Posted by: Spatzi | November 26, 2017

Few Words

They tell me

to pen my story,

to write until

the ink in my pen runs dry.

 

I tell them

my soul is a well,

and sometimes

the bucket comes up empty.

 

They say to

try harder,

to push deeper into

the depths of my soul.

 

I say nothing.

Because words,

these days, are few,

and sometimes silence is okay.

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Posted by: Spatzi | November 11, 2015

The battle of the mind

I’ve boxed a grand total of two times in the last month. In a typical month, I can get in eight to twelve boxing classes, so this is a pretty sad admission. Between work, my coworker being gone for two weeks, and health issues, I just haven’t made it to boxing much recently. And, the more time passes, the more my mind convinces me that I don’t need to go at all. There are so many pressing things in my life to take care of, and more than anything, I’m tired. Bone-tired. Exhausted.

The biggest struggle lately has been my health. For five years now, I’ve battled this weird disease called hyperthyroidism. Basically, my body is on hyperdrive 24/7, especially my heart rate and metabolism. I often describe it to people by saying that hyperthyroidism is like simultaneously having enough energy to run a marathon and being so exhausted that you feel as though you already have.

The only “cure” for hyperthyroidism is drinking radioactive iodine to kill your thyroid then taking a thyroid hormone pill for the rest of your life. Yeah… I decided to pass on that one. So I manage my disease nutritionally, or at least try to, and part of that involves getting plenty of exercise. In a weird way, despite my ever-present exhaustion, exercise is one of the few things that helps with my hyperthyroidism. And I tend to do fairly well overall of managing it and living a normal, healthy life.

One of the problems with hyperthyroidism, though, is that it cycles. Once I fall into a routine and healthy pattern, said pattern randomly stops working, and my thyroid crashes. I go through weeks or sometimes months where my body just can’t absorb nutrients from anything I eat and climbing a set of stairs feels like climbing Mount Everest. My hair starts to fall out, I have trouble sleeping… and it all spirals back to square one.

About three weeks ago, my thyroid decided to crash again. I tried to ignore it and muscle through. (I’d been feeling fine for months. Maybe it was all in my head.) I kept up all of my regular activities. I went to boxing. And… I didn’t do so well. My vision was blurry, and I could feel how weak my punches were. I felt like I was going to collapse at any second. I felt weak. And for anyone who knows me, appearing weak is my number one nightmare. I’d rather have a root canal. Or hang upside down by my toenails. Or try to outrun a train.

So, needless to say, I didn’t really feel like going back to boxing. It became really easy to find other things that needed to get done. Like cleaning. Errands. Reading. Sleeping. Yes, I did choose one day to go to back to bed and not go to boxing. It wasn’t my proudest moment. But we’ve all been there… am I right?

So, today, as I was getting ready to leave the house, that nervousness popped up again. “You can’t go to boxing,” it said. “You won’t even be able to throw a punch. You’re thyroid is still a mess. You’re tired. Don’t go. Go to bed. Don’t put yourself in a position to look weak again. What are people going to think of you?”

But you know what? I went. I didn’t do the best I’ve ever done. My punches weren’t as strong as they maybe could have been if I was 100% healthy. But I went, I boxed, and I felt good. Strong. Healthy. I wasn’t shaking, blurry-eyed, or on the verge of collapse. But even if I was, at least I would have been able to say that I went. That I fought. That I, even in my weakness, won the battle against my mind. And maybe that, more than my ability to run or punch, is what actually makes me strong.

I wanted to write this post for others who are fighting the battle of the mind. Maybe it’s over making healthy lifestyle choices. Maybe it’s over reaching out to friends. Maybe it involves stepping out of your comfort zone. Maybe it’s something I can’t even imagine. Our minds are powerful things, and it can be so easy to fall into the trap of “I’m not good/strong/capable enough” or “What will people think?” The truth is, no one ever became strong by refusing to try. And if people judge you, that’s their problem. They will have to answer for that someday. The kind of people whose opinions matter will see that you are fighting and will realize that you are strong for doing so. So, don’t give up. Don’t let your insecurities win. Keep on fighting.

Posted by: Spatzi | October 2, 2015

The selfish side of service

About a week ago, I called up my mom on the phone and told her I wanted to quit my job.

I felt like I was failing. I was tired of being a human punching bag, of being the brunt of outbursts that had nothing to do with me. I didn’t understand how to make it better and, further, I didn’t know if I had the strength to keep trying. I was spent.

I wasn’t bothered so much by the feeling as by the confusion surrounding it. I couldn’t understand why I felt this way. I’ve always loved my job, even during the difficult times. I’ve always loved “serving” others. And getting to love on hurting little ones… it’s what I’ve always dreamed of. So why, all of the sudden, was I so bogged down and ready to move on? Why was I suddenly fixating on the list of wants in the back of my mind, convinced that I’d be happier if only I had a different life, a different job? Why was I suddenly so discontented?

It took some time for me to realize what was going on. In fact, I didn’t really realize it until tonight when I read the following verses:

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6)

It struck me then that my gaze had shifted and was no longer where it should have been. I had become fixated on the praise of others, the verbal pats on the back that people give me for doing what I do. I had started to do my job because it was the “right thing” and not because it was God’s will for me. I was doing all the right things for all the wrong reasons. And, as a result, my emotional and spiritual reserves had been depleted, leaving me feeling empty and broken. I had nothing left to fill me up.

To set the mind on the flesh is death. But the Spirit? That’s where life and peace are found. When my gaze shifted back to the reason I’d taken this job in the first place (namely, God’s working and direction in my life), I was able to see the blessings along with the struggles. And I was reminded that my eyes are capable of seeing only a small part of God’s plan. There is much yet that I don’t know or understand.

This sounds like such a neat, tidy lesson. I realized my error, turned my sights, and here I am. If only it was that simple. In truth, the tendency to people-please is a daily battle for me. It’s something I’ve done since I was a small child who was desperate to make herself worthy of love. If I just did enough right things, then surely I’d be worth something. Right? It’s a state of mind that’s difficult to escape even as an adult. I forget that I don’t need to prove myself, indeed that I can’t. I’m not worthy of love. I’m not worthy of forgiveness, compassion, grace, anything. I am nothing.

And yet, there’s a God who has seen fit to raise me up from the pit and redeem me. He has clothed me with His righteousness, His worth. It’s pretty much the most illogical thing in the universe, but it’s also beautiful. It is for this reason I am able to live and love on these little ones, because God first loved me. It is from His comfort that I am able to comfort others (2 Cor 1:3-7). And without Him, I am capable of giving nothing. My own selfish motivation cannot aid me in serving anyone. It will only leave me (as well as those who are the focus of such “service”) hopelessly empty.

It’s a daily battle, like I said. But today, I choose to set my mind on the Spirit. Today, I choose life and peace.

Posted by: Spatzi | September 11, 2014

Vulnerability

I can’t stop talking about vulnerability and authenticity. Over the last few months, I continually keep bringing it up with friends, mulling over the reasons why it is so stinkin’ hard these days to be vulnerable. I go to church and get up on stage with my guitar (before you think I sound too cool here, I’m honestly not even very good) and paint a happy smile on my face and pretend that all is right with the world…

And not that it’s not (I have to say, I lead a pretty blessed life), but I’ve realized that I never allow myself to struggle. At least, not when other people can see. I never spontaneously burst into tears in the middle of worship or go up for prayer at the end of service. I never confess my sins (which, by the way, is a healthy, biblical practice) or ask for accountability. Because I’m supposed to be a “leader” (and leaders never struggle), and struggling is for new believers, anyway. At least, that’s what that little voice inside tells me when I have the urge to step out and be vulnerable. “They’ll judge you.” “They’ll see you’re not strong/capable/perfect/insert-word-here.” Or the real kicker: “If they know the truth, they won’t love you.”

Listen. I know these things aren’t true. I know that I am accepted and loved and that there are so many people in my church who would be there for me if I just asked. (And occasionally, I do. But not nearly often enough, if I’m being honest.) And here’s the other thing: I know I’m not the only one who struggles with being vulnerable. I watch my brothers and sisters, and I see occasional glimpses of hurt or struggle, but I don’t often see the kind of raw authenticity that I think needs to happen a little more in our churches today. It seems like we’re all playing this game together, like if we just pretend to be fine and perfect and always-happy-never-sad, that it will be true. And people will respect us and love us and never leave.

But here’s what I think we often forget (I know I do, anyway). We are not saved by our own strength.

Check out Ephesians 2:1-10 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Wait, wait, wait. That’s often not how we live. At least, that’s not how I live. I live like I’m the author of my own fate, like it’s only by my striving that I can be good enough. Like it’s actually possible to be good enough. Like somehow when I became a believer, I stopped being a sinner, stopped feeling pain, and was instantly healed from everything in my life (past present, and future). Or, in short, I stopped needing God’s grace and mercy. Which, basically, is the opposite of the entire Gospel. Don’t you think that, if we could do this on our own, Jesus wouldn’t have had to die? And if Jesus didn’t have to die (because, you know, we can save ourselves), then everything we’re talking and singing about on Sunday is basically pointless. We should just go home and read some self-help books and pray to the Idol of Me and call it a day. Right?

Here’s what I’m wondering: if we needed Christ and the Gospel pre-conversion, what makes us think we suddenly don’t need him after? And if we don’t believe that lie–that we have to be good enough, strong enough, perfect enough–then why do we live in fear that others will judge us? Why are we not open and honest with each other about the areas in which we struggle? Why do we act in church as though we don’t need God but are fine clinging to Him in private? Wouldn’t the Gospel be so much more beautiful and meaningful if we were all living it out loud and open, in community with one another? Isn’t that really how it was intended?

I was talking earlier this week with a friend and mentor of mine, and I confessed my fear of being real with people. I told her, if people knew the real me–the me buried under the facade of strength and capability, the me who is still learning to heal from certain things and honestly still pretty scared of intimacy–they wouldn’t love me. It’s not something I’d spoken out loud to anyone before (and the honest truth is that my stomach is clenching at having just typed it here, but I do so that I can now share what she said to me).

She answered, “That is a fallacy! No one has those expectations of you. The people who love you love you for who you are. The only expectation they have of you is to be honest and real.” What a simultaneously freeing and terrifying thing to hear. On one hand, it was like someone had stripped away the blinders and freed me from the lie I had been buying into. On the other hand, it’s scary to hear that the only thing people really expect of me is to be real. Because that’s the hardest thing to be. And, she said, by not being real, I’m basically sabotaging those relationships. Um… ouch?

I was speaking to another friend a couple days later, and I mentioned that I’d put a couple posts here on private because they were just so personal that I felt I’d shared too much. She looked at me and nodded thoughtfully, then replied. “Yeah, but often it’s the more personal posts that make the biggest impact.”

Again, ouch. That’s a lot of conviction for one week. And it’s a lot to think about. Clearly, it’s something I’m still thinking about. I don’t have the answers to all of our insecurities and struggles. I don’t even fully know how to be vulnerable. But I do know that it’s a necessary, healthy part of relationships. Of course, it needs to be done with wisdom and discretion, but it needs to be done nonetheless.

This is my challenge to you and to myself: Let’s strip away the facades and stop tiring ourselves by trying to be perfect. Let’s take a few risks and open ourselves up… yes, to hurt, but also to joy and fellowship and meaningful interaction. Let’s be authentic. Let’s be real. Let’s be vulnerable.

Posted by: Spatzi | April 19, 2014

Letter To Me

A few days ago, I read through an old journal of sorts I kept sporadically in my senior year of high school. After plenty of failed attempts to keep a “real” journal, this was just stream-of-consciousness ramblings, nothing more. It was simply my feelings put into words.

Anyway, after reading through it, I was inspired to write a letter to myself at sixteen. Sort of like Brad Paisley’s “Letter To Me,” I guess. Who knows? Maybe it will mean something to someone today.

First, here are a few excerpts of this old journal to give you an idea of what kind of thoughts used to run around in my head:

09/13/07

Do you ever wonder what’s out there? Not like aliens or some undiscovered abyss, but just life. Like, where is all this going to take me or why does this even matter? I mean, in the end we all die anyway, right? The only difference is where we go. So, once you’re saved, what’s the point of even being here? What’s the point of just living (if you can call it that), just waiting for the inevitable? I mean, sure, you’re supposed to help bring others to Christ. But, then, what if you’re like me? What if you can barely even keep yourself afloat? What if you know, no matter how much you try, you’ll never be good enough?

09/22/07

Do you ever see someone looking at you and wonder what they’re thinking? Maybe your first thought is that they’re thinking of what a freak you are, but then you start to hope. Like, what if they’re really thinking that you’re beautiful or funny or wonderful? Do you mentally berate yourself for even hoping? What’s the point of hoping anyway, right?

12/27/07

Do you ever think about the fact that you don’t cry? Why is that, anyway? Because you made it so, right? You can’t cry, because, once upon a time, you decided that you wouldn’t cry anymore. And now you don’t, do you? Except for those nights where no one else is around, except you in your bed, alone. You cry then, don’t you? And no one ever knows that you sob into your pillow and beg God to forgive you…

 01/13/08

Do you ever wish for at least one night with no dreams? Or even pray for it, asking God to give you no dreams just this once? Or one even semi-good dream…?  Do you remember what it’s like to wake up smiling?

Dear Elizabeth,

It breaks my heart to hear the hurt and anger in your words and to know the things that have happened to you to cause you to think and feel this way. Maybe that’s a funny thing to say, since I am you, but it’s true. There is such hopelessness in your words, and I wish more than anything that I could lift you up and hug you tightly. There are so many people in your life who love and cherish you, even if you can’t see it now. Someday you will look back with such gratitude at those who have stuck by you, prayed for you, encouraged you, and poured themselves into you. Even in those moments when you cry alone and long for someone to show you love, you are not alone. The Lord is patient and loving, even when we fail, and He will never abandon you. Read Ezekiel 16 and the book of Hosea. They will come to mean very much to you someday. In fact, read the entire Bible. Again and again. Nowhere else will you find such wisdom and comfort.

You’ve spent your entire life longing for a father who will love and care for you, who will tell you how proud he is of you and how he cherishes you. What you don’t see, dear one, is that you already have one! Not long from now, you will find yourself face-first on the floor of your dorm room, crying out for that one thing, and you will hear a still small voice speak, “I am your Father.” Hold on to that. And as much as you are able, be grateful for the earthly father you do have. He’s as human as the rest of us, and God has no less love for him than He does for you. Maybe someday he will see a Light in you that will inspire true change.

And I know you want more than anything to be able to protect Mom from any more hurt, but that is not your job. Don’t make yourself into an adult before you have to be one. There will be plenty of time for that in the future. In the meantime, love her. Cherish her. Tell her how grateful you are for her. And, maybe more than anything, let her be your mom. Tell her things. Be honest with her about how you feel. There is no shame in the truth and absolutely no honor in hiding it.

Sweetie, what happened to B was not your fault. You can’t keep wishing him to life and hating yourself for not saving him. You couldn’t have saved him. Yes, I’m sure there were a hundred or more things you could have said or done differently. Everyone could have. You cannot go back, so move forward. Treat those around you with kindness and love. Always make sure they know how important they are to you. Don’t carry him with you as a weight but an inspiration.

And next… boys. Stop looking for love. Realize that you won’t be fulfilled by a relationship. That kind of peace and satisfaction comes only from God. And as tired as you are of hearing about finding contentment in God, it’s true. You must be content in God. It will not necessarily help you to find “the one,” but it will help you to have a healthy relationship with “the one” someday in the future. If you put all your hopes and dreams into one person, how can they help but fail? We are all but human, and we will all fail. Part of relationships is talking through those moments, choosing to forgive, and moving on. No one will ever be perfect, least of all you. Live with patience and understanding.

It’s true that you’ve been hurt, and I don’t want to diminish that (hey, I still struggle too!), but you need to learn to let go. Seek healing wherever you can find it, whether it be in the beautiful, intricate depths of the Word of God or in the embrace of someone you trust. Years from now, you’ll still be seeking healing in some areas, but you’ll be able to look back and see how far the Lord has brought you. It’s a beautiful, awe-inspiring thing. Someday, you will not carry that weight with you. And the nightmares will end. Just hold on a little longer.

You have so much to live for. A wise man recently told you to spend time in service, for healing comes much easier when your eyes are not focused on your own hurts. It is a truth you will learn to live by, and it’s a great one. You have purpose on this earth. Never doubt that. Also, don’t be afraid to share your story. It’s a beautiful one, and God has given it to you for a reason. When the opportunity arises, share and give all the glory to Him.

Lastly, learn to forgive. When your roommate wakes you up in the middle of the night or wears your shirts until there are stains in the pits, forgive. When you suffer big, lasting hurts, forgive. When people you love are hurt, forgive. And forgive yourself. No good comes from holding on to wrongdoings.

                                                                   With love,

                                                                                       Elizabeth

Posted by: Spatzi | November 9, 2013

The Dangers of Comparison

“You need to stop comparing yourself to everyone around you and compare yourself to the person God created you to be.”

It was one of those rare, deep, heart-to-heart moments that quality time people like me thrive on. I was sitting in my favorite chair in the living room, legs tucked underneath me and head cocked to the side as I pressed the phone to my ear. I had just confessed a mountain of insecurity that I had not yet spoken to anyone. My mother, one step away from exasperation by the unreasonable size of said mountain, gently (but firmly) admonished me with the above words.

They hit me like a ton of bricks. I sat in my cozy little chair, suddenly out of breath from the weight of those words. But it wasn’t over there. I got quite an earful about the impossibility and danger of attempting to measure up to other people. And it was exactly what I needed to hear.

I can look back over my life and realize that much of my time has been spent in this comparison game. And I know I’m not the only one.

When my friends look at me, (I’m told) they see a strong, capable young woman who has overcome adversity, who works hard for what she gets in life, and who is tender-hearted and empathetic. It’s not that I would disagree with that assessment necessarily, but it is difficult to accept that partial truth when I know the full weight of my humanity that lurks beneath the surface. I know not only where I have come from (which is in some ways a terrifyingly dark place) but also the dark and ugly depths of my own soul. Sometimes, I think I forget that Jesus has washed me clean of all of that. I look at the “perfect” believers around me, the ones who at 20-something are already 3/4ths of the way to having a “perfect” little American family, with 2.5 kids and a white picket fence, not to mention a thriving ministry/job/whatever… and I just feel out of place. I can’t look at our radically different pasts and see a common, safe, reliable future. It just doesn’t add up.

But here’s the thing I’ve been missing all along: God didn’t create me or allow certain events in my life with the intention that I would someday live up to Susan’s or Mary’s or Betty’s potential. If I accept the truth that God is sovereign (which He most assuredly is), then I must also accept the truth that everything that has happened in my life, good and bad, has been under His sovereignty. I must accept that God is bigger than my past, bigger than my failings, and bigger than my insecurities.

Further, the state of my future (or present) is not dependent on how good I am or how I measure up to Susan or Mary or Betty. And thank God for that, because if I were the captain of my fate, I’d be somewhere radically different than I am today, and I’d have a lot less hope to go along with that.

So here’s what I’m getting at: comparison is dangerous. We all do it, whether it be in fashion, dating, academics, our walks with God, or any number of other things. I’ve watched friends battle depression  over their inability to measure up to other people. I’ve seen relationships fall apart over the same thing. And I’ve seen people’s walks with God deteriorate over comparisons. How are we to be the people God intends for us to be if we are all trying to be like Susan or Bill or whoever else?

Instead of focusing on what we lack, let’s focus on what Christ is doing in us. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, let’s compare ourselves to Christ and who He desires us to be. (We will still inevitably fail, but I believe we will be striving for the right thing and growing in that direction.) Instead of walking in fear of never measuring up, let’s live our lives in the freedom of grace and truth He has given to us.

We’ll never do it on our own strength. Thankfully, though, we don’t have to.

Posted by: Spatzi | September 28, 2013

Is Chivalry Dead? The perspective of a 21st century woman.

Just the other day, I had an interesting encounter that got me thinking. I was running down the stairs to the chapel’s first floor, hoping to not miss the opening of the first song. I happened to reach the door at the same time as a group of young men who pushed and crammed their way through the door, leaving me standing with one hand on the door, wondering whether any of them had even seen me there. Of the twenty or so young men who shoved their way through that door, not one offered to let me go in front or tried to take the door from me. Only one stopped to say thank you.

Annoyed, I rushed down the aisle and slid into the seat my roommate was saving for me (ironically, a seat right next to a couple of the aforementioned young men). “Gentlemen,” I whispered to her in a huff, “do not exist.”

The question now, of course, is this: Do I really believe that gentlemen don’t exist? Do I really believe that chivalry is dead?

The simple answer is no. But I do believe that a number of our young men (and women) have forgotten what chivalry really is, and how it came to be.

In the Middle Ages, knights were held to a standard known as the Code of Chivalry. They were called to support justice, defend the weak and defenseless, assist widows and orphans, respect women, live by truth and loyalty, be courteous to others, avoid scandal, and fear God, to name a few. It is from this code that the concept of a gentleman was derived. However, there are days when I wonder whether this is an idea that is beginning to die out.

On the whole, do men nowadays occupy themselves with thoughts of fighting for those who are unable to fight for themselves? Do they determine to live by truth, loyalty, and fear of God? Do they strive to avoid scandal? Do they respect women?

The issue with this last idea isn’t really about opening doors or walking on the street side of the sidewalk, although that’s certainly a part of it. The issue of respecting women, as I see it, has to do with the ability to see women as they truly are. I believe that men and women are equal in the Lord’s eyes, but they are by no means identical. We have different strengths, weaknesses, and roles that have been given to us by God. A part of men respecting women (and, conversely, a part of women respecting men) is recognizing these differences and choosing to embrace them rather than shoving them aside for a misunderstood concept of equality.

On the flip side of my earlier story, I recently spent a weekend in California with my family for my brother’s wedding. While there, I had the opportunity to spend time with a cousin of mine who I could tell was really striving to embody the idea of a gentleman, even down to opening doors for me and pulling my chair out for me at dinner. Did he have to do these things? No. Were they a little weird to accept? Yes. But they also gave me a sense of security. They conveyed the idea that I was worth doing something for, that I meant something to him. These little things, no matter how insignificant they may have seemed, made me feel worthwhile and beautiful.

My point here isn’t that guys should have to go out of their way all the time to do every little thing for us women. I’m perfectly capable of doing things on my own, and I surely won’t die if I have to open a door for myself. The point is, guys, that what you do makes a difference, and that through embracing (or ignoring) those little, seemingly insignificant things, you convey much more than you may realize.

The fact is, we want to know we are important to you. We want to know we’re worth the effort, even if it’s a little annoying. We want to know that you see that tender, fragile part inside of us that needs protecting, and that you are willing to make that sacrifice. We want our brothers and friends and boyfriends and husbands to realize that, though we may not be lesser, we are different. And, within those differences, there is a part of us that, no matter how capable we may be, desires shelter, protection, and affirmation.

So, if you think we’re worth protecting, cherishing, pursuing, even loving… tell us. Show us. Because it means more than you may ever know.

Posted by: Spatzi | August 14, 2013

The truth about parenting: It matters.

In nine days, I will be turning 22 years old. Although most days I feel incredibly young (and in many ways, I know I still am), it’s impossible to deny that, somewhere along the line of my growing independence these last five years of college, I stumbled onto adulthood. So forgive me if I use that big, scary word throughout this post; I know I’m younger than many of those who may read this. However, bear with me. There’s a bigger point to be made.

As I progress further and further into my early years of adulthood—and the responsibilities that come therewith—I’ve stumbled upon a realization: How parents raise their children really does affect the person they become in their adult years. (To those wise adults who are chuckling or rolling their eyes, bear with me…)

Perhaps the greatest gift my mother ever gave me was her availability. We were blessed as kids to have a mother who had the option to not work. For the first twelve years of my life, I had a mother who was always available (not that she was unavailable once she began to work). She took us to school in the mornings, brought us home, cooked us meals, helped us with homework…  Whatever needs we had, Mom met them, and then some. And, perhaps most important of all, she taught us many lessons of adulthood in the context of our little world.

She taught us the basics of cooking, how to properly clean dishes, and how to do the laundry. She taught us to blare our music and dance around the house while we cleaned. She taught us to love reading and enjoy life. She taught us to work hard for what we wanted (or, at times, what we didn’t want but did need), chase after the good things God had for us, and always put others before ourselves. She taught us to save and manage our money, to take care of the nice things we were given, and to say please and thank you. She taught us to smile and make conversation with the checkout lady, to always be courteous, and to treat others the way we wished to be treated. She taught us to resolve conflict and to listen when someone else was speaking. She taught us to pick up after ourselves (though I, more than anyone, fought that one every step of the way) and treat someone else’s belongings with more care than we would treat our own.

I was shocked when I went to college and found that 75% (this is an approximate from my interactions, not a statistic) of students had never done their own laundry, cooked a real meal, or learned how to properly maintain a home. I’m not about to point fingers at their parents for not doing a good enough job, because I don’t know their specific situations. All I know is that, for many, college is the beginning of a very long journey into adulthood. For many, careers, apartment renting, house buying, and sometimes even marriage come soon after college. Even for those who move back home, it’s important to understand how to keep and maintain a home, cook meals, maintain money, and so on. If nothing else, it makes life just a little easier on those who share a living space with them.

I remember one day in my sophomore year of college walking into the kitchen area of my dorm to find a sink full of dirty dishes (many caked with food) and ants crawling everywhere. I was shocked and disgusted and immediately got to work cleaning. The frightening thing is, that wasn’t the only time it happened, not by far. Nor was that particular kitchen the only place I encountered such a mess. In fact, I’ve found that college students can be very messy people, and many of my friends confessed that they were never taught to do simple things like dishes, laundry, or cooking. Are our young adults living off of popcorn and ramen because they were never taught how to cook a meal for themselves?

Here’s the thing. While my mother was always there for us, she didn’t hand everything to us on a silver platter. Truth is, we could probably have done with a little more struggle, but I’m incredibly grateful for the work ethic my mother taught me. I’m still learning, of course, but I’m grateful for the time she took to teach me how to do things for myself, and how to do them well.

So, to those parents who have loved and labored for us, thank you. To those who are just starting off: keep going, because it makes a difference (not just to your child, but to his or her future roommates and spouse). And to the wonderful lady who raised me, thank you for all of the lessons, the truth, and the times that I didn’t understand what you were doing (or why) but learned from it anyway. Thank you, Mom for everything. I love you.

Recently, because of a particularly bad flare-up of my hyperthyroidism, I’ve had to make some changes in the way I eat. For me, this meant completely cutting out all wheat and iodized salt (no more eating out or “cheating” for me!). Due to the awful combination of hyperthyroidism and hypoglycemia, I’ve also started adding coconut everywhere I can in my diet. I use coconut flakes as a snack and in my morning yogurt and use coconut oil and milk just about wherever I can in replace of other fats and such. Thankfully, being mostly dairy-free, I already use a number of coconut products in my cooking, so the adjustment wasn’t too difficult.

Today, I was bored of the few breakfast foods I’ve been cycling through and wanted to try something new. It turned out far better than I expected, so I decided to share my good fortune with all of you here. Whether you have hyperthyroidism or hypoglycemia or just want to try something new, this breakfast is nutrient-packed to help your blood sugar and metabolism. Plus, it’s super tasty!

photo-(1)

You will need:

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk beverage

1/2 cup rolled oats (gluten free if necessary)

2 tbsp Qi’a superfood cereal (I used the cranberry vanilla flavor)

1/2 tbsp coconut oil (approx.)

1/2 tbsp raw honey (approx.)

Finely shredded coconut flakes (as desired)

Directions:

1. Heat the coconut milk and coconut oil in a small saucepan on the stove.

2. Add the oats and Qi’a cereal, stirring frequently until the mixture begins to become more solid (like regular oatmeal).

3. Add the raw honey, stir well.

4. Remove from heat and serve, adding coconut flakes as desired and mixing well.

5. For added antioxidants/taste factor, enjoy with a glass of green tea.

Posted by: Spatzi | April 3, 2013

Sugar free (stevia-sweetened) custard recipe

You will need:

4 eggs

2 tbsp stevia powder (or 12 packets)

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

3 cups whole milk (or milk alternative)

ground nutmeg

ground cinnamon

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Grease six ramekins (or one bread pan if you don’t have ramekins) and place them in a large baking pan.

3. Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over the stove, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

4. In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, vanilla extract, stevia and salt.

5. Add the heated milk and stir until well mixed.

6. Pour the mixture into the ramekins. Sprinkle with nutmeg, cinnamon, and a small bit of extra stevia, as desired.

7. Pour hot water into the pan within 1/2 inch of top of cups and place the pan in the oven.

8. Bake until knife inserted near the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes (45 to 50 min for custard baked in a bread pan). Remove the ramekins from hot water and cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.

9. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, then serve and enjoy.

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