Volume 5

~ News From "Your Birthing Family" ~

Issue 3





Our Charis Family

Tara Thessen

Tara and Emmett

Hello!  My name is Tara Thessen and I'm one of the newest Charis doula/childbirth educator students (began in January).   I'm 31 years old, and married to my best friend, Uriah.  We've been married for 3.5 years and have a wonderful 7 month old boy, Emmett.

I've struggled with writing this because it feels so intimate to me to share my story with folks I haven't met yet.   It's funny, because if you met me you'd see that I'm one of the most open and outgoing people.  I think we grow the most when we surround ourselves with people who are doing more than us.  And I'm so humbled and inspired to be a part of this group!  Enough to make even me a little shy about sharing my interests and how I got here!

I love the outdoors!  I enjoy gardening, and am looking forward to the weather warming up so I can get planting! I also can't wait to take Emmett for his first camping trip this summer!  I've been a triathlete for years and love the feeling of pushing myself past where I thought my limits were!  I see so many parallels between racing and childbirth.   I've encouraged people to go "just a little farther" in multi-sport for years.  I've grown to appreciate that in coaching multi-sport you help a person prepare in very similar ways as for for birth, but aren't there for that big event (when the person is most likely to say "I can't).   I love that we have the opportunity to be with a family for the teaching as well as the delivery of their babies!

How I got here:  After Emmett was born I found myself struggling a lot with the decision to keep my career or to stay at home.  If I left my job it would have a substantial impact on our ability to make ends meet. But, I also felt that the Lord had laid on my heart a desire to stay home so strong that I couldn't ignore it.  I planned to go back to work until March when our bonuses were paid and then leave.  I was trying to find a day care and asked Him to help me make this difficult decision that would so profoundly impact our family.  I had the idea (although surely not on my own!) to ask my doula, Rachel Thompson, if she'd be willing to watch Emmett until March.  She agreed, and each afternoon we spent some time chatting about life and what I was feeling about going back to work, etc -- I believe that it was no accident that Rachel was watching Emmett for me!  In watching her living her life with her family, and through our conversations, I had the confidence to cut the cord!

I quit the first week of December.  The day I turned in my badge at work was the day my father fell and needed me with him more than ever.  I couldn't have had a bigger sign that leaving earlier than planned was right.  It was in making this decision that I truly realized how much I was making things so much harder by trying to make decisions on my own instead of following the Lord's leading!

I am an information gatherer by nature, and pregnancy and birth really got me going during my pregnancy.  After work I would spend hours reading and researching.  I never got enough and now I realize just how much more there is to learn!  I do remember learning about doulas and thinking "I would enjoy that".  Having a doula and good childbirth educator made such an impact on my own birth experience that afterwards I felt even more sure that I wanted to be a doula.  But, it wasn't until I left my job that I knew it could be a real possibility.  I talked to Rachel about her experience with Charis, (Rachel is a Charis Childbirth Educator and Doula),  and knew that it was the best choice. I just attended the Charis Teaching Birth Workshop in February and it has only increased my passion for helping childbearing families!

I am humbled (and excited) by how much I have to learn and how blessed I am to be on this journey with such a wonderful group of women! I hope to meet each of you  so I won't have to feel shy anymore!

Hugs & Blessings,

Uriah, Tara and Emmett  Thessen
"Our first holidays as a family"


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Charis Cuisine

Raw Vegan Lasagna
with pine nut ricotta, pistachio pesto,
and rich tomato sauce

Pine Nut Ricotta
2 C raw pine nuts, soaked 1 hour
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 T nutritional yeast
1 t salt
6 T pure water

Place pine nuts, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and salt in the food processor. Pulse until thoroughly combined. Gradually add the water, a little at a time, and blend until the mixture looks much like ricotta cheese. Set aside.

Pistachio Pesto
2 heaping C well-packed fresh basil leaves
2/3 C unsalted raw pistachios
1/3 C extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 t salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients into the food processor and process until well combined. Set aside.

Rich Tomato Sauce
1 ½ C sundried tomatoes, soaked in water a couple hours
     (do not soak if they come already soaked in oil)
2 medium tomatoes, diced
½ small sweet onion, diced
2 T fresh lemon juice
¼ C extra virgin olive oil
     (less if using sundried tomatoes soaked in oil)
4 t raw agave nectar or honey
2 cloves garlic
2 t salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Squeeze as much of the water (or oil) as you can from the sundried tomatoes. Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until very smooth. Set aside.

Lasagna “Noodles”
3 medium zucchinis (peeling is optional), ends cut off and sliced lengthwise in very thin, 3-inch lengths (I use a mandoline slicer)
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T chopped fresh oregano
1 T chopped fresh thyme
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Gently toss the zucchini “noodles” in the olive oil, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Lasagna “Meat”
3 medium tomatoes, sliced thinly

Fresh basil leaves

Layer 1 Zucchini Noodles
Layer 2 Tomato Sauce
Layer 3 Dollops of Pine Nut Ricotta and Pistachio Pesto
Layer 4 Tomato Slices

Continue layering until all ingredients are used up. Top with Basil Leaf garnish.

This can be made in a casserole dish or on individual plates. I use room temperature ingredients and serve the lasagna room temperature. (Do not cook it!)

This lasagna recipe was inspired by a similar recipe in the book Raw Food, Real World.

Cocoa Almond Cake

3 C ground almonds
Peel from 4 tangerines (or tangelos) ground thoroughly
½ C raw cocoa powder (or carob powder)
½ C dates (soaked for 1 hour and chopped finely)
1 t sunflower oil (2 t if using carob)
½ C raw honey or agave nectar
½ t salt
1 t vanilla extract

Combine the almonds, tangerine peel, and cocoa. Mix the rest of the ingredients thoroughly in a large mixing bowl and then gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Form the thick mixture into a cake shape on a plate.

Juice of 1 medium lemon
3 T raw honey or agave nectar
½ C olive oil
1 t vanilla extract
½ C ground almonds

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend well. Spread over the top of the cake. Decorate creatively with your favorite fruit. It is especially delicious with assorted berries. Chill before serving.

This cake recipe was inspired by a similar recipe in the book Eating Without Heating.

Theses are recipes for the meal I made recently for my friend Cheryl’s birthday. It was such a huge hit that I thought I’d share it with the Charis Family. ~Kristin

Have a good recipe? Share it here!

'Behold, I will bring them from the north country, And gather them from the ends of the earth,
 Among  them the blind and the lame, The woman with child and The one who labors with child,  together,
 A great throng shall return there...And My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the LORD.'
 Jeremiah 31:8, 14
©2009 Charis Childbirth Services, All Rights Reserved
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March 2010