Wednesday, December 17, 2014

First Day Photos {December 2014}

Apparently, I never posted any first day photos from November. I can't let a second month pass without posting so I'll share the few pictures that I did remember to take on December 1st.

For as long as I can remember, Nicole has hosted a first day photo collection at Journey to Josie. Her amazing brother (BigPurm) passed away from cancer recently. She doesn't have any first day photos this month, but does have an amazing Still Kickin' collection of photos on her blog that's definitely worth checking out.

©2009-2014 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced.

Monday, December 15, 2014

F is for Fireworks! {Years Ago}

This week I just couldn't decide on which Fireworks story to share as part of my "Years Ago" story series. I decided to share both.

When we first moved Washington DC, we heard about the wonderful the Fourth of July fireworks on the National Mall. We also heard about how many people would be down there and how they would stake out a good spot to sit early in the day. I wasn't thrilled with the idea of taking two children downtown so that we could sit in the heat for an entire day just to see the fireworks.

Thankfully, Tim came home from work one afternoon with a much better offer. Since he worked at the Pentagon, he was able to get passes so that we could watch the Fireworks from the Pentagon parade grounds. We were on the other side of the Potomac River from most of the crowds and the view was perfect.

The other fireworks experience took place a few years before we moved to Virginia. Tim and I had heard about a campground in Missouri, but we weren't sure if it would be suitable for taking Addison and Brennan. They got to spend some time with their grandparents, and we went camping by ourselves.

Our tent was nestled beside a river, and the weather was so mild that we didn't even have to put the fly on the tent. Late on the fourth of July, we realized that there were houses all along the opposite side of the river. The people in those houses must've spent a fortune on fireworks to set off. We were lucky to get to enjoy their independence celebrations while we rested in the tent.

As I started to wrap up this post, I remembered yet another fireworks story from the past. I guess it'll just have to wait until the next time I blog though the alphabet.

For most of the past year I've been sharing "Years Ago" stories as I've been Blogging through the Alphabet. There are so many stories left to share that I've started over again. This time I'm linking my posts with Kristi at The Potter's Hand Academy

Blogging Through the Alphabet

©2009-2014 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Big Finish Line

Lsat night I posted about how I had finished a half-marathon on Sunday morning.

That finish line was rather small, especially compared to the bigger excitement late Sunday night.

After 53 weeks in Afghanistan, Tim came home from his deployment.

Surviving the deployment was a huge marathon for all of us.

I know I couldn't have made it on this end without the support of my church family here in Arizona. Some of our many supporters joined me at the airport to welcome him home:

You all are awesome! Thanks for everything.

©2009-2014 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Diabetes Still Didn't Win

Last Fall, I posted a #showmeyourpump picture after finishing a Sprint Triathlon.

Yesterday's Half Marathon was a rematch of sorts:

I ran a half-marathon, and diabetes tried hard to keep me from finishing. I boarded a bus to the starting line nearly two hours before race start so I carried my glucose monitor with me in a waist pack. Just moments before the race started, a quick blood sugar check showed that it had dropped to 74 -- much too low to start a run, much less a 13.1 mile run. I swallowed the first emergency gel I had with me and started running. At about a quarter of a mile into the race, there was an aid station that offered power gels. I grabbed one and held it like a security blanket for the next few miles. Thankfully, the power gel that I eventually ate about 6 miles into the run and a bunch of cups of Gatorade at the aid stations kept my glucose numbers high enough to finish the whole race.

My official race time was 2 hrs, 21 minutes, and 38 seconds. Take that Diabetes!

©2009-2014 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced.

Allergy-friendly Cranberry Orange Bread

A year or so ago I saw a recipe for Cranberry Orange bread on my friend Kate's blog (Under the Sky). I added it to my Pinterest boards but never got around to making it. When she posted a picture of it on Facebook a few days before Thanksgiving, I decided that I absolutely had to try some.

I had to change a few things so that it would be allergy-friendly enough for Lauren to have some. Thankfully, my changes all worked and it turned out to be a wonderful breakfast treat for our whole family.

Kate graciously gave me permission to share my allergy-friendly adaptation of her recipe. I'm sure the original recipe is also delicious if you don't have any food restrictions.

Cranberry Orange Bread (allergy-friendly)

2 cups gluten free flour (see notes, some flours may need 1 tsp xanthan gum added)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup margarine (milk-free, soy-free, corn-free if necessary)
grated rind of half an orange
2 Tbsp applesauce
3/4 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cups chopped cranberries (approximately 6 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine the first six ingredients and cut in margarine using a pastry blender or two knives. Add orange rind, applesauce, orange juice, and stir well. Add chopped cranberries. This makes enough batter for one full-sized loaf of bread or four mini-loaves of bread. We found that the mii loaves of bread turned out a bit better. (I always have better luck baking smaller items when working with gluten-free flours.) Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out very clean.

Note: I used Pillsbury Best Multi-Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend which already contains xanthan gum. If using another gluten-free flour blend, add 1 tsp of xanthan gum to the recipe.

©2009-2014 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

E is for an Empty Room {Years Ago}

I remember someone asking me a few moves ago if it bothered me to let the movers load nearly everything we owned into a moving van and then drive off with it. I truthfully answered, "No. It's all just stuff."

When I was in college, I learned that everything I owned is just stuff. Some things have strong memories connected to them. In the end, though, it's all just stuff and stuff can be replaced.

Between my freshman and sophomore years in college, my family moved from Oklahoma to Georgia. Since I had been going to college in Oklahoma, it made more sense for me to leave most of my things in Oklahoma instead of dragging them back and forth across the country.

My college roommate and I rented a storage unit on the outskirts of town. It was one of the places where you put all your stuff inside and then put your own lock on the door. I stored all the textbooks I needed to keep, my winter clothes, tons of shoes, my bedding, and a bunch of other stuff.
Easy, peasy.

When it was time to return to school, I flew back to Oklahoma. Tim and his parents picked me up at the airport and drove me back to school. When we went to get everything out of the storage place, my key didn't work in the lock. It was the right storage unit, and it certainly looked like the right lock. We went to Wal-Mart to get some lubricant in case the lock had gotten too much dust in it over the past three months. We also bought a small hand saw, just in case we had to saw the lock off. I remember seeing a sheriff's deputy drive by and making some sort of joke about how I hoped he didn't think we were breaking into the storage unit.

We cut the lock off and raised the door. The unit was pretty much empty. I could tell it was ours -- it still had the nasty scrap of carpet that had been in our dorm room and a few textbooks left in a crate.

It turns out that the storage place had been hit by a massive burglary earlier in the summer. The thieves had cut off locks, emptied out the storage rooms, and then replaced the locks. The owners of the storage place didn't know that our unit had been disturbed until the day I returned.

Thankfully, my parents' wonderful homeowners insurance policy covered all of my losses. After making massive lists of every single thing that I could remember putting in the storage unit, they paid me enough to replace them.

There are only a few things that I still wish hadn't been stolen. Tim's high school letter jacket was in there, and we couldn't replace it or any of the All-State Band patches that had been sewn on the sleeve. For the most part, though, it was all just stuff.

Perhaps it's been easier for me to live a military life knowing deep down that all my possessions are just stuff and that stuff can usually be replaced.

For most of the past year I've been sharing "Years Ago" stories as I've been Blogging through the Alphabet. There are so many stories left to share that I've started over again. This time I'm linking my posts with Kristi at The Potter's Hand Academy

Blogging Through the Alphabet

©2009-2014 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Stand at Sinai by Hope Auer {Review}

A few years ago, I enjoyed sharing Hope Auer's debut novel A Cry from Egypt with my children. I praised that book for making Biblical history come alive.
"Throughout the story we walk beside Jarah as she works gathering straw to make bricks, washes clothes in the Nile, and befriends a young Egyptian girl. I could feel the exhaustion and desperation of the Hebrew slaves as they struggled to meet the demands of the overseers, and I could feel their hope as they saw the miracles Moses worked. The book stays true to the events recorded in Exodus, but the story I've heard so many times takes on a new meaning when I imagine what it must have been like to be living there during such a turbulent time." (my complete review)
This year, Raising Real Men has released the second book in The Promised Land series -- A Stand at Sinai.

The story picks up shortly after it left off in the first book. Jarah's family and friends had left Egypt about a month before the story starts and we join them shortly before they cross the Red Sea. It continues through the time when the Israelites were wandering through the wilderness.

I expected this book to be an exciting read that would help me better appreciate the lives of the Israelites as they escaped from the Egyptians. This book did even more than just entertain me. It challenged me.

I've read the Exodus account many times. I know that the Isrealites were wandering in the desert for 40 years because of their grumbling and disbelief. I never thought through that fact, though.

In A Stand at Sinai, Hope Auer shows what an entire generation of unbelievers looks like. I could hear the Israelites grumbling and complaining. I heard their despair when they looked for human solutions to their problems instead of relying on God's almighty provision. In spite of those dark times, I saw the children of Israel rise up. The main characters are the children and young adults of the Exodus. I saw teenagers encourage each other to remain faithful to God. In several cases, I could clearly see how the children had a faith stronger than that of their parents. I saw a generation trusting God whole-heartedly and facing life with trust instead of despair.

I often feel like our current society has turned its back on God. Is our society similar to the Israelites wandering in the desert complaining against God? More importantly, do we have a future generation that can rise up and proclaim their faith in God? Am I part of a believing generation who will one day walk in faith into the promised land? Are my children?

A Stand at Sinai made me look at the Exodus account in a completely different way. I no longer see the time in the wilderness as simply a punishment for the unfaithful, grumbling Israelites. I see the way young leaders grew over those forty years and proved themselves faithful. I am challenged to grow in my own faith, despite any grumbling that I hear around me.

After finishing the book, I noticed a few lines in the Preface (which I had initially skipped over). The author writes, "My prayer is that A Stand at Sinai will encourage all readers, young and old, to stand firm in their faith, resist the temptations of the world, and constantly strive towards Christ." Perhaps my entire review could be summed up by saying that this book did all of that and then some.

A Cry from Egypt and A Stand at Sinai would make great Christmas gifts! A Stand at Sinai is 368 pages long and is available as an Advance Reader copy for $15. You can order it bundled with A Cry from Egypt for $25. Although aimed for a young adult audience, adults will also enjoy the adventures of the Israelite families leaving Egyptian captivity and traveling into the wilderness of Sinai.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 

©2009-2014 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced.


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