Category Archives: Food

How to Help

Getting-Through-a-BreakupPeople are helping all the time. We like helping.

Everyone wants to be a hero. Disaster hits, and heroes fly in for the landing.

But some crash land.

Those who come ill-prepared need rescuing themselves.

Those who come enamored with desperation make poor judgments.

Those who come to help, but lack common sense, however brave, run around without a plan and get in the way of those who really are helping.

Then there is the help that is no help at all. After a crisis, they helper comes with outdated or unneeded aid.

Does the church want to help? Then remember, it is not the churches need that needs helping.

To help: be prepared. Have common sense. Act accordingly. Offering outdated words about God is the same as offering outdated medicines and rotten food.

Moreover, when people are starving, we must give real food, not Twinkies. When people are battling disease, we must give them accessibility.

When in a crisis yourself, do you want someone to give you Viagra or a truckload of basketballs?

Empty churches are churches that give useless sermons, or that have forgotten how to help. The same principle holds in helping as in healing: First, do no harm.

Pebbles can be hard

???????????????????????????????After sliding my boot on my foot, I wrap the laces around the rivets and tie a double bow. Walking out the door, I feel the pebble, small enough to ignore, but large enough to have an effect.

If I keep walking on the pebble, a small callous could form on the bottom of my foot. Or, the pebble could wear a raw hole into the flesh.

So, I sit on the ground, unknot my laces, take off my boot, dump out the pebble, and reboot myself before going on the walk.

The puny size of the pebble made me smirk. And, think.

What puny things do we carry around in our thinking that makes us callous to some part of life? What tiny assumptions or expectations do we carry in our minds that make us raw and sensitive?

  • I deserve to be able to use plastic wrap rather than a recyclable container to hold leftovers.
  • I want to avoid a neighbor.
  • I eat one bite too many at meals.
  • I think someone else is clumsy.
  • I think I look and act like my grandmother.

None of these thoughts can be ignored for a long time. All thoughts, hidden or materialized, have an effect.

However, I can dump them out and see less impact on the earth as I use recyclable containers. I don’t have to be the neighbor’s best friend, but I can smile at the neighbor.

One bite of food too many calls for an increase in weight over the years. I don’t need one bite too many at meals. And, I don’t want to think someone else is clumsy because it opens the door for me to be clumsy.

Even if I did resemble my grandmother, and even if I wanted to be like my grandmother, this pebble keeps me from being me.

I can dump out the pebbles and walk with a strong free mind.

God’s Diet: Turning to God to Battle Obesity

Guest post by Eliza Wood, from Progress Planet.

Is being overweight a sin?

Perhaps life’s demands during Biblical times were such that the problem of obesity was rather small. And perhaps being overweight may have even been a luxury position, implying a person had ample food and others to perform the necessary physical labor. It must have happened to some, but didn’t warrant a specific law, chapter or verse aside from some interpretations of gluttony (there are some 166 verses about that), which, at least in modern times, is not the same as obesity. Heredity, habits, stress and foods themselves all contribute today to this phenomenon.

While being thin is often referred to as a blessing, is being fat considered some kind of curse? Maybe not officially, Biblically speaking, but it sure feels that way to a lot of people unable to shed their unwanted girth.

It is a challenge for many. In the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control, all 50 states have more than 20% obesity. Some states hover at about 25%, and in the 12 most obese states, about 30% of their people are suffering with the problem of obesity — and all the other health challenges that go along with it, including diabetes, high blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack, diminished sleep, etc.

The Bible belt and obesity

These states that have a third of their people larger than they might like to be include some of the most religious Christians among as a nation. The Bible belt has added a few notches to its original design. Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia are those suffering the most.

With a problem of that scale, one that impacts so many important areas of people’s lives, it is only logical that while God may not be to blame, God is certainly part of the solution for many.

religious foodGod, support groups and diet books

Rick Warren, author of the bestselling book, The Purpose Driven Life, has a lot to say about dieting too. His Daniel Plan is quite the rage.

New books abound, such as God’s Diet: A Short and Simple Way to Eat Naturally, Lose Weight, and Live a Healthier Life by Dr. Dorothy Gault-McNemee and What the Bible Says About Healthy Living: 3 Principles that Will Change Your Diet and Improve Your Health by Dr. Rex Russell. There are twenty or so others as well, if one is the kind of dieter who can read a book and implement the solution privately.

In prayer circles, there is a whole new emerging approach to overcoming the temptation of food and prioritizing fitness and overall wellness by replacing thoughts of food with thoughts of God.

Churches are often offering walking groups, Yoga classes (perhaps under another name so they don’t encourage Hinduism), and encouraging weight loss goals. There is plenty of faithful support for those who give weight loss a try and plenty of acceptance and forgiveness for those who fail.

Selling out in Christian bookstores is Gwen Shamblin’s The Weigh-Down Diet, already more than one million books are in the hands of those who need them. The Hallelujah Diet has been rumored to have been adopted by a hospital, claiming simplicity is the key to weight loss.

Weight loss might be simple, but it usually isn’t much fun.  In this day and age of extreme convenience and instant results, we just aren’t used to doing things that are hard and that have way-out-in-the-distance delayed gratification.

An all-time favorite book of mine was Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. It’s not particularly a Christian or a God-focused book, but it does expose some of the challenges we Americans face with our food itself — in these days of mass food production and food technology. Who knew that eating meat and dairy products from animals given growth hormones actually causes humans to grow perpetually larger? That’s right. The food itself is certainly part of the problem we face.  Short of eating all organic food, there is really no way to avoid getting some growth hormones into one’s body.

Food for many is all mixed up with emotions and thoughts. Meals are often the fun, relaxing parts of one’s day, often the few moments of connecting with the ones we love. We are taught to give thanks and praise to God for food. We are not so thankful for the problems that result from food, however.

No way. There are those among the religious who may feel things are the way they are for a reason. There are others who choose to take their weight, nutrition and fitness into their worldly hands, and there are plenty who don’t have a clue about what to do.

With so many diets on the market, each one promoting something great, such as ease, affordability, painlessness, fast results, lasting results or endless other promises, it is easy to get confused.  Failing at one diet does harm on two levels.  First, it causes the person to feel like a failure, which is a very detrimental event.  Second, it slows the metabolism each time we reduce our food intake, which can be an even bigger problem when one abandons hope for improvement and goes back to old eating habits.

In other words, it is tricky to get it right. If it were easy to fix, we wouldn’t have this problem.

If one does well in small group settings and needs a lot of support, that can be found at church. If prayer and solitude works better for others, that can be done too.

Just beware that in the effort to lose weight, many get drawn into subscription programs that charge a monthly fortune. If religious- or Christian-specific diet books might do the trick, that is possibly the cheapest way to approach dieting.

Sadly, the problem of obesity won’t go away by itself. It appears to be getting worse, not better. For the faithful, it can help to remember that God, in a variety of forms, can be a support.

You are Pregnant

baby jesusThe words, “You’re pregnant,” can bring colorful responses. “Yes,” as a fist is pumped. Or, “It’s about time.” Or, “Yikes!”

Although medical science can give us a pretty good idea of what is going on in our bodies, we can also visit spiritual Science to get the big picture. Spiritual knowledge helps us make the looming decisions that come with pregnancies. Jesus’ mother, Mary, heard an angel message from God say, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)  Pregnancy can be a spiritually invigorating experience.

Generally, we think only women can get pregnant. But, men too can be pregnant or “expecting” happiness and responsibility. The birth of ideas comes from God, Mind. Isaiah felt God say, “Ask me of things to come…I made the earth and created man on it, it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.” (Isa. 45: 11 & 12)

A pregnancy can be a time for happy thanksgiving. We read in Psalms 100: “Make a joyful noise to the LORD…It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people…For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”

If it makes more sense not to keep the baby, the divine Parent, Love, can guide you through the appropriate steps that are best for the baby and you. We read in Jeremiah words that can be felt by everyone, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” (Jer. 29:11-12)

You may hear horror stories about other people’s past pregnancies however we find assurance in the knowledge of God’s care. “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” (Isa. 40:11) Our Father-Mother God is nearer to us than the horror stories.

Being pregnant is an opportunity to express Life, wisdom and progress. We can experience better eating and exercise if needed. We can experience a release from harmful habits. We can be pregnant with prudence and spiritual courage.

The entertainment of wondering what sort of characteristics the baby will take on can be grounded on God’s promise rather than DNA. Love is our destiny, not DNA. “I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the Lord. In those days they shall no longer say: ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’” The child’s real heritage is Life, Truth, and Love.

“Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Eph. 4:15-16)

Although it looks like a pregnancy is going through stages, time is relative even nonexistent to the eternal God. Isaiah reiterates, “Listen to me…who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age, I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made and I will bear, I will carry and will save [deliver].” (Isa. 46:3-4)

From Genesis: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them…and God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Gen. 1:26 & 31)

From 21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “Everything good or worthy, God made.”

Discovering Balance

“The Board wants to sell more electricity, however we want to teach conservation also,” said a Board member of a rural electric cooperative in upstate New York. When listening to his statement I could only shake my head in agreement. The common conundrum of finding a balance between too little and too much is so thin in many aspects of daily life. I ask myself, How do I heat my home without exploiting the environment? How much time do I spend with my husband to keep our marriage strong yet not become dependent on one another? How do I purchase an item without becoming a consumer for clutter? How do I eat healthy without making food the major topic of thought and conversation?

I’ve spent years wobbling to keep balanced. Not only did I seek a balance within family, making sure I loved everyone equally yet uniquely, but I also worked hard to have balance between family, religion, economy, and my social life.

Every day, I’d weigh my options. If I needed to let go of something because it was throwing me off kilter, I would let go. The letting go only felt weird for a short period of time, for example, when I deleted my account on Facebook. But, my mind was better able to focus on a new direction in life without compromising my attention to health and wellbeing. And, I can always rejoin Facebook.

But one day, I realized there was a better approach to finding a balance in life. Living a balanced life is not so arduous. As I simply nurture spiritual attributes, balance inevitably comes about. I don’t necessarily have to hunt and peck for a balance in my relationships, body weight, or economic situation if I am honestly increasing in my practice of trustworthiness, spiritual courage, receptivity, and so on.

As I am receptive to Life, Truth, and Love, balance is a natural consequence.

I still balance my checkbook and know what a balanced diet is however I see these actions are the result of an attitude that puts its weight on the side of Truth. In all truthfulness, I do know when to help a neighbor, when to stop eating or buying things, when to exercise, and when to be quiet, the trick is following through on the honesty.

Ironically, being imbalanced produces a hyped up attitude—addictive to human beings. They feel alive when everything in life is disturbed, unfair, or unbalanced. But the day comes when balance is searched for. And, it can be discovered as in place, the key is Life, Truth, and Love. Spirituality may appear boring or obscure at first but that is only because imbalance was accepted as normal for so long. But, a balanced, stable, steady family, economy, and purpose are alive and well—open to entrance.

The Gift of Sunflower Sprouts

Every day I have a salad and hot tea for lunch. Unless salad isn’t available, then I eat what I can because there is little time to be too picky in this life. But, the other day, our neighbor, Adam, gave us a bowl full of sunflower sprouts.

The sunflower sprouts made for a nice topping on my salad.

Sunflower sprouts on salad

Adam grew the sunflower sprouts himself. Sunflower sprouts are packed with vitamins A, D, E, and the B complex, besides having potassium and being high in calcium and protein.

Although I still eat some meat, these facts jolt my mind to realize that I can live without certain foods. I am also reminded of the Bible story of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The men requested vegetarian meals after the chief official ordered them to eat royal food and drink wine. They got their request and after eating vegetables and drinking water, Daniel and his buddies proved that they were stronger in appearance than the men who ate the upscale diet. (Daniel 1)

Not Choking on Intelligence

It can be difficult to swallow new ideas or new ways of doing things, however it’s only choking on ice-cream

The Christian Science Monitor Weekly’s editor poses an interesting opening paragraph in the August 13, 2012 edition, “Where does intelligence come from? Biologists look to organic structures. Psychologists study influences and experiences. Theologians look to the spiritual.”

Quite often, biologists, psychologist, and theologians are inclined to share views and learn from one another since most can admit intelligence needs cultivating. Not surprisingly, the new ideas or ways of doing things are hard to swallow. Even some theologians have a hard time swallowing what other theologians are sharing. They choke. But its like they are only choking on ice-cream. It melts and goes down okay. We can see infinite views.

We can take the time to swallow and digest new ideas before we wave them off.

 

Getting to Know Dandelion

Upstate New York is flourishing with dandelions. A magnanimous carpet of soft yellow flowers is cheering spring weather forward—to the dismay of some lawn caretakers. Dandelions, in all their brightness, are seen by some people as pesky weeds, a blot in their picture perfect lawns.

It’s all a matter of interpretation.

Although no one begrudges a dandelion-less lawn, the pretty yellow flowers do not need to discombobulate our thought process. Everything our physical senses sees, hears, and feels is temporal. We can let it go and engage our spiritual senses which can detect and lead into the experience of that which is ongoing such as composure and calm, even getting to know the dandelion.

Dandelion is a hardy perennial. There are hundreds of species of dandelion. Some can grow to nearly 12 inches in height. Dandelions have deeply notched, toothy, spatula-like leaves that are hairless and rather shiny. The spatula-like leaves funnel rain to the root. The dark brown roots have one main tap root. The fleshy root is filled with a white milky substance that is bitter and slightly smelly. Dandelion flowers open with the sun in the morning and close in the evening.

Dandelion has been used in traditional Native American and Arabic medical systems. The leaves and roots are used fresh or dried in teas, capsules, or extracts. Dandelion use is generally considered safe however use should be discussed with your health care provider. Dandelion is a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as potassium, iron, and zinc. Dandelion leaves add flavor to salads, sandwiches, and teas. The roots are used in some coffee substitute, and the flowers are used to make wines.

From 21st Century Science and Health, “Nature voices spiritual law and divine Love, but the human mortal mindset misinterprets nature. Arctic regions, sunny tropics, coral reefs, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, flowering deserts, and galaxies—all point to Mind, the spiritual intelligence they reflect. The floral apostles are hieroglyphs of Deity. Quantum mechanics, gravity, and the cosmos teach grand lessons. The stars make night beautiful, and the leaf turns naturally toward the light.”

Don’t Get Stuck on the Marshmallow

Courtesy

The famous marshmallow study is referenced in just about every positive psychology book these days, as a thought provoking  example of how time orientation has an effect on who we are and what we do. The experiment, originally conducted by Walter Mischel at Stanford University in the 1960’s involves 4-year old kids who are given one marshmallow and then told that they can eat the one marshmallow OR wait and receive a second marshmallow.

Follow-up studies came almost 40 years later and it was discovered that the children who exhibited delayed gratification (waited it out to receive the second marshmallow treat) went on have higher SAT scores plus become more successful individuals.

Admittedly, instant gratification hasn’t proven itself too dynamic.

Instant gratification can also trap spiritual seekers. From 21st Century Science and Health, “Audible prayer can be impressive, giving instant gratification and awe. But does it produce any lasting advantage? As we think about this more, we see that zeal “not based on knowledge,”[1] is precarious. Spoken prayer can even tempt a reaction unfavorable to spiritual growth or resolutions. Lip service can also distort a healthy perception of our Godlike responsibilities. Pay attention! Make sure that the motive for prayer doesn’t embrace the love of popularity, because this actually discourages spirituality.”


[1] Rom 10:2

Marrakech Cooking Class

Cooking in Marrakech

Our eclectic group consisted of people from Norway, the Netherlands, and America. And, we met in Marrakech, Morocco, to learn how to cook authentic Moroccan food. Our teachers, Jmar and Aisha, gave us each recipes, written in our native languages. I was in charge of peeling and cutting tomatoes in half and removing the seeds. I’ve cut thousands of tomatoes in half before, but have never removed seeds because I relish eating the whole tomato. Just never dawned on me to remove seeds.

I began the process, while watching the other cookery students clean sardines, fry egg plant, and food process cucumbers. Then Aisha, one of the teachers, gently picked up one of the sliced tomatoes, cut it through the middle of the fruit and thumbed out the seeds. I was slicing the fruit from stem to end, which made it a bit more difficult to remove seeds. So, I copied Aisha. This effortless change of rotating the tomato before slicing it in half made a huge difference for removing seeds.

We all want to change for the better, and quite often, the effective change is very very simple. No drama, no fuss. Aisha didn’t get after me. She didn’t act as though I should not be a part of the class. She didn’t even demand I do it her way. She just showed me how she did it and went back to her work.

Teaching can be done without voicing one word. Learning can be done by following examples, quietly.

The cookery class was a successful experience. The new foods were tasty and the new friendships were fantastic.

 

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