For whom the bell tolls.

The monk by the sea

Will there ever be relief? My suffocated heart, a weathered compass, blindly guides me into the radical-ness of this storm. Salt water on my tongue, salt water in my troubled eyes. It is salt water who grips me, grieving me endlessly. To be body-less in its entity would be escapism beyond my reach. To morph myself- I the water, the water I. Perhaps with a systematic grace and grit, a southern kind of graciousness this north western girl could mimic. Yet I hear in the distance the ringing of a bell, for whom does this bell toll? Is it for me? I whisper. Emptied of all control.

Photo credit: Caspar David Friedrich – Der Mönch am Meer

Roasted Tomato, Spinach & Basil Pasta

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This dish is found from a great vegan cook book called ‘from Plant to Plate.’ We have made a few things from here, but this seems to be a family favorite or at least my favorite go to when I am clueless as to what to make for dinner. I like to serve it with Thug Kitchen‘s Almond Caesar Salad.

Roasted Tomato, Spinach & Basil Pasta

Ingredients:

4-5 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

2 Tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1 Tablespoon avocado oil

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped

8 ounces quinoa pasta

1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (optional)

How To Play:

Preheat oven to 400. Toss the tomatoes with oil, garlic, and salt. Spread the coated tomatoes on a foil lined roasting sheet and roast until the tomatoes are shriveled and lightly browned, about 20-30 minutes. Once they have finished roasting, scraped the tomatoes and juices into a large bowl. Add the spinach and sun-dried tomatoes to the bowl.

While the tomatoes are roasting, prepare pasta according to package directions. When the pasta is ready, drain it and toss with the spinach, roasted tomatoes, and basil. To finish serve with toasted pine nuts and serve.

Thug Kitchen’s Almond Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons

Ingredients:

SALAD
1/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1/3 cup hot water
1-2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tbs. capers
1 head of your lettuce of choice, chopped
Handful of Homemade Croutons

CROUTONS
1/2 loaf day-old bread (enough to make 5 cups of cubes)
3 tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 tbs. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. salt

How To Play:

For the croutons:
1. Turn your oven on to 400.

2. Cut the bread into bite-sized cubes, about 5 cups worth.  In a big bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and mix.  Add the bread pieces and mix to make all the pieces get covered.

3. Pour evenly onto a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through to make sure it doesn’t burn.  Serve right away or keep in an airtight container in the fridge.

For the salad:
1. Put the almonds in a glass with the hot water and let soak for about 15 minutes.  In the meantime, chop the garlic.

2. When the almonds start to feel soft, put them in a food processor or blender with the water they soaked in as well as the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and vinegar.  Blend until there are no large chunks of almond and it begins to look creamy.  Add the capers and run again for 5 seconds.

Enjoy!

 

 

You won’t see me fall apart.

My mind was so full when I ran this morning…and then this song came on my playlist. It is funny how songs can be the beginning of a bigger picture unintentionally.
I remember being fond of it when I first heard it and that was about it. However, today I am almost lost my breath because of the tears that began to run down my face
as I ran harder and harder and faster and faster inadvertently. Fear has a way of arousing and complicating things. Somethings that are good, as well as things that aren’t so good.
As this song played and I lost absolute concentration with my breathing, I realized, fear won’t break me. It can’t. I don’t want to live like I can’t trust anyone anymore.
I just refuse for this to haunt the way it likes to do.

Immune Boost.

 

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In this season of chill….this is the greatest juice to rid those nasty flu like symptoms. The cayenne pepper gives it a nice kick. I am all about kicks…maybe it stems from my early years of kickboxing, either way, this is a nice juice to spar life with a partner you love.

His and Hers: Immune Boost Juice

Inspired by Kris Carr

Ingredients:

4 Large carrots

2 Navel Oranges, peeled

½ inch piece of turmeric root

Pinch of cayenne pepper

How To Play:

Wash and prep all ingredients. Juice all ingredients,  and sprinkle with a pinch of cayenne pepper

Note: If possible, try to use all organic ingredients to protect the body from unwanted toxins.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

Vegan Reuben.

Lunch

Reuben sandwiches have been a personal favorite of mine since I was a young child. Across from the Value Village in Langley, there used to be a bistro named Patsy’s Uptown Bistro and they had the ultimate reubens ever! I used to eat it with a New York Seltzer Rootbeer…sheesh, hello 1980’s! This particular reuben isn’t like the ones I ate as a child or like the ones I ate habitually when pregnant with our daughter, but this is the one we have been eating since Sean has radically changed everything about the way he eats. This reueben pairs well with a little extra sauerkraut, a few slices of pickles, and homemade fries….yummy….but don’t forget to some greens to the mix!

Rueben Sandwich

Inspired by: Thrive Energy Cookbook.

Ingredients:

2 Thick slices sprouted bread (Silver Hills)

Virgin Coconut oil

1 to 2 tbsp Reuben dressing (see below)

1 tsp organic stoneground mustard

¼ cup Daiya cheese, mozzarella style

¼ avocado

4 slices tempeh, or tofu grilled each side for 2-3 minutes

3 large red onion rings (optional)

1/3 cup sauerkraut

1 small handful organic spinach leaves

2 large pickles, quartered, for garnish

 

How To Play:

Press the bread slices together and lightly spread some virgin coconut oil on the outsides. Cook in panini press (or oiled skillet) on medium high until golden and lightly crisp.

Pull the slices apart. Spread Rueben dressing on the untoasted side of one slice. Arrange the cheese on the other untoasted side of the other slice of bread, covering the entire surface. The heat of the toast will melt the cheese….

Arrange the avocado, tempeh, and onion rings over the Reuben dressing, then top with sauerkraut, baby spinach, and the top slice of bread. Cut the sandwich in half diagonally and serve with pickles.

 Reuben Dressing:

½ jar Wildwood Zesty Garlic Aioli (or homemade)

1 tbsp finely chopped chives

1 ½ tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 ½ tsp organic ketchup

1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp prepared horseradish

1 tsp agave nectar (I used maple syrup)

Pinch of freshly ground pepper

How To Play:

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Whisk together until smooth and creamy.

Enjoy.

 

Deep waters.

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It is unfortunate a month goes by and the words and motions that I have gone through are trapped underneath the blankets of every smile, kind gesture, innocent prayer, loving embrace, and unimaginable compassion given to us by so many. Perhaps trapped is not the best word to use, but these very things have indeed been stored deep inside my heart, protecting, encouraging, and equipping me. There have been hours in which I have had Mahalia Jackson playing throughout my house while sobbing at the kitchen sink. There have been moments when in the shower I have burst out in tongues, praising God for His goodness despite not understanding the reports or the results in our hands. As I have layed on the hard tiles of our floor, and stared aimlessly, praying my children to never find me in such a place of vulnerability, absolute loss, or in a state of complete devastation. There have been times of such darkness in which I prayed for the Rescuer to rescue, the One who guides to just guide.

It was July 24th, exactly four months ago we found out it was cancer and three weeks later told it was not only a large mass in the colon, but had spread to the liver and the lungs making it stage IV colon cancer.

After getting off the phone with our naturopath, I stared out the kitchen window and realized that life was going to be forever different. A movie I would have turned off or a television show I would have switched. In life, we can’t turn it off nor can we switch it. We just do it. As I looked down at my hands, I took a mental photograph of them, for they were going to experience a new way of life, as well. Chopping, juicing, beet and carrot stained side effects, only one in a place of transition can get. Sean came down the stairs and I looked at him from the kitchen sink and told him what Mrs. Ewing had said. She said, “Until we are able to see him, juice vegetables, minimum fruits, mostly greens, go vegan, stay away from sugar and anything processed.”

Morning juice, afternoon juice, snack juice, dinner juice, evening juice, something just because juice, we juiced like crazy the first three months. Sean began to lose weight, but this was solely because he was no longer stopping off at Tim Hortons for a large double-double with Timbits or at the 7 eleven for a Coke is it and a package of superior Joe Louie’s. His skin began to clear, his energy levels completely changed, and his eye whites were whiter than I had ever seen them to be. He began to grow hair on his face, which was thick and bristly, and hair began to grow thick on his legs and lower back. What was happening? In absolute amazement of these sudden changes taking place in his body in only two months, we thought for sure his body was on the road to healing. We met with the cancer clinic oncologist who didn’t seem too concerned about his new found energy, happy spirit, or furry body, but more interested in getting him on the highest dose of chemotherapy right away and having an appointment to have a port put in his body. Two years. With chemo, he would only have two years. Um. This didn’t really seem to make any sense to me. Was I sad? No. In shock? No. I believed God was in control and leading us somewhere, but not too sure of where. We told the oncologist we were going to be doing an integrated approach with natural medicines as well. He right away shook his head and couldn’t understand why we would spend such money on things not proven to help extend a person’s life, when all the chemo and drugs were free. After much more blood work, Sean’s numbers were showing the cancer was aggressive and the doctor from Integrated Health phoned recommending he begin the vitamin C Intravenous treatments that day, so he did.

September 22nd Sean had his port installed. It was a crazy day. I remember feeling queasy about what was going to be surgically placed in his body. To this day, I still have no idea what it looks like or how it functions, because just the thought of it causes my legs to go numb and I want to faint. SO….the next day was his three hour stint of chemo. He was quite sick and vomited throughout the process, while a woman beside him having chemo too ate a chocolate bar. Sean walked home to a mess. A dishwasher was being installed and one problem after the next, the kind gentleman didn’t leave our house until quite late. We ended up ordering in food. Sean was able to eat toast and miso soup, but weakly made his way up to our room to sleep with his chemo baxter bottle hooked up to him, pumping faithfully every hour into his body. The next few days were absolutely insane, no in fact, the next few weeks were the most difficult I have ever endured. Do I remember them? Yes. I have a photographic memory, but what my memory chooses to remember is another thing. I remember the mouth like Cameron Diaz’s on the “substitute” doctor as she showed kindness to Sean when after two rounds of chemo saying she recommends he takes a break from chemo to get his mind right. He was unrecognizable spiritually to me and emotionally. Physically he was my corpse husband barely holding on to anything, but the blanket around his body. I remember the smell of the hospital entrance and the hand sanitizer that only draws be back to any previous times of entering a hospital and the nameless faces of those of hopelessness waiting in the room with us, as if we were all cattle going in for the slaughter. I remember the sounds of my shoes walking in the changing of the season. The dewy sound of my distressed oxfords as they hit the pavement and the squishing of soggy leaves that had fallen from the night before. The driest summer to be recorded, fall was welcomed with a faint embrace. My sister and I had joked how it was such a summer of sadness and shortly before hand Sean had preached that last year was such a time of death for us, with so many loved ones passing, that this year was going to be a year of life. I began to question this with his diagnosis. However four months later, we have experienced more life than we have ever in the last 10 years we have been married. There has been a unity in which man made strength could not possess. We have been blessed by a community we have loved, but have never known how love expresses itself in such a mosaic kind of way. The love of God, the love of man, the love of a brother, a sister, a stranger, has reshaped our whole way of thought and existence. This love is bringing life and healing in areas where there was no life or health. After one bad report of the next, I began to wonder if I was experiencing -on an incredibly small scale-post-traumatic stress disorder. I could not handle one more report; I could not face whispering one more prayer of hope, or anticipating the words that were going to spill out of the doctor’s mouth after he took a deep breath with a report of some sort of Sean’s in his hands giving a finite prediction of his timeline.  I really couldn’t handle the thoughts that raced through my head and swallowed me whole as I drowned in endless negative reports and contradictions of what I believed to be truth.

But Jesus, He does things in ways that benefits us and gives Him the glory. There has been a mirage of events, God happen chances in the last months in which I am endeavoring to record, for it is important for us to not forget His benefits, however the decisions we have chosen together to make, make sense for us. We are seeing results that are bringing hope and faith and our belief still remains the same, that there is a bigger picture. What that looks like, we don’t know yet, however, what we do know, is God’s hand is at work and we continue to remain His humble servants doing all things unto Him. His promise says when we go through deep waters, He will be with us. As we go through rivers of difficulty, we will not drown. When we walk through the fire of oppression, we will not be burned up; the flames will not consume us.

 

 

 

I will not be moved.

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I imagine if I proclaim, declare, or out rightly profess there is a hope unshakeable, a truth undeniable, and a power unquenchable, a few eyebrows would rise and the scribble from the pen on the paper to remind the oncologist how foolish I am later that night as he reflects back on his hum drum day, where one report after the next is negative and where one ounce of hope is snuffed out with fact, and one miraculous word is coughed over with a big old fashioned hogwash that I be the wife full of mullock. But I am saying, it is happening day by day, hour by hour and one long minute after the next. My head has pounded the wall more than I would like for it to have. My fists are bloody from pounding the ground and my knees…absolutely seized. I am not as agile as in my youth. Oh my youth. Again, and again, I am looked down on as a foolish youth, but my youth like faith is just how I want it to remain: unshakeable, undeniable, and unquenchable. I can be hot headed, arrogant, and rather crazy, but I refuse to be moved by man’s word. I want only to be moved by His word.

Rescuer, rescue.

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I close my eyes and the instant spiral of despair grasps me close. These arms are familiar. This chest I rest my head and burrow myself into is an old acquaintance, one who I knew well. Depression has no face, it only has a body that carries and holds close, tightly, so tight there is little room for breath. Is this the road I really want to go down again? My mind is exhausted and my heart is bothered. I can’t watch the slow motion picture before me. It is gruesome, haunting, and dark. I reach my hands up and I scream, to be held back by sincere spectators, but there is no time, the destroyer is destroying. We were told this would happen, but I can’t sit still and accept. I can’t stand tall to conform, to compromise, or to even obey if it goes completely against everything I believe or know to be true. For now, I hide inside this blue hurricane’s tempest and cover my eyes in this familiar shadow’s pain, until my Rescuer does only what He can do.

Image Credit: Goose Girl at Gruchy, by Jean-Francois Millet