Why the blog?

I write as the Spirit moves me. I have prayed about what I'm supposed to do with my life a lot. A lot. Writing. Writing is what I believe God is leading me to do. Whether or not He wants me to write for anyone to read is His business. Much of my writing has been therapy for me so maybe I'm the only one who is supposed to read it. So, why the Blog? As a sounding board, a note pad, a place to keep my ideas and thoughts. A place to share and promote my books, and photography. Written prayers, a place to vent. Possibly, even a place for the unknown reader to learn about the love of Jesus.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Obstacles or Opportunities?

This morning I began my run about an hour and a half later than usual even though it was hot and humid outside because it is trash day.  No, I'm not averse to trash trucks or the people who work on them.  It's the bears.  You see, bears have been spotted in and around my neighborhood in the wee hours morning of trash day, the same time of day that I like to run.  Starting a run late is a big deal in Florida, in September, when the humidity is above 85%.  I chose to use the extra time to gett a little extra sleep and do my strength workout.    The bears presented an obstacle that I turned into an opportunity.  

What do you do when faced with an unplanned and immediate decision?  A roadblock or obstacle in your life?  I suppose it all depends on the circumstances.  Does it look like photo on the left or photo on the right?

Mt. Daedun - big obstacle

little pile of dirt - small obstacle

There are basically four things we can do when faced with obstacles, perceived or real.  We can stop and turn around, go around, go over it, or tear it down.

Stopping and turning around may look like giving up, however, it my be God's way of telling you that you are going the wrong way in the first place. Perhaps there is danger on the other side.  Perhaps you aren't supposed to go that way or do that thing now, or ever. 

If the obstacle is perceived as major, but easily dealt with, you might decide to simply go around.  It's not truly a roadblock, only a hindrance. 

I like to see things as opportunities.  In fact I had another opportunity on my run this morning.  While running around one of my favorite parks I came across this sign:

Instead of turning around, I went around the sign and ran up and over the 2.5-foot high pile of dirt and thought, "this looks like a fun training route".  In fact, I went back and forth several times during my sprint repeats.

If you are extremely adventurous and determined and certain of your path, you and I can turn the obstacle into an opportunity to tear down fears and boundaries.

I believe in shifting the paradigm!  Turn those obstacles into opportunities, each and every one of them.  I believe it so much I put it to use today.  On my way home while facing the two 'dreaded hills' that my brain usually whines, "I can't.  Must walk."  I was thinking about shifting the paradigms and saying to myself "obstacle or opportunity" over and over again I decided those dreaded hills were opportunities to change my thinking.  Those hills were opportunities to get stronger, mentally and physically  

Paul, in the book of Romans  (Romans 1:13writes that he desired to go to Rome but he was prevented, by God.  God had other plans for Paul and he recognized it.  Read also the following verses about obstacles and think about all of the ones that Jesus faced, especially when he was tempted by Satan.  What an obstacle that was!  Would have been for me. 

Matthew 17:20 ...Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Isaiah 57:14 14 And it will be said:
“Build up, build up, prepare the road!
    Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.”

Matthew 4

Philippians 4:6  Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Shift the paradigm!  Turn your obstacles into OPPORTUNITY!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saturday's Tips and Treats

What do you do on Saturday?  I usually try to get all my 'chores' done during the week so Saturday can be Fun Day.  Today my husband and I worked in the yard, planted some new flowers in the front beds, then went to my favorite shops for nuts and honey.  Once that was done, I had nothing to do.  When I have nothing to do and I get bored (I get bored pretty easily) I do one of three things 1) walk on the treadmill while watching a movie or TV on my iPad 2) eat 3) get creative in the kitchen.  Truth be told, I usually end up doing all three.  Today, I made pineapple ice cream - (mostly)vegan and dairy-free style. Then I promptly dropped it and splattered it all over the floor!  : (  Before I give you the recipe and a pre-splatter photo I'm going to give a few tips.

Coconut milk:  A while back I was making something with coconut milk.  Only need about a quarter cup.  A week or so later, I needed another quarter cup.  The milk I had transferred to a container in the fridge was smelly and green.  Ugh!  Wasted coconut milk.  I came up with  (what I think) is a brilliant idea.  I have a silicone chocolate mold that I use for my #Runergy bars.  They hold just a touch over 1 tablespoon.  I filled the molds with coconut milk, froze, then stored the cubes in the freezer.  Now, I have pre-measured coconut milk whenever I need it!

Bananas: Do you get frustrated when you buy a bunch of bananas and a short time later before you've had time to mix them in your favorite smoothie or eaten them fresh with peanut butter they've gone too brown and you are so tired of banana bread.  I mean really, how much banana bread will fit in the freezer?  Solution?  Buy a dozen bananas.  Go ahead a whole dozen.  Not the green ones, the ripe ones that no one wants.  When you get home, peel, cut into thirds or fourths then wrap in plastic wrap (tightly).  Put the dozen wrapped bananas in a gallon sized freezer bag and store in the freezer.  Ready for a smoothie?  Pull out a frozen banana.  Making ice cream with avocados and bananas?  Open the freezer and there it is at perfect ripeness.  

Fresh fruit:  When fruit such as blueberries and strawberries, are in season, buy as many as you can haul home.  Get a clean cookie sheet or jelly roll sheet (the one with a short side so they don't fall off).  Put your berries on the sheet, no touching, then into the freezer.  Once completely frozen (for about 4-6 hours) put in a storage container and keep in the freezer.  

You've suffered through my tips so here's your reward:

Pineapple ice cream:
16 ounces of frozen pineapple (you can buy a whole fresh pineapple and pre-freeze like the tip above)
6 cubes of frozen coconut milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c honey or agave 
shredded coconut to taste

Put all except the shreds in a food processor and puree on high until smooth.  No need to wait until the ice cream freezes, it already is!  Garnish with shredded coconut and, if daring, chocolate chips. 

Pineapple coconut ice-cream - dairyfree

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Who's Hungry?

I woke up hungry this morning.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  I've been in the kitchen all day and for some odd reason, the theme is 'green'.  Below are the recipes for Spinach Crackers, Edamame Hummus, and Chocolate Zucchini bread with pumpkin seeds. I also made granny apple chips, but you don't need a recipe, only a dehydrator.  Do you know what tahini is?  

Spinach Crackers:
1 2/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water, plus 1-2 tsp as needed
2 cups fresh spinach
1/4 c raw sunflower seeds

Step 1:  Puree the spinach and water until liquid. Add the sunflower seeds and pulse for a few seconds to grind. (alternatively, chop the seeds coarse separately).
Step 2:  Put the dry ingredients in a bowl then add the wet plus evoo.  Mix then knead the dough until well incorporated.  If the mix is dry, add water a drop at a time until you get a bread-dough consistency.
Step 3:  Roll the dough out on either parchment or a silicone mat. Make it thin as possible not more than 1/8th inch.  
Step 3:  Using a serrated plastic knife (don't cut your mat!) score the dough into squares.
Step 4:  Bake 20 minutes in a preheated 400F oven.  Keep watch and don't burn!  If the sides start to brown, they are done.  If the edges are done but not the center, break off the cooked crackers and bake the center a minute or two more.

Edamame hummus with Spinach crackers

Edamame Hummus
1 cup cooked edamame (I bought frozen then warmed)
1/4 cup tahini*
3 tsp +/- lemon juice (to taste)
1 garlic clove
1 tsp +/1 herb of choice (I used rosemary)
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

Put all ingredients in small food processor and blend until smooth. Chill and enjoy.  If it is too much of a paste, add a few drops of evoo.
* You can also add chopped sun dried tomatoes.  Yummy.  

*tahini - 
2 1/2 c raw, unsalted sesame seeds
3/4 c olive oil

puree until smooth.

One 16 ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
3 cloves of garlic
2 TBS tahini paste
3 TBS line juice
2 TBS red curry paste
1/4 cup plus 1 TBS coconut milk
1 TBS olive oil
salt to taste

Put all ingredients in food processor and blend until very smooth.  Chill.  

Ingredients for Thai Coconut Curry Hummus

Put ingredients into food processor

Enjoy on a Spinach cracker

Chocolate Zucchini bread with pumpkin seeds
This is a take on my other zucchini bread.  Same basic recipe. More chocolate.

3 eggs
1 cup natural applesauce
1 cup raw local honey
2 cups grated zucchini (about 1 large)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats, coarse ground
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped pepitos (raw pumpkin seeds)
1 1/2 cups dark dairy-free chocolate chips
1 TBS espresso powder

Step 1:  put all the wet in a bowl, in order
Step 2:  put the zucchini in a food processor and coarse grind, add pumpkin seeds, pulse for a few more seconds until seeds are coarse ground, pour into dry
Step 3: Coarse grind oats then chocolate chips, add to dry. Add remainder of ingredients
Step 4:  Spray a large muffin tin or mini loaf tray (holds 12) with Pam or other nonstick spray.  Fill 3/4 full and bake for 30 minutes in a preheated 350F oven.  Remove from baking pan immediately and let cool.  If you want large loaf, increase baking time to 45 to 50 minutes.

Chocolate zucchini bread

Granny Smith apple chips

For the apple chips, slice with a mandolin slightly less than 1/8 inch.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and dehydrate for 8-10 hours at 135F.  

BONUS:  Cherry non-dairy ice cream

1 cup coconut milk
2 ripe bananas
2 cups frozen cherries
3 TBS cacao powder

Puree all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.  Pour into a dish and freeze.  It may be a bit 'icy'.  If you like it a bit premier, add half of an avocado.  Just add the avocado anyway, it's really good!  Top with a few dairy-free chocolate chips.  

Dairy-free cherry chocolate ice cream

Monday, September 14, 2015

Another excellent adventure - Japan

Have you ever been walking down the street, minding your own business, when all of a sudden it hits you, "Wow, I cannot believe I'm here!"  In the past 8 years or so I have had several of these "aha" moments.  Looking back on my 50 years on this planet I can see God's hand in every aspect of my life. The good, the bad, the mundane.  God was there orchestrating everything.  Sometimes I took a left turn or a U-turn, but He always got me back on His path.  

Someone once said, and I paraphrase quite a bit here, "You know, it's a good thing that I did what I did to you or you wouldn't be where you are today."  This statement to make the speaker feel good about their actions.  The response is priceless, "Yes, I suppose so.  I've never been happier in all my life than I am right now."  

It is true. Sometimes other people's actions are the catalyst though it is God's response, and how we respond with the love of God that leads us to the point of the "aha" moments.  

Take late August, for example.  I'm doing laundry or something and I receive a text from my husband:
   "Wanna go to Japan?"
   "Looks like I have to go.  Would love for you to come with me."
   "Did you see any hesitation??? Of course I'll go!!!"

My poor husband has to go to Japan.  It's my wifely duty to accompany him, don't you think?

Fast forward to Thursday, September 3rd.  I am walking around Tokyo enjoying the sites, alone, and I stop and simply worship the Almighty.  I'm in Japan!!  How did this happen? Thank you Lord, for all your blessings! 

I agree with everyone who says divorce is bad. Very bad. Don't ever get a divorce.  Sometimes, however, sometimes God has a way of working this to his advantage.  I take that back.  God always has a plan.  He always is working his plan.  Was my divorce part of his plan?  Maybe the question should be - was my first marriage part of his plan? I don't have the answers and I'm not here to start a debate.  I'm simply stating the fact that had my life continued as it was going ten years ago my life and the life of my children would be so different - and not in a good way.  

I'm well aware of the fact that my husband, through God's mercy and grace, changed my life.  I thank him as often as I can.  I've been able to retire from my 'day job' to focus on my writing. I've been able to train and run six marathons in three states.  I've been able to help my children move from student to adult in ways I would not have been.  I've gone to South Korea twice.

Now, I've been to Japan.  

I'm just so eternally grateful that it brings me to tears thinking about all of the 'what ifs', if I had not gotten divorced and remarried such a remarkable man. Sure, sure I would have survived, maybe. Seriously - maybe.  I'm the first person who will tell you that the here and now, this life on earth, is fleeting and the most important thing is being obedient to God's will and knowing the promise of eternity in heaven.  I do not dwell on the chaos of this world, worry about this war or that war or the hurricanes or other disasters.  All I know, know for a fact, is that my life is so much better now than I could have ever imagined and I will shout it from the roof tops - THANK YOU JESUS!!    (Read my book "Lessons Learned from Summer Camp" and you'll understand a little better)  

This blog is about my trip to Japan, however, I had to preface it with my gratitude for being able to go and see God's people and his creation half way around the world.  Japan is a beautiful country with friendly people and good food (if you like seafood).  We only visited Tokyo and Mt. Fuji since our time was limited.  God willing, I'll go again.

Now - sit back, grab some popcorn and view my YouTube videos:  A tour of Tokyo and Hike up Mt. Fuji

Praising the sunrise on Mt. Fuji

Standing on the summit of Mt. Fuji

If you are thinking about taking this hike, I highly recommend Willer Tours.  The entire process from booking to the end of the hike was highly orchestrated and went off without any problems whatsoever.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Psalm 139

Colleen Wait Edits

Colleen Wait Edits

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This YouTube channel was created to add video to my blog.  Read it here:  www.colleenwaitwrites.blogspot.com.  I write about my life, my books, my family, my cats and kids, and of course travel.