinkies" (the twins I'm taking care of right now) are in the downstairs unit where the 'big kids' play. There are fewer alarms and it's much quieter, which means lots of cuddle time. Hands down the best part of my job.

I was holding one of the twinkies near the end of the shift Monday, letting some love soak into her skin. She has terrible acid reflux and always winces and gags during feedings, so we were just having a calm moment. It was one of those precious times (I'm sure it's all the more relevant when you're the mom and it's your child) that you realize: all we need is love.

Of course, on the heels of such a basic realization rushed all my insecurities and current stressors. Namely, grad school. I have a nagging feeling that I want more out of my job (despite those perfect but sometimes rare moments when I can sit in peace and hold a baby) and I'm wondering if grad school is the way to go. I can and probably will write a whole separate post on that dilemma, for the few people who care about my ramblings.

But for now, I'm trying to make some big decisions: Do I get Master's of Science in Nursing so I can maintain my staff nurse job but also teach clinicals to nursing students? Do I take on the challenge of Advanced Practice and become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner or Nurse Midwife? Or do I stay right where I am, make the most of it, and effectively stay where I am for a long, long time? (The mild sense of urgency I have about all this is preceded by an announcement that by 2015, Master's programs in nursing will be replaced by a 5-year Doctor of Nursing Practice Ph. D, which I can tell you right now I'm not interested in.)

So amidst filling out applications, talking to older and wise colleagues at work, and ordering transcripts, I posted this on Facebook when I got home Monday night:

Precious are the moments at work when I can hold a baby and just let the love soak in. 

Too bad they can't help me decide what I'm meant to do with the rest of my life.

Of course, Facebook friends always have more to say than my patients do, so I woke up to a few gems, including:

-Do what fills your heart with joy! Life is too short for anything else.

-Pray, pray, pray, and God will tell you in time.

A sweet patient's mother practically made me tear up by saying, "I think you are on the right track! Words can't express how much you helped and how much you mean to my family. The way you loved and took care of my daughter... it takes a special kind of person who can do what you girls do. We love you Therese ♥"

One of my favorite nursing instructors from TCU said, "Do what makes you happy to get out of bed in the morning and say 'I get to go to work today, not I have to go to work today.'"

Finally, one of my high school friends said,  "I don't think it's a coincidence that you're experiencing these feelings on the eve of Lent. Use this special time to pray, reflect on all of awesome gifts that God has given you, and decide how you can combine your gifts and a vocation into a life that will fill you and those you serve with joy. That's what this life is all about-- not just a hedonistic search to find what gives you pleasure, but to find out how you can best serve those you love with the special gifts you have been given as a Child of God. God won't let you down. He'll overwhelm you with His generosity. Sending lots of love and prayers your way, Therese."

WOW. How humbling to read this comment just after finishing a completely hedonistic post on how I want to control my life and my body and how I feel. Of course, we have the free-will and responsibility to take care of ourselves and others, but Catherine's comment goes beyond that. It reminds me of something I heard on K-LOVE radio a few weeks ago. They were talking about how parents tell their kids, "you can be anything!" But that's not really an appropriate message. Instead, parents should be saying, "there is a job out there that only you can do and you were born to do" and it sounds like Catherine is saying the same thing to me.

It's so hard to put money and future plans aside and ask, "where do my talents and the needs of the world intersect?" It's even harder for me to put aside any preconceived notions of my own timeline and sit in God's presence and wait for an answer. And to have confidence in that answer when I feel like I might know better (ha!).

So, for Lent I'm not giving up chocolate or TV or Facebook, although all of those challenges have their place. Instead I'm going to try my darndest to give up the illusion of control in my life. I'm going to complete my applications by April 1, let admissions people do their thing, and talk to God with reckless abandon. He can soak up all my pain and give me love instead, just like I try to do for my babies at work. How great the Father's love for us!


I feel like a weight has been lifted. I wish it was from my chest, but it's off my shoulders at least.  After 4 days of steroids, I'm still hacking away at the slightest provocation of breathlessness and I'm desperate. I do love steroids sometimes, but I'd prefer to only need them once every few years. This is the third round in the last 9 months. Something's gotta give before my bones do (nothing like getting diagnosed with osteopenia at the age of 22 to make you feel old).

1. The first to go is farm work. I probably shouldn't have blogged about Urbavore immediately after getting home when I was tired, cranky, cold, and oh-so-sore. After a hot shower and a round with the neti-pot, I was left with yes, aching muscles and wheezing, but also the immense satisfaction of a job well done. Few things can be more fundamental and important as growing your own food and knowing exactly how it got to your plate. I feel very passionately about that. But 15 hours a week on top of my full-time job is a bit ambitious even without asthma in the mix.

There is 100% chance of soaking, revitalizing, but yes cold rain today and the high temps are only supposed to hit the low 40s. I do feel a little bit  really guilty and wimpy because the farmers (one of whom is 6 months pregnant) and interns are out in the field working in this weather. I came home from work last night in a panic because a cold and wet Therese is not an animal you want to encounter in the wild, but also because cold = bronchospasms and a day out in this weather would further lower my immunity. I had to tell Brooke. Fortunately, she was very understanding.

image from google search
We're still trying to figure out if my stipulations (avoid straw, hay, debris, mold, and dust) are conducive to actually being helpful on the farm once a week. If so, I'd LOVE to stay involved, even if it means picking pole beans for hours on end beneath the summer sun (mmm... sun). But for now, I'm at home recovering. And no matter what, I will be FULLY supporting the Badseed Farmer's Market and Urbavore Farm Stand all summer- if you're in town, I'd love to take you and introduce you to the people who have poured their lives into such an incredible and worthy endeavor.

2. The second thing to go, temporarily, is gluten. Homeopathic remedies seem to be hit-or-miss, but I'm desperate and there are a good number of people who swear that a gluten-free diet reduces inflammation. As much as I love baking and eating the fruits of the breadbasket of America, I need to give gluten-free another shot. My month of clean eating in February ended after two weeks because, let's be honest, it was a lot of work and it was also inconvenient/embarrassing in social situations. (I know, there are more important things, but really. We live in a society built around convenience.)

While my stomach never really felt better, my asthma did drastically improve during those two weeks. I'm not sure if it was the lack of gluten or lack of dairy (both of which have been blamed as inflammatory culprits), so I'm going to rule one out at a time. Gluten is the first to go simply because I just stocked up on Greek yogurt (protein and calcium intake are important to maintain while on Prednisone).

This doesn't mean buying fancy gluten-free cupcakes and processed food right now. The point is to veer more toward whole food: brown rice, quinoa, and millet are all easy to make in advance and eat throughout the week. (Easy for me to say now, but in a few hours I'll be eyeing those Almond Joy Cookie Bars in the freezer and wondering if I could make a gluten-free version with oat flour instead of wheat flour!)

3. My running game was finally improving again last week. I was up to being comfortable with 3.5 miles of a run 9 minute/walk 1 minute pattern. Of course now the thought of running just makes me want to cough and wheeze. I was too sore from farm work last Tuesday and Wednesday and obviously haven't been breathing well enough to run since then. I'm going to continue to take time off until this weekend and re-evaluate. Typical of my over-compensation, I am signed up to run a 5.3 mile leg of the Brew to Brew run with co-workers on April 3. Yikes!
Photo from
4. Of course, just taking things away is never a healthy attitude, so I'm making it a focus to ADD more of the important things to my life:

-Getting involved in a new church that's actually conducive to new member involvement (any recommendations in the Kansas City area?)

-Counseling (embarrassing to admit, but long overdue with my history of depression and anxiety).

-The Word of God. No self-help book could ever replace His love story.

-Quality time with Ross. When BOTH of us pulled long days every day for the last week, things got grouchy fast. We are so fortunate to be able to have some leisure time in our lives and we would prefer to spend some of it together instead of alone in the apartment at different times on different days.

-Foods that please my body and not just my tastebuds- though I always aim to please both!

-Dry brushing. I mentioned it last time, and I've kept up with it sporadically, but it's strangely soothing. I can see how it centers autistic kids when they get anxious. Try it!

In the spirit of starting off on the right foot, I had some liquid sunshine with my breakfast to brighten up this dreary day. A carrot, beet, orange, and coconut smoothie.

*Disclaimer: I am a Registered Nurse, not a Registered Dietician. At work we deal with calorie and protein ratios in milk, not big-kid food. What works in my life and eating style may not work for you. But please, give me feedback on my recipes and feel free to share your own!

Liquid Sunshine serves 1 hungry girl
(you will need a food-processor or high-powered blender with these ingredients)

2-3 small steamed, peeled beets (I used pre-steamed organic beets from Hy-Vee-- don't confuse these with canned or pickled beets!)
1 orange
1 organic carrot, chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 cup coconut milk (using unsweetened SO Delicious has been cheaper than buying cans of coconut milk and it has a very mild, creamy taste that's not overwhelming)
1/4 cup unsweetened Greek yogurt (or just add another 1/4 cup of another liquid-- OJ, milk, coconut water, etc.)
3-4 ice cubes

Add ingredients to food processor or blender and blend until smooth. This may take several minutes depending on how powerful the motor is.

Pour into a tall glass and garnish with shredded coconut or chopped almonds if desired, and smile: Today will be beautiful!

(Please don't think me a hypocrite. I know that after getting on my soapbox about local food, I made a smoothie from non-local ingredients. While I'd love to get to the point where 90% of what we eat is grown within 50-100 miles, it's not practical right now mostly due to extremely limited pantry and freezer space and the fact that the local climate doesn't grow fresh fruits and vegetables year-round. Probably my biggest disappointment over not being an Urbavore intern is that I will miss out on the FREE education about preserving local food so it can sustain you even through the winter. These farmers don't just talk the talk!)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Almond Joy Cookie Bars

Now that Ross has a regular work schedule, I've been trying to keep healthy bars and muffins in the freezer for him to eat for breakfast. I found this great recipe on a blog last year, and I have made multiple batches. It's a definite winner and I can't believe it took me this long to share!

Almond Joy Cookie Bars
recipe adapted from Peas and Thank You

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 Tbs. coconut butter or coconut oil (optional)
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbs. almond milk (may substitute coconut or regular milk as well)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, coconut, oats, almonds and chocolate chips. 

In a small bowl, mix the sugar, almond butter, applesauce, oil, vanilla, and milk.

Add wet to dry and stir until combined. If it seems to dry, add a splash more milk.

Eat as much batter as you want, because it's vegan and there are no raw eggs!

Spray an 8x8 or 9x9 pan with non-stick cooking spray and press dough into bottom of pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until set and light brown around the edges. Allow to cool (if you can wait!) before cutting into bars. Makes 12-16 squares.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ross' Truffle Shuffle 5k

I had high hopes for the race. Ross and I were going to run it together and beat last year's times of 32 minutes. But that was before I made the very bad decision to spread hay on a field for 15 hours of my week. Friday found me in the midst of an asthma attack at work. Fortunately, my doctor's office was right down the hall and I got a prescription of Prednisone and a stern reprimand to NOT run a 5k the next day. To be honest, I still wanted to but couldn't even lay down on my back without coughing. I may be stubborn, but I'm not stupid.

To make matters worse, Ross didn't get home from work until 11pm. I told him I wasn't able to run and asked if he wanted to. He said, "we'll see." So we went to bed without an alarm but woke up by 7:30 (the race was at 8:30). I asked if he wanted to run and he said, "I guess." We hurried through breakfast and headed out to JCCC.

Ross registered, I parked, he had about 5 minutes to "warm up," and they were off.

Did I mention is was 26 degrees and "felt like" 16?!

The poor girl in the tutu was cute, but she looked colder than I was!

The race looped away from campus, but I didn't remember that about last year, so I cut through campus after the start hoping to find Ross around mile 1.5 or 2. No such luck, of course. Fortunately, I busted it back to the start/finish line and headed out on the course in time to meet Ross a little before mile 3. Still going strong!

So proud of him! After I saw him on this hill, I cut across the grass and barely met him at the finish line.

Done! In 28 minutes and 30 seconds... 4 minutes faster than last year! I'm so proud of him, especially considering the late breakfast (and thus throwing up mid-run) and the lack of warm-up in freezing weather. What a way to start the weekend.

I love you, Ross!

P.S. Apparently he wore my shoe tag, so his official results are under my name (we both registered, so we picked up both bags because hey, we paid for them). "I" got 9th place in my age group. (The first place girl ran a SUB-20 5k. Crazy.) Thanks, Ross!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Catch Up

I haven't had a day off in an entire week. Yikes! Longer post coming tomorrow, but here's what the last few days have involved:

-Asthma attack and steriods. Gross.

-Wondering how to make and keep real friends here?!

-Lots of prayer and thought (and, yes, stress) about what I want to do with my life this summer and beyond.

-Stressing over the hospital-wide insurance audit on dependents. Seriously?!

-Finding a new church to attend for the first time tomorrow. We'd been going to one, but had trouble getting involved- they had to turn down 100 people who wanted to be in small groups. Time to find a more organized and mature church!

-Loving some of the sweet babies and parents in the NICU right now, even though we're back to the chaos of 2 units.

-Encouraging a fellow hearing-impaired student through her last year of nursing school.

-Cheering for Ross as he ran a 5k in sub-20 degree temps this morning before I headed to work at 11am.

-Signing up for the Brew to Brew relay and the Warrior Dash this summer. Possibly influenced by the fact that I'm overcompensating since the doctor forbade me to run the 5k I registered for today. (Although, even in my stubbornness, I'm smart enough to know this is the worst my asthma has been in my entire life and I will do anything and everything to make it go away. Speaking of which, any ideas?! Steroids eat away at my bones and the lining of my stomach, make me have weird dreams, and give me heart palpitations. I would like to avoid them in the future.)

-Starting a budget this month so we can begin the long process of saving for a house.

-Planning 3 meals/week that both Ross and I will eat- hoping this leads to more responsible grocery shopping which is more budget-friendly.

WOW just typing it all out makes me feel overwhelmed again. Time to crawl into bed and dive into God's Word. I'm thinking my great Bible time last night led to the best hour of sleep I've had in a LONG time- until Ross came home at 11pm and woke me up. Here's hoping for a longer stretch tonight. Neither of us has to wake up to an alarm tomorrow- BLISS!

Thanks for letting me vent :o)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Real Price of Food

Day 2 at the farm, and I'm much worse for the wear. There isn't a muscle in my body that doesn't hurt. My foot muscles are sore from constantly jumping onto a pitchfork andy hands and forearms are stiff from using said pitchfork to wedge out clumps of grass around the borders of the onion beds for what felt like forever three hours.

This was after the 4 hours spent spreading more straw on the top plot. We ran out of straw, but we're still not done covering the field. Then, just when I thought I was done with the hay and in the clear, we had to turn (moldy, wet) hay out from some of the beds so they can plant sugar snap peas and fava beans tomorrow.

I'm a wimp, you can say it. But I now know that local, organic food suddenly seems like a bargain now that I have a tiny inkling of the work that goes into it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hay Fever

My first day (6 hours) at Urbavore is over, and I'm kind of dreading going back tomorrow for 9 more hours! I don't know what I was expecting out of today, but it was gorgeous and sunny and I worked hard, and I can't decide if I love it or hate it.

Allow me to explain. I've been struggling with my asthma since October. February finally saw some improvement, but it's safe to say that's over. (I guess February does have one redeeming quality after all!) I'm allergic to dust mites and mold, but I've worked on farms before and never had a problem with pollen or "hay fever." Until today. Urbavore is the second commercial-scale no-till farm in the nation, and definitely the biggest. It's a huge honor to be part of their inaugural year, and also a huge undertaking.

Apparently no-till farming is modeled off of a forest floor. Think of that moist, organic, "woodsy" smell that accompanied your last hike. That's from the constant cycle of natural decomposition that happens when no one is looking. Leaves fall, rain falls, animals poop, the matter decomposes, and earthworms frolic throughout. The forest floor is full of the richest dirt you'll find when you're not even looking.

Since farmers want to produce vegetables and not just vegetation, they move this pattern out into the fields for additional sunlight. Of course, this means the trees don't naturally drop leaves on the fields. Instead, farmers (and interns) have to cover the plot in straw to start this process. Enter, asthma. Straw bales are filled with A LOT of dust and mold. I've been blowing black stuff out of my nose all day, my throat is tight, and my eyelids are swollen. I really hope this doesn't last all summer. I can't handle that.

With 2 experienced farmers and 5 interns working, we didn't finish covering the third vegetable plot today. I don't know how Brooke did the first 1 1/2 plots by herself. (She's pregnant and she's still a better worker than the rest of us!)

I like to say I'm not afraid of hard work, but I don't know if that's true now. The thought of 8 months of days like today makes me want to crawl under the covers and hide. I do know I'm afraid of making my asthma worse and chronic inflammation causing lasting problems.

I also know it's an honor to be part of something so big, something that can and will make an impact on local farming techniques. I'll also learn a lot of "homesteading" techniques I can put to use when I have my own garden one day. No-till is tedious on 13 acres, but it has worked well for decades in home gardens. So here's hoping the work improves, or at least my breathing does.