Sunday, December 25, 2011

Transcendence Comes to Us

This week I've been reading The Knowledge of the Holy, by A.W. Tozer, the chapter on Divine Transcendence.

Tozer says, "When we speak of God as transcendent we mean of course that He is exalted far above the created universe, so far above that human thought cannot imagine it. To think accurately about this, however, we must keep in mind that 'far above' does not here refer to physical distance from the earth but to the quality of being."

A few paragraphs later he says, "Forever God stands apart, in light unapproachable. He is as high above an archangel as above a caterpillar, for the gulf that separates the archangel from the caterpillar is  but finite, while the gulf between God and the archangel is infinite. The caterpillar and the archangel, though far removed from each other in the scale of created things, are nevertheless one in that they are alike created. They both belong in the category of that-which-is-not-God and are separated from God by infinitude itself."

What an incredible thought. This is why it's so difficult to get our minds around God, and most often we don't try. But we must try, in order to get a more right perspective. When we realize the God we're dealing with, we hesitate to approach Him . . . and we should. It should make us pause, even tremble.

"In olden days," continues Tozer, "men of faith were said to 'walk in the fear of God' and to 'serve the Lord with fear.' However intimate their communion with God, however bold their prayers, at the base of their religious life was the conception of God as awesome and dreadful. . . This fear of God was more than a natural apprehension of danger; it was a nonrational dread, an acute feeling of personal insufficiency in the presence of God the Almighty."

"Yet we console ourselves with the knowledge that it is God Himself who puts it in our hearts to seek Him and makes is possible in some measure to know Him, and He is pleased with even the feeblest effort to make Him known."

For this purpose Jesus came to earth in the lowliest human form--a baby, completely helpless, dependent on others for survival. He came to make Himself known and to become the atoning sacrifice, thus making a way for men (women and children) to commune with their Creator.

Let's take a few moments today to ponder this incredible event.

Merry Christmas! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dancing with the Obvious-Accidental Creative

  Today I'm borrowing a blog from Accidental Creative. Todd makes some great points and I think you'll enjoy it.
Accidental Creative


Eliminating the confusion between complexity and value.

I love spending time with diverse teams of creative people because I get a bird's eye view of what's happening across the creative workplace. One thing I'm increasingly concerned about is the rising level of cynicism in creative circles (including in myself). On one hand, a healthy critical mindset can help us improve our work and learn from the mistakes of others. On the other, cynicism causes us to forfeit our sense of wonder and, perhaps worse, to worry that our work will become the target of someone else's ire. 
Because of this, I see many creatives struggling to avoid creating anything that seems on the surface to be too simple or obvious. In the effort to prove how accomplished they are, they over-complicate their work and include too many fringe and loosely beneficial elements. It seems to be a kind of sub-conscious effort to prove the value of their work. 
But we too easily confuse value with complexity. These are two exclusive concepts that are not necessarily related. The result is that we waste time and valuable creative energy spinning round and round over-complicating what should be very simple. In the end, we produce a lot of workplace dissonance.
Why do we do this? Why do we over-complicate our work and its deliverables? 
One reason is that we increasingly believe - as a culture - that what is obvious inherently lacks value. We dismiss quick insights and familiar-seeming ideas because we assume that they can't possibly be useful. Our paranoid self worries about what others will think of us if we execute such an obvious idea. Our cynical side knows exactly what we might say about someone else if they executed such an obvious idea. We worry about everything except for the value we're creating for our clients or audience, which is the very thing that we should be focusing on.
A second reason why I believe we ignore immediate ideas and hunches is pride. We have to prove to everyone how difficult our job is. We feel like we have to show that we are valuable by searching for that needle in the creative haystack. Deep down, we want to emerge triumphant and have others proclaim how uniquely gifted we are and how nothing would be the same without us. In our search for recognition we end up over-complicating the work and creating more work for our collaborators. Creativity requires humble curiosity, and that means - on occasion - embracing that some of the best and most creative solutions might be the most obvious.
Finally, I think we're loathe to embrace the obvious because it reminds us of what we already know but aren't doing. This especially relates to best practices, advice and the how of our work. When we hear advice that we've heard before, we cringe because it seems "obvious". We forget, however, that it's not what we know, it's what we do about it that matters. 
We can't allow the curse of familiarity - or the sense that an idea is too obvious - to rob us of potentially brilliantly simple insights. We must grasp and execute the best idea, and we need to be careful not to confuse complexity with value. (At least that's my goal in 2012. I hope you'll join me.)

My best,
Todd Henry
Accidental Creative
Subscribe to our podcasts (in iTunes) and articles

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Science vs Religion

"Science observes how the power of God operates, discovers a regular pattern somewhere and fixes it as a 'law.' The uniformity of god's activities in His creation enables the scientist to predict the course of natural phenomena. The trustworthiness of God's behavior in His world is the foundation of all scientific truth. Upon it the scientist rests his faith and from there he goes on to achieve great and useful things in such fields as those of navigation, chemistry, agriculture, and the medical arts.

Religion, on the other hand, goes back of nature to God. It is concerned not with the footprints of God along the paths of creation, but with the One who treads those paths. Religion is interested primarily in the One who is the source of all things, the master of every phenomenon." ~A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (chapter 12, Omnipotence).

What more is there to say?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Raise Your Expectations

To accomplish anything for God's kingdom, we must set out to do something bigger than ourselves.

Raise your expectations!

Pursue the impossible!

"Grant that we may learn to lay hold on the working of the mighty power which wrought in Christ when Thou didst raise Him from the dead and set Him at Thine own right hand in the heavenly places. Amen." ~A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, (chapter 12, Omnipotence).

Thursday, December 15, 2011


It's the best time of year to remember the darkness from which we've been saved, and the Light that came into the world to save us! Check out Dan's blog as he blogs daily through Advent verses.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Time-Saving Recipe

Check out this crock pot recipe. It'll be ready when you get home from work, and best of all, it'll rejuvenate your body after all the heavy, Christmas party food you've consumed.
Chinese Hot Pot

Do you have any time saving tips for the holidays? Please post them here.

Friday, December 9, 2011

HIs Center Holds

"God is supremely esteemed. His center holds. Zion brims over with all that is just and right. God keeps your days stable and secure--salvation, wisdom, and knowledge in surplus, 
and best of all, Zion's treasure, Fear-of-God."
~Isaiah 33:5-6, The Message

The phrase that catches my attention this morning is "His center holds." It reminds me of gravity at the Earth's core, holding us and everything down, keeping us from flying off into outer space.

In engineering, the center of gravity is the key factor for balance and proper function of any machine. Imagine what a great engineer God is.

"For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible . . . all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." ~Colossians 1:16, 17 NASB

Not only is God the great engineer, He, himself, is the gravity at the core of all things, holding them together. 

(Not sure how the picture relates, but it looks cool)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

December Energy Boost

I know everyone talks about stress at the holiday season. It almost adds stress just to read another post about it. I don't mean to contribute to it, but there are some simple things we can do to feel our best and boost energy during this busy time.

1. Take a few moments each day (even 2-3 minutes) to slow your breathing and contemplate the "Reason for the season," to use a cliché. God came to Earth in the form of man because He is holy, and because He loves us, and because He wanted to make a way for us to be close to Him. He wants relationship with us. It's the greatest mystical union anyone could conceive, and it's not fantasy. It's real.

2. Take a bath once or twice a week with some relaxing essential oils. Aromatherapy works wonders. Try a few drops of Sandalwood or Lavender.

3. Add deeply colorful veggies to each meal. One easy way to do this is to have a salad with lunch and dinner. Use dark green lettuce, red peppers and/or tomatoes,  carrots, celery, sugar snap peas, and any other colorful produce that sounds good. Shake on some olive or walnut oil with a splash of lemon juice and you have a flavorful, nutrient-boosting meal. You can also eat greens (try kale or chard), steamed in a pan with garlic and a can of chopped tomatoes. Or try a baked sweet potato. Adding nutrients adds flavor as well, so you'll feel like you're spoiling yourself.

Treat yourself well this month and you'll have more energy to participate in all the activities or to volunteer and offer your energy to others.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Give Hope this Christmas

This year, my husband and I are finally realizing that we have everything we need. Oh yes, I know some windows need to be replaced as well as the carpet and the deck. But there will always be needs in the house and we'll tackle those one by one.  But this year we're asking loved ones to give a gift of money in our name to an organization that is making a difference in the lives of needy people.

Christmas is a time we usually receive gifts, small tokens of affection from those we love. This year, I suspect, many will give less expensive gifts since money is a little more tight. But even if the gift is only $5, it can make a difference to children like these. These children have lost their parents, their home, and their means of provision. Please read more about them on Inspire the Fire. And ask the Lord if you can do something to make a difference for them this holiday season. Or maybe the holidays are too tight. Why not plan to give at another time of year when others aren't thinking about it anymore?

Whatever you can do, let's join in prayer for these precious children.

Dear Lord Jesus, These are not unfamiliar faces to You. They are in your thoughts and in Your heart every day. In fact You saw their faces when You died on the cross. You saw their faces before the world was created. They are not less valuable to You. They are worthy of your life and death. But You desire more for them than salvation alone, You desire for their stomachs to be full and for them to have a safe place to sleep at night. These are the little ones You told us not to deny. You said "Let them come to Me." Please show us what we can do practically to help these loved ones of Yours. Amen.

If you have not read the short article about these children please go to Inspire the Fire now and read it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Life-Giving Breath

Photo by Joshua Thompson
Spirit is the word Ruah, wind or breath. When God created the world, He spoke it into existence. Speaking requires breath. When God created man, He breathed into him the breath of life. The breath is the life force. When we breathe, it is God's breath flowing through us.

Read that last sentence again.

Incredible! God is near to us, He is even flowing in and out of us. Breath is God's creative, living force moving through us.

I believe breathing is a gift from God, not only for life but for health. Find Here my very short blog about how deep breathing can help us relax and actually bring healing to our body.

To read more about God and breath, following is an excerpt from a blog by a Jewish rabi on the name of God and breathing (there is a link to the entire blog after the excerpt):

"What follows is a brief summary of my approach on the question of pronouncing the "Yod-Hei-Vav-Hei" Name of God that in transliteration comes out "YHWH":
1) It is unpronounceable in my view not because we are forbidden to pronounce it — that understanding is in my view a way of avoiding the deeper truth — but because if one tries to do so, pronouncing these four strange letters (semi-vowels, semi-consonants; linguists call them aspirate consonants) WITHOUT any vowels, one simply breathes.
You might pause to try this yourself: try to say "YHWH" with no vowels. Not "Yahweh" or "Yahovah," but with no vowels at all.
Over the years I have invited thousands of people at synagogues, retreat centers, Hillels, and conferences to explore what happens if they try to do this, and almost everyone who does this experiences either a breath or the wind.
The real Name is BEYOND pronunciation, unless you consider breathing pronunciation.
As the Siddur (prayer-book) says, "Nishmat kol chai tivarech et SHIMCHA." ("The breathing of all life praises your Name.") For the Breathing of all life IS Your Name.
2) The notion of YHWH as "the Breath of Life" accords with a deep sense of God as intimate and transcendent at once. If we have no breath in us, we die. If there is no breath beyond us, we die.
3) Moreover, it makes profound sense for at least one of the real Names of the real God to be not a Hebrew word, nor a word in Egyptian, or Latin, or Greek, or Arabic, or Sanskrit, or English - not in any single language but in all of them, or in some form of expression that both underlies and transcends language: just breathing, which all humans of all peoples do.
4) Still more, Breathing encompasses not only all humans but all life-forms. What the trees breathe out is what we breathe in; what we breathe out is what the trees breathe in. So YHWH as a breathing sound evokes "kol ha'neshama," all breathing beings, and "nefesh chaya," all those in which is the life-breath." excerpt from a blog by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, 4/14/2004

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ancient of Days

"And in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength." Revelation 1:13-16

Oh that we might see you, Jesus, the way you really are. You are the Ancient of Days. All authority and power are Yours. All wisdom comes from You and belongs to You. Your eyes of passionate love consume us with a glance and Your words are right and true, whether in creation or judgment. You are our light and we look to You.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Re-Focus

I'm right in the midst of Thanksgiving cooking. We'll have a houseful on Thursday and I always enjoy it. I used to cook all day every day the week of Thanksgiving. Now I don't have that option so I started earlier and have been cooking and freezing my way to this holiday of gratitude.

Although I enjoy the cooking, I find I've been so occupied that it's hard to focus on God. Just like Christmas, I'm often too busy to take in the real meaning. I need to stop and meditate on God's good gifts awhile, but the oven is beeping and the batter needs to be stirred.

Today I pledge to take enough time to give thanks to God and to exercise for 30 minutes.

The recipe I'm making today might turn out to be my favorite this year. Check it out at

Sunday, November 20, 2011


"You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God flavors of this earth."
Matthew 5:13 (The Message Bible)

Salt is a preservative. Salt also enhances flavor. Making cranberry sauce the other day, I added a couple of dashes of salt. I didn't need much at all and, no, my cranberry sauce isn't salty. But somehow that little dash of salt enhances the cranberry flavor.

We're small in this world, but we can make a difference. We can bring out the God-flavor in this world for others who are close to us. 

May we live in such a way that that those around us experience God.

Here's a recipe full of harvest flavors for Thanksgiving:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Are You Wild?

 “Manoomin, or wild rice is a gift given to the Anishinaabek from the Creator, and is a centerpiece of the nutrition and sustenance for our community. In the earliest of teachings of Anishinaabeg history, there is a reference to wild rice, known as the food which grows upon the water, the food, the ancestors were told to find, then we would know when to end our migration to the west. It is this profound and historic relationship which is remembered in the wild rice harvest on the White Earth and other reservations-a food which is uniquely ours, and a food, which is used in our daily lives, our ceremonies, and our thanksgiving feasts.”  from   

 Wild rice is a nutrition super-star. (Side note: Isn't it amazing how God created foods on every continent that feed and sustain its people?) It contains protein, B vitamins, folic acid, niacin, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. It also has the amino acid lysine and plenty of dietary fiber. This is not necessarily a complete list, nor is it in order, just showing you what this "American idol" offers. It's also gluten-free naturally. No wonder the Native Americans considered wild rice, or manoomin, a staple in their diet. 

Wild rice just feels like Thanksgiving food. I love to make it during the holidays and the following recipe is always a hit, even with young people. 

Wild Rice with Cranberries
1 cup wild rice
2 cups water or stock (chicken or vegetable)
1/2 cup chopped, sauteed onion
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces
salt, pepper and butter to taste

Bring the rice, onion and water to a boil. Lower heat to simmer. Simmer until rice is soft, 35-45 minutes.
Drain if rice is soft but water remains. 
Pour rice into serving bowl and add remaining ingredients. Stir. 
Serve hot or room temperature. It's probably even good cold.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Generosity and Sweet Potatoes

"Early in the nineteenth century, a group of Lakota moving camp were forced to wait for an entire day while a herd of buffalo, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, passed by. Everyone was awed by the sight and could feel the ground tremble beneath the hooves of the herd that stretched from one horizon to another. A young boy sat, somewhat impatiently, with his grandmother as they watched. "Why are there so many?" he asked. The old woman smiled lovingly and replied "Because there is no end to the Earth's generosity. Do not let there be an end to yours."
~The Lakota Way, Native American wisdom on ethics and character calendar, November

As we approach Thanksgiving, may we remember and give thanks for all the blessings God has given, not the least of which is His intense love. And may we also love and serve others. 

Here's a recipe for sweet potatoes we've enjoyed on several Thanksgivings. It's rich and sweet, but not too sweet and has a little bit of a spicy kick too.

Sweet Potato-Apple Gratin
from Vegetarian Times, November 2002
1 Tablespoon + 6 Tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup packed bread crumbs
3 lbs sweet potatoes, cut in 1-inch cubes
2 tart apples, peeled, cut in chunks
1/2 cup apple cider, boiled down to 1/4 cup
1 Tablespoon Bourbon
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
pinch cayenne
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter casserole dish
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet. Crumble bread crumbs and toast until golden. Reserve.
Steam potatoes and apples until tender
mash potatoes and apples
Stir in remaining butter, cider, sage, nutmeg, salt, cayenne and bourbon.
Scoop it into prepared dish, smooth surface and sprinkle with bread crumbs
Bake 25 minutes.

*Freezes well too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I love stuffing, or dressing, as my family always said.  Thanksgiving food is some of my favorite.

We usually have a house full of people. Since my husband and I didn't grow up in Minneapolis we have no relatives here, so we make our own by inviting others who don't have family close by. I could be serving 17-20 people this year.

Traditionally Thanksgiving food is high in starch and not so high in fiber and nutrients, but it's not that hard to change things slightly and have a health-promoting, as well as delicious Thanksgiving.

I grew up eating Cornbread Dressing. I've tried a number of variations on it and regular stuffing. This year I have two recipes I'm considering and may do a combination of the two.

Here's the first of the two recipes:

Cornbread, Bacon and Shiitake Stuffing
from Real Food, Fall 2011

1 cup flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal (I'd use half cornmeal and half polenta)
1 Tablespoon sugar (I'd remove this one)
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1 extra large egg, beaten
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

4 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped (I like sage, so I'll probably add that too)
5 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice (could use turkey bacon or eliminate, but the taste would be altered)
5 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms
2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper if desired

1. For the cornbread: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix together in a bowl flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Stir in milk, egg, and butter. Stir well and pur into well-oiled, 8-inch squyare pan. Bake 20-25 minutes until firm. Let cool.

2. For the Stuffing: Heat oil in a 6-quart pot. Add onions and celery and cook 15 minutes over high heat, stirring, until softened and golden brown. Add rosemary, bacon, and mushrooms and cook 10 minutes until mushrooms are soft and bacon is cooked.

3. Cut cornbread into 1/2-inch pieces and add to pot. Stir and cook 5 minutes. Whisk together eggs and stock; pour over cornbread mixture and stir. Add salt and pepper if desired.

4. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 30 minutes and serve.

You can make this ahead and freeze it. Then thaw and warm in the oven before serving.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Shalom or Dis-Ease

"Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers." ~3 John 2

"John greets his friend Gaius with a common Jewish blessing: May you be prosperous and healthy (in a wholistic sense, inwardly, bodily, socially, materially). It implies an interrelated understanding of human nature based on the Hebraic worldview of Shalom: Yahweh's wholistic peace and prosperity, health and harmony, experienced through right relationships. Beginning with Adam and Eve, we see throughout the biblical witness how fractured relationship with God, the source relationship, ourselves, each other and creation itself, leads to "the curse" -- the chaos of sin, sickness, demons and death. We also see how restored relationship (reconciliation) through Messiah's life, death and resurrection breaks the curse and leads to forgiveness, healing, freedom and eternal life. Shalom is God's reign of wholistic order and wellbeing, the opposite of disintegrating chaos and destruction, the rule of evil.

"Simply stated, a biblical understanding of disease is dis-ease--a lack of ease in the whole person. Sicknesses are disorders, the opposite of Shalom, a disruption of God's wholistic harmony and relational wellbeing in the human being. . .

". . . Healing is the event and/or process of restoring wholeness to the whole person. Healing is God's Shalom--experiencing and ministering God's wholeness, order and wellbeing. The New Testament word for this Shalom healing is 'salvation', God's work in saving us and creation from sin, sickness, demons and death . . ."      ~excerpt from Doing Healing by Alexander Ventor

This blog is often devoted to nutritional health and healing. I believe God has provided for our health and healing in nature, his creation. However, complete health and wholeness can only come when it comes in every part of the person: body, soul, mind, spirit and relationships being set in right order. That is God's Shalom, to which Ventor refers above, and which only comes through right relationship with Jesus Christ.

So my greeting today is that of John and the early church: 

May you prosper and be in good health, even as your soul prospers.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cranberries Fight Disease

The health benefits of cranberries are astounding. They're one of the top disease-fighting foods. Cranberries contain powerful antioxidants. They've been known to fight urinary tract infections, yeast infections, lower cholesterol, and may even lower the risk of cancer. To read a short article about the benefits of cranberries, click here.

There are many recipes for Cranberry Sauce (compote, marmalade, chutney, etc). I love cranberries so much that I want to try each one. It seems I try a new one every year at Thanksgiving. But almost every year I cook and can this recipe for Cranberry Apple Relish. It's a hit with the family and good for Christmas gifts too.

Cranberry Apple Relish
by Cynthia Lair, Feeding the Whole Family (an adaptation from The Natural Foods Cookbook, by Mary Estella)

1 1/2 cups cranberries
1 cup chopped apples
1/2 cup currants
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup apple juice or water
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Place cranberries, apples, currants, zest, maple syrup, salt, and juice in a large saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, remove cover, and simmer 20-25 minutes until excess liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat. Add walnuts if using. Serve at room temperature. Will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator 3-4 days.

Or, you can can it while it's still hot. (my note)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Food Power

"Food isn't just fuel; it has the power to heal."
~Whole Living, Ten Thoughts, October 2008

And I'd add that it has the power to make us sick as well. 

It's important to be aware as we eat. Think about what we put in our mouth and how it will affect our health. Our cells regenerate continually and what we feed our body determines how healthy those cells will be. There may be things that affect our health which are out of our hands, but food we can control, to a large extent. 

So why don't we? 

I think a big reason is that we don't eat thoughtfully. We rush to fill the stomach and get on with our daily tasks. Or for a thousand other reasons, we're not thoughtful. 

One thing that helps me make good choices is to think, in the moment, this salad will build my bones and strengthen my immunity against sickness and disease. Or to think, this snack cake will feed the yeast in my body, increasing the possibility of infection and joint pain.

Confession: I ate the dessert at the church dinner last night. Even as I did I remembered how it would affect me, but I finished it anyway.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dark Thoughts of the Underworld

"Negative thoughts tend to beget more negative thoughts, says David Rakel, M.D. director of the University of Wisconsin Integrative Medicine program. Train yourself to see the bright side and it will soon be your natural response." ~Whole Living magazine October 2011.

I'm not as surprised as I used to be when I read things in articles or see them on T.V. or online that illustrate God's truths. God's Word is indeed lived out in our physical world and studies prove it all the time.

"Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."
Philippians 4:8

Ring a bell? Paul gives us this excellent advice under the anointing of the Holy Spirit and the Lord made sure it was placed in our cannon of scripture. Yet, how often do we forget and allow our thoughts to take us to the dark underworld of the negative?

Christians live in defeat and depression. My children these things ought not to be. But they are and there's only one reason. We have not disciplined our thoughts. 

Study after study has proven that negative thinking leads to depression and sickness. 

The only way to discipline our thoughts is to replace them with truths from the word of God. Repeating them daily in the face of our feeling-thoughts, which lie to us. Like vitamins we take daily for our body, verses of truth strengthen our mind and spirit. 

Here's an example. If you feel God has let you down and you just can't trust Him, repeat this verse every day, some days many times a day and soon your thoughts will begin to change. 

"And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, 
For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You."
Psalm 9:10

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wok-Seared Chicken with Asparagus

Asparagus is very nutritious. It helps fight cancer, high cholesterol and many other health concerns. It's also delicious and versatile. Here's a family favorite of ours from the book, Healthy in a Hurry, by Eating Well. It's quick and satisfying.

Wok-Seared Chicken with Asparagus Tenders & Pistachios
Serve over rice or noodles.
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 lbs fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
4 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Tbsp minced, fresh ginger
1 Tbsp oyster-flavor sauce (or fish sauce)
1 tsp chile-garlic sauce
1/4 C shelled, salted pistachios, coarsely chopped

Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add asparagus; cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add chicken; cook, stirring for 4 minutes. Stir in scallions, ginger, oyster sauce and chile-garlic sauce; cook, stirring until the chicken is juicy and just cooked through, 1-2 minutes more. Stir in pistachios and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings about 1 1/4 cup each.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Rainbow Diet

One simple trick I learned to help me eat right is to eat lots of color. We know white foods are bad, empty calories, lacking nutrients. The opposite is also true. Foods with color contain lots of vitamins and nutrients our bodies need. If we eat plenty of deep green leafy veggies, we get calcium, vitamin C, iron and much more. Eating red foods can offer vitamin C, capsaicin, and others. Yellow foods like squash have the most vitamin A along with many of the other nutrient we need.
These are just a few examples of how choosing our diet by color can help boost nutrition. It also offers a pleasing meal for our eyes.
An easy weeknight meal for us is often Quinoa (cooked in vegetable broth), Greens (cooked in a large frying pan with canned tomatoes and chopped garlic) and a baked squash such as Spaghetti or Butternut.

Friday, November 4, 2011

White Sins

White dietary sins, that is. White sugar, white flour, white rice, even white (refined) salt.

Why do I categorize them as sins of our diet? They have been processed and refined until every bit of nutrients have been stripped from them. They fill our stomach while starving our body.

We hunger because our body needs something. It needs things like vitamins, minerals and protein. If we satisfy our hunger with empty calories, we gain weight but starve our body. We fool ourselves into thinking we're full but will be hungry again soon because we're still starving.

Years of this behavior can cause serious to deadly illnesses.

God designed our body and He designed our food. I love the way Rex Russel puts it in his book, What the Bible Says About Healthy Living.

Eat what God made for food.
Eat it as close to the way He made it as possible.

That keeps our complicated dietary lives simple. Simple, but not always easy.

What we need to keep in mind as we shop or look over a menu is to choose ingredients that still contain the fiber, and nutrients. These would be natural and whole grain. It may not be possible to get it all in every meal, but being aware of the problem and observant of ingredients are great beginning steps.

What are your suggestions for avoiding the white sins?

Check out this nutritious taco recipe

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pumpkin Parfait

Continuing the pumpkin theme. Here's a great pumpkin recipe I found at Simply Organic. If you've read my blog for a long time, you know I rave about the benefits of yogurt and other fermented foods. That combined with the health benefits of pumpkin and we have a delicious, health-inspiring dessert.
Pumpkin Parfait
 This creamy concoction is a proven winner. No need to spend hours in the kitchen to impress a crowd — this dessert is a cinch to make and yummy to boot.
2 cans (15 ounces each) pumpkin puree
1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
3 tablespoons Milk
1/4 cup Sugar
38 ounces (one 32-ounce container plus one 6-ounce container) Vanilla Yogurt
1 1/2 cups granola with raisin.
In a bowl, stir together pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, milk, and sugar. In 12 small bowls or ramekins, layer the pumpkin mixture and yogurt. Sprinkle with granola.
Chef Suggestions
Instead of making individual portions, layer in a trifle dish.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

For the Love of Pumpkins

Pumpkins are extremely versatile, they grow easily in almost any climate and their bright color cheers even the dark, cold days of winter. 

Native Americans had a multitude of uses for pumpkins. They used the seeds and flowers for medicinal purposes. They baked them, cut them in strips and grilled them, they dried them and used them for bowls, they even used strips of dried pumpkins to weave mats. 

Pumpkin seeds are full of nutrition and healing properties. They contain Vitamins A, B and E, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Protein and Zinc. Pumpkin seeds have been used as a pain reliever, an energy booster and a diuretic. The natives used them to expel parasites. They are anti-inflammatory and studies show they may prove helpful with arthritis pain. Phytosterols in these seeds can reduce blood cholesterol. On top of all that they're low in calories!

So next time you make a pie from scratch or cut a jack-o-lantern, save the seeds!

If your interested in learning more about pumpkins, here's a short History of Pumpkins.

Here's a simple, delicious recipe I found for whole pumpkins.

Ojibwa Baked Pumpkin
1 small pumpkin
1/4 C maple syrup
1/4 C apple cider
1/4 C butter
Place pumpkin in oven at 350 degrees and bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Cut a hole in the top, around the stem, and remove pulp and seeds. Save the seeds to eat later, they're full of nutrients and healing properties. Mix together remaining ingredients and pour into pumpkin. Bake for 35 minutes. Cut into wedges to serve. 

What's your favorite thing to do with pumpkin?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Life Spent

"And people who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives and when the bubble has burst they will have nothing of external significance to show for the years they have wasted." ~Nate Saint, Martyr

I found this quote by Nate Saint in a prayer journal for unreached people. It's called "The Live Dead Journal." I like that, "live dead." It reminds me of Romans 12:1 where Paul urges us to present ourselves as "living sacrifices" every day--Live dead. 

Dead people are not bothered by what others think. Dead people do not chase after the pleasures of this world. They don't insist on their own way. They are no longer tempted. Dead people rest in the hands of God completely. 

Lord Jesus, help us to be living sacrifices, or to live dead.

Paul puts it this way,

"3 We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. 4 In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. 5 We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. 6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. 7 We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. 8 We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. 9 We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything." ~2 Corinthians 6:3-10 NLT  (highlights and underlining mine)

Can we honestly say, this is how we live?

Delicious, Healthy Chai Recipe

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Listen. Ponder.

“Listen a hundred times; ponder a thousand times; speak once.”

Turkish Proverb

Monday, October 24, 2011

Spititual Listening

"Listen to all the teachers in the woods.
Watch the trees, the animals and all the living things--you'll learn more from them than books."  
~Joe Coyhis~

To listen requires quiet--a closed mouth and focus. The busyness and noise which surround us interfere with our ability to be quiet and listen. But it's not impossible. We can learn listening skills through practice. Companies teach their employees listening and communication skills. Spiritual listening can be learned as well. 

All growing relationships require listening. Each person reveals details about him/herself, each time becoming more vulnerable, more intimate. But the other must listen or the revelation will be lost. 
God reveals Himself to us in nature, in His word and within our spirit. He listens when we speak. He knows us completely. How well do we listen when He speaks? He will reveal Himself to us if we listen.

Let's take a few moments today to quiet our words and our minds and listen. The One who created the trees and the animals has something to say to us.

 Listen, my son, and be wise,
And direct your heart in the way.
Proverbs 23:19

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bucket List

Is it the natural characteristic of a Christian to have a bucket list? You know a list of things you want to do before you die, or "kick the bucket".

I suppose there's no real harm in it, nothing that God would consider a sin as long as the activities on the list aren't sinful. But it always bothers me when I hear it. I've wondered if I should have a bucket list, but I honestly can't think of anything I must do before I die. Sky diving or bungie jumping would certainly never see ink on my list. I was thinking about it this morning, asking the Lord if I should have one and what would please Him to have on the list. After all, He's the only One who knows what I'm truly meant to do on this Earth before I die.

So here goes . . . my bucket list:

1. To be fully submitted to God's will and effective for His kingdom (with signs and wonders following).
2. To leave behind a godly legacy.
3. To leave an inheritance for our boys.
4. To publish a number of books (novels and non-fiction) that draw readers into intimacy with God.

They're fairly generic, I know, and they sound so over spiritual as I write them, but the working out of these goals will include many smaller, more practical goals along this journey of my life.

So what's on your bucket list?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Reading is Good Therapy

A writer friend posted this on our critique group recently. It's good news for writers, but also very true. I remember C.S.Lewis said (quoting a student) "We read to know we are not alone." Reading is good therapy.

September 2011 issue of Prevention magazine displays this note on page 53:
  A Novel Therapy
Feeling lonesome? Grab a book! New research proves that relating to fictional characters creates a satisfying sense of belonging.

I pray that my fiction will not only help people to feel a sense of belonging, but a sense of belonging to God. I pray they feel His presence as they read and know that He desires a real/interactive relationship with them.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Gospel's Power

I'm challenged with Paul's words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3. One line keeps circling again and again in my mind. "...having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof..."

Do we hold to the form, but deny the power of the gospel?

With power comes responsibility most of us don't want to carry. We enjoy our comfortable life. We want ease.

Paul encourages Timothy to suffer with him. We were called for a purpose. God intends that His people will bring His kingdom and push out the illegally, ruling authorities of the devil. Sounds like science fiction, right? But it's not. It's real. When was the last time you or I set someone free from an addiction or spoke miraculous healing to someone's body? This is God's expectation. He's already won the victory, paid the price, now we are to go make it happen.

But how? That's the question.

We can't make miracles happen. We're not God.

But we can seek Him. We can come before Him daily asking for His will to be done and offering our words, our time and our effort to Him.

Lord Jesus, teach us by Your Spirit. Give us a willing heart.

Kind of heavy for a Thursday morning, so I'll lighten it up a bit. Check out the cornbread recipe I promised yesterday. I hope you enjoy it with your Chili or whatever you serve it with.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Winter Comfort Food

The temperature is dropping slightly here and I'm thinking about food that warms from the inside. One thing we can say about winter is that it forces us to stay home a bit more, relax and stay warm. Food is a great part of that routine. There are recipes I only use in the winter time and by fall, I'm ready to think about them again.
Here's my blog on Whole Living with a great chili recipe. I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

God's Cultural Diversity

Isn't God amazing?

Today I'm in awe of His excellent work in creating all the different cultures in the world. I live in a very diverse area. We enjoy food and native medicinal wisdom from all over the globe right here in our own neighborhood.

In years past, we would never have had access the different styles of medicine around the world. But today, with our shrinking world due to technology, we can discover wisdom from any country on the planet. When I was growing up, the best we could do was order the National Geographic (which was great, by the way).

This morning I read an article about the benefits of Orange Peel and Orange Oil. You can read it for yourself here. I never realized that the peel of an orange can aid digestion, help fight cholesterol and many other things. This article also gives insight into the misleading advertising about Grapefruit Seed Extract. It just goes to show a little research can save a whole lot of money and help your health.

Today I thank our magnificent Father who created all cultures and from whom is all wisdom!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Speaking Truth

Speak truth in humility to all people. Only then can you be a true man. (Sioux)
Isn't is amazing how the same truth is found in many places. I find this Sioux principle is a principle in the Bible as well. Ephesians 4:15 tells us to speak the truth in love. 
"O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor takes up a reproach against his friend." Psalm 15:1-3

May I always check my heart before I speak. Even if I must speak correction or disagreement or establish a personal boundary, can I honestly say it is in love? If I can then God is pleased.  Now to work on word choice . . . but that's for another day. ;-)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall Apples

I love the Fall. I love apples, pumpkin and anything you can make with cinnamon. I love driving out to the country just to look at the trees dressed in autumn color. And I love visiting local orchards to pick my own apples. I've canned Apple Butter and Cranberry Apple Sauce. But this year I'd like to can Stewed Apples. I'm originally from Alabama and I remember my Nana cooking a large pot of apples on the stove. The result was heaven on a plate. Nana used a lot of sugar and I'm sure there's a way to do it with Maple Syrup or maybe just less sugar. If any of you have a recipe, I'd love to see it. Here's one I found online and below I'll put my Apple Butter recipe because it's wonderful.

Cinnamon Stewed Apples (
6 Cups chopped peeled tart apples
1/2 Cup packed brown sugar
1/4 Cup apple juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
Combine all ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan. Cover and cook over medium-low heat 45 minutes or until apple is tender, stirring occasionally. Let stand 5 minutes

Apple Butter
8 Cups apples, chopped & peeled
1/2 lemon, zest
3/4 tsp cardamom, ground
3-4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 Cup maple syrup
1 Cup apple juice
Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, remove cover and simmer 20-25 minutes until excess liquid has evaporated. Cool slightly. Place apple chunks in a food processor and process until smooth. Mix back into the pot. Heat again if you are canning.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Walking in Beauty

There is a way of living that Native Americans call " to Walk in Beauty ". It is said that one Walks in Beauty when one has Earth and Sky in Harmony. 

 "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature 
and in favor with God and man." Luke 2:52

Jesus commanded us to love God with all our hearts... and to love others as we love ourselves. This is pleasing to God and man. What better way to bring harmony and walk in beauty?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Morning Star/New Day

Jesus said, "I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the Bright Morning Star." Revelation 22:16

Native Americans consider the Morning Star to be an important spirit, often representing courage and purity of spirit.

I'm working on a book series entitled The Morning Star Series. Morning Star will be one of the character's names, but also representative of Jesus. He is our savior, the one who brought hope for a new beginning and an eternity with God.

Most mornings, as the sun rises, I think of God's grace and how each new day is a new beginning. May this day be all He wants it to be. And may we be all He wants us to be.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sky Talk

“The Old Lakota was wise, He knew that man’s heart away from nature becomes hard.”
~Luthur Standing Bear, Oglala Sioux

 This morning on my way to work, God spoke to me through the beauty of the sky. Rays from the sunrise filtered through the clouds like a long-fingered fan, as if He reached down to each one of us making our way on the road. A mile or so farther along I looked up again. The clouds seemed to be spraying slightly darker mists of water in the sky, but it wasn't raining. The sun still broke through along with blue sky in most places. As I turned off the highway, there was a small rainbow in those clouds!

I sensed God wanted to pour out his love and power again. When I saw the rainbow He spoke this into my spirit, "I will renew my promises."

Thank you, Father, for your promises and for your creation that speaks to us.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Principle #1

Dr. Russell's first principle for a healthy diet is "Eat only substances created for food."

This may sound simple at first, but think of all the things we consume in this age of technology and food production. Chemicals, dyes & colors, 'natural' and artificial flavors (which are both artificial, by the way), fillers, fat-replacing chemicals, and the list goes on and on. We may not even realize what's in the foods we eat and love until we read the ingredients on the label.

Here's a clue: If you can't pronounce it and don't know what it is, it's probably not a substance created by God for human consumption.
Here's another clue: What you don't know can hurt you. Read those labels.

What did God say?

"I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth 
and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food." ~Genesis 1:29

God thought it all out. He created man and what he would eat. His desire was to please man's palate, but He set boundaries for man's protection. Isn't it interesting that man's first sin was to eat something that was forbidden?

Note: For recipes see my blog Foodie For Health.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Healthy Eating Basics

Recently I've gotten a number of questions about how to eat healthy, or how to transition into a more healthy diet. I'd like to address some of those questions here. If you have more specific questions about diet, nutrition or alternative healing, you may post a comment here or email me here.

My first and most basic rules for diet come from Rex Russell, M.D. in his book, What the Bible Says About Healthy Living. I read his book years ago and always come back to his three principles. It makes choices so simple, though not always easy. Those principles are:

1. Eat only substances God created for food.
2. As much as possible, eat foods as they were created.
3. Avoid food addictions.

We'll explore each of these in more depth in the coming days.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dreams and Faith

“Those who are realistic and practical are less realistic and practical in the long run than those who dream big dreams and passionately pursue them.”  —   Hans Selye, scientist.

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." ~Hebrews 10:23
I wonder if I've hesitated because I didn't want to work too hard or because of fear that I'd fail. Either way, I've lacked passion and faith. Lord, I confess.

No more. I'm tired of being realistic and practical. I want to see my dreams accomplished. I want God's kingdom come, His will accomplished in my life. 

Let faith have it's way in me.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Promises Promises

Thanks to Mr. Brown Thumb for the pic. Check out his great blog about urban gardening.

A single seed in the palm of my hand holds so much promise. This tiny seed will grow into a basil plant, from which I will cut to enhance summer meals. My mind wanders to caprese sandwiches; balsamic on crusty bread, topped with fresh mozzarella, basil and juicy tomato slices. Yum! But for now the seed remains intact. It's potential will not be realized until I plant it.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain . . .falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." ~John 12:24.

The snow shouts from outside my window that winter remains, but I as I ponder my seed, I'm assured that spring is here and soon I can plant this tiny promise into the ground. And when this seed dies, it's life will be realized.

My thoughts shift to inward seeds. Birthed from our imagination, these seeds become dreams from which we make plans for life. But so often we discover that we must allow our dreams to die in the ground of circumstances and discouragement. With time and attention, prayer and faith these seeds may yet sprout new life.

If God has planted a dream in your heart and it seems like the dream is dead, be patient. Watch and pray. In faith, sprinkle some water on it every now and then. See what faith will do with that seed.

Don't give up. The promise of the seed awaits.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Healthy Diligence

"Taking a holistic approach to health includes the principle of “prevention being better than cure”. While most of us may wait until we are in the grip of a cold or battling with emotional pain before we seek treatment to address symptoms, the holistic approach to health urges us to ‘start off how we intend to finish’. In other words, we need to maintain health and well-being in all aspects of our life.
The emphasis in holistic health is on building health, not only on fighting illness. This is achieved by creating a healthy lifestyle and healthy relationships." ~taken from the article, "The Healing Power of Nature," The Native Remedies Blog

I recommend reading the whole article. While I disagree that Nature itself has provided all we need (I believe our Creator made these things in nature for our healing), their point is well taken. We need to have a mind to maintain our health and work at it consistently. This kind of diligence prevents many severe illnesses. 

It's like keeping a house clean, if we pick up each time we see something out of place and quickly wash out the sink when we see a spot, our house remains clean and we don't have to panic trying to find an entire day to spend on cleaning. 

This daily-diligence principle holds true in every area of life. And what's more important than our health (spiritual, physical, mental, etc.)?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

When Nature Groans

We're horrified by the multiple, natural disasters that hit Japan yesterday. We can't yet comprehend the devastation, death and long-term effects on that nation and many others as a result. Our minds reel to come up with a reason.

For this and so many natural eruptions in our world recently we want an answer. We want to assure ourselves that we are safe. Often, as Christians, we'd like to say that it's God's judgment on an ungodly nation. But can we say the United States is godly? Hardly.

It reminds me of something Jesus said when asked why certain people died in a tragic accident. They were really asking Jesus what those people did to deserve such a death. Jesus explained that they were asking the wrong question. They should've been asking why the tower hadn't fallen on them.

Today I'm thinking of the natural disasters that have been in the news in the last few years. Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes. These have happened all over the globe not missing our own nation.

Today I read a verse written by Daniel centuries ago describing his people and circumstances. See if it doesn't ring true with us today.

". . .all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth."
Daniel 9:13

We are all sinners. We all deserve God's wrath. But God loves all people and is not willing that any perish, according to the Bible (2 Peter 3:9). He is patient toward us, waiting for us to turn to Him in repentance. If we do, He has already made the way to give us forgiveness--Jesus, the One who took our death-sentence and then rose victoriously to life again.

Natural disasters can bring our attention to God. What better time to seek Him in prayer and evaluate our own lives. But it is for all of us. It is not for us to judge another nation or group of people. And it is not for us to expect that we will not suffer similar disasters.

We're told in the Bible that nature (creation) groans. That's what I keep thinking about when I hear the news. The earth is groaning. Here in Romans 8 we see the weight of sin causing man and nature to groan under its curse. But here we also see the hope waiting for us just ahead.

Let us pray for those suffering from the earth's groaning and let us examine ourselves, looking forward to the hope we have in Christ.

Romans 8:18-25:
   18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
   19For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.
   20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope
   21that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
   22For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
   23And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
   24For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?
   25But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.