Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Testing & Faith

Continuing thoughts on conflict, trials and faith . . .

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
James 1:2,3

Faith must be like a muscle that can be trained and strengthened. We can’t lift weights or do push-ups for this muscle, however. It’s the trials we face in life that train our faith.

I often think of faith as similar to bravery. Just because someone is brave doesn’t mean they have no fear, it simply means they don’t allow the fear to interfere with their action. So with faith, having faith doesn’t mean we have no doubt, only that we don’t allow the doubt to dictate our action. We act based on the truth of God’s word.

Hebrews 11 has been called the Faith Hall of Fame. When we read the stories of the likes of Abraham who left his home, not knowing where he was going, but followed God’s lead, I’m sure he, and the others, had doubts but all we read is what they did. They followed and obeyed. We know Moses had doubts, he told God a number of times that he wasn’t up to the job. In the end though, Moses obeyed God. There were many trials along the way, but Moses’ faith increased with each one, he became a strong man of God as he watched God come through in the midst of trials time after time.

I’m beginning to see God’s wisdom in allowing trails. I’m finally starting to understand why trials and evil people are important to include in fiction. My heroes need to stretch and grow as characters, they need to discover the strength within themselves and to do that, they must be tested.

Thank you, Lord, that you don’t test us the way writers test their characters in a book. And help me to devise some evil plans against my fictional heroes. Amen.

Mint Tea

When the stress of various trials starts to get to you, try some Green Tea with Mint. Mint settles the stomach and its aroma clears the mind.

For hot tea, simply pour near-boiling water over green tea leaves and a handful of fresh mint leaves. For iced tea, place several green tea bags and a handful of fresh mint leaves in a clear pitcher and set it out in full sun for about three hours. When the tea has brewed, remove the tea bags and mint and place the pitcher in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Conflict & Change

I'm studying characterization today. How to write believable characters for a novel. I've been struggling with my protagonist. He's just too good. He's too nice and has no deeply rooted conflict or motivation. Isn't it interesting that the things we want to avoid in our own lives are the things we love to read about in novels? They are also the things which bring the most change whether in our own lives or the lives of our beloved characters.

My favorite books and movies are the ones in which the characters change the most. They start off weak, or handicapped in some way and discover their strengths through the conflicts they face.

So why do we avoid conflict like the plague? And why do we accuse God of not hearing our prayers when he allows conflict into our lives? "Is God evil?" Many may ask. But He has revealed Himself to us as a God of love.

Like a parent's love, God loves us enough to allow circumstances to teach us. A recent example happened in our family this week. Our son needed to get up for work. We've been encouraging him to set the alarm early enough to allow himself a little more time in the morning. "Get up the first time it goes off," I always say. Since school has been out, he's had to work a couple times in the morning, but not until 11am. He figured he'd just wake up on his own by that time, so he didn't set an alarm. My husband and I were both at work when he needed to get up. He slept right through and was 1 1/2 hours late for work! He sure learned his lesson that day. Luckily he didn't lose his job, he just got a little embarrassed. Now he's begun to set the alarm and get up when it goes off. Experience is so often the best teacher.

An example from nature. I picked a mixing bowl full of strawberries this afternoon. This year has been the best yield I've ever had from my small, urban, backyard strawberry patch, each day a handful or small bowl. Pondering the possible reasons, I've considered that it could be because we had such a long, cold winter. Spring took her time arriving in Minneapolis this year. A few trees didn't make it and still I see some that are half brown and half green. But the strawberries have spread and each plant is full of baby white berries, soon to be bright with color and flavor. Could it be that these delicate, nutritious berries thrive when challenged by the elements?

I’m not sure, but I know people do. Paul says to consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4.

Now back to torture my characters a little more.

4th of July Strawberry Treat:
Place fresh Strawberries and fresh Blueberries on top of a small bowl of real whipped cream.
It's delicious and patriotic!

Friday, June 5, 2009


Ever wonder why Americans are so out of balance?

We take everything to the extreme. If something tastes good, we eat as much of it as we can, as often as we can. We eat even when food doesn't taste good or we're not hungry. If we want to lose weight, we find some diet that starves us, we knuckle down and stick to it until the unwanted pounds fall off and we can get back to indulgence. How have we missed the wisdom of elder cultures that have discovered good health in balance?

Actually, our tendency toward excess is being exported around the world today until countries, which used to understand balance, are becoming more and more overworked, overfed and overstressed just like us.

Let's step back. Take a breath. And think a moment.

Balance makes me think of a tight rope walker. He's got to keep his feet in line. One step too far to the right or the left and BOOM, he hits the crash mat below.

Life isn't that restrictive--Thank the Lord! But take too many steps too far to one side or the other and balance is lost. When we lose balance we lose right perspective and good health--spiritual and physical.

Nature demonstrates balance. The earth needs water. Too little water and life dies. But too much water and life dies as well. It's natural. We understand that if you over water a plant it will die. And we understand that if you forget to water it for too long it will die. We have to regulate our watering schedule for our plants.

How about us? Do we make the effort to keep ourselves in balance? Our health depends on it as well. We may indulge in a piece of cheese cake for a special occasion and be just fine. But if we had cheese cake every night our bodies would take the toll. N'est ce pas?

Is it possible to be too spiritual? Of course, if we thought we had to read the Bible eight hours every day and when we were not reading we could do nothing but preach to our neighbors, we'd be out of balance. And probably not appreciated by those neighbors.

On the other hand, we Americans probably tend to the opposite extreme more often. We're so busy, caught up with so many important tasks (often ministry related), that we rarely have time to give attention to the Word, Prayer or Meditation. Hard to be like Christ when you don't know Him.

It must be possible to make Him our priority and still get day to day stuff done. If we decide that God is our first priority, we set a certain amount of time for His presence and His word each day. Then if our schedules get out of hand and we miss that time one day, we'll get back to it the next--no big deal. But if we wait until we get all our tasks accomplished, we'll never have time for Him.

Balance is healthy in every aspect of life. Balance includes a large dose of grace and readjustment. Invariably we'll get off that line of balance. At that point, we just forgive ourselves, as Christ does, and get back to what we know is right. This holds true in spiritual disciplines, diet or any other aspect in life.

Don't forget balance when it comes to other people too. Allow them to get off to one side or the other. Forgive them. Encourage in a positive way, a way that doesn't judge, to move back to center.

Let's don't get stressed-out about it. Just remember moderation and balance. And always allow yourself room to readjust.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


"Pleasure has proved to be the most powerful and lasting motivation."
~Mireille Guiliano, French Women for All Seasons

This quote can be taken in almost any context and so prove to be positive or negative. Advertisers use this fact regularly. In her book, Ms. Guiliano's focus is on diet and other basics of everyday life. In her first book, French Women Don't Get Fat, she addressed the area of diet primarily, but her principles work in every area of life so she wrote the second book.

To sum it up, Guiliano purports that all good things are healthy when taken in joy and moderation. Not a bad principle to live by. Gluttony would therefore cause disease and Ms. Guiliano demonstrates that the majority of diseases today stem from obesity.

French Women for all Seasons is not a Christian book per se, however, I see a common thread with Biblical principles. Take the following Scriptures for example:

". . . The joy of the Lord is your strength."
~Nehemiah 8:10

". . . In thy presence is fulness of joy,
At Thy right hand, there are pleasures forever more."
~Psalm 16:11

Don't read over these familiar verses too quickly. Strength. That's not just emotional or spiritual strength, is it? It's physical strength, health, as well.

And what is the "joy of the Lord?"

God's happiness with us; Our happiness when we're in one accord with God; the joy the Lord gives us regardless of circumstances. Anyway you look at it, it's healthy for us in every aspect of our lives: physically, spiritually, emotionally.

Psalm 16:11 speaks for itself. Read it again. "In Thy presence is fulness of joy, At thy right hand, there are pleasures forever more." Wow. God cares about our pleasure. The closer we are to Him the more pleasure we enjoy. He created everything in nature for us to enjoy--for our pleasure. He instituted celebrations for His people to remember him by and to enjoy. He called for far more celebrations than He did for fasts, though both are important, of course.

Why don't we take the time to enjoy celebrations? Even little ones like a cup of tea with a friend or high-quality, natural foods made simply and eaten slowly.

I think the reason we don't is because we're always in a hurry. We just don't want to take the time to prepare or even to be thankful. We gulp down our food and rush on to the next thing on our schedule so we can cross it off our list. The only problem is that this isn't fullness and it isn't the abundant life Jesus promised us.

God wants us to enjoy the gifts He gives and to do that we have to STOP. Recognize the gift, be thankful for a moment or two. To enjoy His bountiful supply in nature, we have to STOP. Taste. Enjoy. Breathe. Give Thanks. Otherwise we'll likely miss the joy of the abundance He sends our way.

Even the conviction of sin is a precious gift to be savored. It is God's kindness that leads us to repentance as it says in Romans 2:4. But if we rush past the conviction in our heart, we won't feel the sorrow over our sin and thus the need to repent doesn't seem as urgent. Without repentance there is no forgiveness of sin, and without forgiveness there is no blessing of an abundant life here or in eternity.

The pleasure of God's presence motivates us to repent so we can be near Him, which is fulness of joy and that's what heaven's all about.

Pleasure is the best motivator.

The pleasure we experience when we're with God motivates us to a holy life. May we allow nothing to hinder that relationship.

The pleasure we experience when we're healthy motivates us to eat slowly, with moderation and to eat vibrant, ripe foods, grown naturally.

The pleasure we obtain from being thankful motivates us to take our time, recognize the gifts we enjoy from God and give Him thanks.

Let us determine to slow down enough to enjoy the flowers. After all they're created by a God who loves us and wants to bless us with pleasurable experiences. He's like my husband sending me flowers for our Anniversary, He wants to remind us of His love and make us smile.





Here's a recipe you're sure to enjoy. It's natural, simple and full of flavor!

Caprese Sandwiches

-Two slices of Crusty Bread (Cibiata, Sour Dough, Boule, Baguette, etc.)
-Dab a few brushfuls of Balsamic Vinegar (For something extra special, see my link to Annon's Gourmet shop. Jeanie sells many delicious varieties of balsamics. For Caprese, I love the Pomegranate Vinegar)
-Fresh Mozzarella (found in Italian Delis or the specialty cheese isle of the grocery store) WARNING: regular mozzarella will NOT do. It's completely different.
-Ripe Tomato, sliced
-Fresh Basil
After dabbing the bread with vinegar, slice some of the Fresh Mozzarella and place on the bread. Add several leaves of Basil and slices of Tomato.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


"I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope, My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is lovingkindness, And with Him is abundant redemption. And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities." Psalm 130:5-8

Waiting is so hard. Have you ever planted a seed, watered it, then watched it every day to see if you could see the first green begin to show through the dirt? As kids we did this in our science class, but I still do it in my garden. I may not check it the first day or two. After all, I'm an adult now, I know it takes longer than a day for a seed to sprout and reach the surface. But inwardly I can't wait. I anticipate.

Seeds planted in the spirit can take much longer than natural seeds to show life. I'd been waiting so long long for certain spiritual seeds to show their sprouts, that I confess, I gave up. At first, I watched and waited, excited for the plant and fruit that would follow. But as the days turned into weeks and weeks turned into years, I confess, I gave up. I quit watering those seeds, quit bathing them in prayer. I quit watching and hoping because I didn't want to face the disappointment again. Busying my thoughts with other things eased my mind so I focussed on the daily grind or my own comfort instead.

Hope is a tricky thing, don't you agree?

Honestly it's easier to let a plant die than to water and nurture it daily without seeing any results. At least you can't be bitter about your seed's lack of progress when your own lack of attention caused the problem. But to diligently nurture, water and wait and yet see nothing is brutal. So I quit. To my shame, I gave up. To be quite honest though it didn't stop me from being bitter toward God. You see I also quit expecting anything special from Him in my life. I still believed, but I held hurt inside and didn't risk hoping.

God is so good and faithful. He is restoring my hope, my faith. He is showing signs of life underneath the soil. I can almost see green coming up from the shifting dirt above that original seed. And I believed that seed to be dead!

Without any care or water from me in recent years, God was working inside that little seed. He tilled and nurtured it through all these years. I don't deserve to reap the fruit from the crop this seed will produce, but He is allowing me to be one of the harvesters all the same. WOW!

Though man be found unfaithful, yet God remains faithful.

I thank you YHVH!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Absorbing Vital Nutrients

What's the point of being careful about what we eat if our body doesn't benefit from the nutrients anyway? We can eat right foods and take good supplements, but if our body doesn't absorb the nutrients into the bloodstream, it doesn't do us any good.

Vitamins that don't dissolve in water don't dissolve well enough in the stomach for our bodies to absorb the nutrients and they are wasted.

Nutrients often need other nutrients to be absorbed properly. For example, Vitamin C helps absorb Iron; to absorb Vitamins A, E and K it's important to combine it with a little dietary fat, and Magnesium helps the body absorb Calcium. These are just a few examples.

God, in His wisdom, has taken care of many of these things in nature. Spinach contains iron and Vitamin C along with a number of other vitamins and nutrients. Unlike supplements, living foods contain a balanced mix of vital nutrients.

Anything that aids digestion helps the body absorb nutrients. Here's where our fermented friends come in handy. Yogurt, Vinegar, Wine and Miso are all digestion aids. When digestion functions well, more vital nutrients become available to all the parts of our body.

Is there a spiritual lesson in this principle of nature?

Of course. Our spirit needs to be nourished as well.

There are many thing that help us absorb spiritual nutrients. Listening and obeying the spiritual authorities God has placed in our lives is one of the first steps to nourishing our spirit man. It's true that no person is perfect, still God expects us to learn from other people and submit to the spiritual authority He's given. Not blindly, of course. The Bible remains our rule of faith and conduct, so if any authority leads us to stray from sound biblical doctrine we find another mentor.

Another aid to spiritual digestion is to obey the lessons we've already learned. Hearing without action will not help us grow spiritually, but hearing and obeying will! We move forward and become ready for the next set of marching orders from our Captain.

Still another key that helps absorb spiritual nutrients is meditation. Take time with Scripture passages that move you. Think about them, ponder them, turn them over and over in your mind. Then look for ways to apply them to your life. Sounds a lot like digestion, doesn't it?

One more thought, before you begin to read the Bible each day, ask God to guide your study. Pray that He will lead you and burn His words into your spirit. Ask Him to change you through His Word in ways that only He knows you need change.

Digesting and absorbing spiritual nutrients will strengthen our spirit man to live the kind of love-filled, power-filled life Christ calls us to.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Yogurt is one of the most healthy and flexible fermented foods God has given us. It can be used cold as a dessert with fruit, as a drink or in thousands of recipes. Try replacing Sour Cream with Yogurt in recipes. We've even used Yogurt on baked potatoes.

I have a great little book called, "The Yogurt Cookbook" by Olga Smetinoff, originally published in 1966. Olga grew up with a mother who kept fresh, homemade yogurt on hand at all times. Her mother brought this tradition to the United States from Europe when they immigrated. Many credited yogurt for their good health, vibrant skin and shiny hair. They noticed that even in times of poverty people were able to make their own yogurt and continue in good health.

Yogurt has been a staple in most countries of the world. "The Russians refer to it as prostokvasha, and the Bulgarians call it keselo mloeko. It is a staple food all the way from Odessa to Peking. It is known in all the Arabic countries of Europe and North Africa," says Smetinoff. "Yogurt contains certain bacteria that, in the intestinal tract, break down milk sugar into lactic acid in which disease-producing bacteria are unable to live."

Smetinoff sites Dr. Ilya Metchnikoff (Ruussian bacteriologist, author, and the first to identify the bacilli that created yogurt) who attributes the longevity and stamina of the people of the Balkan countries to this marvelous food. He found that although they were among the poorest peoples in the world, and were deprived of most of the foods normally containing the necessary vitamins, they were practically immune to stomach troubles. Ulcers were almost unknown. He gave credit for their good health and long lives to yogurt. He found, during the time he conducted this important study, that there were 1600 Bulgarians over the age of a hundred to every million of population, compared to only 11 Americans per million."

Good health begins with digestion. Fermented foods are the superheros of digestion. Try adding yogurt or other fermented foods to your diet at least once a day. It may be a challenge at first, but you'll get the hang of it.

I am amazed when I think of God's creation. Down to the smallest, microscopic bugs--microorganisms--He has planned for our health and well-being. God created these tiny little guys to protect us from disease and maintain vibrancy.

Dear Lord, I am in awe of your spectacular creation. Perfect in every way and beautiful, you have gone to such great lengths out of love for us.

Take some time this week to Meditate on God's great love. Today is Good Friday. This weekend we celebrate the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. We remind ourselves of all that he suffered because of love. From His creation to His sacrifice, which was planned before the foundation of the earth God shows His love for us.

Yogurt Recipes

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Every culture uses fermentation of food to preserve it, enhance flavor and add variety as well as for the well-documented health benefits. "The origin of fermented foods is lost in antiquity, but fermentation is one of man’s oldest attempts at food preservation and preparation. There are biblical references to fermented wine production and recorded indications of Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (668-626 BCE) on what he considered to be the best wines of his time. Fermentation, however, predates even these early writings. It is suspected that the natural fermentation processes for grains and dairy led to the development of beer, wine, cheese and yogurt about the time early man moved away from a hunter-gatherer society into an agriculture-based society. To survive, ancient man had to harness nature. Food begins to spoil the moment it is harvested, but food preservation enabled man to put down roots, live in one place, and form communities. He no longer had to consume the kill or the harvest immediately." (taken from, Fermentation and its Health Benefits by Robert L. Lawrence M.ed., D.C., D.A.C.B.N.)

Microorganisms are natures recyclers. "There is something fascinating about microorganisms," says Lawrence. "They are everywhere—in the air, in water, in food, and in our bodies. They are invisible and without number, capable of multiplying with extraordinary rapidity. Some are agents of illness and even of death—but some are the very foundation of life and health."

Some of the benefits of fermentation Lawrence describes in his paper are these:

* Renders food resistant to microbial spoilage and the development of toxins.
* Inhibits the transfer of pathogenic organisms.
* Improves digestion and nutrient absorption of food.
* Preserves food between the time of harvest and consumption.
* Enhances flavor and nutritional value.

If you glanced through those quickly, read them again. That's an impressive list! Can you imagine the wide range of health benefits fermented foods have for the human body?

In recent time we've outgrown fermented foods, we have quicker, more consistent ways of preserving foods. Our new ways have the benefit of giving the food a more uniform look and texture and giving the food a longer shelf life. However, they do NOT provide any of the above benefits.

The process of fermentation is different for different kinds of food, it takes time, usually attention and always patience--things we seem to be short on these days. Luckily there are natural stores that carry beneficial fermented products. Yogurt, Keifer, Miso, Tofu, Vinegar, Tamari or Soy Sauce and Sour Kraut, just to name a few. Check labels for something like "Live & active cultures."

Try using vinegars on salads and main dishes. I've just discovered Annona Gourmet, a local store that carries many exotic and delicious olive oils and vinegars. The owner will let you taste! You can even buy a few then mix and match. Check it out if you live anywhere near Northeast Minneapolis.

You can also try making yogurt at home. Click here.

All this talk about patience and process seems like it could be good for the soul as well. I definitely think there's a lesson to be learned here. God places examples for us all through creation. Yes, He cares about our physical health, but He's even more concerned about the health of our eternal spirit. How about trying an experiment in spiritual fermentation?

Try this for 20 minutes:
Read one passage in the Bible. It can be one verse or one paragraph. Read it again a number of times. Meditate on what it means to you personally. How does it apply? What does it ask or expect you to do? What does it say about God's character or His will? How does it make you feel? Ask Jesus what you need to learn from this passage. Listen.

Can't you feel those spiritual microorganisms multiplying and strengthening??

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Praise is Healthy

"Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God;
For it is pleasant and praise is becoming.

The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.
Great is our Lord and abundant in strength;
His understanding is infinite.

The Lord supports the afflicted;He brings down the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
Sing praises to our God on the lyre,
Who covers the heavens with clouds,
Who provides rain for the earth,
Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.

He gives to the beast its food, And to the young ravens which cry
The Lord favors those who fear Him,
Those who wait for His lovingkindness
~Psalm 147:1-11

It is good to praise the One who made all and provides for all. God is the one who gives the rain in Spring. He makes plants to grow for our food and for our healing and it is He who provides water to drink. God is the One who heals our broken hearts and He is the One who binds our wounds, both physical and emotional. Without Him there is no health, in fact there is no life.

When we have good health, our skin radiates, our eyes shine, we are "becoming," an old word for beautiful or nice to look at. Also, we feel good and our emotions are positive. Psalm 147 says that praise is pleasant and praise is becoming. It makes us happy and beautiful. Praise is, in fact, the least expensive beauty treatment you'll ever find!

Praise isn't just telling God how great He is, though that's part of it. When we tell Him, we remind ourselves, build up our own faith and become more thankful. But praise is also expressed in the way we live our lives. Obedience to God's loving laws shows our praise in action.

But we cannot praise unless we have the fear of God. Maybe that sounds weird, but think about it. The fear of God comes from an understanding of His character, His greatness, His authority. Praise is speaking these traits back to God and obeying Him because of them. If we have this understanding, we fear God and praise is the result. If we don't understand the fear of the Lord, we do not submit to Him in obedience and we do not speak His praises. We will not wait for God's decisions and His timing if we don't understand His lovingkindness.

God's favor is on those who fear him, the pslamist says, and on those who wait for His lovingkindness.

Ouch! Waiting is so hard. But it is only hard because I don't yet understand the lovingkindness of God.

"Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and
refreshment to your bones." Proverbs 3:7-8

So the fear of the Lord is healing and praise is becoming.

Dear Lord, reveal yourself to us that we may fear You, obey You and praise You all the days of our lives. Amen.

Friday, March 20, 2009

March 20, 2009 - Essential

The Essential Oil in a plant is basically its blood. Like our blood it carries nutrients, oxygen and water to every part of the plant. It is the life of the plant.

For this reason, essential oils can be very healing. Depending on the personalities--properties--of each plant the essential oil can affect our bodies in a number of positive ways.

"You do not need to have worked with essential oils on a daily basis over many years to come to the realization that nature has provided mankind with a tremendously powerful and diverse materia medica. Some of the healing that has taken place under their influence would be called miraculous if we didn't have the scientific basis for explaining how the oils work...Each oil has its own medicinal and other properties. Modern-day research has confirmed centuries of practical use of the oils, and we now know that the fragrant pharmacy contains, apart from its antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal qualities, essential oils which are antiseptic, antiinflammatory, antineuralgic, antiheumatic, antispasmodic, andtivenomous, antitoxic, antidepressant, sedative, nervine, analgesic, hypotensol, hypertensol, digestive, expectorating, deodorizing, granulation-stimulating, circulatory-stimulating, and diuretic, and much more besides...One of the most satisfactory aspects of using essential oils medicinally and cosmetically is that they enter and leave the body with great efficiency, leaving no toxins behind. The most effective way to use essential oils is not orally, as one might think, but by external application or inhalation." ~The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy, by Valerie Ann Worwood.

Basil, for example is a good oil for bronchitis, fatigue, colds, better mental focus, migraines, gout and aches & pains.

Eucalyptus is used for sore throats, bronchitis, coughs, sinusitis, skin infections, ulcers, sores, rheumatism, aches and pains; as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.

Jasmine helps fight nervous tension, depression, menstrual problems, laryngitis, anxiety, lethargy and can be used as a relaxant.

What a wonderful pharmacy God has created for us in nature! Without additives and fillers to make them work and without leaving any toxins or side-effects behind, essential oils absorb into the skin naturally and begin working on a cellular level.

God does the same for us on a spiritual level. Recently I've been reading "The Organic God," by Margaret Feinberg. I'm also leading a small group discussion based on this same book. She makes some powerful points concerning the character of God and His natural influence in our lives.

I've noticed that when I try to make myself grow or learn a certain lesson, I fail or I forget it very quickly. But there are times when God reveals something so unexpectedly and in such a real way that I am changed.

Often He hooks me just enough so that I want to learn more, I crave more of the taste He's just given me and I begin to seek Him for more. This is God's work in me through His Holy Spirit. It is a gift from Him. I can't make myself change, become holy or even keep my mind from pride. On my own I'm helpless. But God works from within. His Spirit carries His truth throughout my being, feeding my mind, my belief system and my spirit like spiritual blood.

As Feinberg says, The Organic God is Natural, Pure and Essential.

Acts 17:28 says, "In Him we live and move and have our being."

Our relationship with God is as essential to life as our blood.

**Try this simple recipe for an Essential Oil blend that helps relaxation and mental focus.

February 20, 2009 - Winter Thaw

Dormant. Lying underneath the ground is something beautiful, new life waiting to push its way to the surface. To reveal its beauty for all to see.

February is a time of anticipating Spring. Temperatures rise a little, melting snow and ice here in Minnesota. Then they drop again freezing the water to a smooth, slick accident waiting to happen. Toward the end of the month dirt and dead grass become visible in patches. And we know what lies beneath that ground . . . new grass, flowers, perennial herbs . . . we can hardly wait!

Come May we'll be able to till the soil and loosen the dirt to prepare for planting. Maybe not as big of a deal for us as for the farmers, but still, we'll plant a few vegetables and flowers.

Underneath the surface of our hearts, new life waits to spring forth as well. God is creating new life in us. It's just waiting for the ice to melt. We've become cold and hard to the things of God. Winter has set in while we weren't looking. We're often too busy to warm in His presence, too busy to till the sin-hardened soil and too busy to practice the disciplines that will prepare our heart for new life and harvest.

But God is working.


Quiet yourself.

Can you feel it? Something different deep inside. A work only the Creator can accomplish.

It's still February, but Spring will soon arrive.

Friday, March 13, 2009

March 13, 2009 - Promise of Spring

It's the middle of March and I long for new life. To see a little color would be like spotting a red poppy in the midst of a blizzard. The grass is still brown and mostly covered with snow, the trees are bare and dull and there are no flowers to be seen. Ah but the PROMISE of Spring helps me hold on for just a few more weeks or maybe only days. Anticipation rises; the promise awaits.

I remember what it was like last Spring when the new grass first appeared, bright, pastel green slowly overtaking the yellow-brown on the ground and on the trees. Not long after that small flower buds began to form, their happy colors littered the neighborhood with cheer. Soon light green grew into a deeper shade covering the trees, bushes and grass. Then later in the Summer fruit developed and come Fall it ripened into delicious nourishment.

Now I wait for the process to begin again. Even when I'm not consciously thinking about it, my spirit and body anticipate it. Even when I look out the double windows and see the snowy characteristics of December or January, still I know it's March.

Spiritually I find myself longing for new life as well. During this season, the Father faithfully brings to mind my sin. He reveals the barrenness of my heart. I'm uncomfortable with the realization that I am not beautiful. I'm dark, dull and vapid. My life is barren, producing very little fruit.

And this would be my end except for the PROMISE of new life in Christ.

Easter is coming!

How I long for that new life to spring up in me once again. I want my life to produce. But fruit doesn't just spring up with the grass in March, often it needs cultivation. Preparation for the soil, water, sun, and then the seed that was planted must do what it was created to do. It must obey its own DNA. Without that obedience it's a bad seed and will not produce fruit.

Here I kneel and bow, Lord Jesus, aware of my barrenness, ashamed of my ugliness. I repent. Please forgive me. Come in to me again with the wind, water and sunshine that is Your Spirit. Nourish me, make me grow strong and able to obey what you've created me to be. May my life be like a glassy lake reflecting Your life and may it produce fruit to heal and nourish others. According to Your desire. Amen.

Fresh Spring Greens/Salad

February 13, 2009 - Being Me

What is so natural about wanting to be like someone else? Oh yes, it's very common, but unnatural. Does an apple tree want to be an asparagus? I recently read an advertisement by an author I admire very much. Her writing is powerful and she does so much to help those who are hurting. She's humble and has experienced enough pain in her own life to help her understand the situation of other people.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled for her success in publishing as well as in the Kingdom of God. But when I see someone like her, to be honest, I'm a little jealous, I wonder, what is my one all-consuming burden? And how much of a difference does my life make?

I waste so much time by allowing these questions to fill up my thought life. What's the point? I mean, doesn't God know each one of us? He created us, right? So here's a freeing thought: I don't have to have a super special burden and I don't have to be the one in front, making a difference in some BIG way. All I have to do is be who God is asking me to be, right here, right now; to love the ones He places around me, to help where He gives me the opportunity. My Creator knows me, He made me who I am and gifted me according to His plan. He has allowed certain experiences in my life and He will lead me one step at a time.

Should I argue with the Potter for making me a common vessel?

Dear Lord, forgive me for wasting so much time.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

March 8, 2009 - Living Food

Bright, orange, round, it fits in the palm of your hand. A perfect sphere ripe with health and nutrition. A small moist mist sprays from within as you pull back part of the peeling. Mouth-watering juices drip down your mouth and run down your arm. The orange is a perfect orb of vitamin C and other vital nutrients.

Unlike man-made inventions which pass for food today, God's creations still satisfy as well as nourish our bodies. He created us and he knows what this flesh needs to function at peak performance. The foods He created are alive. They mesh with the body perfectly, are digested and converted to energy and nourishment--building and repairing.

Raw food is made by God specifically for our bodies, also made by Him. They are called water foods. Made up primarily of water they're synergistic with the human body which is also made up primarily of water. They are easily digested. They cleanse even as they nourish.

Raw food is also known as living food. Eating fresh raw fruit and vegetables is life-giving. These are the foods to focus on in a healthy diet.

These are also great foods to use when cleansing the body. Along with clean water, they help flush the body of toxins, which over time could cause sickness.

Raw foods can be quick and easy too. Just grab an orange and peel. These are easily accessible even here in Minnesota at the end of winter. They bring us a little digestible sunshine from the South.

So enjoy God's food, created for you.

Try these recipes (Orange Shake, Deep Green Leafy Salad) to incorporate delicious, fresh food into your diet.

Friday, February 27, 2009

February 27, 2009 - Lent & Cleansing

We're now in the beginning of Lent, a season of repentance and cleansing in the Christian calendar. Spring also draws us to physical cleansing. Spring Cleaning--a term we've all heard of whether we actually participate in the activity or not.

Times of cleansing and renewal are vital in all areas of life. Nature itself goes through this with the seasons and life begins anew in the Spring.

The church encourages self-reflection spiritually during this time. A kind of New Year for the soul. This is an opportunity to reevaluate our relationship with God, our decisions and attitudes. And this is a time to repent and re-prioritize. Find some time in your day between now and Easter to reflect, repent and reset your spiritual gage.

Don't forget your physical body during this time. After a long winter of being in the house, eating comfort food and getting very little exercise our bodies need renewal as well. Consider fasting less-than-healthy foods, maybe sugar, white flour or caffeine. Satisfy your body with healthy, living food. Raw vegetables and fruit are alive and you'll feel more energy after eating them. Take this time in early Spring to reevaluate your eating habits and other habits that effect the health of your body. When you feel better physically, you'll have more motivation even for spiritual things. And visa versa.