This is the end….

 

Ok, so you are probably wondering why I put a funny cheese commercial at the beginning of this blog post.  Well, it’s kind of long story. So, my short-term disability ran out on October 21, 2016. I thought I was going to be getting a fantastic job, but not quite sure if I was ready to be working full-time with lots of travel. Turns out, they did not feel I had enough experience in an area and not enough knowledge in another area. So I didn’t get the job.

I should note that prior to my short-term disability running out, I applied for Social Security Disability, which takes about 3 months to be approved or denied.

Back to not getting the job. I’m not sure who I spoke to, but was told to file for unemployment because I did not get the job but no longer on short-term disability. I was accepted for unemployment benefits right away, but I had to go through a screening call to make sure I qualify. Well, I got the call, which was not an easy one! The woman wanted to know if I was disabled or employable. I tried to explain that I am employable with limitations. She would not accept my answer. “You are either disabled or employable, Ms Wilson, you can’t be both!” She wanted a note from my doctor saying I was employable without limitations. I felt I was between a rock and a hard place. I won’t tell you that I didn’t cry. I did!

Almost immediately, the Message version of Isaiah 43:1-4 came to my mind.

When You’re Between a Rock and a Hard Place

43 1-4 But now, God’s Message,
    the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
    the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
    I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
    When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
    it won’t be a dead-end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
    The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
    all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
    That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
    trade the creation just for you.

Also, a song started in my heart:

When you’re up against a struggle that shatters all your dreams
And your hopes have been cruelly crushed by Satan’s manifested schemes
And you feel the urge within you to submit to earthly fears
Don’t let the faith you’re standing in, seem to disappear

Praise the Lord, He can work through those who praise Him
Praise the Lord, for our God inhabits praise
Praise the Lord, for the chains that seems to bind you
Serve only to remind you that they drop powerless behind you
When you praise Him

I felt comforted by God. I know He loves me, He has a plan and He is in control. Later in the day I ended up at a Job Center for a class. Ironically my badge had expired even though I was doing things to keep it active, so I had to meet with a counselor for a new badge. I met with a lady who is a Sister-in-Christ and she told me that she could not tell me what to do but to trust God to show me what was the best thing to do. She explained that with me being “employable with limitations” that I would qualify for job training (which I was not eligible of getting before because I didn’t qualify and because they didn’t have funding) and possibly help from Department of Rehabilitation (which I also had applied for).

I had pretty much decided that I would not worry about losing unemployment thinking I might get Social Security Disability. However, I called UCSF to talk to them about what they thought I should do. No one contacted me back in time to do anything about unemployment, so when the letter of denial for unemployment came, I was not surprised at all.

This morning, I was looking at my bookshelf and opened a devotional book I have not read yet. There was a challenge on the page I turned to, so I read it since I like challenges. It read:

“Challenge: Today make the LORD your dwelling place. Let Him be the one that delivers you from your enemies. As you talk and pray to God, ask Him to show you the best way to handle a current crisis. Like He did with David, He will deliver you. May God bless you.”

I decided to verbally acknowledge the LORD as my dwelling place to at least take part of the challenge. I started to pray, “God, I don’t have a current crisis that I know of….” Immediately I thought “you won’t receive Social Security Disability.” I knew that it was the LORD and not the enemy. And as crazy as it may seem, I heard the mailman drop the mail in the box right then. Sure enough to His word, I received a letter from Social Security that I do not qualify for Social Security Disability because according to my doctor at UCSF I am “employable with limitations”.

I could not believe it! Well I could, but I couldn’t. The same thing that disqualified me from receiving unemployment was also disqualifying me from receiving Social Security Disability! Wow! That is just unbelievable!

No Bible verses came to mind. No songs of hope sprang up in my heart. Just the enemy telling me that I thought I was at the end before but now I was at the end. “There’s no hope for Michelle…she will not be able to get the training she thought she would be able to get since she won’t have any form of income from State or Government!”

Then a song arose but not one from God. “This is the end, beautiful friend, This is the end, my only friend, the end. Of our elaborate plans, the end.”

I was sure that I have seen a video of a mouse in a trap with this same music playing. You think, “poor mouse!” It truly looks like the end for the poor critter. And that is what it feels like for me right now. But the mouse ate strong cheese and as a result was able to “bench press” the bar that had snapped to take life from its body to the tune of Eye of the Tiger! Hee hee! My God is much stronger than the strongest cheese! He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.  He is my dwelling place and He will deliver me from my enemies.

I love when I can laugh at Satan. He may think that I am at the end, “But my God shall supply all my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19). I laugh at Satan, not because I know God’s plan or how provision will come in, but because I know God is faithful!

Tonight when I talked to my housemate about my day, she told me, “I want you to know, you will not be kicked out of my house if you can not come up with rent! Just know that, ok?” I am already praising God for the blessing of the beautiful home I am living in as well as the generosity my housemate has already shown me. Now I praise God all the more for an assurance of housing in a time of uncertainty with my finances. God is already showing Himself faithful!  Praise God not only is He my dwelling place, but He has provided a dwelling place!

Challenging you to create a Psalm

At the beginning of August, I started reading a Psalm a day. Weeks before, I was asking God to increase my confidence in Him. I decided to use an older Bible that I had not used in a while and when I turned to Psalm 1, I read many notes that I had written in the Bible years earlier. One of the notes reads: “Confident believers are happy because their faith is adequate to provide them total trust. (The Upper Room Disciplines 2000, May 29).” What a great confirmation that God was going to increase my confidence in Him.

Also, a Women’s Bible study came available right around then, “A Sweeter the Honey Study of the Psalms”. I signed right up. It was filled with so many good and tasty treats from God’s Word, Yummy! (Taste and see that the LORD is good, oh the joy of those who trust in Him. Psalm 34:8). It was really a blessing and truly a help to increase my confidence in God.

One of our assignments was to write a Psalm. We were given a tool (below) based on Psalm 18. The day that the ladies in my class shared our Psalms, I challenged my Facebook friends and family to create a Psalm of their own. Several people asked me for tips and tools to start their Psalms, so here they are.

  1. Pray that God will help you.
  2. Be honest with yourself and God – open up.
  3. Take down notes of Bible verses that minister to you, your life verse or other verses.
  4. Be creative – whatever that looks like to you.
  5. Spend time silently with God asking Him to speak to you.
  6. Listen to things that others say that encourage you or speak to you.
  7. Use the tool below as a guide.
  8. Have fun!

Believe it or not, you might be surprised with what comes through your writing time. After I read mine aloud to the group, one of the leaders said, “What a beautiful Psalm of Confidence”. So I renamed it. I had not told her that I desired to have more confidence in God. But that is what came to light in the finished product through the process of writing.

This is just a tool. I will add my picture Psalm as well as my written Psalm below. Some of the ladies in my class wrote Psalms similar to the template, but others started with it and ended up with something far different. One lady set her Psalm to music and another lady had an Ebenezer (Rock of Victory or Memorial stone) which she had written on. You can paint or draw a picture, put together a collage of pictures or words. You can write a song or a story. Spend some time asking God what He would like you to do. I don’t draw very well, but I am inspirited (excited) that my picture actually looks like a treasure chest! Be creative!

Psalm 151 A Psalm of _________________ (your name)

  1. I love You, O Lord, my _____________________________(What/who is God to you, eg. Savior, Refuge, Counselor). The Lord is my _______________________, my ______________________ and my ____________________ because He _______________________________ (Write something God has done for you) I will praise Him.
  2. (Explain your situation, distress, enemy,….here, and write how it makes you feel) ____________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________
  3. I trust You Lord with ______________________________________________ (Your situation, future, enemy, …) and know that You will hear me. Lord, give me victory over ______________________ _____________________________, give me strength for the battles/suffering that may lie ahead; and give me grace and mercy as I wait upon You.
  4. Lord, You delivered me by _________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________
  5. Lord, I praise You _______________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________

A Picture of my drawn Psalm: The LORD is my Treasure, my very Great Reward:

img_20161019_224729

A Psalm of Confidence – Psalm 151

Beloved LORD and My God, my confidence and hope are in You. You are my Rock and my Refuge; You are my Shield and my Buckler. You are my Path and my Guide. You are my Light and my Life, apart from You there is nothing. You alone are my Provider, my Inheritance, my very Great Reward.

I am Your daughter, You have chosen me. In You alone will I trust; I will not lack anything and I will not be put to shame. Oh I long for the day that flesh and distractions no longer get in the way of a sweet time with You. Then I will fully know You and Your great love for me.

Thank You LORD that You hear me, that You communicate with me and respond to me. You hear me when I cry and You answer me.

God, I need You! Unless You come through, there is no hope (Tikvah) and the enemy will have won. He mocks me saying, “she will never recover from her ‘sacrifice’ or from debt she has accrued and will accrue.” The enemy taunts with lies saying I am not hireable where I can receive a decent wage and benefits. He says no decent vehicle will be found for me to own, and there’s no place to call home. He says all the men who follow You are married or too busy to want to be with “the likes of me”.

I praise You LORD, You catch me in a net of Your mercy and grace so that I will not fall into the enemy’s web of lies. I praise You LORD, Your Word illuminates the darkest places and brings truth to light.

LORD, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the enemy. Help me, LORD my God, for I rely on You, and in Your name (Ha Shem) I have come against the vast lies of the enemy. LORD, You are my God; do not allow the enemy to be victorious in his plot to ruin me. Do not allow anyone to look at my circumstances and say that it is because You do not exist or that You do not care.

LORD You are the Cornerstone and Foundation. You are an Anchor in the storm. You are the All-Powerful Creator God and Conquering King. With one command from Your mouth, LORD the enemy will be put to death.

Abba Father, LORD Jesus, Holy Spirit, You love me, You have a very good plan for me and You are in control! I am confident that I will see Your goodness in the land of the living.“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” May those who do not know You see what You have done for me and know that You alone have moved on my behalf.

So, consider yourself officially challenged by me to create a Psalm to God. Please share with me (and others) what you end up creating. May I also encourage you to give others the same challenge??? You never know what will come of it!

Also see the story and the Psalm from the “Sweeter than Honey Bible study continued… Challenged to write another Psalm.

Christmas Baking Already! Yes!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…..well, I usually don’t think that way about this time of the year, but this year I do!  A friend of mine got a Kitchen Aide at a fraction of the price and decided to invite some ladies over to her place to make Christmas cookies the first weekend of November. At first I thought it was crazy, but then I really got into it.

So I decided to make some of my own since I am trying real hard to be on a lower-carb and no processed sugar diet. Also, I figured out that I can make the cookies in stages, so it is not so hard on my body.

Another friend and I have looked for Bob’s Red Mill low-carb mix in most the local stores but it is nowhere to be found. I also looked on-line for different ideas for low-carb flour. Almond flour is awfully dense and most everything tastes almond-like. I was going to add some soy or whey protein powder since I heard that was good too. Then I went to a local Asian store to see if they had any kind of low-carb flour and I found yam flour which is more of a starch. I wanted to see what would happen when I mixed Almond Flour (Trader Joe’s), soy protien powder and the yam flour…the result??? A low-carb “flour” mixture that tastes almost like white flour and it has a very similar texture to flour too so I can use it one to one! Yay!

The other challenge was that I didn’t just want to look on-line for low-carb, no processed sugar recipes because I have a few recipes from some of the clients I had when I was a senior caregiver, so I decided to just see what would happen if I made some changes.  The results???? Yummy cookies! Yay!

img_20161112_215642550

Here are some recipes. I hope you all enjoy them!

LP’s Pfeffernusse Cookies (low-carb, processed sugar-free)

  • 1/2 C Molasses
  • 1/4 C Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 C Butter (can also just use 1/2 C butter or 1/2 C Coconut Oil)
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2 t Anise Extract (I used 1 t Anise Extract and 1 t ground Star Anise)
  • 4 Cups Low-carb flour mixture
  • 1/4 C Stevia (or other processed sugar substitute)
  • 1/2 C Raw unprocessed brown sugar (or other processed brown sugar substitute)
  • 1 1/2 t ground Cardamom
  • 1 t Garam Masala (she recalled this over ground nutmeg but she might have been thinking of Lebkuchen???)
  • 1/2 t ground Cloves
  • 1/2 – 1 t ground Ginger (I like Ginger so I use more)
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t white Pepper (they are pepper cookies…just not the same without it!)
  • a dash of salt
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda

Mix together the wet ingredients (I like to just use a whisk). In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Combine the ingredients from both bowls and stir until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll the dough into small meatball sized balls. Place on a cookie sheet about an inch apart. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes. (Some people dust these with powdered sugar but I think they are sweet enough as is.)

AR’s Twice-Baked Italian Cookies (Biscotti)

  • 1 C Stevia or sugar substitute
  • 1 C Olive Oil
  • 4 T Anise Seed (I reduced this and added some ground Star Anise – it makes it extreme if you taste the dough, but finished product is delicious!)
  • 4 T Anise Extract or Anise flavored Liquor (Annisette or other)
  • 3 T Bourbon Vanilla or Bourbon (or 1 T Vanilla & 2 T Water) I added some Almond Extract
  • 2 C coarsely chopped Almonds
  • 6 Large Eggs
  • 5 1/2 C Low-Carb flour mixture (1 used 4 C LC Flour mix and 1 1/2 C Almond meal but then ended up having a lot of oil coming off when baked so I will probably reduce this down in the future.)
  • 1 T baking powder

Mix first 5 ingredients, beat in eggs. Combined flour mixture and baking powder. Combine all the ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

On lightly floured board, shape cookie dough with your hands to form flat loaves that are 1/2″ thick, 2″ wide and as long as the cookie sheet. Place no more than 2 loaves per sheet parallel and well apart. Bake 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to touch. The cut loaves at an angle to form slices that are about 1/2″ wide. Lay slices on cut side close together on the cookie sheet and return to oven for 15-20 minutes or until lightly toasted. Cool on wire racks.

My client used olive oil and not butter and it really tastes better that way.

I do have other cookie recipes, but I am tired tonight so I will add those another time. You’ll just have to check back another time. Please leave me comments if you try making these cookies. I’d love to know what others think.

Challenge: What recipe(s) would you like to see low-carb and processed sugar-free??? How would you change it? Please share your ideas with me!

 

 

 

The enemy’s Hand has been overturned!

I don’t usually read prophecies but for a few weeks have been getting daily email from Spirit Fuel. Today I just read the title and it spoke to me, “The Enemy’s Hand Has Been Overturned!” I read what Edie Bayer had to say and it was different from what is in my head. She talked about soil being turned-over or tilled with seeds already planted and coming to fruition.

For me, the title spoke to me much differently. You see, before I donated part of my liver to Lupe, I felt like I was in a card game with the enemy. I needed to ante-up but had nothing else to put in so that I could win except for God. I was going to have to find housing in what seemed an impossible way. (You can read that blog here!)

The prophecy talked about it being in past tense – it has been done. The enemy’s hand has been overturned and he did not win! I realized that I have not written about what God has done. I was in temporary housing with my Step-Mom – it was not meant to be lived in, but we made it through. Then God blessed me through people in/through my church who paid for a temporary apartment for me ($3000 a month for a month) then another 15 days there through another church and family member of Lupe. I did go back to the temporary housing for 21 days.

I had given everything I had and more to be able to donate….it seemed like the enemy would prevail in the “card game” in regards to my housing. But his hand was overturned by God’s winning hand!

You see, God moved me right when it seemed like all was lost, when it seemed like I had made a huge mistake and would look like a fool…God moved!

I don’t live in my own place, but I have a nice sized room with a gorgeous view and beautiful curtains. I have a garden to play in and all of my plants have a place. My cat Bebe is here with me. I am spoiled twice a month with housekeepers coming in to clean the floors, bathrooms and kitchen. I have a housemate who encourages me and prays for me. I am in a safe neighborhood close to the police department and walking distance to restaurants and stores. I am able to have guests over for Bible study, games, meals, etc. All in my price range.

I am still not sure what going forward will look like. I am in between funding ending for short-term disability and Social Security Disability accepting me. I have applied for unemployment because I am able to work – with limitations. It seems like another impossible situation. But you know what??? I already have the victory! The card game has been won and God is the winner. I look forward to writing about what the journey will reveal! I hope you will join me!

Just being myself

One year I worked for a non-profit agency that had yearly fundraisers. The year I worked for them, they decided they wanted to hire a clown to be at the fundraising event. But they were unable to find one. I let my boss know that I was willing to be a clown at the event because I had my own costume and make-up….at one time, I even had my clown face registered with a clown registry! (Yes, crazy enough, clown faces can be registered!)  My boss was delighted, so the day of the event, I got to work early enough to put on my make-up and costume.  However, as I finished putting white on my face, I would notice that my skin would start to show through. I thought maybe the oils in my skin were causing the white to come off, so I used some powder and then applied more white. I would get finished with one side only to have the white come off the other side again. Well, I was running out of time, so I prayed God would help me (I wasn’t sure what else to do!).  As clear as day I heard in my heart, “I no longer want you to wear a mask. This is who you used to be but I have made you brand new!” At that point I stopped trying to get my skin fully covered and only a few people asked if I had issues with my makeup.

I was a bit stunned at what I thought I had heard God say since a clown isn’t a bad thing! (Well at that time, this year I have seen how the enemy can use a clown for evil.) But after the event, I prayed about it some more and decided that I would give my clown costumes and make-up away. The hard part is that I wanted to take part in my church’s Harvest Festival and I was encouraged to dress up.  I had no clue what to do…so I prayed and felt like the answer was to just be myself.

What does that look like? Well, the first year, I was trying to get a baking business going, so I wore my apron and chef hat. One year I had the idea of wearing my cap and gown from when I graduated from community college. Another year I wore my cap and gown from when I graduated from university. There might have been other similar “costumes” but I can’t recall what they were.

I was running out of ideas. Who am I???

Well, I really like to pray, so I thought it would be interesting to try to make a prayer closet for me to wear. And I finally got the opportunity to do that when a neighbor down the street from me got a new appliance several days before the harvest fest.

I boldly asked if I could have their box and they willingly gave it to me.10661949_10154717845475109_7018001576398974231_o I drew up some plans and found some 10668940_10154717845130109_8583389040875711864_osuspenders I could use to hold it on my shoulders and the church had some white paper that I could use to cover the box. As the project came along, I decided that I would make it a prayer booth instead of a prayer closet. On one side of the box, I added a pocket for prayer cards and pens. On the other side, I added a place for people to put the prayer cards and on the back of the booth I put in large letters, “Need Prayer? Ask me to pray for you!”

Harvest Fest 2014
Harvest Fest 2014

Right away, I was told that the costume was of poor character but I did not let it phase me. Within minutes, children were walking up to me and asking me for prayer. You see, the front had a little “table” where people could write down their prayer requests, but unknowingly, I had made my prayer booth just right for kids to lean in to talk with me as long as I got down on my knees. T0 my surprise, children of all nationalities were asking me for prayer. One child begged his mother to let him talk to me. Her reply, “but we don’t believe in their ‘god’!” The little boy didn’t care. He wanted prayer! It was a very special night for me for sure!

I wrote on my Facebook wall after the Harvest Fest was over: “It was so fun and rewarding to walk around dressed as a prayer booth for Trinity’s Harvest Fest. Please pray for the little boy pictured with me. He asked for a healthy brain and eyes. His mother said he has brain disease. So many children came to me for prayer…one even ‘tithed’ a piece of her candy for my prayers for her mommy to get well.”

Last year I was still in the hospital from the donation surgery (Trinity didn’t have a Harvest Fest anyway) so I didn’t need to come up with a “costume”.img_20161028_163232926 This year I had no idea what part of me I should portray. As I asked my housemate her thoughts, Bebe climbed up on my shoulder. She said, “You can be Bebe’s Mama!” So I went to the dollar store to look for a stuffed cat to attach to my shoulder only they didn’t have any. I did find an Army Hat and remembered that I had a bunch of plastic toy Army Men and Army signs from the War Room party I had during the summer. So I decided to go as a Soldier in Jesus’ Army by putting the sign on my back and taping the toy soldiers on my clothes. Little by little my “men” were falling off…guess the battle was pretty tough! I don’t have any pictures of my “costume” but it really wasn’t much to see in comparison to my prayer booth.

I have no clue what part of me I will portray next year. Maybe my readers need to write and give me some ideas (0:

Challenge: What would your “costume” or “costumes” be if you were to portray who you are??? Please leave your comments.

The God of 10 cars (and more)

In early 2015, my Mom offered $6000 towards a new to me vehicle, not to fix current vehicle or to have the cash but for her to wire the money to a dealer.

My car at the time was a 1999 Volkswagen Passat. I had bought it with 4 miles on it in June of 1998. It had been a good car to me for just shy of 17 years and I was having a hard time letting it go. But it needed a new catalytic converter and emissions work if it were to pass smog. It also started having other issues too, it seemed things were just falling apart on it. And someone crashed into my front bumper leaving it dented. Ugh! Ok, I know I needed a newer vehicle. Something more reliable.

I had a friend refer me to her friend who worked in a car dealership. He was looking for a specific car for me but when it didn’t come in and nothing in my price-range came up, he searched the internet for me which led me to a car in Fremont which sold right as I was arriving to the dealership. They found a 2004 Toyota Corolla CE with 118,620 miles on it on the back of the lot. The engine looked real clean, new hoses & belts. I am not sure why I bought the car other than the fact that my registration on my Passat was due but not able to smog so felt rushed. I bought the 04 Toyota Corolla.

Less than 23 hours after picking up the car, I went on a “God date” (out for dinner by myself where I can journal or just spend time praying or in God’s word). Almost immediately as I picked up the menu, I felt God speak in my spirit, “I love you, I have a plan and I am in control!

Less than an hour later, the engine light came on. I called dealership and was told they could do nothing because I did not buy a warranty. I took it to my mechanic. After $1449.98 and four trips to my mechanic, I found out the engine needed to be overhauled or replaced. After contacting Better Business Bureau, the dealership finally contacted me to say they would check out the car. At one point they offered to replace the engine with a used engine with similar miles but I no longer trusted them and finally after two of my friends went with me to talk to a manager, my money was returned to me. (Many say this is a miracle in itself). I was still out $1449.98 for the work my mechanic did on the car! )0:

But God had told me, “I love you, I have a plan and I am in control!” And boy has it been a plan that I would never have been able to dream up or even fathom (this is one of my favorite words, “fathom”!)

My friend Becky from church took me to drop off the car originally for the dealership to check out. I had to leave the car for several days, so she allowed me to use her car “whitey (1)”.

Becky needed her car back but her husband would willingly ride his bike to work and allow me to use his car “Greenie (2)” After a few weeks, Becky let me know they needed their car back.

By this time, I had my money back, but was having a hard time finding a decent car in the price range I had money for ($6000-$1449.98). I asked on Facebook if any of my friends had a car I could use for a week or so while I shopped for a vehicle. One of our church Elder’s and his wife were going out-of-town for a week so I used her van(3).

Still no luck finding a car to buy at that point. My friend Lisa was working for Shuddle while it was still in business and was using a brand new car of theirs so she was able to loan me her car (4) for about a week and a half.

Then, my friend Scott was going to Nicaragua for three months. I asked him to pray about me using his car and God said “yes,” so he allowed me to use his car (5). When I got his car, I pretty much stopped looking for a car to buy because I knew I would possibly be donating part of my liver soon and was expected to not be able to drive for 6 weeks to two months. I thought that I could look for a car after surgery. It turns out that I had Scott’s car for two month and three weeks and he came back one week after my surgery.

Then life was a bit crazy! I was not strong enough to drive for much longer than expected and with high pain levels and medication, my doctor would not approve for me to drive for over five months. After seeing a pain specialist, I was given some medicated cream that gave me the relief needed to be able to drive. Within two weeks of getting the cream I was feeling up to driving when Scott went out of the country for fourteen days and left his car (5 – 2nd time) with me. I picked him up at the airport on a Saturday night and the following Monday, my friend Maggie was going out-of-town for two weeks and allowed me to use her vehicle (6) while she was away.

However, while she was away, I got a skin rash that I could not get under control that turned out being from the pain cream, so by the time Maggie got back into town, the pain levels had increased so much that I was again no longer approved to drive, but I didn’t have a car available to me, so it didn’t matter.

By the time my new meds started working two weeks later, the next car came available to me. This car came from my housemate’s friends from church who I still have yet to meet. They went to Europe for about a month and left their keys here for me to use their Subaru (7) while they were gone (definitely Acts 2:44-45 in today’s context!). I shared about this on Facebook and got a call from a lady who had been my private client while I was caregiving – a sister in Christ who had become a friend (in person and on Facebook). She saw the post and God convicted her that she had a vehicle that needed to be used but was sitting in her garage.

After my month was up with car number seven, I picked up my friend’s Cadillac (8). Now the interesting thing is that it needed some work done on it. I knew I would be having a procedure done and would not be able to drive for a couple of days, however, I ended up being prescribed a new medication that made me very dizzy and unable to drive. Well, the car was in the shop the full length of time that I would be on the new medication (about a week and a half) then my doctor put me back on my original medication because my body was not tolerating the new medication.

It wasn’t long after I got the Cadillac (8) back, when Scott was going to be going out of the country again for several months and asked me to use his car while he was away. Scott’s car (5 – 3rd time). He was not sure when he would return, so I was not surprised to get a day’s notice that he would be back. I was not sure whose car I would use next. However, my housemate’s “daughter” went out of the country for three weeks and left her car (9) at the house.

When she returned, I really had no idea whose car I would use. I really thought I was going to finally have to buy a car. I started looking on-line, but I have not found any decent cars (meaning newer than my Passat with fewer miles and fewer mechanical issues). I considered buying a new one and taking out a loan, but my Mom said she did not want me buying a car with a loan while I am still on disability.

I asked another friend for a ride to church for Bible study. When she was taking me back home, she asked if I wanted to use her second car. I thought she had already sold it. Yep, God provided car number 10 for me to borrow for a few weeks.

I am one week away from the one year mark of donating 60% of my liver and my short-term disability will end next Friday. The day I got the tenth car, I was having quite a bit of anxiety about not knowing where money to live would come from since I did not have any job interviews and Social Security had not approved for long-term disability. I was sharing about my anxiety with my housemate. She asked me, “You mean you are afraid that the God of 10 cars won’t provide?”

Well, if you put it that way, no! I know that the God of 10 cars will provide. After all, He told me, “I love you, I have a plan and I am in control!

Not only did God provide 10 different cars for me to use during this time, but He also fashioned it so that I would not have a car when I was not able to drive. He knows me all too well! I would have been tempted to drive if I would have bought a car but instead He provided cars only when I was able to drive.

I look forward to seeing what He will do next!

Just a little update…car number 10 ended up being stolen Christmas day then wrecked. But interestingly, my housemate was out of town for Christmas, so her car became car number 11. I used Scott’s car (5) again several times and then I used a fancy blue Chevy Volt (car number 12) until a few days before the car GOD brought me came about. Check out the video I made. Waiting on GOD is worth it. He had a plan I would have never fathomed.

Up for a Baking Challenge

I enjoy a good challenge every once in a while. Do you?

Around November of last year a friend and I were out shopping when we came across a kit to make a pineapple upside down cake. I looked at the ingredients and didn’t know what a lot of them were so I put it back on the shelf. I’ve made a pineapple upside down cake before and I don’t recall it having unknown ingredients. Anyway, as I was putting it back on the shelf, I said, “Wouldn’t a coconut and pineapple upside down cake taste good?”  I got a, “Uhhh Yah!” out of my friend.

Well, I had just had surgery a little less than a month before that conversation and I was no where ready for a baking challenge.  I shared my idea with several ladies at church and they all agreed that a coconut pineapple upside down cake would taste good.

Between not feeling up to baking and not feeling creative, I kept putting off looking to find a recipe. Then one of the ladies told me that she was having to go on a low-potassium, low-sodium diet and she was having a hard time finding recipes.  Actually, several of my friends have been placed on the same diet, so I felt a challenge to help them come up with something yummy to eat.

I looked online to see if I could find any recipes and was surprised that I couldn’t find any…well until today when I actually thought of looking up “pina colada” muffins…Go figure, I have already made my own recipe! Haaa Haaa!

Here it is: Low-potassium, low-sodium, Processed sugar-free, Coconut Pineapple upside down muffins! (long name!)

1 C Quick Oats

1 Cup Shredded Wheats (or other low-potassium/low-sodium cereal) Shredded/broken up

1/2 C Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

1/2 C Coconut Sugar

1 t baking soda

1/4 t salt (optional)

1 C Butter Milk *(See notes)

2 T melted unsalted Butter

2 T melted coconut oil (Or use 1/4 C Butter or 1/4 Coconut oil if you don’t want to mix them)

1 – 2 t vanilla

1 egg


Topping

1/4 – 1/2 C Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

1 C Unsweetened Pineapple (or 1 1/2 C Frozen pineapple – Trader Joe’s brand is good)

*If using canned pineapple, reserve the juice and use it as part of the liquid and reduce the amount of buttermilk. Also, if you don’t have buttermilk, mix regular milk in with the pineapple juice and allow it to sit for 3 to 5 minutes. The acid in the pineapple will curdle the milk to make buttermilk.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Grease or butter your muffin tins (this makes 12). Distribute the coconut from topping as evenly as possible between 12 tins. Brown the coconut in the oven for 2-3 minutes (watching it so that it does not burn). Once you pull the muffin tins out of the oven, distribute the pineapple evenly on top of the coconut in the 12 tins (2/3 ring fits perfectly or 4 pieces if cut up).

In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Add the egg and the rest of the wet ingredients mixing well. Once combined, add the mixture on top of the coconut in the 12 tins. Bake for 18-23 minutes watching to make sure they don’t burn.

When you take them out of the oven, let them sit in the pan for about 15-20 minutes before taking them out.  I had to scoop some of the coconut from the tins onto the muffins, but other than that, they looked delicious!!!

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It was worth the challenge. I hope my friends will enjoy the special treat.

Have you been given a challenge that you have not completed for some reason? I encourage you – no, challenge you – to complete it.  Please share with me how it turns out.  Do you have a challenge for me? Let me know.

God bless you!

Lessons from a sacrifice

Well, donating 60% of my liver was much, much different from what I thought it would be. I had done A LOT of research, I had gone through several rounds of explanation of what was to be expected from all levels of my medical team and even read a lot of stories from people who had already donated through a live organ donor blog on Facebook. I thought I knew what to expect, but it was nothing like what I planned or thought. It really was a sacrifice, but it was worth it. Let me explain.

Lupe and I met with our surgeons on October 2, 2015 and were given the go ahead to have the surgeries as long as I found a place to move before the date of surgery (see my blogs in the “Steps of Faith” phase of blogging).  Temporary housing was found for me, but it wasn’t going to be in a home, it was going to be in a room in a back yard where there was no insulation and no bathroom. But there was plenty of room for myself, my step-Mom (who was coming as my caregiver), my furniture, etc so two days before surgery we moved into the room – arrangements were made for a camp toilet in the back and showers/laundry could be done in the house in the mornings.

On October 21, both Lupe and I were admitted to UCSF for surgery.img_20151021_153854 We were both placed in shared rooms at first. I was placed with a lady who thought she had a cold, so when my nurse said I could stay in my clothes and visit Lupe, I went quickly. Within about 10 minutes, a nurse from donor services named Lisa came to get me and said that as much as possible they like to place donors in a private room, so she showed me a private room with a bit of a view. I gladly took it.

I thought it was very interesting and sort of a sign, but my Personal Care Assistant for the night was named “Easter”. img_20151021_231834She put little bunny ears by her name as she wrote it on the board in my room. I told her that it was very interesting to me that the whole process for me to donate part of my liver started on Easter weekend. (See Waiting for an answer – steps of faith to a sacrifice.)

My friend Lisa stayed the first night with me and was able to go down to pre-op very early the next morning with me. As my gurney was pushed to the elevator, Lupe’s gurney came behind. He asked if I still wanted to “do this”. By then, it was no turning back for me. I thought I was ready.

In pre-op, there was a flurry of activity. We met part of my team and part of Lupe’s team since he was in the next “stall” from me. We discussed the surgery once more and then medicines were started. I was awake long enough to watch the operating doors open for my arrival. I met a few more people on my team, realized that it was extremely cold and then I was out.

I do not recall going to recovery at all so the next thing I remember is being on a gurney and being pushed into my hospital room. My step-Mom, friend Lisa and Lupe’s wife Hilda were all in my room. The nurse asked me what my pain level was from 1 to 10. I don’t recall my answer, but all three of the ladies told me I said “45” and mind you that was with the morphine!

Another memory that is super special to me is that at one point (possibly in the recovery room but maybe in my room), Dr. Roberts who was surgeon on me until the 60% of my liver was removed and then Lupe’s surgeon to put it into him came to visit me. He gently rubbed my arm until I was aware of him being there. He then held my hand and put his face near mine and told me, “Michelle, your liver started working in Lupe almost as soon as we put it in!” It was as if it were his first time ever doing the surgery – sort of an excitement in his words even though he is a the Chief of Transplant Services at UCSF.

I ended up staying in the hospital 10 days instead of 3, I moved 7 times after my surgery, and I am still on disability due to continued pain in my side and incision. All the pain, the frustration of moving, the loss of a years wages. I would never have imagined any of this.

Psalm 69:6 The Message (MSG)

Don’t let those who look to you in hope
Be discouraged by what happens to me (through the suffering),
Dear Lord! God of the armies!

Don’t let those out looking for you
Come to a dead end by following me—
Please, dear God of Israel!”

I think that sometimes people think that sacrifices should be easy, even for Christians. Or, we think of Jesus’ sacrifice only of what He did on Easter weekend. And that was not an easy sacrifice. The weight of the world’s sin were upon Him. Jesus gave up a lot more than just the sacrifice at Easter. He gave up His seat in heaven to be born not in a place of luxury, in a home with heat and water that was clean, not even in an Inn where there was some luxuries of “home”, but in a dirty, messy, stinky stable.

Today during worship I thought about how after surgery, my belly with the 11 1/2 inch incision felt like a pain level of “45”. I knew between a morphine drip and deep breathing, I could get the pain down.

Before the crucification, Jesus was flogged 40 times, which would have ripped his flesh front and back nearly disemboweling Him – He had no morphine. Then on the cross, His arms stretched and nailed, as well as His feet nailed together would make it near impossible to take a deep breath. And on top of that, if that wasn’t bad enough, the weight of the world’s sin (past, present and future) were placed upon Him.

The sacrifice I made for 1 man was no small thing, but I do not feel it was a waste. Lupe has been saved from an early death. He is 100% Hepatitis-C and cancer free + his body has accepted my liver.

The sacrifice Jesus made for all people was beyond human understanding, and He would do it again even if it was for one person. We celebrate the hope of Easter because He overcame death by God’s resurrection power. Those who believe and receive Him as LORD and Savior are saved from an eternal death, where we will be freed from disease and pain and will live for eternity with God.

Attempt, not success but not failure!

I am not sure why I named this what I did. Interestingly, I had a Bible verse come to mind as I typed the title: Proverbs 24:16 “For a righteous man falleth seven times, and riseth up again; But the wicked are overthrown by calamity.”

I have a confession to make. I am addicted to MyCupCakeAddiction. (Hi Elise, just in case you happen to stop by!) It is so much fun to watch all the videos Elise Strachan puts up on YouTube. She is so creative and just fun to listen to as well as to watch. Even Bebe the cat has started watching the videos with me.  The hard part, is that I am trying very hard to get off of processed sugar and of course, on the videos, everything is loaded with sugar.

However, last night I was watching some older videos and I saw Elise making homemade fondant. I wondered if I could make a processed sugar-free version so I started looking on-line (of course I have no clue what I need fondant for since I haven’t made any cakes in a while!) Looking for a sugar-free fondant recipe caused me to look for sugar-free marshmallows, which ended up causing me to look for a sugar-free marshmallow recipe because sugar-free marshmallows are expensive!

Well, I made my first batch of homemade sugar-free marshmallows. They look like they were a success from the top, but they weren’t. I knew they were iffy when I was making them because it never fully combined and only started to whip and thicken when I added some tapioca powder. It never doubled in size or began to peak. Well, I will blame the age of the gelatin because otherwise it tasted quite yummy!

I was going to save the attempted marshmallows, but decided that it has been way too long since I had rice krispie treats, so I attempted to make some out of the attempted sugar-free marshmallows. img_20160914_190537749

Again, the picture makes it look like I had success. They did set and they were sooooo yummy! But they had too much moisture in them. Attempt, not success but not failure!

How many times do we do something and it doesn’t work out, so we don’t try again?

I can think of many times that I have felt like I failed at something so I didn’t try again. This time however, I really don’t feel like this is a failure but rather a trial. Those who succeed are the ones who try and try again until they make it. Abraham Lincoln is a great example.

Even in the Bible verse above, the Righteous man doesn’t fall and stay down. He falls, repents and rises again.

So what things have you down??? Have you tried, failed and refused to get up again? Maybe you’ve made a recipe that just didn’t work out?

Encouragement for the day: I encourage you to get up and try again in an area where you feel like you have failed. And if you fail or it doesn’t turn out as you thought it would, try again….even if it takes seven times, I encourage you to try again.  And please share your stories with me!