Monday, September 29, 2014

We've Come A Long Way

When I began eating gluten free about five years ago, I was living in a smaller town with few specialty groceries, no gluten free sections at our main grocery store, and a budget completely incapable of sustaining any kind of regular orders from the few companies I had stumbled upon online with gluten free offerings.

Fast forward to today. I have thousands of options. My online choices have exploded and with them are opportunities for free shipping, monthly orders stocked with my favorites and new items to try on a regular basis. Not to mention the local bounty now available at my fingertips!

In the past 18 months or so I have gone from eating a diet rich in plain corn tortillas stuffed with every sort of filling to substitute for bread, to a varied menu filled with tasty stuff I wouldn't have thought possible when I began this journey.

I am only going to discuss one item today, but check back often for recipes, item reviews and "a ha" discoveries that actually have turned what started out as a burdensome trail into a literal trail of beauty in my life and that of others I have met along the way.

So let's get down to the ingredients of that yummy-looking sandwich in the photo! Thanks to the wonderful folks at Udi's, I was able to leave behind my lettuce wrapped or corn tortilla juggled burger in favor of a delicious sandwich bun that has a distinctly similar flavor when grilled with butter on it to a King's Hawaiian roll. I am not kidding.

Now these buns are available at my local Kroger, Publix and even at good old Walmart. I watch for them to go on sale, so I think I got these for $4.00 for four. They are definitely worth the splurge occasionally, but I will share more in another post about some of the more frugal and yummy finds I have discovered recently at my local Aldi USA grocery.

I'm pleased to report though in stacking a bunch of fresh ingredients on this Udi's bun that it held up really well and didn't fall apart under the strain of so much yumminess. Those of you who eat gluten free know from experience how often our bread offerings can disappoint and collapse under the pressure of the fillings we try to load onto them. I've learned to keep several napkins handy when trying a new "bread" product intended to perform like its glutenous counterparts. Udi's sandwich/hamburger buns do not disappoint, so I will be adding them to all future picnic/grilling I do.

What products have you discovered that have been a pleasant surprise? What would you tell friends to steer clear of? I am finding the gluten free community to be far larger than I ever anticipated, so I am eager to link arms with others who have travelled this path ahead of me and glean their wisdom along the way. In the words of those High School Musical "philosophers", "We're all in this together." So let's have each other's backs and help the relative newbies navigate the gluten free market a little easier.

Now that I have you singing with your best Zac Efron falsetto, have a great day and check back soon for more on gluten free products, reviews and tips.

On His Adventure~

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Beauty Through My Eyes

“She had a lively, playful disposition that delighted in anything ridiculous.”
― Jane AustenPride and Prejudice

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ridiulously Silly

I mentioned yesterday how I have chosen to start each day with the intention of making it ridiculous -- or at least to the level of crazy that I can get away with and still have a family who will talk to me as well as accompany me out in public.

Overall, my philosophy consists of this:

  • Live life ridiculously. We only get once chance to make the most of every day.
  • Leave a trail of beauty/fun/merriment and whimsy everywhere you go, because so many people are way too serious, and it is way easier to be joy-filled than growly anyway.
  • Why not be the best interaction someone's had all day rather than add to the burdens they already carry?
Can I tell you some of the benefits from adopting this kind of attitude? First off, it gets my mind off myself. I am looking for opportunities to brighten someone else's day, bring joy if even for only a moment, and see how I can love people like Jesus does.

Secondly, it makes me less conscious of how others see me. It loosens my inhibitions in a good way. People respond to kindness in one common and fairly predictable fashion -- with more kindness. Sure, not everyone is about being smiled and waved at by someone they don't know. I had one person yesterday who just averted their eyes at my friendliness.

Just one.

Everyone else I initiated with responded with a big smile and a wave back. Today I brought a smile to the face of a poor guy who was riding in the back of a pickup truck. His wave was vigorous, I must say!

People may think I am someone they know, but guess what? If they drive away bumfuzzled at my open, genuine expression of joy at living and kindness toward them -- another person sharing this big world -- I figure that can't be a bad thing. They were noticed. They experienced joy for a second in what may have been an otherwise humdrum or plain, old burden-filled day.

I am the first person to say how life gets in the way of building connections with others. I am naturally an introvert. I can go days without interacting with anyone but my own children and not really miss being in touch with anyone else. Yet, after moving around as much as we have in the past few years, I know what it feels like to be invisible. I know what it feels like to be ignored, overlooked and left out by those I thought were heart friends, family, and people in the Christian community in general.

I am only one person, but I know I can make a difference. I can reach out through my silliness and through putting my own fears and worries aside and take notice of the people who cross my path each day -- sometimes for only a second. It's not all that hard, and the burst of joy I find in the ridiculousness of it all makes up for any uncertainty that breezes through my little head occasionally.

How about you? Can you embrace the ridiculous and take a chance at making someone's day? What are ways you can leave a trail of beauty in the place you've been planted?

On His Adventure~

Friday, September 26, 2014

Living Life Ridiculously 101

I've come to a delightful realization with each passing year. As I near my next birthday in November, my resolve to live each day with a joy bordering on a manageable level of the ridiculous is woven into every one of them.

What am I talking about here? Let's work with the short list today:

  • Smiling at everyone, regardless of whether they smile back. Today I did this on the commute to my husband's place of work. The guy I grinned and waved at vigorously on the interstate reciprocated immediately with a vigorous wave and a silly grin, too. (The wave needs to be vigorous, or you might be mistaken for some other offensive hand gesture.)
  • Skipping. While pushing my buggy at the grocery, or at Target, or anywhere that provides me with wheels to get where I'm going faster, I choose to skip. Yes, people chuckle as I skip by. Yes, my teenagers are occasionally averting their eyes and attempting to disassociate themselves from me.  No one has told me to stop skipping and genuine smiles have been more common than ridicule.
  • Greeting people warmly. I know this seems like a less than ridiculous proposition, but you'd be surprised at how many people are caught off guard by this simple gesture.
  • Singing loud for all to hear. Hmm . . . this list is beginning to sound like a list from one of my favorite Christmas movies, isn't it? I find singing to be a way to dispel the foulest of moods, and I guarantee if you sing with any sort of gusto and sincerity about you that people either join in or at the very least, chuckle in amusement.
  • Dance like no one's looking. Yes, I have been known to don my Tiffany Blue Chuck's and dance right out of the convenience store while singing to Pharrell's "Happy" at the top of my lungs.
Sooo . . . if this ridiculous behavior hasn't completely put you off and made you want to run for the hills away from my blog, please click on the "Happy"link and do a little dance in my honor.  I know I'm going to . . . and I've discovered this song is quite the workout for a gal in my current physical condition. Stay tuned for more ways to live ridiculously and love it!

Leaving a trail of beauty~


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thursday Thanks Tank #212

I started blogging the first time around back in 2005. A few months into my blogging journey I realized I wanted a recurring post. (Great idea in theory -- not so much in practice unfortunately). I came up with a feature I called a "Thursday Thanks Tank: Filling up the Tank with Thanks" and started making a list each Thursday of how God had been filling my "tank" that week. Following is a snippet from my very first one:

February 16, 2006
Thursday Thanks Tank (a day to fill up the tank)
I decided I needed a day each week to let us all share our thankfulness. I know it helps me when I remember what I am thankful for. Feel free to leave your "thanks" in the comments.
Today I am thankful for:
1. The beauty of God's sunshine. He lights up my days. We have 65% more sunshine where I live now than where I grew up. I am lovin' it!
2. Friends. Today, I am especially grateful for the friends of my children. JD has a little friend over today, and it is so good to see him interact with another boy his age. Libbyline is about to spend a couple hours at the park with a good friend, and Sweetcheeks has a great play date scheduled for Monday.
3. God's boundless strength. He is strong where I am weak. Even when I am sleep-deprived, He still fulfills Philippians 4:13 in my life: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
4. Music. It soothes me, comforts me, challenges me to dance with my children, exhorts me to lift my own voice in praise. I LOVE music.
Looking forward to hearing what causes the rest of you to be thankful.

Fast Forward eight plus years and to what you see below:
I haven't taken the time to sit down and do one of these since May of last year. So much has changed. So much remains the same. I still know being intentionally grateful is healthy. It is essential to keeping my ever-wandering gaze off myself and fixed rightly on my Savior and what He is doing in my life -- in spite of my many attempts to get in His way and thwart all His wonderful plans for me.

So, without further rambling here is how God is choosing to fill my Thanks Tank this week:

1. He is allowing me to homeschool my two teenagers again this year with the best set up we have had since we started  this venture all those years ago. Looking forward to making strides in ways we have only imagined to this point in our journey.
2. Creative provision. He continues to blow my socks off with His ways of meeting our needs. Overtime is a good thing!
3. Fall-like breezes. A few brief wisps through my curly mop of hair lets me know my favorite season of autumn is on its way.
4. Sleeping with the windows open. Any reason to add another blanket and snuggle down into the covers is a good thing to me.

So, how is God filling your "tank"? What can you take time to be intentionally grateful for that will change your whole perspective and leave a trail of beauty in the process?

On His Adventure~

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why Leave A Trail of Beauty?

Imago dei = The Image of God (Hebrew: צֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים; tzelem elohimlit. "image of God", "image of the Holy Spirit", often appearing in Latinas Imago Dei) is a real image, concept and theological doctrine in ChristianityJudaism[1] and Sufi Islam,[2][3] which asserts that human beings are created in God's image and therefore have inherent value independent of their utility or function.

We are created in the image of God, regardless of what we do or don't do to further the beauty He has inherently created within us. All of creation bears His indelible stamp. All of creation exudes beauty simply by existing. I listened to the birds chirping this morning (actually it was more like the honking of geese this particular morning. Lots of geese heading South, I'm guessing). But I digress .

Their songs are not sung because of a desire to be heard, admired or applauded. They sing because they were created. They can't help it. They make a joyful noise because they must give expression in the only way provided for them.

We who are created in the very image of God have a choice. We can choose to reflect His image in a beautiful way or not. Yet, in our humanity we may determine certain behaviors and presentations more or less beautiful than others, our simple existence demands we reflect Him. We can't help it. We are in His image. We reflect Him.

How much more powerful could we reflect that image of God if we looked at every single day as an opportunity to leave a trail of beauty? Simply put, we are beautiful to Him. He created us. We leave beauty behind when we are being all He created us to be. We can't help but be beautiful when we see ourselves through His eyes.

On His Beauty-full Adventure~

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Autumn and Gluten Free Treats

Just hanging around today enjoying the autumn breezes flowing through my open windows. Can anybody say "free weather"? Love that kind of day!

Afternoon crept up on me, but it clearly whispered "tea time" in my ear, especially when it totally coincided with my girl baking Gluten Free shortbread cookies to complete my heart's desire for Pumpkin spice and something sweet.

Now I have mentioned eating Gluten Free, and my 18-year-old daughter has ventured into blogging to share all she's learned in her time of eating that way as well.

I've been eating gluten free for about five years now. I don't have an official celiac disease diagnosis, but my gluten intolerance is quite high. So I operate my life and eating habits very much as if I were celiac. It actually makes choosing what to eat easier rather than more difficult for me personally.

Though eating gluten free has not always been a walk in the park, I have found the benefits far outweigh any challenges I face. Add to that the number of new players who have joined the game, so to speak, and my life of eating gluten free has taken on a new beauty its not seen before. Olivia mentioned Aldi USA here, and I will be giving my take on that wonderful grocery in a future post.

Until then, I am going to go make a second cup of this fabulous and perfectly appropriate tea for the first day of Autumn from these fine folks.

Leave your own trail of beauty!

On His Adventure~

Monday, September 22, 2014

One Step at a Time

Leaving a trail of beauty takes intention. It is a daily choice to make a positive difference. I want to choose to remember the quote below, especially on days when I feel like life is much more of an uphill climb than the photo would indicate. 

"Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step."
Lao Tzu  

I'll be back tomorrow with some specifics regarding my gluten free journey and how it has helped me to change my perspective on the beauty I can find in life.

On His Adventure~

Crafted to Create

We were created with an inherent ability to create. Our Creator God made sure of that in His unique crafting of each one of us.

Don't get me wrong, I get traits handed down to me from my earthly father. I laugh like him. I have a corny sense of humor like he does. I am not a big fan of tags in my shirts or clothing that itches me. I love fresh corn and tomatoes from the garden just like he does, especially from his garden. I used to love a good cherry pie just like my dad likes, but now that these great folks are making Gluten Free pie crust I might just be able to make one we could both enjoy. More in another post about how living Gluten Free has helped me live a life filled with more beauty as well.

Back to what I was talking about. My dad and I are similar in many ways, and yet we are oh, so very different.  However, we were created by the same Creator. We are related genetically, and we are related spiritually. We love and serve the same God.

I've also clearly gotten traits from my Heavenly Father. Some are called spiritual gifts. I have the gift of mercy. I sometimes exercise the gift of discernment, though I'd like to employ that one more frequently. I didn't ask for these gifts, but my Father knew I would need them to make it through this journey I affectionately call life.

Others are talents I have seen develop over time and must be honed until they are allowed to see the light of day and sparkle on their own. In the very fabric of how we are woven together, God knew we would all exhibit His innate desire to create, to make something out of nothing, to weave words, pick up a paintbrush, scribble with chalk or crayons, hammer something, pound on metal, cut into glass, serve another, sew something to wear or to use, assemble something, mix something, stir something, or say something.

We all have it. The urge to leave our mark. We cannot escape it. It fulfills us. It satisfies us. It completes us.

Yours may not be the same as mine, but you must do it. You must pursue it. You cannot breathe fully without attempting, without trying, without going out on a limb, without doing . . . it. You know deep in your heart what IT is. You cannot explain it to anyone quite as clearly as you just feel it in the very pit of what makes you the wonderful you God created you to be. If you don't know what IT is yet, ask Him. Ask Him to reveal the thing that makes you you.

What is it you cannot do without? What is it that makes you feel most alive? What comes to you when you aren't even consciously thinking about anything and won't let you go? What is it? What urges you on to make your mark, live your passion, fulfill your dream? Examine all the details of what is in your heart and do it. Do it loud. Do it proud. Do it and be the very you God made you for in the first place. He will applaud . . . and you . . . you will cry with joy over His pleasure in you!

I know my heart is overflowing at allowing the words to fairly drip from the fingers flying across the keyboard. I am at home here. I love weaving words, and I love allowing God to orchestrate the words that come from my heart. He is the director, and I am the player. He is the essence of who I am, and I can't help but allow Him to speak through me. He knows me better than I know myself, and I plan to do more staying out of His way and letting Him walk ahead and lead me in the path He has for me.

Thanks for joining me on this wild ride!

On His Adventure~


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Beauty Through My Eyes

I love all different facets of creation. What I may consider beauty may not constitute the same feeling for you. Yet each Sunday I hope to share a tiny glimpse into something I find beautiful, whether it be an object, a well-crafted phrase or concept that makes me stop and take notice. Here is my first offering:

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Seeing Beauty In the Broken

I ran across this tidbit on my computer and decided to to dust off the cobwebs. Hope it helps you to get to know me a little better.

I found a broken teapot.

In the past 10 years I have lived in three states, five cities, and received mail at seven different addresses. I have painstakingly packed and unpacked my belongings in a  mishmash assortment of moving boxes, Chick fil A waffle fry boxes, and those I've deemed most sturdy -- liquor boxes. Using bubble wrap, newspaper, plastic grocery bags, and kitchen linens, I have attempted to secure those "sentimental" items I didn't want to lose in the multiple-mile treks from place to place.

Moving regularly does have its positives. It is a sure-fire way to whittle down to the essentials of life. Usually somewhere in the process of packing up and trying to get my mind around the idea of heading off to a new place, I do finally find myself on that inevitable day. It's the day I call my "unsentimental" day. It's the one you need to have when you can be willing to throw out just about anything under the sun in the hopes of living life less encumbered. This is also the day you are much more concerned with saving money and avoiding more chiropractic care.

If you're like me, you give yourself a silent pep talk, all the while insisting, "We really didn't ever need that." followed by "We haven't used it in the six years we've lived here!"  Quickly wrapped up by my old time favorite, "We can surely find another one of these where we're going if we really need it".

Many things are tossed, sold, and given away. We've all been around when someone is moving and gathered the cast offs when space in the moving truck is getting scarce -- and space in our moving truck ALWAYS gets scarce. Little has a death grip on our hearts at this stage of the moving game.

Yet amidst all that mental chiding are those boxes. You know the ones. Dependent upon your allowable space for displaying precious treasures in your abode, you may or may not have seen these items in quite awhile.

The contents of those boxes is sacred. Clinging to each item inside is a story. Wrapped up in tissue or whatever you've determined worthy to attempt to cushion and protect are those delicate things you hold dear. You label them FRAGILE or BREAKABLE or CHINA, or all of the above and hope for the best as you stand aside and allow those with greater physical strength to load and unload those things that can so easily shatter upon impact.

What you don't realize until you arrive at your new address is how much of your story and your very self is wrapped up inside those boxes labeled FRAGILE or BREAKABLE.

I have always taught my children from the time they were very small "people are more important than things." I still believe it to be true.

However, in our hearts are those things. What I have discovered recently is the broken things in my life are not just broken things. Through tears  I tried valiantly to explain to my husband how these broken things continue to collide with the brokenness in my heart.

The teapot pictured above is similar and yet so different from my heart of late. The beauty is still visible to the undiscerning eye. The chip in its surface is barely visible unless you are really looking for it. I can and do still display it and enjoy its overall beauty. Unfortunately though, this teapot is no longer usable in its current state. It has lost its functionality as a result of its brokenness.

Yet may the state of this particular treasure never characterize me! May my own usefulness and functionality soar instead of plummet in the face of my brokenness. May the the beauty in the broken enable me to be refined and better used by my Savior.

The teapot may be broken but its story is still intact. I still know how I lovingly carried this particular treasure home in my tote from Prince Edward Island, protecting it with my pregnant self as I lay stranded in the airport in Chicago.

I know how many teas have been taken in this lupin-adorned china. I can remember my friends and the friends of my girls taking tea. I can see their faces around the tables in different locations. Sweet fellowship. Sweet memories. Unspoiled by the brokenness currently a part of this treasure.

My story is far from finished. I may not understand all the reasons for the hairline cracks and enormous caverns in my heart. I may not receive answers this side of heaven for why the circumstances and people who crossed my path shattered me and my sometimes very fragile heart.

What I can be assured of in the midst of my hurt is the presence of a healer.

I found a broken teapot. I am broken, but I am still alive for a reason and able to sing loudly of God's faithfulness in the midst of it all. See y'all next time!

On His Adventure~

Friday, September 19, 2014

I Am A Writer

I can't not do it. (Yep, I know it's a double negative.)
I must be writing.  My writing and my art take many forms along the path to being seen by others:

  • A funky, doodle-filled shopping list I choose not to follow once I get to the store. (It's a game I play with myself, and my teenaged daughters now chastise me routinely for it. They also hold the list and check items off, making it far more functional . . . a perk, I must say!)
  • A list of lovely names I will never use for the children I will not bear in this lifetime. (Maybe this is in anticipation of the fiction I will one day write?!?!)
  • A poem about lightning-filled skies.
  • A journal entry kept from prying eyes.
  • A "To Do" list with zero items crossed off or completed.
  • A note on the back of an envelope to remind my daughters to empty the dishwasher, and "Oh how much your mama loves you both!"
  • A shorter list of thanks to let everyone know how my God fills me up and keeps me moving forward each week. Sometimes the list is longer. It is never all-encompassing.
  • A deeper, heartfelt introspection about how God made me to be a writer in the first place.
As I have walked through the thoughts I've had tumbling around in my head with my Darling Prince, I told him how good it felt to be writing like "me" again. He smiled and told me it was like being in the "zone" athletes talk about so often in those ESPN interviews where their talents are lauded and accolades are showered liberally.

Finding a sweet spot. In the zone. On my game.

No matter what it is called, I am choosing to call it mine. I am home. I have been searching for my voice, and I am finally finding it. I am finding the meaning in it. Out of its overflow from my heart emerges beauty, peace, and hope for expressions of both the writing and crafty kind for the future. Mind and heart full. Fingers singing over the keys.

I write. I. am. a. writer.

I can't not do it. (There goes that double negative again!) It fills me and spills forth like breath.

I am finally exhaling, and it feels wonderful. Stay tuned for more on that trail of beauty I will be leaving and how you can join me!

On His Adventure~


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Who Is This Gal?

Pam Darbonne is a freelance writer/editor/proofreader by trade. Her degree is in journalism, with an emphasis on magazine writing and editing from Kent State University. She has done a number of journalistic pursuits over the years -- including, but not limited to projects for Thomas Nelson Publishers, Fox Faith and FamilyLife.

Pam is a self-proclaimed doodler and creator of beauty. Pam looks for ways to bend the rules, rise above her circumstances and live ridiculously.  She draws inspiration from her relationship with the Lord, the beauty she sees He has created around her, and the daily thriving, sometimes more just surviving alongside those she loves.

Pam has had a lifelong struggle from within to unleash both the voice, talents and gifts God has given her. She has dabbled in blogging off and on since 2005; sprinkling that time with long episodes of silence.

However the years have also been mingled both with God-inspired posts of bravery as well as the reality of soaring above everyday chaos. Pam has also battled an inner desire to express herself which too frequently collides with the penchant for constant comparison and her own shortcomings on the mental measuring stick.

So, in an effort to embrace a fresh start, Pam emerges with her paintbrush in hand, her words intact, and her Tiffany blue Chuck Taylor's tied tightly on her happy feet as she attempts to dance her way through the day -- always leaving a trail of beauty and living life as ridiculously as possible.

Consider this an invitation to drop your inhibitions at the door, grab a paintbrush, marker, colored pencil, broken crayon nub, pack of your favorite play dough, or common yellow #2 pencil and to create something that will leave a mark for future generations. Leave a trail of beauty everywhere you go and see how many smiles you create along the way.

Because, you know what? "Smiling is my favorite." ~Buddy the Elf