Fountain of Growth: A Milkshake That’s as Good as it is Good4U

Our son, Luke, has shot up faster than Jack’s beanstalk.  That wouldn’t be noteworthy, except Bob & I are short folk.  So the soccer moms I know were thinking that perhaps we’d stumbled upon the fountain of growth… I mean, what else could account for such altitudinous stature?  Surely not our gene pool.  And no, he’s not adopted.  But we do drink this shake every morning for breakfast. Fountain of growth?  Maybe.  Regardless, it’s as good as it is good4U.  I stand by that, and I have the sweetest tooth this side of the Mississippi.

Warning: I just throw stuff in and keep checking to see how it looks.  The amounts are estimates at best.

Chocolate_Banana_Milkshake_002Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake

1 frozen banana

2+ Tbls. peanut butter

1 – 2 tsps. cocao powder

1/2 cup plain yogurt (Greek or regular)

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 Tbls. frozen apple juice concentrate

1 Tbls. ground flax seed

1 cup milk (any kind, including ricemilk, soy, or almond)

4 – 5 fresh spinach leaves

1 Tbls. powdered sugar (optional)

Blend all in a blender until banana chunks are gone.  Start with less liquid and add more to thin out if necessary.

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No Thanks, I’ll Do This Myself – Testimony Part II

air marshallI didn’t kill her, of course.  I just moved my car into the spot as if she were invisible, which was hard to do because she was yelling her head off and waving her arms around like my own personal air marshal helping me park my plane.  That stick shift came in handy when I revved the engine at her for good measure.

As we strolled into the mall, she stomped behind us for a ways, hurling lawsuit threats about my trying to run down a “pregnant woman.”

In my defense, she wasn’t showing.

That was me.  I always took the fight; I usually picked it.  And I’m not even Irish.

When I wasn’t being mean to people, I had this insatiable desire for approval, no– for worship. Even my goodnesses were bribes meant to gain or keep the fountain of affirmation flowing.  My happiness depended on a constant firehose stream of compliments and awards.  I won 1st place in a poetry contest? Cool, now I need The New Yorker to publish me. You say I’m beautiful– that makes me feel pretty as long as you don’t look away.  Witty?  I’m good as long as you’re still laughing… Such was my existence– endless calculating and striving after approval, adoration, accolades.  I couldn’t figure out why I had no peace, which is what led me through a litany of self-help books, including Life 101, The Healing Power of Humor, Dianetics, and The Tao of Poo (a book that pitches Winnie the Pooh as the ultimate Taoist and instructs on a Pooh-like life, full of happiness and honey).  I even got so low sometimes I tried the Bible. But that wasn’t helpful because I tried reading from the Old Testament, starting at Genesis.  After the first juicy chapters, reading the Jewish laws felt like reading the IRS tax code; I failed to see the connection between this book and help of any kind. Mind you, I was an English major. I had read Paradise Lost with an amount of relish; I even struggled through the literary gauntlet of  Leaves of Grass, but the Old Testament?

Uncle.

sacred-heart-jesusGrowing up, one of my first memories of God was the picture in my grandfather’s spare room. Since we often slept there, I’d wake up to this monstrous piece of art staring down at me, depicting an anemic, effeminate, sorrowful-looking man whose heart was visible and belted in thorns.  DIS-turbing. One arm was raised as if He had the answer to a question, and the other rested languidly near that… heart.  He did not comfort me, this Christ; He both unnerved and confused me.

Church confused me too.  We went a handful of times, and everyone seemed to know the steps but me.  Kneel.  Stand. Kneel. Stand. Mumble. Kneel. Everybody else leaving their seats, going up to the front wearing serious expressions.  I’m sure I asked why we stayed in our seats when everybody else went up, but I don’t remember what my Dad said.  He was careful with our feelings.  He probably said he preferred to stay seated– which I’m sure was true.  The singing and chanting from the front was as boring as it was unintelligible. The echoing dirges from somber, gowned men and the strange, ancient feel of the place gave me the same twisted guts as when I was sent to the principal’s office, a feeling with which I was all too familiar.  So no, I didn’t care much for the God of church.

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1 John 4:10

 

God Loves Even the Meanest Person – Testimony Part I

There was a time when I did not take God seriously.  But no matter.  He took me seriously.

Of my early memories, this one stands out– my husband and I at age 16 were climbing on a jungle gym, talking about the meaning of life, and blithely dismissing God’s hand in parting the Red Sea because, thanks to advances in technology, we could do it ourselves.  He was into Scientology; I into the Tao of Pooh or Danse Macabre, whichever suited the moment. The deep questions of life I thought could all be solved with reason and logic. I ridiculed faith wherever I saw it and in all its forms, considering it absolutely equivalent to stupidity.  Once, in what I intended to be an act of malice, I sent my sister and her friend to a booth at the county fair that had nearly wasted more than five minutes of my time trying to shepherd me into its folly with a logical question: What is the #1 cause of death?  Bob and I watched, full of venomous giggles, as Heather and her friend listened– it seemed to us, in rapturous attention.  I kept waiting for recognition to register on their faces, to see surprise and annoyance that the booth was a swindle, that big sister had pulled a good one on her little. None came. The joke was on me.

That was interesting, she said when she came back.  Seriously?  Interesting?  How about baloney?  How about gentle people who are off their rockers?  How about being mad that they suck you in with a scientific question and then bait and switch for faith?  I was beside myself.  And confused.

Fast forward ten years.  My husband and I were buying a used car.  We took it for a test drive and of course blasted the radio, which was the most important feature (because we were in denial that this minivan would suck out whatever cool we had left in our souls, and we hadn’t even come to grips with the fact that loud noises of all kinds would be poisonous to us as we advanced in years and had to share our eardrums with little people and all their natural audio).  But what should come pouring out of the speakers?  Jesus music.  I nearly threw up my hand in protest.  I couldn’t turn the station fast enough.  WMMS, please.  And we left it there for them, turned way up so they could get at least a few seconds of good music.  That was the present we left them.  Nice, huh?

I was the kind of person you’d think would never, ever come around to God.  To say I spoke in the dialect of sailors would be an extreme understatement.  I used expletives more liberally than article adjectives and offended anyone misfortunate enough to be within reach.   Here’s an example.  Chrismas shopping at a mall with half the number of parking spaces it needs.  My little sister chats happily next to me about what stores she wants to visit, and my 1-year-old gibbers in her car seat.  Neither one seems to notice or care that I’m in parking hell.  Every time I see an open space it’s taken before I can even shift up into first gear. Stupid stick shift… I am swearing, and not under my breath.  Wait.  Up ahead. An open spot.  As I fumble with the clutch, lurching into 1st gear, a woman sprints by my car.  That’s not surprising, but what is, is that she bolts past my very obvious turn signal and plants herself in my spot, hands on hips, feet wider than hip distance apart.

Brazen.

I politely tell her to move with my teeth clenched and a face not unlike Jack Nicholson’s in The Shining.  I’m here.

“I’m saving this spot for my mother,” she tells me.

“I don’t see your mother,” I say, “and I’m here, with a car. Right now.” The idea of saving a spot with your body broadsided me, I must confess.  I think I lost my head for a minute because I warned her that if she didn’t move I was going to run her over.

She, unlike my sister, didn’t believe me.

I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say I parked the car and commenced our Christmas shopping experience. This is the person God took seriously. When I say God can love the meanest person, I know.

Here is a trustworth saying that deserves full acceptance– Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst. — The Apostle Paul, 1 Timothy 1:15