Monday, November 14, 2011

Amazing Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies!

My first REAL cookie recipe!  The whole family loves these!!!  I leave out the chocolate chips for my non-chocolate eating son, but he didn't mind the grated chocolate mixed in to the dough; it really just adds more moisture to the flours than anything else.  SO YUMMY!  Let me know what you think!

Amazing Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

• 1/2 cup organic unsalted butter, softened

• 1/3 cup real maple syrup (we use Grade B)

• 1/3 cup organic sugar

• 1 egg

• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

• 1 cup white whole wheat flour

• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

• 1 1/3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, blended into powder

• 3/4 to 1 cup dark chocolate chips, 60% cocoa (semisweet will work to, just not quite as "real")

• 3/4 cup nuts, chopped (optional, we prefer without)

• .75 to 1 oz. dark chocolate (60% cocoa or better) bar, grated

Like the vintage Vita-Mixer?  It was my mom's when I was a kid...she has a new one so we get the old one! YEAH!

Checking on those oats.  We like them with a little texture left, not completely powder.


1. Preheat oven to 375

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered oats, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

Helping grate the chocolate.  Love this grater - really safe with the guard so the kids can help!

3. In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar and syrup for 2-3 minutes on medium speed. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Gradually beat in dry ingredients. Stir in grated chocolate, then add chocolate chips and chopped nuts, if using.

This is the dough, pre-chocolate.

4. Roll or scoop dough into 2-inch sized balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet or baking stone (I use my small Pampered Chef scooper – it makes more and they are perfect every time). Bake for 10-12 minutes. Do NOT overbake. Should still be soft.

5. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.

Because it is just too hard to wait!  They call the beater and the spatula the "lickers"!

Makes around 2 dozen cookies, or more if scooping with the smaller size. The scooped dough freezes great and bakes up as yummy as the fresh dough. Add 1-2 minutes to baking for frozen dough.  So good!

My girls enjoying their cookie. . .

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Quiet Surrender

But really not quiet at all, not in my heart at least

A storm raged, battles fought, cries rang out. It was loud. And anything but quiet.

Then surrender came. A slow, deep breath of calm, washing over until it was all let go.

Surrender. Freedom. And pure Peace.

Not fleeting, but lasting and firm. A true presence.

Like the pressure of comfort my husband's hand brings on my chest when the heart is racing too quickly and anxiety is creeping in. He presses and I release.


Surrender.  To a God that holds it all.

Freedom.  To live under the umbrella of His grace and know true Love.  To live.

Peace.  That transcends all understanding.  The Calm in the storm and the Whisper in the wind.

Quiet Surrender came.

A Place to dwell.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Raw Milk ~ Part 3

If you are jumping in this is third post on RAW MILK . . . you might want to start here (talking about the basics of milk) and then catch up on the second one(more specifics and some shots of our kids with "our" cows).

I had a few requests to simplify Dr. Pottenger's study on raw milk versus pasteurized milk with cats which I mentioned in the last post on raw milk, and since this has been one of my personal favorite findings in my research on raw milk, I am happy to oblige.

Dr. Pottenger conducted a study from 1932 to 1942.  He took a very large number of cats (we're talking 900 total by the end of his study!), broke them in groups and fed them five different diets.  One group was fed raw milk and raw meat.  The other was fed pasteurized milk.  *All the milk was from the same source.*  And the other groups were fed evaporate or condensed milk combinations with raw meat as well.  AKA - one group was fed "real" food, and all the others a form of "processed" food.

The raw milk group of cats all lived normal, healthy feline lives through the four generations of the study.

The first generation of cats born to the processed groups developed a variety of typically human diseases toward the end of their lifespan, including thyroid disease, cancers, and heart conditions.  Pottenger noticed these cats were more lethargic and less playful.

The second generation: brittle bone disease, osteoperosis, and the other diseases mentioned already towards the middle parts of their lifespan.

The third generation : the same disease at the beginning of their lifespan and many did not survive past six months.

There was no fourth generation from the processed groups because most of the parents of the third generation which survived to mating ages were born sterile, and were very unsocial and inactive.  If pregnancy did occur, all fourth generation kittens were stillborn.

Does this sound familiar?

WE, as a country, are entering our fourth generation as a pastuerized milk nation.  How many fertility clinics were established 30 years ago?  How often did a pediatrician diagnose a child with cancer?  How common were miscarriages?

As someone who struggles with a thyroid disease, has lost four babies to miscarriage, and now with four little ones to provide for . . . this caught my eye in a major way.

When did our grandparents generation begin getting cancers? (3 of the 3 of our living biological grandparents have had cancer in their later years.)

When did our parent's generation begin getting cancers? (Most of the ones we know, at some time during their middle years.)

How many of our children and their peers are getting cancer as minors?  (I don't even like to think about this statistic . . . but it's there.)

I am not saying processed milk is entirely the culprit for these tragic changes in our society, but I don't think it is wise to ignore studies like this and the information we have available about natural nutrition.

There are several write-ups stating Pottenger's findings are indicative of other deficiencies in the cats' diets due to cooking food and are not aplicable to the human diet.  But isn't that the point!!!  Cooking, processing, modifying our food DOES change the nutrient content, whether we are cats, dogs, mice, or people!  That food is no longer in it's most natural state and changes are going to take place.  How those changes affect our bodies is the question to really consider.

I borrowed this from an article on Louis Pasteur (the father of pasteurization).  It was generated for a Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors concerning outbreaks from pasteurized milk.  This is startling and nothing you will find on the FDA's website: (and you can read more details here - it's just crazy!)

1997, 28 persons ill from Salmonella in California, ALL FROM PASTEURIZED MILK.

1996, 46 persons ill from Campylobacter and Salmonella in California.

1994, 105 persons ill from E. coli and Listeria in California

March of 1985 19,660 confirmed cases of Salmonella typhimurium illness FROM CONSUMING PROPERLY PASTEURIZED MILK. Over 200,000 people ill from Salmonella typhimurium in PASTEURIZED MILK

1985, 142 cases and 47 deaths traced to PASTEURIZED Mexican-style cheese contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Listeria monocytogenes SURVIVES PASTEURIZATION!

1985, 1500 persons ill from Salmonella infection

August of 1984 approximately 200 persons became ill with a Salmonella typhimurium from CONSUMING PASTEURIZED MILK

November of 1984, another outbreak of Salmonella typhimurium illness from CONSUMING PASTEURIZED MILK

1983, over 49 persons with Listeria illness have been associated with the consumption of PASTEURIZED MILK in Massachusetts.

1993, 28 persons ill from Salmonella infection

1982, 172 persons ill (100 hospitalized) from a three Southern state area from PASTEURIZED MILK.

1982, over 17,000 persons became ill with Yersinia enterocolitica from PASTEURIZED MILK bottled in Memphis, Tennessee.

Another fun, short read on the milk debate with a few videos included.

I realize there is a lot of information out there and we can find evidence for whatever it is we want to believe - that is the beauty and the tragedy of freedom of speech.

So what are your thoughts?  A few of you have shared testimonies that I plan to post (with permission).  Are there any other stories surrounding raw/processed milk?  Do you have thoughts?  Questions?  Do you think we are nuts?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Light Moments

Because there is no way to look at this without smiling . . . or full on belly-laughing!

And this face fills my heart with pure, warm JOY!

Her eyes dance, dance every time she smiles.

Yup, he did that all by himself! This boy's humor is priceless.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cat Food and Peanut Butter

Cat food and peanut butter…it’s what’s for dinner

Just kidding…this is not a recipe post.  It is, however a long one.  It's a story about my God, his faithfulness and the incredible things He does.  So grab some tea and settle in. I promise it’s worth it.

By God’s providence and foreknowledge, I lost my job a week after I came home from Africa. I was devastated, humiliated, and heartbroken. The families I served through the charter school for the past several years had found a tender place in my heart and I truly loved being with them and watching the children grow. It was such an honor to be welcomed into their homes each month, sit at their dining room tables, and be a part of their lives. I miss them.

But God, perfect God, knew my heart and mind needed to be free of all distraction and openly present in our home for the little people that were about to enter in. I had no idea what storm lie ahead for our family and working (even though we called it “work from home”) had no place in my life for this season. So He, in his grace, removed it for us before we knew the need was coming.

All this goodness left a gaping hole in our finances. A little under 1/2 of our income came from my job and there was not much wiggle room to begin with. Our family’s medical coverage was also provided through my employer. Despite an almost immediate sense of relief, there was some fear about the unknown and just how we were going to make it. Our family was increasing in size from 4 to 6, with great and unexpected medical needs quickly arising, and our income was cut drastically.

Do you know God?

I always say I do. And then He reminds me how little I truly know, or how much I often forget. So, again, He started showing me…

First, medical benefits came through husband’s job, benefits that were not available to us for the past several years. He received a raise, just enough to cover the difference incurred by adding on the insurance. We could take our kids to the doctor and begin the crazy process of getting our baby daughter the care she needed to get well. And our family was provided for.

Arms overflowing, heart overwhelmed.

Then came the “small” stuff. The things that we never think of God paying attention to.

Our oldest son needed a swim suit for the summer. His legs are sprouting like those weeds that grow up over night. I told him we’d have to hit up a few thrift stores to see if we could find one. The next morning I got a text with a picture of a pair of swim trunks and matching flip flops. “Does your son need these?” And our family was provided for (above and beyond our need…aka-flip flops!)

We were about out of cat food for the two rat-police that keep watch over our garage and surrounding areas. The change in our income resulted in a drastic hit to our household and food budgets; animal care had not yet found its place in the now smaller numbers. There was one, maybe two days (depending on the lizard and rodent toll for that week) supply left. Then, so tragically, our neighbors dear feline companion passed away. She came over that afternoon, offering us an unopened bag of cat food and several months worth of flea/tick medication (which we had run completely out of and decided was just not going to be a regular purchase anymore). And our family (animal members and all) was provided for.

The pantry has grown quite bare in the past few months as I dig to the back, creating meals from random boxes and cans (which has worked out well since we are moving away from packaged and processed foods anyway). But a few staple items were almost depleted and truthfully I did not see a way to replace them anytime soon, specifically peanut butter and catsup. (I had plans to start making both of these from scratch…but not this week, and probably not this month.) We met a sweet friend and her boys at a water park one blistering afternoon. As we were loaded wet, sticky little bodies back into their almost-too-hot carseats, she pulled out 3 bags of groceries and placed them in my van. I glanced down to see the two items resting on top of the abundance…all natural peanut butter and organic catsup. Tears. And our family was provided for.

You would think I might start to notice the pattern. Nope. While I was cataloging each of these precious gifts, I am still surprised and in awe as each one arrives.

School. We homeschool. Or at least we did and hope to again. I LOVED teaching my firstborn at home, watching him learn, discovering the world with him, opening his eyes to God’s great love for him, and just being with him all day. But our family has changed; there are needs so great and time so short. So we prayed. What to do? “Here, God, is our heart. Here is our need. Please answer. What to do?” 24 hours later. Total and complete provision for a Bible-based, Christian-character influenced education, including transportation help to and from for our sweet little boy. Even gifts of clothing to create the new uniform wardrobe he would need. Is this right? My heart still wavers….husband says calmly and tenderly…Our family was provided for.

Smiling Tiger face despite the very swollen mosquito-biten eyelid.

Out of town work has never been a common occurrence for husband, thankfully. I like him home. We all do. But jobs came from afar and he had to go. Not just any jobs, however. Prevailing-wage jobs, work for government buildings, meaning a significant (more than double) increase in hourly wages. Four days out of town, two weeks pay from one weeks work. And then another week came, bringing the same. A few more days here, and then some more. We missed him, but he toiled not in vain. And our family was provided for.

Summer arrived. All the fun activities were in full gear, and while we don’t live in a completely remote place, we are 20 to 35 minutes from most of the “fun”, as my son would say. Vacation Bible School was about to begin. Sure it would be a blast. Sure there would be great lessons learned and much fun had. But 5 days of driving to and from, using the gas that should last for several weeks…not in the budget. So we had to say a sacrificial no. Then a gift, specifically a gas gift, arrived from hands that truly know how God gives to His children, especially His little ones. The fun was had, the lessons were learned and all of our hearts were touched. And our family was provided for.

Her new "cheese" face for the camera.

The autumn season has brought several gracious deliveries of garden harvest, bounty shared with us from precious friends. Butternut squash, potatoes, bell peppers, onions, bags of apples, beets, zucchini, just to name a few. And a few times there has even been a surplus that has provided our freezer with a small storage of veggies for the winter months. And every time . . . EVERY time . . . God has brought these gifts when the vegetable drawer in our refrigerator was nearly, if not completely empty. And our family was provided for.

Grandpa went to be with the Lord just days before we left for Africa. Beloved farmer man, a gentle giant, tender heart and strong, big hands. Missed so dearly, but home for eternity. Husband helped carry his body to the place it will rest and rejoiced with family over a life well lived. Many months later an envelope arrived. A gift. A remembrance of that humble life given to our family. Something never expected. This great generosity made the way for so much. Our family was provided for.


The piano. Yes, a whole piano. Not a key or string missing. Given to us…nope did not stutter…GIVEN to us. By a loving Christian family who do not know us even a bit. This is not an old, dented and dinged piano from the upstairs room at the church either. This is a beautiful, dark mahogany (which consequently matches my kitchen island perfectly) upright piano with the perfect amount of embellishment and pure old ivory keys. Real ivory! It sounds as good as it looks too. The only problem is enforcing the ‘one player at a time rule’ and since the sound board was modified by the designer to produce a louder, fuller sound…it is an imperative rule in a low-ceiling, wood floored living room. I nearly burst into tears on the phone when the call came asking if we could come get it, and yes, oldest son and I were in the feed store looking for crickets and chicken scratch. I cried as strong husband and I tried to push it up the make-shift ramp and into the living room. I cried every time I came down the stairs and saw the magnificent instrument gracing the once bare wall. It fits perfect. A gift beyond words. As my fingers trip up and down the keyboard, trying to remember their way, my soul is soothed and I am so grateful. Was it a need? No. Was it even a prayer whispered above? No. But even so…Our family was provided for.

I’ve been wondering if my Cost-co sized bottle of detergent was becoming something like the oil in widow’s jar. Every time I think I’m coming up on my last clean load, there’s just enough more to fill the little plastic cup. “Maybe I should make my own so we don’t have to buy any right now?” I remarked to husband and financial executive of our house. A low grunt with a humorous note was his only response. Then it came. A large bag of clothes, perfect for our new little ones, and sitting cozy at the bottom, filling the bag (and our van) with sweet fragrance were a large jug of laundry detergent (the REAL kind, not generic like I always buy) and 2 boxes of dryer sheets. I hadn’t told a sole about my suspicions surrounding the never-draining bottle on my garage shelf, but God knew. Of course He did…and from the hands of a family we’ve never met the replacement came. Our family was provided for.

Rarely apart.

“Wow! You have a lot of little ones!” the kind voice of the lady behind a booth at the farmer’s market remarked. “You just might qualify for our program.” I made an appointment, swallowed my pride, and two weeks later brought home the equivalent of 60% of our current grocery budget towards food items. This was truly amazing! It was literally handed to us, and will be for quite some time. We did nothing to earn it or deserve it. Just a gift. Every month. A gift to feed our babies. Our family was provided for.

“We heard your van isn’t running well. Here.” The passing of a white envelope. “Use this to get it fixed and make sure the AC is working for those kids.” Which it had not been for over 6 months and the bouts of triple digit heat had made it nearly unbearable to cram them into the back of the van where the windows did not open. But 5 days later, cool air rushes all the way to the furthest seat and everyone can ride without soaking through our shirts. Really though? To fix our van? It was too much. Literally too much and so the rest went into savings because it will probably break again and then we will have what we need. I bet to the penny, because that’s how my God seems to work in our lives. And our family was provided for.

We have come to enjoy the occasional cup of hot chocolate together on the couch (or in the tub ;) after the kids go to bed. It has become synonymous with those times when we find each other’s hearts after a day or two of not connecting to the depth we long for. And my husband can make some fancy hot cocoa with some delicious little extras. A week or two ago we ran out of chocolate and sighed as we sipped the last drops, knowing it would be a while before I could wiggle the splurge into our grocery budget. At a quick diaper trip to Cost-Co I spied a tall canister of rich Starbuck’s Hot Chocolate. . . my eyes darted away quickly so I didn’t have to fight the temptation to slip it in my cart. That very week at our parenting group, we won a little contest and I bet after this long list of blessings you can guess what the prize was! YUP, one tall canister of Starbuck’s Hot Chocolate! Our family (and our marriage…wink) was provided for.

Gift cards for groceries just because there was extra...hand me downs from those who have never met us containing the summer play clothes we didn’t have…bags of cherries from a tree of abundance just after we’d decided not to splurge on the sweet seasonal fruit…shoes that fit perfect, shoes that were needed greatly, and arrived on the door…a dog kennel to house the baby chicks that will one day provide eggs for us…canning supplies and a dehydrator loaned for summer months, allowing us to preserve the seasonal goodness for the winter…the list goes on and on. We just keep adding.

Yes, that is some preaching going on by a small blue monster to the girl in the pantry.  Pretty typical morning around here.

And our family IS provided for.

Do you know God?

My family is learning…

(I know - it was long.  Sorry.  I don’t share these stories to gain your sympathy or pity for our family in any way. No, we are blessed beyond our imaginations and we would NOT change a thing! I share to tell of God’s mercy, endless blessings, and gracious gifts He lavishes on His children, to encourage you in times of need to wait upon the Lord because He is faithful, and to remind myself that His eye is on the sparrow and forever watching me. He is worthy of our PRAISE!)

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Appointment

It's been a very sad week for the blog . . . with a day of appointments, a virus on one computer and a crash landing from the couch after a rugged push from tiny brown hands for the other one . . . we did not make many posts this week AND the final entries on the Raw Milk series have been postponed as well (sorry to disappoint, but at least you have more time to do some research, right?  :).

So I'm typing from my husband's tiny computer, my fingers can't find the right keys and the cursor keeps bouncing like a rubber ball around the screen; this is going to be brief.  I did however want to share a bit about the appointment we had with a pediatric neurologist for our baby girl that so many have been faithful prayer warriors for.

The doctor was wonderful, patient and thorough.  He showed me all her MRI films (very strange thing to see splices of your daughter's brain and spine), spent time watching us interact (me and the three littles, yes, all at the appointment), examining her body and observing her crawl.  He had a list of concerns and probable diagnosis, but was able to eliminate many of them throughout the appointment.

The end result was a big dose of encouragement to continue "doing what we're doing" (which includes 2 therapy sessions/week and frequent pediatrician appointments).  He said the evidence of her bond with me spoke volumes to the health of her brain (warmed this momma's heart too), and he did not see any immediate need for surgery, further treatment, or testing!  PRAISE the LORD!!!!!

This little girl has been a more vivid portrait of God's mercy than we have ever seen.  Over and again, He has spared her, brought life from tragedy, healing from sickness, and recovery from devastation.  To sum it all up - she is a little MIRACLE!

We are so grateful the Lord chose us to be her family and has allowed us to witness and partake in His glory through her tiny life.

So thank you, beloved friends and family, for standing with us at the throne, waiting for these much anticipated answers.  They were sweet words to hear, and while the road ahead is still long, our baby has the hope of a very bright future!


Monday, October 17, 2011

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense PATIENCE as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

1 Timothy 1:16

Do you have those days?  You know the ones . . . when at the very end, as you are dragging the covers up over your aching feet and your head is still reeling, you know, that today, you have tried the "immense patience" of your God to a great degree.

I have them.  Far more often than I would like to admit.  The reality is that I probably test the "immense patience" of my God every day.  My lack of fruit is blaringly evident when I replay the day's events as the covers are reaching my chin, head falling into my pillow.

Love was lacking, Peace was not spread, Patience was far from my tongue, Gentleness was not my first response, and let's not even go near Self-Control.  They are far from abounding in my heart and mind to the degree that would please the Lord . . . on those days . . .

And then, when I look closer at this verse from 1 Timothy, I see that this "immense patience", this longsuffering for me, His sinful child, is not really for my sake.  It says that I was shown mercy so that others might believe and receive eternal life.

There is so much to unpack there, but I find that notion overwhelming!  God chose me to give His mercy to, bestow His patience on, SO THAT others might see and recieve the same gifts!  That truth should drive all pride right out of my soul and paint me completely transpearant for all to see . . . so that ALL might see.

So what does that mean?  How does that happen?  How do we let others see so they too might recieve what we have been so freely given?