“Keep Showing Up with Love and Grace and Joy”—Sarah Bessey

As a little girl my gymnastics class was learning back hip pullovers to get onto the uneven bars. It’s that move where you pull yourself up onto the bar and then swing your hips and  kick your legs up and over the bar. When it was my turn I did it successfully but was met by laughter from my instructors.
One said sarcastically to the other, “Very graceful.”

Grace.

It’s my focus word for 2016. Have you heard of this?    Instead of resolutions at the new year, choose a word, a principle, a guide to help you grow towards who you want to become.

When 2014 began, I’d just finished a year of tests and uncertainty and drugs and infertility. My word was “healing” and then before I’d hardly begun I was pregnant with twins and my word became more of something like “hang-on“. Last year, “survive” didn’t seem very motivating but I was really too tired to choose something better. A good friend chose the phrase “back to basics“. We were skiing when she shared it with me and I remember wondering what “back to basics” even meant? I couldn’t imagine even the basics ever feeling basic again. It wasn’t one word, but “keep going” seemed fitting because what choice did I, do any of us have? But these were words that described where I was, not words to motivate me to be better, to grow. I’ve spent my whole life needing more grace, wanting to be more graceful.

Grace.

3 weeks ago this happened. I’m still recovering.
I was in a circuit class doing a cardio set. My right foot should have planted itself safely on the floor but instead caught the edge of the step, flipping it and sending us crashing loudly to the floor. With arms swinging wildly in the split seconds between loosing my balance and landing sideways on my ankle, it wasn’t my life I saw flash before my eyes but the word Grace– A sarcastic “very graceful”.

It was the word that came to mind Thursday when I decided to make cookies and stuffed a spoonful of dough into my mouth for almost every cookie that made it into the oven. I imagine a woman of Grace doesn’t eat cookie dough with such wild abandon.

I thought of it Friday night when I was home with the babies while the others went to watch a movie with my cousin. Mid-bath Squdge pulled the plug letting out all the water. I refilled the tub but couldn’t turn off the hot water, a problem with our faucet that becomes more infuriating every time it happens.  I whisked the monkeys out of the increasingly hot water and leapt over the baby gate, landing hard on my foot (yeouch!) and ran down the stairs (argh! ooch! owie!) to turn off the water. Because a woman of Grace puts away ALL her groceries, I also grabbed the 10lb bag of sugar from earlier in the day. But mid leap it caught on the gate, ripping a hole in the bottom. Sugar fell over everything.

To the sound of naked and crying monkeys who do not like being on the far side of a fence, I returned upstairs to see just how much sugar had fallen to the floor. It was a lot. It shouldn’t have but from the other side of the gate, it surprised me how much sugar there was and how much of it was on the babies. Like little Ginger Snaps, my newly bathed Boys were candied, covered head to toe in sticky and abrasive sugar. Having just turned off the all water, I was left without a good way to clean them up. I just had to put their jammie’s on, calling it for the mess it was.

Grace-Gratitude-Grit

My life is not often graceful but I’ve resolved to try a little harder to handle my life with Grace. Instead of matching the monkeys wails or railing at the ceiling my frustrations at my house, my life, I hobbled on my sore foot to the kitchen, got the boys some milk and gathered them for cuddles.

“The most Fearless thing we can do is keep showing up with love and Grace and Joy in our real right-now lives” Sarah Bessey

I’m not always successful. But this is my year to better learn what it means to move with more grace, receive God’s Grace, to offer Grace to others when they don’t meet my (often silly) expectations and extend that Grace to myself on my many hard days and in my many bungling moments- without sarcasm.

What is Your WORD for 2016? How are you applying it in your life?




 

Squdge has been recently added to the list of people living in our home who feel less cranky when they avoid wheat and dairy. He’s also the more sensitive and the less adventurous of the boys when it comes to food. I worry about how many bananas he eats and while we all love a good banana muffin at our house, I need to come up with some good snacks that don’t involve the same fruit he eats every single day for breakfast and often for afternoon snack. These muffins fit the bill. They are sweet and fluffy like a blueberry muffin should be and the coconut adds to but doesn’t overpower the flavor. You could convert the recipe and use regular flour and regular milk,but I think you’d really miss out on the depth that the coconut provides.

GF/Dairy Free Blueberry Coconut Muffins

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Have you seen these at Ikea? $3 for 30 silicone muffin cups. I highly recommend picking some up for yourself the next time you’re there.
  • 1/4 cup oil (I used coconut)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 1/2 cup GF flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp flour

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Preheat the oven to 350°

In a large bowl, beat the oil, applesauce, sugar and eggs until well blended.

Add the vanilla and milk and stir.

To the same bowl, add the dry ingredients and mix just to combine.

In a second bowl, add a little flour to the blueberries, stir to cover them and then very gently fold them into the batter.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake in the over for 25-27 minutes until golden brown.

 

 

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“The Imperfect is Our Paradise” — Wallace Stevens

When Buster and the Lady were too little for school, I was lucky enough to teach aquafit at a pool with childcare. Twice a week I would drop them off for a little over an hour in the FunFactory with a tiny backpack of diapers and snacks while I yelled at motivated a very chatty group of women to a ramped up “itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini”.


One day after class, one of the staff remarked to me as she opened the door for Buster and handed over the Lady that I always packed such good food for my kids. And I really did try to pack good food, believing that GOOD mothers ALWAYS have muffins for their children. I’m not sure how these trinket success markers get placed so deeply within me. This one must stem from my own fantastic mother, my memory of how often we had muffins and my belief in a 6th love language-food.

Flash forward 5 years. Sometimes there are muffins but more often these days I am a granola bar and cheese string type mom. I was thinking of this recently when I took my small army swimming at that same pool. I packed my swim stuff and made sure the Lady and Buster packed theirs. I packed a snack for after- yogurts and apples and the muffins I’d made that morning. This is how I found myself, in my swimsuit, 2 kids ready to play, congratulating myself on being a good Mum because we were at the pool and there were muffins, only to realize I’d forgotten all the baby things at home.

After I’d begged two free but two very much too big swim diapers off of the sweet women at the front desk, we had a great time. It was the day the Lady perfected her cannonball. It was a day that Buster made huge progress on his Butterfly. This was the day Squidge decided he could lean off the edge of the pool and fall in on his own volition-a major victory for this, my first baby to not like the water. And Squdge was just happy to be there in the waves, in and out of his much too much too big diaper.


But the thing about forgetting the Baby bag is that I also forgot all the diapers. With a shrug I had to remind myself that Good mothers do bake muffins but sometimes they don’t. Good moms sometimes- almost always- pack diapers and sometimes they use their creative problem solving to pick through the trash and put old wet diapers back onto their babies until they get home. But Good Mamas do take their kids swimming, or for walks or to the park and they read stories and do crafts and smile when they are too tired to see straight.  Good Mothers are not made by the muffins baked but the memories made–as imperfect as those memories are… Delicious muffins do help though.

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It’s Zucchini season! I love zucchini season. I love having all the zucchini I want just outside my door. Zucchini noodles, zucchini grated and added to just about every sauce, hamburger and egg dish, grated and frozen for later, zucchini brownies and this sweet and moist muffin recipe.


ChocolateZinni Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour***
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (about 1 medium garden size)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup regular or mini chocolate chips

*** I prefer the gluten free version made with these changes:

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup all purpose gluten free flour
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • Bake for an extra 3-5 minutes.

Preaheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl add coconut oil, sugar, vanilla, and eggs mix until smooth and well combined. Stir in zucchini, applesauce, and milk

Add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.

This batter will be thick and If you’re a person who likes to taste the batter, it won’t be very sweet. Don’t be concerned. When the zucchini cooks in and the chocolate chips melt they will be moist and sweet.

Evenly divide batter into prepared tins. Bake 22-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean. After 5 minutes, remove muffins and transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes ~24 large muffins