Saturday, May 31, 2008

Chapter 1: Where is God when it hurts?

I believe there is much confusion in the Christian circles over what to do with these pesky negative emotions that are as much a part of our being as the positive emotions. Is it OK to have honest moments where we don't feel peace, joy, or happy feelings? Is it OK to be angry, frustrated, hurt, deeply sad, or confused? Or should we always proclaim "JOY in the midst of trials"??

I am stepping out here, but if you stick with me I hope I can show you a path of freedom in this area. A friend of mine shared of a past pastor's wife that ended up institutionalized for enduring years of very difficult trials, all along saying the right things that "God is on Control" and she was at peace while on the inside, suffering in silence.

Let's take a brief pause here to look at David's life. He was devasted as his father-figure Saul pursued him to kill him. He had lost almost every single relationship that mattered to him and was fleeing for his life. We catch up with him in Psalm 142 and Psalm 77 as he hides in a cave and here is what he is crying out:
"I cry out to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out my
complaint before him, before him I tell my trouble....Look to my right and see -
no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge, no one cares for my life....Listen
to my cry for I am in desperate need....Will the Lord reject forever? Will he
never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has God
forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?"
Raw honesty. Even a little complaining in there. Major questioning for sure. He poured it out. And he does it many times over throughout the book of Psalms. The first step towards peace, joy, and hope begins with honest out cries to God. Get it out!! Get a journal and write honest cries to God. This is not about complaining to your friends, it's about crying out to God.

I did this when the sad reality that feeling horrible, almost every day, was not going to go away any time soon. When my husband was diagnosed with a disease that was debilitating and never going to go away, I cried out. When I suffered for almost 2 years with constant fevers, headaches, diabetes, fibromyalgea, trembling, exhaustion, anxiety, I cried out. When my son was diagnosed with Acid Reflux at 3, I cried out. When my daughter, had ear infection after ear infection, I cried out. It is very difficult to lead our busy lives, raise children, work, and serve while trapped in a body that hurts, is tired, and is sick.

Stopping there leaves you bitter.

Where bitter melts away, and hope begins to take root is when we look up. Broken, even lifeless, David always wrote, "I don't feel your peace or joy yet but 'in the morning I lay my request before you and wait in EXPECTATION!" (Psalm 5:3). "Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning"(psalm 30:5). After questioning if God had all but forgotten him, he writes, "Then I thought...I will remember the deeds of the Lord...your miracles. I will meditate on all your works...Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God?" (Psalm 77)

I like this David guy. He thinks out loud like I do which allows the rest of us the benefit of seeing his thought processes throughout the peaks and valleys of his life.

So he poured out then he waited. And while he waited he Praised God with this basic truth in mind at all times: God is Good, all the time. This is where faith is defined: faith in who He is, even when we can't feel it yet. It's in this process that we are refined closer into His image, and that Peace, Joy, and maybe even a little understanding takes root in our hearts.

A mere 3 Psalms after crying out in the caves in Psalm 142, from Psalm 145 to the end of the book, David is singing, dancing, and loudly proclaiming, "Praise the Lord, Oh my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life...The Lord sets prisoners free...Great is our Lord and mighty in power, his understanidng has no limit...His greatness no one can fathom..."

David knew who His God was and knew that truths about God's character were consistent. He knew that one day he would be able to honestly say that God had faithfully filled him with a peace that knows no bounds, and a joy that knows no end. He praised God for who He was and lived, in the valley, in the cave, in despair, with HOPE and hope, fueled by the Uncreated One, has the power to get all of us through anything; not bitter, but better.

"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." 1 Peter 5:10

If you are new to these ideas, here is a prayer that could guide you through your valleys, adapted from Psalm 103 and written by Late Tuesday.

My heart is empty it is broken. My mind is restless, it is torn. And all the
thoughts inside of me run rampant. And the doubts are all the words I can
afford. Amidst the caverns of my intellect, I am screaming for reprieve. For the
rebellion that keeps me from surrender, from a future that You hold, I can't
believe...Amidst the pain of my diseases, will I believe that you are Good? And
to those who have known such oppression, is Your Love enough to melt away my

Oh soul, oh my Soul! Praise the Lord, Oh my soul. Oh heart that is within me,
Praise!! Praise the power of His Name. Praise the Lord, oh my Soul. Oh heart
that is within me, Praise!! Praise His wisdom and His grace. When I know nothing
more, tell my soul to praise the Lord.

They cried out first and then they ordered their souls to Praise the Lord!!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Raw Chocolate Milk

here's a better alternative to sugar-laden chocolate milk. My Sprouts love it, but then again, I don't give them other options!!

Raw Chocolate Milk
2 c. water
1 c. cashews (almonds work well but pulp must be strained before using)
1/2 c. maple syrup or dates
3 T. raw cacao powder or carob powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
dash cinnamon
8 drops peppermint oil (opt. for mint chocolate milk)

If you use cashews blend with water until creamy, then add the rest of the ingredients and blend again. If you use almonds, blend almonds with water and strain through metal sieve or nut mylk bag.

Add remaining ingredients, blend until creamy. Pour into a pan and warm on the stove until warm to the touch or up to 118 degrees. Serve warm. YUM!

Preface to the Pamphlet: The Uncreated One

The Mission of the YMCA:
To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.

A healthy Spirit, Mind, and Body: this was what I sold, in a sense, as the Membership & Marketing Director of a larger YMCA. Fresh out of college with 2 degrees - one in Marketing and one in Exercise and Sports Science - I landed myself quite an amazing job in upper management of a 2000 plus member Y. It was strange to suddenly be in charge of an entire department, all the staff, and hundreds of volunteers plus over half of their operating budget.

But I could get behind what they were selling - and in the 2 years I was there doubled membership and revenue. I bounced around in perfect health back then, athletic and strong, so sure I could sell memberships. But it could never be my ministry until I went through the dark valleys that come when our own health and those we love begins to suffer.

My Pamphlet explores the fullness of what God wants for us in Spirit, Mind, and Body health. Truly, we are not able to be whole unless we seek a balance in all 3 of these areas. I didn't say seek perfection in all these areas as many of us deal with health issues that can only be managed, and not cured, which requires a little more emphasis on the other 2, but balance can be had.

I know people with horrible diseases that still shine for Jesus and beam with enthusiasm. They have figured out a balance.

I want this for God's people! Tired and sick soldiers have less energy to accomplish His Kingdom work than vibrant soldiers. The difference between the two might simply be the person who has truly let this truth settle deep within their soul: the truth that He is the only Uncreated One. He set all of what we know into motion and if we can let Him be strong when we are weak, claiming the Power of The Creator of this universe over our Spirit, Mind, and Bodies we will find ourselves walking in that place of Hope that only comes from the one and only, The Uncreated One.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My Book

Every summer, as teachers, we get the joy of packing up our trailer and driving off into our summer sunrise for 5 to 8 weeks to return home to zucchini that are longer than PCWS, basil bushes, and 500 pounds of tomatoes. Amidst one of our many excursions during the summer of 2007, we found ourselves at Trillium Lake, near Mt. Hood, Oregon. It's a Gorgeous lake that sits under the watchful gaze of the gentle giant. To my delight, I discovered a trail that circumvented this lake. A 2-mile thrill of a trail over bridges, through prairies, through marshlands, and all the while in view of this snow-capped wonder.

It was on this trail, feeling as high as a kite, that I began to run. I ran hard and fast and lapped the lake 3 times in record time. What was fueling my run was the exciting thoughts that began to take shape in my mind. An entire book was piecing together, thought by thought, chapter by chapter concluding nicely as I finished my last lap.

Sometimes I get brief little tidbits of revelations on runs but on this particular day, an entire book was handed to me. I came home (to our trailer :) ) and told the family I was to be considered out of commission for I was writing my book. I began to write the outline, dividing it into the neat chapters that I had already determined. There were many places I wrote something like, "needs research" or "look into this a little more"...anyway, after 3 hard hours of writing it all down I couldn't wait to share with SH. He would, of course, be blown away by my enlightened ideas, take me in his arms and tell me how rich we would be once it became a best-seller and I was touring the nation doing book signings.

I hastily tucked PS and PCWS into bed as I had a profound discussion to behold with SH. We sat down on the couch and I excitedly began. Not long into this process did I defeatedly look up to SH and declare how unprofound it actually sounded. I wasn't actually saying much of anything once I released these ideas into the spoken word. It was so shocking, as in the world of my own mind, during that adrenalized run around Trillium Lake, I had thought I hit a jackpot in the world of profoundness!!

By the time I was done, I concluded that maybe I had enough profound thoughts to write a pamphlet. So that's what I plan to do for the next few months. Post by post, I will share with you my Trillium Lake Pamphlet.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Be part of the community- post comments!! :)

I let that last post about Steven Curtis Chapman linger for a few days so that many could view it and be blessed, but alas, it's time to post again.

Just a quick post encouraging you to leave comments!!! I keep running into people that tell me how blessed they are to read some of these entries and how they have passed it on to people I don't even know who are loving reading this too, but I never hear about it!! I'd love to get to know you as we journey together through life,learning and growing. I think out loud -hence my desperate need to BLOG!!! And I learn so often by hearing OTHERS reflect!!

So, if you have a neat insight or thought or don't know me, leave a comment!! I get emails from some of you like the one I will paste here, but I'd love these emails to be comments too so it can encourage others!!

Here's a neat email from a new and now DEAR friend I met while in North Carolina last month. Hope it encourages you to see the journey of another God Seeker vs a God's Will seeker!!

First, I love your blog. It’s fun to get to know you as you describe your life through words. I’m glad that you have become addicted to it!! ☺

For the past four days, I've been truly blessed to be here at one of my favorite places in all the world, Litchfield beach, SC. This morning as I was walking down the beach, suddenly, well, something that I probably should have understood weeks ago, became very clear to me- Ah!! I think this is so cool!!! I have to explain some of the background for this to make any sense to you. Please bear with me.

As we’ve discussed before, I've been concerned for years about what I was going to "do" for God. People have given me insight over the past few years regarding this; but it has left me even more confused since this wasn’t the real issue in the first place. Months ago, I began really seeking God about this and praying that he would give me some clarity on the matter of what he wanted me to “do” with my life. It seemed like nothing was ever going to happen. But something did happen when I least expected it to.

Just this morning, on the beach, I realized that He not only answered my prayer; but, He did it in a way that I never would have believed or have been able to arrange myself. When I wasn't looking or expecting God to do anything, he took a simple occurrence like me running over from school to see a violinist at HGBC, to introduce me to someone who I could have never have met otherwise, from Oregon no less – YOU!

Until now, I honestly had no idea why I was blessed to meet you that day and why I’ve been fortunate to keep in touch with you. Well, now I know and I cannot tell you how many times I’ve thanked God for you in the past few hours. You may think that what you said in your email about desiring God and drawing close to him was just a little thing, but it wasn't.. When you first sent me that idea, I read it but it has taken me a while now to really believe it. That one phrase has become the catalyst to the transformation that God has been longing to do in my heart for a long time– taking me off the focus of what I “do” to who I “am” in Him.

Thank you for allowing God to speak through you to guide me back to his original desire for my life. It’s amazing how life can make so much more sense when God is at the forefront of all your thoughts. I don’t know what kind of storms you went through to gain this wisdom; but I’m so glad that you persevered so that now you can pass this truth onto others. I am so thankful for the kindness that you’ve shown me and hopeful that you will allow me to follow your example as you follow Christ.

It was once said about finding friends: “Find someone who is running so fast after Christ that you cannot help but go faster with them in the race

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dance with Your Cinderella today

My prayers go out for the Chapman family. I can't even imagine losing one of my children. On the sad news today that Steven Curtis Chapman's 5 year old daughter was killed by her older brother as he pulled out of the driveway and accidentally hit her, my heart wants to take heed to the very song he wrote about taking time to dance with our kids, as time is short.

Here is SCC singing this song live:

The lyrics inspired by Maria and her younger sister are:

She spins and she sways to whatever song plays,
Without a care in the world.
And I'm sittin' here wearin' the weight of the world on my shoulders.
It's been a long day and there's still work to do,
She's pulling at me saying "Dad I need you!
There's a ball at the castle and I've been invited and I need to practice my dancin'"
"Oh please, daddy, please!"
So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh I will dance with Cinderella
I don't wanna miss even one song,
Cuz all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone
She says he's a nice guy and I'd be impressed
She wants to know if I'd approve of a dress
She says "Dad, the prom is just one week away,
And I need to practice my dancin'"
"Oh please, daddy, please!"
So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Ohh-oh ohh-oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't wanna miss even one song,
Cuz all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone
She will be gone.
Well, she came home today
With a ring on her hand
Just glowin' and tellin' us all they had planned
She says "Dad, the wedding's due six months away
And I need to practice my dancin'"
"Oh please, daddy please!"
So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Ohh-oh ohh-oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't wanna miss even one song,
(even one song)
Cuz all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Second article published - When should my child start music lessons?

When should children start music lessons?
by Julie, masters degree in Education

The number one question I always hear is, “when should my child start taking lessons?” to which I reply, when they are born, or maybe even before that. Am I suggesting that one year olds be propped up on a piano bench to start embracing the works of Beethoven? Of course not. Surrounding children with music from the time they are born is the best way to get the 100 billion neurons in their brain to start making these connections, called synapses. The first nine years of a child’s life are a critical window to learning because their young brains are highly adept at creating these synapses. These neural pathways become permanent if used over and over, but if not used, they start to eliminate around age 10. A systematic and repeated exposure to a wide variety of musical activities helps cement the rich neural connections of a musical mind.

Do we need to, as parents, worry if our kids even have a “natural talent” for it? I’d say no. Musical aptitude, or “talent”, is the child’s natural potential to become a musician. But the other factor in the equation is a child’s musical achievement, or what that child can do with music. So while “aptitude” is their natural talent, “achievement” is how far they take that talent. Around age 9, a child’s aptitude tends to stabilize and remain constant throughout the rest of childhood and adult life. The lesson here is this: The more musical experience you can provide for your children during the preschool years and early elementary years increases the enhancement of his or her aptitude, or natural talent. That’s the gift we as parents can give our children – enhanced aptitude.

There are two components to musical aptitude: 1. rhythmic and 2. melodic. Children with a natural aptitude for rhythm will be drawn to dance, drums, guitar, or piano. Those children with a high melodic aptitude will be drawn to violin, flute, or voice. Early enculturation of music will help parents see where their child’s natural draw is. This is simply surrounding your child with music, from the time they are born. Play classical music at night while they drift to sleep. Dance to some ragtime music together. Find some African drum music at the library CD collection and drum with your child. Take a music class, like Kindermusik.

While enculturation, like this, is intended to develop the child’s mental skills to process music, musical training is intended to develop specific skills, such as playing a specific instrument, singing, or composing. Recommended window to start focusing on a specific instrument is between 5 and 10. Good first instruments are piano, violin, or cellos. Somewhere between age 9 and 12 is where children shift from developing their aptitude to achievement on the instrument. Kids might switch to a different instrument that is more their lifetime instrument. It’s a great time to start instruments like the guitar, tuba, saxophone, and other more physically demanding instruments.

An easy way to try out this world of music before investing in private lessons may be to join some group classes and camps. Joyful Noise Music Studio will be holding beginning and intermediate level 5-day Guitar camps at the Redmond Music Supply Store Mid-April and again during the first week of summer break in June. These camps are for 9 year olds through adults. Call Cory for more information at 504-5371. For the younger child, ages 0 to 7, try a group music class from Miss Amy of KinderMusik held in Bend. Miss Amy can be reached at 389-6690.

Julie and Cory own a successful music studio teaching guitar and piano to students all over Central Oregon. They can be reached at 504-5371. Julie is currently touring nationally performing and they both monthly join their church’s band in corporate worship.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Introducing Prince Charming Wildman Sprout

To get a full picture of who I am, I must spend some time introducing you to the members of my family. SH and Princess Sprout have all been properly introduced in no given order of importance. For sure, Prince Charming Wildman sprout needs such a long name to encompass all that he is.
The other day he said to SH, "Daddy, you might know this...even though you're not a mommy..." All innocent and sincere, he looked a little confused when mom fell on the ground laughing. Of course there was the time when he was just 5 that he announced, "There is only one God. (Ok, so far so good) Mommy!!! Mommy the God!!" (Yes!! The brainwashing is working!) For such comments as these and all the love notes from first grade girls that fill his backpack that leave him absolutely clueless (he knows nothing of anything that is not round and kickable), he gets the "Prince Charming" name.
But, this boy is an absolute athleto-stud. He peaked a mountain with us at 4, hiking a 10 mile day. He's biked his little one-speed bike (with training wheels when 3) since he was three years old, 4 times a week with me on my 5 and 6 mile runs. He is crazy good at soccer. I know we aren't suppossed to cheer too loud or notice the scores, but this little guy scored at least 3 goals a game. Every picture of him (and we took about 150 per game) has him in extreme focus, tongue sticking out with "Kill" in his eyes...and all the other sweet little boys are smiling and laughing in the background. This skill is partly due to his intense focus. Every day after school, since January, he is found playing soccer in the backyard. Slamming the ball into the fence over and over again for hours. I applaud his focus and determination. I personally get distracted much easier. Everything always matters to our Wildman.
He makes bleacher duty fun.
He is an easy laugher, quick hugger, fast helper, and quick learner.
Welcome Prince Charming Wildman Sprout to the blog world.

Kids and love

Thank God we are all unique and all called to different things. One of our youth pastors shared a fun email about how kids view love. He finished the list with a brief story of a 4 year old boy found sitting on his neighbors lap who was in his backyard crying. When he was all done, he came back home to a questioning mom who asked what he was doing. The little boy said, "I was just helping him cry."

Sometimes we look around us at how God is using those around us and want to be used like he uses that person. We think it looks so great and beg God to do that with us. This youth pastor said, just imagine how silly I'd look, 6 foot 3, 200 pound guy, sitting on this neighbors lap in silence. Absolutely awkward to say the least.

If we pray that we too get to sit on the neighbors lap, we could easily miss how he wanted to use us in that neighbor's life. Instead, we need to remain focused on God and God's desires for our lives will be impregnated on our hearts and we will KNOW what needs to be done. 4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4). He will actually give your heart desires - and since they will be from Him, He is in fact filling your heart with HIS desires as you seek HIM and get close to HIM!

That's what I want to be about!! Not seeking God's voice, but seeking GOD! Deuteronomy 4:29: " But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul."

Monday, May 19, 2008

My heart doesn't want to but my mind says I should

Princess Sprout loves animals. We have no animals but she has been drawn to them from her infancy (wheras Wildman Sprout is a bit terrified of all animals). Last weekend during our trip to Florence, Princess Sprout ever on the search to find herself a pet, found Ali the Lady Bug.

Last fall she found her pet sitting on the side of the trail and carried it with her 3 miles to the car, put it in a jar, and slept with it each night. She fed it, sang to it, let it out of the jar to play, and read to it. She even put the jar to bed and tucked it in under blankets. This pet was a down feather. She had no idea it wasn't alive - it crawled and flew and did all the things her dream pet should be doing. She named it Neema.

So, Ali was a bit of an improvement over Neema. She rescued it from it's lonely ladybug existence, and gingerly carried it the 15 minutes it took to go over dunes, driftwood, and rocks to the car. All along, she sang to Ali, talked to Ali, and assured Ali that they would be friends forever.

When we got home, we decided to put it in a jar. Every family must have a moment when they tortue the life out of an innocently existing bug and it was now our turn. Princess sprout brainstormed about what ladybugs eat and decided to put some leaves in there. A little water to drink too. Everything seemed so content and perfect except, the ladybug was drowning and was desperately just wanting an AphidCasserole.

It was at this point that I missed Neema. Neema, the down feather, was not going to die from the innocent torture of a 5 year old but just cheerfully keep floating along despite starvation, lack of oxygen, or too much water. So I broke it to little Princess Sprout. Ali wanted to go back to life the way it was. She would never forget Princess Sprout, we were sure. How could little Ali forget the near drowning and terrifying glass jar? I told Princess Sprout that it was up to her, but it really would be best for Ali to be set free.

To this, her big blue eyes looked up at me and tearfully said, "I'll let her go mommy. My heart doesn't want to but my mind says I should." She sadly walked outside and ceremoniously released her back into the wild, singing to Ali the whole time.

From the mouth of a babe!! How many times I have been at that kind of crossroad!! My heart doesn't want to but my mind says I should. So much wisdom comes from this little fun-loving Princess Sprout!!

Pictures are of Princess Sprout riding horses at

I will blog about this amazing place later, but for now, suffice it to say, Princess Sprout finally has a real pet!!

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I have always joked that I am one coffee away from a coffee addiction - or one Pepsi away from a Pepsi addiction. I do it once, and the next day I think, sure what's one more cup...and 3 weeks later I am getting my 21st straight cup of java and wondering how I got addicted again to the almighty warm caffeine surge.

So, I all along I was one blog post away from an addiction. I never knew as I hadn't met blog that one encounter was all it would take to become soulmates.

You can faithfully guarantee that if you keep close tabs on me and my new friend, "blog" that you will be greeted with a new something or other. I am even dreaming of "blog" and thinking about how "blog" is doing and wondering who is visiting "blog".

Thursday, May 15, 2008

We are Fearfully and wonderfully Made

Doubting God's existence? Doubting His Hand in your life? Doubting His power or His Plan for you? Laminin - check it out by playing the video.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cease striving and know that I am God. - Psalm 46:10

Get close to God then do what you want!! While we have lived this way for years, it's only this week that I read something that not only supported this idea but also filled in a little meat to this ideology. It's from Priscilla Shirer in her book Discovering the Voice of God.

"We look around every corner to discover God's will. We often carry a load of responsibility because we wonder if our decisions are in God's will. Desiring and doing His will is not our responsibility to discover; it's His responsibility to reveal. Phillipians 2:13 says It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

No longer do I frantically search for God's will; I frantically search for God. I trust that it is His responsibility to show me what He wants me to do and how to do it by speaking through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. As I seek Him, stay in His Word, and continue to keep an intimate relationship with Him by confessing my sin, He transforms my mind and emotions to align with His plans."

Get Close to God then Do what You want!! 'cause what you want when you are close to God is what He wants!!

How freeing is that!! Go in freedom today!!

Our God in action

Sitting in our women's Bible study (Discerning the voice of God) was a young girl I had never met before. We got to talking after I introduced myself and welcomed her and I got the privilege to hear an amazing testimony of Jesus at work!! She said I could share her story as I told her I would just love to encourage others about God's power at work. Her and her husband were not Christians and she, a young mom with 2 kids, was/is a recovering alcoholic. She says she was begging God of who she knew nothing about to take away her guilt, shame, hopelessness, and desire to just die.

About 2 months ago she was away from home at a 30 day treatment program and in the middle of the night, God woke her up and she said filled her with an instant sense of His presence and His peace. The chaos that was running around in her mind just was wiped clean and it's never come back again. Anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, hopelessness all GONE and in its place was God's strong hand of forgiveness on her life. This is the amazing thing! God literally did the same thing to her husband, sleeping in his home miles away from her, the same night and they think at the SAME TIME!!!! He woke him up and made himself so real to Him at that moment that His life was instantly changed. He is not a writer but God literally gave him a 5 page letter to write to his wife. He brought it to her on Family Day and she said it did not even sound like him - it really wasn't. He said he was given all 5 pages to write -he just sat down obediently and let God flow out of his pen to that paper.

For the first time in 10 years of being together, they are in love with each other. Their 7 and 4 year old boys are absolutely blown away at the change they see in their parents. Mom and dad are now affectionate with each other, mommy is happy for the first time ever. These little boys have witnessed the power of God to instantly change their family through the power of what Christ did on the cross to make a way to the God of this universe - the power of grace and forgiveness has instantly changed this entire family.

This young girl was beaming - she can't get enough of God's Bible and knows so little about it as she has never been in a church but she said her husband and her are totally different people.

This study is about hearing God's voice and something in it stuck out so strong to me and was evidenced in this sweet girl's testimony. We don't need to be frantically seeking God's will for our lives, we need to be frantically seeking God. That's what this girl was begging for in her life - she was frantically seeking God (not asking him for a job like she needs, or to take away the alcoholism or anything - just seeking God) and he miraculously met her and her husband and changed them both the exact same night. Hope that blesses you like it did me!!

On being a zoo animal

On occasion I can be seen scaling a rock face with nothing but ropes attached to me to keep me from the ground 200 ft below. It was on one occasion, while working hard to get to the top that I heard a family stop and start exclaiming, "oh my gosh. She is so high. I gotta watch her and see if she makes it!" and on and on. They were taking pictures of me like I was a zoo animal caught in some amazing animal act. This family was from an area of the country that does not have tall rocks to scale so to them, I was an oddity for sure.
For me, I was totally at home, outside, doing my thing but it was so foreign to this family that they actually stopped their hike and took pictures of me, capturing something odd and unusual - a local caught in the act of doing something quite unique to them.
As I tour the country and see so many faces of America, I too find myself wanting to take pictures of the the other day when I had to take a shot of the fried pickle on my plate in North Carolina. This is totally normal for southerners to do - fry anything and everything, including your nice fresh pickle or ceasar salad - but was quite strange to me.
Underneath all these moments of discovering our differences though, I see so much unity too. Families doing their best to be families, loving their kids, going through struggles and finding strength in God.
While I might be a zoo animal caught in action to this family, I am totally just doing what locals do in my world. Let's not stop at first impressions of what's so different that we need to take a picture of it but continue on to see what we have that also unifies us.

Flying on bikes

SH pictured here defying gravity on his mountain bike. While I enjoy a good ride, I prefer keeping all tires touching the earth at all times.

Bran Flax muffins - more good fat for you!

Bran Flax Muffins

1 ½ C Whole wheat pastry flour
¾ C flaxseed meal
¾ C oat bran
1 C brown sugar
2 tsp Baking soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 ½ C carrots, shredded
2 apples, peeled and shredded
½ C raisins (optional)
1 C nuts, chopped (optional)
¾ C milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Mix together flour, flaxseed meal, oat bran, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir in carrots, apples, raisins (if desired), and nuts. Combine milk, beaten eggs, and vanilla. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir until ingredients are moistened. Do not over mix. Fill muffin cups ¾ full. Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes. Yields 15 muffins.

Mulit-grain muffins - high in all that good fat

Multi Grain Muffins
From Julie

1 ½ C boiling water
2 C All Bran cereal

In a medium bowl, put All Bran cereal and pour the boiling water over and cover. After a few minutes add:

2 C wheat bran
4 T flax meal ground – found at Cornucopia or Fred Meyer in the fridge next to the eggs in the health section
4 T granulated lecithin (found at Cornucopia or probably even at Fred Meyer’s health section – It’s yellow & granular)
4T toasted wheat germ – found in the Fred Meyer’s health section next to the bulk

In a larger bowl beat for 2 minutes:
A little more than 1 C of brown sugar (or I use cane sugar) and ½ C olive oil

Add 2 C buttermilk and 2 tsp of vanilla and beat for 1 minute more
Scrape bowl.
Add 3 C whole wheat flour, ½ C oat bran cereal, 2 ½ tsp baking soda, 1 tsp Baking powder, and ½ tsp salt. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes on medium speed. Add ¼ C of water if too dry.

Pour the medium bowl contents into the larger bowls and mix it up good.
You can add ¾ C of a combo of raisins, nuts, or chocolate chips at this point.

Spray muffin tins (makes 2 dozen) and put about ¼ C of mixture into each muffin tin.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

The yummy world of fat

The Yummy World of Fat
By Julie

Is there good fat? YES! And they are listed below
2 kinds of good fats
1. Mono-unsaturated fats (OMEGA 6 and 9)
· Linked to better cardiovascular health and longer life spans
· Remains liquid at room temperature but it may harden in fridge
· In Avocado, nuts, macadamia, olive, canola, and peanut oil
2. Poly-unsaturated fats (OMEGA 3) Needed for nearly every bodily function
· Remains liquid in fridge and at room temp
· In flaxseed, walnuts, and fish
· In safflower, corn, cottonseed, and soy oils

A pretty comprehensive list of the benefits of EFAs (Essential fatty acids) – OMEGA 3, 6, and 9:
· Decreases cholesterol, heart disease (by decreasing high blood pressure and decreasing clots forming) and risk of cancer
· Decreases LDL (which leads to plaque – bad cholesterol) and increases HDL – actually binds to cholesterol and excretes it from body which is why we want the HDLs
· Helps maintain normal hormonal balance
· Lack of EFAs during pregnancy decreases IQ scores in the child
· Lack of EFAs increases depression, bipolar, and ADD

Specific OMEGA 3 benefits above and beyond Omega 6 and Omega 9 – OMEGA-3 is the KING of EFA’s!:
· Increases immune system
· Increases your absorption of nutrients from foods and supports the health of your bones, brain, breasts, eyes, heart, immune system, joints, nerves, muscles, prostate, and skin.
· Reduces most major cardiovascular risk factors, including high triglycerides, high blood pressure, the tendency to form clots in the arteries, and irregular heart rhythm,
· Guards against digestive problem
· Maintains healthy weight and aid in weight loss
· Decreases risk for insulin resistance and helps skin problems
· Decreases PMS issues
· Fights inflammation in the body to include reduction in arthritic inflammation
· Improves bones strength
· Increases energy and stamina
· Increases wound healing

The 2 kinds of bad fats
Increases blood cholesterol and LDL (the bad cholesterol), heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases including weight gain, lethargy, depression, etc.

1. Saturated fats –
· in animal products
· Solid or wax at room temp
· In cheese, cream, butter, whole milk, coconut, palm, and tropical oils
2. Trans Fat, hydrogenated, partially-hydrogenated, mono-diglycerides, or anything hydroilzed – Hydrogen added to liquid oil to make it into a solid
· Crisco and shortening, most margarines
· In most commercially baked foods, crackers, candy bars, bread, and processed foods
· Increases free radicals in body, very toxic
· Researchers at Harvard have shown trans fat to cause coronary heart disease, diabetes type II, cancer, impaired immune system, auto-immune problems and other health problems.
· Body stores this as fat
· Raises LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and lowers HDL – the good cholesterol
· As of Jan 1, 2006, food manufacturers are required to provide the amount of trans fat in foods.

Let’s Focus on Flaxseed for a second
Fiber : 2 T (tablespoons) of Flax contains 4 grams of fiber, as much fiber as 1 ½ C of cooked oatmeal! It helps harmful LDL cholesterol to drop while maintaining HDL cholesterol levels. Also aids in regularity!

Lignan Levels High: here’s where the flaxseed story gets major points. Flaxseed contains high levels of lignans, a natural antioxidant and a member of the family of plant estrogens (phytoestrogens). The lignans in flaxseed can maintain breast and colon health by binding circulating estrogens and other substances that might promote unchecked cell growth. Many plant foods have some lignans, but flaxseed has at least 75 times more than any other. To get the lignans that are in just two T of flaxseed meal, you’d need to eat about 30 cups of fresh broccoli.

Alpha-Linolenic Acid – Modern diets – even healthy ones – are routinely deficient in omega-3s. Flaxseed is a mega-source for the plant version of omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid. The oil in flaxseed is about 50% alpha-linolenic acid. Canola and walnut oils, the next highest sources, have about 10%. But most foods have far less. One serving of flaxseed meal contains 2400 milligrams of omega-3.
COOKING TIP: Ground flaxseed can be substituted for shortening or cooking oil at a ratio of 3 to 1 in baked goods. For example, 1 ½ cups of flaxseed meal can replace ½ cup butter, margarine, or cooking oil in a recipe. They do tend to brown more rapidly when you do this substitution.

My first published article - What does music study do for your child

Oh yeah - did I mention I also teach piano? SH and I run a studio and teach piano and guitar to about 20 families each week. I wrote this article and got published in March, 2008.

What does music study do for your child?
By Julie, MS in education

As my 7 year old male student slumps down onto the piano bench, his face says it all, “I have had a rough day.” “Let’s try and see if playing this song, ‘A Rainbow is a Smile Turned Upside Down’ with a strong, forceful energy might help you get some of that sadness and anger out”, I replied to a skeptical little boy. When he was all done playing as loud as he could, he surprisingly replied, “I DO feel better!!” Perhaps studying music is more powerful then we can even imagine for the young child and adult alike. It gives our soul a voice. Is there, after all, a better way to express the joy of falling in love or the sadness of a breakup than music? We have all been moved to tears and laughter in ways unexplainable through music. This is the voice we teach our students. The silent voice of the soul.

It has become common knowledge through much research thatstudying music helps a child to do better in academic classes such asmath, foreign language, and reading. There is also research indicatingthat music study will increase self-concept, social skills, and coopera­tion. However, I would like to resist the temptation to limit my beliefs in the power of music study for children to these valid, yet limited, assertions. The deeper truth behind music study almost denies the need to justify it: it’s so powerfully interwoven into our culture and our very existence as humans that it could very well be one of the beautiful aspects of our humanness that single handedly unifies us with our heritage, all cultures of the world, and each other as it serves to give our life a deeper meaning.

As parents, we all want our children to lead happy, successful, and fulfilled lives. Our culture has mistakenly convinced many of us that this goal is tied up in the academic grades we get in school. Consider this: in a study done that tried to correlate scores with future success it was found there was no correlation between high SAT scores and success in life. They found that the best predictor of success later in life was a childhood full of hobbies, diverse interests, and participation in extracurricular activities such as music. An “A” received at the expense of a well-rounded life may in fact be misplaced priorities.

Without being musical, we miss the chance to know a deeper part of ourselves. You might hear the music, but without a developed musicality, may miss the intricacies of the musical score that surrounds your life that allows you a deep appreciation for what you hear and a way to express your soul’s response. In our studio, over and over again, two children play the same piece completely differently because those differences are reflecting a bit of who that child is. These children are developing their musicality inwardly as it’s reflected to the outside world. In our opinion, this development is priceless and it is a gift that parent’s can give their children that will serve them for their entire lives as it gives them an avenue to express their very soul’s emotions.

An easy way to try out this world of music before investing in private lessons may be to join some group classes and camps. Joyful Noise Music Studio will be holding beginning and intermediate level 5-day Guitar camps at the Redmond Music Supply Store in Mid-March and then again in Mid-April. These camps are for 9 year olds through adults. Call Cory for more information at For the younger child, ages 0 to 7, try a group music class from Miss Amy of KinderMusik held in Bend. Miss Amy can be reached at 389-6690.

Cory and Julie own a successful music studio teaching guitar and piano to students all over Central Oregon. They can be reached at Julie is currently touring nationally performing and they both monthly join their church’s band in corporate worship.

The slower side of life

I am hugely blessed to be in this awesome pilates/yoga/weight lifting class that's set to worship music with an anointed leader who speaks words of wisdom and encouragement to us through Bible verses, prayer, and insights.

We are working on our breathing. As a runner, I thought I had breathing nailed in the bag, the one thing I don't have to think or worry about. But as it turned out, the more I did the class the dizzier I got. What I noticed was that I hold my breath during any challenging move like the plank, a pushup, or any other difficult position. It suddenly dawned on me that I do this in life too. When things get tough, I hold my breath and try to muscle my way through the situation on my own strength. It takes discpline to keep breathing, tapping into the breath of life - Jesus - and let go and allow God to work in the challenging moment. She encouraged us to use our breath to bring strength to our body and allow the movement to be controlled by our breath.

My prayer for today is to learn how to use God's strength and not my own to move from moment to moment in this life. I can't hold my breath and suck it up and try to do it on my own...I need to breathe deeply the breath of God.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Do what You Want Run

Get close to God then do what you want. This mantra that SH and I have lived by since a good friend's pastor dad said this to us in college was what was on my mind today as I ran through the nearby canyon. We worry about trying to figure out God's will for our lives but the simplicty of this statement has profoundly changed us over the years to people that don't frantically seek God's will but instead frantically seek God.

The other day, my SH announced during boy sprout's soccer practice that we are going to go to Argentina for the summer of '09 to serve in an orphanage our church supports. Our sprouts will be old enough to participate so it's time we start tithing our time to God too. My heart lept with joy in agreement with SH's announcement. SH concluded our quick talk with, "we don't even need to pray about it. It's the desire of my heart and your heart so let's go!" We'll pray about the details but the actual decision to go was confirmed by the fact the the Holy Spirit impressed the same vision on both of our hearts so we are outta here!!


We met in college, my first day on campus, fresh to Oregon from Chicago. It's a fun story that some time I'll write about but today I'll just reflect on who it is that I get to call my husband. Not only is he a head turner, he is a gentle and loving man who blesses our home with his Godly guidance. Any given day you could find him strumming his guitar and singing, changing out a radiator or redesigning our landscaping. I am continually amazed at what this former ranch boy is capable of doing. Seems to be nothing he can't fix, redesign, or invent. He rides mountain bikes in ways that I truly don't want to know any details about, gets up at crazy hours of the night to catch a sunrise at the top of a local mountain, and writes highly annointed worship songs. He also puts up with my random raw concoctions that I always give fancy names to, despite the fact that the ingredients are usually a variation of the same 10 things.

Aside from being a highly involved dad and an ever encouraging husband, he finds time to teach highschool.

This super hero is not the man of my dreams. I never would have dared to dream a man like this even existed. But alas, he does, and he's all mine!

Perspective from the couch

This is not an entry inspired by the pavement but instead is a simple summary of me as I sit on my green couch looking out the window at dark hills under stormy skies. I am a musician, piano specifically. A friend just featured me on her blog - check it out at

I get to tour around the nation with nationally acclaimed violinist David Klinkenberg as his road manager and fellow performer. I had an easy in - he's my little brother. Strange to be on the national music scene but an absolute blast to be doing it with my bro (pictured here with me before a show in October, 2007)

I also love to learn and teach about healthy eating. As a mom and a wife, it is part of how I love my family. I feed them well spending many hours each day preparing homemade foods full of chopped veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds. I actually tried a stint at some raw vegan eating for about 3 months. Maybe I'll post a bit about that sometime. With a degree in Exercise and sports science from Oregon State, I thrive on this stuff. Maybe to a fault.

My precious children are 5 and 7 year old girl and boy - my little sprouts. Here on out referred to as boy sprout and girl sprout. They are my joy.

I am married to StudHusband (SH from here on out). This guy should teach husband classes he is so good at it. I'll post about him sometime too.

And finally, and most importantly, I am a Jesus lover. He has set me free and guides me through this pavement maze called life.

Insights from the road

I run. Every other day, rain or shine, I can be found pounding the pavement. No matter how tough my day is going, give me a pair of running shoes and miles of pavement and I will be OK. It's where God and I hang out, is on these roads and it's where my many thoughts about life gel into actual life guides. It's the thoughts from these pavement times that will make up the majority of this online window into my mind and heart.

Whether or not anyone reads this blog is less important as the need to just get these thoughts out of my mind on onto a concrete place. If you are inspired along the way, let me know! I think out loud with others and welcome you into my thinking place!