Let The Races Begin: Part 12 of My Journey and Stovetop Baked Oats!

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Healing, it comes in many forms. For some, it’s a healing touch, comforting word, expressions of art or even a time of getting away from it all to clear one’s head. For others, such as myself, it’s not that easy. I’ve had to learn to heal as I go from one stressful and traumatizing situation to the next. I’m sure you all wonder if I’ve ever wanted my life to be any different. Of course I have! At the same time, more recently, I have learned that these trials are what have made me into who I am today. Without the stress, without the trauma, without the chaos, without everything that has happened in my life to bring me pain and to tear me down, I would not be nearly as strong as I am let alone have the knowledge and understanding of who God is in my life as I am and do today. No, I’m not saying that I’m in anyway shape or form perfect. I have SO far to go; however, I’m starting to see maturity birth in me as I have been more and more willing to except my circumstances, do what I can do to change them, press into God, find His strength through it all, and stop wishing my life was any different. My life is an example of how touch can cause pain instead of healing, words can tear one down to a point of feeling complete self worthlessness, and how the various forms of art that you use to heal can be torn down by others making you feel like you have no right to enjoy those things. The abuse that I suffered growing up physically, verbally, and the like along with being ridiculed and bullied as a child for liking to sing, act and dance… brought me pain in ways I can’t even begin to express. I guess you can kind of laugh with me and just call me the female version of the “Diary of Wimpy Kid.” What’s great about this is that it’s usually the wimpy kid to end up rising above by the power of God and changing the world for the better! I can only hope that my life has a powerful impact on at least a few people that I encounter during this brief moment in eternity. The main lesson I can learn from all of this is that when everything in life turns to pain, when every dream I have seems to just crumble and fall, there is one and only ONE source that I can rely on and that is Christ Himself.

Now, I left off in my journey last time where I had just had to leave my job due to lack of transportation and a severe injury. It was now time for God to strip away every bit of pride, selfishness, bitterness, everything that was not Him, and begin to build new strengths and characteristics I never thought I would ever have. Here goes with part 12 of my journey.

My Journey Part 12

So, there I was, jobless, fighting to regain my strength, and not sure of what the next day was going to hold. Each day, I forced myself to get up, get out of bed, pray and read the word, and yes … rebuild my ability to run again. One thing I witnessed during the season is God‘s providence! He always knows what we need when we need it! You see, just before leaving the grocery store, I had received a call from someone I did routine housesits for. She asked me to watch her home while she was out of town for a little over a week and then do another one for nearly a month right around Christmas. The second housesit for her would become the longest one I had ever done for anyone! The problem with this is, I would have to request time off right around Thanksgiving in order to do so because doing the job would require my not being away from the home for more than four hours at a time. I trusted God and excepted the job right away! After all, this woman had become very dear to me and so were her critters. I really didn’t want to see anyone else that she didn’t know he put in charge seeing is that she trusted me. Wow… this woman… a judge… trusted ME?! An ex drug addict… me? Yes! Truly God CAN redeem all things! Now, upon my leaving the job at the grocery store, it turned out I definitely had time to make sure that I was there for that entire housesit instead of having someone else take care of it. The first and shorter one was so refreshing! I spent most my time running and relaxing with the pup. Then I returned home and it was back to regular life where everything was a struggle. In the middle of it, my little sister reached out and helped mom and me. My sister… someone who had a kid of her own and barely had enough to take care of her self was helping us! I felt so awful! I felt like somehow I failed her! At the same time it was help… A few weeks passed and I was off to enter my next and longest housesit. This one took place over the Christmas season. Though I was very alone during this season, it was much needed time away from the craziness of life.

December 14, 2013 I FINALLY got to race again! I went to an event called “the Dam jingle bells” race hosted by a local family that has held a very special place in my heart! The feelings of being out on the race track again were incredible!

The energy of the people, the excitement of walking up to the start line, the quick push of my foot as I took the first step racing towards the finish, each moment of that beautiful course with views of the water as the clean crisp air filled my lungs all while adrenaline rushed through me like a wild fire… My spirit sang and soared! I was doing exactly what I was born to do! By the grace of God, I crossed the finish line and came in 1st in my age group! Fast… still… even though I hadn’t been racing for a while, God’s grace was on me!

On Christmas Day I went off with my mom, sister and nephew to enjoy one of my most treasured races! It was a gold rush five miler held in the Richmond hilltop area. When I arrived, I saw Big Al who automatically greeted me with a hug and a smile! I had called my godmother a few days prior and she said that she would be there, but come race day she was nowhere to be found! An anxiousness grew in my spirit. SOMETHING was off! I tried calling her a couple times, but there was no answer. I left a few messages, and prayed that she was OK. Meanwhile, the race had to go on! I stepped up to the start line, Big Al did countdown and… OFFFFFF I flew! Every step was such a blessing! The wind flowing through my hair, the pavement under my feet, my heart racing as I flew around each corner and up each hill all the way to the finish line to come in first place Female!!!! My first Christmas with my new nephew, and he got to see me finish what I love to do the most! “CONGRATULATIONS!!!” said Al! “You won!!!” “But my competition wasn’t here,” I said (meaning my godmother and a woman named Erica). “You STILL won!!!” He said! Then he continued to remark on how fast I came in for the 5 miles! It felt good, but at the same time everything just felt off without my godmother and godfather there.

Shortly after his congratulating me, Al took me aside, sat me down in his car and explained his concern to me about how I was doing. He was concerned that I left my job at the grocery store. He was just worried about me as a whole. I explained to him everything that had happened with my dad and the grocery store, and he encouraged me, like a dad, to find a way to pick up the pieces of my life and put it back together before it was too late! “get back into school,” He said, “ get another job, just don’t give up!” Those words, as encouraging as they were meant to be were better sweet to my ears! I didn’t want to do anything else but run! I was so tired of doing what everybody else wanted me to that I just felt like I needed a break from pushing myself. And looking back, I can see that his words were probably the wisest words I could’ve heard at that time. I’ll forever cherish that man and the impact that had on my life!

After the race, I went back to spend some time at the housesit with the dog, then it was out to my house to open presents and enjoy Christmas dinner with my family and a neighbor.

Just as I was sitting down for dinner, I received a call… it was my godmother. She explained to me that my godfather was in the hospital and that it would be best if I saw him as soon as possible. I knew that he had cancer, but I didn’t know how bad it was. For some reason, I didn’t realize how bad it was! I also knew that this call was serious because she had never asked me to see in the hospital before. Though we were close, she never called me unless it was important. That’s something I’ve always respected about her. I informed my mom about the situation, and we all dropped everything and went out to see them!

Upon arriving at the hospital, my godmother officially adopted me as her goddaughter. She told the staff that I was family and from that day on I have been called her goddaughter. For me, this is an honor I will cherish for the rest of my life. When I saw my godfather, they were preparing him to get to an actual hospital room. As I talked to him, he started talking running and told me my godmother was in her peak season for racing! Hahaha it was adorable how even in one of his most painful moments, all he could think about was my godmother and how much he admired her ability to run! I held his hand and talked to him a bit, and the walked out into the waiting room to spend some time with my God Grammy while my godmother and godfather got prepared to get him into a room. Once they had him settled in, my family and I went up to see him. We tried to talk as best as possible, but as it got late, we had to leave. Wow… the man who introduced me to my best friend and godmother, the man who watched over me at races, who would sacrifice his personal food preferences so that I could enjoy allergen free meals with them, who told wonderful stories of planes and cars and of his childhood, the man who cheered me on and coached me on my stride during races… the man who was like a father to me…. was dying! I didn’t know how to fully process it, so I stuffed my feelings in the back of my mind until I later found a moment alone to cry. I then went and said good night to my godmother and God Grammy, and I headed back to the house to get some rest.

The next few days and began to wind down and get ready to leave that housesit. I also beganto pray to the Lord because I didn’t know what I was going to do next about finances, and I really didn’t want to go home yet. Just two days before that job ended, I received a knock at the door. It was my dear friend and old landlord that had me caring for her husband before he passed! Apparently, her and her family were going on vacation and needed me to watch their property while they were away. The job would start immediately after I left the house sit that I was already doing! God heard my prayer! So… I gladly excepted knowing that God truly had my future in His hands!

Now, I’m going to leave off here for this week! BEFORE I go though, I’m going to give a recipe for simple stove top baked oats that I recently came up with! This is super simple and incredibly tasty. Also, since mother’s Day is tomorrow, it might be something you could make for mom for breakfast!

Stovetop baked oats

Oats

-1/2 plus 1 tsp rolled oats

-1 pinch baking soda

-1 pinch baking powder

-1/2 plus 1 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk OR water

-1/4 tbsp olive oil

Topping

-1/2 individual container Oikos triple zero vanilla yogurt

-1/2 Apple

-1/2 cup blueberries

Directions

Put oats, water/milk, baking soda, and baking powder into a blender and blend until smooth. Put Oil into a mini egg frying pan that has a lid I’ll put the link for the one that I have right here. Cook with lid on, on medium temp until baked all the way through. Flip the pan over to release oats onto a plate, top with the yogurt and fruit and serve!

In closing, I just want to say that I hope you all have a wonderful Mother’s Day! Here’s to my mom who has been one of the greatest blessings in my life and who stood by me when most people wouldn’t dare be there for me! She’s my best friend, my rock, my everything!!!

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Winter Break and food victories

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Love… That’s a word that’s been on my heart this season. With the semester now at a close… So much to say… The trials I faced through the past few months were, at times frustrating and brought me nearly to a point of dropping classes all together. Yet’ one thing kept me pressing on… LOVE!
Let me be more specific for ya’ll. Since my last post, I found myself so crunched timewise between school, work, Choir, volunteer work at the church (halloween carnival) doctors/ Chiropractic appointments, ect. all while trying to manage the pain I’ve been in off and on and maintain a family life that doing anything outside of it was nearly impossible. I found myself completely staying away from any form of exercise (including ab work) simply because my body was hurting and I really have felt the need to heal. This was such a huge challenge for me! With pressures of classes, I found I needed an outlet and God provided one! I soon began to draw!
Without going into too much detail about draining trials I’ll say this… They included further blood testing to find out why my white blood cell count is still low, an injured pet that we ended up having to seek financial support for help to cover, a situation I needed to fix one my car, news about the horrific shape my troubled loved one is in and more… Between that and the war in my body…. I barely had the strength to press on through finals. However, there are always blessings in the storms of life! At the Halloween carnival, Alex Ramon’s assistant (Megan Doyle) hooked up the sweetest care package full of my favorite college snacks and drinks! Also, my modern day pen pal, Emily (who I hope to one day meet), sent a huge care package for my family and me full of food and clothing AND bible study materials! Plus… People at random from my church reached out to help. It’s incredible! Always, just when my family and I needed it!
Now… Here it is… Another break, and yes… The stress of school and struggles landed me in bed off and on  for the first few days. Knowing that there’s help out there, just praying for the miracle of provision to get it…. I continue to do what God has placed before me, taking one step at at time, trusting that He knows best! The love for my troubled loved one and for her little one that mom and I care for is truly helps me press on! With that, I’ll share some food victories with y’all. Also, before I go…

Food victories:

1.I got to try a new brand of cereal called Purely Pinole, which I TOTALLY love!

2. Oatmeal for lunch… and no… I didn’t work out during that time, so it was a BIG victory. It was a combination of Trader Joe’s gluten free oats and Rachel’s overnight oats (both the Purely Pinole and the Rachel’s were gifts from my dear pen pal Emily which were sent in a beautiful care package).

3. I started ditching my obsession with fat free yogurt for lowfat yogurt and kefir.

4. The Sunday before Christmas, I enjoyed fellowship at my God mothers’s church where they provided a meal of spanish rice, steamed veggies with EVOO, cod baked in EVOO, and salad… for me.. this was a big step out in social eating. Also, it was a BIG victory!

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In closing, I have a few questions for you…

What is your favorite part of Christmas?

What’s you favorite Christmas carol?

What do you do when it seems that nothing seems to go right in life?

Do you have any New Years resolutions?

R and R with cheese cake!

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Hello all… I hope your Christmas and New Years were brilliant! Mine were… well, a lesson in finding enjoyment regardless of what life brings! You see, winter break brought me to yet another season of having to mainly stay inside, at home (still not be to run outside or walk up and down too many hills and praying for provision for a car) and watch my nephew ( daycare owner was out of town and childcare coverage changed for my mom). So, outside of work, church and few outings with friends, I’very spent the majority of my break inside, trying to make the most of things.

As Christmas neared, we got a tree, my mom nd nephew decorated it (with a little help from me), then a day or two later, a family member was alerted about a pear tradition that involved child sacrifices being tied to the whole Christmas tree thing and…. that family member quickly took down the tree. Out of respect, I took down the little one in my room. I tried not to let myself dwell on our lack of tree but couldn’t help feeling disappointed. Meanwhile, I counted my blessings… the Lord provided ways for me to get some gifts for my mom, nephew and a few other people, and I got to spend a quiet day with my family.  The following day I was blessed with the opportunity to sing at a dear friend’s wedding and enjoy and amazing meal with them at the reception.

Days passed, I stayed home with little guy while mom went to work. I found ways to do some exercises and balance work to help relieve  stress from being indoors all day. I also found fun projects for me and little dude to do. This time has been very challenging for me, with battleing the urges to malnourished myself, I’ve fought through prayer and dedication to make proper changes… some days have been better than others, but hey… progress is progress. I’m now up 15 lbs from where I was and feeling much better energy wise!

As the New Year came and went, I begain to dread my time at home with little guy and actually looked forward to it. Getting to know him more, the hugs in the morning, bible devotionals, getting creative with his meals and actually making something he will eat and want more of (picky little eater ) brings joy to my heart.

Now, as the beginning  of  a  new   semester draws near… I’m battleing yet another injury. My hamstring tightened do to wearing old shoes at work and possibly some strength training I’d done, leaving me with a bit of an irritation, that along with financial struggles… praise God that’s  all I can say. I choose to continue to look at the following:

1.) God has the victory

2.) My nephew and I are now best buds

3.) Still making progress in proper nourishment

4.) Drawing closer to God (take THAT satan)

5.) Getting some real r&r before classes start

In closing, I just want to say that… life is what you make it. I can dwell on the fact that my running and fitness dreams have been repeatedly stomped on OR, I can say… “You know what…. life is a struggle at times… I’m going to embrace this season and make the most of it! I choose to focus on the many other blessings I have and praise God for keeping me alive and restoring my sanity!” Now for the recipe!

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Upside-down  Ellis Quark Cheesecake

Filling
-1 container vanilla bean elliquark

-1/2 tsp knoxgelatine

-2 packets #nowfoodsstevia

Crust
-1/4 cup pumpkin joe’s os or oat flour

-1 tsp traderjoes rice krispies

-1 1/2 tbs banana
Directions
Mix gelatine, stevia, and Elli quark together and leave it in the container. Place it in the freezer for about 15-25 min. Mash up the crispies and joes o’s in a bag using a rolling pin. Mash up the banana in a small cup with a fork. Add the cerial to the banana , mix thoroughly and place onto a flattened foil cupcake liner and flatten out until about 1/4 inch from the edge. Place in a toaster oven to toast until edges are golden. Set crust aside to cool. Once cooled, use a butter knife or spatula to remove. Place over top of Elli Quark container and…. DA da daaaaa!!! Upsidedown pumpkin crust cheesecake!

Merry Christmas! With Peppermint Mocha!

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Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Mannnn what an amazing year it’s been! Through so many trials and tribulations, times of joy and times of peace, times of loss and times of restoration… God has just been so good! With the year coming to a close and many new things on the horizon in the upcoming year, I wanted to just leave a quick post to say… No matter where you are in life… if you’re on the mountain top of victory, or if you’re in the desolate desert, I pray that you continue to keep pressing on, having faith that God is alive and working! For me, I’m in a place where it seems a lot of my dreams have crashed and faded. Battles still raging with my body, doing all I can to try to pick up the broken pieces of a shattered life and put them back together again only to watch them crumble time and time again. I now come to a point where I’ve had to ask myself… “Am I going to give into doubt and give up, or am I going to continue to believe even when all seems hopeless… pressing on toward new journeys and adventure, knowing that somehow, some way…. God is creating a masterpiece of this mess?” Well, my answer is this… I’ve stopped try to pick up the pieces by myself. I’m handing the pieces of this shattered life and giving it to the only One who can make all things work for good! I pray that if you’re in that shattered dream boat (Lord willing, you’re far from that horrific place) that you’ll hold onto the promises of God and choose not to give up or give in. Know that God is with you. Now, being that in the new year, I’ll be taking on school, work (still looking/ believing for employment), and setting up ministry, I will be taking my posts from 1 per week to 1 per month (possibly every other week).

Now, on to the main topic of faith… with the holiday season I know many people are struggling. There are a lot of lonely people, people who have lost loved ones, people who don’t have enough money to eat, people who go out to get loaded just to avoid the pain… yeah, the season that is supposed to be filled with joy isn’t always for many. However, let me share something with you! This year marks a bitter sweet season in my life. You see, it was last Christmas that I received the call that my God Father was in the hospital. We lost him a few months later. Also, I’m a gift giver… one of the talents the Lord has given me is the gift of giving. Honestly, I really LOVE to give! With my job situation being the way it is… I didn’t know if gifts would even be in my vocabulary this year. Mom and I had a small Thanksgiving dinner, which was perfect being that it’s just her, little guy (my troubled loved one’d child we are caring for), and me. I began to pray… yes I know that Christmas is not about gifts…. but I HAD to ask… I asked the Lord to provide so I could at least get a gift for my mom, little guy and my God mom and for provision for food and other necessities. This I did with my mom. Then, I reminded her of how God blessed us with not just one, but THREE whole turkeys last year! I began to praise God for what He’d already done  and… I remembered, He provided a house sit for me this month and thankfully, I was able to use some of it for gifts!!! Plus, my aunt ordered a Christmas, turkey dinner for us. This past Sunday, I went to see a friend perform at her church. The show was beautiful and after was a gathering in the fellowship hall where I met the pastor. A total divine appointment! We talked about running and I was given the opportunity to share my testimony with him . After, some members pulled out a bunch of food donations and told everyone to help themselves! I was blessed with TONS of salad and bread! Then, the pastor opened up the freezer and… He told me to help myself. Inside was a whole bunch of frozen turkey!!!! I went home with enough food to share with my neighbors! Also, while waiting with my friends for my mom to pick me up, my mom had received a call from the church. They had presents for little guy! When she arrived she had three wrapped boxes for him AND two cards for our family. One had money and the other a grocery card. Apparently the Lord placed it on some of the members hearts to help us out for Christmas! WHAT A BLESSING!!! So, whatever you have faith for ask God. Know that He hears your cry, release your faith and watch Him work. I leave you with this question… What are you believing God for? God bless and MERRY CHRISTMAS! On to the recipe!

*EASY PEPPERMINT MOCHA*

Ingredients

-24oz of brewed Starbucks Columbia blend coffee

-8 oz non fat milk or almond milk heated to the “start” of a boil

-2 tbs Ghirardelli Chocolate syrup

-2 tbs DaVinci Peppermint syrup

-Whipped cream (I use non fat)

-1 small candy cane (crushed)

-2 small candy canes (whole)

Directions

In two 16oz mugs, 1 tbs chocolate and 1 tbs peppermint syrup, add 12 oz of freshly brewed coffee along with 4 oz of heated milk to each cup and stir. top with whipped cream, crumbled candy canes and stick one whole candy cane along the side of the cup so the stick in in the beverage and the hook hangs over the outside. Sit back by the fire with some good old “Blue Eyes” or Buble Christmas music playing and… enjoy!

Sweetmint Hot Chocolate…and Praise Praise Praise

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1 Thessalonians 5:18New King James Version (NKJV)

18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Have you ever been in a position where it seems that Murphy’s law seems to have flooded your life? Everything from financial struggles to family woes and health issues… your world seems to have hit the perfect point in the domino chain to set chaos off in every direction of your life and you’re standing there like… “Whhhhat?” Well…. yeahhh that is something I know all to well! Here it is, yet another week has gone by and this time… a midst the struggles I learned something that helped change my perspective, thus lifting my spirit and giving me hope despite what I face. You see… as we head into another holiday (Christmas), my family and I face the struggles with not being able to see my troubled loved one (due to her addictive behavior), my troubled loved one’s little guy (living with my mom and me) showing signs of aggressive behavior as he battles emotions he (as a 19 month old) can’t yet verbally express, the loss of a VERY treasured loved one (5th death I’ve experienced in the past year), mom and me being informed that we may have to do some major life changes in order to keep little guy (should my troubled loved one decide not to straighten up by March), my search for work, battles with the nagging injury that has put a damper on my running and racing career/ ministry, going to doctors, seeing a counselor to help me deal with the stress from the tidal waves that just seem to keep hitting my family and me… man… a few weeks ago, I found myself depressed and wanting to hide. I was angry with God, myself, the rest of the world and…. the Holy Spirit prompted me to look for a book that I had received from K-LOVE called “From Prison to Praise.” Right away,I (being the visual learner that I am) got a visual of where it was and I headed for my closet, pulled out this timeless classic and… began to read it for the first time. My breath was taken away! For about five years, I’ve had this book thinking I was supposed to give it to someone else, because, after all… I was never in the military… been to jail but not prison…. there’s no way that I could relate to this book! Or so I thought! Little did I know, I’d been in a prison to my circumstances. I’d allowed my attitude to be soured by my circumstances instead of seeing it through a Kingdom set of eyes. You see it’s true that the enemy can’t attack us without permission from God (Job 1:6-12). So, what do we do when that attack comes??? Think GIDEON! This man defeated a huge army with a minuscule army of his own HOW? He PRAISED! He trusted what God told him to do, reduced the number of men under his command and worshiped his way into victory by the power of God! When we praise God despite the impossibilities that surround us, your problems will fade and a sense of peace and joy will overtake you. Why? Because you’re taking your eyes off of your problem and saying, “God, I know this attack was not from you, but YOU DID permit it. For whatever reason You’ve allowed this, I choose to praise You and trust that You will work all things out for my good!(Rom 8:28)” Your problems may worsen, but continue to praise and somehow, some way… God WILL bring the victory! HOLD TIGHT CAUSE IT’S A COMMIN! In closing I’ll say this… while my troubles haven’t decreased…. my joy HAS increased. Financial problems still loom, issues with my troubled loved one… yup… still there, jogged 2 miles and felt the pain AGAIN, however what is no longer there is the sense of despair and anger. I now have peace, joy and hope knowing that God is in control and WILL come through! Be encouraged, be blessed and know that God is with you and with Him Murphy HAS NO LAW! Now, onnnn to the recipe!

Sweetmint Hot Chocolate (For two ❤ )

~Ingredients~

-2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk

-4 heaping tsp Hershey chocolate syrup

-1 See’s Candy Candy Cane (crushed)

-Nonfat whipped topping (I like this because it’s sweeter and has less calories than regular)

~Directions~

Place almond milk in a sauce pan and heat until it reaches a light bubble of a boil =) Add chocolate syrup and half of the crushed candy cane. place into two mugs, get some whipped cream going on the top and sprinkle crushed candy cane on top! Enjoy every last bit!