Chocolate-Walnut Spread / Truffles

May28_04

AKA “Healthy Nutella”

Gluten free, egg-free, dairy-free, sugar free no-bake, and yummy

1.5 cups walnuts, or hazelnuts, ground

1/4 c. liquid – milk, juice, water

8 dates, pitted

1/4 c. cocoa powder

dash salt

1 tsp. vanilla

Grind the nuts in a food processor. Add liquid, process some more. Add dates, process some more.  Add remainder of ingredients and process until completely blended.  Can use as a spread or roll into balls and roll the balls in nuts, coconut, etc. for truffles.

Colorful Quinoa Salad

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1 c. quinoa

2 c. water

Combine quinoa and water in large pot, bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Let cool.

In large bowl combine the quinoa with the following:

2 c. diced cucumber

2 c. diced pepper

1/3 c. toasted sunflower seeds

2/3 c. toasted sliced almonds

1/2 c. raisins

1 small can mandarin oranges, drained (reserve juice)

 

Dressing:

Combine in a jar or other container with a lid, shake well, pour over salad.

1/3 c. reserved mandarin orange juice

1/4 c. olive oil

1 T. each dill, Italian spice blend

1 tsp. mustard

1 tsp. lemon juice

salt and pepper

 

Serves about 8 – 10 as a side salad

 

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (Part Two)

Picture from a google plus page about coping with grief and loss
Picture from a google plus page about coping with grief and loss

Friendship, Deconstructed or The Final Nail In The Coffin

At the end of November, 2014, a couple that we thought we had a significant friendship told us, after I’d asked them about their recent lack of communication with us, how they really felt. The husband, (hereinafter referred to as “A”) said rather condescendingly: “We want the best for you” and “I can’t be around sad people because of my job” [Translation: we want the best for you, but please fuck off]. The wife (hereinafter referred to as “B”) said to me: “You’re like my sister—fragile, lack self-confidence, and need therapy. I have more in common with (your husband) because he’s a professional.”
“I hope this was helpful” “A” said as they went out the door. Helpful? Hmm, not so much. Illuminating, yes. Painful? ABSOLUTELY.
I was devastated. Analysis, and grieving, ensued.
Two days later, at church, “A” acted like nothing had happened and, a week later, they sat with us at a church lunch. [Are you fucking kidding me?????] I could hardly look at them, much less talk to them.
In December I tried to “win them back” and “fit in” by hustling for worthiness as Brene Brown puts it. This “hustling” consisted of gratitude Facebook posts. You know, something like: “Today’s gratitude: the sky is blue.” Once I realized what I was doing, I stopped.*
For months, I would even dream about these friends. A professional said it was both an attempt by my unconscious to make sense of what happened and a form of grieving.
Please understand: We had done numerous things with this couple: gone to each other’s homes, we’d spent weekends with them, been part of the same church group, we’d looked after their dog whilst they were away, etc. There was literally no area of our life where their fingerprints weren’t on it. Now, it even hurts to look at our kitchen backsplash as I painfully remember how “A” helped my husband tile it, and I wonder if painful memories such as those are enough to justify moving.
Gradually, a review showed how little of a friendship it actually was except perhaps in my own mind. Eventually self-esteem returned: why would I want to be friends with people who thought so little of me?
Early in 2015, this couple requested a meeting. Thinking okay, God wants reconciliation here, we agreed. After initial chit-chat, “A” stated he’d noticed how unresponsive I’d been and how much pain I was in. They asked how I was doing. I decided to be as blunt with them as “B” had been with me. Among other things, I told them I rejected “B’s” characterization of me and if they knew me better, and all I’d gone through, they’d think differently too. I went on to say I’m friends with people from all walks of life. I also stated I’m not a person to be fixed with books and pamphlets [they like to lend people books and pamphlets when said people share their heart about a struggle they are dealing with] but a friend to be loved. (I stopped just short of saying I’m not a project to be managed—one of them is in management).
Virtually all communication between us ceased after that, with the exception of occasional encounters at church. It seems apparent God didn’t want reconciliation after all, and that meeting was just an opportunity for me to share what I’d been feeling since that awful day in November.

The latest brief encounter a few days ago made me very sad for what used to be.
The demise of this friendship played a definite role in our decision to leave the church. Awkward encounters for the rest of our life? I don’t think so.
*Hustling for worthiness means, according to Ms. Brown,

When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving. Our sense of worthiness – that critically important piece that gives us access to love and belonging – lives inside of our story. ~From her book The Gifts of Imperfection

The wise Brene Brown on fitting in vs. belonging:

Fitting in is about becoming who you need to be to gain acceptance. Belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

park-and-drive
Image from nakedpastor.com (David Hayward) and used with permission

Dear Church,
We’re breaking up with you. And here’s why:
For approximately 10 years we’ve tried to fit in. We’ve attended Bible Studies, Life Groups, Book Clubs, Dessert Nights, BBQ’s, volunteered in various capacities, etc. and ad nauseaem.
The Bible Studies/Life Groups we’ve attended have either not been a good fit, or have folded. We asked to join the last small group we attended and were “allowed in.” The group folded thereafter, save for monthly social events.
A recent invitation extended to myself to a women’s breakfast was given, I suspect, purely because I’d overheard discussion about same and asked about it. My suspicions seemed to be confirmed when the main organizer of the woman’s breakfast conveniently (and, purportedly, accidentally) kept leaving my name off the email list for same.
The life groups, BBQ’s, dessert nights, etc., to which it appeared only a select few were invited or welcome, continued. We’d only hear about them in passing, and at times we’d wonder, firstly, why these events were not publicized to the church at large and secondly, why we were so continually left out.
Church, to us, felt less inclusive and more exclusive.
Slowly, we found little community within your walls.
We had few people we could call friends.

All Take and No Give

I’d hurt my back quite significantly in 2008 and requests for help went almost completely unanswered. Yet you were happy to take from us – including our money, and my time spent volunteering. Often, the only phone calls we received were calls to help out, not invitations to connect. Because I work both out of the home, and am a homemaker, the assumption seems to be made by you, Church, I have scads of free time just waiting to give to the church.

Sharing Not Acceptable

In 2013 – 2014, because of the death of my father and two beloved pets, as well as additional health challenges, I’d been going through a rough patch and thought I could share the same with the life group. Silly me. In response, I’d get the usual Christianese “propaganda”. [Seriously people, can I make a suggestion: just shut up if that’s the best you can offer.] Its notable there’s no room for true heart sharing in most life groups—only the “safe” prayer requests like health or job or family concerns are “allowed.” And God forbid you show emotion when requesting the same. Stiff upper lip: the hallmark of evangelicalism, western religion and culture.

Our Responsibility, And Our Fault

One lady and I did become friends. When we tried to discuss the situation with her and her husband regarding the lack of friends and community, we were told “you aren’t always there on Sunday,” “you’re not reliable,” and the latest comment was along the lines of “we had unreasonable expectations.” Further, they intimated, it’s up to us to reach out. Comments like those seem to imply that it’s both our responsibility and our fault that we have so little connection.

Pastoral Change

Our beloved lead Pastor left last year and several people left likely as a result of that. At this point, it’s a small church of around 100 people.
We’ve now been over a year without a lead pastor. An interim lead pastor was eventually hired. The interim pastor’s sermons have become so legalistic my husband nearly walked out the last time we heard one. Further, this interim pastor appears to be complementarian [he stated, first sermon he gave, that women can’t be in leadership positions in the church], does not seem to believe in being a welcoming church to the LGTBQ community, and his approach comes across rather patronizing, condescending and extremely authoritarian.
Meanwhile, back at church, I threw myself into more volunteering, adding more and more responsibilities, and thinking I’d find connection & community that way. Yeah, not so much. There were interactions of course during certain volunteer activities but beyond that, nada. Few invitations, few initiations to connect, and all I’m left with now are feelings of sadness, fatigue, and burnout.
We all have areas in our lives that need improvement: I struggle with communication and listening skills, fight constantly against self-absorption and making conversation all about me. This is not a negative trait or a trait that needs improvement; however my husband is an introvert. It’s with disbelief I ponder: could those traits be the reason for an entire church community to turn its’ back on us?

Beliefs Not Congruent

We are an older couple without children who do not have family in the area. We’re grace-based, non-fundamentalist, don’t believe rules and legalism ever changed anyone’s hearts, or drew them to Jesus. We don’t believe in the guilt and shame of focusing on our sin (and sinful nature) with daily confession, and guilt trips from the pulpit about how awful we, as Christians, are because of “sin”. We believe in showing love and acceptance to our fellow man, not judgment.

We’re the misfits – too liberal for the conservative churches, yet not liberal enough for the liberal ones.

It’s telling that there’s no community for us at this church after 10 plus years , but what it’s telling us we still do not know exactly why. It’s also telling there’s more community in a secular Facebook group I’m part of than at our church.
So, we’re done. Done trying to fit in, done trying to be the square pegs in the round holes, and done trying to figure out why this has happened. The next church we attend, if there is one, the plan is to start over, keep expectations extremely low, and our conversations light and fluffy.

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Light and Fluffy – like Cotton Candy. Cotton Candy, as you know, melts in your mouth, maybe because too much water from the saliva in your mouth breaks it down. It could be said water is the stress that breaks cotton candy down. I wonder, is too much authenticity the stress that breaks down community at church?