aspiring to live life out of LOVE and not FEAR

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Healthier Beer Bread

I've been on the hunt for an easy, healthy bread recipe.  Beer breads are quick and I love their coarse, rustic texture and crispy top.  I've played around with several this week and have finally tweaked this one to a point that I think even my white bread hubby will eat it!  I've chosen a non-alcoholic beer because it still contains 0.5% alcohol, about 90% of which bakes out.  I just feel better feeding my family bread that has no unwanted extras in it. Try it and I hope you'll like it!

Healthier Beer Bread

1.5 cups all purpose flour
½ cup white whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. golden flaxseed meal
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 oz. non-alcoholic beer
1 Tbsp. butter, melted

Whisk dry ingredients together, then stir in beer.  Pour into a loaf pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Cover and allow to rest 30 minutes. Melt butter and pour over the top of dough. Bake 30-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Really Awesome Dude

I've mentioned girly in previous posts, my spunky 8 year old, and hubby in passing, but so far I haven't mentioned my Really Awesome Dude. The backstory, in an appalingly too brief nutshell, is that we struggled with infertility, went through humiliating tests, expensive treatments and I became a depressed human pincushion. That lasted about three years and was my first big crisis in life, the rock my world, make me question everything I believe in how God relates to me kind of way. Needless to say, that time in my life became a fork in the road for me and I think that I took the road less travelled that made all the difference, and that was that while I was angry and confused, I chose to dump all my junk right on God's lap, pound his chest, sob, and we got through it together. I'm sure I'll go through more of that in more detail in later posts, but today I really want to tell you about my son, my Really Awesome Dude, and you have to know about what led my hubby and I to adopt. And you need to know that it wasn't because we were super-spiritual-better-than-you kind of people. We wanted kids. They weren't coming in the usual way, so we started looking into adoption. Now, 7 plus years later, adoption is for sure the way I would have built my family even if I could go back in a time machine and change those heartbreaking years.

Back to the point, my Really Awesome Dude. He and my girlie were both born in Russia. We found a great local adoption agency and jumped through the hoops, exchanging our medical bearing-all for a different kind of self-exposure. Homestudy, interviews with therapists, financial statements, discussions about how we settle conflict, yada, yada, yada. And then, we finally landed on American soil with the two cutest kiddos in existance. Girlie was 7 months old, with a brown lady helmet hairdo and Really Awesome Dude was 20 months, with an unhealed scab on the back of his head from rocking himself in his crib. Both had pale, waxy skin and dry hair. Both were teeny and scrawny. We were scared and exhilirated and wondered what on earth we had done.

Things went quite easily with girlie. She was like a 14 pound tree frog, clinging to me, searching my eyes and absorbing every ounce of love I had for her. And I had a lot. She was gorgeous and wanted me to hold her every second of every day, which is exactly what I had longed for for several years. We clicked instantly. Really Awesome Dude was hubby's charge for most of the stay in Russia as well as the trip home. He wasn't sure what to do with a baby, so girlie became a permanent attachment to my left hip and he and Dude began to figure out life together. But things for Dude were a lot more challenging. He didn't know how to be held, make eye contact, accept comfort and his world was just ROCKED. And he didn't like it one bit. He reacted out of fear, arching his back when we held him, refusing to be rocked to sleep, screaming and rocking himself in his bed until he finally fell asleep exhausted. I wasn't sure what was going on, but I knew life wouldn't be the same and I was overwhelmed. Hubby and I both struggled, a LOT, over the next few years. More to come on that later on. I'm trying to get to my point. Sheesh, I give a lot of background. Kudos if you're still following.

Eventually things got so out of control with Dude that we had to seek professional help. Enough denial, enough hoping that more time would equal growing out of it. When he went to Kindergarten, things erupted, and God bless his K teacher, because she earned at least a million jewels in her crown that year.

We sought out a child psyciatrist and got the diagnosis I'd been dreading for five years: Reactive Attachment Disorder. Unless you're an adoptive or foster parent, or a therapist, you probably don't know much about it. Google it, just for kicks, and see how scary it is when you find lists that say Adolf Hitler and his ilk had RAD.

In the past two years, since the diagnosis, we've had plenty of ups and downs. I just got a packet in the mail from the therapist's office containing this year's notes: 2 inches thick. For reals. Had to make a copy of it - $48 at Kinko's. Yep. I've thought I was about to lose my sanity, my marriage and be locked up in a funny farm. But I haven't and I'm not. THE GRACE OF GOD, people. Grace of God.

This is how I survive the yearly insurance reevaluation mountain-o-paperwork: taking myself out to lunch and enjoying some good coffee. This is how I spent our rainy day today, in a presh hat, no less.

My Reactive Attachment Disordered kid is now my Really Awesome Dude. Last year at this time he was in an alternative learning environment classroom for 45 minutes each day with me in the classroom. This year he's in a regular 3rd grade class. And that has only happened because he's worked darn hard and because the ALE teacher is practically a saint. He's had outside-his-mind fits, sure, bitten me and twist-pinched me leaving goose eggs that have melted into rainbow colored bruises, yes. But we're making it. He's also learning that his dad and I are sticking around, no matter what. That he matters. That no matter how hard he tries to push us away out of trauma and self-preservation, we will not go away and he is not on his own. He's learned to use words and trust us and his teachers to help him deal with anxiety, overwhelm and terror.

Oh my gosh, when I think about how many times I've treated God the same way, attempting to keep control to myself, afraid to trust him, comforting myself in maladaptive ways (BlueBell stuffing control freak!!), the more I've come to realize that I have Reactive Attachment Disorder, for crying out loud. The attachment therapist once told me that Dude is my "opportunity to grow" and wow, was she right. Because he's taught me so much about the Lord's love for me that I wouldn't undo one single insane meltdown (of either of ours). If I, an emotional and conditionally loving human can stick with him and love him as fiercely as I do, then how much more does God love me? My perfectionistic-perform-so-I'll-please-God kind of mentality is gone. Glory hallelujah, amen. He loves me because of who HE is. Because he's the dad. He knows I struggle and push him away out of my own fear. He's patient. He can take my doubts and my failings. Does that make me want to act out and live a hedonistic wild existence? Heck no. It makes me crazy nuts about him. I can finally be loved freely and love freely. I can falter and grow. I can revel in grace. I can give it to others because I've received it. And it's because of the most unlikely gift in the world: Reactive Attachment Disorder. God, thank you for my Really Awesome Dude. He's a treasure and you gave him to me. How on earth could you love me that much?

And for a crazy girl who makes me remember to find my silly, I am eternally grateful:

irony & ironing

My 3 pair (or pairs) of jeans, now this is too funny, are a comedy of sizes. I grabbed my scissors and went to cut out the sizes, which, of course, meant that I had to SEE the sizes. Pair #1, the frump jeans and pair #3, the ultimate goal jeans, are the SAME SIZE. Hilarious, 'cause there ain't no way I can get pair #3 over my booty much less button them at this present time. Pair #2 is a size smaller than pair #1 and #3. This tells me something I think I already knew, a number on a tag in an article of clothing may label the pants but it doesn't label me. (Come on heart, start to believe that, please.)

This morning has been a nutty as ever morning around my house. It's been pouring rain for 7 hours in a row, so the backyard is basically a spongy swamp. With two dogs (one of them my giant 180 pound Mastiff) and one boy who left his tennis shoes outside, my house is now damp and doggy smelling. Super. Early morning snuggles were quickly overrun by the tasks that keep me down-to-earth instead of dwelling in my creative, how-can-I-change-the-world fog. Today there were two field trips to pack lunches for, school shirts to be located and stuffed into back packs because the kids are SURE they don't REALLY have to wear them on the field trip, a Chinese hat to hot-glue fallen beads onto (for hat day, of course), not to mention the pair of pants I ironed for my hubby before he left for work. (Poor guy wore his gimpy stretchy waist pants yesterday and I couldn't take it no mo!) Ah, reality. But someone has to live this glamorous life, right? Sometimes I wonder how the Lord can use little old me to do anything. But then he reminds me, just be me. Just do today what he has given me to do today. I can do that. Let me share a small victory from last night.

BlueBell cookies-n-cream is in my freezer right now. I heart it, as you know. But last night, in an effort to (not be "good", see, that is what my brain is saying, ice cream is Switzerland, ack!) make a healthier choice, I forewent the beloved BlueBell for a cup of decaf and about a Tablespoon of chocolate chips. I put them in a pretty little teal bowl I love and settled down for some couch time in front of the TV when girlie started calling for me. She was having a hard night, not able to sleep, sore throat, worrying about life and needing mama snuggles. My first thought was, "but my CHOCOLATE is waiting for me!!" My second thought was, "wanting chocolate probably means I need love", which I had right there clad in pjs squeezing a nubby brown bear. So I snuggled, I soothed and we both fell sound asleep. My decaf sat there in the living room all night, as did my chocolate chips. This morning they didn't look so important, but I'm so glad I had those moments with my girlie.

Ok Lord, I see pretty clearly my food=friend/comforter. I'm gonna need your help to deal with that, because I'm pretty sure that's what you want to be.

Wet dogs are now playing bite-your-face crazily in my living room and it's getting stinky. Time for some towels and air freshener.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

3 pairs of jeans

Or is that 3 pair of jeans? Whatever. (Side note: as part of my new found freedom in imperfection, I am choosing now to resist the impulse to spell check, fret over sentence structure or try to impress you with my vocabulary. ACK! You have no idea how scary this is for me. For real. I'm that much of a people pleasing control-freak. Lord, have mercy. Confession, I just went and changed a comma to a period. I need an intervention.)

In an effort to de-fluff and love myself more (rather than spiralling into the pit of self-loathing every time I eat a cookie) I've got to get a few things straightened out. So, these are my resolutions. (Resolutions, not rules, because rules do a number on my fear-of-failure governed brain.)

1. I am going to lay my insecurity and self-worth-attached-to-body-mass-index continually before the Lord and you.

One of my FAVORITE Scriptures is this: "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so you may be healed." James 5:16. In other words, I've got to keep it honest and transparent if there's going to be any change happening in my heart. When I see a super cute skinny minny and immediately plunge into self-criticism and shame, I'm going to go to God with it. (So, in other words, I'd probably better not leave my house, watch TV and Lord help me if I see a Victoria's Secret ad 'cause the Lord is gonna be hearing ALL about it!!)

2. My value is not in numbers.

I'm not going to weigh myself or pay attention to the size on tags. I know when I feel healthy and confident in clothes and when I don't. And all numbers do is send me on the obsessive/compulsive crazy train. No thanks. Because this is as much about emotional and spiritual health as it is about physical size.

3. I'm going to give myself grace.

I'm so tired of attaching "good" and "bad" to food. If I've hardly eaten a thing except a piece of lettuce, I can say that I was "good" or if I give in and get the third pound burger combo I was "bad." This is not about morals! A donut is amoral. It's neutral. If I have one, I'm not evil. I'm not a failure. If I eat healthier choices and move my body more, I'll feel healthier. If I have late night piece of pie at Village Inn with the girls, my soul will be nourished even if my butt isn't. And really, why am I so stinkin' hard on myself?

4. I'm going to treat myself well every day and not only reward myself when I think I've "earned" it.

I'm going to doll myself up when I want to, wear the styles I like, do my nails and be in photos NOW. Not when I think I deserve it. Because "deserving" it is shame-based in my insecurity driven brain. I will treat myself with love and respect now. I won't duck out of photos or always be the photographer so that I can hide behind a camera. This is the only year 2011 there will ever be, and I don't want to look back in years to come and wonder where I spent my 30s (and 40s!).

So, here's my goal. I have three pairs of jeans to inspire me. The first pair, that are my current go-to (Walmart, that is) jeans, are my cheap-unstylish-I-feel-frumpy jeans. These are the ones I'm currently wearing. Blech.

Second, my fancy-pants jeans. They are sparkly pocketed bling jeans that used to fit and have literally gathered dust in my closet for two years. They are my goal #1 jeans.

Third, my jeans-for-a-cause jeans. I aspire to wear these because they were designed by my friend Casey and the profits go to a school in Indonesia. They're closet to my heart while furthest from my wardrobe at the present time.

I'm going to cut the sizes out of all of them.

Here we go!!

welcome to another bloggy blog

Maybe it's because I'm turning 39 next month (what? how did that happen?) or maybe it's because God is trying to help me just get over insecurity FINALLY, but some things are changing. Mostly, I'm sick and tired of wanting to do things, try things, and being too scared or intimidated to do it. Over the past five years, I've been working on cleaning out the closets in my life and I've realized that a lot of what I do is fear motivated. A lot of my choices are based on wanting people to like me. And so I constantly compare myself to other women, agree to do things I don't want to do (ack, another fundraiser? NO THANKS, I hate them), and shy away from things that really make me light up inside, all because I might fail or fear that someone will always out-perform me if I try. So here's my question: so what. So what if I fail? I might feel embarrassed? Yes. And did that ever kill me in the past? No. But fear of embarrassment has kept me from loving other people (because if I'm worrying about what they think of me, I'm totally self-absorbed and doing a lousy job at loving) and making a difference in the world, enjoying myself while I do it. So, my new goal: live life out of LOVE and not out of FEAR.

Fear has kept me bottled up and a result, a little fattened up. Oh gosh, did I just put that out in the blogosphere for everyone to see? Why yes. And guess what self, it's not the end of the world. I'm tired of comparing myself to other women, feeling inadequate and comforting myself with cookies-n-cream ice cream every night, padding myself up. But, I'm also tired of the here-I-go-again guilt and shame based dieting and exercise programs that I've done before (and been successful at until life threw another curve at me forcing me into the fetal position with BlueBell and a spoon).

So, I'm going to attempt to live a bolder life and do and try things that I might just fail miserably at. But I will have tried. I will have pushed myself out of myself and maybe just learned that I'm ok even if I'm not perfect. Because, really, if I ever attained this warped idea of perfection (which is mostly about physical temporary things I can't ever find lasting contentment in), then who would be able to relate to me anyway? When I see a gorgeous, talented woman, I'm more likely to run the other way rather than befriend her. There are probably a lot of lonely gorgeous, talented women who could really use a friend! Maybe if I can get over all of this insecurity nonsense, then I'll actually be able to BE a friend, one who befriends out of love and not self-obsessed fear.

For starters, my 8 year old daughter, who is the most gregarious, determined person I have ever met, has pushed me to do something that scares me to death. Act in a play. On stage. In front of all manner of people who might think I'm chubby or too Southern-accented (or not enough Southern-accented!); I might flub up and mess up. But I might have FUN. I might make new friends and get over a mental hurdle. I might have a blast making a lifelong memory with my daughter who will grow up all too quickly and who wants to do things WITH ME right now. So, we did it. We auditioned. We read and sang onstage with our hearts beating wildly in our chests and our palms sweaty. And guess what? We got IN!! Oh my gosh. The crazy conversations I had in my head while waiting to find out if we'd been chosen. They ranged from "I hope I don't make it so I won't have to perform on stage" to "I hope they think I'm good enough" to revisiting every moment of the audition in my head to pick it apart and then I realized...I'm obsessing about ME. About me. When this was really all about my girlie. She wanted to audition and asked me to do it with her. Selfish, self-centered, blah blah blah insecurity. Hijacked again.

So, we are going to do it. And partly because of my insecurity about being onstage, and partly because I'm tired of this extra padding that I've buffered myself with and it's about time I do something about it, I'm going to...OH, I don't want to, I love my cookies-n-cream...attempt to get myself in shape, at least a little. We're not going for triathalon material here.

And that is what is inspiring this little blog. It's not because I think you need another blog to waste your time on, it's just me choosing to be real and force myself to be my real self. Out there. In the world. Among my friends or complete strangers. This is it, folks, and you know what? This borderline 40 year old Arkansas girl matters to God and I'm a daughter of the King and Heiress of the kingdom and it's about time I started to believe it. Thanks for coming along.