Archive | April 2016

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!

Are You Happy With Crumbs?

One can learn quite a few Spiritual Lessons from dogs.

The other day as usual,we doled out our pups food and set it down in front of them. Our rambunctious female Lhasa Apso only sat and observed while our Cocker Spaniel dug right in!

Sebastian031208Now since he’s getting old, he doesn’t always dine as gentlemanly as we’d like.  Food sometimes spews forth from the side of his tooth-gapped mouth and much to our dismay, scatters all over the kitchen floor into crushed tiny pieces. But he’s always happy with what he gets.

“Dry crumbs in peace are better than a full meal with strife”  (Proverbs 17:1)

Meanwhile, our Lhasa isn’t content with her own dish of delicious chow. Oh no, she’s patiently waiting to pounce on the scattered disgusting leftovers cast aside by her messy brother!

How representative of one who isn’t happy with what their master has given them but lust after the “crumbs” of what others have. (Anything not done on Earth for our Lord are really crumbs anyway.)

Are we that way?  Isn’t that typical of some of us who are not content with all the wonderful bounty God has given us? We have a lovely home, great spouse, wonderful children, a well-paying job, adoration from friends and so much more.  Are we content? No of course not,  we tend to want what others have too! Our friends, family, neighbors have newer cars, more luxurious boats, better furniture, a more prestigious position . . .

Remember God’s Words as related by Paul in Philippians 4:11“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”

Now getting back to our Lhasa, she is certainly not in need of additional food because we provide well for her. Jewel051208She is healthy and fit. We could give her more but it would be unwise. More food would only make her sluggish and unhealthy. The practical application? More things don’t fill an empty void in our soul, we’d only want more.

What if we got everything we desired?  We’d most likely be spoiled, greedy and ungrateful. No, I care enough about our little dogs to give them only what is good for them and sometimes that means restrictions. Wouldn’t you do the same with your loved ones? Would you give your children ice cream for breakfast if they demanded it?

Contentment. Have we not yet learned that God desires to give us only what is good for us as well? But we still lust after more of the crumbs in life! Have we not learned that with additional “things” comes the need of upkeep, maintenance, overseeing, worry and more stress. Stress increases insulin levels which adds weight and causes debilitating illnesses!

Crummy food also causes stress. If we consume only what is healthy for us, our metabolism will also be content. But lusting after more  sugar, fat, preservatives, chemically-based food stresses the body, causing it to work harder to maintain a healthier metabolism. Don’t settle for an unhealthy lifestyle.

“For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16)

If we rely on God for our needs He will provide exactly what we need to be content! Store up treasure in heaven. Anything we can’t take with us are truly crumbs left behind.