Tuesday, March 19, 2013

On the Road A-Grain

  If you have missed us it is because we hit the road for Spring Break. Sure, some people head further South to warm weather and beaches but not us, we are just too cool for that. Abandoning all stereotypes, we let loose and headed for the North. Snowbound baby! Oh yeh, that is how we roll! 

(This was the view of the interstate. I could take this picture because we were not moving)
  Actually, it was supposed to be a trip to help out and support family. My nephew had surgery and my mother had complications with a surgery. It ended up that my mother was fine when we got there and my nephew sailed through his procedure with only one night in the hospital. Praise God for those blessings but I think we brought more work than relief. Fail! 

  Besides traveling through a whole state full of ice and snow, one of the challenges was feeding my daughter who is still on the grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, fruit-free, yeast-free diet. If you have ever traveled through Iowa, you know the challenges of just finding food period so the only option was to pack all her food. 
(Rest stop? Gas station? Anything?)
   It is surprising how much food is full of sugar and added grain. Costco had some lunch meat that was grain-free and sugar-free. After serious searching, we found some safe bacon, hot dogs, and some paleo bread that was okay. Zaxby's is about the only place that has a safe fast food option but unfortunately, there are none where we were headed so we bought the one safe food they had, traditional wings, original sauce, and froze them to bring along which left me with a few meals to prepare myself.

   One little gem we did find was Chipolte, which is like a Subway only with burritos and tacos. They let you custom order bowls without the tortillas and they use lots of organic, fresh ingredients. It was a nice respite to leave the house without packing a bag of food, wishing we had one here. At the hospital it was necessary to bring food because oddly, hospitals are not very accommodating to food allergies if you are not a patient. 

  We found a cafe that made breakfast sandwiches and they agreed to just sell us the microwaved egg sans bread, cheese, and meat. Yum! Sadly, my daughter confused packets of sugar for salt and ruined most of the egg. Needless to say, this diet did not successfully travel with us and she had a few slumpy days. The sugar exposure also caused her to have intense cravings for junk food which have not been a problem. One time she grabbed me and said, "I just want ice cream." The intensity of her desire was a little frightening for both of us. We  laugh about it after the fact.

   Now, we are back home to Spring! My nephew is recovering beautifully, we are eating right again, and back to working on the relationship with our foster daughter. She was fine on the trip and has been pretty even-keeled since she has heard from her mom and other family. So much exists that is praiseworthy.

  We had some obstacles but it was mostly with how she and I connect. This is still a struggle for me and I shamefully admit it to you. She makes sure to dredge up my every flaw (I have lots, too) and I shrink back. It is a game and I pull away even more, resenting that I can be manipulated. 

  Ah, pride. It is an evil, quick-rooting seed and it is horrible. It has stirred up such doubt in me that I have questioned if I should keep myself certified as a foster parent. At this point I have cycled through being hurt, protecting myself, feeling guilty, and now I am at depression. I am hoping the next part of the cycle is overflowing joy. Is God even able to use me in this???? I don't know but He'll give me an answer.

  More than anything I would love to see God do a work in this child's life in spite of the chaos and turmoil of her past and my sinful heart.

  Next time, I promise to post a recipe and a much more encouraging message.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Spiritual Leaders & Chocolate

  Two things I love and appreciate - chocolate and Godly men.

  As I was contemplating all the things that are happening in my life, I realized there is a theme and it has nothing to do with chocolate. It does, however, have everything to do with spiritual leaders. Since my husband has stepped away from church and spiritual things this past year, I have wallowed a bit in self-pity. Then our pastor left and I was crushed. 

  Of course, I questioned God...and I shouldn't but leaving me out here without an earthly shepherd is dangerous. I am like a half-blind, half-deaf sheep. To make matters worse the good spiritual ear is on the opposite side of the good spiritual eye. Add to that my special talent of leaping around carelessly (which is highly un-advisable if you are half-blind & deaf) and you can see why I need spiritual supervision but God gave me peace. He is sovereign over all so I have become quieter. Some might even say more mature. Maybe.

Or not. 

  What it has most assuredly produced is a deep and new found appreciation for solid spiritual leaders. I know I said that I have become extra sensitive about marriage jokes but now I am absolutely resigned to encouraging people, particularly women, to celebrate strong spiritual leaders. What a blessing! What an absolute wondrous and awesome gift if you have a husband who loves God and is a faithful servant of the Word. They are comfort-bearers from the Lord. They are strength-givers from God on High. They are peace-makers from the Almighty. They can use the Sword of God rightly and I, for one, see a huge need to honor them.

  Thank you Brother J for expounding scripture as it should be. You are a blessing and I pray God pours out blessings on you for it. Thank you husbands of my friends for loving your families as the Lord loves the church. You are men of honor and I pray God renews your strength daily. Thank you single men in my church who devote themselves to serving God in whatever way He leads. I pray that you have overflowing joy and perseverance. Thank you God for showing me this valuable lesson even if it did require me to go to the valley to learn it. I wouldn't take back one day and I will stay here trying to abide in You as long as You want. It is making me love and appreciate my husband right where he is and our communication and intimacy are growing.

  Now, onto chocolate which in this case is not as important but it does rank pretty high.

  So, I experimented again with chocolate. My daughter wanted hot cocoa and I have this amazing recipe but of course, it is full of dairy and sugar. These two things are off limits to her still so I got to thinking of the wonderful can of refrigerated coconut milk that is ever present in my fridge and before I knew I had whipped hot cocoa that she loved. She quickly drank two mugs and proudly declared that she had never been able to do that before because she always had a stomachache after the first cup. 

  I love when my experiments go right. But, just so you know, I had a blueberry dessert that I made for my husband go terribly wrong. Convection baking with nut flours is giving me fits but I'll get it. 

  Also, on a happy note, our foster daughter's mother contacted her out of the blue after several years of being MIA. Even though this is a little frightening to her, it has produced a lot of joy. Mostly, she is happy to know that her mother is alive. It has given her some peace and some answers. She is appreciative about where she is living and feels that she can safely explore talking with her mother. We had a good talk so I am thankful that we might be able to walk through some hurt and find healing. God just knew it was time. 

  Now, on to the hot cocoa recipe. 

Dairy-free Sugar-free Hot Cocoa
1/2 c. cocoa (I use raw cacao powder)
1 can refrigerated coconut milk, liquid drained but save it
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1-2 tsp. liquid Stevia or 1/2 c. xylitol
4 c. dairy-free milk mixed with coconut milk liquid

In a pot over low heat, stir together cocoa and thick part of coconut milk with salt and vanilla.  Stir in sweetener. 

Warm milk in microwave about 1 minute then slowly stir into pot. Heat until desired temperature, stirring continually. Yum!

  This is really tasty with mocha biscotti from the Essential Gluten-free Baking Guide part 1. This book is very informative about different kinds of flours and how to use them. I am considering purchasing part 2 but I need to master part 1 first.