Monday, January 31, 2011

The Benefits of Natural Eating

I didn't grow up a health food nut.  My mom cooked from scratch, which is great, but we had all of the conveniences of pre-packaged foods too.  As a matter of fact, I really didn't give a hoot about nutrition until I was pregnant with my first daughter.  Around that time, I started reading books on how to make your own baby food, and much to my was easy!  A couple of times, I tried to sneak a can of processed baby food in on my kids, but they obviously knew the difference in flavor!

Over the past 9 years, I have done a lot of reading.  What I have found (in a nutshell) is that we are so confident in our ability to synthesize nature, that we are slowly killing ourselves.  Way back when my grandma was a young mother, doctors used to examine the breast milk of a mother after first giving birth, and if the deemed it too thin or inadequate, they urged them to use their laboratory made formula instead.  They were told that it was better for their babies than good old breast milk.  We might look at that and laugh now, but there are many things that we are doing in the name of health and science that I believe is killing us.  We hear all of the time that people are living longer, but are they living healthier--or are they living doctor's appointment to doctor's appointment?  Chronic diseases like asthma, and diabetes are on the rise in even our youngest of folk.  Not to mention autism. So science has made things better and worse.  At least we know that germs make you sick, and we should wash our hands, but we have taken it a step further and disinfected our lives all the while breathing in the toxic Lysol fumes that supposedly make us healthy! (and we seriously wonder why breathing is such an issue?)  We inject synthesized and killed viruses into our bodies along with a slurry of preservatives in order to ward off some serious (and some not-so-serious) diseases.

So what about the foods we eat?  Are the hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats in margarine really better for us than old fashioned natural butter?  Are the rancid vegetable oils really better for us than saturated animal fats and the harshly condemned tropical oils?  Is it better to drink milk that has been heated to high temps and altered to make the fats more uniform, than it is to drink fresh whole raw milk right from the cow?   I believe that the answer is a resounding NO!   I think it is also true that the overall health of the animal you are consuming has a huge impact on what kind of nutrients we gain from eating it.

And doesn't it make sense?  At some point, will we stop trying to make better food in a laboratory and begin to trust what God has given us?  Whole, real, unprocessed foods.  That's what I'm talking about.  I am on a journey.  I consider it a journey because it is not easy.  It's hard to find foods that have not been altered, sprayed, or changed from it's natural state.  Sometimes it is illegal.  Raw milk, for instance, is illegal for farmers to sell in Indiana.  There are ways around the law: owning your own cow, joining a cow-share, or buying a gallon of milk that has been labeled NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.  Kinda sad if you think about it. 

I am going to be doing a series of posts on this topic.  Hopefully, I can share some of the information that I have gleaned from my reading, and those of you who think I am crazy will begin to understand a bit more.  My brother-in-law teases me and says that we all have to die of something. BUT if I could get through my life without having to have my chest cracked open and arteries bypassed, I will be that much happier for it.  I realize that I have spent half of my life already eating things that aren't good for me....I hope that the second half can make a difference! 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Brown Rice Shrimp Creole

Brown Rice Shrimp Creole

1 Large onion, diced
1 Large green bell pepper, diced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 cups of vegetable broth--or 4 cups of water and one vegetable bouillon cube
1 Tomato, diced
1-1 1/2 lb. Shrimp, peeled and deveined
Bunch of broccoli
1C. Brown rice
Chili powder--to taste
Cayenne pepper--to taste

Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet.  Saute onion, bell pepper and garlic until onion is translucent.  Add the broth, tomato, rice, and seasonings, and partially cover and simmer for 45 minutes.  Remove lid and add broccoli and shrimp.  Cook just until shrimp curl up and turn pink.  Add more water if too dry. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

He Covers Me

I know, I know.  You probably hate when people blog song lyrics!  So leave then.  I love music.  When I play the piano, I feel like I can pour my emotions out onto the keys and express myself through a few notes.  (not that I am that great of a piano player...but)  And then there are the occasional lyrics that make you stand and scream YES! YES!  That is truth.

That is why I love Steve Camp. 

His music is so full of truth.  So some inspiration for a Friday-my favorite Steve Camp song~

He Covers Me

Oh Lord, I feel so lonely,
and ashamed of who I am.
How I often fell,
I hid it well.
It is a lie I cannot defend.
So I lean upon your mercy,
As I confess my sin to You.
There is no easy way,
No saving face-
When You finally see the truth.
So let my life be filled with only You.

I know some day I will be free,
The weight of sin shall be released,
But for now He covers me.
And though the trials never end,
I've learned to take them as my friend,
For each day He covers me!

Sometimes the pressure builds around me,
And I feel about to break.
I suffer painfully from wrongs done to me,
But vengence isn't mine to take.
So let me glory in my weakness,
Until Your strength is revealed in me.
It is Your grace alone,
That helps me carry on.
To be the man I long to be.
So let Your life be perfected Lord, in me-
Until it's YOU they see!

I know some day I will be free,
The weight of sin shall be released,
but for now He covers me.
And thought the trials never end,
I've learned to take them as my friend.
For each day-He covers me!

And though heartache surrounds me-
I know Your love is around me!
Nothing can separate me from You!
I KNOW it's true!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Best EVER Baked Potato Soup

My friend Cindy shared this recipe several years back in our church cookbook.  Evidently, The Machine Shed is an incredible Amish style restaurant here in Indiana.  I have never been there, but if everything there is this good, I am a fan!

The Machine Shed's Baked Potato Soup

2 1/2 lb. baby red potatoes, quartered
1/2 lb. raw bacon, diced
1 jumbo yellow onion, diced
1/4 bunch celery, diced
4C.  Water
4T.  Chicken base
4C. milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 sticks of butter
3/4 C. flour
1C. Heavy cream
1/4 bunch parsley, chopped

for garnish: crisp fried bacon bits, shredded colby cheese, chopped green onions.

Boil potatoes for 10 minutes or until tender.  Drain and set aside.  In a large, heavy pot, saute bacon, onions, and celery until celery is tender.  Drain any grease and return mixture  to pan.  Add milk, water, chicken base, salt and pepper.  Heat over med-hi heat until very hot.  Do not boil.  In a heavy, large saucepan or medium skillet, melt butter and add flour.  Mix well and allow to bubble, stirring for 1 minute.  While constantly stirring soup, slowly add the mixture.  Continue stirring soup until thick and creamy.  Stir in potatoes, cream, and parsley.  Serve while hot.  Garnish with cheese, bacon, green onions, or all three.

You might think this is an unhealthy recipe due to the amount of fat.  There are all whole, healthy ingredients!  (except maybe to bacon)....Enjoy!

Check out my friend Angela's blog for more soup recipies:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Easy All-in-One Recipe

I found a great recipe in an old magazine.  I have tweaked it and made it my own :)  I love it because it is an all-in-one dish that is filling and goes a long way.  It re-heats easily too!

Broccoli, Chickpeas, and Sausage

2T. Olive oil
3/4 lb. Sweet Italian sausage-skin removed
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 can of chickpeas drained and rinsed (organic-of course!)
1 large bunch of broccoli
1tsp. Oregano (dried)
3/4 tsp.  Salt
1/4 Tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 lb. Gemelli or other short-shaped pasta
2/3 C. Fresh grated parmesan cheese
A handful of fresh parsley, chopped.

1.  Cook pasta per directions.

2.  Heat olive oil in a pan, add sausage and brown lightly.  In the last minute, add garlic.

3.  Stir in chickpeas, seasonings, and broccoli  (I lightly steam broccoli in the microwave with a tsp. of water first)  Cook until heated through and broccoli is tender.  Add 1/4 cup of pasta water if mix is too dry.

4.  Toss the mixture with a third cup of the cheese.  If it is too dry for your taste, add more of the pasta water. 
5. Serve immediately topped with the rest of the cheese and sprinkled with parsley.

Finding Contentment

In the past few years of my life, God has really impressed on me the area of contentment.  When I was first married, I wondered why we didn't have all of the things other people had.  Nice houses, nice cars, etc, etc.  Over time, I have come to really appreciate everything I have.  It was not instant.  No, it was a process.

What I have learned in the past few years is that contentment stretches far beyond belongings.  Sometimes we can long for dreams or aspirations.  It happened to me.  I want to tell you my story.

My husband and I married almost 15 years ago.  I was an LPN at the time with hopes to become an RN. I spent the first 3 years of my marriage working and going to school.  I graduated in 1999 with my RN and began working my "dream job" in the ICU.  Just before I finished school, we began wanting children.  We tried for a total of 6 years with no success.  In those 6 years, we had a 2 person income, took a lot of trips, and bought our first house.  Admittedly, I knew very little about saving and finances.  We had not saved much when I found out that we were pregnant with my first daughter.  I managed to work part time and still nurse her exclusively.  I worked when my husband was home, or my mom stayed with my daughter until my husband got home from work.  It was a pretty sweet deal, but it was tiring.  Two years later, my second daughter came along. 

Shortly after Hannah was born, my husband experienced the first "dry spell" in his job.  I had been working one to two days a week, but now I needed to find an actual part time position to make ends meet.  It was much harder now with 2 kids.  I really wanted to be home.  I hated that I had to work.  The fact that I really wanted to home school also loomed in to near future.  How was I going to work and do it all?  I really began to experience discontentment at this time.  I talked to my husband about staying home, but he really didn't agree. He couldn't see the point in throwing away a college degree and a good paying job.  NOW, he would never had forbidden me to do it- he's not like that, it was just his opinion.

When I became pregnant with my son, an  opportunity presented to us.  My mother-in-law wanted us to buy her other property located right next door to her.  The house was no bigger than the one we lived in, had rotten-egg sulfer water, and had a kitchen that was far inferior to where we lived.  BUT, in my thoughts, maybe we could sell our house, and put a large down-payment on this house, pay off our vehicles, and decrease our debt!  Maybe I could finally be home where I wanted to be!  so, on the advice of a family member, we moved out of our house, into my mother in law's home, and we placed our house on the market.  Weeks passed, then months--no takers.  We had only one offer that was very seriously below what we wanted for it. It would have done us no good.  We wouldn't have made any money on it--therefore, we would be in more debt than we started in. 

Then, another opportunity came knocking--someone called us out of the blue and wanted to rent our home.  So, we began the journey that didn't go so well.  We suffered through very hard times with bad renters, and lost tons of money on the house.  Remember, at this time we were paying 2 mortgages!  I was a bit upset that my plans to get home had blown up in my face!  And to top it off, my husband's work this past winter almost came to a complete stop.  I was working more than I had in years. 

Through all of this, I can still look back and see God's hand in all of it.  I was always able to work one day a week in times of plenty--and sometimes the census  at the hospital would be so low that they would call me off and I wouldn't work at all.  But in the dry spells--things always seemed to pick up.  I was able to work almost as many hours as I wanted while Will stayed home with the kids.  It was always temporary.  I am thankful for that.  We are currently in the middle of the worst dry spell Will's work has ever experienced.  But, in the midst of this, we have had enough, and God even provided us with Christian renters who are responsible and pay in advance.  If you read back over this post, you will see some of the other amazing things God has done for us.  I give Him all of the glory.  No, he didn't miraculously give us a way for me to quit work.  My hopes have not changed in this area either.  My ideal would be to work 2 days per month! BUT, I have gained much contentment in what He has given me.  We don't have a fancy house, a fancy car, or expensive....anything!  But we don't need it.  All of our needs are provided for.  We have food, clothing, and a roof over our heads. 

I have still managed to home school throughout all of this too.  It really helps to have an amazing man that is willing to do what ever needs to be done when I am gone.  I love my husband and appreciate him so much.  Again, my goal is still to get out of as much debt as I can and eventually stay home.  I have learned much more about finances, and I know with hard work--we can get there.  But while we are on that journey, I can still enjoy contentment and peace.  Thankfulness for the ways God provides.  Thankful that my worth as a woman and a mother only lies in HIM--not my circumstances.  For I am a child of God.  Forever grateful.  Forever His.  My treasure is in Him.

Monday, January 10, 2011

What Will You put Your Faith In?

Lately I have been thinking about truth.  Mostly because I am finding that in this world I am surrounded by partial truths, and flat out lies.  The problem is that we are taught to buy into these partial truths and lies or else be labeled ignorant.  If you doubt me, then go to any major university and tell the science professor that you do not believe that the earth and all that is in it evolved, but was rather created.  I can almost guarantee you that you will not leave feeling smart.

Yet evolution is a theory.  It has never been proved.  Some might argue with that, but it is true.  It is simply a theory.  Science is full of theories that are accepted as truth.  Since my background is in medicine, I can give you two examples right off the top of my head.

1.  High cholesterol causes heart disease.
2.  Vaccines are safe and effective. 

Point #1 is a theory.  It has never been proven.  This past weekend, I had a long and very interesting discussion with one of my favorite doctors.  I asked him many questions including whether or not he believes in the statin drugs, and what he thinks is the cause of heart disease.  He admitted that there is no proven connection between cholesterol and heart disease, but rather it is based on an assumption due to the results of a study done by drug companies on the outcomes and recurrence rate of heart attacks in patients.  He admitted that you cannot prove that the body magically takes cholesterol and turns it into fat plaques in the arteries.   Yet, if your doctor puts you an a low cholesterol diet and you question the wisdom in that, you are labeled as non-complaint at best, and idiot at the worst.

Point #2 is a theory.  There has never been a double blind placebo-controlled study of vaccines.  Therefore, the safety and effectiveness cannot be stated as fact.  I challenge anyone to provide solid scientific evidence that proves the reduction of disease in any part of the world that was contributed to inoculations.  There simply is no proof.  ( I am talking about documented scientific proof, not speculation)  Yet if you refuse to have your child vaccinated chances are your pediatrician will spend a considerable amount of time trying to convince you otherwise.  Depending on the type of person they are, they might try to scare you, bully you, or ridicule you into doing what they want you to do.  If, by chance, your child gets whooping cough, they might try to go after you for negligence.  Who knows?  What they won't tell you is that 85% of the other kids that suffered the same outbreak were fully vaccinated.

So science becomes a religion of sorts.

I agree with Paul Feyerabend when he called all science theoretical and stated that scientists defend their beliefs just like an ancient tribe defending their gods.  

Then there is politics.   If you are a Democrat, you are labeled as a tree-hugging ATM machine for the chronically unmotivated.  If you are a Republican you are labeled as wealthy, uncaring, corrupt person.  If you are a Tea Party member, you are full of hate and are somehow responsible for the Arizona shootings.  At that point, someone much wiser and more caring than you must step in and censor what you say.  Someone might take it the wrong way and use it for more evil.  Right?  Isn't that what we have big brother for?

I have a theory.  My theory is that there is very little truth in any of these things. My theory is that is is dangerous to let any one mindset rule.  My theory is that it is dangerous to restrict speech.....even speech that we do not agree with.  Why?  Because no side of the political fence corners the market on truth.  Just because people take unfortunate incidents and blame them on their opposition (as is happening in the news media with the Arizona shootings and Sarah Palin) doesn't make the allegations true.

I know what I believe to be truth.  I believe it because it changed my life.  I believe it because it has never been wrong.  I believe it because, unlike Nostradamas and this preacher that says the world will end in May......It has never been wrong.  I believe in God's Word.  I can't prove God to you in a laboratory much like you cannot disprove Him to me.  But my belief in a creator says nothing derogatory about my intelligence.

God's Word says that we are fallen.  The Bible was wise to say:  "And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration in the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."  2 Corinthians 2:4-5

Therefore, I will not put my faith in man's ideologies.  I put my faith in God.  After all, whether we believe it or not, we all put our faith in something.  After looking around for perfection down here......I know we fall short.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Your House is not Clean.......

I spent several hours yesterday taking down Christmas decorations and cleaning my living room.  I moved couches and vacuumed underneath, I vacuumed curtains, I vacuumed cobwebs off of my beautifully textured plaster ceiling.  When I was done, I had quite a sense of pride in my living room.  I was tempted to tell the kids that they couldn't come in it!  Satisfied, I sat down with my man on the couch to watch a little TV, when lo and behold, I look up and what do I spy?  More cobwebs.  Hrumph.  I missed a spot.  I was too tired to worry about it, so I went to bed and left it there.

As I was cleaning this morning, I was thinking about that cobweb.  My mind works in weird ways, so I began thinking of analogies.  We can spend so much time "cleaning up" our lives and trying to better ourselves, but no matter what we do, there will always be a little (or sometimes a lot) of sin left over.  Enter: grace.  Oh how I love grace.  Grace changes lives.  Grace says: you can't be perfect.........but you don't have to be.  Why?  Because Jesus is.  Perfect.  Wonderful. Grace says: "hide yourself in Me, for I am righteousness and I will make you righteous too."   There are so many good morals that can be found in every world religion, but all but one is missing grace.  Missing Jesus.

I am so thankful for grace.  I realize now that when I draw close to God, He shows me things that I never knew were faults in me.   He breaks me, and it is painful.  But He also molds me into something new and different and in the process refreshes me and brings sweet joy.    I am constantly reminded that no matter how much time I spend "cleaning" my heart, there still will be a few cobwebs left.  I am a work in progress.  But as long as I allow Him to keep working in me, He will keep breaking, remolding, breaking, and remolding until I am closer to His image.  Oh, how I am thankful.  I am His. He won't give up on me. 

Grace.  My favorite word!

Monday, January 3, 2011

For All Mothers of Small Children!

This is not one of those blogs that show you how to disciple or get organized.  Don't get me wrong.....we all need that.  BUT, remember not to sweat the small stuff....

Remember...cleaner days are coming.  I know they are .  I know they are.  But for now....

Laugh, hug, and play almost as often as you work.  It is what your kids will remember when they are older. 

When Good Stormtroopers go Bad

I really don't think he knows who he is messing with?   A nice follow up to the verse about the arrogance of man.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Get Knowledge & Get Humble

Knowledge humbles the great man, astonishes the common man, and puffs up the little man.

 Isaiah 14:11~
"I will punish the world for it's evil,
And the wicked for their iniquity;
I will halt the arrogance of the proud,
And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible."

Isaiah 55:8`
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, "  says the Lord.

Thoughts for a Sunday!  
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