Best ever whole wheat dinner rolls 

I haven’t tried to “healthify” these like I do most recipes. I don’t make them that often so I make them exactly like the recipe and save them for a special treat. 

  • 2&1/4-2&3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon (or 1 package) active dry yeast. (Not instant)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup real butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 beaten egg

I use my Kitchenaide stand mixer for this. 

Stir together 1&1/4 cup all purpose flour, and the yeast in a mixing bowl. 

In a saucepan, stir together milk, honey, butter, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Heat just until warm, about 120 degrees. (If it gets hotter than that, add an ice cube to cool slightly. If this mixture is too hot it will kill the yeast. If it is not hot enough it won’t activate the yeast. This is the trickiest part.)

Add the milk mixture to the flour and yeast mixer. Add the beaten egg. 

Beat on low for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Beat on high speed for three minutes. 

Return to low speed. Here I stop and switch the batter hook for the dough hook. 

Add the 1 cup of wheat flour and the remaining white flour as needed to make a dough that is smooth and elastic. (Remove from mixing bowl and use hands if needed.) 

Place in a greased bowl, cover with a light cloth, and let rise until double. About an hour. 

Punch dough down. Divide in half and place on lightly floured surface. Let rest 10 minutes. In the meantime, lightly grease a 9X13 pan. 

Take each half of dough and divide into 12 pieces. Roll into balls and place into prepared baking pan. 

Cover and let rise again for about 25-30 minutes. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Brush tops with butter when you remove them from the oven. 

Try not to burn your hands and your mouth when eating immediately. 

Enjoy! 

The tension of grief and joy

“Making the decision to have a child — it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
I have found this quote from Elizabeth Stone to be true wherever your child might be walking. 


On golden streets…


Or grassy yard..

Yesterday our first born would have been 9 years old. Instead of an elaborate birthday party, we went to her now moss-covered grave and read a story about the Invisible String (by Patrice Karst) that keeps us connected no matter where we are. 

There were tears. There was laughter. There was a particular gift in sharing the day with a young child living their own grief. Sometimes spoken, sometimes without a word, we danced the sacred rhythm of grief and joy and were reminded that the depth of our grief is a testament to the depth of our love. 

Together we found there was much to celebrate about the ones we were missing. And we gave thanks for the invisible string of love that connects us all. 

“Mothering is to teach the art of living to children.” — Elaine Heffner

It is this mother’s joy and challenge to teach the art of living in the tension of present and hereafter, to live with purpose, intention, and to instill eternal values. To model (so clumsily most of the time) the calisthenics of a full life balancing sorrow and hope, grief and joy. 

“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” –Anne Lamott

Anguish, Bitterness, Hope

Words stir deep within, swirling up to my head, but I have been unable to type or speak them.

A friend calls, crying, concerned about a loved one’s recent diagnosis. Another texts memorial service information for a small child. At church, we gather around a prayer quilt to speak words of hope and healing for a teenager facing a threatening illness. A friend’s marriage is falling apart. The news is reporting speechless acts of violence and terror.

This is just in one day. I am just one person.

To imagine that all around the world there are people in homes and hospitals pleading for more moments, begging for second chances, is beyond my ability to comprehend.

suckometer

I’m a firm believer that only light can drive out darkness, but my lamp is flickering from the winds of terror, injustice, violence, and disease.

I turn to stories of believers across the ages, finding solace in their honest confessions of fear, doubt, and unbelief.

“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly.” (1 Samuel 1:10 NIV)

“Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.” (Job 7:11 NIV)

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8 NLT)

The words of Jesus beckon me.

come to Jesus

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)

The soul longs for “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,”  (Matthew 6:10 KJV) and for the time when “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelation 21:4 NLT)

But until then we are here, smack dab in the middle of a messed up, broken, anguished world. I don’t have fancy words. I don’t have a master plan to fix the brokenness, but I hear the Master’s voice soothing, reassuring, comforting: “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 NLT)

May all whose hearts are broken, whose lives are shattered, whose worlds have stopped, know that I and many are collectively weeping for their sorrows and praying for their comfort.

And with their pain in mind, we are trying to be kinder, gentler, more generous to those within our own circle of influence.

change the world

May these words of confession and pardon renew our hope and inspire us anew to share the good news of Christ’s love to all.

Prayer of Confession

(based on John 20: 24-29; Luke 24:36-43)

Wondrous God, we confess that at times our doubts and fears override our hope and faith. Forgive us when we lose sight of the joy of Your love and instead fall into despair and gloom. Lift up our spirits, Lord, and help us to remember the promise of new life here and now, not just the hope of resurrection for the future. We give thanks for Your Son, Jesus the Christ, who continues to offer us new life, who continues to turn us around and upside down, who continues to break down the walls of death in our own life. Forgive us, restore us and renew us. In the name of our risen Savior, Jesus the Christ, we pray. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon

The tomb is empty. The stone is rolled away. There is no darkness now, only light. God continues to renew us and restore us. We are forgiven, loved and restored, receiving the gift and promise of new life and resurrection now. Go and share the wondrous news of God’s love in Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Words of confession and pardon written by Rev. Mindi, and posted on her Rev-o-lution blog. 

Amen.

A perfectly wonderful day 

There are few days that top the one we are wrapping up. Nothing extraordinary happened, but it was full of the things I love most. 

I started by reminding myself where to leave my cares and worries. I prayed, released, and listened as I colored. 

I went to the children’s school for field day and spent several hours there enjoying the company of all sorts of children, teachers, and staff. No pictures though. 

The children and I took a walk/bike ride. I had the baby strapped on my chest and the dog on a leash. We stopped by and said hello to friends. On the way home a puppy wanted to join us. We got him back to his owner and I ended up carrying the smallest bike along with everything else when the youngest bicycler wore out. No pictures from that either. I didn’t have enough hands as it was. 

I made a batch of chocolate chia pudding to celebrate the boy’s A on his practice SOL test. 

I made two batches of rustic cracked wheat bread. I turned one batch into four dozen rolls and one into two loaves. I also made a chocolate cake (plant-based and outrageously delish) to take to the school tomorrow for teachers and staff to thank them for a great year. 

We enjoyed sandwiches with the fresh rolls for supper. 

As I worked in the kitchen, I could see my rose bush out the window. 

There are many days when heaven seems far away, when I truly have to live by faith in spite of questions and the unknown, but today I felt God in the very marrow of my bones. I looked at this rose bush, heard the birds singing and the breeze in the trees, saw the blue sky freckled with fluffy white clouds, and I felt like I could simply unzip the veil between this life and heaven. What a peaceful, hopeful feeling. 

This evening we made a teepee. 

We lit a fire in the fire pit.

And found cloud pictures. Can you see the whale chasing Nemo?


The dog rested from the day’s activities. 

We tucked the children in and listened to them recount our day, sharing their own gratitude for our many blessings. 
It has been a perfectly wonderful day! 

Confessing my insufficiency and resting in Him

How do you do it all, people often ask. How do you balance everything?

I like to be busy, I usually respond, and I have a helpful husband.

But now, I am forced to sit on the sidelines as I wait for my voice to heal. This affects home-life, our non-profit, and my church work. Phone calls are left unmade, conversations are limited, quiet, and careful, contributions to group meetings and  church studies are weighed thoughtfully and shared only occasionally.

I’m becoming impatient. It has been seven months since this situation first presented itself, nearly two since the doctor ordered silence. The root of the underlying drive to do is emerging from the quiet. 

I self-diagnosed  an “insufficient identity.” 

Insufficient means, not enough; inadequate.

I have wrestled with an insufficient identity various times throughout my life.

As a child, I was certain if I had only done more, been more, tried harder, my family would not have been broken. No one ever spoke those words to me, it was a self-imposed notion that made me feel I had some responsibility in the matter and didn’t measure up. I struggled to handle some of the physical work expected of me and loathed when my siblings made it look easy. I was disinterested, and frankly quite terrible, at most of the recreational games we played, and math was an other-worldly language I was incapable of grasping.

Regina 1 Regina 12

 

Never mind that I was a great cook, an engaging writer, and had a gift for memorization at an early age. I was focused on what I wasn’t and how I didn’t measure up to my siblings and peers. I had an insufficient identity.

 

The older I got, the more I overcompensated for the insufficient syndrome that plagued me. My façade became the girl who could do anything. I thrived on doing. I hated the thought of letting people down, of revealing my insufficiency. I cooked here, baked there, volunteered many places, and often as a young single adult I held two or three jobs at one time, because I didn’t want my insufficiency to show.

And still. I was. Insufficient. By human standards I was unbearably so and I knew it more than anyone. 

But then I began to grasp my identity as a child of God. I wasn’t loved based on what I could or couldn’t do, how well I did or didn’t follow the rules. I was loved because I was created in God’s image. Loved because the God of the universe created me for a unique and specific purpose. Loved because of amazing grace. 

It didn’t matter if I was insufficient to myself or others, HE became my sufficiency. There were no games and no façade in this new-found relationship. Just broken messed-up me finding unconditional love and acceptance in a merciful and gracious God. A God who knew my insufficiency full-well and was crazy about me in spite of it.

Rest-in-the-Lord

 

I spent years building my new identity in Christ. I reveled in his goodness and rested in his sufficiency. When my old identity tried to reemerge, I told that voice where to go and how to get there.

 

In the meantime, I continued doing. I continued my much-ness and busy-ness. Only this time, not because it was my identity, but because I can’t help but care for others from whatever platforms I am given. I absolutely love and believe in the ways I have been called to serve.

It is not that (I) think (I am) qualified to do anything on (my) own. (My) qualification (my sufficiency) comes from God. 2 Corinthians 2:5 (Parenthesis mine)

 

rest in god Now here I am, forced to be “not doing,” and the insufficient identity is trying to tell me I’m letting people down; letting my family down, letting my non-profit down, letting my church down.

Resting doesn’t mean not serving. 

 

Rest_0

 

I believe this quiet time is supposed to be a respite for my soul, a realignment of my faith, meant for good and not evil. But once again this insufficient identity is weighing on me and once again I am acknowledging my insufficiency so I can rest completely and confidently in His. 

If you have ever struggled with an insufficient identity, if you are struggling with it now, I invite you to rest with me in the sufficiency of God, knowing that HE is more than enough. Let’s find our identity and completeness in HIM.

Souls are restless quote

 

2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Amen and Amen.

 


Vegan Whole Grain Pancakes with Fresh Berries and Coconut Cream! (With non-vegan alternatives)

If you are not vegan, please don’t let that word scare you from trying this recipe! It is fabulous for all eaters. I’ve also included non-vegan alternatives. 

Ever since we’ve had children I’ve made breakfast for supper one night a week. For the past few months, about ninety percent of the time, our family has been eating a whole foods plant based diet. Pancakes are so easily adapted to plant based recipes and they are one hundred percent fabulous! 

Vegan Whole Grain Pancakes

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (can also use oat or buckwheat flour or plain old white flour)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sucanat or Raw Sugar (of course you can use regular sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (almond/coconut) or just plain dairy milk for non-vegan
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce (or vegetable oil)
  • Chocolate chips for the children (of all ages.)

Mix all dry ingredients together and add the non-dairy milk and applesauce. Stir until incorporated, but not too much. 

Heat a non-stick griddle or skillet to medium-high heat. Drop 1/3 cup of batter into preheated pan. Cook until bubbles appear on the top and middle. (If you are adding chocolate chips, now is the time to sprinkle a few on the pancake before flipping.) Flip and cook for a few more minutes on the other side. 

Toppings:

Of course you can used dairy whipped cream, but the whipped coconut cream was delish and worth it! 

Whipped Coconut Cream

  • 1 (14 oz) can full fat coconut milk 
  • 1-2 Tablespoons sweetener (maple syrup/honey/raw sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chill the can of coconut in the fridge overnight. An hour before whipping, chill a bowl in the freezer.  

Open can and pour off coconut water (save water for smoothies and other yummies)

Scoop the solid coconut into the chilled bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add sweetener and vanilla. Beat until mixed through. 

Layer a pancake on a plate. Drizzle with pure maple syrup. Spread a dollop of whipped coconut cream on top and add fresh sliced strawberries. Repeat layer if desired. 


Delicious! 

Dear June

I wrote this letter to June in 2012. An updated response is churning. Look for it soon!

Dear June,

I never gave you much thought. As a child, you were the month that started my care-free summers. By the time I was a teenager, you were just another page on the calendar. But now you haunt me. I am never prepared for the wave of conflicting emotions that wash over me every time you come around. It feels like June 2007 every year you visit. 

Sadie Rose

Your sweet fragrance of summer brings with it the smell of hospitals and funeral homes. The delightful sound of children enjoying your sunshine also rings with the sounds of hospital carts squeaking down the hall, doctors and nurses talking in hushed tones, and hearts breaking. Your beautiful green mountains and bountiful gardens remind me of the greenness of the cemetery grass, the tiniest white baby casket surrounded by flowers, family gathered to remember. Your fresh corn on the cob leaves a bittersweet taste in my mouth as I remember feed-sacks-full being shucked to feed our family that had gathered in shock and disbelief after the death of our baby girl.

Sadie in sand

So much I want to remember, so much I long to forget.

June, my dear June, I don’t hate you, I just don’t know what to do with you. One minute I welcome your presence and the next I am overcome with another wave of sadness and memories. You seem like a dream. Are you real or just a ghost to remind me of what we had and lost? What do you want from me? Do I have to give up Sadie again every time you come around? Will you hurt me forever?

Sadie's stone

This carousel, this annual visitation, reopens the wounds of my already aching heart. I want to be friends, but I don’t know how. If you find me distant, if your sweet summer breezes cannot penetrate the barriers of my heart, please know that I am just now learning how to accept you. I am trying to understand how our relationship has changed, how I have changed. Walk with me sweet June, and we will eventually come to a new understanding, a fresh hope. And in the meantime, just continue being that steadfast annual presence. 

Sweet Sadie, sweet memories, sweet month of June. 

Sadie Rose Harlow, born, lived, and died, June 20, 2007.