Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Week 44

Resist, resist, resist.

Tom's first Halloween, age 4 months.  I wish someone had told me to resist eating a piece or two of Halloween candy as we passed it out to the kids in our neighborhood that year...  But I thank God that He did show me and showed the boys when they were quite young, the consequences of our indulgences.  Luckily, our indulgences were few and far between so we could see the link between what we ate and how we felt (or why we got sick).  Now we do not even think about eating anything that contains sugar - it is no problem passing it up.  Be prepared, and resist the temptation of eating the Halloween candy that is everywhere around you.

Halloween, with all its associated candy is a terrible holiday.  Please don't give in to the temptation of having just one piece of Halloween candy as you hand it out, or as it is laying out in a bowl at your work, or wherever you encounter it.  Even at Whole Foods, they have chocolate squares sitting out to sample.   My favorite, but I don't eat them.  Sugar sweetened treats are everywhere.  I know that my eating just one would start my cravings, so I resist.  I urge you to do the same this week.

There are a couple of very good reasons to resist eating just one piece - I'll explain what I have experienced:

1.  Sugar is as addictive 'as cocaine' - I know how very addictive it is and I can't control its affects on me.  I hope you read this past post and understand that it is easier to resist before indulging in sweets than to break the cravings later.

2.  Since sugar is so addictive, if you start with some Halloween candy now, enjoying it over the next couple weeks while it is so abundant, then you will be primed for indulging in all of the holiday sweets beginning at Thanksgiving and going through the New Year.  Once you get your sweet tooth in overdrive, it is hard to stop.  By the end of the year, you will probably then be several pounds heavier, and I promise you that you will not feel good about yourself when the new year rolls around.  Resist now, don't get trapped on that path.

3.  Sweets and sugar reduce your immune system and set you up for a winter of illnesses.  This is a very sad truth that we experienced at least once after a Halloween with Jon.  The blessing that was received that spring after a difficult winter was that Jon (at age 4) saw the ugly power of man-made processed sweets on his health and to this day has no interest in eating any candy (or other sweets) that contain sugar, especially the cheap ones that also contain artificial colorings and flavorings.  Be aware of the link between your diet and health.  So often I have been told that I am so lucky that I have healthy boys who never need to go to the doctor because they are sick.  It is not luck; it is because of our diet.

A few weeks after Jon turned four, he collected candy on Halloween night and was allowed to eat as much as he wanted that night and then the next morning he knew he would trade in the remaining candy for a new toy.  At the time, I thought this was a brilliant plan.  I had no idea what a terrible idea this really was.  Jon stuffed himself with candy on Halloween night.  He then got a high fever 4 days later that lasted a week.  The poor little guy was so sick.  He continued to be sick on and off the entire winter, he never fully got over his illness until spring. 

Lots of sweets and winter weather result in colds and flus.  It is not worth it to my family to be miserable and after eating a diet of real food, food God has given us, the cheap processed foods don't even taste good - the smell alone is repulsive.  Plus there are so many wonderful sweet treats to enjoy that are sweetened with real foods/ingredients God has provided for our nourishment such as raw unfiltered honey, dates, fruits or maple syrup.

I don't know about you but I respond so much better to situations when not caught off guard.  So be prepared, stand firm, and resist those worldly temptations all around you.  If you have a sweet-tooth and you are fighting a sugar addiction, be sure to ask God for help as you resist.

"So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!  No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."  1 Corinthians 10 12 - 13

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Week 43

Recommit - think baby steps.

I never thought ten years ago that I would be living on a mini-farm or that we would have chickens.  I'm sure my son never thought he would be feeding chickens in the morning before starting his school day! 

I am where I am today through baby steps.  Eating a diet of 100% real foods created by God is now routine and very natural for us.  This has not always been true.  If you read my story, you know that my commitment was based on knowing how important diet is to health and wanting my boys to be healthy.  Because I had this motivation that was so important to me, I did not get discouraged and go back to the typical American diet. 

I thank God for all the ways He has blessed me in this area of my life.  I love having a large garden and fruit trees and chickens.  I hope to continue to add more and more animals and plants on our mini-farm, plus there are so many more things I want to learn.  For instance, I want to make my own summer sausage and my own crackers.

Before we moved here when I did not have much land to produce my own food, I researched and found local sources for my eggs, produce, meats, etc.  I still use many local sources for many of the foods we still don't produce.  It takes baby steps, starting with the basics and adding more and more God-made things (and eliminating more and more man-made things).  

Have I slipped up and fallen off track?  Of course, many times, but the key is to recommit and start anew rather than getting discouraged and giving up. 

So this week, take time to sit down and evaluate where you are.  The weekly challenges are baby steps to help you to gradually change your diet from the typical American diet to a diet of foods created by God to nourish our bodies.   

Some challenges have probably been easy for you and they are now regular habits.  Others, you may have skipped, or felt at the time they were impossible to tackle.  Still others, may have been things you did for a week or two but in the busyness of life you forgot about them and quit.  It is this third category that I want you to focus on this week. 

Look through the list of weekly challenges and find one or more that you had been doing, that is not that difficult for you, and recommit to adding it back into your daily routine until it becomes a habit.

Remember, this is a journey.  Just because you have fallen off track, don't give up.  Start again, taking baby steps, implementing just one or two things.  Soon you will look back like me and be amazed at how far you have come!

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."  Lamentations 3: 22 - 23

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Week 42

Research and evaluate with discernment.

This is hard because there are so many 'authorities' in today's world giving advice, advice that will not benefit your health and vitality.  Don't blindly accept everything that you are told or that you read as truth.  Work to develop your skills of discernment this week.

It is critical to your health and general well-being to learn how to evaluate information that you happen upon - whether you read something, hear something or even touch, smell, or taste something.  There is much information and many theories that are against what God teaches us in the Bible.  It takes awareness and practice to be able to research things with discernment.

Here are some guidelines I use to evaluate new information:

1.  What is the motivation behind the group or person who is presenting the information?  This is so key when discerning the validity or truth of something.  In today's world, making money is the primary focus of so many, not necessarily your long term health or quality of life.  

2.  Does the information conflict in any way with what is written in the Bible?  Is the information in agreement with what God has established or instructed us to do?  Evaluate new information with a Biblical worldview, asking if this is how God intended things to be done or if the information is twisted with deception.  Be cognizant of the marketing ploys that you are being bombarded with.  Ploys to entice you to try a product, whether a new brand of chips or a new drug to relieve your headaches, telling you what you want to hear without providing all the details such as adverse health effects. 

3.  What are both sides of the situation saying and again, what is the motivation of both sides?  There is so much information available on-line - be sure to look at multiple articles and sites when investigating something. 

4.  What is your motivation?  Is it for a quick fix without making any difficult changes (such as addressing your food addictions or changing your diet or lifestyle).  A quick fix of symptoms with man-made medication without addressing the underlying problem is a very prevalent mindset for everyone in today's society and so extremely detrimental to health.  We all (including me) want a 'magic' bullet because we have seen quick results with man-made drugs but this is usually not God's way for vitality and long term good health.  We also want what is most convenient, such as fast food, which also is not God's way and will not result in vitality and long term good health.

5.  What are the results or effects that others have experienced?  I like to find first hand accounts describing exactly what others have done or experienced, and as much detail about the subject as possible.  It is very important to understand the pros and cons and long term side-effects to your health.

6.  After collecting information on a subject, I pray about the matter.  God has many times shown me what is false or the loop-holes in a situation after I've prayed about it.  Don't skip this critical step in discerning the truth; for the world's wisdom is foolishness to God and it is easy to be deceived.  "Do not deceive yourselves.  If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a 'fool' so that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight."  1 Corinthians 3:18 - 19.

7.  How long has it been around or used?  I am very leery of new foods/drugs and medical techniques and farming methods and agricultural chemicals.  Long term health and vitality are not the goals of any of these industries.  The world's wisdom is counter to God's wisdom, don't be deceived.

There are not many magic bullets; good health is built on commitment, on steady and consistent changes to your diet which you work to establish day-by-day.  The purpose of the weekly challenges is to help you take baby steps throughout the year and establish new permanent eating habits.  

Don't blindly accept everything I have written either.  With discernment, educate yourself and gain God's wisdom concerning your diet and health.  Then be intentional and implement what you have learned. 

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."  James 1:5    

Monday, October 13, 2014

Our Home Cures

I want to document my testimonies of home cures that I have used that have worked well for my family over the years.  You may wish to read these as interesting stories, but please understand that I do not have any conventional medical training and I am not a doctor as recognized in our society and I am not suggesting that you try them.  

I have been investigating and researching ways to use God's medicines for many, many years.  I have bought antique books, visited historic sites, spoken with elderly persons and perused the internet for information concerning natural remedies.  What I love most about God's cures is that if used properly, they do not have damaging side effects.  However, God's medicines are not recognized by the medical community and NO claims can be made about their effectiveness.  Thus I am not making any claims but only telling you what I experienced knowing that every situation is different.

With these posts, I am not giving any advice on what you might do but I am only documenting what I have personally done in various situations for my family:

(Coming soon - I will list a variety of ailments and how I have treated them.  I will start with our testimony on treating ear infections.  We had a lot of practice and I still practice this technique on Jon occasionally when his ear starts to 'feel' full, maybe once a year.  He has not had an actual 'hurting' ear infection since kindergarten, but I will soon tell you all about that in another post.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Week 41

No fast foods or drinks.

For some this might be a nice break from the challenges for this week because you never eat out at fast food restaurants; for others this may be a real challenge.  No stopping at Sonic or Chik-fil-a or Subway for a quick bite for you or your kids.  If this is a weekly occurrence for your family, with a bit of planning, see whether you can go the entire week without fast food.  Once you consciously do it one week, try to continue this trend, stopping for less and less fast food and drinks.  Not only with this be a health benefit for you but a money savings too.

Advanced Challenge for those who don't eat at fast food restaurants:

See if you can go a whole week without eating out at any restaurant.  Twenty-one home cooked meals from scratch that you have prepared.  If this is not something you do regularly, be sure to create a meal plan to help you succeed.  Also avoid using man-made unhealthy ingredients in your home cooked meals and instead use the best quality ingredients you can find.  There are lots of recipes to choice from under the recipe box tab. 

If you tackle this challenge(s) and succeed this week, I know that you will have a wonderful sense of success and accomplishment! 

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Week 40

Take time to smell the roses, and the lavender, and the basil and oregano and thyme and....

Herbs and plants have incredible healing powers just by smelling them or breaking some off and rubbing them in your hands to release their life force - their essential oils.  You may be familiar with the amazing properties of pure excellent quality essential oils (not the cheap imitations sold at the local grocery store) and you may know that they are very expensive. 

Well you can have free access to many of these same oils through the plants you grow.  I don't think I have emphasized enough the importance of adding fresh herbs at the very end to your healing soup.  This is a large part of the healing power.  You don't want to cook them in the soup and destroy the properties of the essential oils within these plants.  In fact, just working with these fresh herbs will bless you as you inhale their fragrance and handle them with your fingers.  I find learning about the healing properties of these plants that God has given to us fascinating.  If you do too, educate yourself and read about each one's special properties.  For example, this site has information about basil and the anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of its essential oil which is obtained from its leaves.

God's truths do not change with time (unlike man's knowledge that is constantly being corrected and updated), thus what I wrote below on the subject of the healing power of herbs and plants is still true today!  So from last year's post:

"I love what my friend, Lynn, wrote to me this weekend on this very subject.  I had written to her and told her that I had gone out to the garden and cut some lavender, then rubbed it in my hands while inhaling the fragrance.  What a wonderful, wonderful, experience this was and uplifting to my spirit.  She wrote back,

'I believe God gave us our five senses for us to discover what He made, and Him ultimately.  Smells from what the Lord has made are life giving (herbs, oils, flowers, ocean, ETC) by increasing the frequencies of our bodies and reaching deep into the recesses of the mind vs. man-made smells which are imitators and lower the body's frequency making it susceptible to disease (think Plug-Ins, pollution, carpets, ...).  I love fresh herbs.  They are easy to grow in north Texas.  I had peppermint and cilantro in the greens we ate Friday.  And the egg salad I once had at your house with fresh herbs was the best! I love rubbing my hands on the rosemary growing in the backyard....'

I think this is a wonderful word picture of what going 100% means.  Experiencing the life-giving forces from our foods and the plants around us.  Lynn fixed me the most delicious dinner last Friday night, shown in the photo above.  She had a wonderful salad with grilled pineapple and red bell pepper (plus the mint and cilantro she mentioned) with 100% grass-fed burgers and sauerkraut.  She always accompanies her meals with fresh cut greens or sauces containing fresh herbs.  I was feeling a bit under the weather by the end of last week, and wanted to just rest at home Friday night.  But God had other plans in mind for me.  Instead, Lynn fed me this wonderful dinner and we went to a presentation on the healing powers of essential oils. 

Inspired, I used a lot of fresh herbs in my meals on Saturday.  I had eggs with green chili salsa and my herbs for breakfast, and a large dollop of homemade sour cream with fresh herbs on my bowl of chicken sausage gumbo for dinner.  Plus I cut some lavender (on my breakfast plate) and rubbed it in my hands and inhaled the wonderful fragrance as I prepared the meal. 

By Sunday, I was feeling incredibly energized and renewed.  Remember that you must be intentional about what you are doing - just thinking about what you want to do is not enough.  Did you master the challenge from Week 14, to plant and use fresh herbs?  I hope so."

This week, go out and smell those herbs you have planted.  Smell those roses you have in your yard (and stop using pesticides and herbicides which pollutes our senses and weakens the plant).  If you have not bought any herbs yet, get some this week (basil is a warm weather annual so don't plant that outside at this time of year). 

If you already have some herbs and flowering plants, add something new to your yard, garden or patio collection of pots.  Think about what essential oils are available and get a plant of one of these.  The fresh healing herbs in the healing chicken soup all have excellent anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties.  The basic ones to start with include rosemary, oregano (and/or marjoram), thyme, parsley, and basil.  I also love having lavender in my yard (it does not like receiving much water) and it is an herb that is good for alleviating allergies and headaches to name just a few of its abilities.

So go outside this week and smell the roses and other life-giving plants that God has provided for us in His creation and praise the King of Kings for His provisions.

"...nard (lavender) and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree, with myrrh and aloes and all the finest spices." Song of Solomon 4:14