Making Level Paths or Watching Our Ways

Our experience with food often reminds us of a spiritual truth. In my case, I know that I show very little restraint once I start eating chocolate candies. This reminds me of what I used to tell my Sunday School students before we settled in for the lesson portion of the morning. I suggested that they choose not to sit next to someone they would be tempted to talk with. I gave the class a little time to choose seats that would be most helpful for them to listen well. Some of my students chose to sit in the far corner of the room with my helper since that was the least distracting place for them. I encouraged my students to make it easy for themselves to follow the rules of the classroom. 

With chocolate, I choose to make it easy for myself to avoid overindulging simply by not buying much chocolate in the first place. I stop my overindulgence at the point of purchase in the store. If I had more self-control in this realm, I could stop my overindulgence at the point of serving myself chocolate in our home. I know that eating too much chocolate will make it difficult to accomplish what I need to each day, so I prefer to avoid too much of it. For Brody, he knows that he feels and functions best if he completely avoids the ingredients that really affect him negatively and also does not overindulge in the food we make. Even food that is designed to avoid his problems will cause him difficulties if he overindulges. These weaknesses of ours may not be your weaknesses, but you can substitute your example from your life.

The very real physical ramifications of our food choices serve as reminders for us in other areas of our life. There are times I struggle more with complaining that God has not blessed me the way I want to be blessed in my life. If I continue down the path of self-pity, I know I won’t be able to function well since a lack of joy quickly corresponds to a lack of physical energy for me. Either too much chocolate or focusing on self-pitying thoughts will hinder my ability to serve God throughout the day. So, when the first thoughts of self-pity begin, I can choose to change my focus through meditating on the Bible verse I’m memorizing or by praying for others facing challenging times.

These kinds of choices remind me of Proverbs 4:25-26 – if you haven’t read these verses lately, they may also help you as they have helped me. Consider your ways – make level paths for your feet! Make it easy for yourself to turn away from temptation! Of course whether or not I’ve “done well” today to avoid my besetting sins has zero impact on whether God loves and accepts me today. His love and acceptance of me are based completely on His choice to give me the perfect record of Jesus of Nazareth and to credit me with Jesus’ payment for my sin. I simply want to serve Him well out of love for what He’s done for me; I’m not earning His favor or smile today.

When we went to Montana in July, we were thankful that Brody’s dad had set up appointments for us to visit with 3 stores who were willing to display our book! For those of you who are near Lewistown, MT, you can still find a few copies available at The Pantry and Keystone Christian Supply, both on Main Street and also at Albertsons. We heard from The Pantry yesterday that they would like more copies! So we are thankful to partner with them and looking forward to fulfilling that request. To celebrate the good news that they need more copies, Brody and I made one of our favorites from A Recipe for Survival: Chicken Tacos (page 123) with Sister’s Salsa (page 155) and fresh Tortillas (page 115). Since this is one of our favorites, I asked Brody if he wanted me to put away the leftovers before we finished our first serving. (We had learned on previous occasions that we regret a second helping even though we really enjoy the taste and texture of the food.) Brody said yes, so we made it easier for ourselves to eat what we needed and instead of eating simply for pleasure – I put away the leftovers before we ate our tacos… and the result was satisfaction without the pain of overeating! 🙂  And of course that also meant… leftovers for tonight so there is less work for today’s meals!



Physical and Spiritual Nourishment

I’ve enjoyed some experimentation with new recipes and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you when I have finished tweaking them. In the meantime, here’s a picture of our Meatless Minestrone (page 131). I’ve been surprised with how satisfying this meal is! A bowl of this soup, along with some almonds and fresh fruit gives me energy for many hours. Since I’m very interested in lowering my cholesterol numbers, I’m busily researching meals that contain less meat, but still are satisfying. Brody needs more meat than I do, so in a given meal, he might eat a larger serving of Chicken Italiano than I do, and I will eat more Meatless Minestrone than he does. The dish that is a small side dish for one is the main course for the other person and vice versa. I make all the recipes safe for him (no gluten, oats, corn, potatoes or onions) so everything is an option for both of us – we just choose different amounts based on our specific needs. I am glad I’m not making 6 meals per day as I was in the beginning of our marriage when I was trying to figure out why he got sick from everything I served!

On the subject of spiritual nourishment, my friend, Mindy, has a wonderful tool for parents or for those who would like to make a gift for their friends’ children. Her Internet site is having a promotion Sept 24-25! Check out Mindy’s site for the details.  Click on the button below to transfer to her site.


Of Pie and Piano

This morning, Grandma and Ole were in our neighborhood for a seminar and so we invited them for some lunch and piano music. We didn’t tell them that they were going to be our guinea pigs for an experimental dish! They were good sports as they sampled my newest creation and some old favorites as well. The photo is of Aunt Nellie’s Pumpkin Pie recipe (one of the Sample Recipes posted on this site) – we’ve made this many times, but today, Brody prepared it and made a more artistic crust than I generally do since we wanted to post a photo of it. 🙂 He did a great job with that recipe while I was working on a variation of the Chicken Pot Pie recipe (also a Sample Recipe). Grandma and Ole also tried my latest variation of hummus – maybe next time, we can have some crackers ready to eat with the hummus… today we ran out of time to prepare the crackers. My experimental dish turned out acceptably – I used lots of fresh herbs to flavor some red beans, pork and shredded brussel sprouts, and baked it in the crust as I do for the Chicken Pot Pie. It tasted great, but I think I’ll let Brody enjoy the leftovers since I don’t enjoy pork as much as he does. I made a large batch of Meatless Minestrone yesterday, so that will likely be the main dish for me these next few days.

Brody’s latest piano piece is a medley of 3 variations of “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” by Mark Hayes. I love how Mark Hayes designed the arrangement to remind the listener of a trumpet fanfare for the arrival of the King. What a blessing Brody is! His piano playing will put an uplifting tune in my head and help me keep my focus on honoring my King with my attitude, thoughts and words, even as I am washing the endless supply of dirty dishes. If you are a caregiver right now, remember that nothing lasts forever on this side of Heaven. The difficulties you face today won’t be exactly the same tomorrow. If tomorrow comes, God will give you the strength to face tomorrow’s difficulties, and it is possible that the one you are caring for may improve to the point you can hardly remember how sick he/she once was. I am still amazed at how much Brody has improved in many ways after being so careful to avoid the ingredients which don’t work for him. I am thankful that now we can work as a team with the kitchen chores. In addition to working full time, he also has energy now to exercise, prepare to teach the Men’s Bible Study at our church, and play the piano, among other activities instead of simply surviving and working his full time job. If you are just beginning the journey of finding which ingredients work for you or your loved one, don’t give up! You may be incredibly surprised at the substantial physical and mental improvements you may experience from good nourishment and avoidance of problematic ingredients. And remember, God always gives His people daily spiritual nourishment, just as He provided the Israelites with daily physical nourishment in the form of manna. He will sustain you through whatever trials you are facing today.

Crackers Experiment and “TAN” Bison Chili

Since Brody feels better when he avoids xanthan gum, I keep trying to reduce the amount I serve him. This past weekend, I decided to test my theory that we could enjoy our cracker recipe without xanthan gum…. And it turned out great! You can try it out even before you buy the book since the recipe for Crackers (page 111) is included on the Sample Recipes tab on this website. I think I will no longer use xanthan gum with the Crackers recipe since it appears not to be necessary and Brody does better with less xanthan gum… and so does our grocery budget! 🙂

We also have been trying to reduce my cholesterol numbers, so I’ve been looking for sources of protein from plants. I had fun making hummus this past week as an interesting way to eat garbanzo beans with crackers and I also tweaked my award-winning chili recipe for Brody’s and my needs. In college, I modified slightly a Betty Crocker recipe for chili for a small chili cook off. My recipe was the winning entry… the prize was bragging rights for a year and no leftovers to transport home. This week, our local Sprouts Farmers’ Market had bison available, so I bought one pound for my experiment. After a little searching through my scraps of paper containing recipes from the past 20 or so years, I found my little paper from the chili cook off day! I further modified the recipe to match Brody’s needs and to increase the content of various kinds of legumes and below is the tasty result! I also started my experimentation for a gluten-free fudge brownie recipe… I’ll work a little more on that before giving you any updates.

TAN (Tasty And Nourishing) Bison Chili

1 cup dry red kidney beans

1 cup dry red beans

1 cup dry lentils

1 pound ground bison

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp natural unsweetened cocoa powder

4 medium tomatoes

1. Soak the legumes in separate pots for at least 8 hours and then drain, rinse and cook with plenty of water until tender. (Originally, I wasn’t planning to combine them all into the chili, so I soaked and cooked them separately. I think I will still soak and cook them separately since each kind of legume needs a different amount of time to finish cooking.)

2. Brown the bison with the garlic.

3. Add the salt, cumin, oregano, cocoa and tomatoes. Cook the mixture on medium heat until the tomatoes are nearly done, stirring from time to time.

4. Add the drained red beans and drained lentils, along with the undrained kidney beans. Heat and stir until the mixture is completely warmed.

5. The flavor improves as the chili sits in the fridge for a couple of days. This is great for getting many meals/nourishing snacks from one recipe!


5 Years and Counting…..Chicken Pot Pie to Celebrate!

This past weekend, Brody and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary of our engagement! He brought home two dozen beautiful roses – you can see one in the photo that I cut short to wear in my hair one day and then I set it in the cup of water to revive it a little. I made Chicken Pot Pie (page 120-121) tonight and we enjoyed the texture and flavor all over again. When I made this recipe for one of my taste-testers a few moths ago, she was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out! I really like the crust – it’s tender, but still sturdy enough to hold up and not become soggy. 

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the pressures we feel in this life. When I remember that the pressures are from a gentle Potter’s Hands as He molds me into the image of His Son, the difficulties feel less burdensome. When I focus on His wisdom in designing each of my trials, I am amazed at how He works in my life. He brings the trial and provides a kindness to help me bear up under the pressure. For example, years ago, my headaches did not cause me as much pain as they do now, but, in recent years, Brody has rediscovered the piano and has eased my suffering many times by playing songs that minister to me. On the other hand, he suffered from digestive challenges for years and when these difficulties became severe, God also helped me to figure out some recipes that would not make him sick, would provide him with nourishment, taste good, and have an acceptable texture. We are thankful for how God has provided for both of us in our marriage. May you also see God’s kindnesses to you today!