These Are a Few of My Favorite Things!

musical-1191029__480[1]

 

 

This week, I’d like to share a few favorites with you.

 

 

 

 

Recent sermon:

“Guardrails of the Heart” Ky Faciane, Bannockburn Baptist Church 2/18/18. Listen here.  (If you’re short on time, start at minute 15.)

Recent Movie:

Wonder. Read about it here.

Older Movie:

The Kid. (The Bruce Willis one, no offense to Christ Pratt, who stars in a movie with the same title.)

Recent Book:

Skirting Tradition by Kay Moser (Fun fiction available here.)

Older Book:

All things written by Hannah Whitall Smith.  Here are a few of her wonderful words:

  • The presence of God is the fortress of his people.
  • What is within us makes or unmakes our joy.
  • Pay no attention to your feelings as a test of your relationship with God, but simply attend to the state of your will and of your faith
  • Never, under any circumstances, give way for one single moment to doubt or discouragement.

New Habit: At least 20 minutes of sunshine every day possible.

Old Recipe: Don’t Knock It ‘Til You’ve Tried It Breakfast Smoothie (For the first time in my life, I don’t get hungry until lunch.)

Into a blender add:

  • 1 ½ cups almond or soy milk
  • 3-4 cups of loosely packed baby spinach
  • 1 banana (unfrozen)
  • 2 T baking cocoa
  • 1-2 T ground flaxseed or chia
  • 2 pitted dates or 1 T honey
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 ½ –2 cups frozen blueberries

Blend thoroughly. Serves 2.

Tip: Blend together everything except the berries in the evening and refrigerate. Add the berries the next morning and blend again.

Okay, your turn! What are some of your favorites?

 

Advertisements

More Time to Be Happy

abraham-abe-lincoln-295315_1280 pixabay 12 14 17Time Magazine’s[1] list of “Healthy Habits for Happiness” are right in line with many of the things I believe God would have us do. That list includes:

  • Sleep—an average of 8 hours. Consider this verse from Psalm 127, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.
  • Exercise—increasingly considered a standard part of treatment for depression. Remember, life in Bible times was, by its very nature, filled with exercise. Think no cars, plenty of farming and shepherding and chopping wood.
  • Sunshine—which boosts synthesis of mood regulating serotonin, and was certainly a natural part of life long ago.
  • Diet. (A few more ideas about that here.)
  • Standing up straight and smiling—yep, even on down days, smiling seems to help. Perhaps that’s a physical part of the choice to rejoice, as in “Let us rejoice today and be glad!”[2]

Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are usually about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” We can’t orchestrate our lives to be free of unhappy circumstances. The Apostle Paul said, though, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”[3] He also said, in that same letter, “Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”[4]

According to Dennis Charney, dean of the ICAHN School of Medicine, we can train our brains to think a particular way. (So we can teach ourselves to think like Paul!) If we worry all the time, for example, we create a sort of worry rut. The PhD term is a neuronal pathway. Worry, or fear, or plain old grumpiness can become our default. If we choose more positive modes of thinking, of responding to difficulty, we can create new and better brain ruts, so to speak. But we have to work at making those changes. Something called “mindfulness” is a good place to start, and that’s exactly where we’ll start next week.

 

 

 

[1] The Science of Happiness: New Discoveries for a More Joyful Life, A Time Special Edition, September 9, 2017.

[2] Psalm 118: 24b

[3] Philippians 4:12

[4] Philippians 4:4

Time to Be Happy

chicks-2965846_1280 chick or egg pixabay 12 14 17

When you say “Happy New Year!” do you mean it? I do. I believe in being happy.

  • My favorite book is “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life.”
  • My favorite verse is “May the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful” (Psalm 68:3).
  • And my favorite slogan? “Don’t worry. Be happy.” (More about that here.)

I’m not talking about “pie in the sky, life’s a bowl of cherries” happiness, of course. I love these lines from a hymn by John Sammis: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” If we could truly trust God and obey his instructions all the time, I think we would be happy.

Late last year Time Magazine published a special volume called “The Science of Happiness: New Discoveries for a More Joyful Life.”[1] As I read it, I was struck by how many times their reports on the science of happiness lined up with Biblical instruction. And so, over the next few weeks, pulling from Time and God’s Word, I hope to get us started on a happy year.

January is the time when many of us resolve to take better care of ourselves. We start diets, join gyms, and put Post-its on our mirrors to remind us of newly made promises. This verse has me convinced that self-care is ordained by God: “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God…  So you must honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20).

Time suggests there’s a relationship between happiness and health, due most likely to the tendency of happier people to make healthier choices. This raises a “chicken or the egg” question. Does health lead to happiness, or does happiness promote health? Time asserts that, while our propensity for happiness is 50% inherited and 10% circumstantial, the other 40% is based on choices we make. Why not make the happiest choices whenever possible? Their list of “Healthy Habits for Happiness” include… Wait. Before I get into that, I’d like to ask you to tell me what tops your list of Healthy Habits for Happiness. I’ll tell you what the scientists had to say next week.

[1] The Science of Happiness: New Discoveries for a More Joyful Life, A Time Special Edition, September 9, 2017.

Easy Eating

food choice

Last month friend of mine asked me what ends up on our kitchen table. She was looking for ways to make the whole shopping/cooking/eating experience easier and more nutritious, an important (but sometimes overwhelming) endeavor indeed. Responsible eating is a part of taking care of our bodies, which is in turn a part of being good stewards of all God gives us. I thought you might be interested in the answer I gave my friend.

About three years ago, our daughter read Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and then passed it on to us. In it we found an eating plan we could actually understand, one that we are able to follow most of the time. We feel better, are free of a couple of odd symptoms that had begun to bug our just-barely-aging bodies, and (a delightful surprise) I spend less time in the kitchen than ever before.

Steve wrote a three-page summary of the book, which briefly covers what Dr. Furhman suggest we eat and why. Here are the highlights:

  • Go for nutritional “density.” Eat predominantly those foods that have a high proportion of nutritional benefit per calorie.
  • We should measure protein (and all other nutrients) by the amount a particular food delivers per calorie, not per ounce. When measured in this appropriate way, vegetables have far more protein (per calorie) than meat. For example, a 100-calorie portion of steak has 6 g of protein, while a 100-calorie portion of broccoli has 11 g protein. (This was news to me!)
  • We still need to be aware of the calories per pound of the food we are eating. For example, here are the average number of calories packed into a pound of certain common foods: oils-3900; chips or fries-2600; red meat-2000; cheese-1600; white bread-1300; chicken and turkey-900; fish-800; eggs-700; whole grains-600; starchy veggies (potatoes and corn)-350; beans-350; most fruits-250; green veggies-100.

Where did all that information take us? To this most-of-the-time eating plan:

Eat daily:

  • A pound of raw vegetables (so a very big salad, and no, we don’t usually manage a whole pound of anything in one day).
  • A pound of cooked vegetables (so lots of soup, steamed greens and stir-fry).
  • 2-4 servings of fruit.
  • 1 cup of beans.
  • An ounce or two of nuts.
  • 1 cup of grains or starchy vegetables (like acorn squash or sweet potatoes)

Go easy on:

  • Processed foods
  • Meat

Stay away from:

  • White bread and pasta
  • Sweets
  • Oils

Very few of us will follow all of Dr. Fuhrman’s suggestions all of the time. Still, most of us could use an eating plan tune-up now and then. If you are looking to improve your household menu and would like to more information, just ask. And next week, back to the “normal” sort of blog you’ve come to expect.

Happy New Year!

Wheat, Meat and Sweet

breakfast-314565_640

Drink coffee. Don’t drink coffee. Eat chocolate. Don’t eat chocolate. Or meat. Or bread. Or… What’s a body to do? It’s January again, the month of resolutions, many of them regarding what we put into our mouths. The information out there regarding healthy eating is a bit contradictory, but here are a few facts that seem pretty reliable to me:

  • We have a responsibility to take care of the bodies God has given us.
  • Most of us need to eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Surprisingly, plants have plenty of protein, calorie for calorie, (not ounce for ounce) when compared to meat. We don’t really need to have chicken on that Caesar salad every time, as long it’s a big enough salad.

And so, my husband and I have embarked on yet another journey toward healthier eating. We’ve moved closer than ever to what’s often touted as the “Daniel Diet.” That means we:

  • Go light on wheat, limiting our carb-heavy foods to a couple of daily helpings of whole grains (think brown rice, oatmeal or whole grain bread) or sweet potatoes.
  • Go light on meat. It’s still on the menu for us, but in smaller quantities and not every day.
  • Go light on sweet. I keep “goodies” out of the house most of the time. Still, tonight we are going out on the town, and I plan to eat dessert. (Well, half a dessert. Steve and I will share.)
  • Go heavy on fruits and veggies. Once you cut back on the three items mentioned above, this becomes a natural habit. We eat lots of soups, salads, and roasted vegetables (with garlic and rosemary!).
  • Eat a small handful of nuts most days.
  • Eat about a cup of beans (often in soup or salad) most days.

Surprisingly, our meals are more interesting and more satisfying than they were this time last year. And we’re feeling great. So, if you’re looking for a simple way to upgrade your eating habits, just remember to lighten up on “wheat, meat and sweet.” If in doubt, consider giving this plan a try for a month. And if you want a few of my recipes, all you have to do is ask.

May God be glorified in all that we do, even in our eating and drinking! Next week, back to the usual sort of essay, entitled “A Shot in the Arm.” Thanks for reading. I welcome your comments.

The Smoking Gun

44

Back to “healthy tip” week because our bodies are not our own. They belong to the Lord, so we take care of ourselves for him.

Smokers who decide to take up healthy habits have come to a crossroads. They can take good care of their bodies, or they can smoke, but they can’t do both. I’m not saying that if you choose to smoke, you should also become a junk-food-eating couch potato, but the good of all your other efforts will be far outweighed by the havoc smoking wrecks on your body. Quitting is hard, and may take several tries, but if you want to stop smoking, don’t give up!

You are hurting the ones you love by smoking. Some of them are simply hurt to think that they may lose you early. Others are being physically injured by your own abuse. Second hand smoke contains at least 60 carcinogens and is associated with a long list of illnesses, including respiratory tract infections and heart disease.

Many smokers just can’t quit on their own. Nicotine is an addictive substance. Couple that with the psychological comfort that smoking may have become, and anyone trying to quit has a tough job ahead of them. Help is available, but there are always excuses.

Join a support group? That will take up so much time! (Yes, but you’ll get that back later, with interest! How much time do you spend every year recovering from ailments made far worse by your habit?)

Buy patches or a smoking cessation program? That will take up so much money! (Also no excuse. You’ll get that back later as well. Do the math and see how much you spend on cigarettes each month.)

For would-be quitters who succeed, the payoff can be unbelievable. They may live longer, as they decrease their odds of having cancer, a heart attack, or a stroke. They’ll probably live better, increasing their energy and loosing that nasty cough or shortness of breath that has haunted them for years. And the benefits begin almost immediately! If you are a smoker, look what can happen if you quit today:

  • In 20 Minutes: Your blood pressure and your pulse rate return to normal.
  • In 8 hours: Your blood’s carbon monoxide level drops while its oxygen level goes back to normal.
  • In 1 day: You have already lowered your chance of a heart attack
  • In 2 days: Your senses of smell and taste have already increased.
  • In less than a year: Your coughing and fatigue are exchanged for new energy.
    (From the US Surgeon General’s Report, 1988, pp. 39, 202)

Need more information? Check out the American Cancer Society website: http://www.cancer.org
Convicted but addicted? Find a friend, talk to a doctor or join a support group. “Can’t never did anything,” and this is not a place where you should throw in the towel.