Happy Mother’s Day Mom! “Where thou art-that- is home.” Emily Dickinson

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rtulip2A few years ago I was standing in the middle of a picturesque little-town cemetery, talking to my deceased grandmother, and to my mother who was out of the country.  I imagined we were all standing there together looking back over our lifetimes and the lives of those before us and then to the generations that will follow.

My heart went out to Goldie, my Granny’s mother who was killed by a drunk driver while sitting on her front porch while her daughters looked on.

I wondered at the life experiences that one tragic moment put into motion for my Granny and her sisters, the events that led them to form their fears and hopes about their own place in a future family. And how it may have launched the abandonment mentality of several generations…And like so many of our diverse life situations, Goldie’s life was taken and her children may not have known, in their need, that she didn’t plan to leave them.

I saw the ways that I had been afraid to feel or to take the risk of demonstrating dependence on loved ones after experiencing loss.  I saw my mother’s tears of disappointment and the years of her struggles to feel loved. And I saw her eyes and the eyes and faces of those dear ones, who through their struggles, gave far more of themselves because of their love for their children, than they thought possible.

Then I saw timelessness.  Mothers, taking turns in the stages of life and now Goldie and Granny are elsewhere.  But there we were together and I felt as if I could see the plain of our existence lying even, the years as if they were a moment.  I could see that each of us had a set of challenges completely unique to us as individuals and that they were an integral part of our mothering.  We had each given everything we could within our limitations and,

It was and is enough.

We were and are loved.  We have been wounded, we have fought on.  We have dealt with the uncertainties of life and made our best attempt at loving,

And it is enough.

Standing there I could see the deficits being be filled-in.  The wounds healing.  The limits being expanded.  And all things working together for our good. And now or in a future day, our love being perfectly expressed.

So this weekend is coming….the day we may anticipate with some trepidation and maybe a few strange expectations. (Can you relate to this thinking about Mother’s Day?)

With this memory of my mothers revived in my heart, I’m focusing on the “brain boundaries” that I have set for myself.  Like zero tolerance for listening to a cutting, negative ruminating voice.  No more inviting in of the wicked little thoughts that may seem true, but are skewed deceptions aimed at destroying my peace.  About every mistake I made as a parent.  About the pains, the problems, the perceived failures large or small. On Mother’s Day or any day.

And then the zero tolerance for the comparing voice.  (Yes, that is the devil himself.)  Comparing is judging wickedly.  There is no other adjective that will cover it.

It’s time to prepare to have a happy weekend and I propose that we can do it in two simply stated (and with practice simple-to-do) steps:

  1. choose, then commit, to attend to the tender voice of encouragement and no other!
  2. intentionally fill ourselves up with the sweet-smelling blossoms of self-love, self-acceptance and validation instead of waiting for someone else to deliver the bouquet.

It’s interesting, because as I look at those two steps, I see that the first makes the second possible!  When we’re marinating in negativity, there’s no chance for any sweet-smelling, beautiful thought or feeling to get through!  This is the greatest part of being an agent.  We choose what we allow into our minds.  If we’re sloppy, negligent or permissive with our own mental boundaries, we can immediately feel the pain of self-allowed victim hood.  Ouch!  Step one clears the stage and step two brings in the beauty!  “I am loved.”  “I love my family!”  “My continued efforts are enough.”  “I am important and my feelings matter.”  “I am strong.”  “I can learn.”  “I love my life!”

Here we are in our time, in our turn.  We are going to struggle.  We are going to mess up because we’re human.  But we can choose to live “in love” and not to go out of love because we allow ourselves to be deceived and manipulated into self-criticism, perfectionism or apathy. As mothers we choose to love, and it’s our listening ear, our validating responses, our boundaries, our example of kindness and strength…not our perfection…that will transcend our time here and leave a legacy.

Here’s my recipe for today:

The way to have a Mother’s Day or any day that feels like a grand celebration is to become a Lioness at the door of your mind.

Eyes open, heart open and a kind, gentle, respectful and firm Lioness at the Door of your mind.

Happy Mother’s Day to my Moms, and to all you fellow moms!

I’m sending you lots of love!

Jacque

P.S. If you haven’t read I Don’t Have To Make Everything All Better by Gary B. and Joy Saunders Lundberg, now would be a great time!

 

 

 

 

The Longest Journey Begins With…

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Do you ever ask yourself this question, “Do things have to be so hard?”

In the Lioness seminar, 7 Steps to Family Wellness, we’ve been working on learning to manage the conversation in our heads.  You know, the constant jabbering that is going on every waking moment and sometimes in the sleepless hours of the night??

So often we are going along and all of a sudden we may feel upset or discouraged or frustrated and wonder why.  Usually if we backtrack a few thoughts we’ll find the culprit: a nasty, negative thought that floated through our mind.  Did you hear it?  Or is it such a common occurrence that it slipped through the door and felt normal, so you invited it in for tea and counsel? Negative thoughts are so sneaky, and, depending on whether or not we’ve created “mental boundaries” they can be constant and unrelenting.

Just becoming aware of our thoughts is difficult!  Then doing something about managing them and setting new boundaries for our thinking is even more challenging!

But,

IT IS SO WORTH IT.

When we begin any worthy endeavor, we find after the first five minutes that it’s going to take a lot more effort and energy and mind-power and often resources than we imagined.  And we have to find ways to remember what it is we set out to do.  And ways to build our motivation.  And we learn to set up junctures where we renew our commitment to our goal. Yeah, all of that is WORK.

But here’s the teaser: do you want to remain where you are?  Do you want your relationships to stay where they are? Do you want your faith to stay where it is?  Do you want your level of peace to stay where it is?

Or do you want to GROW?

You may be tempted to think that if it’s hard, it must not be right.

If your marriage is taking a lot of effort, maybe it was a wrong choice.

If parenting is a huge challenge, maybe you’re not cut out for it.

If cultivating faith seems tedious, maybe you should just let it go.

Those thoughts are part of the smoke and mirrors of this world.  Things of value require our effort.  That is just how it is. The level of difficulty we experience may be more indicative of something being WORTH OUR EFFORT than a sign that it is a waste of our effort. That said, if we’re honest, we can also see that sometimes it’s the negative thoughts that are dragging on us and making things even more difficult than they need to be because they sap our hope and faith that we can follow-through and succeed!

The more our minds are marinating in positive, loving thoughts, the more energy and strength we have to work and to play!  The more we can freely love and be at peace with ourselves and with God.

Hang on to your greatest goals and dreams!  Keep moving forward, take charge of that chatter and soon you’ll be enjoying better health, relationships and greater faith in God, yourself and others.

Now to food!  I have a new recipe for you to try if you’d like!

This Lemon Poppy-seed Bread, based on a recipe from ninamanolson.com, is moist and delicious and you’ll think it’s crazy but it’s made with beans!  (You who require gluten-free food shout Hallelujah!)

lemonpoppyseed bread

I’m calling it bread instead of cake because it is pretty dense and it isn’t sticky sweet.  It makes a good snack and it’s whole food, so you could eat it for breakfast!

In a food processor or high speed blender, mix together:

2 cups cooked white beans (we pulled some out of the freezer and forgot that I had seasoned them with bay leaves and salt and pepper!  The chickens loved that first attempt. ; )

6 eggs

1 dropper liquid whole leaf stevia concentrate

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup honey or coconut sugar

zest of 2 lemons + 2 tsp lemon juice

Then add:

1/4 cup poppy-seeds

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup coconut or almond flour

1/2 tsp Real salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Bake in bunt pan or 9×13 greased cake pan at 325º for 45 minutes.  Use a toothpick to test.

You can add a glaze of honey or agave and lemon juice if you’d like a little more zip!  Start with 1/8 cup sweetener with 1 tsp lemon juice, see how it tastes then tweak it for the sweet/sour balance you like.  Pour over cooled cake.

This bread is far better after it has been refrigerated overnight!  The lemon flavor really comes out and the texture improves.

I served this with lightly sweetened real whipped cream and strawberries lightly sweetened with agave.  A little lemon zest in the berries is good too!

I hope you’re well.  I hope you’re taking great care of yourself.

Love,

Jacque

After School Cookies

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I hope this finds you and your family well!  Today’s post is an extension of today’s video blog post (on the videos page).

First, a little more about rethinking the job you dread…

I mentioned that laundry was a heavy burden to me as a young mother.  It was daunting to watch it pile up through the week and a high mountain to climb come Monday morning. When I was challenged to change my system and rearrange my thinking about it, I was perplexed.  What else could be done?  I had three small children and laundry was inevitable, a necessary pain in my life.

But the magic started happening when I talked this challenge over with my husband. We brainstormed together and found that for awhile, it would work for him to help (to carry the largest part of the laundry burden in fact) on Saturday’s when he was home.  It wasn’t tiring and daunting when it was a team effort.  Later, when the Saturday option wasn’t such a good fit, one of our children was assigned to wash one load of laundry each day and with my help, make sure it was dried, folded and put away.

I found that one load at a time was something I could handle, and that from my son starting the wash to having everything put away was a fairly quick job.  And no more folded (or unfolded) laundry to move off of our bed at night!

Spending time dreading something, whether it be a household job, a time of day, or day of the week is just a waste.  Negative emotions zap our energy and bring our spirits down. We can spend our time much better by using our creative energy and rethinking the things we have perceived as difficult or undesirable.  And at the very least, we can restructure the way we think about something that needs to be done and find a better spin.

One of our favorite “working” soundtracks when the kids were growing up was from the movie Snow White, and especially the song, “Whistle While You Work.”

“…And while you sweep the room,

imagine that the broom,

is someone that you love and soon you’ll find you’re dancing to the tune!”

Ha ha, what a sweet and catchy lyric.

Isn’t it liberating to know that whatever we find challenging or even daunting can be rethought and your life can be revitalized in the process?

No more dreading Monday!

Second, I’ll offer a few more ideas on things to feed the troops when the proverbial planets align, that is, when they are really hungry and you are prepared with nutrient dense food and then to the cookie recipe!

Kale chips; carrot sticks; pepper slices; fresh carrot, apple juice; celery & peanut butter; whole food muffins; boiled eggs; apples & almond butter or cheese; green smoothies; whole food cookies; roasted cauliflower; frozen peas; frozen grapes; oranges, tangerines, mandarins; homemade granola; unsweetened yogurt with fruit and a little honey; omelette cups; homemade California rolls; raw nuts; high quality jerky; leftover soup; bananas and peanuts; cucumber coins; dip made with sour cream, real salt and dried dill or another fresh herb; homemade hummus with veggies or high quality crackers…and the list goes on!  What other creative and healthy ideas do you have?

Now for the cookies.  These were inspired by Jillayne Clement’s Gluten-Free Baking cookbook. If someone in your family requires a gluten-free diet, I recommend her work, but you certainly don’t have to need a gluten-free diet to enjoy some alternative flours!

Mint & Chocolatey Chip Cookies

3/4 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup raw honey

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 drops high quality mint essential oil

1 cup dark teff flour*

1 1/4 cup oat flour (grind rolled oats into flour)

1 Tbs arrowroot powder

1/4 cup cocoa

1/2 tsp real salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Cream the butter, coconut oil and coconut sugar and honey then blend in eggs, vanilla and mint.  Mix dry ingredients together and incorporate into creamed mixture, then add chocolate chips.  Place on cookie sheet with small scoop and flatten a little with the back of a spoon.  Bake for 10 minutes at 375° .

*These remind me of Girl Scout Thin Mints because of the flavor of course, but also because the teff is loose and grainy and creates a texture similar to that wafer-ish cookie.

Smelling good food cooking when you come home is one of the greatest pleasures in life.  It is grounding and comforting and speaks loudly of your love, sometimes better than words can express.

I hope this helps!

Take good care.

Love,

Jacque

When the Plot Thickens

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I few weeks ago I met the grandmother of a child newly diagnosed with Autism.  A new chapter for the whole family as a mind boggling reality begins to sink in.  I promised my new friend that I would write a post to let that little mother know that she’s not alone! And already I see I need the tissue box…

The night before we went to the University where our son received a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome a friend came to me in a dream.  She had been like an older sister to me and had passed away during childbirth a few years earlier.  In my dream, I walked into a beautiful building and she came out of an adjacent room and into the hallway where I was standing.  She looked at me with compassion and walked to me and hugged me. That was the whole dream, but I woke up feeling so comforted and understood and stronger.

It wasn’t until the next day when the doctor said, “Asperger’s” that I realized that Anne had been there in my dream to help me deal with all that the diagnosis implies, the grieving and the restructuring of my plans. Of course at the time there is no way to know what doors having a diagnosis might open and which doors it might inevitably close.  And then you realize that a diagnosis only represents what you already knew somewhere inside; that this child is seeing the world differently than you do and you’re headed on a journey to try to understand that unique perspective!

You walk around in a daze for awhile. You forget and then you remember again.  You get sad and wonder if there has been a mistake.  Then you see a new issue arise and you hope that someone will know what to do to help!

Of course no two lives are just alike and no two family’s stories could possibly be the same.  But there are certainly similarities and so for what it’s worth let me just express, that to some degree, I know how you’re feeling.  As I have looked back, I have a clearer view of the road we have traveled, and so I offer this list of things to consider that might be helpful to you as you begin your walk.

~Your child with disabilities has many abilities that others don’t have.  Know that this is true and look for those abilities and capitalize on them!  My son is incapable of saying anything bad about anyone.  He is kind to animals and does not know how to be depressed.  He is tenacious beyond reason and keeps growing even when it is very difficult.  He is my hero.  As a couple and as a family, we have come to realize that being a family with a disability has grown us in ways we are still figuring out.  I am profoundly grateful that in the midst of such struggle comes such growth.

~You are the only mom.  There will be doctors and therapists and specialists of all sorts, but you are the only mom.  And as the mom you are entitled to inspiration and insights that only you and your spouse qualify to receive.  I say this because there were many times that I second-guessed myself and my ideas and those are the times I have regrets.  Yes, you will need the expertise of others, but ultimately you are the one who is calling the shots and you need to feel good about the plans that are made for your child.  So if you feel uneasy, listen to that feeling and give it expression!  Everyone else involved is there to support you and your family, not to tell you what to do, so listen to and consider their counsel, but claim the final say.

~If you have other children, know that this challenge is theirs too.  Do your best to let them talk and then validate their feelings of frustration and sadness or even anger when they hit. You don’t need to fix them! Just listen to understand. Ultimately, my children have grown in ways that they couldn’t have without this experience.  Listen to them and help them find ways to deal with their feelings.

~Just as your children need to be heard, YOU need to be heard too.  Express your frustration, your sadness, or whatever you are experiencing to a qualified professional or find a secluded spot in nature and LET IT OUT!  The problems come when all of your intense feelings stay inside.  You may be tempted to try to explain things to those who have not lived with your situation and for me, that led to increased frustration!  Do you know other moms who are dealing with similar challenges?  Do you have a therapist who knows your situation?  Those are the people who can offer validation and empathy.  But even if you just shout out to the trees you’ll be better off than holding your tongue and expecting yourself to stop feeling.  You’re welcome to write to me, I will hear you!

~You need breaks.  All moms do, but you need them more often.  Please, please accept that fact and create a way to keep yourself healthy and balanced.  Ask for help and become the best receiver of all time!  Being a hyper-vigilant parent when it is needed has a price, and believe me you will be paying the piper if you don’t take the bull by the horns and advocate for yourself while you are advocating for your child. {Contact me if I can help you figure this out.  No charge!}

~Life is hard and love hurts.  It’s supposed to be a challenge to grow us so don’t be tempted to get caught on the wheel of “what if.”  It is worth the risk to love and to hope.  I experienced times when I would be so overcome with the challenge that I would feel completely alone.  Those are exactly the times when we have the choice to opt out of feeling or turn to God for his comfort and strength.  Do your best to allow this experience to grow you and your family, without resistance.  (I know that sounds crazy, but remember this is my retrospective view!)

~I firmly believe that all things work together for our good when we put our hand in God’s and let Him lead us along.  Events that could be devastating can actually turn to joy when your perspective is that of a humble child asking for guidance from someone much wiser than you.  He loves you and He loves your child.

I hope that something I have expressed here might be inspiring to you.  Mostly, my message to you is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  I understand the grieving process that you will or have gone through.  The prayers and pleadings that will arise from your heart.  The tears that will come and the ultimate joy that will be yours.

I send you my love and my best wishes. Please kiss your little one for me!

Sincerely,

Jacque

 

 

 

 

 

Eclair Dessert Recipe!

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Hey you Provo girls!  It was fun to be with you yesterday!  Thank you for coming to the 7 Steps to Family Wellness class.  I hope you found value in what we learned together.

Here is the recipe for the Eclair Dessert we ate that I promised to share…

It is a favorite in the Sorenson family, but as you may have guessed, I tweaked the original idea.

The crust is made from:

1 cup of water and 1 cube of butter and a dash of salt, heated in a sauce pan until the butter melts.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in a cup of *flour. Then add four eggs, one at a time, stirring each one into the dough for about a minute.  Yep, your arm may hurt.  ; )

When the eggs are blended in well, spread the dough onto a greased cookie sheet (I use coconut oil or butter for greasing) and bake in a 400° oven for ten minutes. Then let it cool.

To make the pudding:

In a saucepan, warm 2 cups of milk stirring frequently.

In a separate bowl, mix together:

2 eggs

2 Tbs cornstarch or 3 Tbs arrowroot powder

1/3 cup honey or agave

1/4 tsp salt

Add the egg mixture into the milk in the saucepan and cook on medium heat and stir until it thickens.  Remove from heat and add

1 tsp vanilla

and chill it in the refrigerator. This makes pudding for one pie or one eclair dessert.

You can make chocolate pudding by adding:

1 Tbs cocoa

To make the eclair dessert:

After the pudding thickens, mix in 8 oz. cream cheese and then chill.  When the crust is cooled, spread the pudding/cream cheese evenly over the crust.  Top that with your choice of sliced bananas, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwi or whatever you like.  After the fruit, spread on a layer of freshly whipped cream (I drizzle it with agave and vanilla as it’s whipping) THEN top it all of with a crisscross pattern of chocolate sauce.

Chocolate sauce can be made from:

1/4 cup agave

1 Tbs cocoa

dash of salt

a few drops of vanilla

*I have tried several flour combinations for the eclair.  If you need gluten-free, I use

1/2 cup almond meal

1/2 cup coconut flour

It makes a stiffer crust, but just allow the pudding to soak into it for awhile and it is delicious!

If I’m using regular flour, I go for the King Arthur brand which is the highest quality I’m aware of.  You can try whole wheat, which I’m sure I’ve done, but I don’t remember the outcome.  ; )

I hope you love this recipe for special occasions.  It is beautiful and doesn’t leave you with a sugar crash later.

Enjoy!

Love,

Jacque