Monday, December 31, 2012


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. {Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities}

This was the year in which I learned eve.ry.thing the hard way.

Good riddance to idols and selfishness and all this pain.

What a year for a new year! And maybe... maybe... this year will be better than the last.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Prince of Peace

What better day than Christmas to practice childlike faith? To find awe in the everyday? To acknowledge God's great love in the simplest ways?

In The Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones summarizes Isaiah 9, 11, 40, 50, 53, 55, and 60 to compose a message of hope from God to us through the prophet Isaiah (emphasis mine):

Dear Little Flock,

You're all wandering away from me, like sheep in an open field. You have always been running away from me. And now you're lost. You can't find your way back.

But I can't stop loving you. I will come to find you. So I am sending you a Shepherd to look after you and love you. To carry you home to me.

You've been stumbling around, like people in a dark room. But into the darkness, a bright Light will shine! It will chase away all the shadows, like sunshine.

A little baby will be born. A Royal Son. His mom will be a young girl who doesn't have a husband. The baby's name will be Emmanuel, which means "God has come to live with us." He is one of King David's children's children's children.

The Prince of Peace.

Yes, Someone is going to come and rescue you! But he won't be who anyone expects.

He will be a king! But he won't live in a palace. And he won't have lots of money. He will be poor. And he will be a Servant. But this King will heal the whole world.

He will be a hero! He will fight for his people, and rescue them from their enemies. But he won't have big armies, and he won't fight with swords.

He will make the blind see, he will make the lame leap like a deer!

He will make everything the way it was always meant to be.

But people will hate him, and they won't listen to him. He will be like a Lamb-- he will suffer and die.

It's the Secret Rescue Plan we made-- from before the beginning of the world!

It's the only way to get you back.

But he won't stay dead-- I will make him alive again!

And, one day, when he comes back to rule forever, the mountains and trees will dance and sing for joy! The earth will shout out loud! His fame will fill the whole earth-- as the waters cover the sea! Everything sad will come untrue. Even death is going to die! And he will wipe away every tear from every eye.

Yes, the Rescuer will come. Look for him. Watch for him. Wait for him. He will come! 

I promise.

Love, God

Unto us lowly, unworthy sinners, a son is given today. He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He is everything I need, and more. He came that we might live.

Merry Christmas, friends!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Joy, Peace, and Love

This Advent has been pressing on my heart like never before. I mentioned in my last post that I finally realized Advent is more than a countdown to Jesus' birthday. In fact, it's not really about Jesus' birthday in the traditional sense at all. It's a celebration in anticipation of the second coming, because this world is a mess and in need of a Savior. I am a mess and I need a Savior. I have nothing to bring to the table. My heart is so dark. What better time of the year to remember that Jesus is the light that shines in dark places!

As my favorite carol this year says, "pray for peace, people everywhere."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Traditions

I think this is the first year I've realized that Christmas is more than the remembrance of Jesus' birthday, and that Advent is more than a countdown to Santa Claus. (Obviously, it's been a few years since I waited for Santa and spread reindeer food around our backyard with my brothers.)

Growing up, Advent was very present in our house and around our table. We had an Advent wreath, and my brothers and I took turns lighting a new candle each successive week and saying the prayer before dinner. I still remember it:

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation. In the darkness and in the light. Blessed are you in this food and in our sharing. Blessed are you as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Come Lord Jesus. Come quickly.

But as things often are when you're a child, I don't remember experiencing any deeper meaning behind this prayer. It was a family tradition and we always fought over who got to light the candles and who got to blow them out. What I do remember about Christmas is the magical feeling of anticipation. The warmth of family and food and laughter around the table. The stillness of walking home in the snow after evening Mass and entering a warm house that enveloped you like a hug. Sitting in the living room looking at the twinkling lights on the Christmas tree while Bing Crosby sang Silent Night.

My parents were careful to focus on the real meaning of the season in addition to the usual excitement of gifts. Us kids added handfuls of straw to Jesus' manger for each selfless deed performed during Advent. I don't remember being told to be good because Santa's watching, but I do remember setting out cookies for him the night before and delighting in the crumbs that he left the next morning, along with a note in curly-cued handwriting congratulating each of us for our achievements in the past year. We also got three individual presents, because  Jesus got three presents from the wise men.

Growing up, my parents certainly fostered generosity. Not in an over-the-top way, but definitely in a way I've come to see was an incredible blessing, not to be taken for granted. The older I get, the more I simultaneously appreciate it and grow uncomfortable with it. My mom and dad have been incredibly supportive of my brothers and me, and it's humbling.

The last few years, I've been the hardest person to shop for because if I want something, it's usually something really specific which takes away any element of surprise on Christmas morning. Also, for the third time in five years, I'm scheduled to work Christmas Eve and Christmas and this year. But I'm actually somewhat looking forward to it for once... oh man I am so ready to squeeze some baby cheeks and fall into the familiar role of NICU nurse. (I had no idea how much this new job would stress me out. But if you know me at all, though, you're probably not surprised.)

All this rambling to say, I'm so blessed to have fond memories of Advent and I'm excited that Ross and I are starting memories and traditions of our own, as well!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

To Give His Only Son

To lose a child seems unbearable. I've seen the anguish on parent's faces in the NICU when the doctors tell them nothing more can be done. I've held little ones with hours left to live. I've given last baths and taken pictures and made baby handprints in times of joy and in times of sorrow.

The first day of this year was the first day I said goodbye to a baby I'd been taking care of. And I'm so very aware that my distress was only a shadow of the pain her parents felt. Her parents held her for hours, saying quiet goodbyes. When that sweet dad started crying, it was the first time I teared up at work enough to have to step away from the bedside. When her parents left, I had nested her in the bed with a cute outfit on and for a moment, she looked so normal that I had to listen with a stethescope again to make sure there was no heartbeat and no breath in her lungs. She was eerily silent.

Since I'm not a parent myself, I can't even imagine the loss of a part of yourself. This latest shooting has reminded me how fleeting life it. It's reminded me that the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.

I can't pretend that there's a rhyme or reason to tragedy in light of the recent Sandy Hook losses. Sin is sin is sin. We live in a fallen world and free will doesn't always equate to good will toward fellow men. Every good gift comes from God. Often, children in their innocence and curiosity are the best gifts one will ever receive. I say this not even having any children to hold: but how do you hold them loosely? How do you remember that, sure, you 'made' them, but God orchestrated every second of their lives before they entered your life? Then how do you deal with someone taking that life in an unjust, unexpected way?

I wish I had answers because I'm sure it's true what they say: when you have a child, you will forever have a part of your heart wandering around outside your body. When they die, a part of you dies. I cannot imagine the anguish and I'm so sorry for those who know this pain inside and out.

Please know that I'm not trying to diminish such a loss or try to make light of it and expect mourning parents to find sense in a senseless tragedy. But it does bring Christmas close to home. God willingly sent his son into a lost and broken world, knowing that His child would suffer and His child would die. Knowing his mother would have to watch Jesus' final breath. God did this because it was the only way to save us.
In the Christian story God descends to re-ascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity... down to the very roots and sea-bed of the nature he has created. But he goes down to come up again and bring the ruined world up with him. One has the picture of a strong man stooping lower and lower to get himself under some great, complicated burden. He must stoop in order to lift, he must almost disappear under the load before he incredibly straightens his back and marches off with the whole mass swaying on his shoulders.  -C.S. Lewis
Jesus came once, and he will come again because the God who has promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23). How deep the Father's love for us, who gave His son that we might live. Jesus will come back one day to wipe away our tears. As my friend Melody says, he will make all of this sadness untrue. We are not without hope!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Day I Never Thought Would Come

Last year around this time, the Chair of my graduate program sent out an e-mail to the MSN students declaring that they were initiating a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) position and any grad student could apply. The job would entail 20 hours a week as a lab assistant and clinical instructor for the Accelerated BSN (ABSN) students. The perks were free tuition and a small stipend.

I was two classes into my Master's program, and I thought free tuition sounded awfully nice. So I applied on a whim, thinking I was far too unqualified to even be considered. But lo and behold, they called me for an interview. I left that interview feeling like an inexperienced nurse, incapable of being in an authority position over the extremely driven ABSN students. I was so shocked when I got an offer letter two days later that I accepted without thinking. I felt so lucky that I was getting free tuition for a whole year!

Oh, self. Didn't you know? Nothing in life is free.

But this launched my PLAN. A plan that quickly grew from a rough curriculum outline to a lifemap that I could not stray from, lest I non get what I want out of this life.

It didn't take long for the anxiety to set in. I could stand apart from myself in moments of clarity and laugh at the irony that I may not have watched all of those Mosby nursing skills DVDs when I was an undergrad, but I sure as heck had to sit through them now if I wanted to have a clue what I was talking about in skills lab!

But overall, to say that I felt an impending sense of doom by late February would not be an exaggeration. I knew there was no way I could survive the year with my sanity intact: the bouts of panic, the tears, the 60-hour workweeks + homework...

I was already unraveling when I received unwelcome and unexpected news in March. In one instant, I crumbled beneath the weight of all the things. One small mercy of that situation was that I had to got to let go of the plan. I was struggling to function from day to day and it only took one brief, embarrassing meeting with my advisors for all of us to see that a summer spent teaching intense ABSN clinicals in an unfamiliar unit was out of the question.

So I took 8 weeks off of school and teaching. I went to work and came home and read my Bible and journaled and went to counseling and got into a workout routine and God poured peace on me like I'd never known.

Literally the day I finally laid aside my delusions of playing catch-up on my meticulous plan and decided that I was okay with not finishing grad school any time soon, I got a phone call from my advisor, asking me to come back to my GTA position this fall. I was terrified, but I said yes because I had signed a contract in January and I wanted to fulfill it. Of course, to be a GTA, you also have to be a grad student. So I started classes again.

That means this fall brought busy and crazy and doubtful and heaping doses of humble and inadequate right back into my life. Thankfully, even though there have been a lot of tears and not a lot of sleep, I never quite reached the epic levels of panic I was dealing with last March. When I think back to my heavy heart last spring, my today heart hurts for that lonely girl looking for hope in all the wrong places.

This morning, I helped another teacher with one last lab checkoff. Then I walked out the doors of the nursing building into the welcome sunshine and just like that... a whole year flew by. Done.

If those walls could talk...

It wasn't pretty. It wasn't easy. I won't pretend I did this on my own strength. I also won't pretend that I was wholly surrendered to God every moment of every day. It's been more like a long game of tug-of-war! Yet somehow, with everything that I've messed up and all the selfish decisions I've made, I can't deny that God has been kind to me. In pain and in peace. He's instilling confidence in me slowly, carefully, and deliberately. He's teaching me to place hope in the right places and not in myself or my situation or in the opinions of others. 

He really drove this point home yesterday at our clinical wrap-up meeting. I finished up some paperwork with my students, all the teachers and the other GTA and I had a little dedication ceremony for the students, and then the students headed to the computer lab to fill out a program survey. I asked my advisor what I should do, and she said, "we're done, see ya!"

Um. What? No, Thanks so much for your selfless service. We couldn't have survived without you? No, Oh, remember that time you bawled your eyes out in my office? How's that situation working out for you? I was a little offended.

In one blinding moment of clarity, I saw my pride. As if that program was about me. As if. And even though I've said the words and seen it in my actions, I finally felt it: I really do think the world revolves around me. God knew he had to break me to show me. And what better time of the year to celebrate my need for a savior? It took me a year to see it.

P.S. The last two weeks have been fueled by sugar and coffee and I feel like I've aged 6 years in the last 6 months. But. As of today, I'm also halfway done with my MSN! 18 credit hours down, 18 to go. Now I would love to celebrate by sleeping for 18 hours!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Wolf

There's an old Cherokee legend about a chief teaching his grandson about life. He says,

A fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. 

One is evil-- he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.

The other is good-- he is joy, peace, love, hope,
serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. 

This same fight is going on inside you-- and inside every other person, too."
(in Banff in 2008)

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old chief simply replied, "The one you feed."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What Could Have Been

"For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, 
'It might have been.'" 
-John Greenleaf Whittier

Do you ever get in a funk and start bemoaning all the selfish decisions you've ever made? Regretting the bridges burned and relationships lost? Wonder 'what if...' ?

I often oscillate between blaming other people for all my problems and blaming myself for everything that's ever gone wrong. Sometimes I'm simply too focused on myself and I assume the world revolves around me, when obviously it does not. But other times, yes, it was me that hurt another. Sometimes badly. And this haunts me.

The Chronicles of Narnia have been a bit of the Gospel to me lately. In Prince Caspian, Lucy makes a fainthearted mistake and when she meets Aslan, she stutters about whether or not she is to blame. Aslan says nothing.
"You mean," said Lucy rather faintly, "that it would have turned out alrightsomehow? But how? Please, Aslan! Am I not to know?"

"To know what would have happened, child?" said Aslan. "No. Nobody is ever told that."

"Oh dear," said Lucy.

"But anyone can find out what will happen."
When my mind is drowning in regrets, I have the opportunity to preach the Gospel... to myself. Because truthfully, for every situation in which I royally screwed up, there's another one that could have been broken beyond repair, but was redeemed instead. When given the opportunity to take control, I will fail every time. But God...



“You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to . . . save many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20)

“Their beauty shall be consumed in the grave . . . . But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave.” (Psalm 49:14-15)

“My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)

“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:7-8)

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard . . . the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

But God knows the larger picture of my life. Regardless of what mistakes I've made, I can honor Him by moving forward in the future without repeating the past. And by offering a few deserved apologies along the way.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Life on a day off

Nurses are lucky. Really. Regardless of how your 12 or 13 hour shift goes, you typically only work 3 of those shifts a week and you have the other 4 days to recover. Now, it's often not so neat and tidy. The weeks blend together, you work overtime, you may have kids and a husband at home, or another job, or you do something silly like start grad school and that eats up your free time...

But by and large, four days a week, I don't have to hear my alarm go off at 5am. The tradeoff for sometimes not working weekdays is that I do have to work weekends and holidays and evenings. But it's still a fairly decent trade. As these weekdays off draw all-too-rapidly to an end, I find myself cherishing every last minute. The fact of the matter is, I haven't worked just 3 days a week since July!

I was scheduled to work 6 days in a row this week between all the jobs I've picked up, but praise the Lord I got voluntarily cancelled from the NICU today! So this last, precious weekday off is like a ridiculously elusive snow day. It's shining and golden and I just want to eat it up.

So I thought I'd record it, lest any of it go to waste.

Around 0500, in the midst of a dream that work never called and I had to go in, I got the phone call saying I could take the day off in 4 hour blocks. I had a fleeting thought of regret that it was one less day to work with the babies before I'm done with that, too, but my eyelids sank closed again quickly and I slept on an off until 0815.

I leisurely rolled out of bed, started breakfast, got dressed, and then ate breakfast (a warm bowl of creamy raspberry buckwheat).

By 0905 I made a cup of green tea and started my quiet time, determined to make the most of not having to rush it. Also, I eat the last cookie out of the freezer. Because apparently I've decided breakfast deserves dessert too?

Oh, but then I remember I need to take my medicine and when I do, I find that my pill divider is empty, so I fill that. (You know, if you give a mouse a cookie...) I currently take accutane, Allegra, and a multivitamin in the morning. In the evening, I take another accutane, a calcium + vitamin D supplement, a vitamin B complex supplement, and a probiotic. I also take my Advair inhaler twice a day.

Now it's 0930. Back to the space heater and my quiet time on the couch. I do get distracted a few times. For example, while catching up on my SheReadsTruth Bible study, I want to bookmark this page. I also remember to download a few sermons while I'm reading and writing.

At 1030, I'm getting more fidgety even though I'm not nearly as caught up on journaling and reading as I would like to be. It's now above freezing outside instead of the sunny but frigid 19 degrees I saw when I woke up, so I decided this was a good a time as any to run errands and get grocery shopping out of the way in case I did get called in later. I'm not sure what we would've done if I had to work today. Probably go to the store hungry, tired, and cranky tonight. That's the only bad thing about leaving town for the holidays-- unpacking and settling in at home on Sunday evening, only to realize your fridge is bare.

I ended up checking e-mail, reading some blogs, doing some online shopping, and meal planning, and then left the house at 1115.

My heart was happy as I headed down the stairs and saw all the empty parking spots at our apartment complex. I would never pretend I know what it's like to have agoraphobia or anthrophobia, but I do know that I'm so so so much less anxious running errands with the leisurely weekday shoppers than I am running errands with the masses on Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon. I'm going to miss this.

It's been quite a while since I had time or money for dual-store grocery shopping, but since the weather was cool (stuff can stay in the car longer) and I had time for once, I went to Hy-Vee and Whole Foods. At Whole Foods, I put about a dozen novelty items in my cart, as one does in Whole Foods, only to take them back out because they weren't on the list. To reward myself for this discipline, I bought vegetables from the salad bar to add to my lunch. Logical, right?!

When I got home around 1330, I carried all the bags up three flights of stairs in one trip, put the groceries away, and ate my salad bar treats. Then I checked my e-mail and remembered how much homework I needed to get done today. I warmed up some mint chocolate coconut milk ("so delicious" is right!), and answered some classmate e-mails. I finally started working on our ridiculous discussion board "classroom activity" around 1400 and finished at 1450.

I ate a homemade Runza (thanks Mom) and got started on pre-making dinner while I listened to a sermon I downloaded this morning (one of my favorite things to do this summer, that has definitely taken a back-burner this fall!) I miss leisurely cooking and cleaning while listening to sermons.

I was done making a mess in the kitchen around 1600 but then ended up wasting time until 1700. Oops! I kept meaning to get to work on my paper, but I ended up putzing around, fixing my eyebrows, reading blogs, and sending some e-mails. I finally got my rear in gear again and tidied up before Ross came home.

When he walked in the door at 1745 we headed out for a short run (despite it being cold and dark already). We got back and ate dinner around 1830. I kind of lost track of time after this, but I know that from 2000-2100 I was glued to the TV. Tuesday is the only night I really turn the TV on, but I've come to love New Girl and The Mindy Project.
I never did finish my homework, but there's always tomorrow! My day seemed to go all too quickly. Au reviour, weekdays off. I'll miss you more than you know.

{Before grad school, my days definitely looked different. In Texas I was better about getting out, meeting up with friends, going to the library, reading all day long (ahhh I miss that), working out in the morning, going to the farmer's market, and/or making a nice dinner for Ross to come home to. When we moved to Kansas City, I wasted a lot of time on the internet when I was on the night shift schedule. When I moved to days, that habit stuck. Blog reading, facebook, and baking unnecessary batches of sweets filled my days. No bueno. Grad school and now a clinic job are an attempt to get rid of those bad habits. But they come with a lot of their own pros and cons as well.}

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I want to write a thanksgiving post. Really, I do.

This year has been hard, but sweet through the bitterness. I am so blessed. God has been gracious to me and he has anticipated my needs better than I could ever have dreamed. Yet... I'm tired. I'm not ungrateful, no. I know in my mind that I have much to celebrate. But for the last week or two my heart has been heavy, and I have no doubt it's due to my disconnect with God. (On my end, certainly, and not His.)

I'm still processing some 'blessings' that have been disguised as boatloads of pain. I'm still struggling under the weight of security blankets I'm afraid to let go of.

Freedom is a stark contrast to heavy chains. If I've learned anything this year, it's that there's a perfectly inverse relationship between my anxiety and depression and my reliance on God. Yet I cling to my control and my idols and my comforts!


You know what I'm so grateful for?

A God who doesn't give up when I'm ready to.

A God who pursues me.

       Even when I hurt Him.

       Even when I RUN FROM HIM and toward other things I foolishly think will make me happier.

       Even when I judge others who hurt me and run from me and betray me, and then take it for
       granted that God is above hypocrisy.

I'm grateful for a love that never fails, never gives up, and never runs out on me.

One Thing by Jesus Culture

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant in the trial and the change

One thing remains

Your love never fails
It never gives up
It never runs out on me

Because on and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I'll never, ever, have to be afraid

One thing remains

In death
In life
I'm confident and covered by the Power
of Your Great Love

My dept is paid
There's nothing that can separate
My heart from Your great love

Huh. Whaddya know? I am feeling more thankful now!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Maple Cashew Frosting

Ross and I were invited to a "friends-giving" with some of his co-workers today. I volunteered to bring brussels sprouts and, selfishly, I also decided to bring gluten-free, diary-free cupcakes so there would be a dessert I could partake in. (I really hate being that person at a social gathering).

I knew immediately that I'd make the pumpkin spice cupcakes from the Babycakes cookbook, but I was stumped on frosting. The cookbook does have a recipe, but it involved buying more random, expensive ingredients than I already had for the cupcakes. (By the way, the cupcake recipe isn't mine to share, but I was happy to see that the cookbook author has made it available online here. The only change I made was replacing a half cup of the GF all-purpose flour with a half cup of sweet rice flour.)

Back to the frosting: I love, love, love cream cheese frosting, but I couldn't find the brand of vegan cream cheese I wanted at the grocery store, so I decided to go the more natural route and make a cashew frosting similar to those I'd seen on the Edible Perspective and Choosing Raw blogs. Thus, maple cashew frosting was born. It's not overly sweet, and it's not as creamy as a dairy-based frosting would be, but we really liked it. I hope you do, too!

Maple Cashew Frosting

1 heaping cup raw, unsalted cashews
4 Tbs maple syrup
2 Tbs refined coconut oil
1-2 Tbs water or non-dairy milk of choice, to reach desired consistency
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 - 1 tsp vanilla extract, to taste

Measure the cashews into a small bowl the night before, fill the bowl with water, and place in the fridge overnight, or for at least 8 hours.

When you're ready to make the frosting, drain the cashews and dump them in the food processor. Add maple syrup, coconut oil, water, lemon juice, and vanilla. Blend, blend, blend. This could take a while. Scrape down the sides as needed, and continue to process until they reach a smooth consistency. (Note: this is not buttercream, so it won't be quite that smooth, but it should get pretty creamy.) Taste and add more vanilla as desired.

Slather on your cupcake of choice and enjoy licking the spatula afterward!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chocolate Cookies with Mint Chocolate Frosting

Chocolate Cookies
1 1/4 cup almond meal
3 Tbs cocoa powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup butter, softened at room temp
2 Tbs maple syrup or honey
1-2 Tbs coconut or almond milk as needed

Prehead oven to 350. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and syrup with a hand mixer. Add almond meal, cocoa powder, and salt and mix well. If the dough seems dry, add milk as needed. Roll into Tablespoon-sized balls of dough and place on a lined or greased cookie sheet. These cookies don't spread while baking, so go ahead and flatten them with a fork or the bottom of a glass before putting them in the oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes and allow to cool before removing from the pan. Makes 12 cookies. These cookies are fairly un-fancy, but they're really just a vehicle for the frosting!

Mint Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup coconut oil, softened (use refined coconut oil if you don't want the hint of coocnut flavor)
2 Tbs maple syrup
1/4 - 1/2 tsp peppermint extract (add slowly because some brands are more potent than others)
1/2  cup cocoa powder, sifted to remove clumps
1 Tbsp almond (or coconut) milk

Cream the coconut oil, syrup, and milk. Add cocoa powder and mix until smooth. Add the peppermint extract to taste and then enjoy! Be warned that this frosting will become quite melty in really warm temperatures and it will harden in the fridge. But at room temp, it has almost the exact consistency of frosting in a can, but far fewer ingredients. Frost your cookies, garnish with coconut or crushed candy canes, and enoy! 

By the way, you will probably have leftover frosting. If you don't want to eat it stright from the bowl with a spoon, place teaspoon-sized drops of frosting on waxed paper and refridgerate to make some chocolate mint meltaway candies!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Turns Out

Turns out, November feels a lot like fall.

Turns out, it's been 3 months since I've been to Zumba... I've missed my favorite instructor!

Turns out, I don't mind daylight savings time because even though I don't like the early sunset, I do love seeing the sunrise.

Turns out, research papers can be somewhat fun to write. If only I had more time and a better rubric to follow!

Turns out, it doesn't take long for accutane to dry my skin out, but the pimples are still there.

Turns out, Ross likes sweet potatoes if you bake them in wedges, add seasoning, and call them fries.

Turns out, when you put first things first, you can find joy in every circumstance, not just hope in an ambiguous future circumstance.

P.S. My friend Melody wrote the best post-election words I've seen. In the end, the President does not determine the laws I live by. The King does!

Monday, November 5, 2012

I (can't) do all the things

On the elevator at work Sunday morning, a medical resident I've never met before was puffing himself up by complaining about how long his night had been. He mentioned that, unlike nurses, residents don't get compensated for working the extra hour when time falls back every fall.

I humored him to his face, but really I was thinking, "Dude, that's why I went to nursing school and not medical school. You chose to do this. Didn't you know what you were getting into?"

Boom. Sanctification station. How many of you all have thought this about me every time I complain about busy-ness this fall? As Nichole Nordeman says, "I wonder now if the choice was mine. The door was open and I walked inside. Nobody had my arm twisted. I lost myself in small pieces; it happened over time."

My friend Jessi is fond of the statement "all the things." As in, "I thought I had to do all the things." She used this phrase a lot in a talk she gave last month about how to fail well. And I really needed to hear it.

I have too many things on my plate. While I appreciate those who have told me to back off, I know it's not that season. I had that season this summer. This is the season for digging in and following through on commitments and learning things the hard way.

I just wrote and then deleted a detailed paragraph about all my time commitments this month. Suffice to say, the details don't matter. The point is, it's too much. In order to sleep and take care of my physical self, I've cut out things that actually mean something to me: getting to know women at church, initiating outings with potential new friends, reading books that don't have to do with nursing research. Because I can't do all the things. I don't know how to be a good wife, I don't know how to make good friends, but I do know that I'm not doing it right.

My tears have already given me a glimpse at this crumbling facade. I like to think I can do all the things. I complain about how much I have to do, so that when I do it you know just how hard that was. I am starting a new job soon so that I can learn to do one thing well, but until mid-December I'm going to be doing a lot of things very poorly. And I pray that God will give me the grace not to burn any bridges along the way. Because I can't do anything right outside of Him.

Stand by Britt Nicole

I wake up to another day
I don't know if I can face

All the fears that are staring me down
Yeah, I'm trying to be brave
But I'm a thread, about to fray
I wanna stand but I don't know how

I look up and all I see is
Your love holding me
When I feel like giving up
When my heart is hurt too much
Feels like I've reached the end
No, I won't turn and run
This battle will be won
When I've done all I can
I stand stand stand

Some days I lose my place
It's a fight to keep my faith
But You are with me, I am not alone
, no
But all around my world gives way
Tossed like an ocean wave
You are my rock and the storm clouds blow

On Your promise, I will stand
All other ground is sinking sand

On Your promise, I will stand
All other ground is sinking sand

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Little Orange Pill

This past Friday, I started taking Accutane (well, the generic version). It was a long time coming, decision-wise and jumping-though-hoops-wise. In the end, my hesitations stemmed less from the risk of physical side effects and more from the fear, is this just vanity?

I mean, I'm 27 years old. I've struggled with self-image for a long time. We don't live in the matrix and this little pill isn't going to alter my reality. Once my acne is gone, I'm sure I'll find something else to fixate on. And I know that's a sin.

My value rests in Christ alone. Well, it should. Why do I have so much trouble believing that sometimes?!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Currently: November

Location: The big brown couch in our apartment.

Watching: Big Bang Theory.  I love nerds.

Eating: Dates with sunflower seed butter. Our debit card got stolen recently and we've been waiting for our negative bank account to normalize. Meanwhile, the grocery situation is getting a little ridiculous.

Drinking: Actually limiting my water intake since it's bedtime...

Wanting: Simultaneously desperately wanting December 14 to be here, but hoping it won't come too quickly because I have a bajilion things to do between now and then. Why December 14? Because on that day, I will go from The Great Juggling Act of November 2012 involving 4 part-time jobs + school to ONE job and Christmas break!!!!!!!!

Needing: A good night's sleep. Always.

Loving: The short run I went on in the sunshine this afternoon. My nervous energy needs a physical outlet. When I forget that, the anxiety just builds and builds and I lay in bed at night exhausted but with my mind racing. No bueno.

Creating: A mess. 'Tis the season for stacks of papers.

Thinking: That we often misread Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." The questions is, What does GOD want to strengthen me for? Not, To what selfish end can I rely upon God's strength today? 

Feeling: Relieved that a big decision is behind me: starting mid-December I will be a full time RN in the Center for Advanced Fetal Health and High Risk Pregnancy. This comes with the dreaded 8a-5p schedule I've avoided for 5 years now. But no weekends or holidays! And it's going to be a great opportunity for patient education (to see if I can do something with this Master's degree I'm struggling with.)

Wondering: If I'm up for the huge learning curve my new job will entail. And wondering if I could possibly love any other job as much as I love those precious NICU babes.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Almond Butter Granola Bars

It's no secret that we love granola bars around here. In fact, we eat a batch of them just as quickly as we eat a batch of cookies! Here's our latest favorite, inspired by Sunbutter Granola Bars.

 Almond Butter Granola Bars

1 cup old fashioned oats
1 3/4 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup protein powder (or more oats)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp chia seeds, ground flax seeds (or wheat germ if you're not gluten-free)
1/2 cup natural almond butter
1/4 cup coconut oil (or just use a full 3/4 cup nut butter)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup dates or raisins
1/4 cup dark chocolate squares or chips

Add the almond butter, coconut oil, honey, dates, and chocolate to a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the oats, coconut, protein powder, salt, and chia seeds and pulse until everything is incoporated.

Press the dough into a thin rectangle on a foil or Silpat-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes and then cut into bars. Allow them to cool before removing from the pan. I bet these can be stored for up to a week in the fridge, but we haven't had a batch last that long!

Worth noting: The dough should be slightly crumbly, but easy for form into a ball that stays intact. If it's too wet, add more oats; if it's too dry, add more honey. When we made a batch with sunflower seed butter, we actually had to add almost 1 full cup of oats since Sunbutter is so drippy. The almond butter made for a much drier batter.

Friday, October 26, 2012

An Analogy. Or Something.

Yesterday, I finally downloaded some of the pictures I took of all the beautiful trees near our apartment last week. Kansas City has been a riot of color this fall, per usual, and I love it!

As the days get shorter and darker, the trees recognize that winter is coming. In the Midwest, at least, winter is a time for trees to take a break from photosynthesis. As they prepare for hibernation, the green chlorophyll fades from their leaves and their "true colors" shine through. This means that traces of those brown, yellow, orange, purple, and red hues have been there all along- they're just covered with green in the summer!

Granted, the colors are also intensified by glucose, waste products, and what have you, but let's focus on the idea that the colors are there all along.

When the dark times come in my life and the external patina is torn away, what are the true colors that shine through? Am I a dingy brown? A soft pink? A vivid red?

My prayer is that with grace, I can come through dark times shining to the glory of God as an encouragement to others! Let's just say I'm a work in progress on that one.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Discerning God's Will

Emily Freeman reminded me last weekend, "sometimes you have to say 'yes' to the wrong thing to know you should have said 'no.'" I feel like that's the story of my life. I'm so tired of making the wrong decision. In the last year, I've mad a lot of them. Sometimes they're framed in the light of a 'greater good,' yet they still met the ends I desired, as part of my 'master plan.' I said yes to the things that don't matter and no to the things that do.

In hindsight, this sounds just ridiculous. But I was building my kingdom and it was imperative that the bricks were placed just so. Yet the foundation? It was rotting from the inside out. When things fell apart, I saw that everything I'd been doing and working toward was in vain. Temporary. Bitterly fleeting.

For a brief time, I was able to live in the freedom of close communion with God. Then slowly but surely, my heart started to harden again. Priorities shifted, plans changed, life happened.

Today I repent that I've let busy-ness get in the way again. In enjoying a renewed friendship with my husband, I've developed a false sense of complacency and faltered in my attempts to purse friendship with others. I've let my goals sneak higher and higher in my list of priorities to the extent that I lost sight of the present. I didn't think I was holding that tightly to my plans again, until a new opportunity challenged me to feel the weight of them. I repent of trying to do things out of my own strength and trying to make decisions out of my own wisdom.

I look down and see my white-knuckled grip, and I'm embarrassed.

Last week, I turned to journaling, I turned to desperate prayers to God, I turned to my Bible, I turned to conversations with my husband for discernment, and then I turned inward. Deeper and deeper. Like I was watching from the outside as my husband tried to communicate with me and I didn't respond. I saw myself being the person I didn't want to be, but I couldn't silence the conflicting voices in my head. They exhausted me, they kept me from sleeping, and Friday night, they even took away my appetite. (That's when you really know something's wrong with me)!

While I was looking in the right places, I was still trying to apply Godly wisdom to my earthly framework. So Sunday at church, I did what I was always too afraid to do, and I went up to one of the pastors to ask for advice. Of course, he didn't have a concrete answer. It wouldn't be right if he did. But he did give me some great resources and an awesome analogy borrowed from Tim Keller that's too good not to share.

In a nutshell, the three elements of a call are: ability, affinity, and opportunity. Ability is endowed by God as well as life experience through which your skills have been or can be developed. Affinity means you have to want to do this thing. You are acutely aware of a human need and you have a desire to fill that need. This desire shouldn't rise out of immature motives, such as a pay increase you don't really need, a desire for glory, or even a need to be needed. (I definitely struggle here. Are my desires the right desires?) Finally, you must have an opportunity to do this job.

Keller notes that when ability, affinity, and opportunity are all present and pointing in the same direction, a person can discern God's call.

Like so.
When I think about my life, I can see that ability and affinity without opportunity leads me to rush God's timing as I try to force an outcome that I want. This often ends up with me taking an even longer way around to the original destination (or, you know, a one-way ticket to an entirely different destination than the one I thought I wanted).

Ability and opportunity without affinity can feed selfish desires but leads to burnout really quickly. These opportunities are the ones I'm most likely to say yes to and then regret. I think, "well, this presented itself to me, so it must be a sign that I should take it." Ummm no. Case in point: grad school. Untold benefits and a great number of lessons learned, but man those classes are like pulling teeth. My middle brother just started law school and he freaking loves it. Why don't I feel that joy?! I think to an extent, it's okay to do something you don't necessarily love if it leads to an end result that you do feel affinity toward, but I'm not sure what I'm getting this degree for at this point. I digress. Basically, when I'm facing a decision involving ability and opportunity without affinity, I need to remember: just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Finally, affinity and opportunity without ability is going to be endlessly frustrating. For example, I would love to run a marathon. I really love running, it's easy enough to sign up for a race, but my body just cannot handle that mileage. I've tried three times, and every time my body just breaks down halfway thorugh the training cycle.

Emily and me after a half marathon (2 years ago already?!)
In the face of a lot of opportunities, I'm praying for affinity for something... anything... right now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Disservice to the Cross

This Friday, a friend made a comment that stopped me in my tracks:

If you go to bed at night thinking you will do better tomorrow, you're doing a disservice to the cross.



Almost every single night, I'm laying in bed thinking that tomorrow, I will stop pulling my hair when I'm anxious. Tomorrow, I will stop eating when I feel sad or bored, and just eat when I'm hungry. Tomorrow, I will do my homework and not waste time. Tomorrow, I will tell my loved ones how much they mean to me. Tomorrow, I will be able to make big decisions. Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.

Let's be honest. If behavior modification were the answer, I would have 'fixed myself' years ago. The point is, I will never be perfect. While we are still sinners, Christ dies for us. That's a hard truth for me to swallow. I'm well-versed in my own sin. I have no illusions as to the nature of my true self. Why should someone else take the blame?

How do you let someone step in front of you when you know full well that you deserve punishment to fit the crime? When I think I can do better tomorrow or I can fix this, I'm denying the fact that Jesus had to die so that I might live. Because I can't just do better. And if I think I can, I'm placing myself in the position of God, no? Let's not lose the weight of this: WE need GOD. Not the other way around.

I'm not saying that I can't strive to honor the body and the responsibilities and the family members I've been given in this life. But I am saying that only one thing is of first importance. And only in light of the cross can I actually do anything of lasting importance.

And when the idea of doing something of 'lasting importance' completely overwhelms me, I can rest in the arms of my Creator and know that simply living in thanksgiving of this Gift is all He asks of me.
I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.

I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.

Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:
 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his mercies never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him."

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Right Thing at the Wrong Time

The right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing.

Such simple words, spoken by a wise woman.

The right thing
at the wrong time
is still the wrong thing.

I have pages and pages of notes from the Influence conference this weekend but that line keeps resonating with me. Unlike it seemed to be for a lot of people, Influence wasn't a super-fun amazingwonderfulspectacular weekend for me. It was, however, thought-provoking and life-affirming. Really, I couldn't think of a better way to sum up this past year. It seemed like each speaker in the "Life" track sessions addressed a different aspect of my 2012.

I slept less than I should have, but that was more thanks to taking Sudafed before bed than to late-night conversations. Even though my roommates and I weren't up late chatting, I couldn't have asked for a better group of girls. Chelsea, Heather, and Emily were easy-going, low-maintenance, and down-to-earth. (And I now know that when your friend is not 6 feet 3 inches tall, it's totally possible to comfortably share a full-sized bed with someone and not touch.)

From dinner Thursday night
So have I been influenced? Absolutely. I'm ready to set this little light of mine on a hill. Witnessing God's work this year has been the joy of my heart and it's growing harder and harder not to share what he's done: pain, mess, and all.

Yet I hesitate. I'm nothing if not impulsive. All-or-nothing. Black and white. This weekend re-affirmed that this season I'm in? It's called waiting. And I'm so pleased to obey my good and gracious Father for once. I don't need to move forward for the sake of progress. I don't need to rationalize decisions and barge into something that allows my kingdom to come and my will to be done. That's ugly. And I've done that for far, far too long.

I feel the simultaneous and conflicting, yet complimentary tensions between 1 Peter 3 and Isaiah 54:
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. [1 Peter 3:3-4]
I've spent so much time being quiet and bitter, or quiet and scared, or quiet and awkward. But finally, I feel the tug toward a quiet and gentle spirit.  At the same time, the Lord says,
Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,

strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
your descendants will dispossess nationsand settle in their desolate cities. [Isaiah 54:2-3]
I loved that image when Jessi read this verse on Friday. The call to stretch your tent curtains and lengthen your cords is a call I've reluctantly and unwillingly answered this year. But in retrospect, God is using this stress to strengthen my stakes and I'm rooted anew in a Savior I can never deserve.

I still have a lot to think about and digest, but I'm grateful for this weekend. Grateful for vulnerability. Grateful that I had the opportunity to leave home and become a part of this 'tribe of women,' if you will. And I'm overwhelmingly grateful that absence makes the heart grow fonder and I came home to husband willing to listen to me sort some of this stuff out. So grateful.

P.S. The hotel was attached to a nice mall and I finally tried on a pair of Toms. I bought them on the spot. They're like sweatpants for your feet. Watch out, world. My wardrobe just got more casual. (I can hear Ross cringing already).

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Vulnerable (vul·ner·a·ble) adj.

Susceptible to physical or emotional injury.
Susceptible to attack.
Open to censure or criticism; assailable.
I am headed to Indianapolis tomorrow with a handful of people I kind of know and lots of people I've never met. This is very unlike me. I'm a homebody and I like familiarity and routine.
I'm... nervous. And feeling very, very vulnerable. What if these strangers judge me for my frizzy, uneven hair and my ill-fitting clothes? Why has my face broken out again? Why am I so nervous I'm actually nauseated? Will I be able to get the sleep I desperately need this weekend?

Please pray for me if you are so inclined. I see this weekend going one of two ways: 1.) I pull my usual stunts when I'm overwhelmed and I basically cower in a corner and don't talk to anyone because I'm intimidated. 2.) By the grace of God I'm able to reach out and partake in conversations and develop real friendships with other women who have similar interests.

Let's hope for the latter!

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Husband I Always Wanted

I recently listened a sermon entitled, New Marriage, Same Spouse. If you had shared this concept with me a year ago, I would have scoffed and laughed nervously. But mercy found me this summer.

Hope is real.

And God is bigger than I ever would have dreamed.

I have a bad habit of discussing an impending decision ad nauseum until I've talked myself in a circle and everyone around me has tuned out. The latest topic du jour has been a mission trip to Guatemala that I need to decide on... today.

Ever since I became a Registered Nurse five years ago (yikes!), I've wanted to use the education I was blessed with for the benefit of someone outside myself. To make a difference and not just a paycheck.

Time and time again opportunities have presented themselves and then fallen through. Last month, I heard about a chance to go to Guatemala through my school. The timing seems perfect and the price is right. I used to be obsessed with Guatemala when I was little. The trip is a pediatric nursing mission trip through a Christian university for crying out loud. How great is that?!

So I signed up and paid a deposit, but it didn't sit well. I wasn't filled with fear of going or a gut feeling that I was making a bad decision, but I just wasn't excited. If anything, I was more afraid of not going and missing out! I was growing frustrated with God. I wanted a clear answer. But all I could think was, I'm so tired right now. Taking a month off from school, being done with my teaching assistant job, hanging out with family over the holidays... those things sound really good. I know this is coming from a place of fatigue and weariness, but I can't deny those feelings.

I have another bad habit of presenting a situation to Ross, asking his opinion, and then playing devil's advocate and arguing the other side until he's really confused and frustrated. This usually ends in an argument not at all related to the decision I was trying to make in the first place. But last night, we discussed. We kept digging. Ross gave an opinion and held his ground. I fretted. Ross presented his case clearly and made me laugh, and I felt at peace.

I'm sad that this trip doesn't seem to be in the cards for me, but I'm overwhelmingly grateful that my husband listened to my heart and helped me make a tough decision! My fear of missing out is really a deep-seated fear that God won't provide the perfect mission trip on my timetable. And that's always a hard lesson to learn.

Instead of cramming more on my plate right now, I'm trying to keep all the current balls in the air and anticipate the moment when I can just sit down and stop juggling.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 
and I will give you rest.  {Matthew 11:28}

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Thoughts Brewing

This weekend, we were social! With friends! Rachel's birthday was this past week and we went on a Boulevard Brewery tour to celebrate.

{P.S. That beer? TOTALLY worth a few sips of each. It was the first beer I've had in years and I loved it! From left to right, I tried Boulevard Stout, Ginger, and Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale. The Stout and Tank 7 were outstanding.}

As for Rachel, I think she was more excited about the sushi dinner after the tour! We had a fun afternoon and evening and when we got home I realized I was feeling... content.

Don't get me wrong, life is still ridiculous and I'm so uncertain about so many things, but that time with friends, getting to know a city I love with people I love? Priceless.

And I do indeed love this city. It only took 3 years and a few major heart changes along the way, right?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Currently: October

I saw this list on Magnolia Grace and I really liked it. The "present" is ever-changing and this seems like a fun way to document it! Today, I'm grumpily home on a forced sick day. Darn you chicken pox virus... hiding in my nervous system, ready to strike when I'm at my weakest.

Location: Our one-bedroom, third-floor apartment in Kansas. As of this month, we've been in this apartment for two years and this city for three years!

Watching: The timer... I have cookies in the oven. And the phone... I'm playing phone tag with the doctor's office.

Eating: WAY too much cookie dough. Ugh.

Drinking: Ginger tea in hopes that I can stave off the stomachache that will inevitably come from the above sentiment.

Wanting: To feel peace in my heart.

Needing: To be present and prioritize my time better.

Loving: The warm sunshine today! I hear a cold front is coming in tonight.

Creating: ??? I need to write a paper later...

Thinking: That I can't make up my mind about anything right now and I want to quit everything. Black-and-white thinking, no?

Feeling: I'm embarrassed that my plate is so small. My life isn't even close to being as busy as some other people's lives, but this illness and mandatory sick day is pretty good evidence that I just can't handle having this much on my plate.

Wondering: What beautiful things could possibly come out of this mess of me right now.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Clinical Teaching {Check}

Today was our last day of clinicals and my students all passed with flying colors. I, on the other hand, woke up in a cold sweat at 4am because surely over the last 5 weeks I've done something terribly wrong. Clinicals have been going too smoothly to be true. (Of course, we did have a small "incident" this morning involving a rude nurse and an overly-anxious student, but it was a personal problem that wasn't handled professionally, and it didn't affect patient care.)

My students swear they learned a lot. What they don't know is that every time they would say, "Therese I have a question" I would not and smile and think ohmygoshIhopeIknowtheanswer.

On our last day, several nurses between the NICU, mother/baby, and labor and delivery told me that this was one of the best clinical groups they've ever seen: the students were helpful instead of annoying, they were smart, they were eager to jump in... I wish I could take credit, but I can't. The school must've taken pity on me and given me the best students.

I am eternally grateful to a handful of nurses on each unit who taught my students more than I ever could. I'm privileged to have worked alongside such wonderful ladies! And my students... man. I think I'm stressed? That Accelerated BSN program is not for the faint of heart. Then they were so sweet to thank me with a generous gift. They said Ross and I should go to the movies for a belated anniversary celebration!

The past two months have been tough. I'm 27 years old with a college degree, but I have a deep-seated fear that someone will "discover" that I'm just an imposter in this life. That I'm not qualified to do any of these things. I mean, I can't even remember to get new license plate tags when they're due. Who am I to teach nursing students how to do sterile procedures and what qualifies as a post-partum hemorrhage?

I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Blueberry Orange Scones

This is a Paleo recipe. That means there's no added sugar, no grain, and no dairy. I used orange juice as a bit of a sweetener here, but it's 100% juice with no sugar added. The recipe is really dense so sugar-free doesn't necessarily mean it's low in calories, but this is one of the few baked goods I've made that actually keeps me full for hours. I can eat two of these in the morning with a little fruit on top and be good to go.

I know some bakers are really good at making Paleo recipes that taste astounding and have a normal texture. These scones, well, they had to grow on me. But once they did, I couldn't get enough. Nonetheless, I have to give you the caveat that they're really good for a Paleo baked good.

Now. On to the recipe. Yum!

Blueberry Orange Scones

3/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 Tbs ground flax seed (optional)
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp apple cider vinagar
1 egg
1 Tbs butter or coconut oil (optional)
1/2 cup blueberries

In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, flax, and baking soda. In a large bowl combine eggs, orange juice, butter, and vinegar. Stir dry ingredients into wet, mixing until combined

Scoop about ¼ cup of batter at a time onto a prepared baking sheet. (This makes 6 scones). Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, until slightly browned around the edges. Let cool in the pan for 20-30 minutes and enjoy!

I can't wait to try a pumpkin spice version next... Happy October!

    Sunday, September 30, 2012

    Norton Grapes and a Whirlwind Trip

    I'm behind on a few big blog posts, and this is one of them. Two weekends ago, Ross and I made a quick trip to Omaha with our friends Rachel and Marcus to help my family harvest grapes. Yep, my dad's "hobby" is a full-blown vineyard! He planted it the year I left for college, so I haven't been able to help a lot. But my dad, mom, and brothers have put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into that land.

    Harvest if obviously the most fun part, and the part I've been able to help with before. I feel a little guilty enjoying the fruits of someone else's labor, but it's just so nice to be outside doing something physical. And grape harvest is hardly back-breaking compared to other farm chores! Unfortunately, this year's harvest was especially easy because the birds had feasted on the ripe fruit in the week leading up to harvest.

    Anyway, we decided to be crazy and drive to Nebraska when Rachel and I got off of work at 7:30pm on Friday. We set up camp in the dark and it was a colder night than we anticipated,

    but it was worth it to wake up to this:


    Fog, sunrise, crisp air... heavenly. We left the farm really quick to have breakfast at my maternal grandma's house-- yum! We were definitely fueled for the day when we left, and my family and a few friends had already started picking grapes when we got back.

    We jumped right in.

    grapes and some sad, empty stems

    Ross was color-coordinated

    Once we'd collected what we could, we took a quick detour to the Union Orchard nearby and I got my first apple butter of the season. I'm officially okay with it being fall now!

    After that, we went back to Omaha for a quiet afternoon and then had dinner at Upstream before heading back to KC. Ross and I hadn't been there since our rehearsal dinner almost 4 years ago to the date, so that was really fun. What an exhausting trip. But so worth it!