Friday, January 15, 2016


Something's been getting under my skin for the past few months. It's the attitude that if you just do things the “right” way, nothing will ever go wrong for you. For example, on a podcast about natural birth, the host said that if she hadn't been born by cesarean section, then maybe her children would not have had digestive issues. Now isn't that silly? As if a natural birth could prevent any type of medical problem. But that's how many people think. They believe if you take the right kind of vitamins then you won't get sick. Or if you eat organic food then you'll lose weight. So when something does go wrong, then obviously it's your fault because you didn't take the proper steps to prevent it.

What gives? Should we assign a cause to every misfortune? The list of culprits is endless: genetics, diet, bad habits, lack of medical care, poor planning, and so on. Of course, there are reasons for bad things happening, still I don't think that assigning blame is that easy.

During the time humans have lived in this world, how often has someone sailed through life as a “golden child” with no problems? We'd have to be kidding ourselves to think that it has EVER happened. There is no golden child. We all have problems. I'm going to get sick. You're going to get sick. I'm going to struggle with my character flaws. You're going to have conflict in your family. I'm going to lose a job or have financial woes. You're going to have a car break down at an inopportune moment. This is life.

We've got to stop blaming each other (I think we all know who the real bad guy is, old Satan), and start really caring about each other. Assigning blame is one way we justify opting out of our responsibility to help each other. For example, if I believe that Tommy's heart attack is the result of his terrible diet, then perhaps he deserves his hospital stay, and I don't feel the need to visit him or take a meal to his family. But this is a wrong attitude.

Blame is a compassion-killer. It's hard to put yourself in the other person's shoes when you're thinking “If they hadn't done X, then Y wouldn't have happened to them. It's also a way to self-protect, because we also think, “I don't do X, so Y can't happen to me.” And we minimize and marginalize other people's pain.

Remember Jesus' story of the man who was robbed on the highway? Two very fine and upstanding citizens both passed the man by. Perhaps they were thinking that in some way the man deserved to die. Maybe he didn't take the proper precautions against thieves. But the Samaritan man was different. He had compassion. He stopped, bandaged the man's wounds, and took him to a safe place. I don't want to pass people by while thinking that their situation is all their own fault. I want to be more like the Samaritan. I want to have compassion.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Facebook, You Are Being Difficult

Facebook has become difficult. Now I don't want you to think I'm whining and blaming Facebook, because I realize it is a free service and I am under no obligation to even visit it. But we all know that Facebook is like bad Halloween candy. We don't really like it, but we mindlessly snarf it down because we're bored. But I digress; I was talking about the difficulty.

What's difficult about Facebook? I mean, don't I just scroll through and read things like, "Look at what I ate for dinner!" and "See my hot new boyfriend?" Well, sure. I do that. But there's more.

For starters, now Facebook has an option where people can add me to a group unbeknownst to me. I don't get added to cool groups, no, I get added to groups that try to sell me things. These groups claim to be "parties." Now, I've been to some lame parties, and I've even been to some lame parties where people tried to sell me things, but these groups are nothing like parties. If there was food, I would probably play along, but there's not even a cheese puff. The party consists of chatting with a representative for press-on lip gloss, and allowing her to clutter up my news feed for days.

What else is difficult about Facebook? The shared photos with slogans about vaccinations, child car seats, and 9 fashion mistakes to avoid. These make me grumpy because they're only there for shock value. There's no real conversation, no exchange of ideas. Nowhere do I see anyone saying, "That's a really good point. You've given me something to think about." It's more like, "You're an imbecile for the way you think, act, and believe!" And yes, I realize the internet is chock full of strangers calling my ideas idiotic, but these are my friends! I have two choices, ignore the bait, or respond and throw cold water on a perfectly good friendship.

Is that all? Oh, no, that's not all. Another difficulty is the emotional bruising I get when I read my news feed. Here's my internal conversation: "Who's that with Susan? That's not her husband! Did they get a divorce?" (Quickly check profile page.) "Hmm, guess they did. How sad. Oh, here's Lucy with another pitiful lonely status. Either she has no self-confidence or her boyfriend's a jerk! Here's a prayer request from Amber. Oh, how terrible! I can't believe so many bad things happened to her. Yikes! Who's that? Oh, it's a kid with cancer. I don't know him, but I feel bad him anyway." Sure, I might have encountered all this emotionally wrenching information without Facebook, but probably not all of it at once and not in so much detail. It's definitely a problem for a softie like me.

So why don't I quit Facebook? I could quit cold turkey! I could put the elephant in the room out of the room. Why don't I? Well, I might miss something.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Baby Changes Everything - Even My Heart

I would love to update my blog more, and I would if I could type one-handed. You know, a baby changes everything.

Outwardly, the changes are apparent. My body has changed, my schedule has changed, my eating habits have changed, and my internet searches have changed.

But inwardly, I think the changes have been even more drastic. Let's talk about life before baby. My plan was to birth him at home, where I would joyfully bring him into the world in a birthing pool, after which he would sweetly nurse, and life would be as awesome as chocolate cream pie. I had (negative) opinions about hospital births, formula, and pretty much anything else that I wasn't planning to do. Pretty much, I was a jerk.

After a smooth pregnancy, I found birth to be drastically different than I had anticipated. My labor was slow, painful, and persistent. However, after three days of labor, my baby still had not made his appearance, and my midwives sent me to the hospital.

In pain, exhausted, and tense, I opted for several medical interventions. First, I had an epidural, and it felt amazing to be relieved from the painful contractions! I needed fluids, and of course a pitocin drip to help speed things along. My baby was born in a few short hours, not the way I previously wanted, but the way that I chose based on my situation.

Nursing also started off badly from the beginning. My baby was unable to transfer milk. I pumped and spoon fed him colostrum in the hospital. The next few weeks were a blur of marathon nursing sessions, nipple shields, tongue and lip tie revision, pumping, supplemental nursing systems, suck training, bottles, and frustration! He was not gaining weight well, and both of us were unhappy with nursing.

We "nursed" for three months. And I put nursing in quotes because I supplemented almost the whole time using an SNS or bottles. One day I watched how quickly and how well he drank milk from a bottle, and how satisfied he was afterward. Then, tearfully, I decided that nursing was just not right for us, and I switched to pumping and bottle-feeding. It wasn't what I wanted, but it was what seemed right for our situation.

Through this journey I have chosen many things that I would previously have rejected outright. I have chosen to do things that I told myself I would never do. I have chosen things that I looked down on others for choosing. I have chosen things that I thought were ridiculous. And even those things that I did not choose to do, I was brought to the point where I understood why a reasonable parent would choose to do it.

And so I have changed inwardly. So much inside that was critical and judgmental was chopped away, and replaced with empathy and understanding. I won't say that my pride has been destroyed; I know myself too well for that, but I will say that my pride took a big hit. And it has been so GOOD for me.

I was discussing all of this with my sister recently. I said, "I think I have had so many problems with my baby because I'm a big jerk." She answered, "I don't believe that God makes bad things happen to people to punish them." I replied, "I agree! I don't think he was punishing me for being a big jerk. I think he was teaching me to be different. It wasn't a punishment; it was a lesson."

A baby does indeed change everything. In my case, it changed me for the better.

He's only five months old. I'm sure there are more lessons to come.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Allergen-Free Slow Cooker Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf

Posting my recipes on my blog has become really handy. Last week, my husband was able to cook one of my recipes by looking it up on my blog while I was at work. I do intend to print these out, but it's one of those things I haven't gotten around to.

I am planning to print several recipes for my family and friends before I go into labor with this baby. I doubt I will be able to cook for a while after he's born, and I would like to be fed. For a person with a normal diet, this probably wouldn't be a big deal, but for a person like me with several food intolerances, it's going to help to be able to give exact instructions.

My last big success in the kitchen has been this winner, Turkey and Quinoa meatloaf. (You can find the original recipe on by clicking here.)  Both my husband and I really like this meatloaf. There are never any leftovers when I cook it. Normally I would make meatloaf with ground beef and oatmeal, but I think this recipe is superior in taste to even that!

Of course I adapted the recipe. First of all, I needed it to be non-allergenic. Secondly, I wanted to cook it in the slow cooker because I don't have a working oven. What follows is my adaptation.

Allergen-Free Slow Cooker Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf
(gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free)
adapted from original recipe by Drew on
This makes about 5 servings, so if you have more than two people in your family, you should probably double the recipe.

  • 1 lb. ground turkey (I buy the frozen meat from ALDI and thaw it.)
  • 1/4 c. quinoa
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 tsp. oil (I use canola.)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped (I use 1 tbs. of pre-chopped, canned garlic.)
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste, 1 tbsp. ketchup, or 1/4 can of diced tomatoes (14.5 oz. can) (I have used both the ketchup and the diced tomatoes successfully. I never have tomato paste on hand.)
  • 1 tbsp. hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tsp. smoke flavoring (the original recipe calls for 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, but I substitute smoke flavoring because it has no allergens.)
  • 1 tbsp. ground flax seed (can use 1 egg if you aren't allergic)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • (optional) 2 tbsp. brown sugar (I misread the recipe and put this in the meatloaf instead of the sauce once. I thought it was better that way. It made the meatloaf sweeter.)
  • Ingredients for the sauce topping are listed on the original recipe. I have never made the sauce because I cook this in the slow cooker. I tend to eat the meatloaf plain or use ketchup. Since I can't vouch for the sauce, I'm not going to post it here.
  • Cook the quinoa in the water on the stovetop. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is cooked, about 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool.
  • Using the oil, saute the chopped onion until it is translucent. Add the garlic during the last minute of cooking. This should take about 5 minutes. Allow to cool.
  • In a large bowl, mix the quinoa, onions, garlic, turkey, and remaining ingredients.
  • Place the mixture on a piece of aluminum foil, and shape it into a loaf. Wrap the aluminum foil around the loaf. Poke several small holes in the bottom of the foil for drainage.
  • Place a heatproof bowl or bowls into the bottom of your slow cooker. Put the wrapped loaf on top of the bowls. This will allow your meatloaf to bake while the juices can drain out.
  • Bake on high for 3-4 hours. I've never cooked it on low, but it could probably be done in 6-7 hours. Check with a meat thermometer for a temperature of 165 degrees F for doneness.
 Another time-saving tip for this meal is to cook your veggies in the slow cooker with your meatloaf. I have room in my slow cooker to wrap up some veggies in foil and stick them in there with the meatloaf. I've used both green beans and frozen California mix veggies. Just place on foil, add salt, pepper, and any other spice you want (I use Italian), spray with a squirt of (allergen-free) cooking spray, and wrap it up. Make sure you poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage.

Yum! I wish I had some right now!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Allergen-Free Chicken and Dumplings

I have been cooking a lot lately, due to my allergies and intolerances. I have to cook from scratch because it's difficult to find pre-made products that don't include one of my trigger foods. I also spend a lot of time searching for allergen-free recipes online. It's easy to find gluten-free recipes; not so easy to find recipes that are also egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and corn-free. Good thing I'm skilled in recipe adaptation.

I was craving chicken and dumplings this week, and though I searched several web sites, I could not find a recipe that worked for me. Not to be defeated, I frankensteined one together from several different recipes. Amazingly, it turned out to be super delicious! My husband, who has no allergies, thought they were great as well. So, in case someone else like me is frantically searching online for an allergen-free chicken and dumpling recipe, I thought I'd post mine.

This is what they call "southern-style" chicken and dumplings, where the dumplings are more like noodles than biscuits. I didn't know it was southern-style, to be honest, I thought it was the only way to make them until I started looking up recipes. These dumplings will be fairly soft and doughy. I like them that way, but if you don't, you may want to try something different. I wish I had a photo, but we already ate these dumplings up!

Allergen-free Chicken and Dumplings
(gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, egg-free, corn-free, nut-free)

2 chicken leg quarters or equivalent bone-in chicken
1/2 c. chopped mushrooms
1/4 c. chopped onions
1 tsp. salt or salt to taste
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. ground pepper or pepper to taste
1 1/2 c. gluten-free Bisquick*
1/3 c. coconut oil
about 1 c. water

1. Boil chicken in enough water to cover. Add salt to broth while cooking. This should take about 30 minutes. Chicken is done when it's fork tender and no longer pink inside. Remove chicken and allow to cool.

2. Add mushrooms, onions, pepper, parsley, and thyme to broth. Keep boiling on low heat. Cover pot. You probably want the vegetables to cook for 20 minutes or so. I simmered mine while I de-boned the chicken and made the dumplings, and that worked well.

3. De-bone chicken and add chicken back into pot.

4. To make dumplings, cut coconut oil into Bisquick until small crumbs form and/or you can pinch the mixture together and it sticks. (Use a pastry blender or a fork for this. You could probably also mix it in a food processor, but I don't bother.)

5. Add in water, about 1/4 c. at a time, mixing until the dough sticks together. You want it to be somewhere between crumbly and wet. If you get it too wet, you can always add in more Bisquick. It's going to be more crumbly than a wheat flour dough, however, and that's OK.

6. Knead 4-5 times and roll out between two sheets of wax paper until it is about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. You can flour the paper with either Bisquick or another gluten-free flour. Remove top sheet of wax paper and cut dough into 1"x3" strips. I salted my strips at this point. I don't know if that's necessary, but I like salty dumplings.

7. Quickly add the strips to the boiling stew. (A good number of mine broke in two as I was peeling them off the paper, but that didn't hurt anything.) Keep the lid on the pot for 20 minutes while the dumplings cook.

8. Enjoy your delicious, allergen-free chicken and dumplings!

*Always check the ingredients of any baking mixes. I can personally tolerate gluten-free Bisquick, but others may not. If you are unable to use Bisquick, you might try another baking mix. If you use a gluten-free flour instead, make sure to add xanthan gum and baking powder to it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Over the years, I have really struggled with prayer. I have trouble understanding why I need to pray. I have trouble making time to pray. I have trouble knowing what to say when I pray. I have trouble staying focused while praying. You see what I mean.

More times than I can count, I have asked the Lord to teach me to pray better. I want to be a prayer warrior, but I don't know how to become one. If only the Lord would flip a switch, or send me the right book with all the answers, I could get past this roadblock. It hasn't happened yet.

A couple of weeks ago, the Lord flipped a different switch, and I realized something important about prayer. It happened while I was repenting for my poor prayer life and asking again for help. I thought, if only I could learn how to pray, this part of my life would be easier! Then I thought, maybe it's never going to be easy. Maybe it's OK that I struggle through this every day. Maybe that's the way it is supposed to be. Maybe this is part of the battle.

You might think this would depress me, but it didn't. Instead, this gave me hope. For so long I believed that I was a terrible Christian because I did not pray well. Now I feel like I am fighting through the barriers every day, having a difficult time, but doing it anyway. It used to feel like a defeat, but now it feels like a victory.

I doubt that prayer is the only Christian discipline that this applies to. If you struggle with Bible reading, or attending church, or being kind to your neighbor, if you have to fight your way through, don't be discouraged. When you push forward, regardless of the opposition, you ARE winning.

Soldier on.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Allergen-Free Waffles

I made these waffles Saturday. Also, I didn't want to get out of bed. When my dear, sweet husband said, "I'm hungry for waffles," I said, "Will you cook them, please?" But my recipe was totally stored in my cranium. So I hauled myself out of the warm fuzzies, and got going. But not without making a mental note to write this recipe down for a future time when my husband would do me a big favor.

I apologize that I don't have an awesome photo of waffles dripping with toppings for you. However, I never thought of taking a photo before eating them up.

Allergen-Free Waffles
Loosely based on a recipe from the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook
Gluten-free, corn-free, soy-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and egg-free

Dry Ingredients:
  • 1 ¼ c. gluten-free flour mix*
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder**
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum
  • dash cinnamon
  • dash salt
  • dash sugar

Wet Ingredients:
  • 1 1/8 c. water
  • 3/8 c. canola oil***
  • 2 tbsp. ground flaxseed soaked in ½ c. warm water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

  1. Soak two tablespoons of ground flaxseed in ½ c. warm water. Mix with small whisk or spoon. Let sit while you combine dry ingredients.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients and stir until mixed.
  3. Combine all wet ingredients and stir until mixed.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir well. Let sit for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Stir again, then add to waffle iron using a small measuring cup or large spoon.

*My gluten-free flour mix is two parts sorghum flour, one part brown rice flour, and one part tapioca starch.
**To avoid corn starch, use Hain baking powder, which is made with potato starch. Alternatively, you could use baking soda and cream of tarter. That's even yummier!
***The reason these measurements are weird is because my recipe used to be 1 ¼ c. milk and ¼ c. oil. When I cut dairy, I decided to up the oil a bit to replace the fat that's in the milk.