“A Christmas Offer to All and To All A Good Read . . .”

Sometimes marriage is a real crime photo“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

Just in time for Christmas I have reduced my Kindle e-book, Sometimes Marriage is a Real Crime, to 99 cents on Amazon.com.  It will only be available at this price until the New Year. I admit I am no Margaret Mitchell – but it was a blast to write!

Sometimes Marriage is a Real Crime is a memorable novel conveying how all our beliefs, traditions and tragedies occurring while we are young, transform us into the people we ultimately become.

Smart, spunky, tomboyish Katie LeVay is a seven-year old “Daddy’s girl” thriving in a typical 1950s family environment; until life becomes complicated after her father abandons the family. Divorce is rare in the early ’60s, but small town gossip is not. Comfort foods might be Kate’s antidote . . . but curiosity her downfall.

Beginning in nostalgic 1957, we pursue seven-year old Kate’s coming of age saga through her complicated childhood, complex marriage and aspiring public relations career. Life would finally be perfect if only her womanizing husband would change his deceiving ways. He doesn’t and Kate has just discovered the perfect untraceable crime. Layered with plot twists and humor, find out if Kate Madison will prevail.

Although not Christian fiction, it sets the stage for the sequel which is. This novel addresses what causes us to act as we do and how easily we can be drawn to the psychological edge of despair.

The idea for this novel began when a former patient of mine intrigued me by a conversation we had. We had just begun our counseling session and I was glancing over her food diary. (I had all new patients keep a journal for the first two weeks, so together we could recognize patterns of behavior.)

I noticed something amiss.  I asked her why she had prepared a certain dish that week?

“Well Ellie, I had to! It is my husband’s favorite,” she replied.

“But Ethel,” I responded, “don’t you realize that you are killing him with kindness?”

Hmmm. A thought-provoking idea evolved. Wouldn’t this be the perfect untraceable crime? I wondered how the authorities could ever trace this back to an unhappy wife? Therefore the plot concept of Sometimes Marriage is a Real Crime emerged and grew into a novel, five years in the making.  (Why so long you ask? Because I was afraid if anything happened to handsome hubby, I’d be in trouble!)

If you believe we never really outgrow our childhood and we are responsible for our own actions, I believe this novel will intrigue you. It’s basically a combination of chick-lit and psychological fiction.  There are two versions, both the same – download whichever you wish, but the one for 99 cents is available only until New Year’s as a Christmas present from me. I hope you’ll be entertained it if you do.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  (Proverbs 4:23)

 

 

Excuses, Excuses!

I pray I’m basically a kind person, but sometimes, I believe that Christians need a “Reality Kick” in the pants! Let me be clear – I dislike excuses! I don’t like when my kids, patients or our politicians do it! Recognize that we’re not perfect creatures or ever will be, so let’s  accept responsibility and find sensible solutions to change behaviors!excuses

Jesus was not a wimp. He got righteously angry upon seeing his Holy Temple in Jerusalem misused.  So how do you think Jesus feels when he sees us destroying our bodily temple of the Holy Spirit? Probably the same.

Here are some common excuses and what I’d offer as alternative, practical solutions in overcoming them:

“I can simply take a vitamin pill”  Our bodies work within a fascinating team environment. Vitamins  and minerals need food in conjunction with each other to produce optimal efficiency. For example; iron should be consumed with vitamin C for maximum absorption, (try tomato sauces with meat). Magnesium, potassium and calcium work together for electrolyte balance . . .  and so on.  Without food, vitamins aren’t effective, so starving yourself and then popping a vitamin won’t succeed and you’ll be wasting your money.

“But without fat, food doesn’t have flavor”  Oh, really?  Well then, open a Crisco can and dig in. It’s herbs and seasonings that give flavor to food. Avoid heavier fat items such as prime rib, ice cream or whole milk for a while and you’ll taste the difference when you resume. Fat coats the tongue.  Garlic, onions, mustard, curry, oregano, sage, thyme, cumin, lemon, even wine and vinegar enhance food flavor. Try adding vinegars, especially balsamic vinegar, to pasta sauces. Sure, use real butter, but use less of it.

“I have no time to eat right  By the time you get to the fast food joint, get out of your car, get in line, order, wait around, pay for your order, get back into your car, drive home, change into something comfortable, get your place settings out, get drinks and sit down, you could have pounded a chicken schnitzel, popped a few baked potatoes in the microwave, created a salad and have relaxed with a glass of wine! So don’t give me that excuse!!

“It’s too expensive to eat right”  See above. For the amount you paid for that bucket of chicken, you could have purchased spinach, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, radishes, any meat on sale, potatoes and a loaf of french bread and had leftovers! Search store circulars and choose sale items from that week. As my mother said, “You can have anything you want . . . and this is what you want.”

“I have no time to exercise!” Listen, I know you’re tired after a tough day at work. Exercise revives you! Do you watch TV at night? During the commercials use stretchy bands or  lift small hand weights. One of my patients peddled her stationary bike while watching Jeopardy each evening.  Have children? On weekends, get them involved! Dance with them, rake and jump in leaves, play Simon Says, walk the dog, go to the park, throw the ball around. Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Your children will  forever cherish those memories with you.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus didn’t offer excuses. Are your excuses more important than HIS were? He went to the cross because he thought you and I were worth it. Respect Christ’s choice and let’s choose to honor God with our bodies.

 “for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

Retaining a Healthy Control at Holiday Functions

party foodIt’s quite common at this festive time of year to overeat rich, decadent foods. It seems our will power is challenged greatly and can easily go out the window at the first sign of chocolate! How can we stay healthy while partying with family, friends, our church congregation as well as at employee Christmas parties during this season?

Let me tell you, it’s not easy but it can be done.

Be prepared. You already know Aunt Martha will bring her creamy, “to die for” chocolate peanut butter torte. So your choices are as follows:

Avoid consuming something else at the function that’s fattening. It’s not complicated; it’s simply an exchange method. Don’t eat mashed potatoes or buttery bread so you can enjoy a small slice of that torte for desert without guilt feelings. You’ve remained in control while selecting something you really desired. It’s being out of control that destroys us. Don’t allow food to become your idol by craving it more than a Christ centered mind-set!

You can work out the next day (and the following week as well, if you really pig out!) This is another trade-off method. Health has a cost and food is never free! Temptation will hang on you like a demon, destroying your temple of the Holy Spirit. But God is not a wicked parent who wants to take away your desert simply because you’ve been bad. He gave us free will and the good news is: you get to choose.

But not all choices are wise.

“Everything is permissible” . . . but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” . . . but not everything is constructive.” (1 Corinthians 10:23)

Conquer your cravings by beating them into submission. Okay, you ate it, you own it; now what? Remember to choose some type of exercise which is fun! Exercise shouldn’t be drudgery. By choosing what you enjoy, once again you are in control. Ask a friend to walk with you or walk your dog. Play in the snow, dance with your children, Zumba, jump rope, bike, play indoor tennis or buy a new exercise equipment or video.

Know yourself! Are you competitive, a socializer, shy or have a curious personality? Your temperament indicates how you’ll subconsciously react at functions.

  • If you’re a curious person, you’ll try some items simply to discover how they will taste.
  • If you are introverted, you’ll eat to keep your hands occupied
  • and a social person is a people pleaser; sometimes trying items simply to tell the creator how delicious and enjoyable something was.

Now none of these are wrong, well, unless you are out of control. (Are you recognizing a theme here?) Embrace your personality or change it, striving for excellence. Your choice.

Don’t go to any activity overly hungry! If you are starving, you’re tempting yourself to lose control. And if you drink alcohol on an empty stomach, you’ll lose even more control. Common sense; about an hour before you leave, have a piece of fruit with a little bit of peanut butter (for complex carbohydrate, fat and protein balance) and a cup of herbal tea.

So there are just a few ways you can enjoy your holiday parties without beating yourself up the next day. If you have additional suggestions to help others let me know. Thanks and blessings for a safe and controlled season

“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”  (Colossians 3:2)

Are You Destroying Your Home From Within?

As I watched the self-destruction of Ferguson, Missouri on television, my heart sympathized with those who were innocent bystanders of these senseless acts. It must have been devastating as you watched your life’s work go up, literally, in flames. My heart grieved for one particular lady who lost her pastry shop in a single night of hatred. If you have ever strived to see your business dream realized, then your heart must have been touched as a mob needlessly demolished her dream. Thankfully, good-hearted people of all ethic and color diversities restored her faith in human-kind.

th7IGLSJWAAlthough some seemingly forget it, it is vital to remember that we are all of ONE race . . . the human race! If I were blind and you were blind, what difference would it make what color I was??? God looks at our inner spirit and so do I.

“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”  (1 John 4: 19-21)

Some shook their heads and asked why did God allow Ferguson to pillage itself? Well, God didn’t . . .  Satan did.  Looting, (stealing) eradicating businesses and burning vehicles is pure hatred and since hatred is evil, it is not from God. Evil comes in all forms, but make no mistake, it is all self-hatred, which is sin. But don’t be too self-righteous however, for we are no different than Ferguson in many respects! For what we cherish, we take care of! Do you truly care about your own “home?”

We are God-created, and to say that we don’t care about our physical body, is a slap in the Face of God who created us. Someone who doesn’t take care of his own body actually dislikes himself. Free Will allows us to choose either sanity and order in our lives, or to loot and destroy our own bodily home, (although I seriously doubt if the majority of those who rioted in Ferguson, were from that particular city.) Sin always annihilates the very soul of those who, “caring not” exhibit these behaviors.

Self-hatred always affects the innocent around us. Need proof?  As your loved one lies dying from the lung cancer, brought on from years of smoking, aren’t you affected? As your alcoholic spouse destroys himself, do you remain apathetic? So if you stuff your temple of the Holy Spirit with dangerously fattening, chemically-based, processed food, does your family remain unaffected?  No, of course not. There are no victimless crimes! If you destroy the body, you are destroying your personal “home” and those who love you suffer. This body is the only personal space you’ll inhabit until we leave this earth. Take care of it!

Anger and self-loathing shatters the soul, and only God’s Grace can change hearts. Be thankful for life. How does it ever show our gratitude when we tear down and self-destruct our godly temple? Yet some do! Some choose drugs, alcohol, yo-yo dieting or any other crazy fad in order to please mankind, not God.

And any true Reverend worth his salt, would quote God’s Words to calm a situation, not incite. Those demonstrators needed God’s Truth preached, not hate.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  (Ephesians 4:31-32)

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How Our Family Traditions Affect Us As Adults

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When I was young, the holiday season typically lasted from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. But it doesn’t seem that way nowadays. We celebrate the holidays starting at Halloween and ending at the Super Bowl or Valentine’s Day. Think about this: all those activities surround food. It should be about celebrating family and friends, with food as a side dish, not the main course.

How did your family celebrate holidays?  Did your family throw massive yearly parties? Did mom spoil you with abundant recipes for cookies, pies, brownies?  Do you constantly bake treats because you failed to receive them as a child? Do you carry on habits simply because it’s tradition? Family times can be both joyful and also trying. (Tribulation worketh patience.)

“Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”  (Psalm 50:5)

How we react around food has to do with how we were raised. I was poor growing up, therefore when I am at a buffet, I have a hard time stopping at just one plate of food. After all it might not be there tomorrow!  It was only after I realized why I acted as I did, that I changed. So let’s discuss this important subliminal subject.

Adults habits have much to do with the environment we grew up in.

  • Were holidays fun, expressive, over the top events where the entire family gathered together to celebrate around a table of immense bounty?  Do they still represent happy, carefree times? We all want to recapture youth. Sometimes holidays are subconsciously more than an event, it reprises those days of security and innocence once again.
  • Was it a time when Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt Ethel arrived loaded down with gift packages and gave you sloppy kisses, embarrassing you to death? Do you carry guilt feelings from those days of ingratitude or a  feeling of sadness, for those days are lost forever, except in your memory?
  • Perhaps you came from a broken home where it was simply you, your mom and siblings watching holiday TV shows to pass the time? Now you’ve placed a shell around your heart and pretend “it doesn’t matter anyway” in a spirit of denial?
  • Were you poor growing up, so having something home-made and from the someone’s heart means more than a Cartier watch?
  • Or did your parents resent having little money to waste on gifts or family dinners, so you go overboard now to make up for it?

Seize moments to spread happiness. I will always regret a  situation I allowed to pass me by. One of my money-challenged  patients arrived at her appointment incredibly joyful about the large chicken her family would share at Thanksgiving. Inside my head, (God’s urging I’m sure) I thought of purchasing a large turkey and leaving it anonymously on her doorstep. I will always regret not acting on that small act of kindness.

How much do you spend on your holiday bounty now? Is it all about the presents or is time more important than money to you? Did you remain thrifty or demonstratively generous, creating too many recipes, possibly going into debt to make up for lost time? Are holidays even important?

Remember get-together’s are not about gifts and “stuff.” Stuff wears out – only love, kindness and memories are important.  It pleases God when we appreciate the True Bounty He has given us, which is the greatest gift of all and asks nothing in return except Love. We strive for excellence because of our relationship and love for Him.

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”  (Romans 12:12)

 

Healthy Potato Chips??? Really?

thN961LBREWhat is it about these celebrities and endorsements regarding food? It never fails to amaze me how people will totally follow some advice spoken by a popular figure but fail to research Truth.

I heard a very respected, female morning news anchor (who I truly enjoy listening to) excitedly announce recently, ” . . . and they are gluten-free!!!” insinuating that the type of potato chips she was sampling was a healthy alternative to junk food.

News Flash:  Potatoes have no gluten and have always BEEN gluten-free. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley which gives bread its chewiness. Have you ever eaten a “chewy” potato? Hope not.

Besides that, these are POTATO CHIPS  containing nearly two teaspoons of fat per 1 ounce and 140 calories! (And who can stop at one ounce?) And if you are a curious person (as I am) you’d probably try each type and overload on those fat calories. Healthy? God gave you free will, you make the call. If you indulge, drink water and exercise to burn it off. Then you are in control, rather than the potato chip controlling you.

For a fun holiday treat, Boulder Canyon Kettle Cooked Canyon Cut Potato Chips might be a better alternative than regular chips at 3 teaspoons of fat per ounce, but make no mistake, this is not a healthy food. Remember as we read in 1 Corinthians 10:23, “”I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive.” Losing control by overindulging is never constructive to the spirit.

Potatoes without tons of butter, bacon, sour cream and cheese, are extremely healthy but still get a bad rap when it comes to diets. A potato contains vitamins A, E, D, K, C, B1, B2, B3, B6, folate, choline, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium and the potato skin contains an average of 4 grams of valuable fiber. God placed the potato in the Garden of Eden and urged us to consume it. (Genesis 1:29) Who are these fallible diet gurus to say God made a mistake?

My mantra, which I have emphasized over and over again is, Eat For Nutrients, not calories, fat grams or any one food group. Balance is the key to health and anything is fine in moderation. Please don’t be manipulated by misleading advertising.

This reminds me of the perplexed man I met at the grocery store one day.  I noticed him taking one bottle of cooking oil after another off the shelf, diligently searching over each label. When I asked if he needed help; he replied that he was looking for one which contained no cholesterol. I gently told him that no oil contained cholesterol. But he announced, “But one particular oil stated it contained NO cholesterol and I can’t remember which one.”  I politely told him that since cholesterol is only made by the liver and olives and other vegetables have no liver, there’s no fear of selecting any one of those on the shelf. None had cholesterol, advertisers were simply manipulating the public. He seemed skeptical and I moved on.

Oh well. I’ll pray that you prefer to not be a media sheep following any advice without checking it out.

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”  (1 Corinthians 1:25)