healthy oatmeal cookie

Wait, don’t go! Just because this recipe is healthy, doesn’t mean it’s not going to be tasty! As a matter of fact, the batter on this one is very, very yummy! Each ingredient in itself is wholesome and delicious and when you toss them all together…mmm!

My dad likes cookies. I have a particular recipe that he has requested many times for Christmas. (See my State Fair Cookie post here. ) Sometimes, a big tin of freshly made, homemade goodies is the best Christmas gift. Or Father’s Day gift. Or thank-you-for-having-us over-here-are-some-cookies gift. 😉 And I admit, I do love homemade cookies too.

In an attempt to alleviate any guilt that may or may not arise from munching on too many homemade cookies, my dad will share a healthier version with me when he has one. This is one such recipe.

When you look at the ingredient list, it looks like breakfast. Oatmeal, dried fruit, almonds, agave, unsweetened coconut, whole wheat flour. Bring it on! As a matter of fact, I think these are healthier than the “breakfast cookies” found in the grocery store. If you choose to have one, (or two!), for breakfast, who am I to judge?

click here for recipe. Enjoy! 😋🍪

Be in the picture

So you know those blogs that tell stories about how mommies are shying away from the camera because they’ve gained a few pounds, their hair doesn’t look like they wish it would, makeup is smeary (or non-existent), or their neck looks old? (Or is that just me?) Well guess what? A photo shows more than just outward appearance. It captures a moment, a feeling, a quick blink in time.

I’m acutely aware that so much is changing.  I often wonder, (sometimes apprehensively), what awaits in the next chapter. But it’s all good. So very good.

So to mark the occasions, I got in the picture. In my son’s photo, my too-short hair is tucked under a fun hat I made; my grubby sweatshirt and extra pounds hide underneath a cute jacket; and my eyes are closed because I can’t see through the tears. But I’m giving a big hug – and getting one back. In the pic with my daughter, we’re taking a goofy selfie. Like we’ve done for years, enjoying a silly side. She was always a goofball. Glad to see that side is still there.

Pictures can capture what we do. The moments zoom by faster than little kids wearing homemade superhero capes.  It’s important. Get in the picture. (senior photo courtesy of Jacob Photo)

it’s you i like

Here is something new.

I’ve never reviewed anything before using my blog. Today is different. Thank you so much for indulging me for a few moments. 🙂📽🎬

This morning, I had popcorn for breakfast and saw an early showing of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”. I loved it.  Not just the movie itself, but the message. It’s a lesson for all of us: kids or kids at heart.

Mr. Rogers took seriously the potential and privilege of giving a message from a platform. There is great opportunity whether it’s mainstream media like movies, tv or a stage, theater, social media or even our own kitchen table. We have moments where someone is captivated by what we say. What are we saying, verbally and non-verbally? Every instance where Mr. Rogers spoke with children, he sat or crouched down to their height. An obvious visual of telling someone, even a small someone, that they are important and what they have to say is valuable.

Much of his program was enhanced by the music he wrote and performed. The lyrics are filled with simplicity and depth. His songs teach children, and all of us, for that matter, that it’s ok to have feelings and we are special.

His intent to use media to reach children in a positive, quiet, peaceful, meaningful way was, and still is, not mainstream. It’s different. Dare I say, it’s unpopular. And yet it’s important. So. Very. Important. He taught children about wonder, dignity, and expressing ourselves and the tricky task of figuring out our feelings. It was important when the show began in 1968. It was important during the 80’s, after 9/11 and still today.

I wanted to take notes. I was glad I didn’t wear eyeliner. I wish I had brought a handful of kleenex along. I hope it comes out for purchase. It was worth seeing. Again and again. 💙

lyrics to ‘It’s You I Like’ by Fred Rogers can be found here. 🎶 enjoy.

this is what we are missing

Louie is our neighbor. He lives across the street and is one of those folks who keeps a watchful eye on our homes. He knows who is coming and going; takes notice of vehicles that are not the usuals; and just makes you feel safe knowing someone is aware of things. I am embarrassed to say I have lived where I do now for about ten years and have had only a handful of conversations with Louie. My bad.

Over the past winter season, we had a knock on the door. A young man stood on our porch and told us that Louie’s wife of fifty-seven years, Christine, had just passed away. This was their grandson and because he knew that Louie and Christine watched out for everyone, he wanted to personally share the sad news with the neighbors.

We were surprised. Christine? With the beautiful sunflowers that towered over the fence in huge, glorious bunches? The lady who often could be found gabbing with neighbors? The one who knew all of our names, even though we didn’t even know their last name? That Christine? We knew she was sick, but not ‘that’ sick. What a shame.

We had only a few chats with Louie and Christine. Seems like the world is too busy for long conversations. There are places to go, kids to taxi, meals to make, work to do, blah, blah, blah.

After the collection of family’s cars had left Louie’s driveway, my husband and I went over to offer our condolences and assistance to Louie. When he answered his door, he didn’t recognize us at first. Ouch. But then we realized he was still in shock and seemed quite lost. We brought food, a card, and extended the offer, “If you need anything, or want to just sit and talk, please feel free to come over.”

Honestly, I sort of felt like we should have said that before.

During our visit, Louie told us his story. It’s quite amazing. He came to the United States from Greece as a young boy with his father. His father soon passed away. Louie was a young teen, completely on his own in a country he didn’t know. He looked for work at a local restaurant. They told him to come back in two weeks and inquire again. Louie had no intention of waiting that long. He returned the next day. “I thought I said to come back in two weeks,” the manager said to him. “Yes, you did”, answered Louie. But I am hungry today. I need to work today.” They put him to work that very day. After that, he came in early and stayed late every day. Not for extra pay, but to learn. He learned as much as they would teach him. He listened. Eventually he learned every single job in the restaurant. And he was good at it because he worked so hard.

The value of that education and hard work led him to opening his own successful restaurant. He married ‘my beautiful Christine’, as he says with glistening eyes, and was able to comfortably help his family financially as much as he could. Later down the line he proudly obtained his high school diploma. When you listen to Louie, with his great old-world accent, you can’t help but hear what he values: respect, hard-work, responsibility, loyalty to family and friends.

The other day, my son was in the driveway and Louie caught him to say hello and wish him well in his college studies. We heard Louie’s story. Again. Guess what? It was precious, valuable, and fulfilling. Again.

Recently a friend re-posted a video on social media pointing out how we miss so much by being too busy, either recording the moment, or running onto the next one. The headline was “This is What We Are Missing”. I could almost feel a heartstring tug. “The little, simple things become the big things”, it said.

I decided to try harder. Listen longer. Spend that extra minute. And when I stumble, I’ll try again.

Wouldn’t want to miss something special. 💜

the best job in the universe

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Hmm…a few simple truths in that verse. We are God’s handiwork. Do you make things? Things from wood, yarn, food, paint, metal. When you’ve finished a project, there’s a sense of accomplishment and joy that comes alongside. Out of all the things God can make, He made you! Pretty cool, right?

We were made to do good things, which God already planned out for us. Simply put, there are things here on this earth that only we were made to do. Also cool, right? Although at times, it’s tricky to figure out what those things are, it can be incredibly rewarding when you do something that feels ‘just right’. That something you know you’re good at or seems to be a perfect fit for all the components that make you the unique individual that you are.

Often times, those ‘things we do’, fall into the category of ‘work’ and our jobs. Whether we work at home or out of the home; indoors or outdoors; alone or in community; we spend a LOT of time working. So wouldn’t it be fabulous if all that time we spend working could also be doing those things we were made for? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to love our jobs and know that we are plugged in where God wants us to be?

My friend Kim has that job. It’s the perfect job in the universe because she was perfectly designed for this particular job. Coming out of college, she was on a completely different path than what she is on now. But a nudge in her heart told her that there was something else she was supposed to be doing. She went back to school and started over. She’s beyond great at her job and you know without a doubt that she loves it. Not just because her eyes smile when she talks about it. Not just because the people she works with adore and deeply appreciate her. You know Kim is doing the job God created her for because His love radiates through her as she works. She cares about every little detail and that’s important because she works with a lot of very little people. Ages three and four, to be exact.

Technically, my friend, Kim O’Keefe, teaches nursery school and preschool. But in reality, what she does for a living is give nursery and preschool kids the best start for school that she can. She is one of the best. One of the best in the nation, to be exact, according to Nick Jr. Family magazine. In the issue where she was recognized, there is a photo of ‘Miss O’Keefe’ surrounded by a group of her ‘littles’. But there is something interesting about the photo. That’s how she always looks: surrounded by people, (albeit little people), who truly love her and know that she cares about them.

It was an honor and true joy to have my kids in her class in what seems like a lifetime ago.

Approximately eighty little ones go through her program each year. All those lucky families experience Kim’s giftings. She goes above and beyond what is expected. It starts in the summer, before the beginning of the school season, when each incoming student receives a postcard in the mail welcoming them to school soon. She gently encourages apprehensive students and their weepy, nervous parents, (including those who walk around the perimeter of the school, just to get one more peek into the classroom window-hypothetically speaking, of course. 😉) She introduces important life lessons like making friends, sharing, waiting your turn, kindness, responsibility and compassion in loving and gentle ways. The school year ends with a beautiful poem she wrote herself, but can’t read aloud because it makes everyone cry. She teaches three and four year olds that they are safe; they are special and they are important.

Speaking of important, when the kids tell her about their upcoming events, she listens. She pops in to see dance recitals, soccer games, t-ball matches, and concerts. It’s been well-over twenty years that Kim has been teaching. Doing some rough math, thousands of kids have gone through her nursery and preschool classes and thousands of students and their families will never forget the impact she makes. She keeps in touch, attends grad parties, prays with students and members of their family who are sick and grieves with those who have lost a loved one.

It is a true blessing to see someone doing what they were made for. Teaching three and four year olds is certainly not the job for everyone. But it is for Kim. There is a great book by Max Lucado called ‘A Hat for Ivan’. Do you know this one? Ivan is a boy reaching the age when he can start thinking about what job he would like someday. He goes to his Father, the ‘Hat Maker’, whose job it is to make just the right hat for each person, based on their unique design and what they love. All of Ivan’s neighbors have good intentions and suggest that he wear a hat just like the ones they wear. The carpenter, the fireman, the baker, the music teacher all have hats they pop onto Ivan’s head as they suggest he follow in their footsteps. While Ivan respects those folks, he struggles with wearing their hats. Guess what? They don’t fit Ivan because they weren’t created for Ivan. Ivan discusses this with his Father, who suggests they have their own chat about what Ivan loves, what he is good at and what he was made for.

Bravo!  How blessed and fortunate we are to have role models like ‘Miss O’Keefe’ who share their talents and God’s gifts by doing what they were made to do. 💛 “I thank God for you” Philippians 1:3

giving credit where it is due: Thank you, Kim O’Keefe, for letting me share a smidge of your story. Thank you for who you are!

illustration from ‘A Hat for Ivan’ by Max Lucado

 

 

 

 

 

a prayer to share

Occasionally you see something and there’s nothing more to say about it because the visual is perfect in itself.

While browsing online today I found a simple image. A prayer. A ‘Worrywart Prayer’ meant to be printed and displayed in places where we might need a reminder. What caught my eye was the part about opening our fists and letting go of what we may be worrying about. Ever wake up with a clenched jaw or balled fist? I have. This is a great, simple prayer that reminds us that God is bigger and in control. What a relief to know that, as controlling as I may think I need to be, God in His power and glory has my back. Whew! I think I’ll be printing off a few of this one! 😉

Giving credit where it is due: This prayer and many other great resources found at http://www.marydemuth.com.

 

– 49 –

Today is my birthday. Next year’s birthday will be a biggie. There is a lot attached to that one coming up, but for now, I’ll sit and steep in this year. At the risk of sounding too cliché’, I did spend some time thinking about choices made, events that have come and gone, and “what would have happened if…”. To be honest, sometimes that can be a bummer. And why do that? We can’t go back in time, like in the movies, and do things over. Plus, if ya’ sit around wallowing in the past, perhaps we miss what’s right in front of us.

Awhile back, as a writing exercise for myself, I started making a list of things that make me smile, make my heart happy, and just good stuff. It’s an incredibly random list, not in any order of preference or importance and I cheated a little by combining a few things together, but it’s my list, and I don’t mind. 😎

So for this birthday, while I’m still younger than a quinquagenarian, (yes, I looked that one up! 😉 ), here’s a list of random smiley-stuff. Enjoy, thanks for sharing, and because I’m not a big cake fan, I’ll have another cup of coffee, instead, or maybe a great hunk of bread from my list, which you can see by clicking here.  🎁🎈

 

the accidental tomato – again

It’s March in Michigan. Weeks away from spring and it’s snowing. Not the nice, pretty kind. The kind of snow that blows sideways; smacking you in the face; wet and cold; reminding you that we’re still a long ways away from the spring-like weather that Mother Nature teased us with just a couple short weeks ago.

I miss spring. I miss warm sunshine. I miss fresh veggies and herbs so much that I planted basil in a lovely little window box my hubby bought for me. I know warmer weather will come. But today, I miss it. Flipping through old photos I came upon these and thought I’d share a bit of spring / summer with y’all with a re-posting of a past blog entry. Thank you for the indulgence. 🙂

For you winter-lovers out there, I applaud you and hope you are truly enjoying your snow. For me, I’ll continue flipping through my garden books and travel brochures, wondering why hibernating is socially acceptable only for bears! 😉🐻🌴

***

My dad is a gardener. His mother was a gardener. Her father was a gardener. We always had a garden when I was a kid. We tried growing corn and other veggies. My mom loves geraniums. Her mom loved red begonias. As the phrase goes, gardening “is in my blood”. I’m not actually using blood to garden, like in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, but I think you know what I mean.


I love my little gardens. I like getting my fingers dirty and smelling the earth on my hands. There’s something grounding, (no pun intended), about digging a hole, putting in a plant and tending it into something either beautiful, nourishing, or both. As soon as my kids were big enough to ‘help’, I introduced them to a bit of gardening too. We had raspberries that grew out of control. My daughter picks pea pods off the plant and appreciates their freshness just like I do. We planted peanuts once. (They tasted horrible, but it was still fun!) I have an adorable pic of my son when he was little assisting me in the garden by popping off tulip flowers leaving behind strong, plain, green stems. But it’s tomatoes that are the enigma for me. Not a fan. I’ve tried. Yes, numerous times. I do not like them Sam- I – am. I grow the tomato. I do not eat the tomato. I love how the plant smells when I prune it. I still do not eat them. I grow them for my husband who likes them as a snack. It’s incredibly rewarding to see him enjoy something I grew solely for him.

It’s nice to be appreciated, isn’t it? Not like you do things for people only for the purpose of getting thanks in return. But when you think about it, isn’t it nice to know something you spent time, energy and perhaps poured a bit of love into is appreciated by the receiver? Sometimes we get busy and forget to notice. Sometimes the idea of mailing a thank you note may seem old-fashioned.

This summer we were on vacation during traditional planting time. I have two great garden boxes my husband made for me and I was sad when we came back from vacay to find I was growing a healthy collection of weeds. A week later, I put on my grubbies, hooked up my ipod with a great playlist and vowed to get started cleaning out the garden beds. At least I could put in a few plants this year.

When I started pulling the weeds out, I was surprised to find a tomato plant. And not just one, but eight tomato plants growing, on their own, amongst the icky weeds. They weren’t planted by me. I figured they must have sprouted by remnant tomatoes from last season. I couldn’t help but smile and notice how cool it was for God to give us a few freebies. See the cool cycle? God gave me the tomato plants to enjoy and I can return the favor by tending them so they produce tomatoes that my hubby enjoys. What a shame if they hadn’t been noticed and just tossed with the weeds.

How about a challenge? Find someone to thank today. Someone who isn’t expecting it. Maybe leave a note for your mail carrier. Thank the kid bagging your groceries. Tell your kid’s coach how much you appreciate them. Say thank you to the cook who serves your food in the lunchroom at work. Take a minute to be aware of who might appreciate a bit of gratitude.

I remember when my kids were little and we would drive to school. There was a great clearing where you could see the sun coming up. I would make a point of telling them, “Look! Look at what God made for you! Isn’t it wonderful?” As cliché’ as it sounds, stop and smell the roses. Or the jasmine, or hollyhocks. What a shame to miss what God created for you to enjoy. Take a moment and say thank you.

Hmm, maybe I’ll have to give eating a tomato another try…

munching a memory

One bite was all it took.

The flavors, that crunch, the small size, (making it easy to have just one more). I’m hooked!

It’s that time again! Grab a glass of milk, coffee or tea ‘cuz it’s cookie time! Specifically, Girl Scout Cookie Time!

Ever since I was a Brownie in our troop that met in our basement, I’ve loved Girl Scout cookies. What’s not to love? Whether you indulge in the toasted coconut, caramel, chocolate delicious-ness of Samoas or lean towards a traditional Thin Mint, you know that box won’t last long sitting on the kitchen counter.

But Girl Scout cookies are about more than just snacking. I can remember selling boxes of cookies to neighbors, excitedly tallying and reaching my goal. It was so exciting to wear the little patch and feel proud of the work I did. We sorted out orders, put them in bags or boxes and wrote a little thank you.

And then there was the math and the manners. We learned to make change and always say thank you. The math got harder when prices went up a quarter and it wasn’t easy to thank folks who didn’t want to make a purchase. But it’s ok, because in the long run, it was the big picture that was exciting, not necessarily each little box.

Speaking of “big picture”, I remember the year Mom was the cookie chairman for the neighborhood. A big semi-truck pulled up into our driveway and the cases came and came and came! Wall-to-wall cookies! Wahoo!

Fast-forward to my adulthood and it was so fun to see my daughter join Girl Scouts. Fortunately, the troop needed a Cookie Mom and I was super excited to jump in.

We had cookies everywhere! Cases and cases lined up like a labyrinth in the living room. Things had changed from my old days, and troops were responsible for running their own cookie booths. At our booths, we taught the girls to set up eye-catching displays, speak politely, make change, and conduct themselves responsibly. So many good memories: from the year we borrowed a cookie costume to the year a gentleman went back to his car to retrieve a coffee can packed full of change just to donate to the girls.

Yes, the boxes have gotten smaller. Yes, the cost has gone up. Yes, you can buy something similar at the grocery stores now. But it’s not about just that. When you support a Girl Scout, it helps their goal as well as the local area. There are so many opportunities as part of scouting that they may never have on their own. Travel excursions, horse-back riding, camping in the ‘Great Outdoors’, programs that involve a huge range of topics from science to computer programming and hands-on leadership training to name a few.

Once again, things change as time ticks by. Now you can order online; use digital maps to hunt down where to get a cookie fix in your area; and even send boxes to troops overseas.

For over 100 years Girl Scouts have been selling cookies. It’s tradition. And who am I to balk at tradition? Hmm, I think I’ll have just one more…

Giving credit where it is due: Thank you to RaeLynne Honeycutt and her daughter, Madalynne for the delicious home-baked cookie that accompanied my order. They researched the original recipe and made a batch to share with customers! If you’d like to try this delicious, buttery yummy-ness, you can’t have a bite of mine, because it’s long gone! But you can get the recipe for yourself by clicking here.

barber shop ministry


You know the movie scenes that take place in a barber shop? Not only do you see the barber and his customer, but more often than not, there’s a bunch of guys hanging around having conversations. Maybe they talk about the weather, or sports, or politics. Perhaps everyone is on the same page or perhaps the air becomes heated with healthy debate. But unless you know my friend, Rob, I bet you’ve never thought of a barber shop as a ministry. A mission field. A place where everyone who enters is seen as valuable and treated that way.

‘Arnett’s’ is Rob’s barber shop where I have been taking my son for years. Although he is certainly old enough to drive himself now, we still like to drive together. (I’ll get to more about that in a bit.)

The shop is old-school, no doubt about it. There are three barber chairs and a row of seats for waiting customers. During the holidays, you’ll see a Christmas tree draped with sparkly garland in the front window. A guy sweeps up the trimmings from the floor and a big jug on the counter is always full of suckers for compliant patrons. Rob’s customer base ranges from elderly gentlemen who return again and again all the way down to little, sometimes-squirmy first-timers. When you look around, you see what’s important. Crayon drawings from Rob’s grandkids and photos of family on one side of the shop and on the paneled-wall on the other side, you’ll find pictures of the “regulars”, fondly called by their nicknames. There’s Sports Joe, Hot Rod and Bro to name a few. You know how some fancy restaurants have pictures of famous people who have visited their establishments? It’s like that.

But different.

You see, Rob keeps the door of his shop open. To everyone. (At least during business hours.) Especially for his regulars. They often hang out at Rob’s and shoot the breeze with each other as well as with customers. More often than not, they have no place else to go.

Sometimes there’s a need. For example, one of “the guys” came in the shop when the weather was cold. Rob noticed the holes in his shoes. Instead of ignoring them, Rob quickly put a short blast on social media asking if anyone had extra shoes taking up space in their closet they’d like to donate. No pressure. Just a subtle mention of a local need. Boom! Shoes arrived. Rob put them out at the curb in front of his shop. Boom! Guys came by asking if they could have a pair. Need met. Just like that.

Reminds me of Jesus, who was here not to be served, but to serve other people. Not just the people who were well-to-do, highly educated, or necessarily clean, but all of the people. Whether or not others around Him thought it was a good idea. Jesus saw the needs of those around Him and made things happen to help them.

Rob’s sense of humor is like no other. Quick-witted and clever, Rob dishes out good-natured jabbing and takes it when tossed back. But haircuts and comedy aren’t his only gifts. The way Rob connects with others is truly a gifting. He makes you feel valued and important. He makes you think. He lets you know you have worth, whether you came in for a haircut by driving your new car, or walking in your only pair of too-old shoes. This is why my son and I still drive together for his haircut. On the way home, we have great conversations. Every time. We talk about inspiration, plans for the future, making changes in the world around us, how one person can make an impact and where he may someday fit into all of it.

Occasionally folks bring in donuts. Sometimes bags of supplies. Sometimes mittens and scarves. Because some patrons know that others are there at the shop for reasons besides a haircut.

But why bother? There are needs everywhere. And one person can’t really help everyone, or can they? Maybe not. But one person can help those around them. One person can bring awareness. One person can inspire others. One haircut at a time.

Giving credit where it is due: Thanks to Rob Markus for being who you are and for letting me feature your shop in this post.