Thursday, April 06, 2017

16 Years Down the Road...



It's been 16 years of ups and downs, but with God's grace we've made it this far. I pray God will bless us with many, many more.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bread


I love banana bread. I love chocolate banana bread. Then I found this recipe for chocolate PEANUT BUTTER banana bread and I was in heaven! Three things that simply belong together! In this recipe, I wanted to add chocolate chips for the extra bit of chocolate in every other bite, but alas, I had no chocolate chips. I had about half a bag of butterscotch chips and well, that was the direction I went and they worked! Enjoy this with a dark cup of coffee or black tea. It’s delicious!
 
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • ⅓ cup peanut butter, slightly melted
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 - 1 C. chocolate or butterscotch chips (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the slightly melted peanut butter, sugar, mashed bananas, vegetable oil, and eggs. After mixing, stir in cocoa, baking powder & soda, salt, and vanilla. Stir in flour last. If using chips, stir in just until incorporated.
  3. Pour into loaf pan and bake for roughly 55 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.

Broccoli Avocado Tumeric Soup

Perfect healthy cold weather soup! This is dairy/grain free and vegan (for those on restricted diets use veggie broth). It’s relatively easy to make. I don’t have a food processor, but my heavy duty blender did the trick. Just be very careful and start off slow. Don’t overfill, otherwise you could have scalding hot soup everywhere.

Ingredients:
  • 1 Tbsp coconut or extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp turmeric powder
  • 4 cups chicken stock or bone broth (for vegan use veggie broth)
  • 1 head broccoli, trimmed and chopped (6 cups)
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1 avocado, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper 
                                                                                Directions:
  1. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, chili powder, and turmeric and cook, stirring, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add broccoli and cook, covered, until bright green and tender, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, stir in spinach, and let cool slightly.
  2. Transfer soup to blend and puree with avocado. I like a little texture, so I left 3 cups out and mixed in the blended portion with the reserved. Adjust seasoning. Garnish with avocado and a drizzle of olive oil.
  3. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Coconut Ginger Tumeric Stew

This delicious stew is perfect for vegetarians or meat eaters. It’s full of healthy fats and turmeric is an anti-inflammatory. Comforting and warm, it’s one the whole family can enjoy for dinner. Add in some chicken or tofu for extra protein. If you’re enjoying a bit of grains, this pairs nicely with wild rice.

Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, stemmed and cut into bite-size florets
  • 1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, chopped
  • 1 C chopped kale or spinach if you don’t like kale
  • 2 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 Tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 Tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 can full-fat, unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

Instructions

In a medium stock pot, heat the coconut oil for 30 seconds on medium heat.
Add the cumin seeds and stir until they start to sputter. Then add the onions and cook for another minute, and then, add the tomatoes, stir and cook for a few more minutes until the tomatoes soften.
Add the rest of the ingredients and stir together. Cover the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to keep from burning.
Ladle the soup into 4 serving bowls and enjoy! Leftover stew can be stored in air-tight container and saved for lunch the next day.

 

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving: 

calories 204 • fat 24 g • saturated fat 20 g • cholesterol 0 mg • fiber 6 g • protein 6 g • carbohydrate 18 g • sodium 588 mg

Monday, January 23, 2017

With All Due Respect...

I've avoided politics for years on my blog. Mostly because it's just too contentious. I don't like the strife and the bottom line is that those who want to argue, aren't going to change their minds and I'm not going to change mine. So, it's kind of pointless. However, this election is different. It has destroyed relationships more than Obama's ever has. It has split churches even. That is who I want to address.

With All Due Respect Church, You Are Wrong

While I think that the issues that arise with every election are important to discuss as a church, I think that declaring loyalty or favoritism to a specific candidate is wrong. I experienced the discomfort of actual fist pumping in my church with the gloating announcement that Trump is our president now. This election has been painful for me. I've had people call me horrific vile names for being skeptical of Trump. My own family has essentially questioned my loyalty to this country, for voting third party.

So to "whoop! whoop!" about a man who has been so divisive and disrespectful is kind of opposite what I think a church should encourage. I stumbled across this video and it will be my final say on the matter. I've also included some verses I think the church should seriously consider as I believe they are prophesy coming to pass right now.


Ephesians 5:6-13
"Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light."


2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 Amplified Bible (AMP)
"Let no one in any way deceive or entrap you, for that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first [that is, the great rebellion, the abandonment of the faith by professed Christians], and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction [the Antichrist, the one who is destined to be destroyed], who opposes and exalts himself [so proudly and so insolently] above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he [actually enters and] takes his seat in the temple of God, publicly proclaiming that he himself is God."

For my fellow Christians who are in the same uncomfortable position as I am, worried about our church, it's ability to witness and the state of faith in our country, take the following words to heart and find comfort:

"Stay the course, Christian Constitutionalists, remembering a profound truth: We don't live the lives we do, in order to achieve a particular outcome. We abide by our principles, because they are the highest order in our lives, second only to our spiritual devotion.

Those virtues properly guide and direct our every move, and are part and parcel of that very devotion. Indeed, they emanate from the very fountainhead of that devotion...our Heavenly Father.
We can no more act independently of these values, especially in matters of great import...than the rushing river can climb out from its banks. It must continue on its path...its destiny is set.

Stay your course. Let the fool say you're wrong. Let the weak and ignorant decry the very laws that govern your own morality and eternal destiny. Yours is a higher calling. Though you stand alone, your integrity will sustain you. Stand strong. You have known the Truth...and HE has set you free!"
- Duane Langenberg

Thursday, January 19, 2017

An Epiphany Inspired By Life

I'm going to delve into a very emotional topic. Just fair warning. This is a very personal account and I have no reason to embellish or lie. This is my story and I've stuck to it for 13 years. Take it or leave it, but I hope that it inspires or helps you find answers to the questions you have not easily Googled.

*Deep Breath*

I haven't always been so strongly against abortion. I didn't really have a feeling about it one way or another. It just wasn't on my radar. I was raised in a Christian home, but it wasn't a topic discussed specifically. So when my husband and I got pregnant for the first time, it wasn't under duress that we found out. We were in a good place so feeling trapped or overwhelmed wasn't something we experienced with the knowledge that we were about to have a baby. We were overjoyed.

I am Type I Diabetic and so considered high risk. We were trying to get pregnant so I was keenly aware to any changes and would immediately take the home pregnancy test. It took some time to get pregnant and I was starting to worry it wouldn't happen for us. But it did and we were ecstatic. I went to the doctor and confirmed it really early (barely 4 weeks), but this was a doctor appointment made just a week prior. I had to travel to see specialists and there were lots of tests early on and we told our parents. I know, they say to wait just in case, but we were too excited and couldn't imagine anything bad happening.

At about my 6th week, I woke up at about 4am, in a pool of blood. We knew what it meant and I immediately started crying. We called the ER to let them know we were on our way. Luckily, that was about 5 minutes because we lived in a small seaside town. The doctor was kind, and very gentle. She forlornly gave me the news. I had to come back the next day for an ultra sound and then D&C. They allowed me to clean up, gave me scrubs to wear home, and we left.

We lived in a cute little cottage on the water. To get to it, we had to walk down a boardwalk from the parking area. We walked in silence. My heart was torn up. I couldn't cry anymore. I was thinking in my head that I just wanted to drink whatever we had in the house and obliterate the pain. I wanted to black out and forget. This is what it feels like when someone says they feel "gutted". I felt empty where my heart should be. I kept hearing this voice in my head and thought I was going crazy.

"I'm still here!"  "It's okay! I'm still here!"

Soft and quiet. I was instantly mad at God. I said in my head, "Years of never hearing you despite begging to hear your voice and NOW you want to talk? Go away!" But the voice didn't go away until I fell asleep. Crying again. I never drank a thing. I was too tired. The effort felt like too much.

Later that morning I had a whole day to simmer in my grief before I went to my appointment the next day. My parents came by to console me. My husband's parents brought flowers. My husband was commercial fishing at that time, and was working to prep the boat, so he was busy during the day. I was alone. Half sad. Half angry. It wasn't fair! I heard that voice still pleading they were "still here" throughout the day. I think it was the only reason I didn't take the opportunity to drink again. I slept off and on.

The next morning my husband dropped me off at the hospital and told me he would be there for the appointment as soon as he could. He had to go to the boat, check on some things and let the rest of the crew know what was up. I trudged to the waiting room and sat. Soon I was brought back to the ultrasound room. The tech was very solemn and kind. I laid there. Waiting to hear that, yes, my baby was dead....

"Wait... I think... there's.... THERE'S A HEARTBEAT! THERE'S A BABY STILL THERE!!"

I almost fell off the table. He jumped up, told me he had to get the doctor and ran out. I was in shock. I started to cry and right then my husband walked in. The look on his face was fear because he thought my tears meant something worse had happened. When I told him, "WE'RE STILL PREGNANT!!" I saw him tremble slightly before he rushed to me. The doctor came in with a full smile and tears in her eyes. She told us that this happens far more often than people realize and her experience taught her to always do an ultrasound to verify there is no life before proceeding with the D&C. She explained that we had most likely had twins and one, for whatever reason, died. I was sent home on temporary bed rest. 

Our First Born, Russell

Seven months later, I gave birth to Russell. My smiley sweet boy. It was when I was holding him for the first time, something happened. I don't know how to describe it, except like a spark going off right between my eyes, but in my head. I heard the voice, "I'm still here!". It was a memory, but from familiarity. I looked at this new baby boy and it struck me that HE had been reassuring me that he was still alive. I just didn't realize it consciously.

So early on, in the womb, his spirit was present. I have no doubt it was him trying to talk to me and in some way, I think he was the only reason I didn't fully give up.
When Russell was 3yo, he started verbalizing about a sister in heaven. We had never told him he was a twin. So this was amazing to us. Family swore to us they hadn't mentioned it. They didn't see the reason for it. To this day, around his birthday, he'll make a comment about his sister in heaven. So how has this shaped my feelings about abortion?

Life is precious. There is a soul from the very beginning. You cannot convince me otherwise. You can believe me or not. But this is my personal experience and for the rest of my life, I will speak out against the horrors of abortion. Thank you for listening to my story. I hope you found the answers to the difficult questions you had. I hope I inspired you. I hope you take the time to think about this issue, and at least, research more deeply and ignore the emotional shouts from either side of this issue. Seek the truth urgently. The truth, truly will, set you free. 
  

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Good Morning, I Love You!

I've been on a long health journey. I have Type I Diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease that doesn't go away with diet or exercise. A cure would be required to eliminate it, and 40,000 people a year are diagnosed. Between 20-60 children die a year from something called "Dead In Bed Syndrome" which is a complication of T1D (Type I Diabetes). It's a scary disease to contend with. My second son also has it. Coupled with Hypothyroidism, it makes gaining weight super easy and losing it a constant battle.

I've found different tricks that work for me to get optimal blood sugars and in turn, help me to slowly lose weight and maintain. Increasing my energy is also a plus. So lets start from the top of the day!

So I start my day, minutes after waking up, checking my blood and taking my insulin shots, I drink a glass of lemon water. The recommendation is a full lemon squeezed into a glass of water. Keeping up with a supply of fresh fruit can be hard, so I just get lemon juice and follow the directions for making lemonade (minus the sugar). Two tablespoons of lemon juice for 3/4 C. of water and a couple ice cubes. I take this with my morning meds but make sure you check to make sure you don't have medications adversely affected by citrus. Drink this on an empty stomach to purify and detox the body, at least 30 min before eating breakfast. This is also purported to jump start the metabolism.

Next, it's time to think about breakfast. Reports state that eating fruit first thing in the morning is more optimal for utilizing the nutrients in the fruit and distributing the sugars through the day. I get my two servings of fruit knocked off the list doing this. I have apples chopped up with a drizzle of nut butters and cinnamon. Here is my "recipe":
Coconut Manna is blended coconut meat. It's basically a nut butter.

 Nutty Apple Breakfast
  • 1 large apple or 2 small apples chopped into bite size pieces. 
  • 1Tbsp coconut manna 
  • 1Tbsp peanut or almond butter
  • 1tsp cinnamon
 Place chopped apple in a bowl and set aside. In a small microwave safe bowl add butters and cinnamon and microwave for 20-40 seconds until melted. Stir well and drizzle over apples. Enjoy!

It's delicious and filling. The ratio of protein, fat and fruit sustain me until almost one in the afternoon!



With this lovely concoction, I drink a large mug of green mint tea (about 2 cups). I also have my water bottle handy so I continue taking in fluids. The goal is to drink 64oz by the afternoon.

Now we're on to lunch. I avoid all grains at lunch time. It helps me prevent an inevitable blood sugar spike prior to dinner time that can make me feel sluggish. So lots of veggies and protein. I've taken to making veggie soups that I can add whatever protein I have on hand. Today, I made a wonderful veggie soup and topped it with a few strips of grilled chicken and a sprinkle of cheese.

Here is the recipe for the soup so you can make your own. It would pair well with ground hamburger, chicken, and I even had some with leftover pulled pork and it was awesome! It nearly fills a 6 quart crock, so consider cutting it down if you don't think you'll be able to eat it all within a week.

Classic Veggie Soup
approx 45min to prepare
Ingredients:
  • 5 carrots, chopped
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 10 stalks celery, chopped
  • 6 mini bell peppers, diced 
  • 1 (1 ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 1 Tbs tumeric
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika  
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with garlic & peppers, w/liquid
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cut green beans, drained
  • 2 quarts spicy tomato juice
  • 14oz beef broth
  • 3 bay leaves 
  • 1 medium head cabbage, chopped 
  • salt and pepper to taste
 Saute onions, carrots and celery until onions start to sweat and turn translucent. Add peppers, soup mix and spices and stir well, allowing spices to toast for 5 min (stirring constantly). Add rest of ingredients except cabbage. Bring soup to a boil and add cabbage. Push down the cabbage into the liquid and cover. After about 10 min, check to make sure it is just simmering (increase or decrease heat if necessary), stir well and cover. Cook until the celery is tender. Remove bay leaves before serving. This freezes well, and if you like to share with others, it would be a wonderful meal to split with another household.

Dinner can be difficult due to my family not being quite on the same restrictive diet as me. Often times, I just have some of the protein if it's gluten free. Then I pile half my plate with salad. I will allow for starchy veggies at dinner and even allow for multi grain tortilla chips in a small amount. I try to keep my carb intake very low as this helps me reduce my insulin need which is what causes weight gain if overused.

I try to be done eating by 9pm and so far, I am usually done by 8pm. I then sip 4 cups of green tea up until bedtime. Now, this might be too much caffeine for some, but I've found that it doesn't affect my sleep, but I cannot sleep much after 6:30-7am and will be up and getting the day started before everyone else, which is an accomplishment if you have thyroid issues. My theory, is that I metabolize the tea slower at night and the affect of caffeine doesn't hit me until early morning. I don't tend to start drinking the tea until after 9pm and don't usually finish until 10:30-11pm. Check out this article about the benefits to drinking green tea. It's truly fascinating: 10 Proven Benefits of Green Tea

So there you have it! That's how I am managing my conditions and health/weight with diet. Exercise isn't my focus just yet, but I do stair climbing and other strength exercises. No cardio until spring/summer. Then I jog/walk. I hope these give you some ideas for a healthy day!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Middle East Conflict: Maps Don't Lie

This is my best attempt at recreating a cached website that I found after the creators abandoned it for one reason or another. It's possible they created a better page and this info is found elsewhere with a better design, but the information is sound and I didn't want it lost. So here it is:

Israel: The Most Disputed Piece of Real Estate On Earth
Unlike Islam's Koran, which commands Muslims to force the entire planet to submit to literal control by Islam, the Jewish Torah promises the children of Israel a modest and reasonable allotment of land. Israel  in RED , is a democratic nation 1/19th the size of California, surrounded by 22 hostile Arab/Islamic dictatorships with 640 times her size, 60 times her population and ALL the oil.  How dare Arab propagandists call Israel "expansionist". How dare anyone believe them! How can Israel, which occupies one-sixth of one percent of the lands called Arab, be responsible for the political dissatisfaction of 22 Arab countries? How can the 13 million Jews in the world (almost 5 million fewer than they were in 1939!) be blamed for the problems of the 250 million Arabs, who have brotherly ties to 1.4 billion Muslims worldwide?

Israel  is an oasis of Western Democracy and Judeo/Christian morality in the middle of an otherwise totalitarian Arab/Muslim Middle East. For over 55 years since she became a nation in 1948, Israel has sought peaceful coexistence with neighbors dedicated to her destruction. Thus far only Egypt and Jordan have formalized a peace treaty. In reality, these two peace treaties are questionable.

Only 1/640th the land mass occupied by the 22 Arab States.
Is Israel REALLY "taking over" the Arab Middle East?
Israel is one of the tiniest nations on earth. Only about 8,000 sq. miles, 2½ times the size of Rhode Island and only slightly larger than the Canary Islands!.  It is only 260 miles at its longest, has a 112-mile coastline, 60 miles at its widest, and between 3 and 9 miles at its narrowest!  A very high-powered rifle could launch a projectile right across the country! This is particularly frightening when one considers that 65% of Israel's population is within this 9 mile wide section (Tel Aviv).  Yet Arab propagandists call Israel "expansionist" and the "aggressor" against all Arab peoples.  For those unfamiliar with the Arab interpretation of "aggressor," it means one who dares fight back against Arab aggression!!  So even though Israel may have fought only defensive wars, the mere fact that she resisted total destruction is viewed as an "act of aggression." This is highly illogical and quite frankly, insane. Unfortunately, Israel doesn't have the luxury of picking her enemies!

a. 3 miles wide here
b. Golan Heights
c. Sea of Galilee
d. Jordan River:
Sea of Galilee to Dead Sea

e. 1967 "Green Line": the 1949 armistice lines separating Israel from its heartland of Judea-Samaria when Jordanian forces illegally annexed it. After the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Israel regained that land... at which time the world began referring to Judea and Samaria as the "West Bank" in order to try to erase any Jewish connection to this historically Jewish land!

f.  9 miles wide here
g. Tel Aviv
h. Jerusalem
i.  Dead Sea
j.  Gaza Strip


The surrounding 22 Arab countries are 640 times larger than tiny Israel yet they expect Israel to turn over all the West Bank, Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and half of Jerusalem... territory they lost after they started the 1967 war!

Need More Proof?  The photo below shows a west-east view of Northern Israel's Hula Valley (a---b). The photo is from atop the Menara Cliffs, just above Kiryat Shmona (a).  In the opposite direction (not shown) is Lebanon. Along the entire top of the photo (light blue area) is Syria with the Golan Heights rising up from the Hula Valley. The distance from Kiryat Shimona  (a)  to base of Golan Heights (b) is only 3 miles! It's no wonder that underground bomb shelters are everywhere!

For those who wish to have Israel relinquish Judea and Samaria ("West Bank") so that the Arabs can form a SECOND Arab "Palestinian" Nation (the first being Jordan), take a close look at the map (below right).  Notice the 2,200 foot high Judean Mountains running North to South 60 miles along the entire length of the West Bank.  A Palestinian sniper (of which there are many) or a rocket launcher would have a bird's eye view of Israel's most densely-populated areas. Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport would also be just a few short miles from the edge of a West Bank Palestinian nation!  Israel's capital city of Jerusalem would be nearly encased within Palestinian territory, jeopardizing its ability to survive an attack.  In effect, Israel would be reduced to a defenseless nation 9 to 25 miles wide at areas separating Israel Proper from enemies on her eastern flank!  Also, if the Gaza Strip and the West Bank were joined to form a continuous "Palestinian" land mass, Israel would be cut in half! (below left)
Look again at the above-left map.  If Arafat (or his successors) and his murderous, Nazi terrorist thugs ever take possession of Judea-Samaria ("West Bank") and Gaza and call it their State, how will these two SEPARATE land areas (West Bank + Gaza) be connected?  Will there be some underground tunnel?  Some overhead bridge?  Or will the Arabs simply demand a land corridor connecting these areas... in the process, cut Israel in half!  This is a prescription for Israel's suicide and the Arabs know it! 
  
No nation is required to arrange the terms of her own suicide.  Any peace-making must be at the negotiating table and not upon an autopsy table!  If Israel were to turn over land of this magnitude, they would be signing their own death certificates.  The Arabs of Judea-Samaria will just have to find some other place to pitch their tents... preferably in East Palestine (a.k.a. Jordan) or in any of the other 21 Arab Nations that surround Israel!

Tiny Tiny Tiny tiny

 Israel would fit INSIDE nearly every U.S. state!  In fact, tiny Israel would fit into the United States (Alaska & Hawaii included) 768 times! Israel could fit into Florida SEVEN times! 

The United States is a country surrounded by two vast oceans and two friendly countries, Canada and Mexico. Yet the United States Government has the nerve to tell Israel what it must, and must not do, for her own survival or in the name of some phony "Road Map" for Middle East Peace! Keep in mind that the United States has still not placed its U.S. Embassy in Israel's 3,000 year old capitol city of Jerusalem so as not to "offend" the Arab worlds' collective sensitivities!  Well, I say it's about time for the United States government to show some backbone. It is our calling as a nation, to protect the nation of Israel. If we fail, we will effectively be furthering our own destruction.

How Does Israel's Size Compare To Other Countries? Click Here!

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