Saturday, November 29, 2014

Foodie Literature, Fasts, and Food as a Vice...Oh My!

I'm reading a book right now called, The 100 Mile Diet:  A Year of Local Eating by Alisa Smith & J.B. MacKinnon.  In it the pair challenge themselves to one year of eating food grown only within a 100 mile radius of where they live.  What they find is that nearly all processed foods are eliminated...as are staples such as flour and sugar.  Even healthier options such as bananas, oranges, and pineapples are no longer on the menu.  At first their meals are somewhat bland....incorporating a lot of potatoes.  But, as they research and explore the farmer's markets and back roads of this self-imposed radius, they discover a treasure trove of local, fresh foods.  Their diet becomes anything but bland and instead showcases flavors and experiences with food that have long been forgotten by much of today's society.

Their writing is part foodie literature, part ecological and sociological history.  Much of the book is written in the style of other authors who describe food and food experiences in an almost sacred way....authors such as Ruth Reichl. M.F. K. Fisher, and Julie Powell.  Food is discovered, described, and devoured in it's most natural form.  And, the beauty of a single heirloom tomato, or the earthy delight of the first tender green shoots of the season become a source of wonder.

And, when I read books like this I feel inspired.  I feel inspired to eat real food.  To become more connected to the food that I'm eating rather than mindlessly shoveling handfuls of heavily processed 'food' from mysterious sources into my mouth.  It creates a hunger in me.  A hunger for freshness and sunshine and earth.  It creates a hunger for colors - green, reds, purples....colors that are sorrowfully lacking from my current diet.  Most of all, this concept of eating food in it's most natural form feels......natural.

Over Lent this year I had gone on a 40 day fast.  Our church was encouraging a congregation-wide season of prayer and fasting.  I felt led to take my fasting a little deeper than giving up a single pleasure of mine....in the past I've given up chocolate, or caffeine, or wine over Lent.  These were small sacrifices - items I missed at first (at the worst, suffering caffeine withdrawal headaches in the first day or two)  but my life didn't change much with their absence.

So, after a bit of researching and prayer, I decided on The Daniel Fast.  In short, the Daniel Fast was a food fast with a strong spiritual component.  The fast often results in increased health or weight loss, but it's main focus is increasing one's relationship with God.  The fast is fairly restrictive.  It allows fruits, vegetables, nuts & legumes, healthy oils (this one is somewhat up for debate...some people totally eliminate all oils), and whole grains.  It eliminates all meat, all dairy products & eggs, all sugar & other sweeteners (including honey, molasses,etc.), all preservatives, all grains that are not a whole grain (no white flour, white rice, etc.), and all beverages other than water.  It was a fast that only allowed food in it's most natural form.

I will admit that the Daniel Fast was difficult.  It was a struggle at first to figure out what to eat.  But after a while I got into a groove and I became creative with my meals.  I frequently ended up preparing two meals - one that my family would eat and one that I could eat.  The first week of the fast I felt cruddy.  I felt lethargic and icky.  My body was detoxifying.  After that first week I felt great  - with increased energy and clarity.  And, I lost about 20 pounds over the course of the fast.

After my fast was officially over, I slowly added some things back into my diet, but I tried to remain as close to this new pattern of eating as I could.  I lost an additional 15 pounds.  I did really well up until about August.  Then, I fell off the bandwagon....and I fell hard.  I reverted to my old patterns of binge eating and eating heavily processed 'comfort' foods.

Since then, I know I've gained back weight....perhaps most of it.  I'm afraid to step on the scale again because I'm so disappointed in myself, I don't want to know how badly I've messed up.  And, I'm embarrassed.  While I was eating well I shared updates on my progress and photos of the foods I was eating on Facebook.  Folks congratulated me and cheered me on.  When people saw me in person they saw the difference and they would comment on how good I looked.

One of those people was the mail lady.  In the warmer months when we're outside more often she will often pause and chat for a minute or two as she's dropping off our mail.  When she noticed my weight loss she asked what I had been doing and I shared a bit about the fast.  Like me she has struggled all her life with her weight and, like me, she has tried many different things with various degrees of success.  As we stood there talking she said, "It's so hard to lose weight.  Whatever you do, try to keep it off because if it comes back it's even harder to lose."  I nodded, knowing this to be truth.

And, here I am a few months later, already noticeably heavier than I was over the summer.  And, I'm ashamed.  I'm ashamed to acknowledge that I've virtually thrown all my hard work from earlier in the year down the toilet.  And I can't seem to find the motivation or the strength to pick myself up again and plunge back into treating my body well.  I feel cruddy and depressed.  And when I feel cruddy and depressed I turn to food - foods that offer that quick release of endorphins...foods loaded with sugar, and salt, and fat, and mystery ingredients.

One of the things I also became aware of when I was doing the fast is that, for me, my relationship with food is a spiritual battleground.  And, oh, how my spirit rebels against this concept.  I don't WANT to believe that the way I choose to use or abuse food can affect me spiritually.  And yet I see it play out time and time again.  When I willingly and knowingly treat my body poorly, when I rely on food for comfort or entertainment, when I treat food like an idol, I am not using food as God intended.....and that opens the door to sin.

Like Paul said in Romans 7:15, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."  
And, so, I find myself craving something different....something more natural.  I find myself longing use and enjoy food the way God intended.  Hear me when I say that I think food is a gift from our Creator God!  He could have merely created food to be bland nutrition.  Instead He created a wealth of flavors and textures.  Food in it's natural form is both nourishing and pleasurable.

The struggle continues.  Someday I hope to conquer this mountain.  For now, I'm still learning and surrendering.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

God's Protection? Part 1


A few weeks ago I came across something as I was reading the Bible that I've been thinking a lot about.  In Acts 4 verses 24 - 30 there is a prayer recorded that the early church prayed when Peter and John were released after being imprisoned for preaching about Jesus.  The young church was experiencing persecution that was only about to get worse.

There was something in this prayer that struck me immediately.  Verse 29 says "Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness."  This prayer is distinctly different from how I would have likely prayed.  My prayer would have sounded more like, "Now, Lord, consider their threats and protect us Father."

I pray for protection a lot.  Protection for my husband.  Protection for my children.  For family and friends.  For myself.  One of my greatest fears is harm coming to someone I love.  'Protect them Lord'.  This is a common prayer of mine.

Yet, here was the early church - facing true danger- and instead of praying for protection...as I would have....they prayed for boldness.  Even though that boldness may cost them their lives, it's what they prayed for.

That has really stayed with me.  Could I willingly place myself and my loved ones in danger for the sake of the gospel?  I want to believe that I could.  But, I just don't know.

Then I came across this video today produced by Voice of the Martyrs.  It's called Liena's Prayer.  Oh dear friends.  We have Christian brothers and sisters who are facing this very question today.  




And so I'm wrestling with this question of God's protection.  What does that mean for a Christian?  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Confessions of a Mom in a Quiet House


This is me right now.
I'm supposed to be working on supper.  My husband was gracious enough to take all four boys out of the house for about 15 minutes (They're gearing up to work on their dirt bikes tonight) and give me some peace & quiet.

It's been a rainy day today...and they had early dismissal from school.  So, there were a lot of energetic boys stomping around this afternoon and making a great deal of noise.

Sometimes a momma just needs a little quiet in the midst of the chaos.

So, here's my confession.  I could be taking these precious minutes to put the finishing touches on supper without any interruptions.  But, instead I decided to jump on here and say 'hi'.

P.S. - I'm really not liking my hair right now.  Certainly that's not a major world issue.  But, I'm still lamenting that I cut my hair a few weeks ago.  It had gotten really long and I liked  it that way.  So, why did I cut it in the first place?  I'm not really sure.  I wanted to get rid of dead ends, freshen it up a bit, and get a little more shape/ movement.  Instead, I ended up with a haircut I regret.  But, hey!  It'll grow back.  


Monday, October 20, 2014

This Song

This song.....

"Lamb of God" by Tenth Avenue North.

Listen.


What I'm reading

I'm taking a discipleship class at church right now.  And, they challenged us to  go on a media fast for about 2 months.  I'll admit that I haven't followed this fast with 100% success.  But, I have stopped watching tv & movies (Last week I slipped a bit and watched a movie with my kiddos and a couple shows with my husband.)  And, technically I'm not on Facebook right now except for 'business' purposes (promoting our next Vintage Sale fundraising event).  I haven't been entirely successful there either.  But, that's a whole other post.

My point in sharing about the media fast is to say that I've been doing a LOT of reading lately.  I have always been an avid reader.  But, in the last several years I'v done a lot less reading and have allowed myself to get sucked into excessive tv watching in the evenings as a way to relax....or excessive computer use (especially Facebook).

I have really enjoyed reading again!  And, I've come across some good stuff.  I thought I'd share.

I really enjoy non-fiction...especially memoir type books.  I came across the book, Spiritual Misfit by Michelle DeRusha, and was immediately drawn in.  She shares her story of being raised Catholic, realizing at a young age that she didn't really believe in God, and re-discovering faith in God many years later slowly and tentatively.  She's funny.  She's honest.  She's profound.  Her writing was refreshing.  And, she's totally relate-able.




Also, I've discovered the A.D. Chronicles by Bodie & Brock Thoene.  This historical biblical fiction series is set in the time of Jesus life here on earth....from his birth to his death & resurrection.  There are 12 books in the series.  I've actually been reading them out of order because I get them from my library & I've just signed out whatever is available.  But, the books are written in such a way that you don't have to read them in order.  And, they are just absolutely incredible.  They focus on so many different characters...some from Biblical accounts and some created as those who may have encountered Jesus.  They bring to life the stories from the Gospels unlike I've ever experienced before.  And while, it's a fictional series, they remain biblically accurate and they have done painstaking research on Jewish culture at the time.  It's truly a fascinating and moving series.



Finally, I'm still in the process of reading this book.  But, the book Radical, Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream by David Platt has been eye-opening and challenging to say the least.




What are you reading?  What reading suggestions do you have for me?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Looking Around


Some of my favorite posts to go back and look at are ones where I simply posted pictures of some of my favorite things and favorite moments.  I didn't usually write a long thing to go with it.   I just let the pictures speak for themselves.  

I haven't done that in a really long time.  And, sometimes I get so caught up in the craziness of life, that I forget to look around.  I forget to embrace the joy in small things.  I forget to be thankful.

And so, in the last couple weeks....as I looked around....and really SAW.....I saw plenty to be thankful for.






























So as I loaded these pictures to this post, they loaded in a totally random order.  I had planned to give a brief line or two to label the pictures....some are from camping with friends, some from a weekend away with my sister and brother-in-law at the Fingerlakes in NY, some of my boys sorting pumpkin seeds, some of my boys just being silly, etc.

The old me would have agonized over this and would have worked to the point of frustration to fix it, put them in order, and add my labels.

But you know what,  it's ok.  They still bring me joy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What I Could Tell You

There's so much that has happened that I haven't written here about.  I barely know where to start.  Should I tell you about the 40 day Daniel Fast I did over Lent this year that jump started both a new spiritual awareness and some weight loss?   Should I tell you about my continuing struggles with weight loss/ gain/ maintenance/ body image?  Should I tell you about the Discipleship classes I'm taking at church and the media fast we've been challenged to do...and that I'm not totally successful at?

Maybe I could tell you about my kids....my gosh they've grown a lot since I last wrote about them here!  There's never a shortage of boy stories to share.  Most of them I've been sharing on Facebook in witty (well, I like to think they're witty), limited-sentence anecdotes.  People tell me they miss my Facebook updates now that I'm doing my (sorta) media fast.

 Ooh!  Maybe I should tell you how since I've stopped making Facebook updates over the last two weeks, I've realized how every interesting, notable, or even un-notable experience becomes a Facebook post in my head.  Things that are otherwise non-events quickly organize themselves into 2 or 3 sentence snippets.

What I should really tell you about is how our Vintage Sale events (done as fundraisers for local ministries) have been growing...how we have our own Facebook page, are in the process of having a website designed....how I'm freaking out a little because I'm not business-minded at all yet I find myself with something that has the potential to be either a business or a non-profit venture.  Either avenue seems totally overwhelming and out of my comfort zone.  And, I don't know how to take this from hobby to something serious.....or if I even want to.

Or, I could tell you about how I still struggle with losing my temper with my kids, managing my time, and keeping a relatively clean house....and how I fail desperately at all of these over and over.  I could also mention that contentment is another area I sometimes think I've got a grasp on, until I think of ways I could be even more content.

There's so much I could tell you.  Someone remind me that if I wrote here on a regular basis picking a topic wouldn't seem so overwhelming.  Someone remind me that I really like have past posts to go back and read and re-live moments I'd long forgotten.  And, then someone remind me to write again in a few days.
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