Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Little Bit of Love and No Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-free, grain-free and nut-free)

“In the twilight of our lives, we will be judged on how we have loved.” -- St. John of the Cross

Dear Joey,

I've been thinking about love a lot lately. Seems like it's been invading my thoughts and my motivations and plans and dreams. Maybe it's because Addie's been singing over and over and over one of those catchy kid-songs she learned at Preschool -- you know the one. It goes "A little bit of love goes a long, long way..." I've heard it dozens and dozens of times over the past five months, so much so that I’m surprised I’m not weary of them. Turns out, Addie’s free spirited singing etched those words into my heart, and now, they convict me when selfishness invades.

And invade it does. But it's sneaky and most of the time I don't realize just how selfish I am. Selfishness distorts truth and gets in the way of loving well.

Let’s be honest: the first thought after breakfast revolves around my own agenda, well-meaning as it may be, and certainly does not revolve around which princess has been captured by the blue monster today, or what gown I will put on so I am ready to rock out to princess music on Pandora. My first thoughts are How will I manage to get these dishes washed before someone comes begging for me to play with her? Or I should have done a meal plan for this week because I have no idea what to thaw for dinner tonight. Or even, I wonder if they’ll notice if I slip away to go use the bathroom?

Even if I weren’t so concerned with these trivial thoughts, the truth is that a lot of the time, I don’t really want to play, especially when there’s an email I’d rather write, or a book I’d rather read or a recipe I’d rather try or a shower I’d rather take. Why can’t they just play together? I wonder. Why do they always need me? I get frustrated and am tempted to resent these cute little faces innocently seeking a little bit of attention.

But lately, in those moments of weakness, I hear Addie's little voice singing her heart out to her favorite preschool song and I remember that little bit of love goes a long, long way.

And so I'm choosing to engage with them and figure out a way to make whatever is important to them fun. Of course, I’m not perfect at this, and some days are better than others, but I’m realizing that giving them small acts of love throughout the day builds up credibility with me (doesn’t it?). If I say I love them, do I make good on my word by show them I love them in a way they can understand? Washing dishes and thawing chicken doesn’t speak to their hearts. Building LEGO castles and dancing in the kitchen and singing at the top of our lungs in the car; letting them dress me up and pinning princess capes onto their shirts; having tea parties (real and imaginary); wrapping dollies up in blankets and putting them to bed over and over and over - all of it speaks one thing to them: Mommy loves you.

If I’m not able to love them well now while they’re young, do I think I'll get the chance to do so later, when they're older? If I can’t lay aside myself for them—the most important things God has ever entrusted me with—do I really think He will entrust me with much else? Plus, what kind of love am I modeling for them? Do I want my actions to teach them that love is selfish, when really, the opposite is true (1 Corinthians 13:5)?  If I want them to believe the truth that “Greater love has no man than this: that he lay down his life for  his friends,” shouldn’t also love them that way (John 15:13)?

It’s a part of my faith that I’m still working out - saying no to selfishness and saying yes to loving well. Clearing weeds and digging up roots and nurturing new love-seeds to grow in the fertile soil of a pure heart a so that my actions are motivated by love for others, not by love of self.

No small task. It's tough. But Addie's little voice skipping through the house reminding me that "A little bit of love goes a long, long way" is helping. But isn't it worth the work?


No Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free; Modified from A Dash of Compassion’s Nut-Free Cookie Dough Balls)
My girls love having post-nap tea parties, especially when they get a sweet treat. Giving up grains (wheat, rice, corn) renders our house fairly free of cookie making supplies, and I'm still learning how to make a truly delicious grain and nut free cookie (sometimes, honestly, they're just not good.). But these No Bake Cookies save the day for tea time; they are not only quick & easy, they're also versatile and very forgiving. If you’d rather use almond butter, do it! If you don’t like coconut flakes, use rolled oats like the original recipe. If you couldn’t imagine ever having tapioca flour on hand - which I don’t blame you for. Neither did I until recently— then try something else you do have on hand until you work up the courage to seek out said tapioca flour. (Which you should. Be brave.)

1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
3 T pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup tapioca flour
2 T flax seed meal
1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes or shredded coconut
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
Chocolate chips, as desired

Mix wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients (except for chocolate chips) and mix well. Sprinkle in desired amount of chocolate chips.

Form into balls. I use a 1 1/2" ice cream scoop (which I love) so that all I have to do is scoop - no messy ball making for me. (Plus, the scoops end up looking more like cookies than balls of dough - which I like.) The cookies are firm enough to eat right away, but may be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator (or freezer) until ready to eat.



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