Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Aaaargh, Matey...Etc.

Just in case you care, here's what's been going on around here.

1. We had our first real Designs for Hope (incoming) board of directors meeting over the weekend. It was basically like an out of body experience. We wanted to pinch ourselves and just had to grin at the fact that we're really doing this. It felt so legit! Boy, I hope we don't screw this up.

2. We celebrated our little Lukey turning 5 this weekend. I'm just going to be honest and say that I'm having a really hard time with this. I always swore I'd never be that mom. You know...the one that cries every time her kids start school and mourns over the baby days. Suck it up. Life goes on. But I am finding that, though I'm often impatient, frustrated mom, I'm also don't-let-my-babies-grow-up-so-fast mom. Every day, I think of him going to big school and have to distract myself before I get all teary-eyed. I've gotten soft in my old age.

We had a pirate party. I thought I'd mention it just in case it's not completely obvious from the pictures. You get one guess - and one guess only - as to who was not excited about wearing their pirate attire.

3. I think my only hope of getting out from under the pile of ironing that awaits me is the return of Christ. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

4. Maddie has accidentally become a little entrepreneur. This time last week, I had the good intention of making myself a scarf out of an old t-shirt. I knew it could be done and thought that, even with my pathetic craftiness, I could manage it. I've gone from a good intention to having a spreadsheet to keep up with orders for Maddie to fill in order to raise funds for DFH. I've been praying for open doors, and it seems that the Lord is flinging them wide this week.

Here's the dorky picture of me wearing a scarf.

Please don't feel obligated to tell me I look okay, but please do feel obligated to buy a scarf from my sweet child for her father's ministry.

5. Here's what we've been eating:

Baked Oatmeal - a staple at our house

Asian Lettuce Wraps - I made quinoa in chicken broth to replace the rice and added sautéed mushrooms to mine - YUM!!!

Cheeseburger Soup - except I used 4 cups of broth

Meatloaf with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans

Chocolate Chip Toffee Bars - my new favorite dessert
(aka The New Worst Enemy To My Hips)

Granola Bars - tried my adaptation of this new recipe. They're yummy, but I still have the same problem I always have with granola bars. They're so crumbly! I imagine my kids eating them for snack at school and having a desk covered in granola by the time they're done...and then the teacher fighting the urge to curse my name. But here's what I did, if you like crumbly granola bars or don't mind your kid's teacher hating you:

6 T butter
3/8 cup honey
3/8 cup brown sugar
4 1/2 cups toasted (7 min on 350) old fashioned oats, pulsed in the food processor
1/2 cup milled flax seed
1 t vanilla
1/2 cup raisins

Spray a 9x13 pan with oil and set aside. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, flax seed, and raisins. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, and honey. Cook on medium until it's melted and combined, then simmer for 2 minutes, stirring. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour the butter mixture over the oats and stir to moisten. Press the mixture firmly into the prepared 9x13. Let them cool and cut into rectangles.

Well, I suppose that's as many posts as I can cram into one. Now to see how much quality sleep I can cram into six hours.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Supermom: MIA

Supermom has struck again. Not here. But I'm sure she struck somewhere on this Valentine's Day. It was Last-Minute Mom who struck here. The great thing about Last Minute Mom, though, is that she's great at keeping her kids totally oblivious to her last minute antics. LM Mom's theory is as follows: Keep their expectations low. Then anything is a wonderful surprise. Feel free to steal my LM Mom's philosophy for your next decorative wall plaque.
Here we have a pitiful birthday boy. My sweet baby Luke turned five this week. I held back the tears, but I have a feeling I'm just storing them up for the day he starts school. I'll be honest. I've always had a special little bond with this boy. He loves his mama and his mama loves him. And this baby has been sick all birthday week long. 
Now what you see here is a little stinker. Just look at him. Oh, he is trouble. But I love him to bits and wish he could stay two forever. There. I said it. Tomorrow is sure to be full of Terrible Twoness.

Now, on to Valentine's Day. I know that, in theory, it would be great if I posted these (rather lame) ideas before V Day, but that would totally go against my LM Mom philosophy. It's pretty much impossible for me to pass along ideas before the big day when I don't even start thinking about it until 10:57pm on February 13.

So I spent Day 4 at home with sick kids getting ready for our homemade Valentine's shindig.

 And taking pictures of this little nut.


After one of their favorite meals (honey glazed chicken, with brown rice and raw broccoli - not one of their favorites), we played a little Valentine Bingo, using m&m's, Skittles, and conversation hearts for the game pieces.

Then we sent Sam to the bathtub, so that we could play a round of Valentine Memory without Mr. Grabby Hands. After a critical mistake in the last round by Luke, Maddie squeaked by with the victory.

To top off the Free Night of Valentine Fun, the kids went on a Scavenger Hunt, which led to this plate of yummies. Though they liked the cookies, they loved the hunt and were pretty adorable doing it together. As soon as they got done, they begged to do it again. But somehow it's just not the same the second time around. So they settled for a cookie...or two.

So, for one more year, Last Minute Mom pulled through. We'll see how long she can keep this up.

Hope you had a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 11, 2013

My Weekend of Fun...and Muffins

The hubby is on his way home from the airport after a fun weekend getaway to the exciting state of Indiana. He will be quite jealous when he hears of all the dishwasher cleaning adventures I had while he was gone. Oh, yes. I have topped all of your weekend fun by spending two hours scouring the pieces to my dishwasher that had apparently been overtaken by some underwater urchin thingy. I actually screamed and threw the thing down when I pulled it out from the bottom of the dishwasher. I'm surprised I didn't have nightmares last night.

The good news is that it no longer looks like some unidentified creature is growing in the contraption that cleans the dishes we eat on. The bad news is it still looks quite yucky. But two hours of scrubbing is all my poor hands could take, even with gloves on. I am appalled that it was that bad, and even more appalled that I'm so done with it that I just put it back together the way it is.

Yep. He's gonna be sorry he missed that.

Fortunately for him, I spent all day today in the kitchen, but I came away with more than a not-quite-so-funky dishwasher. I whipped up some of our most common breakfast treats...muffins. In my house, they are considered healthy food. Of course, they do not come from a box, and I am sure to add some stuff that makes me feel better about feeding them to my family.

Today's concoction resulted from the half a can of pumpkin I had leftover after I made cream cheese-filled pumpkin cookies. I could share that recipe, but I cannot qualify it as healthy, though it does have my beloved pumpkin in it. I can qualify it as yummy, though.

So, the muffins. If you're interested, here's what I did:

Pumpkin Apple Muffins (adapted from this recipe)

(I know some of these amounts seem crazy. I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup for the measurements I give in eighths. The bonus of this recipe is that it helps you brush up on your math while making something yummy to eat.)

1 2/3 cups white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
(You can just use 2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice, if you have it, in place of the above four spices.)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder (I always buy the aluminum free)
1 tsp baking soda
3/8 cup + 1 T milled flax seed

1/2 cup honey
3/8 cup coconut oil (or you could use butter or applesauce)
3 T water
1 large egg
1 cup canned pumpkin (I had a heaping cup, because that's just what was left in my can)
1 crisp apple, semi-peeled and chopped (you can peel or not peel according to your preference)

Topping: 3 T sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp cloves.

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a muffin tin.

Mix the first ten ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. In another bowl, stir together the melted (or semi-melted, in my case) coconut oil, water, egg, and pumpkin.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. It'll be thick, but you can do it!

Fold in the chopped apple.

Scoop into muffin tin, filling each cup about 2/3 full. Sprinkle with topping. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on a rack.

I'll admit that I'm an overfiller. I like big, tall muffins. Don't judge me. Since I like to fill my cups all the way up, I only got 16 muffins out of this. When I put in the second batch, which doesn't fill up all my dirty muffin cups, I just respray the ones I'm going to use again, fill them with batter, and then fill the other cups 2/3 of the way with water to keep the cooked-on muffin residue from burning. Because who wants to chisel out bake-on muffin residue? I imagine it's better than cleaning out a nasty dishwasher, but still not my idea of fun.

Friday, February 8, 2013

This I Know

I'm desperate for truth, apparently. I realized a few days ago that I'd been to church on Sunday, a small girls' group with some friends on Monday night, Bible study at my church on Tuesday morning, my tight-knit accountability group on Tuesday night, church on Wednesday night, and Community Bible Study on Thursday morning. I do not say all of this to toot any horn I might possess, but to show you how in need I am of God's Word.

On Tuesday mornings, the study I chose is basically just sitting and listening. No homework, no meditation, no discussion...just listening to the one and only Beth Moore. If you don't know Beth, she's kind of "it" when it comes to women's Bible study leaders. When I'm listening to her teach, I sometimes think, "Yeah, I could do that." Except I'm missing the fabulous hair, the remarkable fashion sense, the amazing Biblical knowledge, and that personality that takes the audience from laughter to tears faster than you can say "Turn to 1 Corinthians."

I don't get much contact with my friend, Beth, though. We've sort of established a long distance relationship because that's just all we have time for. I've been so involved in the homework-intensive CBS for my entire adult life, that I just can't add Beth's homework on top of it. But Beth and I occasionally reconnect when she can give me a little of her time without requiring me to complete a 174-page workbook.

That's what has happened on Tuesdays as I've been sitting in on her study of Deuteronomy. It's been wonderful, of course, as she brings the truth and the story of Israel and their God from hundreds of years ago straight into our modern day lives. Deuteronomy is the story of God giving his people a new start, after the previous generation had made a mess of things. It was finally time to go and possess the land he'd promised them.

But first they had to take care of some business. God had to remind them of a few very important things, with the help of his old buddy Moses.

This week's lesson struck a chord with me and brought many memories flooding back. We saw in Scripture where the Lord gave his people what would become the cornerstone of their faith and what Jesus would later name as the Greatest Commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And then he follows that with some instructions on teaching their children and possessing the land. The point was brought out that the loving precedes the living. In other words, our obedience to God should and must flow out as a result of our love for him.

But then the question was raised: What kind of God can demand such a thing? Who can demand that one must love him with their whole being? Seems a little arrogant, does it not?

And then the answer: The one who can rightfully demand such love is the one of whom it was said, in Deuteronomy 7,

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations..." 

It is the one who loves with steadfast, passionate, pursuing love.

All of this took me back to another time I'd spent with Beth. Years ago, when my life was unsettled and the monster of unknown change was looming before me, threatening my security, my happiness, and my faith, I was invited, spur of the moment, to go to a Beth Moore conference. I cannot tell you what was discussed at that conference, other than the fact that it involved "generations," but I can tell you what happened to me.

After a whole life of hearing it, I really, finally believed that God Loves Me.

It seems ridiculous. A believer in Christ, brought up in the church, reading her Bible, teaching her children...and I didn't believe that he loved me.

I would have said I believed that. I was teaching my children that it was true. But I was deeply, paralyzingly distrustful of the Lord. My mind and heart were wrapped in a vice of fear. I feared what he would "do to me" in order to "teach me a lesson" or "make me stronger." I did not desire any strength or faith that would come at the hand of suffering, but I felt that that was surely his goal. Make me miserable to make me strong. Take all that I held dear so that I would love only him.

And that wasn't too far from what often happens to people. The Bible says that maturity comes through trials. Faith is sharpened by suffering. We are to share in the sufferings of Christ for the joy of knowing him. But that didn't seem like a joyful option to me.

Yet I knew God was about to change some things. Chris was being called to something more, and I was going to be dragged down with him. Dog gone marriage vows. I was determined to go kicking and screaming, though. Either that, or I must resign myself to this God of suffering who had marked my card.

I was rebelling, just like the people of Israel had done. Because just like them, I didn't believe in God's love for me. I didn't believe he was taking me to any Promised Land. I thought he was out to crush me. I could understand the Israelites' story:

“Yet you would not go up [to the Promised Land], but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. And you murmured in your tents and said, ‘Because the Lord hated us he has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to give us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us."

In the depth of my heart, I believed God was bent on my destruction.

But it all changed that night. I was in a room with thousands of people, but in that one moment, as the worship music played, it was just me and Jesus. I don't know why, but that was the moment he chose to show me that it was true.

Jesus Loves Me.

I saw a mental image of him, hanging on the cross. Surely it was an image I had seen recreated or in my own mind hundreds of times, but this time it was for me. He removed the veil and the truth of it finally resonated in my soul. "Jesus died for me because he LOVES me" finally became real, not just in my mind, but in my heart.

Jesus Loves Me.

That changes everything.

You see, when someone loves you with a pure, unselfish love. A love that takes them to their death. A love that separates them from their Source of Life and Joy, their Father. A love that stops at nothing to rescue you. When someone loves you like that, that's someone you can trust.

When someone has proven their love to you, beyond the shadow of a doubt, with the strongest actions that could ever back it up, you know they have your best interest at heart. You know that they did not sacrifice themselves for you in order to put you in harm's way. You know that, wherever they take you, you can follow without fear.

As I sat in that room Tuesday morning, listening once again to the truth that God can demand our total love and devotion because he started this whole idea of love in the first place, I was thankful. I was so thankful that I "got it" all those years ago. I was thankful that my relationship with my Father is no longer one of terror, but of love and trust.

But I was also heartbroken, because I know people who are still camped out in the desert in their tents, refusing to willingly submit to and trust the Lord, because they do not yet believe the Lord loves them. Like I once did, they know the truth in their minds, but it has not yet made it to their hearts. They are living in fear, sin, and rebellion, because they don't understand that the God who demands everything from them has already given everything for them.

I want to share the truth of God's love with those who are struggling, but I know that, more than likely, it will take the same thing for them as it did for me. It will take the Savior gently pulling back the veil and revealing the extent of his love for them. I pray that it will be soon. And I'm thankful that my moment came, and that now when I teach my children of God's love for them, I know it to be true.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:9-10, 18-19

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What's For Dinner (Plus, the Quinoa Results Are In!)

First of all, I'm proud and relieved to announce that I have returned from chaperoning second graders on a field trip to our local art museum, and we did exit the building without breaking or damaging any priceless works of art. It was a little touch and go there for a while, and one poor teacher admitting to sweating a great deal during the trip. The kids were funny and charming with the observations they made about the artwork, but I could barely concentrate on the discussion for the images flashing through my mind of falling objects worth six digits. I think the zoo would be a more appropriate trip.

In order to let go of some of the built-up stress, I came home and made some homemade granola. The most expensive thing I had to handle was a jar of honey, but after Sam spilled an entire jar a few days ago, I pretty much treated this jar like valuable artwork.

I'm about to post the most hilarious thing I've ever written...healthy eating advice from ME! That's just weird. I'm so not the person who I'd ever expect anyone to want to hear from about healthy foods. It's not that we're particularly unhealthy people. It's just that this has never been "my thing."

You know, how some people just have a "thing" being crafty or being a great decorator or dressing stylishly or always having the answers in Trivial Pursuit. I don't know that I've ever had a thing...okay, I actually think my thing was being "smart" (a.k.a. making good grades because I was just good at school), but seeing as I haven't been in school for well over a decade, I guess it's time to find a new thing.

I have a sweet friend who has asked me to post my weekly meal plan, so I'll try it this once and see how it goes. This just seems so incredibly dull, but I know that I've benefitted from others doing this type of thing in my quest to change our eating habits, so I suppose I could return the favor. Just know that all of this is coming from someone who followed her quinoa and apples at lunch with raw cookie dough and who is also completely unable to boil beans without them overflowing and making a horrid mess on my stove.

I try to find a mixture of old familiar things and new adventurous things each week when it comes to planning my meals. The thing is, I've just remade a lot of my old familiars, taking out the pre-packaged, processed ingredients and replacing them with a homemade, whole food (Am I using this term correctly? See! I'm not qualified for this.) version.

The key to cooking real food is planning. It just takes longer to make things from scratch (told you I was smart) so the fly by the seat of my pants method I used to use often in the kitchen doesn't work as well. I'm telling you, forgetting to soak the dried beans has gotten me on more than one occasion. Now, when I get in a bind, eggs are my go-to. (Scrambled with biscuits or in a tortilla with cheese and ketchup/hot sauce.) But, I do try to plan a little better and prep ahead of time when needed.

Friday/Saturday: Bacon and Mushroom Pizza

(I've recently recommitted to only buying the bacon without any added nitrates or nitrites...not exactly healthy, but the better option as far as Wal-Mart goes.)

Sunday: Pumpkin Muffins
              Spaghetti and Meatballs (whole wheat pasta, homemade sauce, and homemade
                turkey meatballs)
              Super Bowl Party: I took Ham and Swiss Rolls and Oatmeal Cookies

Monday: Pumpkin Muffins
               Broiled Salmon, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Tuesday: Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal (apparently I'm on a pumpkin kick this week)
                White Bean Pasta and Spinach Salad

Wednesday: Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal (yay for leftovers on field trip day!)
                     Leftovers!! (a.k.a. Empty Out the Frig Night)

Thursday: Homemade Nut-Free Granola over Plain Yogurt (sweetened with honey) or
                    over Unsweetened Applesauce
                 Ham and Quinoa Bites (haven't tried this yet, but they look good!)

Friday: I have no idea. At this rate, eggs. :)

So, here are the results from the Quinoa Challenge. I'll let the pictures do the talking. Or maybe I'll add my own talking, too, because I just can't help it.

I'm not sure why Luke is eating with a backpack half on, unless he's considering moving out if I don't quit making him eat junk like quinoa.

If nothing else, it's pretty.

Maddie looks less than thrilled. In actuality, she liked it more than any of the other kids and wolfed it down.

Jack has come a long way. He's generally my pickiest, but he now eats his sweet potatoes without a complaint and even claimed to like the quinoa. I think he was faking, but he ate most of it.

Luke loves it! Okay, that statement and this photo are total lies. He was making a horrible face, but once I pointed the camera toward him, he'd only smile. He ate most of his quinoa, but only because I bribed him with oatmeal cookies. I was happy, though, because he loved his salmon and, in the past, he wouldn't touch it. Baby steps.

Thumbs up. It's hard to tell with Chris, though, because he knows I hate it when he hates my food. He also ate it for lunch the next day...or at least that's what he told me and the bowl came home empty.

And last, but not least....

Take a guess as to what Sam thought. I didn't take it too personally, though. He's two, so he gets a pass.

I am not represented in the photo montage. I was having a stay-at-home mommy hat and stretchy pants day. However, I really liked the quinoa...much better than rice.

It is also cute when it's cooked with these little curly "q" thingies in it, plus it's a fun word to say. What's not to love?

Livin' It Up in the First World

It's late and I don't know how to get this video to show up here other than just posting the link. So, here's the link:

I was just thinking, I'd like to be able to submit my own first world problems and have these people record them so when I'm being all my-life-is-so-hard-here-in-middle-class-America, I can just push play. We all need a swift kick in the pants every now and then.

So, here are a few I was thinking of:

I hate when I get so bored with our weekly menu.

I hate when I have to get out of the car and pump gas in the cold.

I hate when my internet won't run fast enough to watch the latest episode of Downton Abbey.

I hate when everyone else has skinny jeans and boots and I don't. (Okay, I really don't hate that so much.)

I hate when I don't get the clean laundry off my nice soft bed before bedtime.

I hate when I run out of flavored coffee creamer.

How about you? Any pressing first world problems you'd like to share? filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ...   Ephesians 5:18-20

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The (Wheat) Bread of Life

I've gone and become a weirdo. I'm turning into one of "those people." You know, the ones that you and none of your friends are, and so you all refer to them as "those people." For me, one group of "those people" in my life have been the ones who just go too extreme with the healthy eating thing. You know the ones. The ones who won't feed their kids goldfish crackers or frozen pizza. The ones who talk about all the garbage that's in your food that is going to give you cancer. The ones who rail against Red Dye #4 and partially hydrogenated oil.

Yep, that's me.

Okay, I'm trying not to rail against food with everybody who crosses my path, so don't fear seeing me out in public or anything. But get me with one of my other friends who are seeking to make the same changes I am, and we can talk food for quite a while.

This isn't actually something I like to talk about with most people, because I figure they're just going to label me as one of "those people."(I doubt that will actually happen, seeing as I think my friends are pretty nice people, but I'm a little afraid of it just the same.) Why? Because I know that hearing someone else talk about this type of stuff, in the past, just made me feel guilty or inferior or judgmental or some weird mixture of all those things, so I figure it's just better not to bring it up.

So I'm bringing it up.

As I was putting my items on the Wal-mart conveyor belt the other day (I'm not that far gone...I still shop at Wa-lmart) and mentally preparing myself for the grand total my cashier was about to utter, I realized how different my Wal-mart stash looked now than it would have a couple of years ago.

There wasn't one single cracker or cookie, nor any boxes of Hamburger Helper or Kraft mac n cheese. Instead, I had weird things like spaghetti squash, quinoa, flax seed and coconut oil, as well as dried beans, which used to totally stress me out.

Slowly, things have changed at our house. But I guess the reason I'm here is to try and explain why. I like to think I'm more than a "health nut" or a "granola girl." I don't want to be that person who rains on everyone's processed food parade or thinks everyone has to do what I'm doing. And I definitely don't want to be that person who walks around thinking everyone who claims to love Jesus has to eat raw almonds and broccoli every stinking day.

So here's what happened...

About a year ago, I started coming across blog posts and articles written by people with kids who struggled with things like hyperactivity, ADD, allergies, and food sensitivities. Since I have a kid who happens to fall into some of those categories, my ears perked up and before I knew it, I'd been sucked into the "all the food we eat is fake and is killing us" hole. At first, I felt stressed out, then worried, then guilty, then overwhelmed.

You know the saying "ignorance is bliss"? Yeah, it's true sometimes.

Don't get me wrong. I knew all this information was out there and that a lot of it was true, but I preferred to be the girl with her head in the sand. I figured what I didn't know wouldn't hurt me or my kids, or at least I hoped it wouldn't. I lived by the philosophy that this is just the society in which we live and changing how we eat would be too time consuming and expensive. You all have to die from something, right? Might as well do it a happy woman, with a box of Cheez-Its in my hand.

But I couldn't escape the truth of what I was putting into my kids' bodies. It nagged at me until I finally gave in and started trying to make little changes. Now, a year later, I'm buying quinoa, which I didn't even know how to pronounce for the longest time (it's keen-wah, by the way), and making my own bread, which used to rank right up there with haunted houses on my Scary Meter.

(We haven't actually eaten any quinoa yet. I'll let you know how it goes, because I know you're all enthralled with my weekly menu and whether or not four American kids would actually stoop so low as to put a food that starts with "Q" in their little mouths.)

The funny thing, which shouldn't be all that surprising, is that this has turned into as much of a spiritual journey as a physical one. If you asked me today why I'm trying to change the way we eat as a family, I'd give you a different answer that I would have when I started last January.

What's that? You want to know the answer?

Glad you asked. It all goes back to the Lord, as does everything in this life if we'll take the time to follow the path to its source.

I am a product of Modern America. I live in a culture that is self-seeking and, above all, wants everything fast and easy. We are driven by greed...we are greedy for money and time and the ability to pursue the things we want in life. The whole "pursuit of happiness" thing took a wrong turn somewhere along the line, and we began to think that happiness was found through self-indulgence.

We all remind me a little too much of Esau: He traded the blessings of his father and of God for a bowl of already-made soup on an empty stomach. He went for instant gratification rather than waiting for and valuing what would truly satisfy.

Since this world was formed by a Creator who mirrors spiritual truth in his physical creations, it should come as no surprise that the spiritual problems in our society are evident in physical ways all around us. Divorce rates are through the roof, political partisanship is at its height, children are being gunned down in the middle of math lessons, and the sex trafficking industry is booming. Another side-effect...we put artificial garbage and chemicals and tampered-with food (which also happens to be tasty and quick and easy and great money-makers for the food industry) into our bodies everyday and it's turning those of us who should be the healthiest people in the world into some of the sickest.

The Lord, in his sovereignty and creativity and goodness, made our bodies so incredibly complex, with such intricate needs that we can't even comprehend them all, and then he gave us the things we need to meet those very needs he hard-wired into us. He didn't create us to need nutrients and then give us garbage to try and fill that hole. We're the ones who try to put junk that won't do the job in the place of the perfectly satisfying things that will.

But isn't that what we do? We're sinners, and that means that we try to put anything and everything in the place of God....except God. We try to satisfy our own needs and desires with things that God never intended us to use, and we reap the consequences of that day after day.

"Oh, that my people would listen to me!
    Oh, that Israel would follow me, walking in my paths!

...But I would feed you with the finest wheat.
    I would satisfy you with wild honey from the rock.”

Clearly, I'm not just talking about broccoli and spinach. The problem goes to the very depth of our beings, and the way we view our food is just one tiny physical example of a much more important spiritual truth. The only way to live the abundant life Jesus offers is to fulfill our needs and desires in him and in ways that he planned for us to. For me, he has extended that truth all the way down into my menu for the week. 

If I'm to do everything to the glory of God, why would I think the way I fuel my body and feed my family would not be included in that? I want to put the perfect things in and leave the harmful things out so that I can reflect the spiritual truths I believe in many different aspects of my life and so that we can be able to serve the Lord to the best of our ability, with as few physical limitations as possible.

I find it so fitting that Jesus calls himself the Bread of Life. Our physical and spiritual selves are very closely related and to think that one is unaffected by the other seems a bit naïve. We all love to eat processed, fluffy white bread because it just tastes too good to our altered palates.  But, as my friend Christy put it, Jesus didn't say he was the White Bread of Life. First century Jews didn't eat white bread, because it didn't exist. They ate the wholesome bread made from the fresh wheat they grew and labored over, and it fed and nourished their bodies the way Jesus feeds and nourishes our soul.

In this day and age, though, I fear that many of us would rather have the white bread version of Jesus. We want a Savior who tastes good and is easy to chew and slides right down our throats. We want the fluffy version who makes us happy but doesn't really fill the deepest needs of our souls. We want the version we quickly pick up off the grocery store shelf on our way to do more important things, but that's not the Jesus that leads to spiritual life and health. That's a Jesus we've made up to make life easy, but one who really leads to disease and death.

So at our house, we're seeking to live life a little more the way God planned it and a little less like our world wants it (though our attempts are far from perfect), in hopes of not only gaining physical health but some spiritual lessons as well.

I want to be perfectly clear...the only way to salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ, not through eating your fruits and veggies and avoiding high fructose corn syrup. I have had to be very careful in guarding my heart in all this. "Eating clean" and seeking physical health can easily become idolatry, as can many seemingly good things, but I have no desire to replace the One True God in my life with bananas and apples. They may be healthy, but they make very poor gods. And I have no expectation that any other believers must share my views in this.

I'm just seeking to share my heart and part of the journey I'm on. My desire is to honor the One True God, to do everything for His glory, and to know him more. Right now, for me, that means feeding both body and soul with the food my Wise Creator has provided.

26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”

32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.” 35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again." John 6