Thursday, July 11, 2019

Keto Low Carb Pizza Crust (Dairy Free, Almond Flour Free) 

I’ve eaten keto with an emphasis on veggies for health issues for 2 years now. It has dropped my inflammation and helped my food allergies and sensitivities to the point that I can now periodically add in a little dairy (because, well, cheese…). But, I LOVE pizza. Like, not just normal love, but like LOVE. And I’m sorry. I’ve tried them all and, don’t get me wrong, there are some good fax pizza crusts out there, but they’re just that…pizza crust substitutes. 

And, to add insult to injury, most have a base of dairy which means that I have to make a choice…dairy in my crust, or cheesy gooey goodness on top? It’s a no brainer, right? AND, once you pass all those hurdles you rarely can eat a real slice and have it hold up. AND half of them are so time intensive that I pretty much gave up, because, well, lazy (and 5 kids on specialty diets so it’s like a 4th type of specialty crust I have to make). 

Yes. I am holding that piece of pizza without it breaking. And I ate the whole thing. And it was good. 

After a long search for a dairy free option, almond free option (also allergic to almonds), I finally came across an idea that I thought might be adaptable. I’m currently eating pizza. REAL honest to goodness, no need for a plate, eat by hand chewy pizza with cheese on top. No almonds in sight. It’s making me a little giddy with possibilities for this dough. Not going to lie, cinnamon rolls are totally up next! If you’re completely dairy free, I can tell you avocado slices make a really great “cheese” on pizza - there’s a creaminess when they’re baked that is definitely better than nothing. 
This is my second go to make sure the first wasn’t a fluke…it wasn’t ya’ll. The first time it was so good that my 17 year old teen came home, got what he thought was just regular left over and ATE IT without being able to tell it was “mom’s weird pizza”. I came out when he was halfway through and too0k my pizza back. It’s.that.good. 

1 1/4 c coconut flour
1/4 cup psyllium husk powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 T olive oil
2 eggs plus enough warm water to equal 2 cups

1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic
Pinch red pepper flakes

Optional garnish:
Additional sea salt

In liquid measuring cup mix eggs and enough water to equal 2 cups. Add olive oil. In separate bowl combine remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Add liquid ingredients and mix until bowl cleans and becomes difficult to stir. Knead until a ball is formed. Allow to set for 5-10 to set structure. Roll out on parchment paper to desired size/thickness. Watch your edges and form back together if they split. This was flexible enough dough for me to move a 10 inch crust from the counter to a pan without parchment paper! Bake at 400 for 10 min. Top with desired toppings and return to oven for 10-15 min depending on desired level of browning. Garnish with additional oregano and sea salt. I make 2- 10 inch crusts

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse (Keto)

I've wanted to play with something that would be super easy and satisfy my sweet tooth that I could have sitting around over the holidays to help keep me from getting into sugar (because if I can, I will...). I threw this together last night and it not only passed, it passed my husband's scrutiny too. He went and got ice cream out so he wouldn't eat it all. That means it's a keeper. I actually tried to keep track of what I was dumping in so I can replicate it (hahaha, it's close, I'll admit to not measuring.anything.ever.) Next I'm going to adapt it to knock off a pumpkin torte recipe that I love, but obviously can't (shouldn't) eat. I don't have macros for this. If I get a wild hair I'll do some math later on.
I'm ecstatic that after being keto for about a year and a half now, I can actually tolerate some dairy - because CHEESE. I try not to overdue it, but a serving a day or a few servings every few days are totally ok with my body now which is a super happy day.
PS This was better the next morning - cheesecake is best 24 hours later to allow the flavors time to meld. This definitely followed that, so make it ahead!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse (serves 4ish)

1- 8 oz block soften cream cheese
2-3 T sweetener (I used Pyure - an erythritol stevia blend)
1/4 c pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp ceylon cinnamon (yes, you can use any cinnamon, but ceylon is known for helping stabilize blood sugar so you might as well get the added benefit!)
1/8 tsp each nutmeg, ginger and cloves
1/2 c heavy whipping cream
1 T gelatin (I use Great Lakes, this is optional, but again, I like to sneak a few extra benefits in if possible)

Whip together until desired mousse consistency is reached

Topping (because you need that graham cracker sweet crunch)

1/4 c walnuts or nuts of choice
1 T Sukrin Gold brown sugar replacement

Coarsely chop together and sprinkle over.

Friday, October 19, 2018

6 Years Home - A Recap of Our Adoption

I'm a researcher. I feel a compelling need to know things. I don't like to be surprised. I like to be prepared. Make that over prepared. So when we decided to adopt, I jumped in feet first. Unknowns scare me. And there are so many unknowns in an international adoption that I can't even begin to list them. So I studied them. I read blog after blog of real people's experiences. I prepared for the worst - for those things you can't anticipate. And then we got our referral. And I looked at the list of scary diagnosis's and researched some more. Pictures of what worst case could look like. Medical and psychological descriptions that somehow made a scary sounding list seem more manageable. But there was one thing I could never find. In all my searching and reading and preparation, it seemed that the follow ups disappeared. The families that blogged religiously for the first few months tapered off at the half year and were almost non-existent at the year mark. I'm not sure I read any "here's how it's going" past year 2 of being home.
I get it. Life moves on. You stop being an "adoptive family" and just become a family. That "new puppy" syndrome dries up. You're not that crazy family who everyone thinks is doing this amazing thing anymore. You're actually living life now. And you've got this child who's more than just a picture on a paper or a list of diagnosis made in an orphanage halfway around the world.
It's real now.
And there's less impulse to get behind a keyboard and make it sound like it's roses and rainbows and unicorn poo. But I also think it's still important. It's important to let that mom that is in the trenches right now, know that that trench might go on and that it's ok if it does. She'll get stronger. It's important to let that dad know just how crucial it is that he protect his wife and their relationship. It's important to let their family know that in this life and, easy or not, God's got a purpose. He brought you HERE to this time in this circumstance and He IS making something beautiful and redeeming those really ugly things if we just let Him.
6 years ago this month we walked into the house exhausted. Jetlagged. I had strep. We didn't know yet, but we were about to get hit by strep, influenza and double pink except her. But so incredibly relieved that all that wait and worry and fight to ransom this one child from the life she had completely innocently (and with no power to control) been thrown into was over.
In many ways it's much like an arranged marriage. You don't know each other and suddenly you're a family whether you like it or not - through commitment and duty, not emotional connection. And, like a wedding, too many people forget that that isn't the end game - a marriage is. Walking into the house, we were done with the adoption. But the work of becoming a family was the real end goal.
 We already knew there were some things coming down the pike. She was beyond exhausted from fighting sleep apnea. Her growth, hair and teeth were in sad shape from 2 years of lack of sleep and proper nutrition. She could eat Bryan under the table. Her limbs were tiny and thin and her stomach huge and extended when she ate. She didn't know how to be a kid and the concept of attention from adults was amazing to her. She didn't know what tickling was. She didn't play. She didn't shed tears. She wouldn't cuddle. She wouldn't eat any food that wasn't porridge consistency or room temperature. We kept a playpen with only a few toys to teach her to focus on them (she threw them out) and I wore her in a babywrap when she'd get too out of control. She bit. And destroyed anything she could. She self-harmed and I would lock myself in the bedroom for hours a day holding her in a death grip to keep her from hurting herself or me. In those moments she was less than human. It was like a different force would take her over and she would give in to the rage and the fear and panic of having no control and feeling so unsafe.
The first year is still a little bit of a blur. The moments of good shone incredibly bright against constant stress and the waiting game for the next fit. She was tiny. Off the charts small. In 6-12 month infant clothes at 2.5 years old, with the maturity and ability of an immature one year old. She learned English. She turned 3 and celebrated the first birthday she had ever had in a family. She couldn't be in any situation (ie nursery) that resembled an orphanage setting or she would revert to hiding in the corner and protecting one or two toys - her way of "playing".
She started following Ben around and copying his every move - literally being taught to be a kid. And, I should add, of all her brothers, Ben KNOWS how to be a kid. She mentored with the best.
The fits came constant at first. We learned to cope. I realized I could go into the fit hold and keep my right hand free to work at the computer while she screamed. The boys learned to walk away and not engage. She and Bryan came to a tentative relationship. She had surgery and could sleep. She started growing and engaging. She learned to eat. Her anxiety functioned on high alert. She would tear at any scab or scratch until it widened and gouged and bled. There were bruises on her forehead from hitting her head on any hard and sharp surface she could find in her playpen. We learned that we could swaddle her like a baby and lay her on pillows while she screamed when our own emotions just couldn't handle anymore. She would crawl under the blankets in our bed and curl up in the fetal position on my stomach. We switched back and forth to baby bottles, holding her like an infant to feed her. Walmart was torture for me and for her and I learned to just avoid it. It would instantly overwhelm her senses and she would do anything she could to manipulate me to anger...petting random peoples arms as they walked by, pinching or biting my hands and fingers as I pushed the cart so no one could see.
And we entered the second year. She turned 4. She begged to go to school like her brothers so we entered part day preschool. And, very, very slowly, we started to climb out of the abyss. She was tested at the local development center and "special" teachers started working with her to focus on the areas that she had missed. Occupational therapy, physical therapy, educational therapy. She began to function more like a "normal" child. She learned how to interact with other kids. The fits became less constant. Her anxiety became more noticeable. We moved her crib 5 feet down the wall and she didn't sleep for a week. She would panic if we added a stop to running errands or took an unusual route home. She noticed babies. And suddenly attachment began to happen to real time before our eyes. She would notice a baby in church and ask to be held like it was. She would try to suckle on my arm or chest if she saw a baby nursing. She began to understand that a mama and a papa take care of a baby. It's what they do, it's their job. At Christmas she performed in the Christmas pageant with the other kids. And when she went on stage, she looked for us. Just like the other kids. She expected that her mom and dad were in the audience and she knew we would be there. It was our first glimpse of her understanding what a family was.
Her fits became different. Almost like an inner fight to not attach. A coping mechanism to drive us away. As if to protect herself from something she didn't believe would last. I know a 4 or 5 year old can't reason that out, but somewhere, deep in her memory was the knowledge that what she knew, was losing everything over and over. And now she was willing to protect herself by lashing out at us before we could choose to leave. Walmart and stores were still too much. As she understood more that I was her mother, her behaviour toward me swung like a pendulum. She wanted me and couldn't leave my side. She hated me and would do anything she could to make me angry. I clung to the studies that speculated that deep inside every child is a core, primal attachment to their birth mother. And when that cord to torn apart, it leaves a void and an anger at her that they can't voice and can't comprehend. The new mom stands in her place, taking the brunt of that anger and the punishment even though she's innocent. The spiritual analogies were deep and raw.
Year 3 settled into a rhythm. She began to grow. She was tested for allergies and her diet changed and stopped her complaints of headaches and stomachaches. Her vocabulary expanded and it became a surprise when she didn't know something ("come to think of it, it's her first time seeing a live elephant..."). She began to understand how conversation worked. Fits could be headed off by giving her a voice - "Do you maybe think you are worried about "x" and it's making you feel scared?"and moments later there would be a tentative nod and then the tears would come and a hug and cuddle later she'd be off. Family relationships became an obsessive focus. She asked constant questions and her mind was a constant wheel of how people related to each other. "Is that your mom?" "Is she your wife?" "Is that your uncle?". There's nothing more awkward than some of those questions in completely the wrong context!
I don't know when the shift happened. First she became a sister. I know that without a shadow of a doubt. Her relationship with her brothers deepened and they became a family in every sense of the word.
I still stand in awe of our boys. I can not imagine a better set of brothers. I can't imagine boys more patient or more understanding and accepting of this little sister we threw at them. They loved her from the word go. And their love won out. At some point she transitioned her own thinking. They were her brothers. And slowly, something clicked with me and with her daddy. She began to realize she HAD a dad. And that dads have a different role than mom. Her relationship with him, and his with her began to change. Sometimes she just needed her dad to sit and snuggle. There was safety and belonging suddenly.
Her questions began to change. She became my daughter sometime in there without me realizing it. We transitioned to not really being able to picture life before she joined us.
And suddenly we passed the 5 year mark. The changes have been radical to say the least. Her physical appearance is another child's completely. As we approached her 8th birthday, she was actually on the growth chart. Her hair is shiny and healthy and long. Her adult teeth are growing in with no trace of the dental disorder she exhibited due to malnutrition. Her physical abilities have caught up to her peers in most ways. Her development still lags - but has made incredible strides. She is learning to read and do basic math and her drawing and music abilities are catching up to her classmates. Her IEP now includes speech, OT and reading and I run her daily from one school to the other and back.
Just before Christmas last year I asked for more testing - call it a mom's hunch that something more is going on. I wanted to identify what is causing her to not learn as easily as she should and provide some tools to help her so her increasing frustration with self-awareness doesn't reverse her desire to accomplish and learn. Her anxiety still lurks around every corner. Every day after school she asks what we are doing that night. She needs to know. She obsesses about anything out of the ordinary schedule...someone coming to visit, holidays, birthdays. Her fingernails are stubs. In her most anxious moments she goes for scissors and chops at her hair. We often wait to tell her events are happening until right before. Changing the plan at the last second will sent her into tears and instantly peeling at her fingernails. Our standard response to every question about schedules and events is a repetitive "It doesn't'll be with your family."
Her abstract understanding has deepened and grows. She talks about how people don't know her story and how everyone has a different story of their life. Mine is different than her's. Her's is different than yours. She is proud of where she came from and we celebrate and encourage her native country. She prays and is beginning to understand the Bible and God. She's begun to navigate the complicated relationship that are girls as friends. She will come and tell me she is my special buddy and stick to me like glue or vocalize that she is worried about something.
At the 6 year mark there is no doubt we see attachment and that we function as a unit. Without realizing it I stepped out of view in a store today. She almost immediately realized she didn't know where I was and came looking. I know in "everyday land" that seems perfectly normal for a child to notice and be upset if they don't know where their parent is. And that's exactly the point. She knows she belongs to us, and we belong to her.
That's not to say there aren't still challenges. As is very common in kids with trauma in their early years, you don't find learning difficulties til you hit those early elementary years and all the sudden you find where that trauma has impacted the ability to learn. The testing I asked for revealed to everyone what I already knew - that she functions on high alert, always ready for flight, fight or freeze. She's highly keyed into the people around her. And a classroom situation and the moving from school to school was never allowing her to relax enough for learning to happen. The tests verified what I knew to be true as well - IF she can learn something her ability is the same as any kid to apply it and use it. It's a matter of helping her brain relax enough to do that. We made the choice to do virtual school, so she's home most of the time with me. Her abilities educationally seem to be moving at a much faster rate than before and she told me the other day that she "thinks her brain likes homeschool...". Her anxiety has lessened and we focus on giving voice to it and not "hiding" it. She hasn't come home crying and saying she's stupid or worried about not being like the kids around her. She knows she's making progress and she's proud of herself.
In short, we are a family. We have adapted. Us to her. She to us. Most days we function in our new normal. We take care of each other. And we deal. We deal with her anxiety. And mine. We deal with the teenagers fits. And hers. It is what it is. And it's our life. It's a mess most days. I'm a mess most days. Nothing is perfect and our family is proof of that. But God has done really amazing things.
If you've read this far, chances are either you're intimately connected with our family and you want to know how it's "really" going or you're somewhere in the trenches yourself. If you're in those trenches. If you're in those early days and you're wondering how it's going to turn out, hang in there. I can't promise it will be easy or even get easier or that you'll get your best case scenario. But for so many of these kids, you're the first one to ever fight for them. You took over a losing battle and now you have to fight - not just defend - for every hold. It's exhausting. Seriously exhausting. And it never ends. As life changes and emotions and bodies and family dynamics change, we'll change and so they will be required to as well. We have to have an element of knowing what to focus our attention on - on knowing what's vital and what we can let go. It's going to be hard. It hasn't been easy so far. Hang in there. Find someone who gets it and hang on with them. It's not as glamorous as those first days of deciding to adopt appear to outsiders. But it's life and you're making an impact. What you are doing is important. Life is important. And you're changing it for someone else.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Moms are Water Buffalo

Random thoughts for the day…
Moms are like water buffalo.
No seriously. We are. Or we should be. So it might be an unusual “mom” post. But bear with me…no one ever accused me of thinking like a normal human.
A large social herd
Water buffalo are social animals. They tend to hang out in herds. They have amazing memories and remember those who hurt them in the past and those who they trust. I think this is the most common need of moms - to have friends they trust. Way too many of us have been hurt by moms we thought were our friends. We’ve been attacked and wounded by people we thought were like us - women trying our best to navigate life and everything it might throw at us. Or maybe you were that mom. Maybe you’re the one that made the comment, or gossiped and wounded and you’re regretting it. You’re holding onto the pride of pretending to be right because you don’t want to back down, but deep inside, you’re lonely. Even if you’re an introvert, like I am, you long for connection. You innately want that companionship that a friend offers. Someone who has your back, who gets what you’re going through.
Water and mud
Ok, this one isn’t serious. But come on. Water buffalo love the water. They roll around in mud to clean themselves and rid themselves of pesky annoyance. Have you ever been to a pool in the summer? Herds of moms and young. Girls nights with masks or beauty treatments? Ever seen a group of bridesmaids at a salon before a wedding? I’m telling you, water buffalo.
Expensive and valuable
You feel like you’re only good for washing dirty socks, playing taxi driver and maintaining a constant restaurant for people who don’t like the food. You’re just a big black cow. But moms, you’re so so much more than meets the eye. We are the most educated generation of moms. Ever. We have more choices, more information, more ways to trip up and feel completely over our heads than ever before. I know what it’s like to have a panic attack in Walmart standing in front of an entire AISLE of pens. We are overwhelmed and blasted from every side by our society. “Just a mom”, “I just stay home”…you are so much more.
You are the soul of your home. You are the influencer of the next generation. You might have the next President of the United States at your dinner table. That might be the next Billy Graham that is talking back to you. That sassy replica of yourself might see a seat at the Supreme Court one day. That kid the refuses to be potty trained (you know the one…that one that just looked you in eye and peed himself for the upteenth time today) might be the next Einstein. And maybe not. Maybe they will teachers, influencing generations to come. Maybe he grows up to hold a job and support his family and be a steady, honest, hardworking man. Maybe she will be a doctor that will hold the hands of the hopeless. You are so, so valuable. Right now you have more power, wield more influence than you may ever know. You are their backbone. Their sounding board. The bearer of words of life and encouragement, or destruction. Your words and actions and treatment of them over the next few years will impact them so greatly that it will change the entire course of their life for better or worse. You are not a big black cow. You, my dear friend, are a water buffalo.
The circle
Water buffalo do an amazing thing when they are under duress. They circle. In the center, they put the wounded. They put the injured, the lame, the elderly, the young. The vulnerable. And then those who are strong and those who can fight, make a wall of protection around them. Left alone, outside the wall, they would be the target of the enemy. A lone calf. An injured member of the herd. They would be easy to take down. An easy meal to defeat. But within that wall, something incredible happens. They are protected. They are secured. They can heal without fear. Be vulnerable without defeat. They are supported until the time they have the strength and the fortitude to join the circle again, where they will work together to protect their own, just as they were protected. If you aren’t convinced that you need to be a water buffalo, you have never felt alone and vulnerable. You’ve never felt outside the herd or felt like there was nothing standing between you and pain.
We NEED to be water buffalo. We need to seek out the wounded and the vulnerable and circle around them. We need to see that mom that feels like she’s on her last thread of sanity. We need to see that mom who’s been injured and attacked. We need to see that mom who’s vulnerable to depression or anger and come along side them and walk with them till they’re strong enough to help fight for each other too. We need to watch for the alone. For those who have wandered away from the herd and are trying to go it alone. They’re vulnerable. And if that’s you, you need to look for a herd. You need to find a circle. Women who will laugh, cry and pray with you. Women who have your back.
Be a water buffalo. Find a water buffalo. Make a herd.
PS If you’re interested in thinking this through more, I’d encourage you to look up the following verses. What do they tell you about being and finding water buffalo?
Ecc. 4:9-10
Gal 6:2
Prov 13:20
James 4:11
1 Cor 13:4-7

Friday, March 31, 2017

Spinach Salad with hot bacon dressing (keto)

Shortly after I started eating keto, I threw together this salad out of what I had available. And then proceeded to eat it every day for a month. There's something addictive about it...the tangy meets sweet meets creamy meets bacon...that just makes for a satisfying meal. And it takes like 5 minutes to make as an added bonus...I also personally think the dressing would be pretty darn good over chicken or fish. I never actually measure my spices - just play dump. PS If you don't have kitchen shears or scissors for chopping bacon, trust me, you want them! This is one serving (ie. meal size) but could easily feed 2 as a side.

(Keto) Spinach Salad with hot bacon dressing

2 cups (2 big handfuls) fresh spinach
1/2 an avocado, diced
1 strawberry, diced

Hot bacon dressing:
2 slices bacon
1 T avocado oil
pinch red pepper flakes
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4-1/2 tsp pink salt
half a lemon

Cut bacon up (use shears) and fry. While frying prepare salad greens, avocado and strawberry. Once fried, add remaining ingredients and immediately pour over salad.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Beauty and the Beast: Beauty in the Ashes

I don’t really care about the “gay moment” in the movie. There, I’ve said it. May the whiplash commence. Do I wish it wasn’t there? Absolutely. Do I think it was unnecessary? Totally. A few moments just felt like someone was TRYING a little too hard to be “PC”? Yes on all accounts. 
But here’s the thing. While we were up in arms in a brilliant stroke of strategy by Disney (hmmm…how can we get free publicity and a media blitz the two weeks before the release? Those Christians! Let’s tell them there’s something they don’t agree with. Hook. Line. Sinker.), we missed some really amazing jewels in what is otherwise a pretty amazing film. 130 min. Anyone want to venture a guess at how much screen time they lauded their political correctness? About 30 seconds. THIRTY SECONDS. That leaves 129.5 minutes of other content and, believe it or not, if we’d get off our high horses long enough to look, there’s some pretty amazing things we CAN bless.

Sacrificial love
Let’s start off with an easy one. If you can’t find the love that would lay down it’s life for a friend (John 15:13) in Beauty and the Beast, you probably shouldn’t bother watching movies. A Christian concept? Absolutely. We see it in Belle’s love for her father - literally willing to give up her life to save his. We see it in Belle’s father and mother’s love for her. We see it in the Beast as he comes to realize that love without the freedom to love isn’t real love and his release of Belle to return to her father. We see it displayed in Agatha as she finds and cares for Maurice despite years of having been mocked and decried as the town old maid and crazy lady. Over and over we see the message that REAL love means a willingness to sacrifice one’s self and pride for someone else’s good. 

Pride and Arrogance
A prideful and arrogant ruler who considers himself above all else is brought face to face with his sins by being turned into a beast where he is cursed to remain until he repents. It’s actually a Bible story people. Daniel 4:28-36 recounts the story of Nebuchadnezzar - “a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.” Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.” While it doesn’t carry quite the direct correlations that Disney’s Emperor’s New Groove did, the basic idea is definitely still prevalent. It’s the heart that God cares about, not the outward beauty. 

The portrayal of the church
This one actually surprised me - in a good way! So often today we see Christians portrayed as legalistic, judgmental people full of hot air and a lot of wind. The clergyman in Belle’s village was the one “sane” person she could turn to. He supplied her with the means to educate herself and allowed her free access to his library. He is the one voice of reason. Christians have long been proponents of education - the concept that people should be able to read the Bible for themselves and study and understand why they believe what they believe. That means a literate community and books.  Gutenberg and Martin Luther are two figures of Christian history that immediately come to mind - “Gutenberg’s new process sparked a revolution in society and the church. Books could now be produced in quantities and at prices that made them available to many people, not merely to scholars and monks. The resulting explosion of knowledge continues to accelerate in our day.
In the church, the Protestant Reformation might have been impossible in the pre-Gutenberg age. (Indeed, the Reformation became, in some ways, a war of books, each party pointing out the errors of the others.) Everything the Reformers said about the priesthood of all believers was rooted in the assumption that people could have access to the Bible in their own language. Thus, Luther and the other Reformers worked to translate the Scriptures so that no priest, pope, or council needed to stand between the plowboy and the Word of God. The chief book being printed was the Bible, thus spreading Christian teaching. As more were printed, more people became readers, and readers demanded more books, thus spreading literacy. And even for the illiterate, the Bible became more accessible, because the pastor could read from, and preach about, a Bible that was more readily available.”  (
By the time of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation this idea of education being linked with leading people to Christ and giving them access to explore Christianity on their own began to effect society as a whole - “The Protestant Reformation in the 16th century led not only to deep changes in the doctrine, the rituals and the leadership of the Church, but also to an aftermath that may be seen on an ecclesiastic level, as well as on a larger level, socio-cultural and political. This European movement also had repercussions in point of education, and the Reformers constantly evinced, among others, the necessity of a consistent religious education provided to the young, based on the Scripture. The Protestant Reformation proved favourable to the education of the masses, of all children, regardless of gender and social status.” ( To see the clergyman representative of a more noble and more historically and socially accurate TRUE Christianity was a welcome one! 

REAL love over "follow your heart" as a theme
Along with sacrificial love, the idea that there is a real love that changes people comes across as the main theme of the movie. I've tired of the constant barrage of Disney's message to "follow your heart" (Jeremiah 17:9 - where was the uproar on this one?). The Bible clearly teaches that our hearts aren't that trustworthy. In fact, our emotions and hearts can lead us astray. Instead, Beauty and the Beast focuses on REAL love - love as defined in 1 Corinthians 13 as being "...patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails....And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 
The theme that real love is the opposite of pride and arrogance is one I can get behind!

We were silent

This one hurt a little. When Belle quizzes the cursed members of the castle and tells them they were innocent, they disagree. “We did NOTHING” they tell her. Nothing when they saw an innocent boy be hardened and emotionally abused by his father, nothing when they had the opportunity for influence. They gave their permission by their silence and fear to stand up for what they know is right. And they do not feel that it is somehow unjust that they have been under the curse. Ouch. While Christians rose up in mass the last few weeks at the idea that Disney (a non-Christian company) would somehow dare to add homosexuality (a non-Christian concept) to it’s film (a non-Christian film) where were we 20 years ago when I was a child? 40 years ago? Where were the people that are shaking their heads in dismay? They were silent and they did NOTHING. Can there be a more timely, ironic message for us as Christians today? What are we putting our stamp of approval on by our silence? I’m not talking the big politically correct messages here. Let’s face it, some of those hurdles have been passed already and by our silence and lack of effort, there is little we can do to reverse it now. I would venture that in running our mouths and boycotting and letting people know we “don’t support that” that we are actually making ourselves less effective. If those same characters had chosen to invest time and love into the beast as a child, what would they have accomplished? How much less pain and loss would they have had to endure? How much more influence could have been seen? Open your eyes to what is around you! So many lost opportunities to love and serve those around us. So many people hurting and feeling so alone. So so much pain. Where are we, Christians? Are we silent? There’s a song by Casting Crowns that says “No one knows what we’re FOR. Only what we’re against.” The world gets it. They know there are things we’ve decided to vocally hate to make ourselves look better. What about the things we stand for? What about the self-sacrificing love? Giving opportunity for others to hold and read a Bible for themselves? Or are we just stuck in our pride and arrogance and fear being silent? 

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Grey Zone: The Common Act of Mothering

I've been reading a lot of articles lately about mothering and parenting.  As some of you know, this is a place of special passion for me.  I've been there.  I've been criticized my own fair share.  I'm not going to say I'm a perfect mom.  Far from it.  Often I'm a worn out, frazzled, messy house, haven't showered in so long I can't remember disaster.  But I feel compelled to address this fractioned, mom-warred out mess we find ourselves in as mom's today.
It comes in every form - stay at home mom, working mom, nursing mom, bottle feeding mom, adopted mom against adopted mom…yes!  Even within these categories that you think we could find unity, we're attacking each other.  Reading a blog post from a fellow adoptive mom yesterday and reading the comments that people, probably well-meaning, were posting, I was astonished and heart-broken to find that in this common experience of motherhood and parenting we can somehow find the time and energy to be mean.  And that's all there is to it.  It's just…mean.  
Let me say this.  We are all in this together.  Right now, you and I are parenting the next generation of the human race.  The HUMAN race.  
Let's get a few things out on the table.  I don't care what your skin color is.  You know what?  A dog is a dog is a dog.  It doesn't matter if it comes in fluffy or wiener.  Doesn't it make it any less of a dog.  We are part of the HUMAN race.  Skin color doesn't matter.  That doesn't make you a different human than me.  So stop with the "these children are better or somehow more worthy than these because they are _________ color or from ___________ country or were born into my family or were brought in by adoption".  I'm tired of hearing it.    
We've all heard the term "mommy wars".  And we've all cheered on certain articles calling it out.  But good grief people.  Give it up.  We're so caught up in our tabloid society and what we see so and so doing or not doing and somehow thinking it's our business.  Do you want to know what our business is?  Supporting each other.  Finding that mom that's struggling and coming along side her.  Noticing that mom that "looks" like she's got it all together is just as broken as you and I.  How dare we presume to know enough to judge each other.  Yes - there are lines.  There are things that are black and white, flat out wrong.  So if you're hitting your kids, or screaming and verbally and emotionally abusing them - that's not what I'm talking about.  You need help - love your kids, love your family enough to humble yourself and get it.  I'm talking about the moms in the grey zone.  That's me.  Five kids - 4 boys and a girl.  4 biological and 1 international adoption.  4 with food and environmental allergies.  Struggles with ADHD type behaviors, high activity levels, anxiety, attachment issues, self-harm…it's the grey zone where there is often no clear cut black and white and it's the zone we need to be embracing and supporting each other in.  
We all know the categories of moms - the nursing moms, the co-sleeping moms, the everything organic moms, the stay at home moms, the super moms, the working moms.  The list goes on.  And yet, it seems even within these categories we can't seem to find the simple ability to uplift each other.  The article I happened on yesterday was specific to a mom who had adopted a child that was horribly broken - reactive attachment disorder, abandonment issues.  And yet she was being attacked.  This family that had made this incredibly difficult decision, was standing by their child with every ounce of strength and love they could muster was being attacked.  Let me make something crystal clear.  Your family is not mine.  And vice versa.  Everyone of us comes into this whole parenting mess with a different weight on our shoulders.  Different baggage, different life experience, different personalities.  And then you add a spouse and children to that.  And you get more.  More baggage, more mistakes, more life experience, more personalities.  How can I possibly have the pride to look at your family and say somehow not only do I know what's going on, but I also have superior tactics to deal with it? 
Even in our adoption, this rings incredibly true.  I've been discouraged lately in my reading from adoptive families.  I'm not talking about all the chaos surrounding adoption…older child vs younger, one country vs another, U.S vs foreign, etc.  I'm talking about that same family makeup.  Take all those things - personalities, life experience, baggage and mix them up with a child that has experienced more terror and pain and loss than any child should.  That's ANY adoption.  Even a newborn - that first and primal bond with their mother was just severed.  Loss.  Trauma.  And then put them in a family.  Let's say it's for "the right reasons" (yes, there are wrong ones…and I've heard them.) Yes, the experience has it's beautiful moments.  Yes, it can also be incredibly hard.  And every mom, every dad, every sibling is unique and will deal with it in a different way.  Who am I to say that one is better than another?  It's their experience.  We got "lucky" in a lot of ways.  Our daughter's hurts manifest themselves different than other kids I've seen - or maybe we were just equipped differently to deal with it.  If your child is more wounded or more hurt from the loss they've come through, you don't need me to tell you that somehow there's something wrong with you or your family.  And I don't need someone telling me.  I don't need to attack that mom who's getting negative about her child (biological or adoptive) - it's a cry for help, for my support, for my love.  Because how do I know next week that won't be me?  How do I know I wouldn't be reacting just like her in her situation?  I don't need to attack that mom who's got it going good right now.  They seem to have smooth sailing.  She doesn't need to hear the nay-sayers tell her that might end.  She needs my support and my love so if it does, I've got her back.  God gave you your child.  Adopted, biological, it doesn't matter.  To quote Lilo and Stitch 'Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten".  My family is my family.  God gave us to each other.  There is something uniquely ME that only I can give my children.  Something they need from me, that only having me as their mother will meet.  Even in those really bad, rotten, no good, very bad days.  If God wanted you to parent them, you'd have them.  And the same holds true for you.  If God wanted me to have your kids, I'd have them.  There is something about you that makes you ideally suited to be their parent.  And instead of criticizing you and assuming you're messing it up, I'm going to choose to love you and assume you're getting it right.  

The HUMAN race.  Right now, you and I have the incredible privilege of raising the next generation.  We'll mess up.  I guarantee it.  Maybe I've got the President, the next great scientific mind that will cure cancer or AIDS.  Maybe you do.  Maybe I'm raising the next Billy Graham. The next Mozart.  Maybe my child is that kid that grows up and saves the world.  Maybe not.  Maybe they grow up to be solid citizens.  Moms and dads that stay together no matter what, who love the people around them and give generously.  That's good enough for me.  I'm going to keep going.  And when I see you having a rough day with your child, I'm not going to assume that it's because you're a bad mom.  I'm not going to assume that if you knew what I do, somehow it would easier or you'd be better for it.  Do me a favor, and do the same for me.  And that mom down the street.  And that mom in front of you at church or the grocery store.  Assume she's doing the best she can.  Assume that you can support her by being a friend (maybe that means pointing her toward something that's helped you, maybe not…believe me, you don't have all the answers).  Assume her kids are human beings, the same as yours, and treat her and them like they are.  Assume you can love her.  We're in this together.  Let's act like it.  

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