Easy Oat Dessert Distraction


My son Jeff is an activist for the homeless community that live in his area.  Jeff has great compassion for the traumatized, marginalized unhoused population. Sometimes his work is rewarding, sometimes disheartening.  I try to assure him that he’s helped people more than he’ll ever know. I check-in with Jeff to making sure he’s taking care of himself as well as others. (That’s what Moms do, right?)

In the midst of befriending the broken, standing up for an important issue, or perhaps juggling schedules of a busy family on the home front, we all need a little self-care. Simple ways to recharge are necessary, even if it’s just a few minutes of distraction from the craziness of this world.

Sometimes caregiving takes a toll that requires more than a simple distraction. People helpers immersed with victims of trauma-related events might find themselves struggling with compassion fatigue. According to the American Institute of Stress, compassion fatigues is “the emotional residue or strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of traumatic events.” Compassion fatigue is characterized by loss of hope, anger, low morale, and depression. Burnout is another debilitative state related to compassion fatigue. This may occur when one is no longer energized by their normal workload, with the stress of that load accumulating over a period of time. Burnout symptoms include frustration, apathy, and mental exhaustion.

Thankfully, I’m neither burned out nor experiencing compassion fatigue. But I recognize that I need tiny little loving things to do for myself and others that bring joy when I am disappointed or discouraged. For me, creating new recipes and a couple hours in the kitchen take my mind away from swirling current events that are troubling, to say the least.

What are some ways you practice self-care?

Jim’s been battling a cold, so I pulled out some basic pantry ingredients for a crumble, or “betty” to enjoy while watching the Cavs game. A little kitchen time for me and some comfort food for Jim would make for a pleasant evening. Unfortunately, by the time I served it to him, he was fast asleep while Korver drained 8 3’s for Cleveland! (Translation: he made 3 point baskets from a considerable distance from the net.) Nevertheless, a little cooking is good for the soul when the news of the day isn’t so pretty.

Easy Oat Dessert 

Thank you to my good friend, Martha Smith, for the candle


2 apples peeled, cored, and sliced
2 tsps. cinnamon
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup homemade chunky applesauce
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup flour (I like einkorn flour, but regular AP or whole wheat is fine.)



  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spray 8×8 oven safe dish with non-stick vegetable spray.
  3. Line dish with apple slices.
  4. Mix cinnamon with sugar. Sprinkle 1/2 on the apples.
  5. Dot the apples with the applesauce.
  6. Mix the rest of the cinnamon/sugar, oats, syrup, flour, and pecans in a small bowl.
  7. Cover the apples with the oat mixture.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes.
  9. Serve warm (deliciously comforting) with a drizzle of maple syrup and a scoop of ice cream if you need more indulgence.

Skip the ice cream and eat for breakfast. Yum!

And a little silliness with my grandson, Toby, never hurts!







Like Never Before

a diverse faith community helping others discover Jesus and helping them be who He created them to be


Last Sunday morning at my local church, visiting Pastor Dustin White from Radial Church  passionately (you had to be there) preached from James 1 on what it takes to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.




Simply put, the opening verses to the book of James informs that discipleship will bear witness to a test of faith, producing perseverance in the face of adversity. If you seriously follow the way of life that Jesus teaches, then I know you have battle stories from the front lines that attest to this.



And no one but guest speaker Dustin and his wife Jamie knows the extent of adversarial challenges they face in their church’s street ministry for inner city Canton, Ohio. Yet they are steadfast in their work, with the scars and success stories to prove it. Their lives truly authenticate Dustin’s morning message.



Later that evening, millions of people witnessed challenges in a totally different context  during football’s crowning glory, the Super Bowl. The New England Patriots executed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history after trailing the Atlanta Falcons by 25 points midway through the third quarter.

Jim struggled to get excited for the Patriots due to their Fall season of deflate gate, but I was thoroughly entertained by all the drama on the field. Quarterback Tom Brady and company, in spite of controversies that followed them into The Big Game, pulled off a stunning performance never before seen in fifty-one years of Super Bowl history. In fact, one of the sports commentators created his post-game analysis around an impressive list of “never befores.”

Never before did a Super Bowl go into overtime~
Never before did a quarterback win five Super Bowl championships~
Never before did a QB throw for so many yards, 466, in this game~

And many more Never Befores were recounted, with a strong emphasis on the trials that the Patriots endured throughout their football season.

Considering our church venue, what if we had our own Never Befores to report?  Instead of counting noses, nickels, and new programs, what if Never Befores were the highlights of our end of the year analyses?




Such as, never before have we loved like Jesus, even when it was inconvenient and uncomfortable~

And never before have we shown such compassion to our neighbor, even when it was not reciprocated~

Or, never before have we listened and responded so well to those that look, think,  and behave differently~

Or, never before have we willingly accompanied someone in their darkest hours.

A disciple of Christ creates a never before culture. According to Pastor Dustin, the pre-requisites of becoming that disciple are right up front in James’s letter.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (NLT)

Adversity is the stuff of a disciple’s life that gives birth to the never befores.

In our society filled with hurt and hate, I think we need more never befores
than ever before.








Do Something Days

Family systems therapist, Dr. Cecil Bergen, was one of the most gifted instructors in my masters of counseling program. Bergen fostered an appreciation for systems theory, helping me to grasp its efficacy for healing groups, dysfunctional families, and struggling marriages. Regarding people in crisis, I’ll never forget Bergen leaning forward during a lecture, jabbing his finger at the room of aspiring therapists and crying out, “Don’t just sit and listen to your clients, do something, ANYTHING!”

While the anything was a bit of hyperbole, Bergen accomplished what he wanted to communicate. I haven’t forgotten that lecture. Systems counselors “do something” through assigning homework between sessions. They create an action plan to be implemented. Severe situations warrant specific actions.

I’m guessing by now you know where I’m going with this.

America is in crisis and we have action to take and work to do.

The operative word here, of course, is action. What is this action we are to do?

What is this action you are to do?

God, through the power of his spirit, wants to reveal that to you. Discerning that begins with prayer and meditation. As a Christian who believes in the holy inspiration of the Bible, I turn to scripture to define that action.

We’re all different and my plan probably won’t look like your plan. My hope is that you will choose a simple strategy for yourself and implement that as well.

My Action Plan for 2017

  1. Adopt Proverbs 3:27 as a rule of life. “Do not withhold good for those in need, when we have the ability to do it.”
  2. Meet community leaders and clergy that are intentional about getting involved in the needs our neighbors. 
  3. Attend the national Q conference in Nashville for discussion on contemporary issues and Christian perspectives.
  4. Serve my local church in the development of a community garden and help food insecure families.
  5. Befriend an unhoused family and connect my church volunteers with others in homeless situations.

When my kids were little, we read a story together titled The Do-Something Day about a  boy that tries to get his parents’ attention while they are preparing for the local fair.


His Mom tells her son to find something to do, so he leaves his house to wander the neighborhood. On his walk, local store proprietors invite him in to help with their chores and reward him with an item from their shops. When he finally returns home, his family greets him lovingly and discovers his new gifts are just what they need for their activities in the fair. It’s a heartwarming story and I’m glad I saved this book to read to my grandchildren.


For their birthdays, I facilitated their own do something days to spend with Jim and me. I made a Do Something (Birth) Day book for the birthday boy to fill out after we completed our special time together. One of our oldest grandson’s favorite do something day was our overnight at a lake cabin complete with fishing and campfire s’mores. He wrote about it in his book and I filled it with photographs for him.

Friends, it’s time to write our own Do Something Day stories. If you’re like me, I find it a lot easier to engage with my own family (especially grandchildren, of course!) than carve out time for others in need. But I believe there is something, at least one thing, that we all can do to make our world a better place.


Here are a few of my favorite books for encouragement, instruction, and inspiration as you seek to make changes in your own community~

Corbett, Steve and Brian Fikkert. 2012. When Helping Hurts, How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. Chicago: Moody Press.
Corbett and Fikkert provide a biblically based framework focused upon the roots of poverty and strategies for alleviation. Author David Platt notes that he’s never read a better book on practically serving the poor. Colbert and Fikkert declare, “a path forward is found, not through providing resources to the poor, but instead by walking with them in humble relationships.” If your action plan is to help the least of these in your local context, then I would put this book at the top of your reading list. 

Golden, Jonathan David. 2016. Be You. Do Good. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
Pastor and founder of Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Company, Golden lives out his calling in the hills of Rwanda where his coffee growing business practices help to provide a living wage to more than 2,500 Rwandan farmers and their families. In his book, Golden inspires his readers to follow their passions with practical steps to fulfilling one’s calling and a life of purpose. Golden begins with a basic message that “each day you can make a difference by being yourself and doing good.”

Platt, David.