Bearing

I am tired

In my flesh

Triggered

Abandoned

Broken-hearted

I am resentful

Unable to be perfect

Unable to arrive

Human

I am not willing to justify my actions to those who have yet to live anything near the last 35 years of my life

I am sad for the loss of what it “should” have been, but never will be

For the realization that this is forever and will never be “normal” or easy

Rejoicing in the tiny perfection, the heavenly smell, the precious sounds

The overwhelming, all-encompassing love

The witnessing of care-taking and manliness in the grown clone of this new blessing

The beauty of godly men stepping forward with grace and encouragement, bearing witness to Our Pappa’s power over shame.

Redemption

In His will

In His love

Thankful that He is in the waiting with me while my heart is breaking, reminding me to release the doing, the reaching, the striving

Reminding me to be who He made me to be, extending grace to others

Extending grace to me

But, first, I mourn, because I am weary and I am a woman

I am His

 

 

2, Fix You

I am learning the sweetest lesson that I would almost swear is changing my body chemistry and slowing down the aging process.  I am simultaneously trying not to regret spending so many years not living in this truth.

So much of my struggle comes simply from being a mama, but it seems to be compounded by my 2-ness.  I have always loved to help my husband and our children “figure out” how best to navigate all kinds of difficult situations.  If any one of them is in the midst of a mini crisis, there is nothing this 2-mama loves more than being needed, and if the tangle is between any 2 or more of them, well then I’ve always felt it is my responsibility to get right in the middle and help them to understand the other person’s viewpoint so that peace and love would once again be restored in our family.

ick.

Right?!

Recently, as we have been walking through this trying season in our family, I am seeing so clearly that satan wants division and isolation among us.  In the past, this would’ve panicked me and I would be in full-on mama-2-fixit mode.  I’d convince myself because of other broken relationship history that any conflict between my children could be permanent.  I’d be on high-alert for any harsh word or action, lest left unaddressed, would sever the ties that bind us so that reconciliation was impossible. I’d force myself, my husband and our children into conversations that none of us was anywhere ready to have, thus resulting in deeper wounding all the way around.

Often I would listen to one of my lovie’s  emotional assessments of a situation, all the while getting amped up about the other lovie who was clearly in the wrong!  Then I’d confront this “other” only to find out that I was only getting one side of the story, and in the name of reconciliation, I had jumped the gun, crossing several boundaries and hurting everyone in the process.

Holy Spirit has been unconditionally patient with my insanity.  He has gently and consistently grown me in this area.  Initially, my first milestone, which was more work than I care to admit, was curbing my yelling (screaming) at my immediate family.   This is embarrassing, but the truth is, I lost my temper and turned into an insane banshee with my babies on a somewhat regular basis for more years than I care to admit right now.  This would happen for important and worthy reasons such as forgetting their schoolwork at home, not emptying the dishwasher when I asked them to, and their all time favorite:  when they would leave someone out, especially one another.  The amazing thing is that I can’t even remember the last time I went full-on banshee on anyone.  So, that’s a win.

My next goal was staying out of my grown children’s disagreements with each other and with their dad.  This was SO, SO HARD for me!!!  The interesting thing was that they asked me to do this and we all decided to make it a family rule, but when they would argue, someone would inevitably look at me and say, “Aren’t you going to say something?!  Why are you letting him/her say that without saying anything?!”  I also discovered that my children had become champion busybodies, thanks to my example, and staying out of arguments that didn’t involve them became a family goal.  So, that objective was not obtained as smoothly, but I’m grateful and proud to say that when 2 of us are having a spat and all of us are together, the other 3 stay quiet and refrain from taking sides 95% of the time. 

My latest ambition has been to stop being the fix-it girl. When my children share a challenging situation they’re dealing with, my mind is racing to think of the best solution for them.  Half the time, I’m not truly listening to what they are communicating, because I’m so busy trying to make it all better and be the hero! (insert another “ick”)

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I’m learning I should not attempt to solve the struggles in other people’s, especially my children’s, lives.  It is perfectly acceptable, nay, preferable to stay silent, truly listen and simply ask what they need from me.  I’ve found that in actively staying focused on what is being said to me, I can more easily wade through the emotion and opinions that feel like facts to him/her.  I don’t jump to conclusions or make assumptions as much as I used to and that’s a double win, imo, because people don’t get hurt by possible untruths and satan can’t use this against me like he has so much of my life.

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All 5 of us are NFP’s on the Myers-Briggs, so there is no shortage of the feels in our family.  Learning to keep our emotions in check has been such a blessing.  We still have tiffs and we are not terribly calm or logical when things get heated, but we stay in our lanes most all of the time now, we listen to each other in a way we never did before and the banshee is gone.  I’d say we’re winning.

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Organic Coconut Yogurt – Instant Pot Style

If you want naturally sweet, dairy-free, sugar-free (except for the maple syrup to feed fermentation), organic, super healthy yogurt, I’ve got an amazing recipe for you!  I’ve made this a few times now, choosing bits and pieces from other people’s recipes and suggestions, and found that this is the perfect one for me and my family.  There are only 5 ingredients (RED) and you don’t have to use the gelatin or the probiotics, if you don’t want to.  I tried to highlight (BLUE) the most important details to make this less confusing.  I was a nervous wreck the first time I made this, so I’m hoping this will be easier for you to follow and feel less intimidated than I did.  It’s very difficult to mess this up, so give it a shot!  It’s so quick and easy to prepare.  The long part is waiting for your instant pot (IP) to finish the work for you!  You can do this with a crock pot/slow cooker, a heating pad, with the light in your oven, or any way that you can keep your yogurt at a pretty consistent 100-110 degrees for 8-36 hours so that it can ferment, after you cook it on the stove top to 185 degrees to begin with.  The IP just makes the whole process much simpler:  all of the mess in one pot and no checking the temp or doing much of anything but wait once you set the time and temperature.

You’ll Need:

5 cans of Organic Coconut Milk (FULL FAT, NOT Low!) – I refrigerate (3-4 hours) or freeze (1 hour) 2 cans and drain the coconut water into a jar (to use later for anything I want, smoothies, etc.) and only use the cream from those 2 cans.   I shake the other 3 cans to combine the water and cream and use the entire contents of the 3 cans as they are.  This is important because it helps your yogurt be as smooth and creamy as possible.  

1/4 cup of Maple Syrup (pure, NO additives, and organic, if possible) – If I’m fermenting the yogurt for less than 12 hours, I don’t use the maple syrup because coconut milk has plenty of natural sugar in it and I want as little sugar in my yogurt so that my family gets only good stuff from it.  Fermentation eats the sugars so that the end product has very little to NO sugar in it.  Also, DO NOT substitute honey.  It’s bacteria will fight against the good bacteria in the yogurt and ruin your product.

*Last week I warmed/fermented our yogurt for 29 hours and it was TANGY!  With some berries and grain-free granola I can enjoy this without any sweetener, but I added 1/2 a teaspoon of stevia to my Honey’s to take the edge off.  He doesn’t love tangy like I do!

 Pour only the coconut milk and maple syrup into the IP and whisk until it is smooth.  Then hit “yogurt” until it goes to “boil,” which will heat it to about 185 degrees.  This cycle takes about 15 minutes and you do not need to cover your IP.  Try to whisk once or twice during this cycle.  When you hear the BEEP indicating that the boil cycle is over, immediately whisk in

2-3 teaspoons of UNFLAVORED GRASSFED BEEF GELATIN or 1-2 teaspoons of AGAR AGAR (I’ve never used agar agar, but if you are vegetarian or vegan, this is a great option!)

Be sure to mix this in very well, or you will end up with lumps instead of thickened yogurt.  Also, most recipes I’ve found suggest adding the gelatin after the yogurt cools to 110 degrees (see below), but in my experience the gelatin works better if you add it when the mixture is at a higher temperature.

Let the mixture cool for about an hour with the cover on top, but not locked.  Your IP will slowly lower the temp to about 110 degrees.  (I use a candy thermometer)  When it reaches this temp, take out a scoop (about 1/4 cup or so) and put it in a small bowl.  Then slowly stir in 

3-4 oz. of plain yogurt (you can use coconut, dairy milk, almond, hemp, any kind works).  Once you make your first batch, always keep out 3-4 oz. before you add anything, and you’ll always have a starter for each next batch.  I just put 4 oz. in one of these glass jars:

Image result for 4 oz. canning jars

When the two are mixed well, pour the combination back into the IP mixture and whisk until completely blended.

The final ingredient I add is:

2-3 probiotic capsules (opened and poured out, DO NOT throw the capsule in there whole!)  It’s important that you use probiotics that are not expired.

I whisk my concoction one last time and then set the timer to 24 hours or more, typically, but you can choose to set it for 8 hours (less will not ferment enough to be yogurt) or as high as 36 hours.  I may stir it once or twice during this time, but more often I just let it be.

When this cycle is finished, don’t expect it to be much thicker than when you started.  The gelatin works by heating and then cooling as does the yogurt itself.  So, it will take time to thicken as it cools and sets.  I whisk it and immediately put it in a 64 oz. glass jar, like this:

Image result for 1/2 gallon canning jars

Or 2-32 oz. jars work just as well!

**Don’t forget to put 3-4 ounces in a small glass jar for your next batch!

Now, here’s the trick…  Let it set up in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours if you want thick, rich, creamy yogurt.  If that’s not so important to you, then enjoy your yogurt after 2 or more hours in the fridge. 

Once you get the hang of this, I guarantee you will not want to eat any other yogurt!  You know exactly what is in this!  There is SO much good fat in coconut milk.  You can make yogurt with cow’s milk, as well, but we love that this recipe is completely dairy-free!  Making your own is MUCH cheaper than buying it made at the grocery store.  Last week I bought a 5 oz. container of coconut milk yogurt that is made with organic coconuts, but not completely organic.  The second ingredient was cane sugar, which I prefer not to consume and there were a few other things I wasn’t wild about, although it was pretty yummy!  It cost me $1.59!  If I multiplied that by 12.5 – a little less than how many containers my recipe makes – that would cost just under $20.00 for store bought with ingredients I can’t control.  My ingredients cost me about $12-13.00 per batch and I know exactly what I’m feeding my family!  When it’s time to enjoy this creamy yumminess, we typically add fresh fruit and grain-free granola, but you can add a fruit compote, chocolate shavings, nuts or a few drops of pure vanilla.  When it’s too tart, I just sprinkle a little stevia or monk fruit on it and stir, but any sweetener you enjoy will work.  Please leave questions or comments below.  I would love to hear about your experience with making yogurt!

Image may contain: fruit, dessert and food

Pray

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Your voice is at the tip of my mind

Speak to me

Is that You guiding my steps?

Doubt creeps in

Speak clearly to me

Speak louder, Father!

No

Be still

Invite quiet

Release

Open hands, heart, mind

close up of hands
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Clarity begins to surface

Peace falls over me

Listen

Pappa…

I hear You…

Thank You, Pappa

Amen

 

Becoming Beloved

In the midst of tribulation I am finding such joy in the smaller things that sum up my now.  I am beyond grateful for moments like this when I can contemplate what is good and how My Pappa has always and continues still to work through every season for good in my life.  Writing has always helped me to center by focusing on Him and becoming still and quiet in order to hear His voice over the noise of my racing mind that naturally falls prey to pulling myself up by the bootstraps and plunging ahead in my own “power.”

Today I met with friends, sisters, who see me and choose to trust me, hold space for me, truly love me and encourage me.  I’ve spent most of my life without this kind of agape love and I do not take this gift from My Pappa for granted.

Yesterday I worked with a family that I simply adore.  They invite me into their lives with such intimacy, sincerity and appreciation.  It is a gift to love and be loved by them.

Today I received the wall hanging for my office that I’ve been waiting for.  The office that I have longed for and is now becoming a reality.  I am sitting at my desk, looking out the window at various tree limbs against the cloud-filled sky.  Having a space where I can ponder, pray, write and contemplate, filled with things that remind me of joy is a dream come true.  Having my husband and my Caleb help me put the room together has made me giddy, at times.

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I am learning and relearning so much during this time.  I am repeatedly reminded to lean into My Pappa.  I am also reminded again, and again to trust that what I’ve instilled in my children will not lie dormant, but that they are amazing ADULT human beings who love and serve Our Pappa.  They will flounder and fall, but unlike 20-something-year-old me, they have relationship with a God that loves them without condition and earthly parents who have a relationship with that same Pappa God.

As James told us:

So, I will keep remembering to consider this season a gift.  I daily remind myself to be confident that Our Pappa is growing our faith, maturing and developing us more and more into who He made us to be, all the while being aware of how very loved and blessed we are and always have been.  

This is a great way to remember who He is:

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Oh, Pappa, this has been a day.  One where I had expectations of savored memories in these last precious days before things begin to change in big and permanent ways, only to have nothing turn out as I imagined.  First world probs, I know, but today, to me, it matters.

I am most grateful that through all of the junk that comes at me and my precious family, we can keep pointing each other back to You.  I am always thankful, but especially in the waiting, that You are My Pappa, that You are Their Pappa and we can all rest in knowing You’ve got this and Your plan is ALWAYS so much better than ours.

So, please help me to put away my disappointment and release my injuries and self-recrimination to Your ever ready and grace-extending hands.  Thank You, Pappa,  that even though my problems may be small in the big picture, because they matter to me, they matter to You.  

Amen

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