Spectacular People

With this blog title, I’m sure most people would think of some prominent politician, singer, or other celebrity. You know, Time Magazine’s, or Rolling Stone Magazine’s most influential woman, or man of the year.

But the most spectacular people I’ve known seem—on the surface—to be like little brown sparrows. Nothing much to look at. Not usually charismatic, showy, or larger-than-life types.

Take Joe and Doris. They’re older people. They’ve been missionaries for years. Now, they quietly serve in their local church. Joe serves on the elder board. Doris helps to lead a women’s Bible study, and regularly attends the weekly prayer group. She brings meals to the sick and shut in. She sends encouraging notes. She visits lonely people.

No one would stand up and applaud if Joe or Doris ever stepped onto the red carpet leading to some Hollywood black-tie event.

Until you get to know Joe and Doris, you would never judge them beautiful. Their one-bedroom apartment is spartan; not much furniture, no lovely art-work or knick knacks on the shelves. Their clothing is plain and they wear no fancy jewelry or watches.

They most likely have no 401K. At their age, they’ll never purchase a home. But they’re happy, and they exude peace.

Unlike the tons of average people who post their You-tube videos and hope for a million views, Joe and Doris would never think to call attention to themselves. That’s not their way.

The legacy they’ll leave behind when they pass on will not be a you-tube video, but changed lives in their church and in their neighborhood.

Few people can see the inner beauty of Joe and Doris.

But what they are in our essence is laid bare before the Lord. He has placed His Spirit inside these two special people, and declared them “royal,” “priests.”

Joe and Doris have their priorities straight. After all, what do they own that they can bring with them to heaven?

Their lives are a constant reminder to me not to hold onto my possessions with a tight fist. Joe and Doris’s happiness is based on spending their days doing good things for others. Wow!

“Lord, fill my heart with Your love. May I have my eyes open every day for opportunities to do something kind or generous for someone else.”

Exercise On the Road

Yep, it can be challenging to get some exercise while taking a road trip. Especially if you don’t have an extra hour to explore a nearby state park or recreational area.

Never fear: Rest Stops to the rescue!

Recent health research states that if you have a desk job, you should get up every half hour and move around for five minutes.

Being cooped up in a car for a long road trip is not good for your cardiovascular system and your poor muscles. Not to mention he toll it takes on your spine.

Look for rest stops. Most of them along the interstates are spaced every 40 or fifty miles.

Take each rest stop exit. Walk the entire length of the paved sidewalk, then back. Take deep breaths.Aug 2011 vacation 024 If the grounds around the rest stop are decent, circle the whole place three times. That’s approximately a mile.

When you stop to get gas, walk around the parking lot several times. When you get back to your car, do some slow stretches.

Holding on to the car door, grab the top of your instep and pull your foot back and up toward the back of your knee. Hold for twenty seconds. Repeat with the other foot.

Lift your arms over your head, then stretch them as far back behind your head as possible. Hold for twenty seconds.

At the next rest stop, perform other types of stretches before and after you do your walking circuits.

I’m so grateful that our tax dollars make these rest stops possible. I remember the days of my parents trying to find a nearby gas station while we kids whined and complained about being cooped up in the car for long trips.

Take advantage of the restful opportunity!

More Snacks For The Road

Last post, I gave you a recipe for coconut balls. Not everyone likes them ’cause they’re not terribly sweet.

So how about a good hummus recipe? I made the following recipe for hummus and kept it in my cooler. Delicious with those little carrots you can find at the supermarket. Also, celery, or red pepper strips. (I made my own because most of the store bought types have some ingredients that I can’t eat, like canola oil, or soy, etc.)

I played around with the recipe. Always do. All the amounts in my recipe can be adjusted per your own taste. This is a great snack for road trips.


Dena’s hummus:

i can chickpeas (garbanzo), drained and rinsed.

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup almond butter

A couple of minced garlic cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt (I use sea salt or Kosher)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 cup olive oil


1 to three tablespoons water

In a food processor, combine almond butter and lemon juice. Process and scrape bowl. Add olive oil, garlic, salt and cumin. Process a bit more. Now add half of the chickpeas. Process and scrape. Add the rest of the chickpeas. Process. Add water to make the desired consistency. Add paprika. Pour into plastic container with tight-fitting lid and store in fridge or cooler for up to a week.


Healthy and relatively filling. A great in-between meal snack or as an accompaniment to other foods for a full meal.

If you’re on the road and run out of hummus, you can find some good types at Natural Grocers, Sprouts, Whole Foods, and  some other local natural foods grocers.

Enjoy your road trip and don’t forget to thank God for the natural wonders all around you!

Staying Slim While On The Road

This isn’t my usual kind of post, but  sometimes it’s worth deviating from the usual.

Bruce and I just completed a 4000 mile road-trip: Colorado to California, then north, through beautiful Oregon, to Washington state, then back east through Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, to Colorado.

To all you fellow travelers: It’s kind of challenging not to gain weight or to keep your blood sugar from spiking if you stop at fast food joints or restaurants for such an extended trip.

I kept my weight consistent at 125 pounds by packing a cooler with the following Paleo-friendly foods:

A container of hard-boiled eggs

A container of fresh veggies (carrots, celery, etc.)

Some juicy apples

Hummus (I make my own ’cause it’s cheaper and you can control the ingredients.)

Sliced meats

Baked chicken wings. (I make them with my own spices so I can control the ingredients. The package mixes always contain some not-so-good ingredients.)

Dark chocolate

Nuts with no additives

Chocolate coconut balls

There are lots of other types of treats you can keep in the back seat for road trips. We saved hundred of dollars by not eating in restaurants. We stopped off occasionally at health food stores to replenish our supplies.

Some hotel breakfasts offer healthy choices, like omelets and fruit.

If you’ve got ideas to share for foods on the road, I’d love to hear them. I’m always trying to find new ways to stay healthy.

The coconut balls are easy to make and you can keep them in the refrigerator. The recipe that follows makes about 20 balls.

  • 1 two-cup package of finely shredded coconut.
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • @ 2/3 cup almond butter
  • @ 1/2 cup cocoa
  • @ 2 Tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 teasp. salt
  • 1 teasp. vanilla
  • Sweetener such as stevia or honey or maple syrup. (As much as you  need to make the mixture kind of moist.)

Mix all till it holds together. Form into balls and cover with plastic wrap. Store in the freezer or fridge.

You can also try dipping the balls in melted chocolate ( the kind that gets hard after it cools).

Coconut balls are a great snack between meals that won’t mess with your blood sugar. The health food store packages only contain about 8 balls and are really expensive, so I’ve devised my own recipe and it makes about 20 balls.

I hope this post helps you stay healthy on the road. Blessings!

The Star Connection

IMG_0310When I was little, we used to sing “Away in a Manger,” in Sunday school. I suppose the Sunday school teachers thought that since we were little children we’d relate better to a Christmas carol about a baby.

i just liked the song, especially the part where it said, “the stars in the sky looked down where He lay…”

…because I loved to gaze at the night sky from my bed and wonder at the glittering stars that hung above the trees in our yard.

I’d think, those stars that looked down on the baby Jesus are the same stars that now look down on me. Wow!

Even as a very young child I got that. Jesus lived a long time ago, but the stars He set in space live a long, long time.

The stars saw Jesus begin His earthly life, and the stars see little me.

The stars saw Jesus and Mary and Joseph as they fled to Egypt. The stars peeped through His window when he slept as a baby, a boy, a young man, and then a grown man.

The stars watched as Jesus prayed on the mount of Olives before His crucifixion. The stars watched as He was dragged before the High Priest, and then, Pilate.

The Stars kept their vigil as their Creator lay silent and lifeless in a rich man’s tomb.

The stars rejoiced to see the breath of life return to Jesus.

I am an old woman now, yet I still gaze at the stars and wonder about God’s vast universe. I wonder where heaven is, and marvel that my heavenly Father sees me and remembers when I was just a little girl. In all those intervening years I still wonder the same things.

The stars will one day witness my own last breath, and then I’ll witness the earth from a very different vantage point.

I’m glad Jesus created stars— something so beautiful— to remind me that He is both near and very far, that He is aware of tiny me.

“I look up at Your macro-skies, dark and enormous,

Your handmade sky jewelry

Moon and stars mounted in their settings.

Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,

Why do You bother with us?

Why take a second look our way? (Psalm 8, The Message)

The Listening Gift

There’s a popular talk show hostess that I like to watch. For the most part, I like her show. But she’s a terrible interviewer. The guests rarely get to finish a sentence before she  interrupts to make her commentary, clever comment, or to go off on her own related experience.

Another show—this one hosted by a well-respected news analyst—is even worse. Mainly, I agree with his opinions. But when he asks his guest a question, he or she rarely gets to finish with a well-thought out reply before the host begins to talk over the speaker. It leaves me muttering, “I tuned in to the show because I wanted to hear what the guest had to say. I already know what you (host’s name) think.”

I think we all tend to do what the talk show host and the news analyst do…from time to time. I’ve caught myself interrupting in conversations, too.

I try not to make it a habit. When I was little my mother frequently scolded me and my siblings with a “Don’t interrupt!”

The art of listening is becoming rare today. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a conversation with someone who actually behaved as if what you had to say was interesting?

Wouldn’t it be great to to meet someone who was sincerely interested in you?

Most of us, I suspect, would gladly trade a few of our Christmas presents for a half hour conversation with someone where it was actually a conversation, a give and take, a “so what are you thinking about these days?” sort of dialogue.

Wouldn’t that make a great Christmas present to give to someone on your list?

Here’s how I would package my “gift,” using the word “ALTER” to remember my decision to listen well:

Ask a sincere question. (Not just “how are you?)

Listen (without injecting my own story.)

Train myself to stay focused. (Politely hold off any potential well-meaning interrupters)

Empathy (Mirror the speaker’s mood)

Related question. (Shows I am listening and comprehending the speaker.)

The best Christmas gift
The best Christmas gift

My time and my attention are a great gift to someone who needs a listening ear.

This Christmas I’ll be talking to skads of people. May the Lord help me to remember ALTER each time a friend starts to talk to me!

Broken Stuff

“This thing is a piece of junk,” I announced to my husband the other day. I’d spent the last hour trying to get my relatively new, but hardly-used food processor to work. I followed the instructions, but the darn thing wouldn’t turn on.

I took the thing apart, reassembled it and tried again. And again, and again.

But the time my husband got home I was ready to throw the processor in the trash.

Bruce took the processor apart and put it back together….just like I’d done about fifteen times. But this time it worked.

Turns out, I’d done everything right except place the bowl facing in the right direction.

Okay, so I’m not the most mechanical person.

What I considered broken was not broken at all. The fault was in my thinking…and my assembling.

Dena N

I think my relationships mirror this problem. Often, when I have a problem with a family member, it’s my own thinking that gets me into trouble.

My human wisdom is so fallible. Too bad we don’t all come with handling and caring instructions.

Good thing I have other people in my life to give me perspective.

Bruce says my experience with machines could be described as a loud, “Arrrrghhhhh!” followed by a soft and meek, “Oh.”

Machines and tech stuff have helped me realize that my loved ones’ words and actions are often not what I initially perceive.

Here are 7 things I’ve learned:

  1. Be slow to react
  2. Hold your tongue
  3. Get clarification
  4. Listen to others
  5. Commit to believing the best
  6. Forgive
  7. Repeat

What may at first appear to be broken may just need a little tweaking!

Seeking the Creator in nature and the arts


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