Thursday, June 29, 2017

Living in the Shadow of the Fire

For those of you that haven't seen the news, there's a BIG fire near us, the Goodwin Fire. We hear see fire bombers fly overhead constantly. We see water tankers, fire trucks, and cop cars flooding the highways. The air is heavy with smoke. Our community hasn't been evacuated yet, but multiple communities around us have. I vigilantly checking the internet to determine the size of the fire, the progress made on fighting it, and the latest evacuation news. It's nerve-wracking. Everyone is extra edgy and extra quick to snap, show anger, or even explode.

I've gotten to thinking that this might be what it's like to live with a chronic mental illness, to be constantly edgy, to worry about the doom of an impending relapse, to live in the light of a monster. Maybe this is taking things too far, being too metaphorical, but I think it's an important idea to consider. When we see people acting a bit “off,” are we curious about the reasons behind their edginess? Do we have compassion and empathy for what their situation might be, or do we just judge them? Do we show extra patience towards individuals we know who struggle with mental illness or some other looming life issue? Or do we hold them to high, unattainable, unreasonable standards? Do we focus on ourselves and our fears, or look towards others who might be struggling? Do we practice legalism, or practice grace?

Everybody is dealing with something, be it an environmental issue (like a natural disaster), or a mental illness, or a child who is suffering. Practice extra patience. Show grace. Extend love and care. You fight fire with retardant, water, and trailblazing, not with more fire.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Chocolate Mole Oatmeal

After a long hiatus, oatmeal recipes are back! Plus, this post includes the debut of a new dish I've deemed "the oatmeal bowl." (Thanks to my dear friend Joanna for this lovely birthday gift.)

I've been eating oatmeal since the 30 Days series, but I didn't feel like posting about it. After two weeks out of town and the arrival of the bowl, however, I feel it is time. I'd been making my traditional cinnamon chocolate oatmeal (2 T cocoa powder + 1 t cinnamon) bowls topped with dashes of cayenne, chili powder, and sea salt before I left home and I liked it, but wanted to deepen the flavor to go throughout the oatmeal. A quick Google search for chocolate chili oatmeal turned up two chocolate mole recipes (oatmeal chili and easy cheater vegan mole sauce), and I decided to adapt and go with it.

I wouldn't say that the chili and chipotle flavors came through strongly in this oatmeal, but they did add a nice level of heat to the cocoa. This recipe would probably be better in the freezing winter than the steaming summer, but I've gotta show off the oatmeal bowl, so here we go:


1/2 c quick cooking oats
1 1/2 c water
3 t dark cocoa powder
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t chili powder

1/4 t ginger
1/4-1/2 t chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
Toppings of choice (I added a chopped red delicious apple, but other fruits, candy, and nut butter would also be appropriate.


1. Bring oats and water to a boil and reduce heat to medium. 
2. When oats reach the desired consistency, stir in the cocoa, cinnamon, chili powder, ginger, and chopped chipotle peppers. 
3. Transfer oatmeal to a bowl, add desired toppings and enjoy!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Surviving the Arizona Heat

For those of you who live in Arizona, this isn't new information. For those of you who don't live here and want advice for when you visit during the summer, here it is. And for those who are thinking of moving here, or are recent transplants like some of my classmates in training, here's some potentially helpful information:
  • Arizona summer heat is dry (less than 10% humidity).
  • June is one of our hottest months.
  • Temperatures are normally over 100 degrees, especially at lower elevations.
How do we survive? Here are some tips:

  • Store extra tires, wiper blades, and antifreeze in your car. 
  • Buy and use a sunshade. It makes a difference.
  • Never leave electronics, food that can melt, CHILDREN OR PETS in the car without the car running and the air conditioning on.
  • Buy a steering wheel cover that doesn't heat up, or buy hot pads to keep in your car. Seriously, the steering wheel can burn your hands if your car has sat in the sun all day.
  • Turn off your air conditioning when the interstate sign says to. Using air conditioning on that hill really will cause your car to overheat.

  • Always bring extra water.
  • Drink before you're thirsty. With the dry heat, thirst indications a fairly progressed stage of dehydration.
  • Dress in layers if you work inside. Buildings can get very cold with air conditioning and shocking your body when you leave work isn't good.
  • If you don't have central air conditioning or a swamp cooler inside, wear lightweight, moisture-wicking clothes at home. Wear open shoes or sandals if permitted.
  • If you have long hair, arrange it up and off your neck.
  • Avoid peak sunshine times (11 am to 4 pm or so).
  • Hike only early in the morning.
  • If you must walk, walk after the sun goes down and bring a jacket in case of temperature swings. Big temperature drops happen in the desert.

  • Think positively. For example, I'd rather be hot than cold, so I tell that to myself when I'm really warm.
  • Remember that summer is a season. Monsoons will come and temperatures will drop.

Any questions? 
Arizona friends, any advice to add? Feel free to comment below.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Eschewing Labels

Last night, on the cusp of completing nearly two weeks of training for my new counseling job, I read this quote from Bob Goff:

This quote really resonated with me, as my new company focuses on calling children and families by their names, rather than addressing them as "clients," or their psychiatric, learning disorder, or behavioral diagnoses. This is a learning curve for me, as my graduate education taught me that people preferred the anonymity of the title"client." But that's just the problem. The term "client" can be dehumanizing, universalist, deterministic. I work with people.

But you know what? Labels extend far beyond counseling. Think about the labels we hear in everyday life: Workaholic. 
Lazy. Perfectionist. Slob. Homosexual. Heterosexual. Stupid. Smart. Goody-two-shoe. Black sheep.  What if we got rid of these? What if we stopped referring to ourselves with singular words and started viewing ourselves as multiply complex PEOPLE? We are friends, siblings, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, counselors, teachers, mentors, engineers, doctors, nurses, doers, resters, crafters, creators, singers, dancers, painters, handymen (and women!) etc. Or what if we got rid of even these conglomerations of labels and tore down the barrier of labels period? How would we relate to people?

What if we let issues be issues and people be people? What if we stopped trying to find words to describe life and just lived? Could we be more present? Could we be more productive? Could those who claim to be Christians love more like Christ loved? Could we begin to acknowledge the complexities of each unique creation of God? I don't think it's possible to completely do away with labels, but perhaps reducing their use can lead to fuller, richer lives and lifestyles.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Dad's Day

Due to a family wedding this weekend, we celebrated Dad last Saturday. Still, I wanted to make sure to write a post about my dad in honor of today, Father's Day.

Though my dad isn't perfect, he's a pretty awesome guy. I LOVE, RESPECT, and ADMIRE him.

I LOVE him because he loved me first. I don't always appreciate his gestures of affection, but he really tries. He brought me roses when I was really sick and in the hospital. He's pretty adamant about opening doors for me and treating me like a lady. He purchased several of my meals this weekend, just because he wanted to.

He treats my mom well. He's been married to her for 32 and a half years and still tells her he's beautiful. He likes to purchase her gifts (like her favorite dark chocolate) and really works to resolve disputes with her when he has them. He loves strongly and fiercely and though sometimes a little overprotective, works hard to keep his ladies safe.

Dad is my knight in shining armor. He's rescued me twice this year when I've locked myself out of my car. He changes the oil in my car and preps it for trips. He helps with a variety of household chores and tasks when I ask him to. If it's the Lord's will that I marry, my poor future spouse has a lot to live up to.

I RESPECT Dad. He works so, so hard for our family. (Think sun-up to late afternoon, and on weekends.) As a small businessman, his desire is to provide excellent customer service, and I believe he does. Dad also works hard around the house fixing toilets, doors, cars, etc. He weed eats and rakes and cuts firewood for us. He's super good at diagnosing car issues by phone. He can fix almost anything, and if he can't he'll Google and YouTube the answer. He applies His smarts in practical ways, something I struggle to do.

Over the past ten years, I've watched Dad really grow in his faith. He started reading through the Bible every year, even though reading isn't his thing. He endeavors to study the Scriptures before making decisions. He leads our home and family with integrity.

I ADMIRE Dad. He has such a heart for others. He spent a great deal of last Sunday, his only rest day in the week, helping a family fix their van. He frequently calls and texts family and friends to tell them he cares. He painstakingly types out Bible verses on his flip phone to send as encouragement. He gives away free water to widows. He helps the elderly. He's committed himself to elder training during a season of change at our church and has attended every single class.

Dad and I have had our disagreements, but we've also rebuilt a 1964 Rambler, attended car shows, and gone on dates together. I'm so thankful for this man and the God who gave him to me.

Happy Father's Day!