Sunday, June 16, 2013


I have so enjoyed writing this gluten-free blog.
Thank you so much for following along!
But because we moved to Brazil, I moved over here:

You can click here for a little video of why in the world Brazil!
Would love to have you continue with us on this journey.

Friday, April 5, 2013

mãos abertas: open hands

TIME magazine just published the poll: Where would you most like to move?
Gallup surveyed more than 500,000 people in 154 countries. They projected it onto the world's population for these stats:
US - 138 million
UK - 42 million
Canada - 37 million
France - 31 million
Saudi Arabia - 29 million

So...why in the world are we moving to Brazil?

When we finished our house renovation 2+ years ago, I wrote:
Oh, how I want my life to be so much more of this! Not redoing another house, but investing in something that will outlast these four walls. One great day this will all pass away when the ultimate Before and After returns {Revelation 22.12}...May the pictures of this earth never outshine the beauty that is to come!  And, may the award we are seeking be for the honor of the One named Faithful and True, the King of kings, Lord of lords {Revelation 19}...Thankful for the chance to be involved in His restoration project. This house may look nice. But it is worthless if it is not used as a tool to invest in our true home

We have always prayed that would be true. We are followers of Jesus - our hope, salvation, King, friend. But many don't have this choice. They couldn't trust in Him even if they wanted to. They have never heard. Before we were ever Mr. and Mrs., we had the desire that our lives would play a role in telling the nations of our Savior. 

12+ years ago, we said "I do." We merged our lives and plans and ambitions into one grand adventure...together. We put on rings and updated our passports. Months turned into years, doors closed and others opened, kids were added and hairs have been lost, diagnoses have come and gone. We have learned to be content and rooted here. Believing that while we are here, we will be all here: equipping, sending, praying, telling. We have become friends with dear people from all over the world right in this town. But our desire has never changed. What good is hope if it isn't shared? How will they ever hear? 

And now, what has been brewing in our hearts for years continues to unfold into more plans than dreams, steps than stirring. This is the part where the details of what brought us to this point used to seem much more relevant than they are now. All those circumstances that left us scratching our heads, wondering why faded somewhere along the way. Somehow God used all that to awaken a willingness and passion to go where He leads. To have open hands.

Last fall, Andy was contacted about teaching at a New Tribes Bible School in Brazil that trains pastors and missionaries (to go to the unreached). We were considering this in prayer. But before we talked, I wanted to process logistics. Sitting in Starbucks, I opened up my notebook to think through pros and cons. But all that welled up in my mind was the sadness of leaving our family, friends, church, school, house... Then the fear of the unknowns and loss of comforts set in. I closed my notebook and put down my pen. Was not ready to go there. It was near Christmas, so I opened my Bible to read the birth of Jesus. As I was flipping, an underlined passage stuck out to me. I paused to read it. (That's as normal as I can make this sound. It really happened so fast, but undeniably powerful.) The verse happened to be Jonah speaking in the belly of the whale. After he had come to terms with not wanting to go to Ninevah, he says: 

Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
Jonah 3.8

There were tears.
I never got to that pros and cons list. Didn't need to. 
It was as if God met me right there over that cup of coffee.
And showed me that family, friends, comfort, this house...those aren't wrong. But if that's what I'm clinging to rather than Jesus and where He leads, then they have become idols. And I am missing it. It goes on to say:

But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to You.
Jonah 3.9

These steps require sacrifice. Not just for us and all the changes to come. But for those we hold dear. Those who speak love and support as they blink back tears. I feel their pain, the anticipation of the loss of years and memories. But I believe He is gracious. He who calls is faithful. And this is not all there is!

One Day, He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain...I am making everything new! He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
Revelation 21

Whether we are here or there, the goal does not change. 
We just want to live our days with this Day in mind. To make the most of this life. Because the End is only the beginning.

To join us on this journey, you can follow along here:
If you are interested in receiving email updates, you can write us at and we will add you to the list.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

grain-free scones

Crazy how some things just become routine. Back-scratches before bed, gum before church, after-dinner summer walks. In our house, Saturday mornings are some of the most predictable hours of our week…kids wake up and fend for themselves until parents appear downstairs. Then we start a whole house clean-up, followed by scones and tea. 

The next part is not quite Saturday morning cartoons, but is already ingrained as what should happen on a Saturday morning. Somehow this has become completely normal.
Blog, meet our pet python. The boys named her Sweetie-Pie. You can call her Sweetie, for short. 
{I know...crazy!!!} 
No, I don’t like snakes. I sang for years: I would do anything for love, but I won't do that. Yet, somehow they convinced me. It certainly wasn't their reasoning: Mom, pythons aren't poisonous. It's *just* a constrictor. But, I love my boys. So, we have a snake...for now :) She eats on Saturdays. After we finish our scones, the boys pick up a mouse. Sometimes neighbor kids come to watch Sweetie strike and snack. We call it our DIY nature channel.

One Saturday morning I was out of my gluten-free flour mix and stumbled on this recipe using almond flour. I hesitated, until I remembered how much we like these muffins that are simply almond meal. So, I gave it a whirl. They were gone so fast that I made them the next day. And the next day. Etc. After
making them 3 times in a week (and many more times since then), it’s time to share.

In case you haven't completely lost your appetite, 
here is my new go-to recipe for Saturday morning scones.

Grain-Free Scones
2 cups almond meal/flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup mini dark chocolate chips
½ cup unsweetened toasted coconut
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 egg
2 tablespoons honey
Optional (but optimal): 1/2 cup powdered sugar, tiny bit of milk

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, cranberries, chips and zest. In a smaller bowl, combine egg and agave. Mix wet ingredients into dry. 
Knead dough with hands if necessary to ensure proper distribution of ingredients. Form dough into a circle that is about ½-inch in thick. Cut circle like a pizza, into 8 slices. 
Using a metal baking spatula transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes. Optional (but optimal): Make a glaze from powdered sugar and milk to drizzle over scones. 
Recipe adapted from Elana's Pantry.
There are endless possible variations. 
1. White Chocolate-Cranberry: Omit coconut. Add ½ cup cranberries. Substitute ½ cup Ghiradelli white chocolate chips for mini chocolate chips. Add a few drops of almond extract to the glaze.
2. Blueberry Crumble: Omit chocolate chips, coconut, and orange zest (although lemon or orange zest would be delish in this too). Add 1 cup fresh blueberries after mixing wet into dry ingredients. Top with mixture of: ¼ cup coarsely chopped nuts, 2 T. almond meal, 1 T. maple syrup, 1 T. melted butter, pinch of salt. 
3. Vanilla Chai: Omit chocolate chips, coconut, and orange zest. Add contents from 1 bag of chai tea and ½ cup Ghiradelli white chocolate chips. Add ½ t. vanilla extract to the glaze.
We mix it up alot...
‘Cuz we wouldn’t ever want to be too predictable.
Like this morning? We scrapped it all to cheer on this guy!
(We hardly ever get a pic of just the 2 of us, and I do bunny ears?! 
Guess I've been hanging out with kids too long. I couldn't resist :)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

It will be 3 years in July that the celiac diagnosis came and I had to go completely gluten-free. I truly believe if you can do 2 weeks gluten-free, you can do it for life. I found 2 weeks-worth of GF meals our family would eat. Then, wrote a little list of items to learn how to crust, muffins, scones, doughnuts, chocolate cake, and chocolate chip cookies. You know, the essentials. Taking gluten out of the American diet is not exactly cake. It has taken many recipe-fails before finding GF replacements.
Chocolate chip cookies have been the hardest for me to figure out. I have tried various recipes, and some of them were itty-gritty messes. Others were fine. But nothing like these. I'm pretty sure the Hallelujah Chorus was playing when these came out of the oven
So because I care about you, I share. Everyone needs a homemade chocolate chip cookie in their life, even if it has to be gluten-free.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies 
1 1/4 cup GF flour blend*
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, room temperature
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
*GF Flour Blend: I use a blend of 4 cups brown rice flour, 1 1/3 cup potato starch, 2/3 cup tapioca starch

With an electric mixer, mix the softened butter and peanut butter together until thoroughly blended. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Then mix in the egg, honey, vanilla, and sour cream until combined. Add the GF flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, and the salt. Beat on low until just combined. Gently stir in the chocolate chips. Chill dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or the freezer for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Once ready to bake, roll dough into 1" balls and place onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9-10 minutes, or until cookies begin to turn a light golden brown and crisp up around the edges. Do not overbake! They will firm up a bit more. After removing from oven, let them cool on the cookie sheet for 3-5 minutes. I like to sprinkle the cookies with sea salt. Transfer to a plate to cool.
{Cue the Holla-lujah Chorus}

And hey, it's March!! Time flies and my husband now has a beard.
Where have we been? Well, you probably know...
I miss writing here more regularly. This last year may have been less about recording memories, but it has abounded with opportunities to make and live them. We are so very thankful for those who grace our days. For boys who still ask us to play. For this journey with my love, come what may. 
...but honestly? the only words that really matter?
are the ones I live.
Ann Voskamp 
This has been a truly precious season. Not that we have it all together. Many days I still feel so amateur. The constant tug of balance and priorities. Figuring out what and how to let go. But we're living it. Not escaping, but facing it hard and head on. As loud and messy and crazy as it may be, today is such a gift. And we can trust the Giver. Sometimes all it takes is a step outside to realize.
The heavens tell of the glory of God. 
The skies display His marvelous craftsmanship. 
Day after day they continue to speak; 
night after night they make Him known. 
Psalm 19.1-2

Friday, January 25, 2013

stain remover

I'm back, peeps.
I have way too many recipe-I-owe-you's out in my name. 
So, I have a bit of catching up to do...
the perfect gluten-free chocolate chip cookie {finally!!}
grain-free cranberry orange scones
gluten-free grilled name a few.

But this recipe is one our family uses everyday.
We dig for worms. 
We fish. and river-stomp. and dance in the mud. 
We savor popsicles in the sun until they melt all over our clothes.
We slurp watermelon so juicy it runs down our arms.
We pack up hot chocolate and hike and snack in the woods.
We paint.
We climb trees. And roll down hills.
We play hard.
And we use lots of stain remover.

I think we go through it by the gallon in the summertime. 
Which is why I started making our own, for just pennies, to keep up with all the boys at play.

Homemade Stain Remover
2 parts hydrogen peroxide*
1 part Dawn dishwashing liquid
Mix the two ingredients in a spray bottle. An old "Shout" bottle works well. 
*Hydrogen peroxide, H2O2, becomes diluted to water and oxygen when exposed to light, hence the brown bottle it comes in. My smart older chemist brother taught me this. So, be sure to use an opaque bottle.

We have put it to the test - mud, coffee, ketchup, marker, soy sauce, paint, hot chocolate...It has removed them all.

Because life is too short to stay clean all the time.

Life is also too short for me not to write about more than what we use for a stain remover. Writing down this recipe for how to clean ourselves up on the outside reminds me all too much of the stains we keep on the inside. No matter how clean we may try to make our clothes and our house and our car, we all have been marked with a stain we cannot remove ourselves. There is no formula to wash away our sin. Jesus said trying was like cleaning the outside of the cup when the inside was still filthy. I remember the moment when someone offered me a drink, then pulled a dirty styrofoam cup out of their unwashed dishes and filled it with water for me. They were extremely poor, so I overlooked the stains to appreciate their gesture. But that doesn't work with God. How is anything less than perfect acceptable before a holy and righteous Creator of all things? 
Do you know what the incredible thing is?! 
He has not left us to clean up ourselves to be "good enough." He has not even asked us to try. He sent a Savior. 
We have a whole holiday set up to celebrate this remarkable Gift. 
{Merry belated Christmas, btw. Happy New Year too! Sorry it's been awhile...}
God in flesh. God with us, Jesus
Who lived a perfect life, died as a payment for our debt, conquering death so that we may have life! Every sin...He has removed them all! This is the part where I want to put exclamation points after every sentence because the more I grasp this, the more it affects my days! It changes who I want to be and how I want to spend my time. Because this life is not all there is! 

No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. 
I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow.
Isaiah 1.18 {NLT}

Oh, how I pray you know Jesus. 
There is no greater joy than experiencing His Almighty Love.
Let Him make you whole. 
Let Him wash away your stains forever. 

There is no sin that is a match for His grace.
Timothy Keller, Prodigal God

Saturday, October 13, 2012

well, hello there!

I feel like you deserve an explanation for my sporadic or rather, lack of blogging. First there was teaching preschool, then came summer, and now...well, honestly not sure when I used to blog. I love to write about life, but when writing gets in the way of living, it's time to take a break. 
So, thanks for understanding. And really, thank you for coming back. Even if you saw enough of Ireland, it is sweet of you to check in again :)

Here's a glimpse of what we've been up to:

We savored our summer. 
But, we welcome in fall.
The shifting of the seasons reminds us that He never changes.
I sometimes wonder what I'd do if handed a remote like Adam Sandler. How often would I be tempted to "click" on to the next season of life, to brighter days. Or, can we seek the blessing living this day before us offers.

Lately, I just keep coming back to this
In His presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to 
record the names of those who feared Him and loved to think about Him. "They will be my people," says the Lord Almighty. 
"On the day when I act, they will be my own special treasure. 
I will spare them as a father spares an obedient and dutiful child." 
Malachi 3.16b-17 {NLT}

The way we live today matters. 
Because in all seasons, there is One who remains.
One who has created you, knows you and calls you precious.
He knows what you're facing, and He hears when you call to Him.
Those who fear Him and love to think about Him...They will be my people, says the Lord Almighty. 

His own special treasure...what a promise!

Sunday, September 9, 2012


I never meant for so many weeks to pass without writing. We've been squeezing every last ounce out of summer that we can and I just haven't known when to stop that to sit down and write. So, I hope you haven't minded too much :)

Before weeks turn into months, I just have to share about a little trip we took this summer to meet up with a dear sister of ours. We were there just 4 days, with 2 years to discuss, plenty of beauty to explore, laughs to be had, and much to soak in.
Dublin, Ireland

Wicklow Mountains National Park, Glendalough

Howth, overlooking the Irish Sea

Since this is a "gluten-free blog," I have to give big kudos to Ireland for their wonderful selection of GF foods! Our B&B baked GF bread every morning and scones for afternoon tea just for me. I am overwhelmingly thankful for these pleasant surprises, such as the below restaurant. (GF lemon crepe recipe to come...we're officially addicted :)

So many who would have thought Irish black and white pudding is so very different than it sounds? I am so thankful for this time, for face-to-face conversation with her. But I realize to journey with someone doesn't mean to walk side-by-side for a few days then send them back off into darkness as I return to my cooshy little life. But to labor with them, in the same calling that they have received. For how can we not share the hope we have, if He truly is our only Hope? To labor for them, begging the Light of the world to make His light shine bright in the dark. 

Just 4 days. But things have changed.
I used to feel a little let-down after times like these, after looking forward to it for so long then returning to normal. But something happened on that plane trip home. I was reading Bob Goff's thoughts on the bigger/better game. You know, the game where you start with a small object such as a penny and knock on doors, asking if they have something "bigger" or "better" to trade for your penny. I can't possibly do his thoughts justice to try to explain it all, so here you go... 
Jesus is asking us to play Bigger and Better, where we give up ourselves and end up with Him...He's asking us "Will you take what you think defines you, leave it behind, and let Me define who you are instead?" The cool thing about taking Jesus up on His offer is that whatever controls you doesn't anymore. People who used to be obsessed about becoming famous no longer care whether anybody knows their name. People who used to want power are willing to serve. People who used to chase money freely give it away. People who used to beg others for acceptance are now strong enough to give love. When we get our security from Christ, we no longer have to look for it in the world, and that's a pretty good trade. ~Bob Goff, Love Does

I used to think we had to go somewhere exotic or different for the bigger and better, but now I see He has brilliant and beautiful things right in front of us, if we are willing to do some knocking.
You make known to me the path of life; 
in Your presence there is fullness of joy; 
at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. 
~ psalm 16.11