Saturday, December 25, 2010
The Christmas Eve service was wonderful, followed by our tradition of eating late (some Christmas Eve's later than others. This was a really late one). I found out that this is actually a tradition in some cultures. A friend on Facebook mentioned that they were having dinner at the stroke of midnight, and called it Noche Buena. Other friends mentioned that their French-Canadian relatives did the same thing and called it Reveillon. Since it was so late, we sent the kids to bed and decorated our tree today after presents (had to get those packages out of the way).
After church today, we had some eggs and then opened presents. I'm going to enjoy mine. The kids got me a mandoline, which I have wanted for years. Jeff had me pick out a new food processor. My little Braun is sixteen years old, and was a nice size for the two of us, but I need more sophistication for the way I cook now. We spent the day enjoying each other and learning how to use the new Wii Fit that we got as our family gift. That's been a lot of fun. It was an amazing family day. Have I mentioned that I have great kids?
Dinner was roasted cauliflower-curry soup, broiled salmon with hollandaise sauce, asparagus, pumpkin pie with an almond meal crust, and maple-coconut milk ice cream.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
So many times, when I hear Christians talk about marriage, the emphasis put on the promises that we make to each other "For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health."
When a couple comes to the altar and says those vows to each other, usually the joy of the day and being in love mask the depth of what those vows mean. Everything is simply beautiful and dreamy. We're promising our lives, our love to each other forever. Sigh...Image via Wikipedia.
But it is not those promises that join us together. It is God.
When the couple later hits difficult times, and Satan, the World, and our sinful flesh attack , often they are reminded of those promises that they made. And at that time, those promises weigh heavy -- Those vows come back and scream "you haven't done this ....your spouse certainly hasn't done this." "I didn't mean this." "This is going to go on for the rest of my life." "I have NO idea how to fix this. It can't be fixed." And the final conclusion -- "I can't save this. I made a mistake. Fixing this means stopping it."
And often couples get battered over the head and heart by those promises they made that were really too big for them, if keeping them relied solely on them. As Christians, we are not alone in the sustaining of our marriage. The Lord who created marriage is there.
It strikes me that in our baptismal and confirmation rites, when we make promises regarding steadfastness, our oath is "I do, by the grace of God." In the wedding rite, instead of an "I do" or an "I will" the vow really should be "I do, by the grace of God."
Because the strength of the Christian marriage is not the husband's strength or the wife's strength. It is the strength of God. The strength of the very God who sent His Son to die on the cross and rise again. And after the promises that the bride and the groom make to each other, we hear God's promise to us.
"What God has joined together..."
I'm convinced where we are falling down with marriage is that we are marriage pietists. In almost every other aspect of life, when we Lutherans talk about sanctification, we talk about how the Holy Spirit sustains, strengthens, guides us through all things. In teaching and counseling on marriage, the emphasis still tends to be on the promise WE make. Not the promise God makes.
In those words "What God has joined together," He has promised to bless the union that takes place. He promises to sustain it. He promises to guide it and strengthen it. And He promises that He is the one supporting it when it seems like there is absolutely no way that it can last one more day. That marriage didn't rely on the judgment or the feelings that were there when the engagement happened or on the day the vows were made. It wasn't the husband and wife that made that marriage. It is God that made that marriage. He made two people become one. And once he's done that, He's not going to leave it to those two people to keep it together by their own strength. It wasn't a mistake. No matter what the difficulties were, God allowed that marriage to happen and He PROMISES to bless you through your husband or wife.
And just like when we lose our jobs, when we've lost a loved one, when we are called to war, or when we face bankruptcy -- we trust that God will provide and get us through. Its the same with marriage. The answer is not "to suck it up and fly right," the answer is to trust that God will fix it, even when we can't individually find a way, and be patient and wait in that promise.
Social science bears that out -- in study after study, couples who have reported significant marital dissatisfaction, five years later, if they remained together, a vast majority report a great amount of satisfaction with their marriage and happiness. Those who divorced on average report much lower levels of happiness.
The Bible promises that we will have hard times, and that these times of suffering shape us and strengthen us, and that God will not give us more than we can handle. Those bad times happen in marriage, too. I don't know why we don't expect it to. It's the most intimate relationship we will ever have. It is a reflection of Christ's bond with His bride, the Church. Of course, Satan is going to use that to attack us. It is our most vulnerable point. God will sustain us through these times. And these times strengthen us, strengthen our faith, strengthen our bond with each other, and they bless us, just as surely as the romantic dates and the great sex do.
Rather than focusing on the law, we need to focus on the gospel, because it is surely there. God created the marriage that happened between the handsome guy in the tux and the pretty girl in the white gown, not the vows that they repeated or wrote. He will sustain it.
The gospel is that there were no mistakes made on your wedding day, because God sanctioned the marriage. God made the two one. And God was there between you, promising to sustain that marriage. If we base our marriage teaching on this promise and when we counsel those who are in trouble, maybe Christians will be able to stay married simply by doing what we are supposed to do -- lean not on our own understanding, but instead trust in God to provide all that is needed in our marriages, as in everything else. Because He will.
(note: this does not necessarily apply to situations that the Bible addresses -- such as where Christ says that divorce is permissible in cases where the spouse has abandoned the marriage or broken it through adultery. Eventually it becomes impossible to save a marriage when the other person has determined to destroy it)
Saturday, December 11, 2010
This was the question:
Why you think drug abuse is prevalent in society today? Submit at least five top reasons to justify your answer.
This is my answer. Looking through a lot of the other answers, many were answering from the text, so I decided to go a different direction.
I'm reading this question as looking for five reasons for why I think drugs are prevalent. So according to that, this is about the only direction I can go. Generally, I don't integrate my faith with my coursework, but in the end I really can't get around it with this question (not that I think there is anything wrong with that. While I am always processing things within the context of my faith, I usually don't express it as so. People vary on that).
When I work down to the very core of the issue, I think people use drugs because the world is broken by sin. Sin not just the act of doing something wrong, but it flows through all of creation, tainting what is good to varying degrees, so that nothing truly works the way that it should. Here are five reasons that I think are results of sin, and also support why drug abuse is common in our society.
1. People hurt, physically and emotionally. They seek to ease that hurt, avoid it, feel better. Drugs alter their mental state so that for a time, they can feel better and avoid pain. They also enjoy feeling relaxed or thrilled.
2. People get sick. Either in the case of mental illness or physical illness, they often self-medicate or drugs can be given to them that are addictive.
3. People are mean. Child abuse, sexual abuse, crime, prostitution, human trafficking, etc.. Stronger people take advantage of weaker people, and unfortunately, drugs often flow through these situations.
4. People want money -- and from the lowest level of dealing and smuggling, to the highest level of organized crime, there is money in drugs.
5 People crave things that hurt them. While drugs are actually harmful for the body, a sin-broken body can crave and desire and adapt to being "fed" chemicals that are bad for them, at least for a time, but still continue to crave and desire them even when the harm is very very clear..
Friday, December 10, 2010
Mentally, it was quite an adjustment, as some of you saw. Stress this month has been high, both because of the lifestyle change for me -- especially the cooking all the time, cleaning all the time, etc., but also because these last couple of months have been some of the tightest we've experienced in a LONG time, and I was really thinking we were getting past that.
I suppose mentally, I've never really had food take such a role in my life that I had to think about it constantly - 3 meals a day plus snacks. When I cooked, it was actually because I wanted to cook, when I didn't -- it was McDonalds, Wendy's, or Sonic. (Unfortunately, when I decided that Wendy's had the better iced tea, I think I single-handedly drove the northeast Indiana Sonics into bankruptcy) I know that sounds kind of pathetic of me, but I just never really got this part of life down, and as much as I love food, real food, I really enjoyed not having it be something that I had to focus on unless I wanted to (even if I did feel like crap and was eating terribly, despite having good food in my fridge and freezer).
Anyway, I see good things happening. My house is cleaner. In the last week or so, I've had people over that I've meant to have over for a long time. I am actually starting to see my thinking change in regards to meals. I'm even developing new strategies for coping with breakfast -- from leftovers to making muffins or pumpkin pie ahead of time, that are actually paleo, as well.
The moods are stabilizing. I can see my mood swings becoming less drastic -- including the "I don't want to do this" tantrums. My back doesn't hurt anymore, my cycle is no longer absent, my skin thinks about getting clearer.
On the weight side, while things have definitely slowed down, I've lost fourteen pounds this month, as well as 3 inches around my waist. My fasting blood sugar has dropped points as well. I don't test it all the time, but at the beginning of the month, it was at 114-115. It is now around 105. Now that's motivation to keep going -- to get out of the pre-diabetes range.
I have found I am reacting to corn, as well. Tortilla chips will cause my digestive system to do flips. No big loss. I really don't like corn all that much, anyway.
I can't say my feelings on the matter are any different, but I'm coping. And in many ways, I am thankful. I have awesome friends and family. God is providing what we need, not to mention He gave me extra Autumn before we headed into Winter. I hope Spring is as beautiful as Fall was. :)
- 5 Foods You Didn't Know Contained Gluten (blisstree.com)
Saturday, December 04, 2010
If I could erase one animal from the face of the earth, without a doubt, it would be the mosquito. I despise them. They spread disease, itchiness, and dread.
A few years ago, after a lot of Summer rains and flooding, we ended up having an infestation. Octogenarian farmers were saying that they had seen it that bad. The air was thick with them. If we stepped out of doors, we mosquitoes would swarm at us. I sent my son to feed the rabbits in protective gear. We had mosquito netting over the rabbit cages. We kept the dog inside.
There were mosquitoes bigger than I had ever seen. I was told that those were the ones that carried West Nile Virus. I don't know if that was true. Before that Summer, I just considered them a nuisance. Now they seriously freak me out.
It's also why I am thankful that we switched Daylight Savings Time, because here, very few come out in the day (except during that Summer), and with DST, grilling, baseball games, and gardening duties can all be done before the evil bloodsucking beasts become active.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Stop by and take a look. I'll be posting some of what I am fixing, as well as issues regarding Nourishing Traditions type eating (pastured meat and eggs, traditional fats, lacto-fermentation, etc.), Paleo/Primal eating, Celiac and PCOS stuff, and just enjoyment of food, because food is yummy.
And I will definitely be trying to work on more here, too. :)