Monday, July 14, 2014

Adventures in Gluten-Free Baking-Granola

Yes, I baked something yesterday. Why was I baking on the hottest day of the summer so far?

I had a craving for cold cereal. Something crunchy and deliciously cold and simple.

I would have made a grocery store run, but it was just too hot to go, I had all the ingredients for granola, even the chunky, toasted coconut flakes. Granola is simple enough: just dump everything into a big bowl, give it a few good stirs, and pour it onto a baking sheet, and wait about forty minutes.

So I cranked up the oven to 300 degrees, essentially blasting more heat into my already 99 degree south-facing kitchen. Thankfully, I was baking ONE batch of granola and not countless batches of cookies or muffins.

It was worth it.

I satisfied my craving for cold cereal.

My professional baking friend, Isa, posted this recipe for coconut granola. I adapted it just a bit to fit what I had in my pantry.

Coconut Oil Granola
adapted from Cook This Now

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats( I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten- free oats)
1 1/2 cups raw almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups large flake coconut chips
3/4 cup dried cranberries 

Preheat the oven to 300° F.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, maple syrup, coconut oil, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Spread the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake until golden all over, about 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Stir in the coconut chips and dried cranberries.

Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Isn't it funny that when you learn a new word or concept it shows up everywhere in your path? If you read my previous post you'll know that I am focusing on joy. I've had conversations about joy, read scripture about joy, and my attitude lately has been permeated with joy. Glory to God! This shift in focus is only because of His grace. I'm not naturally a joyful person. I struggle with anxiety and ever since I can remember I've had this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Its a sense of dread, almost like I'm waiting for impending doom.

But I'll take this joy thing.

A few months ago a friend recommended a little devotion book called God Calling. It is written as if God is talking to us. I really enjoy reading it. It is simple in a profound way.

Here is today's reading:

"Sorrow to Joy"
"Weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning."

My bravest are those who can anticipate the morning and feel in the night of sorrow that underlying Joy that tells of confident expectations of the morning.

It's amazing how two sentences can be packed with so much truth. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

count it joy.

The windows are all open. Fresh spring air and clean lines of sunshine are falling in geometric shapes on the carpet. The dog feels the need to make the rounds to every sunny spot. She's pretty sweet. I'm so thankful to have little Athena in my life. (For those of you who don't know, Athena is my adorable brindle boxer pooch). She is my constant companion and a source of unending joy.

JOY. This is a word I have been reflecting on quite often recently. Within the last few weeks especially it seems like I am really experiencing the fullness of this concept. I am so grateful because much of the time I struggle in the realm of joy.

My moods are often very dark and at times even scary. I've struggled most of my life with deep depressions that ravage and control my life. I've been hospitalized numerous times because of this dangerous mindset that I allow myself to slip into. It's not a graceful slipping, but a slippery, barely-there grasp on the edge of a cliff. I resolved long ago that I would not take my own life, but standing firm on that decision is very difficult at times, for various reasons. I falter and stumble constantly with these self-destructive thoughts when I am in the depths of a depression.

I try not to analyze too harshly where this depression comes from. Is it chemical, hormonal, physical, spiritual? I believe that it is a combination of all of these things. But if I expend tons of energy asking why I end up deeper in the hole of my despair.

Today-at this moment- I am so thankful. I am thankful that I am alive and healthy. I am thankful for the ability to think deeply and practice creativity. I am thankful that I have clean water and an abundance of good, nourishing food to enjoy.

I am thankful for forgiveness and the undeserved grace that is lavished upon me all throughout the day. I am thankful for friends that listen and where deep conversation comes easily. I am thankful for laughter.

I am thankful for JOY. I am thankful for that God gives us the courage to choose joy even in the midst of pain. I want to "count it all joy" when I am in the midst of a trial. Joy doesn't necessarily mean happiness around every corner. I've heard it said that joy is a deep-rooted confidence knowing that God is in control. I want my feet planted in the realities of who God is--perfectly gracious, faithful, forgiving, full of unending love and comfort.

When I focus on the Truth of who God is joy becomes a way of a life. I want that kind of life.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Letting Go of Worry

I almost titled this post, "Holding onto Worry," because that is what I tend to do. It's almost like worry seeps into every crevice of my heart and becomes this deep-rooted anxiety that leaves me in a twisted, dark place.

The worry comes at me from all directions.

Well, I should be more specific: my OWN stress and hearing about others' heartache turn into worry.

I choose to worry.

I make a choice to turn that stress into worry.

I've always been deeply affected by other peoples' pain. When I heard about starvation and AIDS in Africa when I was five years old it left me deeply saddened. Not just sad, but so heartbroken that I couldn't function.

Even now when I hear stories of child abuse or anorexia or suicide it haunts me. I have dreams about these people who are hurting so badly, even if I barely know them. Their faces greet me at every corner.

I care deeply for people and it hurts to see (or hear about) them hurting. Most of the time I am fairly far removed from these situations so I feel helpless. I want to give them love and make them tea and let them talk and hug them.

I'm going to be really honest--at times I have felt out of control from the stress in my own life. Hearing about other people's issues left me feeling even more like there was no floor beneath me. (As I look back, there was always a floor, I just couldn't see it in those experiences). I had my own feelings of despair and brokenness and regret and confusion that seeing people in their own turmoil sent me over the edge.

But in another way, I focused all my attention on what I couldn't control. It provided the illusion that I was had a more confident footing on the ground that I was desperately trying to maintain.

For a few years I have played with the idea of becoming a therapist. Of course , the main reason was to "help people." I could offer empathy and insight from my own difficult, painful experiences, but I would also have a front row seat to these people and their pain. Maybe in helping others come to terms with their own trauma, I could make sense of my own.

My reasons for wanting to become a therapist are not entirely selfish, but as I examine going foreword in that direction I don't think it is the job for me. I'm scared to shut the door completely on that occupation, but I think I am too sensitive and could possibly become entangled in their stories.

I believe that my ability to let go of worry and channel that anxiety is becoming more refined. But this is only because of a supernatural hand holding my heart. Sensitivity and the propensity to worry are built into my personality. I want the ideal for everyone--whatever that ideal may be.

A wise friend always reminds me that "everyone has to have there own testimony." Hearing this initially ramps up my anxiety, but soon it becomes a salve to that sliver of my heart that aches for justice and is afraid of brokenness. It's true. We all have been given our own story. Nothing I do or don't do can determine someone's life story. It's the dark, twisty times that give us strength and perspective. These scary, lonely times give us the capacity to love deeper and hope with more buoyancy.

While everyone has their own story and essentially only God determines their breathes and steps, human beings most definitely impact each other. We don't know how our words or our actions can affect someone's heart.

My life has been deeply impacted my the choices of others' to love me when I was a tad delusional. The simplicity of cooking a meal together or holding another's hand have saved my life, or at least my sanity.

I don't want to spend my time worrying about other peoples' pain. I want to spend my time loving them, even if that means praying for them from a distance. Suffering is real, but so is God's love. While I don't want to obsess about people, I also don't want to miss opportunities to reach out. A smile, a note, a long conversation at the kitchen table--it is the seemingly little things that make a difference.

*Let's love people.*