Sunday, January 18, 2015

Hello Oregon

It's hard to move somewhere new.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good adventure, but moving somewhere new has its ups and downs.

A few months ago I mentally promised myself that I wouldn't move again. Ever. I wanted to settle down somewhere and strengthen my roots in one place. I thought I could do that in my hometown around my closest friends. Let's just say it didn't work quite like I had planned (and dreamed).

No matter how much time has passed I still get my hopes up about coming home. I think things will be different and that everything will be chocolate cake and ice cream. But circumstances shift, and the things that I hope have shifted stay the same.

A month or so at home base, and I felt again the pull to pack a suitcase (or two) and go. Anxiety crept up on me and life had that impossible heaviness that comes with the unknown. One afternoon I was caught-up in a panicked prayer and I stumbled upon the Christian camping website. A camp on the Oregon Coast caught my eye, and I jumped in and applied for the job opening.

The next day the HR director called me and we talked about the possibility of coming to work there. I took a couple days, pondered and prayed and made the decision to move.

I've been living on the Coast for 15 days. It's beautiful here. I am literally a one minute walk to the ocean. The job isn't glamorous, but when I'm making beds and dusting furniture I get to see crashing waves only a football field away.

When I'm enjoying a French press with my housemate (who I swear could be my long lost sister)  inside a funky little coffee shop a couple blocks away, I have to pinch myself.

Yes, there have been a few tearful moments when I've questioned why I decided to move again. I've had lonely days where I struggle with where I fit here, and then I remember that I can always find my home in God.

He defines home for me. I don't have to feel scattered when I reside in Him. He is ever-present and the thing that gives me those roots that I desperately want.

So, here's to more walks where that still, small voice whispers in the rain. Here's to simple moments of sipping coffee and the scent of grapefruit that ground me back to the here and now. Here's to more moments of gratitude for the place I get to call home. I'm expectant and excited about what's to come, and I'm learning to rest in where I am right now.


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 anywhere...plus, 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

confirmation

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. 

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.*