Monday, January 28, 2008

Awesome Chewy Granola Bars

I don't know about you guys, but I'm always looking for recipes for healthy, yummy snacks that I can make myself instead of buying in the store...and knowing exactly what's in them. I tried this granola bar recipe and it's awesome! It's also one of the ones with the least amount of butter and sugar (that tastes good anyway!). Here's the recipe:

4 1/4 c. rolled oats
1/4 c. ground flax seed (if you don't want to use flax just add an extra 1/4 c. of oats)
1 c. all-purpose flour (next time I might try using 1/2 whole wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 c. butter, melted (I used a touch more)
1/2 c. honey
chocolate chips and whatever add-ins you want (dried cranberries, almonds, seeds....)

Preheat oven to 325. Lightly grease a 9x13" pan.
In large bowl combine dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients. Stir in choc chips and other add-ins. Mix well. Press mixture into the pan, as tight as you can, with a fork or your hands. Bake for 18-22 minutes or till golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes and then cut them into bars. Let bars cool completely before removing from the pan.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

2007 at a Glance...

Looking back at 2007, I would say that the theme has been about adjustments, trusting, resting, flexibility, sorrow, grieving, thankfulness, prayer, and hope. I will start at the beginning.

On December 28 (06), my dad’s machine shop burned down, and later that evening he had a heart−attack. Thankfully the firemen were still here and could provide dad with oxygen right away, which minimized the damage. His health is progressing and he has begun working in his re−built shop.

In February we notified Nipawin Bible College that we would be moving on, as we felt God leading us to Galilean Bible Camp in Blind River, ON and we planned on leaving Nipawin in June. The plan was for Dan to be the Program Director for the summer, and then throughout the summer Dan would be in application to be a full−time missionary with CSSM which was necessary for him to become the full−time, year−round Assistant Director for the camp.

In May, Dan had the wonderful opportunity of going on a Missions Trip to Honduras as the team leader of a group of students with NBC. The group of them spent time helping with building/up−keeping projects and spending time loving on the local kids and families. Even though he doesn’t know any Spanish and they don’t know any English, he was amazed at how much fun they could still have with the kids, and how in the church services they could all worship God together.

On June 2nd, we rolled out of NBC in our U−Haul truck, headed for Blind River, Ontario. We were very excited for the next chapter of our lives, but also very sad to be leaving Nipawin. We were only there for 2 years but we built some very tight relationships and really enjoyed the fellowship that came with living on campus. There were definitely some heavy tears as we left. The plan was for us to move into a newly−renovated house at the camp as soon as we got there, but it turned out that the house wasn’t ready for us yet, and they
didn’t know when it would be. We ended up unloading our belongings into an empty church parsonage in Blind River (about 10 minutes from the camp), setting up the bare minimum there, and mostly living out of a room in the camp lodge. This was a huge adjustment, especially for me (Laura) as I was really looking forward to getting things prepared for our baby’s arrival in August. It was very hard to find peace with this but eventually, through much prayer and working through my materialism, it got easier. We really enjoyed our summer, Dan as the Program Director and me as a very pregnant lady, getting to know the camp staff, Dan organizing each day’s events, being amused by the campers, seeing kids come to know Jesus, and spending time in the lake. Looking back it was a very good summer, even through the many adjustments. God taught us a lot about trusting in Him and being content with what’s truly important. We can also see how those adjustments prepared us for what was coming next.

At the end of July, we had to decide whether we wanted to continue the application process for Dan to be the full− time Assistant Director for the camp, as he was only committed for the summer at that point. We are confident that God wanted us at the camp for the summer but we just didn’t have peace about staying long−term. Near the end of the summer, Dan started contacting churches that were looking for a youth pastor, and we were waiting, trusting that God would lead us to the right place at just the right time. Trusting was not always easy knowing that we had a baby on the way and we had no idea what was next, but God has never failed us yet and we knew He had it all figured out.

As many of you already know, our sweet baby girl Mya was born on August 16th. She was born not breathing and without a pulse, but after 10 minutes of the doctors working on her, she was breathing with the help of a respirator. At first we had hope that she would be okay, but we found out the next day that due to the lack of oxygen, Mya had un− repairable damage done to her liver, kidneys, and brain. She had no brain activity at all and it was basically the machines that were keeping her alive. We were able to hold her for the last 10 hours of her life with no tubes attached. She died in our arms on August 18. She was such a beautiful little girl and we miss her terribly. We heard the autopsy results in November and they found nothing. It’s comforting in one way that they found nothing because that means it’s not genetic, but it’s also hard not to know what caused this. Our doctor said it’s likely that the umbilical cord got twisted or pinched, cutting off Mya’s oxygen, but they don’t know for sure. Thank you to all of you who sent us cards and flowers and gifts and prayers!!!! Your support has taken some of the edge off of our pain and we can definitely see how God has answered prayers. Of course we are still missing our sweet baby like crazy, but we are starting to feel like we can live again. There were (and still are) some pretty rough moments where the thought of not having Mya seems unbearable but day−by−day we are surviving. It’s amazing to see God’s hand in the whole thing. Not that it was His plan for Mya to die, but how He has given us the best−case−scenario possible for this situation. Some of the ways we see His hand in this:
• God leading us back to Ontario
• Most of our belongings were still packed in boxes, making it easier for us to pack−up and go to Goderich to be with our family
• Because we didn’t have a home, we didn’t have a chance to set up a baby room the way we would have if we were settled.
• Mya was alive for 30 hours…which was a miracle
• Almost everyone in our family was able to be at the hospital (6 hours away) and love on Mya while she was still alive
• Dan was in−between jobs which has allowed him to take some time to heal
These are just some of them. We are so thankful for these things.

Three days after Mya died, we left Blind River for Goderich to be with our family. We moved in with my parents. We had Mya’s funeral on August 23rd outside at the cemetery.

In September, Dan got offered a job to work for the Weed Man (lawn care) for 5 weeks, aerating lawns. He did this until the week after Thanksgiving. At the end of October, we left for a 5 week trip out west. We have friends all along the way so we were able to visit with lots of them. We went all the way to Vancouver and saw so much beautiful scenery! We also got the chance to be at Nipawin Bible College for Alumni Weekend...where Dan was the speaker! Overall our trip was a good time of healing for us.

We just spent the last couple days celebrating Christmas with both of our families. It was hard at times thinking about Mya, wondering what our Christmas would have been like if she was still here, wishing we could have bought her presents and cute little dresses. But on Boxing Day we found out some pretty exciting news…we are expecting our 2nd baby! It’s still very early in the pregnancy…the due date is the beginning of September. Normally we would wait until we’re past the “iffy” part of the pregnancy before we tell people, but
because of our circumstances, we feel that we’d rather have the support of our friends and family right from the beginning. We are both excited but also scared about the next 8 months. It is very easy for fear to creep in, as well as having happy/sad memories of our pregnancy with Mya. We still miss her very much and while having another child gives us hope, there will always be a Mya−sized hole in our family. We would appreciate
your prayers!

We are still living with my parents in Goderich, waiting for what’s next. Dan is looking for youth pastor jobs and has had some interviews. We are both very much anticipating the beginning of the next chapter of our lives. Sorry this letter has been so long! This has apparently been a very eventful 2007!

I hope you all have a wonderful beginning of this new year.
Dan and Laura

Friday, January 04, 2008

Christmas happenings

Hey all....I guess it's been a while since I've blogged last.
We had a good Christmas with all our families. Here's some pictures:

Christmas is also my mom's birthday, so we got up early and made mom & dad breakfast before we left for the day.

Christmas with the Collins'

Christmas with my family on Boxing Day...the guys got the steam engine out. Apparently it's very fascinating.

Mom and Dad on our walk at the beach

Supper at Boston Pizza. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm

We decided to go to Gatineau QC for New Year's with our friends' Micah and Sarah. While we were there we went to the War Museum. Very interesting!

Coldly waiting for the fireworks to start