Am I Simply Watering Weeds?

After a water-clogged spring, it’s finally time to plant a garden again. Now for me that’s a challenge because I killed cactus in our yard in Arizona. Therefore I had no idea at first what type of flowers or produce would grow here in Northeast Ohio.

Last year I experimented with flowering plants, radishes, cucumbers and tomatoes and it was a relief to see them grow beautifully. But I also discovered there was more to gardening than simply sticking plants in the ground. Knowledge of what belongs in our garden and what doesn’t is essential to a healthy, successful one.

wild violet weedsI noticed while I was cultivating the soil last year that some beautiful flowering purple plants were already in some spaces I wanted to use. How fortunate I was, I thought, to have the previous owner plant such attractive flowers! I lovingly dug and worked around them, nurturing them . . .  until they were all over the area and I had to keep cutting them back because I didn’t want them to overpower my good produce. That took a lot of my time and effort!

One day I had a guest over and proudly showed off my flowering blooms. She glanced over at me sympathetically and commented, “Ellie, I hate to tell you but you’ve been watering weeds.”

Sigh, my beautiful flowers were actually wild violet weeds. “But,” I protested, “they look so pretty! How would I have known?”

Isn’t that like sin in our lives? Sin looks so pretty and inviting at first. And we’re so prideful that we sometimes cultivate a particular sin until it takes over our lives, intertwining with our vibrant Christian living, eventually choking off strong growth.

If God is our Gardener, sin doesn’t look attractive.

“For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.” (1 John 2:16  NLT)

God directs us to what is essential and belongs in our lives and what doesn’t! Certainly we can understand how drugs, alcohol or smoking can become distracting weeds overpowering our Christian testimony. But anything we desire more than Lord becomes an idol.

Even something as innocent as cooking and exercise can seem inviting but be off-track. Addiction to unhealthy food or exercising becomes an idol. “But we need to eat and exercise,” you say. True, then let us eat a balanced diet and exercise sensibly which honors our personal temple of the Holy Spirit not destroys it.

Are you thinking, “But if they are such pretty flowers, why kill them all?” Yeah, so did I. Unfortunately by not killing the weeds, they crept back into the garden and we had to destroy them once again this year. I’ve learned that weeds need to be pulled out by their roots or they pop up later like sin. Don’t allow sin to fester in the soil of your soul or it will manifest in other addictions. Addiction is sin and must be destroyed at the roots. Conquer sin by replacing bad habits with healthier ones.

Weeds crept into my garden without realizing it. A garden is a wonderful accomplishment but I couldn’t see the productivity for the weeds. It took a lot of effort to cultivate and nurture those unnecessary weeds; time which could have been better spent on Godly endeavors. This year, I know what belongs in my Godly Soil. I pray you’ll nurture yours too.

 

 

As Sweet As Honey

honey“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)

There is so much civil unrest in our world today it’s sad. If only some thought before they spoke, their words could be as sweet as honey and how much different this world could be! Many walk around as grumpy as can be  Perhaps a spoonful of honey would make them happier.

But some people will sneer and state that honey has too much sugar to be healthy. I counter with, “What’s my mantra?”  Eat for nutrients, not for calories!  I say, if you’re not allergic to bees, what have you got to lose?

Honey’s chocked full of nutrients!

Honey contains vitamins riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, B 5 & 6, C and minerals: magnesium, calcium, phosphate, potassium, sulphur, iron and in smaller quantities, copper, iodine and zinc. The general rule: the darker the honey, the more powerful it is. (Illinois buckwheat honey at one time had the highest antioxidant activity but perhaps they’ve discovered even better ones now.)  Honey contains a lot of 50 cent words like polyphenols, salicylic acid, oligosaccharides, alpha-tocopherols and other amazing properties benefiting health. Trust me, God wouldn’t have created it and then said, “Whoops, don’t eat this.”

Excellent medicinal properties:

Honey is anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial. Doctors historically, have used its over 180 curative properties to assist with respiratory illnesses, yeast infections, ulcers and arthritis. And of course we’ve all heard that honey with lemon will soothe a sore throat. It was even used during the Civil War as a natural antiseptic to promote wound healing. Honey has an incredible amount of antioxidant abilities to ward off illnesses, even cancers. Bacteria cannot live in honey so it virtually never spoils!

Raw honey is one of the best ways to rid yourself of  vegetation allergies!  Not just in northeast Ohio, but anywhere. The reason raw honey’s proclaimed to work is that bees use the flowering plants that contain the local pollen to which you are allergic.  This unfiltered raw honey, gathered through local pollination, also contains incredible antioxidant properties. TIP: Search for a honey produced closest to your area.  After a while, you’ll build up an immunity to allergy attacks.

Another Benefit: It keeps us looking younger!

Try a honey mask to clear up skin blemishes. Honey attracts water to the skin, so it hydrates, becoming a wonderful moisturizer. (Wouldn’t mind if it got rid of a few wrinkles in the bargain, would you?)

How to consume it?   Honey can be used in recipes all day long!

  • Drizzle it over your oatmeal, yogurt or on whole grain toast with peanut butter and cinnamon.
  • Create a honey-mustard salad dressing, BBQ sauce, or a low-fat cream sauce using plain yogurt.
  • Baste it on chicken, fish, shrimp or pork recipes.
  • Add to smoothies or different teas.
  • Create an after school yogurt/honey dip for apples, bananas or other fruit.

Simply use your imagination and you’ll find many ways to add honey’s natural nutrients two or three times a week.

Caution: Use common sense

Proverbs 25:27 proclaims,  “It is not good to eat much honey,” 

Remember anything’s fine in moderation, so don’t overdo! If you’re allergic to bees, don’t consume!  Diabetic? Consume a small amount and always with high fiber items. And DON’T give honey to children under a year due to possible botulism effects. Consume intelligently!

 

 

Striving for Health in the Dieting Wilderness

thHSB5SKZH“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”      (John 3: 1,2)

John the Baptist was born specifically for one purpose: to proclaim the coming of the Lord. He knew the way to Salvation and proclaimed that Truth to anyone who would listen.

But not many listened, preferring to live as they always had. Few turned away from their destructive path to find real JOY,  preferring to wallow in the destructive or apathetic lifestyle they had chosen, content to be spiritually sick.. They fail to reach out to the Great Physician for eternal life.

 “But when Jesus heard that, he said to them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.”   (Matthew 9:12)

 

Now I don’t claim to know all the answers to health problems. As a nutritional counselor, I believe I speak for many in the healthcare profession who have felt like John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness. We know the True Way to a healthier lifestyle and we CAN get you there but who listens!

Many follow false diets rather than health-sustaining truth! It is indeed frustrating to see our friends preferring the depraved lifestyle of nutrient-depleting sodas, processed ingredients and unhealthy fast food rather than nutritious whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein. They’ll follow fad diet gurus instead of searching for physiological Biblical truth!

Reach out for solid, life-giving truth and you too can attain youthful energy, clear thinking and abundant life! But who’s listening? Similarly, accepting salvation must come from within the heart to be TRUE salvation. Do you truly desire to change?

Most prefer not to. 1/3 of Americans are obese and nearly 2/3’s of us are overweight! Why? Because sadly, the cost of becoming healthier to them isn’t worth the lifestyle sacrifice to get there:

  1. Some consider themselves victims. “Circumstances made them this way.” They whine,”It’s too hard” – unplugging their Christian power source.  “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
  2. They have made a golden idol out of food!!!   “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:19)
  3. They are unteachable because they “know everything” already!  After all, “I read in a magazine once . . .”  or “Dr. Oz spoke about this on his television show . . .” makes them experts now. “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1:22)
  4. They are content to wallow in the lifestyle they have chosen, for after all, their bodies are only temporary – what difference does it make? “LET’S LIVE IT UP!”   “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20)
  5. They aren’t health knowledgeable. They need someone to teach them truth. “How can people have faith in the Lord and ask him to save them, if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear, unless someone tells them?”  (Romans 10:14 ) As a health  professional, I pray I’ll never be apathetic about proclaiming truth.      

Try posting any appropriate Bible verses around the house for motivation.

As Christians, shouldn’t we confess and trust Christ to take away ALL our sins, even gluttony and lack of control???

Who then becomes the “Biggest Loser?”

When the popular weight loss reality show, The Biggest Loser premiered six years ago, my husband and I watched advertised previews. My hubby turned to me and asked, “It can’t be good for the body to lose that quickly, can it?” Even he recognized that instant gratification isn’t good for our overall health. How right he was.

“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8) 

Yesterday all  the morning programs, as well as the internet,  announced with dismay that contestants on The Biggest Loser were gaining weight back and currently had to fight like crazy to maintain their ever-growing physique. Oh dear, the commentators lamented, what went wrong?imagesCA2E4O1C

Nothing that wasn’t normal physiology. God created this fabulously designed machine which protects us against our own foolish desires. He knows what is best for us and yet we fail to yield to it, insisting on our own path. We sometimes lust for the world’s praise, not God’s. God definitely wants our bodily temple healthy and that includes the entire mental, physical and spiritual package.

People are so desperate to lose weight for the world’s idea of beauty that they will try anything. Years ago Rachel Ray, the famous chef and television talk show host wanted to see exactly how desperate dieters can be.  She created a false diet program which was advertised as:

“Volunteers needed to test new diet program. Some foods ae toxic and will cause paralysis and blindness.”

Now you’re probably laughing thinking, who in their right mind would sign up for something like this? Well sadly over 1400 people did! Are we an out of control narcissistic society or what???

The reason the contestants gained weight back is because the body is very physiologically possessive. It will fight to preserve itself in any way it can for it wants to live! (It’s one reason why children can survive after being underwater twenty minutes or longer.)

In the case of The Biggest Loser, the body was  unnaturally stressed to its breaking point in order to create maximum weight loss. It was forced to do an activity that was against normalcy. (And remember stress can cause all types of illnesses in the long-term.) After being released from the rigors of that program, the mind demanded to take control of its own body again. That meant getting back to “normal,” which by now was all messed up.

After the contestants had stressed and manipulated their metabolism to reach their goal weight, the real challenge began. Keeping it off! The brain took over and slowed its metabolism for protection. In other words, it believed itself to be ill and wanted to survive. Therefore it hung on to every ounce of food it could while slowing its metabolism. One should always remember he can’t outsmart a fat cell or God’s physiology.

“I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  (Psalm 139: 14a)

I feel so bad for these contestants because it will be a very long time before their metabolism will return to normal. It’s a tough way to learn patience. Never fear however, for if you lose weight slowly and sensibly (1-3 pounds a week) you’ll keep it off for God wants you healthy!

The Capacity To Love Knows No Boundaries


“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.”  (Song of Solomon 8:6)

100_1152A couple of weeks ago, we found a new puppy – or rather the puppy found me. Having two already, we certainly weren’t in the market for another pooch but when I walked into the room and this adorable face smiled up at me, tail wagging while his tongue darted out for kisses, I was hooked.

Strolling toward him, he jumped upon the rim of his enclosure and gazed at me through love-struck eyes. Oh wait . . .  that was my love struck eyes. He’s a Cavashon, a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Bischon. Affectionate, calm and intelligent – a great combination.

My husband and I walked around that flea market for a while, debating the pros and cons of adopting another dog. Our gentle, beautiful Cocker Spaniel was 13 1/2 and sadly, in increasingly ill health. Our Lhasa although loving, was very territorial and we weren’t sure how she’d react. In the end however, love won out.

Our sweet Cocker didn’t know what to think at first but quickly accepted another brother. Our Lhasa was another story. She sulked, pouted and was seemingly angry that we gave attention to some “ruffian from the streets.” She agreed to tolerate this new guy rather than attack him.  To compensate we gave her lots of attention and belly rubs (at least when she wasn’t hiding under the bed.)DSCN2972

I’m sorry she doesn’t understand that, as her master, we certainly have enough love to accept all of them. But just like that little Lhasa Apso, we sometimes sulk when God seemingly gives more treats to others than us!

Is your heart generous enough to love others? Or are we so wrapped up in our own world that we fail to comprehend that the human heart has the capacity to love unselfishly?  There’s a cute line in the movie Charade when Audrey Hepburn remarks to Cary Grant, “Well I have so many friends now that until one dies I can’t possibly know anyone else.” In other words, shut the door, I’ve got enough friends. No one else better apply.

Sometimes we actually do view God that way too. Has the thought of, “God loves that person more than me” ever crossed your mind? That’s a very human response but God loves all and wants us to come to Him. John 3:16.

He is the epitome of LOVE. God doesn’t play favorites. (Romans 2:11)

I am so grateful for the abundant life God has given us! Traveling the world has brought us incredibly relationships and although not wealthy by any means, we have secured a treasury filled with friendships!

GrandCanyon 032 Our Cocker Spaniel has traveled with us six of the twelve times we’ve crossed this country. His welcoming demeanor attracted friendships from all over. We will always be grateful to having known him. You see we lost him to a fast growing cancer several days ago and even though our hearts are breaking as I write this, we wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to have him in our lives in spite of the pain.

God lives outside of time and knew what we needed before we did. He allowed our paths to cross with this transitional, rather than a replacement puppy (because no one could ever replace another) so our hearts will heal more quickly.

We count it all Joy that we had this blessing in our lives. God is Good.

Uncaging the Inner Sloth

“In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but the foolish man devours all he has”  (Proverbs 20:21) 

Did all you do this winter is eat, eat, eat? Feeling like a caged sloth who consumed his way through his fully stocked pantry? Did yth1EP0G3CVour get up and go, get up and went?

We are emerging from the throes of winter and approaching the warmer months. Finally!!! This means we want to shape up and look our best! Choosing nutritious foods will always assist with healthier weight loss. That along with exercise is certainly one way to jump-start your metabolism.

These aren’t miracle cures but are common sense suggestions when selecting metabolic-boosting foods:

Drink ice-cold water:  This works because metabolism burns a few calories (8 calories per glass) in order to restore normal temperature.

Similarly in small ways spicy foods stimulate circulation, raising body temperature which also jump-starts our metabolism:

  1. Wasabi – excellent in Asian foods, fish, deviled eggs, salad dressing, steak sauce, as a coating to bread crumbs for chicken, with yogurt as a spread on vegetables.
  2. Horseradish:  Definitely make your own cocktail sauce with ketchup with hot horseradish to taste or add it to mustard.
  3. Tabasco: Add to eggs, salad dressings,  sauces, chili, even pasta sauces.
  4. Chili peppers: Add to Chili and any other Asian & Mexican recipe.
  5. Habanero  and jalapeno (caution: extremely hot, use protective gloves when handling)
  6. Cayenne pepper: great for Cajun, Creole and chocolate recipes. (It’s been prescribed to help arthritis pain too.)
  7. Hot Salsa – and one doesn’t have to have with fattening tortilla chips.  Try spreading over chicken or a mild white fish such as swai, tilapia or in rice while it’s cooking for a flavorful meal.
  8. Chipolte seasonings:  Try creating a potato medley with red & green peppers, onions, mushrooms and corn. Add a small amount of olive oil to a mixing bowl, combine the veggies, add the seasoning to adhere and grill. So easy!
  9. Ginger – there are some great spicy ginger ales available that really tingle the taste buds!
  10. Other foods found to boost metabolism include  turmeric, cinnamon, rosemary, oregano, and paprika.

Capsaicin, the ingredient in red cayenne pepper is an antioxidant, thus it benefits our natural immune system.  Studies have also shown that this stimulates brain activity, releasing serotonin which is a feel-good neurotransmitter, producing feelings of contentment.

Red peppers contain a great deal of vitamin C, (2 1/2 x’s  per oz. than oranges) which not only boosts the immune system but helps restore collagen to the skin. Also high in Vitamin A, iron and potassium.

Here’s another benefit to hot spicy foods:  anything that makes your nose run, also opens up the lungs. If you’re coming down with a summer cold, try adding hot pepper (and garlic) to your chicken soup for quick recovery.

Caution:  If a little is good, more doesn’t necessarily mean better. In fact, too much might harm the gallbladder and taste buds! Consume spicy foods using common sense and in moderation.  (Balance again.)

I’ve found if I use spices, I’ll need less butter, oil or salt to season food.

In the summer, consume smaller meals and foods with a higher water content like fruits, vegetables or fish to create less strain on digestion.

It’s fine to care about your physical body – God requires it, but care about your soul even more! In this growing hedonistic world of beauty and “selfies” there needs to be a balance.

3 John 1:2 “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” 

Where Are You Blooming?

th1O9E46T7The parable of the sower in Mark 4 has always been one of my favorites. As my husband related it in his sermon, he tied it beautifully into Spiritual applications. I of course immediately connected it with health applications.

You remember the parable right? Jesus is speaking about the Sower, representing Jesus. The Word of God,  represented by seed, is scattered.  First the seed lands on the path where birds come and pick it apart, taking it away. Some seed falls on rocky soil where it doesn’t grow because it has no root. Other seed falls among the thorns and gets choked off by other foliage. But some seed grows in good soil and flourishes.

So how does this tie in with health?

In Jesus’s first example, scattered seed is eaten by  birds. The seed, representing God’s Word, never changes. The birds represent Satan and false teachers, who, after someone hears Truth turn away because they either don’t want to believe or desire to follow God. They already have a god, themselves. They are unteachable.

Occasionally certain patients are “know-it-all’s” who fail to listen and change because “I know all that already.”  Sad for them and frustrating for any health professional who is attempting to change an unhealthy patient’s lifestyle.   “Well, I’ve already read about that in Prevention magazine.” Do they really know more than the teacher? Since they are unteachable, they therefore fail to change their ways which leads into a downward health spiral.

The second scattered seed falls upon rocky soil. These patients start out with joy and determination! But they want instant gratification and therefore fail to grow. They create no roots grounded through educational, strategizing processes. A garden doesn’t grow in a day, neither does a healthy lifestyle. It takes a lot of deeply planted ideas, patience and nurturing to change one’s habits.  When changing a habit gets tough, they’ll skip appointments. There’s always a solution but they’ll find an excuse as to why they fell off their program.

These are “yes, but” patients. “Yeah, I know I should exercise but I couldn’t this week because I was babysitting my niece.”  Okay, then get her involved and exercise together. “Oh I could, but she needs a nap after kindergarten.”  Okay then exercise while she’s napping. “Well yeah, but the music might wake her up,” and on and on. One must want to change more than I want it for them!!!

The third example is the seed scattered among thorns. The thorns represent the world. A patient hears what he’s to do but life gets in the way.  Restaurants, Super Bowl parties, stress,  emotions, drugs, alcohol, television shows, even Aunt Martha’s cookies or other unexpected activity becomes a stumbling block to health.  Well the world contains many obstacles (thorns) which block us from studying God’s Word or preventing a healthier lifestyle.

These people play the “victim” card  There’s always an excuse not to do the right thing. “Well I couldn’t hurt Aunt Martha’s feelings! I had to eat them!”  God always provides a way out so there’s no excuse to fail. Start strategizing other options using God-given Wisdom.

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT)

In the last example, seed fell on good soil.  Those heard the Word, did as it commanded and produced success. Do likewise. God wants you to be successful!