Random Acts of Kindness

19 11 2011

Will you help me? I received some really negative news a number of years ago around my birthday. Because of the timing, I was reminded every year when my special day rolled around. In an effort to break that cycle, I decided to try and make my birthday stand for something positive instead. That’s when the idea of “Random Act of Kindness” (RAK it Up!) was born!

What would if we were to start sending our waves of joy into the world by performing simple acts of kindness for one another? What if you were able to reach out and touch someone who is hurting and offer a moment of joy or hope?

My family and friends have been doing this for a number of years now. I ask that they take what they would have spent on a gift and do something nice for someone else. They come up with the best ideas! It doesn’t have to be anything dramatic or involved. Some ideas of things people have done for me over the years:

•Leave flowers on a neighbor’s doorstep

•Visit with residents at a senior living facility

•Guess my weight in pounds and then donate that many pounds of rice to a food pantry (I weighed 300 pounds that year-at least that’s what I told her!)

•Take old blankets and food to an animal shelter

•Make a donation to your favorite charity

•Take a homeless person to lunch

•In a drive through, pay for the order of the person behind you

•Hold open a door for a stranger

•Volunteer to serve holiday meals a shelter

This year it’s time to go big! What would happen if we started a wave of kindness in our communities this holiday season? I challenge you to share this event with all your friends! Get your kids involved! If people ask why you’re doing this, tell them it’s a random act of kindness and ask them to pass it along! Give back in gratitude for the many blessings you have. I promise, you’ll be better off for it! Post and let us know what you did! Your idea might inspire someone else! And thanks for helping me celebrate my day in a positive way! RAK it Up!

Join us on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/events/195149570566610/   Please feel free to share this with your friends!

“Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them” (Matthew 7:12a MSG).


Canine Canophilia

31 10 2011

Happy Birthday, Sadie!  Today you’ve been with me for two years. I saw your picture on Petfinder and with a little encouragement from a friend; I dared to make the long trek to Clovis Animal Shelter to get you. I called the day before to make sure you were still there. “Oh, she’ll still be here” was the reply. I didn’t really get what that meant until I got there. You wouldn’t let me pet you but there was a dear volunteer at the shelter that sat with me for hours and gave me some ideas on how to best work with you. I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time, I just knew there was something about you.

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After I took care of the paperwork, there were four shelter volunteers and one regular customer crying because they were so happy that someone was finally adopting you. It was only then that they shared that their boss was going to make them put you down that week if no one came for you. You had been there over 3 months and because you were so severely shy, no one noticed you. They told me they had all been praying that someone would come to get you, someone without a man in the house since you were especially terrified of any male, someone without kids, because they knew you would do best in a quiet environment. It was only then I knew why I had been prompted to travel so far to get you.

And so we started the journey. Little did I know that God would you use you to teach me so many things. Dog is God spelled backwards, after all. If nothing else, you are a reminder of his unconditional love. I remember how long it took to get you out of the car that night and you found your spot in the guest room between the two beds and you nestled in and didn’t come out for four days. I have never seen a dog able to curl their tail so tightly, but I guess it’s your way of protecting yourself from all the crazy stuff you’ve been through.

You’re a quirky girl that is nocturnal. We’ve had countless episodes but it’s so hard to correct you, because you always wait for me to go to sleep before beginning your antics so I never catch you in the act! The list is countless, but you’ve demonstrated a fondness for leather destruction (2 Coach handbags, 2 leather collars, work gloves), my shoes, friend’s shoes, coffee table books, empty dog food cans, BBQ scrubbers (from the neighbor’s house, yes, that means a corresponding hole in the fence), and a number of various and sundry things, basically everything except toys. You wouldn’t eat, drink, or relieve yourself in front of me and you were silent. We’ve gotten over most of those hurdles, though you are still my quiet little girl. I remember the first time your tail started wagging! I know I freaked you out because I was so excited. Sorry about that! You finally let me hear your voice for the first time a few months ago. You have even started running to me when I get home. That makes my heart smile because I know it’s so hard for you. At first you couldn’t be near me, but now you follow me everywhere. You are awesome on the leash and you love to walk and hike.  

In time, people would come to notice the parallels in our two lives; our mutual love of walking, disappointments in past relationships, quiet natures, shyness, hiding from unfamiliar circumstances, etc. It’s as if God was using you to point out things I needed to work on and heal from. Things we oddly ended up working on together.

That first week, you needed some physical attention. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I went to the local Petco to pick up supplies and saw the grooming salon. I went in and the girls were so kind to offer to work with you late in the day when there were no other animals in the salon. They took such good care of you. They could see the look in your eyes and they went above and beyond to help you.

You were used as a momma breeder dog in a puppy mill situation. You still have your kennel number tattooed on your belly. How many babies did you have? Were you sad when they were taken away from you? So many questions I’ll never have answers for. You were given to a family that neglected you. You still have the scars on your body to prove it. You found your way to the animal shelter and into my home and heart. It took you so long to trust me, but somewhere along the line you got my heart. Not long after getting you, you had a master cell tumor removed, but the margins were clear so we got past that hurdle. Then just a few months ago, the groomers told me they found a lump on you when I came to pick you up.

The groomers were so precious to us; they knew how upset I was with your diagnosis. They took a picture of you, loved you, and gave me a precious card and keychain so that I could always have you with me. We went with a dear friend who is an Veterinary Technician to an Oncologist, Veterinary Cancer Group in Tustin, CA. She thought of all the questions I was unable to ask. Dr. Vancil told us that you had systemic lymphoma, stage IV, with liver and spleen involvement. You were given weeks to live.

We started treatment and you responded well, in fact, your palpable lumps were gone within a couple of weeks of the start of treatment. By week three you were officially declared in remission, though we completed the full course of weekly treatments. Your swelling is gone! You amaze me. Despite being poked with needles every time we go to the clinic, you are still happy to get in the car. It’s like you know they are helping you and you seem somehow grateful. You somehow relaxed even more. Your attitude has brightened just that much more.

I don’t know what the future holds for either one of us, but I do know that even though you are “just a dog” you’ve taught me so many lessons in the past two years.

Wisdom from Sadie

Trust is earned – Day by day.

No matter what life throws at you, be sweet – Beaten up, battered, neglected, no problem. Always be sweet in spirit.

People are inherently kind – People see something in Sadie’s eyes that makes them go out of their way to be kind to her. She has served to restore my faith in people.

Home is a sanctuary – And your bed can be an oasis. I don’t know if it’s because she’s lived so much of her life in a cage, but she snuggles in and bundles up. I love that about her.

Don’t lash out at others – She’s demonstrated the ability to pierce cans with her teeth, and yet she never lashes out at humans or other dogs, even when she’s scared or frustrated.

Live life one moment at a time – Focus on the moment your in, don’t live in the past or the future. Just enjoy the present!

Show off your skills quietly – She’s the best at walking on a lead. She’s definitely been trained, but she never shows off ostentatiously, she lets people figure out on their own just how awesome she is.

Don’t be greedy – When someone offers you a special treat, accept it with gratitude, but don’t snap it up or take more than your share. Always take it respectfully.

You are a special girl, Sadie. My special girl. And I’m so glad you’re with me. Happy birthday, girlie!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” ~Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)


Green Goo Goblin Stew

29 10 2011

No boos for you!Ohhhh my lordie! Is this ever good! No boos around the dinner table for you (if you can get past the whole green thing)!! Your friends will be positively green with envy at your culinary skills! Ramp up the scary and put some roasted fingerling potatoes in the bowl before serving! They look just like scary fingers emerging from the goo!

Seriously, this is a fun stew that tastes similar to a Thai green chili base. It is so flavorful. I got the recipe when I attended a recent cooking demonstration at Native Foods given by Chef Tanya Petrovna. She shows you how to have fun and flavor that is beyond measure. One of my favorite restaurants! I haven’t had much experience with Thai cooking and I was surprised at how easy it was to recreate those flavors at home with her recipe. Soul satisfying green goo!

Try to use organic products wherever you can. Be good to you.

 Ingredients for Paste:

1 Tablespoon coriander seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

½ teaspoon whole black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

1-2 jalapeno, chopped

1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

3 lemongrass stalks, trimmed, finely chopped

2 green onions, chopped

2 Tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger (about a 2” piece)

Zest from two limes

2 Tablespoons lime juice


Ingredients for Goo Stew:

1 cup chopped spinach

2 cans coconut milk (I use light, just make sure there is no sugar in the one you buy)

1 cup water

1 zucchini, medium, sliced in ¼” half moons

¼ pound green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 1” pieces

12 ounce package firm tofu, drained and sliced into ¼“ chunks

1 ½ cups whole cashews (raw, unsalted)

¼ maple syrups (use the real deal, no Aunt Jemima here!)

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon white pepper

1 cup fresh basil (for garnish)

Lime wedges (for garnish)


First, make the green goo paste:

In a small skillet (no oil) hit the coriander, cumin and whole black pepper to toast slightly.

Grind the freshly roasted spices with a mortar and pestle (get creative with a meat tenderizer or something if you don’t have a mortar/pestle).

Add the salt, jalapenos, cilantro, lemongrass, green onions, ginger, lime juice, zest and continue to mash the mix with the mortar and pestle until it becomes a paste. Set aside.  This makes enough paste for a couple of batches of the stew. You can freeze half of the paste for use another day.

 Turn the paste into a stew:

In a blender put in 6 Tablespoons of the paste, 1 cup chopped spinach, and one can of the coconut milk and puree.

In a stock pot, pour in the spinach coconut milk puree, the second can of coconut milks, water, zucchini, green beans, tofu, and cashews and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the maple syrup, soy sauce, and sea salt and simmer for another 5 minutes.

I pureed a few cups of the goo, then added it back to the pot to thicken it up a bit.

Serve over a little rice or pasta and garnish with fresh basil and lime wedges…..and maybe those roasted fingerling potato “fingers”……Boo!  

Get creative! Any green veggies will do in the goo!


This recipe isn’t available in Tanya’s book, but she’s got lots of other great, healthy options. It’s available from:  Native Foods Restaurant Cookbook

Try one of Tanya’s restaurants:  www.nativefoods.com  

Bread is not Boring!

9 10 2011

“I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life.” John 6:47-48   

I had an epiphany while working through my Bible study today that I would love to share with you. It involved bread. It’s always good to study around food, no? It’s probably why I paid attention in the first place…..

There is significance to bread in Scripture. It was used as a staple for nutrition. It was also used as an offering to God in the Old Testament.

In the case of David, we know that when he fled from Saul, he ran to Nod and visited Ahimelech who was fearful of David because he knew of David’s conquest over Goliath. David told him a lie that he was “on a secret mission” for Saul and asked for something to eat.

“Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find.” But the priest answered David, “I don’t have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here–provided the men have kept themselves from women. David replied, “Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenever I set out. The men’s things are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!” So the priest gave him the consecrated bread, since there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence that had been removed from before the LORD and replaced by hot bread on the day it was taken away.” 1 Samuel 21:3-6

During the time of David, bread was offered to God as a way to remind God of the covenant that he made with his people (Israel). This is the “Shewbread” that we see in Scripture. It was placed on the altar, and it was 12 loaves of what is thought to be unleavened bread. It was replaced with fresh bread each Sabbath.  

David was given bread that had been offered to God. There is some meaning to this, it is a reminder to David by God of his commitment and covenant to protect him.

Jesus also used 5 loaves to feed the five thousand.

“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food. Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.” Matthew 14: 13-21

Jesus reminded the disciples and the crowd that he alone is the provisioner of all our needs. He can and will satisfy and sustain us.

  • Five loaves fed David when he fled from Saul.
  • Five loaves fed the 5,000. 
  • Twelve loaves on the altar of the tabernacle as an offering to the Lord.
  • Twelve apostles.
  • Consecrated bread represents the presence of the Lord. It is this bread of the presence that was given to David to remind him of the promise of God.
  • Jesus tells us that he is the bread of life.
  • We use bread during the communion ritual as a reminder of Christ’s body.

In the Old Testament bread is used to symbolize things beyond the obvious of nutrition; the presence of God, unity among a group, wisdom. In the New Testament, bread represents Christ himself, unity of his Kingdom and the Church.

When Jesus tells us that he is the bread of life, he is telling us in short that he is the embodied presence of God. He is wisdom, and unity, and the ultimate nutrition. He alone can satisfy your needs.

Doesn’t that just stir your soul to no end? I hope so! Bread, indeed, is not boring! Grasp at your bread hungrily and greedily….and maybe dip it in a little olive oil and vinegar with some cracked pepper as you do! May it become a reminder of who your Maker is and what promises he has made to us each and every time you have your daily bread.


David: Seeking a Heart Like His  (Beth

Holman Bible Dictionary 

Joyous Joyance

30 07 2011

I’ve been working through a Bible Study by Kay Warren called Choose Joy. We had our final session this past week. The main theme of the study is that joy is less about feelings and circumstances and is more about our thoughts. How we think determines how we feel, how we feel determines how we act. Having joy is a choice we must make. It’s up to us.

Have you ever stood on train tracks on a long straight plane and looked out towards the horizon? Off in the distance the train tracks seem to converge together into one. The main analogy used in the study is that life is like a train track, parallel rails of joys and sorrows. Life is not all sorrow, or all joy. Life doesn’t become complete joy until off on the horizon we come to be in heaven with our Savior. Only at that point do all sorrows melt away.

I should know that when I sign up for these studies, when they catch the attention of my periphery, God has something he wants to teach me. I don’t know why I don’t learn any way other than the hard way!

Since the study, it’s as though God is purposefully giving me opportunities where I have to put my money where my mouth is and make a conscious choice to be joyful. God has broken my heart on several levels of late. My job situation is less than promising, a relationship has come to the end of the tracks, and now this week I’ve learned that my furry friend, Sadie, has the diagnosis of “probable cancer.” That was the last straw for me. I wanted to scream at the vet and say what is “probable cancer”???? She either has it or she doesn’t, MISTER! But I opted for the other response which was to break into the ugly cry in the middle of the exam room. Thank God for assistants with giant boxes of Kleenex on standby.

Here she is, this sweet doggie girl, who is finally coming out of her shell and behaving more or less like a normal dog after all the terror she’s been through. Mess with me God, okay, but Sadie? Come on!

For those of you that don’t know her story, Sadie is a rescue lab that’s had some severe issues. She was used in a puppy mill as a breeder, there’s some physical abuse in her history, and then she had a master cell tumor successfully removed once I got her. We’ve worked through so many behavioral issues and normal dog behaviors are just starting to show. Now they believe she has lymphoma. I was hoping to have some time with her to show her humans aren’t all bad. My heart is broken.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that my first response was to want to yell at God yesterday. Really, God? Really? You want me to choose to be joyful today when you’re putting all these great opportunities in my path? Seriously? You expect me to be able to find joy in all things? Right! Like that’s gonna happen!!! The mistress of sarcasm rears her ugly head once again.

This morning, a dear friend who texts me each morning with a Scripture sent Jeremiah 29:11. We talked about this in last week’s blog how God brings this very verse to me in times of crossroads to remind me that he’s there. Her text this morning read:

“Good morning, praying 4 u this verse is for u “The plans I have for you are plans to prosper you, not to harm you. They are plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)”

This friend would have had no way of knowing about Sadie. I haven’t told many yet. And here she unknowingly allowed herself to be used by God to deliver this message of hope to me today. Thanks for the reminder God. I love you too.

So today I will choose to be joyful. There is a plan even though I don’t understand. My heart is breaking, but I am choosing to be joyful for each and every moment I have with my furry bud. I choose to be joyful for the opportunity to get out of a rut and redefine myself professionally. I am grateful to be blessed beyond measure by the marvelous friends in my life.  There is always joy among the sorrows.

Today, the Petco grooming girls, who have always taken such great care with Sadie, the ones who discovered the lump in her throat, arranged to have her picture taken for me. They dolled her up with the prettiest of bows, had the photo done, then put it in a key chain and a special card that they signed. They did this for me so that I would always have her with me. How precious they are. That just made my heart sing! To know the kindness of people, especially when unexpected, brings me great joy.

There are parallel themes of joy and sorrow running throughout life. I can’t have one without the other. But I do have the opportunity to seek out the joy in every situation. To choose to be joyful! Won’t you join me? What do you have to be joyful about? Post your thoughts in the comments section below!

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” James 1:2-3 (NASB)

P.S. If you’d like more info on the study by Kay Warren, daily video lessons are available by visiting http://kaywarren.com/ and signing up for the “Choose Joy” Devotional Videos. You’ll receive one a day via email for thirty days.

Luscious Lavender

20 06 2011

Luscious Lavender

Recently, I’ve become obsessed by the scent of lavender. So much so that I’ve recently attended a festival devoted to the plant and now have far too many products in my arsenal. I love the nearly intoxicating scent and found a passion in trying to create the perfect lavender lemonade which I’m sipping as I type.

The hummingbirds regularly buzz by the lavender plant outside my office window. I can see them drink up the nectar every morning  flitting about with a happily intense persistence. Do you ever wonder why God created certain plants or flowers? That got me wondering!

Learning Lavender –

Lavender is mentioned in the Bible under the pseudonym spikenard. (I know, I prefer the name lavender, too) Although there is some controversy on the exact origins, we can still learn something from the mention of the spikenard plant in the quintessential Old Testament romance dance Song of Solomon. Solomon, the lover, speaks “While the king was at his table, my perfume gave forth its’ fragrance” (v1:12). An intoxicating scent this lavender. Enough to set a king on fire!

Holman Bible Dictionary defines spikenard as “a very expensive spice used in making perfume.”  There are also ties to Syrian origins of the lavender, or nard, plant in Greek writings from which we can deduce that the plan was present in the Mediterranean region.  It has been used for antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and according to legend it is meant to soothe and relax. I can attest to that as I add a few drops of the oil into my bath.

The essential oil was extracted from the buds of the plants and was then stored in alabaster boxes in which they were kept for special occasions; Blossom elixir.

We are provides with another poignant reference to spikenard in the New Testament. Mark 14:3 recounts, “While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head.” (NASB)

We are reminded that Mary used this expensive perfume to anoint Jesus at the home of Lazarus in Bethany as well. “Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 12:3 (NASB)

The Bible gives us two examples where this spikenard, this expensive lavender perfume, was used to anoint Jesus. It was poured over him as a sort of offering, to denote him as an honored guest.  It would have been a very costly offering for someone in Biblical times. Solomon uses talk of lavender to express his love as a garden in bloom. The women poured out the nectar of the blossoms as an act of devotion.

It is a beautiful reminder of how God’s word uses the world around us to illustrate points. God is love. God is the Creator of the world.  I am guilty of moving through my day and taking simple things for granted. Here is a beautiful plant outside my window that has been there for years waiting to teach me this lesson. Lavender. While I certainly balked at the $20 price tag on the 10ml bottle (sans alabaster…) the bottle I just purchased (as the clerk cited “it’s organic” as though that should make all the difference in the world!) at the lavender festival, it was not a month’s wages as it would have been for Mary or the unnamed woman.

Lavender provoked inquiry of self. Am I pouring out my best for Christ? Am I storing up my best for honored guests? Or do I hoard that for my own selfish desires?

 Jesus recognized the sacrifice of these two women as acts of devotion.  What acts of devotion are you equipped to pour out to God? What nard equivalent is in your arsenal and are you prepared to pour it out in affection and commitment to your Savior?  Literal or figurative is no matter, let the reminder stand.  

Literally Lavender –  

Think about pouring out a little lavender to your next guest of honor…..

Lavender Lemonade


6 organic lemons

1 cup organic sugar (or ¾ cup agave nectar)

6 cups of filtered water

2 teaspoons of organic culinary-grade lavender buds

 Directions: Peel the rind from lemons with a vegetable peeler or sharp knife and place the strips in a glass bowl. Add the sweetener and allow this to sit for a time, at least an hour. Boil the filtered water and add to the bowl. Add in the lavender buds. Cover the bowl with a plate and allow it to sit for about 20 minutes. Then juice the lemons and add it into the bow. Remove the rind and lavender and strain the liquid. Allow it to cool slightly and then put it in the container of choice and chill in the refrigerator.  When the guests arrive, add some ice and maybe a lavender stalk for garnish. Intoxicating! Makes about 6 cups