Friday, June 29, 2012

Baking Bread







Baking bread is deeply
satisfying. It fills me
with ancient ideas of home
and hearth and wheat grains
golden kerneled in the light,
fed ground into the fire flames,
soaking up the hope of the baker,
the strength in her kneading hands,
her knuckles tough against the dough.

First you beat and kill the mix,
holding it down and stretching it
out, but then
you set it aside,
you leave it alone in a warm dark place
and, later, you return to see
it rise.

On that night, he took the bread
the unleavened passover grain,
and he broke it before them,
passed it around their hands,
fed it into their mouths and nourished
their bodies with his own.

Later,
Mary would return to the warm place where He'd
been left alone, the dark place
where his prostrate body, stretched out and
beaten down,
performed the same domestic miracle
she'd witnessed every day, before,
and she would witness it again
with tears in her disbelieving eyes.

The bread
will always
rise.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Failure/Success

I promised to tell you all about my failures as well as my successes on this Gluten-Free journey. Well, yesterday, I decided to make blueberry muffins. A friend dropped off a bag of fresh blueberries, and another friend sent me a gluten-free muffin mix by Namaste.

I was drawn to the little brown bag due to its brand name. The word namaste has such a powerful meaning in my mind. Surely, any company using that name is right up my alley. And, maybe they are. Just not their muffin mix.

The batter seemed dry, but I have come to expect that from gluten free baking. I stirred in blueberries and filled a muffin tin. I baked them. I pulled them out of the oven and tasted one while it was still hot, because I just love still-hot baked goods. Nothing quite like them.

These were not yummy. Somewhere along the way I must have missed a step or an ingredient, though I cannot figure out where or what. I used EnerG egg replacer instead of eggs, but I do that in all of my recipes. So, I just don't know.


On the other hand, this morning I decided to try a cookie mix from Gluten Free Pantry. It was also given to us by a friend and church member. I used my brand new (refurbished) Kitchen Aid mixer, and the cookies turned out wonderfully. A bit crumbly but, like I said, I have come to expect that from gluten-free baking.

Sometime this week, I will blog our new favorite dinner option, Quinoa Pizza Bites. Also, tonight I made a couple batches of gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free pancakes. They were a huge success!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Beneficial

As I was fluttering around my kitchen this morning, packing some food Haydn can eat into a bag and pouring myself a glass of iced coffee, my eyes settled on two cards taped to the refrigerator. One of the cards is bright orange and contains a scripture that I pray over a woman I have never met. She is a prostitute in Haiti. I only know her first name, but I feel like I know her very well after praying over her for at least a year. Beside that card is a regular white index card. On it is written the following Bible verse:


Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. 1 Corinthians 10:23


It is a verse I have pondered often. I mean, really? EVERYTHING is permissible? This morning, I read the card while thinking about the foods I eat and how badly I want to be healthier and a better steward of this earth and my body.

And then came the epiphany. Standing on ceramic tile, hand on the door of a stainless steel fridge, cooler of okra, squash, and strawberries open beside me, I suddenly got it. I get how that verse works in relation to food. I love milk. I love ice cream. I know in my head that cow's milk was made for baby cows, not baby humans. Am I sinning by having a glass of milk?

No. I don't think I am. Milk is permissible. But is it beneficial to me? In small quantities, it probably is just fine. But eating ice cream out of the carton with a big spoon? I'm guessing that isn't beneficial. Convenience foods popped into the microwave? I won't be going to hell for eating them, but are they benefiting my body and mind in any way?

God has been prepping me for a personal food revolution. It started years ago when I was questioning God about our world filled with disease and disorder. I landed on a theory about nutrition, chemicals in our food, hormonal birth control, over-cleanliness. I decided humanity was becoming too unnatural. We have disconnected from the earth and, in return, she is disconnecting from us. Then Corey developed a shell fish allergy that made me reexamine what food does inside our bodies. I happened upon websites and books that told me proper nutrition would "cure" my ADHD. I watched friends turn vegetarian and then added supplements to my day. The more vitamins I have added, the better I continue to feel.

This past year, I began cooking more. I discovered that the more I ate my own foods the less I craved fast food and pre-packaged processed junk food. I read The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood and began reading Genesis and examining the food eaten pre-flood. My husband took a social justice class and educated me on the plight of tomato pickers in Florida. I had never considered how my food choices could be a stance for justice or a method of enslaving people around the world. A friend lent me Made to Crave. Then, another friend posted about Monsanto and I was appalled. I watched Food Matters and What's On My Plate. I began reading labels and cringing.

All of this came before Haydn's blood test and the results telling me he needed to be off of gluten, cow's milk, eggs and a handful of other foods. God was nudging me toward this moment all along. He is that kind of God. He makes a way in the wilderness. He provides all of the bricks you need to build your house on His firm foundation.

I am not where I want to be - where I want us to be. I am on the path though. Each day, I remember two phrases Natalie often repeated. "Onward and Upward," and "Baby Steps." I am not healthy yet. I still eat ice cream from the carton, but I eat less of it and I eat it less often. Last night, I used peppers and onions from a friend's garden and made a delectable dinner that contained zero meat. I am looking at the options before me and trying to make better choices. Maybe not the best choices, so far, but BETTER choices is a good place to start.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Good Tears



I am giving my book another read-thru, brainstorming title possibilities at my agent's suggestion. Just now, as I read a line I particularly like, I realized I was crying.

Good tears.

It has been a long year. I don't do things halfway, as I am sure you know. A year ago, I began writing a short novel for my stepdaughter. She is a child who already has everything she could ask for, and I never know exactly what to offer her on Christmas and her birthday. What do I have to give that her mother has not already given?

Words.

I'm a writer. It's what I do. Up until that revelation, I was writing creative nonfiction and poetry almost exclusively. I got discouraged by rejections many years ago, and I let fiction, my first love, fall by the wayside. I started the story, Sanna of Sarai, intending to write it and print one copy for Savannah. However, writing it felt good. My friend's daughter was my first reader, and she loved the book.

Maybe?

Dare I?

I started sending Sanna to agents. I got a lot of rejections and one request that ended up as another rejection. But, I wasn't ready to give up. November (NANOWRIMO) approached. I had an idea for a teen novel about a liar named Natalie Dair. I dubbed the book Truth or Dair and whipped it out in less than 30 days. When I started shopping it around, I got a lot more requests. No offers, but I was encouraged by personal rejections with helpful criticism.

I poured a bit of contemporary adult fiction into a Word document and then toyed with a "book club" style for a middle-grade novel. I shelved it, however, when I read a blog post from my father. He wrote about the books that saved him as a child in Eastern Kentucky. Something in me started buzzing, and I began inking a story about a "magic library." My first dance with time-travel fiction and writing about another era, the 1950s. Notes and papers overflowed my desk and clung to the walls. I lived inside that world. When I sent out A Library for Valentine, I got a handful of requests, but no offers.

Driving past a local homeless community, one I have felt very adamant about protecting, I decided to write a book that touched on homelessness. Also, due to the tornadoes that wrecked Eastern Kentucky this year and the similar storms that ripped through Mississippi, Alabama, Missouri, and other locations, I decided my narrator would be homeless due to a tornado. Then, lying in bed one night, I heard a voice in my head. The voice was my narrator, and she gave me a line to start with, but I struggled to get her onto paper authentically. I won a copy of Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman, and I got it. I was trying to force Calvary Jones to tell me her story in longish chapters. She isn't that kind of narrator. She is frazzled and angry and full of biting commentary.

Now I have an agent. I know having an agent is no guarantee of imminent publication. But I have an agent. He talks about this story and my characters as though he has stepped inside my very own head and truly understands them.

So here I am, re-reading my story, and I am suddenly in tears. In tears! Because sometimes we just need somebody to get it.

I am grateful for the blessings currently reigning in my life. God is good. All the time. Even here, in the midst of Asperger's and Tourette's, in the midst of dietary changes that feel impossible, in the midst of working and trying and hoping...

God is good.

All the time.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Felicities (June 15)


Friday Felicities

Staying up late to talk with my sister
Hanging out with Rebecca
Matching shirts with Ashley
Little boy birthday parties
Bob's Red Mill pizza crust mix
Mom's rice pudding
Reading on the porch swing
Cheri
Surprise phone calls that bless my socks off
My husband's total support for me as a writer
My daddy
Finally hugging Candy after too many years
Chatting with Mac and taking pictures of the boys

HT

((P.S. The thing I am most grateful for, after a week of Days of our Lives at Mom's house? Praise God I do not live in a soap opera world!))


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Proof of my Failure

*hangs head and sighs deeply*

My son.... is a chauvinist. Or well on his way to being a chauvinist anyway. I offer you a script of our conversation over breakfast.


David: Is there just the one doctor in that office?

Me: No, there are two. The other is a psychologist/therapist.

David: Do y'all ever see him?

Me: No, and the other doctor is a her, not a him.

David: Oh. But, if she's a girl, wouldn't she be a nurse?


Go on. Yell. Lecture. Bemoan my horrible parenting. Feminists everywhere winced in pain at those words.

My saving grace?

I did correct him. I promise.

Oy!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Currently: June Bug

Current Books: With the boys, I am reading Merits of Mischief by TR Burns. In the car, we are listening to Starcross by Philip Reeve. On my own, I am reading Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder. In the Bible, I'm on Job.

Current Playlist: A mix really. When I'm cooking, it's 90s music. I've been listening to bluegrass for inspiration before writing sessions, since the work-in-progress is narrated by a Kentucky girl.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Stealing the hubster's Nutty Bars. I didn't buy myself junk food on purpose, but I keep taking his. Sort of defeats the purpose.

Current Colors: Kentucky Blue

Current Fetish: Sims Freeplay. Brain-free activity when I can't stand to think anymore.

Current Food: I'm snacking on yogurt coated pretzels.

Current Drink: Fuze: Peach Mango

Current Favorite Favorite: Vacation Bible School. It allows me a couple of kid-free hours to catch up.

Current Wishlist: food processor, bluetooth headphones, a personal chef to handle all of these new food issues (a girl can dream can't she?)

Current Needs: some motivation to reorganize my kitchen/homeschool area

Current Triumph: A couple of agents requested materials this week. *happy dance*

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Plumbing trouble.

Current Indulgence: Pistachios

Current Mood: Upbeat, but also tired. I got a bit too much sun at the baseball tournament last weekend.

Current #1 Blessing: Watching my sons play baseball. I am not a big sports person, but they make it fun.

Current Slang or Saying: "Baby steps."

Current Outfit: jeans, black sleeveless top, black glitter TOMs, neon pink socks

Current Link: I'm planning to attend a conference in Kentucky this fall. I am entering a few pieces in their contest first. It would be nice to win and go for free.

Current Quote“Wisest is she who knows she does not know.” 
 Jostein Gaarder, Sophie's World

Current Photo

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