Wednesday, September 26, 2012

wordless wednesday

Monday, September 24, 2012

one year ago

One year ago today I took a pill that would change my life.

I still can't believe it has been a year. But then again I can. What a roller coaster.

Almost two months prior to this day I had been dealing with much sickness including reactions to some antibiotics, but I had no idea what I was in for. I had no idea that a year later I would still be dealing with the effect of those pills.

After taking the antibiotic for a couple of days I woke up feeling like I had shin splints. I continued to wake up feeling like I had run a marathon. The problem was - I hadn't. I hadn't even worked out in a month. I had no idea what was going on. Maybe I had worn the wrong shoes? I didn't want to overreact thinking maybe it was the antibiotics that had caused this. I felt like I had been such a complainer and that my doctors were probably tired of talking to me. Five days after I started taking the drug, and after my legs had gotten so weak I had trouble walking, I decided to call the doctor after reading the antibiotic could in very rare cases affect the tendons in your legs/feet/knees. I told the doctor that he didn't have to call me back if he felt like I was overreacting. Within an hour he called me back. He told me to come in right away. The pills had weakened my tendons and I had to stop taking them for fear my tendons would snap spontaneously. WHAT???? I was told that I should be better within a couple of weeks (going on 52 weeks right now, hmmmm.)

That night and the days to come I was unable to walk on my own. Michael had to carry me around. In the months to come I had to work alot from home since my legs could only handle driving a couple of times a week at best. I walked slower than an elderly woman in her 90s. If I had to walk more than a few yards I had to have assistance. WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO ME?

It goes without saying that after a couple of weeks I was not better - at all.  The doctor then hoped that within a couple of months I would be back to normal. Uhm no. After that I started going to a physical therapist for my feet. After six months of not bending my knees I also started going to physical therapy for my knees.

Without going into much detail, during this time I also got diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis which was caused by my initial sickness that required the antibiotics in the first place. This also required many painful tests and treatments.

It felt like my body. was. shutting. down.

In the midst of this, as I reflected on my sickness in other posts (here, here, here, and here), I clung on to hope. If I had known the recovery would be so long, I am not sure what my state of mind would have been. Not knowing is sometimes better. I do have hope still. I know that it may take another year to get better (or longer), but in the big scheme of the rest of my life, a couple of years is better. I don't like thinking about having to deal with this for the rest of my life. I will reflect on that in a year if I am not better.

As I thought about the one year mark and writing a post, I wanted to reflect on how far I have come.  This seemed easier to do before last week. This has been a very tough and painful time. Probably the worst in the last eight months. I thought I had come further. I thought I was on the upswing. Nowadays, I have good days and bad days, but rarely absolutely horrible days where improvement is hard to find. I was so hopeful to report amazing progress. What does this all mean? I don't know. All I can do is plug along and hope and pray it gets better. The good thing is that I can walk again. I am thankful for that. I feel like I now have a good doctor that at least is trying to figure out what is going on with my body. So that is a praise. I have an amazing husband who has served me so well in the last year. I am thankful for that. God is in control. My life may end up looking different than I had anticipated. I may never be able to do what I used to do. But that is how life goes. We are not promised a life without sickness and trouble. All we can control is how we deal with it and how we go on living out our life with our limitations. My limitations are small compared to so many others in this world. And many of them have such an amazing outlook on life. This encourages me and pushes me to not get stuck on focusing on my limitations, but rather what I can do with my life within my limits.

I look forward to seeing what this next year has in store.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

training leaders

In Njuruta we had the privilege of training some of their leaders. It is amazing to see how eager they are to learn and how far they have come in the last year. 

Michael and one of the other team members, Jim, taught a leadership seminar for the Income Generating Activity groups.

Michael and Jim lead a discussion on team building and trust. As part of teaching about team building, Jim asked each group to build a Lego boat to see how each group worked together as a team. It was fun to see how groups who have never seen Legos let alone built anything with Legos try to work through the exercise.  They also had fun with the trust walk exercise.  I was so inspired by their willingness to try new things and to share about the struggles of each group. We could learn from that.  It is encouraging to hear how far they have come in just a year. And to hear their desire to work together and support each other through these groups.

Another day, I, along with another team member Anna, led a Sunday School Teacher training.  They again were so willing to learn and they had great questions. They have such an important ministry to children under conditions we cannot imagine here in America. I am so amazed by what they do. 

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Friday, September 21, 2012

a community coming together

One of the exciting and encouraging things we got to see while we were in Njuruta was the new classroom the community had built. 

When I visited Njuruta for the first time in 2007, this was what the classrooms looked like (see below). Not the optimal learning environment especially given the very windy conditions. Combine the wind with dirt floors and the "air vents" in the walls and the result doesn't promote good focused learning. 

Unfortunately, these classrooms are still in use today, BUT the community just finished building a beautiful new one.

After receiving a brick maker, the community of Njuruta learned how to make their own bricks. On their own they figured out how to make the bricks even more sturdy to last longer. How amazing it was to see how the community came together to build something like this. What a sharp contrast in building style between the two buildings. 

It may not seem like such a big deal to have a better classroom, but in a place like Njuruta education is everything. It is the key to future success in the community and in the lives of the individuals seeking to get further education. Having a nicer school can also help attract good teachers. Currently the community only has five teachers, but they have eight grades. 

It is so encouraging to see what the community can accomplish when they work together. They were so proud of this project and how they worked through the obstacles on their own. And they should be proud. What an amazing accomplishment. 

On our last day in Njuruta the community dedicated the building. What a blessing.  I look forward to seeing more classrooms like this the next time we return. 
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Thursday, September 20, 2012

diy thursday: natural daily shower cleaner

I have been using a non-natural store bought daily shower cleaner that I use everyday in between more thorough shower/tub cleaning.  This helps cut down the soap scum and prevent mold and mildew. I have been searching online for a natural homemade daily shower cleaner, but have had a hard time finding what I was looking for. In the end I decided to make one from scratch using the knowledge I have about ingredients I use all the time. A go-to natural low budget all purpose cleaner I have used through the years is a mixture of white distilled vinegar and water. So I thought I would use that as a base given that vinegar among other things cuts through soap scum.  Since the purpose for making the daily shower cleaner was not only to cut soap scum, but also to eliminate mold and mildew growth, I decided to add tea tree essential oil to the mixture.  Tea tree oil is known to be a powerful fungicide which in turn fights mold and mildew.  Tea tree oil also makes the spray smell better (unless you love the smell of vinegar my husband).


1/3 cup white distilled vinegar (or vodka if you are afraid the vinegar will eat into the shower/tub caulk)
3 cups lukewarm water
few drops of tea tree oil 
32 oz spray bottle


Using a funnel add all the ingredients and then shake the bottle to make sure it is all mixed together. 
Spray the daily shower spray in your shower daily after showering. 

As you can tell this is a super easy, natural, and cheap daily shower cleaner. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

wordless wednesday

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012


In August, Michael and I along with a team from Chrio Communities had the incredible opportunity to go to Kenya to work with a community in Njuruta.  This was my fourth time to Kenya and Michael's first time. It was such an amazing experience to get to serve alongside each other in a place that is so close to my heart and that is now close to Michael's heart as well.

Njuruta is in a drought. It is very windy and dry with no running water or electricity. Even though this place seems desolate it was full of smiles from the welcoming community. We had such a wonderful time with these people. What a privilege to get to know them and to get a glimpse into their lives. 

I look forward to sharing more pictures and stories from our time there in the days to come. 

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Monday, September 17, 2012

milling mondays: malt

this post first appeared on the grain mill wagon

The first thing I wanted to make with my new grain mill (the WonderMill) was bread. Before I started milling my own flour I would from time to time bake my own bread. I, therefore, thought it would be good to begin my milling experience with baking bread.  When I was researching about milling and baking bread I learned it can be good to include malt.  Diastatic malt to be exact.

Diastatic malt helps the yeast grow and in turn promotes a good rise, great texture and brown crust. All which will help make my homemade bread better. And now that I have a grain mill I thought I might as well make the malt myself. I found good directions on that I used.  Since I had never made malt before I opted for just making half the recipe the first time around.

Since I don't have a sprouting jar I just used a vase with a wide mouth. I filled the vase with two cups of lukewarm water and one cup of hard red wheat berries. I then used a clean nylon no-show sock (it already has elastic built in so I didn't have to use a rubber band to fasten it to the vase).

I left the grains in the water overnight (about 12 hours). I then turned the vase upside down and let all the water drain through the nylon sock. As you can see in the picture below, the grains had already started sprouting a little. 

For the next 4 hours I left the vase propped at an angle upside down to let any water left drain meanwhile allowing air to still circulate. After 4 hours I rinsed the grains with water. I repeated this rinse and drain process 3 times that day (every 4 hours).  The directions say to repeat the process for two days unless the sprouts become as long as the grains themselves. After a day and a half, mine did - so I stopped the process early (only rinsing and draining once the second day instead of the directed 3).

Since I don't have a dehydrator, I used a cookie sheet to dry out the grains. I turned on my oven to the lowest possible temperature and then turned it back off after 5 minutes. I placed all the sprouted grains on a cookie sheet. I then put the cookie sheet with the wheat berries in the hot turned off oven for 3 hours. I then removed the cookie sheet, turned on the oven again and repeated the heating and turning off step. I repeated this step 3 times. 

After the third time in the oven, the berries were completely dry.

I then put the dried berries in my WonderMill and turned it into a flour. And voila - malt! When baking bread I usually use 1 teaspoon malt for every 3 cups of flour.

It may seem like this is a lot of work. And it is:) But you don't have to make it very often (it goes a long way) and you don't have to stare at it for two whole days during the sprouting process:)

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Friday, September 14, 2012

celebrating with food

we had a great time celebrating michael's birthday. we celebrated with lots of food - free food that is:) yay for free restaurant birthday meals and birthday cake. thanks to everyone who helped celebrate.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

diy thursday: natural antibacterial spray

When making my own natural cleaners I have been a little skeptical of whether they actually kill major bacteria on areas such as the toilet seat. Even though I feel pretty good about the natural all purpose cleaner I made last week, I felt like I needed an antibacterial spray for extra bacteria prone places. Again, in the allyou magazine I found a recipe for an antibacterial spray. 

In order to make this cleaner I had to invest in just one additional ingredient - white thyme essential oil. It can be a little more expensive than some of the other essential oils, but it goes a long way. The great thing about white thyme oil is that it prevents bacterial growth - which I am all for.

2 cups water
2 Tbsp. liquid castile soap
1 Tbsp. white thyme essential oil
10 drops lavender essential oil

Using a funnel I poured all the ingredients into my 24 oz spray bottle. Then I shook the bottle to make sure the ingredients were well blended. Super easy. When you clean with the spray you do have to let it sit on the surface for 20 minutes before you wipe down the surface with a damp cloth. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

wordless wednesday

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

birthday fun

today is michael's birthday! happy birthday to my amazing husband whom i love so much. 

since michael's birthday last year wasn't very exciting because he was finishing up his seminary degree that week - we decided to celebrate a little more this year.

he got a head start this weekend celebrating with great friends.

Monday, September 10, 2012

milling mondays: æbleskiver

this post first appeared on the grain mill wagon

When I received the WonderMill and started milling my own flour (read more about why I started milling my own flour here) I knew I wanted to try out my Danish recipes using this fresh and nutritional flour. Growing up in Denmark æbleskiver was a great dessert/snack – especially in the fall. As fall is approaching I thought it would be nice to make 100% whole wheat æbleskiver.
125 g hard white wheat
125 g soft white wheat
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cardamom
Zest of half a lemon
2 cups buttermilk (if you don’t have butter milk you can use 1 cup milk and 1 cup yogurt)
2 eggs
Æbleskive pan and turning tool such as a knitting pin
Recipe yields about 30 æbleskiver
The advantage of using grams instead of cups is that when you measure your wheat berries in grams it produces the exact amount of grams of flour you need. When you measure wheat berries in cups then you will end up with more flour than needed. Either way will work though. Most food scales also measure in grams and make it easy to figure out if you don’t normally use grams.
Grind the hard and soft wheat berries in your grain mill. I of course use my WonderMill.
In order for the æbleskivers not to be too dense sift the flour twice. Use a very fine sift to ensure as much of the bran as possible is left behind. I use this one. Save the bran that was sifted from the flour to use later in, for example, your cereal to give you extra bran.

Mix together the sifted flour, sugar, baking soda, cardamom and lemon zest. Then mix it together with the buttermilk.  Finally add one egg at a time to the mixture. I use a blender for quick and easy mixing.

Heat the æbleskive pan. It needs to be very warm. When it is warm enough add Crisco to each hole in the pan (I don’t usually like using Crisco or other fats like this, but your æbleskivers really will not turn out right if you don’t use it).

Fill each area in the pan with 2/3 dough. The æbleskivers need to be baked with even heat and need to be turned before the dough becomes too stiff (you may want to turn the heat down to medium/medium high after the pan is heated up to ensure they don’t burn).  This step might take some trial and error as you make it the first time. Either way, the first round usually doesn’t turn out as good as the following ones. Once you get the hang of it, it is pretty easy.  Each æbleskive takes about 5-6 minutes to bake (2-3 minutes on each side).

The most common way to eat æbleskiver in Denmark is with jam and powdered sugar. This may not be the most healthy of treats (but it must be more healthy with 100% whole wheat flour, right:)) but they are very YUMMY.

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Friday, September 7, 2012


This past weekend we went camping with the Lays. We had a wonderful time relaxing and hanging out. Thanks for a great weekend!

the wave

love their facial expressions...
michael doing his thing...