Glorious Super Hero Muffins (Gluten-Free but Super Cool!)

Would you like a recipe for super yummy, super healthy muffins . . .so good that even if you don’t need to be gluten-free you’ll still enjoy them?

Recently my Chicago kids visited, and Linda helped her oldest (aged 7) make us “Super Hero Muffins,” which were so moist and delicious that it was hard to believe they could also be good for you, but I think they are! 🙂 Want to know how? Here is Linda’s recipe (inspired by but considerably changed from what she could find online):

Super Hero Muffins
(Makes one dozen)

Start by preheating your oven to 350°F. and then grate:
1 cup± carrots (about 2 medium carrots; you can give or take a little on the one cup)
1 cup± zucchini (about one large zucchini)

Place in a large mixing bowl, and then add:
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons melted butter (can replace with 3/4 cup coconut oil if you want your muffins to be dairy-free as well)
1/2 cup sugar (can also use maple syrup if you want)
2 cups almond meal (if you don’t need to be gluten free, you can use regular flour)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (use gluten-free if sensitive)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark chocolate chips (or 1/2 cup raisins or currants if you prefer)
Optional:
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or other favorite nuts)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Mix in the blender just enough to make sure all the ingredients are well mixed, then scoop out and divide the mix evenly into twelve cupcake liners in a baking tin.

Colorful and flavorful “Super Hero” Muffins!

Bake at 350°F. for about 30 minutes±, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

A Plate of Warm Super Hero Muffins!

Enjoy for breakfast, lunch, tea time, dinner, or midnight snack . . . anytime you need to be a super hero!! 🙂

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.” (Psalm 31:24)

Until Forever

“Live Until You Die!”

That’s the message of this incredibly inspiring true love story called Until Forever (2016 version), which is based on the lives of Michael and Michelle Boyum and their enduring love as teenagers and young adults dealing with Michael’s diagnosis of leukemia.

If I didn’t know someone with a similarly buoyant spirit, it would be hard to imagine anybody as sweet, faith-filled, and steady as this young man, but in reality, I know Tom F., who has also been through the wringer with leukemia and is every bit as kind and outreaching, so I know a few of these treasures exist!

Like my friend Tom, Michael always had the needs of others at the forefront of his thinking, and even during his hospital stays, he was busy reaching out to others with encouragement and the love of Jesus!

Jamie Anderson as Matt Boyum

Until Forever doesn’t shy away from the painful realities of how a cancer diagnosis effects everyone who loves the patient. In Michael’s case, his younger brother was severely effected,

Joel Jacobsen as Ben

as were many friends from his church family. (I loved the inclusion of this sweet young man!)

Madison Lawlor as Michelle Larson

Equally miraculous to Michael’s radiant spirit was the response of Michael’s girlfriend, Michelle, who refused to give up and stood by his side despite all the pain, insecurities, and sufferings that Michael endured. (Tom’s wife, Lynnie, is actually just as beautiful and wonderful as Michelle is, as depicted in the movie, so I have no trouble believing such devotion and faith exist!)

Here is a photo of the “real” Michael and Michelle (shown in the final credits of the movie). I truly believe only God can produce a love like theirs!

Well, I don’t want to ruin the story by telling you everything, but it’s one of the most moving movies I’ve seen in a long time, full of faith in the midst of fear

and triumph in the midst of tragedy.

If you are struggling with fear and tragedy, please take the time to watch this movie! It is possible to experience hope and peace in the midst of any illness.

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:1-5, ESV).

unPlanned

Two days ago I had the pleasure of an unplanned visit with the gaffer for the newly released movie, Unplanned. (John is my son Dan’s brother-in-law.) Have you seen it?

It’s the gripping true story of the experience of Abby Johnson, who personally had two abortions and then became an activist for Planned Parenthood . . . until she actually witnessed an abortion. Until. What about you? Do you have any opinion about whether or not abortion is a reasonably good option for ending an unwanted pregnancy? If you think abortion might be the best and easiest option, please PLEASE watch Unplanned.

It’s rated R, probably for blood visuals related to some abortion problems, but I think it is valuable for anyone who is exposed to sexual contact . . . or for sure by high school age. Does it make sense that any girl—who is under 18 can have sex, get pregnant, and have an abortion without parental consent—should be restricted from seeing a movie that discusses the issues surrounding abortion? I’d say “NO!”

I grew up in a liberal home and didn’t blink an eye at over the issue. I figured that if anybody ever raped me, I’d have an abortion. However, my husband, Alan (who was usually more liberal than I was on “political issues”), said he thought it was wrong and that if I was ever raped and impregnated, he would prefer that I kept the baby rather than getting an abortion. I was totally shocked, but it also made me rethink my position. During medical school, as part of his training, Alan observed an abortion. His response was similar to that of Abby Johnson’s. He was horrified and sickened. He never wanted to be witness to an abortion again, and he felt that he had watched the undeniable killing of a helpless infant that resisted with all its tiny being having its life snuffed out.

After Alan began practice, he discovered that he had patients who even into their eighties were still haunted by their experience of having aborted a baby early in life. The regret and shame seemed never ending. He has been a strong proponent for being pro-life ever since, and so am I.

But, what about the millions of women who have aborted babies? Is there no relief for them from having an aching heart and a bad conscience?

Yes! There is no sin outside the grace of God, nor are any of us without sin, we just sin in different ways. In fact, the Bible is clear that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). That’s why Jesus died: to provide a way to be forgiven for our sins: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17, ESV).

If you have had an abortion, are considering having an abortion, or know someone who is struggling with abortion issues, please consider watching Unplanned. It will make you sad, but it also offers hope and healing! God is here, and He loves us!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV). “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21 ESV).

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

“At least I can’t die young anymore! Guess I can scratch that off my bucket list,” Brian grinned just before blowing out the candles on his birthday cake. Not that he really had dying young ON his bucket list, but he IS the oldest known survivor of his type of treatment for his particular type of cancer, which he was diagnosed with when he was only 27. (Very scary to me personally, because my youngest son was 27 yesterday.)

Brian never dreamed he’d make it to his 60th birthday (and frankly, I wasn’t so sure either), so it was with a sense of grateful joy and awe that our Birthday Club treated Brian to a very special birthday party yesterday!

Where to take him? That was easy! The day before he was born, his mother and father were at the John Ball Zoo, and his mom started having contractions, so Brian says he was “almost born at the zoo!”

Brian only visited the zoo once in his life, on his 10th birthday, and he remembered being fascinated by the antics of the otters. Since he hasn’t been back in 50 years, he thought visiting the zoo would be the perfect way to spend his day!

Of course, we wanted to see everything (and pretty much did), but—you know—like everybody, we wanted to make sure we saw “the lions,

the (sleeping? oh, no!) tigers
and (SLEEPING!! 😦 ) bears. Oh, no!”

But, there was no shortage of excitement and fun, including a few “firsts” for Brian, such as petting a goat

and taking a ride on a funicular. (Not sure they were on his bucket list as such, but he thoroughly enjoyed the new experiences!)

We also made a new friend: Herbie! Herbie is 34 and one of the oldest Magellanic penguins in captivity in the world. Herbie’s fur is almost all grey, and he seemed content to swim on the surface, but he was still swimming! It was a little hard not to miss some of the similarities between our new and old friends. Very touching.

Oh, but I wanted to tell you about how teamwork makes the dream work! In this photo, you see Susan in a wheel chair! She turned her ankle helping one of her daughters the day before our outing. Thankfully, her beloved husband took a day off work to help us get the dream team around!

An aphorism of their son-in-law, Seth’s (so we call it a Sethism), is that “teamwork makes the dream work.” I don’t know who said it first, so if you know, please let us know, but . . .isn’t this a clever truism?

And, isn’t God good!? Brian was never able to marry or have a family. His father died several years ago, and his mother passed away 23 weeks ago to the day. But, he has us. He has a family of brothers and sisters in Christ to love him and appreciate him. Brian is a real prayer warrior! He can’t travel much, but he never misses a prayer meeting via telephone for the church on Sunday morning, and he’s never missed a single Monday night prayer meeting for my son Jonathan’s ministry.

He’s knitted booties for all our grand kids, always smiles, and always says it’s too early to start complaining (although he could well have started 33 years ago).

I hope his story brightens your day. It certainly brightened ours!

God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land” (Psalm 68:6).

Choking Hazards

Robin in our cherry tree

We’ve had four nearly deadly choking incidents in our family in the past few months: a grand daughter who was sucking on a sucker that came off the stick and totally blocked her airway, a great nephew who ended up in the hospital after a frightening experience with choking, and the latest was a grand son who ended up in the hospital for most of Memorial Day weekend when he choked on a piece of chicken that also tore his esophagus and caused such swelling that he could breathe but could not swallow. Had he lived before modern medical treatments, he doubtless would have died too.

These close-to-fatal occurrences didn’t just effect the youngest generation, either. One of my sister-in-laws choked at a dinner party last month and couldn’t breathe. Thankfully, a doctor was in attendance and was able to expel the food using the Heimlich Maneuver. When my brother thanked him, he said something like, “Wow! Thank you! If you hadn’t been here, she might of died!” to which the doctor responded dryly, “If I hadn’t been here, your wife would have died.” My brother didn’t think he was being proud . . . just stating a fact.

Red-bellied Woodpecker at our feeder

Now, when people are choking to death, nobody stops to take pictures, so I’m using some of the lovely birds who’ve been feeding out my window to illustrate this post, but that doesn’t mean I take lightly the gravity of what could have been. In a matter of moments—on four separate occasions and in four completely different locations this spring—our family could have lost someone irreplaceably precious. I can’t even begin to imagine the grief and pain we’d all be in today had even one of those choking events ended in the death of a loved one, but in fact—but for the mercy of God—we could have had to endure four such funerals.

What to do? Well, for sure we should all be more careful to chew our food thoroughly before swallowing, and I (for my vote) am not going to suck on or give hard, round candies to my loved ones . . . even if they are on sticks! Alan (my handy source of all medical advice) says it’s worth watching some videoes on how to do the Heimlich Maneuver, although the fact is that it takes so much pressure to actually “do it right” that you can’t fully practice without causing so much discomfort you’ll be unlikely to get a likely suspect to let you practice. According to the Mayo Clinic, 5,000 people die each year from choking incidents, so it’s well worth studying in order to know what we should do. There are lots of YouTube demonstrations on line. To get you started, here is a 1-minute video put out by Mayo explaining what to do: https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-SGMedia-sgmedia_maps&hsimp=yhs-sgmedia_maps&hspart=SGMedia&p=video+on+the+heimlich+maneuver#id=4&vid=aa91d558186d160ec9907520b16d3674&action=click

Another video that I found helpful (but is longer, although also more thorough and discusses how to help yourself, infants, children, and dogs) can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtqLAS5rgGQ

Beyond being careful and trying to be prepared, I also want to take this opportunity to encourage you to be prepared for your own death. After all, life is terminal, and we are all going to die—if not suddenly, then someday. Nobody gets out of life alive!

If you die tonight, do you know where your spirit will go? If you don’t, and you’d like to know that you will go to heaven, please click on the tab that says “Coming to Christ” at the top of this page, and it will explain how to know you’re going to heaven when you die. May God bless you with faith, hope, and peace today!

Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love” (2 John 1:3).

Blind Spots

Five years ago, I noticed a tiny blind spot in the middle of my right eye, so small I figured nobody would know what it was and accuse me of having an active imagination (which—of course—I couldn’t deny). However, three years ago, I had a vitreous detachment, which left behind a trail of debris, most notably something that looked like a tarantula lurking in the upper right-hand cobweb of my eye (the worst of all Rorschachian possibilities for this arachnophobe). 😦

And then, a couple of years ago, I started noticing a grey blob in my vision somewhat near the center of my right eye. At first, I assumed it was just the breakdown of the debris, but then I started having other symptoms too. The hearing in my right eye was perceptibly worse than in my left ear, and I started having occasional headaches and some dizziness, which was totally new for me. I couldn’t tell if it was just old age setting in, or if there was something more serious going on. (Now, old age is terminal, so I’m not saying it’s not serious, but there’s not much that can be done about such a chronic condition.)

Last summer, my internist sent me to an ophthalmologist, who couldn’t find anything wrong with my eye or optic nerve, although he said no matter how he tried to fool my eye, it perfectly failed to record vision in that area, so he knew I had a true blind spot. He wondered if I’d been staring at the sun or had been hit by a laser beam, although I had no memory of either. My eye doctor sent me on to an ENT doctor, who couldn’t find anything wrong with my ear. Puzzled, I was sent for an MRI. Nothing there either. (The great news on this is that my mother developed Alzheimer’s, so for the past 30 years I’ve had some fear of inheriting her horrible illness—but they saw no trace. A definite plus for having my brain scare!)

Nobody could explain my symptoms, but they said to come back if anything worsened, and my eye doctor sent me home with some Amsler Grids to do self-tests on my eyes every month and track any changes.

It’s almost time for my annual physical again, and so I was taking stock of my health, and it occurred to me that my grey blob has slowly become a non issue. In fact, I’ve stopped noticing it. I’m not dead sure whether my eye is improving or my eyes have just learned to compensate, but either way, I no longer have a perceptible blind spot.

So, here’s what I think:
*I’m getting older and beginning to experience normal issues of older-aged people, or
*I’m dying of some as yet un-diagnosed disease

Meanwhile, my blind spot has all but disappeared, for which I’m very thankful. But, it makes me ponder spiritual blind spots . . .how we get them, and what we can do to try to overcome them. Physically, about the only thing we can do to avoid developing a blind spot is to be as healthy as possible—eat right, exercise, get enough sleep . . . we all know the drill. Spiritually, I think there are about the same number of essential practices to help us—meditate on the Bible, pray, and keep active in a church community.

Still, we are all susceptible to blind spots. Vitreous detachments are very common in older people, occurring when the jelly-like vitreous dries out and shrivels up a little, making it less flexible, so that little pieces can become detached from the back wall of the eye. If the retina detaches, we can become totally blind. Oh, but doesn’t that sound like us old saints, who don’t like change in the church? (Guilty as charged.) Let’s not let ourselves become detached and develop blind spots! Let’s learn to compensate (through love) so we don’t lose our vision altogether!

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Galatians 5:14).

Be Thou My Vision
(—Dallan Forgaill, Public Domain)

  1. Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
    Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;
    Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
    Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
  2. Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
    I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
    Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
    Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
  3. Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
    Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
    Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tow’r:
    Raise Thou me heav’nward, O Pow’r of my pow’r.
  4. Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
    Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
    Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
    High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
  5. High King of Heaven, my victory won,
    May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun!
    Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
    Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Bad Surprises

Do you like surprises? Recently, I sat with some friends in the hospital waiting room, discussing whether or not we liked surprises. We were awaiting (rather anxiously) to hear the report from my friend’s exploratory surgery. (I will call her Carissa, although that’s not her real name.) Carissa’s daughter said she thought the only people who really love surprises are children who are about five and under looking forward to their birthday or Christmas. We shared stories of surprise birthday parties that we’d enjoyed (or not) over the years.

One of the ladies recounted a tale of a surprise 50th birthday party that went awry when she showed up without any makeup on a bad hair day, and about 60 friends were there to greet her! She was so dismayed that her college-aged daughter (who had gone to great pains to organize the party) ended up in tears and hasn’t tried to surprise her since. (This occurred about 25 years ago!) We decided that we only like “GOOD” surprises, where we love the unexpected event and it comes at a time that doesn’t distract us from what we think we “ought” to be doing . . . especially if we’re somehow appropriately dressed for the occasion. 🙂

Well, that afternoon, we got a very BAD surprise. After about five hours of surgery, the surgeon had a private conference with Carissa’s husband and daughter. The longer they were gone, the more we worried and prayed. Carissa and her husband had just celebrated their 50th anniversary. Carissa is one of these super bubbly, sunshiny souls who has been like a rock to her husband, who’s been struggling for several years with very serious cancer himself. We were all shocked and devastated when she started experiencing severe pain recently and was diagnosed with cancer. I think we all assumed Carissa would be at her husband’s bedside to the very end.

However, when they opened Carissa, they found that her situation was much worse than feared and basically inoperable. Her husband and children were faced with a decision: Attempt a heroic surgery that might not work (but if it did, it would prolong her life, although leaving her disabled), or give up on the surgery in hopes of a more normal lifestyle, but with a shorter life expectancy.

What a horrible decision to have to make! What would you choose? (If you are married, this would be a great discussion to have with your mate JUST IN CASE. I had this discussion with my husband after I came home. Quality versus quantity. Which??) Carissa’s husband and daughter—tearfully trying to choose what Carissa would choose—opted for quality.

Carissa has a deep, joyful faith. She has taken everything like a trooper so far, and I think she will overcome this terrible shock too, but I find myself praying and pondering a lot every day. I always tell my husband that I’d like to die of a heart attack or something quick with a very short illness. Like Carissa, I am ready to go to heaven and be with Jesus, even though it would (will) be terribly hard to leave all my loved ones. How about you? Are you ready to meet God? Is He your Father? Have you trusted Jesus as your Savior? God is waiting for you with his arms out, wanting you to become his child and come to be with him in heaven when you die.

If you are not sure what will happen to you after you die, may I share a couple of passages from the Bible that explain who Jesus is and how to become a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ? “In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.The same was in the beginning with God.All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.In him was life; and the life was the light of men.And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (John 1:1-18)

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:14-18)

P.S.—If you would like more information about how to become a Christian or how to prepare for death, please click on the link at the top of this page that says “Coming to Christ.” It will walk you through the steps to become a child of God and become secure in knowing you will go to heaven when you die. God bless you~