Thursday, January 29, 2015

Practicing Gratitude... and why I eat what I eat

And, what did I have for breakfast today?

It didn't look as good as this, but my pic vanished.
A skillet saute with a couple of carrots, a turnip, an onion, and a bag of frozen spinach to which I added a tiny bit of leftover pork - juice, congealed fat and all - and some Celtic sea salt. And guess what I'm having for lunch? (Give up? ... More of the same.)

For what we receive may we be truly thankful.

I've been eating a restricted diet for a while now, first giving up dairy (except for homemade, full-fat, organic yogurt) 4½ years ago. A month later, I went gluten-free. Each time, I felt better initially, but it didn't last. So about 6 months after that I started following the GAPS diet to try to "heal my gut." No grains, and I learned to eat a lot of things I'd never eaten before (like collards & turnip greens.) I think it helped, but since I didn't realize then about my allergies, it didn't help as much as I was hoping. 

In November, I finally got tested and of the 88 items tested I had an IgG response to 26 of them. Argh! I don't mind being allergic to bananas, but I miss eggs. I miss the seasoning that I now have to do without. 

In January, my sister mentioned the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) and I looked into it. It seems legit and since 18 or 19 of the things I'm allergic to are on the AIP "avoid" list, I figured it might be good to try it.

Oh, the first days were hard! Did I mention that I'm allergic to grapes? No raisins, no juice blends, no wine.

Bless us, oh Lord, and these Thy gifts which we are about to receive from Thy bounty…

One day, Kay* came home to find me really railing. "I am so lucky to live somewhere where I can find stores with lots of veggies to eat. I am so lucky to have such a variety of foods to choose from." I'm trying to convince myself here... "Lots of people have to eat the same thing every day. My bowl has at least 5 different things in it."

I really do believe this stuff. I am fortunate to be able to afford a chest freezer and to buy pastured or grass-fed bulk meats to put into it. I am among the privileged few on the planet who can eat a health-specific diet. I know it.

And I am thankful, truly, but sometimes I just want to eat “normal” foods, like pizza. I want to go to a restaurant and have lots of tasty choices. “I’ll have the burger, please, no cheese, no roll. No fries or chips. Salad? Thanks! No, no dressing.” Sigh.

Lord, make us truly thankful for these and all other blessings…

So, yes, I’ve been having a little trouble appreciating the details of my healing regimen. But, if you notice me complaining, please call me on it. Really! Like me, anybody who's reading this likely has an abundance we don’t even realize. I, for one, need to practice celebrating what I have. (But, I truly hope the chocolate allergy goes away.)

Give me a thankful heart, O God.

*To protect the privacy of those I include, I adapt names (except for Markus who said I could use his name.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Righteousness, frozen custard... and a baby?

Last Sunday, Markus preached a sermon called “Babies and Righteousness.” He admitted early on that what with a new baby and two hospitals to drive between, he didn't think much about hungering or thirsting for righteousness during the week. Quite understandable! But even with that, he made some good points I thought I’d chew on a bit.

First, Jesus doesn't say, “Blessed are the righteous.” What he says is, “Blessed are the ones who hunger and thirst for it.”

Does this mean that righteousness isn't the goal as much is the yearning for it? Picture me thinking back to my teenage years, when I was trying to be righteous. (Oh, I must have been a real treat to be around.)

Back to the question, are we supposed to be righteous or to long for it. Both/and. We’re supposed to work on living righteously, but realistically, it’s an uphill struggle. And, it gets trickier when we notice that as we practice, we tend to put the bar higher for ourselves. Maybe Jesus knows this, and, knows we get discouraged. So, he says, crave it. Want it so bad you can taste it. (He probably also knows that when we want something that bad, we’re generally going to try to make it – whatever it is – happen.)

Another thing, when you hunger for something – maybe frozen custard, yum! Let’s say you get some. It’s smooth and creamy and wonderful. And for a while you don’t need it again. But there comes a time when you hunger for more frozen custard.

That’s the way it is with hunger and thirst, whether for custard… or following God’s way. If we really hunger and thirst, we’re going to keep coming back, keep working at it, and keep growing the way God wants us to grow.

One last thing: What IS Righteousness? In recent years, I've been describing it as living one’s life God’s way… Doing and being the way God wants us to… Looking to God for the answers… And listening for the still, small voice that helps us to make sense of things just a little better than we could all on our own.

There're my thoughts. What are yours?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Welcome! And what does a preaching-once-a-month pastor do to exercise her creativity?

What do I do for creativity? That's the question I found myself asking in December when I was taking some time away from the church after Christmas.

Don't get me wrong. My days are full. I keep busy (don't we all?) although, often I don't think I could tell anyone what I've been doing all day by the time 4:30 rolls around. But I know that most of what I do is necessary and a lot of it is worthwhile.

That leaves me feeling satisfied, but not necessarily fulfilled. As an Associate Pastor (officially, Pastor of Discipleship) I preach one weekend a month. And that's fine for me, really. After six years of preaching to three churches every Sunday, I don't mind a respite. And not having to prepare a service and sermon each week leaves me more time for all the other things that any pastor might do if she has the time. (More on that another time.)

But, there is that question of creativity. If I'm not preparing a sermon or writing prayers, what then? This is what struck me after Christmas. My paper-and-pen journaling – while good and helpful – just wasn't enough.

Hence, the blog. It was time to pull out that idea I’d had early last year. It was time to create a blog.

And what is it to be?

A little bit of this, a little bit of that... (Think “Anatevka” from Fiddler on the Roof).
A little bit about a whole lot of things.
That's what you can expect to find on this blog in future weeks and months.

Living a whole life... Gardening... Grace.... Health and wellness...
Joy... Clutter... Life's busyness... Living with autoimmune diseases...
Eating healthy... Hope... Walking the walk... Joy… Camping…
God... Meditation... Working toward better health...

Stay tuned...