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Resolve to Become Stronger in Your Health Goals

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?”

Well not necessarily  – especially when it comes to what you eat. We have a choice and I trust you’ll choose life-giving nutrients.

Have you ever heard someone say that they’re “dying” for a piece of pie, fried chicken, bacon, mac and cheese or a hot fudge sundae? Yes those are delicious and I doubt if consuming a bit of anything will kill them if they are healthy to begin with and eating in moderation. However, if one suffers from diabetes or a heart condition, eventually wrong culinary choices could.

Anything is fine in moderation and there is no formula or one size-fits-all-diet-plan because each person is created chemically unique. With the billions on Earth who have lived, there has never been anyone exactly like you. Amazing isn’t it? (And “diet” is a generic term, meaning only what we consume each day. Therefore everyone’s on some kind of diet daily.)

Whoops wait, regarding that anything in moderation remark! (Written tongue-in-cheek.) I seemingly must add a caveat for those who will write to me and state if one is allergic to it or if it’s a poisonous berry DON’T consume it, so actually everything isn’t fine in moderation . . . sigh. My mother used to say, “Don’t put beans in your ears,” too, referring to whatever is basically common sense and should be easy to figure out as well.

So that being said, have you decided how important is it to YOU to consume healthier food? Do you love food more than playing with your children, hiking in the Alps, dancing at your daughter’s wedding or being  able to sit in an amusement park seat? Sadly, these are true incidents of patients of mine who loved food more than the joys of life itself.

Abundant health isn’t something you can obtain by sending in a form and receiving a certificate in return. Nor is it something you can purchase for any amount of money. Health can only be acquired through individual desire, a denial of self and a disciplined nature. Ask yourself how much do you want to be healthy? Or have you truly made food an idol which you’d rather not give up?

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart rejoices, and I praise Him with my song.” (Psalm 28:7)

Why do so many think of God as Lucy to our Charlie Brown? Remember how Lucy used to snatch away poor Charlie’s football when he was hopeful she’d finally hold it for him? God only wants to provide GOOD for us! He gave us all these fabulous choices for us to eat, why don’t we choose those? It wasn’t God who messed up our environment – we did just fine by ourselves by greedily plundering the soil of nutrients.

There’s always a trade-off to health.  As mentioned, there’s discipline involved. I’ve seen what wrong choices do, not only to one’s waistline, but to one’s mental capacity as well. We ARE what we eat and I’d prefer to maintain adequate energy and mental function as long as possible. I enjoy being flexible enough to touch my toes as I approach age 70. Please choose health, you won’t be sorry!

This is a time of the harvest when Farmer’s Markets have an abundance of fabulous fruits, vegetables, cheeses and herbs for purchase. Fresh herbs and spices add flavor to foods so much more than plain salt. Experiment with different selections. Praise God for a truly abundant life!

 

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A Tribute to Our Little Walking Buddy

I’ve been putting off this post for weeks because of my broken heart.  Our beloved Lhasa was only 10 years old when she unexpectedly developed bladder stones last month and had to be put down. Our other two Lhasa Apso’s lived 16 1/2 years and we had no reason to expect she wouldn’t live as long. It was with a heavy heart we made that decision rather than have her endure an intricate painful operation which  provided only a 50% chance of survival at best.

For many years she was my little walking buddy. She kept me on my toes literally. Our two mile walk in Arizona was one I wrote of frequently. She rode shotgun beside me on the passenger seat while I drove the 2500 mile drive from Arizona to Ohio.

I used illustrations I saw in her and our beautiful 14 year old Cocker Spaniel’s behavior many times in my blogs.  It became easy to relate canine behavior to our relationship with God and health. She inspired me to write about trust, discipline and eating habits among other topics which can be found via my search engine on my webpage.

When she was a puppy she was so sweet and affectionate! She would climb upon my chest, wrap her little paws around me and give me an actual hug.  She was a favorite at the dog park at the RV resort we lived in at the time.

Then something happened after we moved into our new home. In most Arizona communities, people went to work, drove home, entered their enclosed garage and sat out on their private patio afterwards, enclosed behind a 6 foot high fence. We failed to keep her socialized and she became over-protective and sadly mean-spirited with strangers.

This was a terrible mistake on our part but we learn from our mistakes. Dog owners aren’t perfect, neither are parents or individuals. I needed to forgive myself and instill necessary changes. So I vowed last year after our beautiful Cocker Spaniel passed, that we would absolutely socialize our transitional pup, “Mr. No-no.” Happily he has become the most loving of pets.

Five years ago when I began this blog, I had no idea what God had in store for me – that He’d ask me to become a pastor’s wife 3 years ago. (You want me to do what God?) I never expected His leading to take me down this pathway. But I began to listen to my Master’s Voice, trust HIm and grew in a closer relationship with my Lord.  Throughout the decision some tough choices had to be made. Now here I am in northeast Ohio surrounded by family and friends, being more blessed than I ever imagined.

It takes an enormous amount of faith to trust God, even through sorrow, knowing that He only has our best interests at heart. Life is messy, hurtful, unfair at times. She was my last tie to my daughter and for that I will be forever grateful for having her in my life.

Someday I’ll know why God’s pathway has lead me to where He wants me to be now, even amidst sorrow. For I’d rather have memories of my little Lhasa buddy than to never have had her in my life at all.  Until then, He has His arms around me, soothing me with comforting Words. All I need to do is trust and learn not pull on my leash. Trust – it’s a liberating word.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

 

 

 

Why Make Dietary Rules Complicated?

 

While on Earth, Jesus didn’t insist on complex, laborious, ritualistic do’s and do not’s on how to live a pious life. Rather than repressing his disciples with a lengthy, involved list of rules and regulations, Jesus encouraged Believers to live by God’s Ten Commandments which are clear-cut and simplistic. These principles projected explicit guidelines on leading a Holy life and honoring God as well as the personal temple of the Holy Spirit within us.

In  Matthew 22:34-39, the Pharisees and Sadducees approached Jesus with a question to test him.  Those leaders still believed  in following complicated religious ceremonial regulations and practices. But Christ had come to fulfill those requirements. Over 450 Old Testament Scriptures prophesied of the coming Messiah. (And He Fulfilled Every One!)

As those Jewish leaders tried to trap him, Jesus silenced them by declaring that they failed to know the Scriptures and that’s why they couldn’t  understand!  The truth is that one will never be misled by false beliefs if he comprehends and memorizes God’s Word!

Even today, many false preachers are trying to ensnare unbelievers into following ritualistic practices. Some declare that Christ’s sacrifice with its simplistic act of Salvation through Faith alone is too effortless as well. There must be some additional rules that we must follow, they declare, which the Lord inadvertently forgot to tell us about . . . or added afterwards.

Not so. It is through the uncomplicated belief that Eternal Salvation is through Faith alone that we are saved. There is nothing else we need to do to receive Salvation except ask forgiveness for our sins and accept Christ’s gift. 

During my nutritional practice, some believe that the uncomplicated, healthy formula of consuming whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, as God advised since the world began, and then meat after the flood, is too simplistic as well! There must be a magic formula, the say, some complicated process to suffer thru in order to find truth . . .

There are some false diet guru’s today leading many astray through false, ritualistic eating plans. I’m continually researching false claims where others profess certain foods are now unhealthy: potatoes, eggs, nuts, red meat, dairy, bread. I bet you know where I stand on that.  (Gee, did Jesus make a mistake when he declared that he was the Bread of Life?)

Now as a former farm girl, I know the process of raising crops has changed over the years and tomatoes don’t taste like real garden tomatoes anymore, but I mean,  Seriously??? Fibrous whole grain bread is not unhealthy!

So many Christians fall for half-truths! Many are trusting in these complicated, formulaic diet programs which were never God’s plan from the beginning. (Genesis 1:29 and 9:3God’s guidelines for sound eating were given to Adam  in the Garden of Eden and are still true today.

God NEVER changes, nor does He make mistakes.In Hebrews 13:8 we read, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  What a comforting thought to anchor our beliefs upon.  Since God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, what would make us question whether His physiological design, rules and commands would change through the ages? 

Take care that you won’t be misled by false teaching or mistaken dietary claims.  We should live by sensible culinary guidelines because we strive to be holy and God-honoring, not become fearful through professing man-made false claims.

Godly Lessons Learned From a Pup!

cj-with-chewy-bone-from-dave“Mr. No-No” turned one year old Friday. He is the cutest, fluffiest and most loving dog we have ever had. A new breed, Cavashon is a cross between a King Charles Spaniel and a Bischon. They shed little, are very affectionate and gentle. I can remove a toy from his mouth without getting my hand bitten off. Quite a change from our Lhasa or even our sweet Cocker who sadly we lost last year.

It takes a lot of energy to keep puppies occupied.  I take ours for long walks rain or shine, but since we have no sidewalks, when it’s icy or snowy as it was yesterday, walking is too dangerous. I kept him entertained at home.

I’ve learned many lessons from him and the first was that puppies are meant for younger people.

The second: self-discipline.

Puppies are similar to toddlers. Our floor looks like a bone yard: bones, chewy toys, Kongs are currently strewn all over the living room. No matter how many times I put toys away, he seems to prefer his life disorganized. Sometimes he looks like Yoda rifling through Luke’s pack, throwing items to and fro from his toy box, butt in the air.

As we mature, we should prefer order not disorder in our lives. Order keeps us disciplined and God is a God of Order. A disciplined life evokes what is right even though we don’t feel like it. Yes there are days when it is raining, snowing or 27 degrees when I don’t feel like walking. But if your child is crying and really needs you, you can’t ignore that. Our pup is counting on me too. After I have overcome “self” I feel I’ve conquered negativity while disciplining myself.

Second lesson: Realize what’s truly important. 

Observing all those toys flung over the floor, I wonder if he has a clue how fortunate he is?! “There are thousands of dogs starving in China who would appreciate all he has!”  (Sorry, flashback to being six years old and refusing to eat peas.) The point is, to our dog, those toys are primarily a means to an end. He brings me the toys so I’ll have time with him. It’s the process of playing together with the tuggie or bouncy toy that means the most to him.

Do we understand how blessed we are with the many “toys” God gives us? Or do we long for even more, never satisfied. What’s truly important in life? How much is enough? It’s all just stuff. It won’t last but next year’s new toy is calling your name; “work harder and you’ll be able to purchase it!” If you ask your child what he’d prefer, a new television or hanging out with you at the park, would he answer “I’d rather be with you?” Or have you taught him that the one with the most stuff wins?

Thirdly: Be content with what you have.

I observed Mr. No No lying on the floor watching his sister happily chomping away at a small bone. There was another larger bone and several toys right beside him but he wanted what he couldn’t have.

How like us! God created us uniquely with various body shapes and personalities. Does that make us happy? No. We want to look like Beyonce, Angelina, Brad or Clooney. Appreciate what you have. Strive to be your best for God. You’ll be much happier and content.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

Lastly God’s Love is unconditional and so is our dog’s. Oh, they grow up so quickly! Love unconditionally too.

Teamwork!

As the head of our Women’s Ministry at our church, I am required to present a report during our quarterly business meeting. Thankfully our little church is growing. When we arrived two years ago, only a few did most of the work. Some were simply worn out or discouraged and I consistently heard “I just can’t do another thing, Ellie.”

Nor would I ask them to for practical reasons. God wants us to want to, not because we have to!

women-working-as-teamIf God doesn’t equip us to do certain church work, doesn’t that simply cause frustration and discouragement when we try? God doesn’t promise to bless us for activities He didn’t ask us to implement in the first place. Sure it might guilt us to seemingly do the right thing, but it’s not God’s plan. It’s actually a lack of faith to think God wouldn’t send the right person!

When I’ve been asked to run a church activity which I knew I wasn’t equipped for, I’d have no qualms about saying sweetly, “I think I’ll let someone else be blessed by doing that.” God timing is never wrong and He always sent the best person when I’ve stepped aside.

In a church setting, it’s exciting to see possibilities where individuals can reach out to others in need using our member’s diverse talents  (sewing, baking, crocheting or creating fruit/flower baskets.) And if each woman used her personal Spiritual gift of hospitality, helps, administration, Evangelism . . . it would affect the Spiritual growth of the church. Teamwork!

Since I view most things through a nutritional lens, I see a practical nutritional application here as well.

NUTRITIONALLY SPEAKING:

The body needs nutrients working in conjunction with one another to remain healthy. Every vitamin, mineral, amino acid, phytochemical and enzyme in our body has a particular “talent.” God’s gift to us is that it works in conjunction with other nutrients to spark our metabolism to proper action.

Vitamin C should combine with iron for maximum effectiveness. Potassium balances out sodium. Magnesium should combine with vitamin K and D to absorb and regulate calcium. Calcium also processes zinc and if the body doesn’t get enough zinc it can’t process vitamin A. Folic Acid interacts with vitamins B and C to synthesis amino acids and regulate blood flow.In other words: eating well produces a great team! (And some believe this all happened by chance, whew!)

Occasionally I’ll overhear the comment, “Oh, I’m cutting out carbs.” (or fat, red meat, starches, sugars.) Well wouldn’t that be foolish? What happens to a vital nutrient at that point? A metabolic player is benched!

Don’t cut out any one food group. Almost every food is a combination of carbohydrate, fat and protein. A banana begins as a complex starchier carbohydrate and transforms into a simple carbohydrate as it ripens. An avocado is a considered a veggie but is actually a fruit with its pit and is a good source of omega 3 fat. B12 is primarily found in red meat.

Keep your physical vibrancy together by consuming a well-rounded team diet. (Diet simply means what you consume each day.) Love yourself enough to think of your vital organs as separate entities, each continually working non-stop, allowing you to live an invigorated life.

“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.”  (Ephesians 4:16) 

If we respect our LORD as Leader of our team, we’ll always be winners in this life and the next!

 

Caffeine, Friend or Foe?

caffeine addictionCaffeine is in coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate and other items but how does it affect us and is it good or bad?

As in any food, moderation is the key. Caffeine is a drug and like any drug can change body chemistry. So here’s the good, the bad and the ugly on caffeine:

The Good:

  • Caffeine affects two brain transmitters called adenosine and acetylcholine. These are stimulants which wake us up, begin to jumpstart our metabolism and regulate our day.
  • Caffeine helps prevent cognitive impairment and recent studies have shown it can ward off Alzheimer’s as well as Parkinson’s disease. I truly hope that helps overcome those debilitating diseases!
  • Taken while studying or before a test, it can boost memory recall.
  • A little caffeine improves our mood.
  • Caffeine can dilate your bronchial tubes and therefore open our airways. This is helpful if we have a lung disease such as asthma or COPD.
  • The stimulant affect of coffee can lead to a more regulated digestive system.
  • Caffeine by itself contains no calories (but also has no nutritional value.) Chocolate, coffee and teas do contain many beneficial nutrients and are fine in moderation.
  • I believe the coffee bean was found in the Garden of Eden and therefore, like anything created by God was originally “very good.”

The Bad:

  • Caffeine is a natural diuretic and interferes with vitamin absorption.  By washing away valuable B vitamins, one cannot convert food into energy. If you find yourself gaining weight, cut down on your caffeine intake, but do so gradually to lesson withdrawal symptoms.
  • Caffeine is extremely addictive. One patient of mine consumed thirty cups of coffee each day and it took months to wean her off it.
  • Caffeine will remain in your system three to twelve hours. If I consume a cup of coffee or iced tea at noon, I won’t be able to sleep until midnight. My husband on the other hand can fall asleep immediately after drinking caffeinated products.
  • Too much caffeine dehydrates and ages, causing wrinkles and dry skin.
  • And how many can actually sit down and have a cup of coffee, cola or tea without having something to go with it like cake, cookies or potato chips?

The Ugly:

  • Caffeine is a stimulant which if taken in excess can cause sleep disturbances, rapid heartbeat, mood changes, migraines and tension headaches.
  • Since caffeine is a drug, it psychologically affects the mind. Coupled with its diuretic effects it can even be dangerous if consumed in excess. Thiamine and Niacin, two B vitamins influence the calming aspect of our personality. Do you know that people have actually gone crazy after niacin depletion occurred?  Yes food is that powerful! Which makes me question whether young people who consume so many caffeinated energy drinks today, are unknowingly influenced by that fact when school violence occurs today.
  • Caffeine depletes water soluble minerals, magnesium, potassium and calcium which regulate heart rhythms. Too much caffeine causes heart palpitations, increases blood pressure and weakens the heart muscle. It can also cause jitters and nervousness.
  • By depleting calcium, it affects bone loss, creating dangerous osteoporosis.

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.”  (1 Corinthians 6:12)

My husband can drink caffeinated products and fall asleep easily. If I consume coffee at noon, I’m awake past midnight. We all have different chemical make-ups.  Today we live under grace and anything is fine in moderation. Choose what is good for you. Drink caffeinated products sensibly and in balance.

Is Instant Gratification Good or Bad For Us?

I believe in a Bible of Authority. God SPOKE and there was light. He SPOKE and the world came into existence. God SPOKE and the universe was created in an instant . . .

Have you ever noticed however, that God took time to create a man?  Why? That’s a curious action to meditate upon, isn’t it? Amazingly, He didn’t simply speak and automatically God forming manman existed. Rather He lovingly and thoughtfully formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed His own life’s breath into him.

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.” Genesis 2: 7,8

It wasn’t long afterward however that man childishly demanded instant gratification. Paradise wasn’t enough, peacefully walking throughout Eden, communing with God wasn’t enough. Adam desired to be like God with the knowledge of good and evil. Well, we know how that turned out, don’t we? Satan rejoiced over man’s fall.

As Adam discovered, instant gratification can be a painful lesson over the long haul. And man hasn’t changed over 6,000 years!  As Ecclesiastes 1:9 declares, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”(ESV)

Look at young celebrities who sign million dollar contracts and immediately fall to drugs, alcohol. gambling or other lifestyle debauchery. It’s too much, too soon. The reward came before the discipline to maintain it. The same can be said regarding many lottery winners and sports stars. Instant gratification produced a downfall.

When one gets married nowadays, many instantly purchase the huge, immaculately furnished home with the beautifully manicured lawn and two car garage for their his and her brand new automobiles. The 60 inch HD screen lies impressively on the media room’s surround-sound wall, so playing the latest video game system is pure pleasure. Instant reward! Until the bills outweigh the income and the filing of bankruptcy begins.

So it is with losing weight too quickly on pie-in-the-sky fad diets as well! “Lose 10 lbs. in 7 days!” It bankrupts the spirit and doesn’t teach anything. Sadly after someone finishes a fad diet plan, the weight piles back on when the old eating habits return. This doesn’t teach the underlying reasons why we eat as we do. Even worse, the dieter will gain back fat to replace the muscle lost. This bankrupts the soul, making a Christian feel like a failure . . . and Satan rejoices.

Since God wants us to be the healthiest we can be, it was no secret how He wanted man to eat. God told us in Genesis 1:9 and Genesis 9:3.  We don’t need a PhD to understand, just a heart willing to work for it. When one knows physiology, he recognizes how complicated our bodily machinery is. I would hope you wouldn’t place sugar and Crisco in your gas tank so why would you place junk food in your body?

God knew it was good for man to work for what he receives.  When man builds his own house with his own hands, he’ll take pride in that accomplishment and will care about the upkeep. When someone loses weight using personal discipline and God’s sensible culinary plan, he’ll have a stake in keeping the weight off. What one treasures, one takes care of!