Reclaim Your Terrain

ForestAs some of you might know, I have begun an herbalist class. I see it as a natural continuation from the changes we have made in our diets. I have always been interested in plants and natural solutions. Maybe a love inherited from my Grandma. Besides the changes in our diets, we have started making some of our own cleaning products with plans to make more, are choosing more natural solutions for those products we purchase, and have begun making changes in the medical professionals we choose to more holistic practitioners.

Following some plant walks & a class with a knowledgeable local, native plant expert (thanks Abby!), I’m happy to have found a natural health school founded and run by Christians, using Biblical principles. Our goal has been to eat more foods that are closer to how God made them — less processing. I believe God has also provided us with plants to help us stay well and to heal. All a part of “let your food be your medicine.” The first several units of the herbalist class are about food, so I thought I might share the related projects with you here. Please feel free to share your thoughts on these issues, as well.

Reclaim Your Terrain

By Heather Shaut

      I recall my grandmother, who graduated from nursing school in the 1930s, telling me that many times a child would come to the hospital sick and all they needed was a bath. After being bathed and changing in to clean clothes, these kids would quickly feel better. From Dr. Semmelweis’s discovery in the maternity ward to my grandmother’s deduction and beyond, evidence supports the hygiene hypothesis. With so much substantiation, it would be a tough argument against the effect of preventing or treating illness via hygiene. Again, though, evidence is mounting that our society has gone to the extreme in attempting to sterilize our environments and our bodies. Our society has become overmedicated; treatment of disease has produced resistant strains of bacteria, illness and disease are disguised by veiling symptoms with medication. We use hand sanitizer to kill the germs on our hands before we eat our food yet consume junk devoid of nutrition resulting in an increase in disease to the point of epidemic. Beneficial bacteria have been forsaken. Despite the advances in modern medicine, cancers, heart disease and diabetes are all on the rise. While a concern with hygiene is not completely unwarranted, it is time we reclaim responsibility for our health and support the terrain. It’s time to give these pathogens a hostile environment.

Having a healthy body, designed to protect us from and fight off illness, is key to maintaining or regaining health. God’s intelligent design does not need to be fixed or changed, but recognized, accepted and supported. He has put into His beloved creation, us, the ability to stave off sickness and disease. Included in this design is the need for exposure to germs to keep the immune system strong and in working order, homeostasis. While this battle is not one fought cognizantly, the choices we make each day strengthen or hinder the body’s ability. Are we allowing what God created to work or have we set up roadblocks and traps? The best way to establish a more resilient terrain, to support the interieur milieu, is to learn as much as we can and resolve to apply this learning to the choices we make. Reexamining what we think we know about healthy food, reforming our thoughts on medication and disease being the expected eventuality, and reclaiming responsibility for our own wellbeing are our best weapons in the battle for good health. With respect to germs or terrain, working with God’s design is a successful battle plan.

Cease Striving: Confusion Say Proverbs is a To Do List

Dock…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. Philippians 1:6-7

I love a list. Did that. Check. Progress verified in writing. Lists help me to remember all the things I need to do and I feel a sense of accomplishment each time I can cross something off. If I do something not on my list, I like to add it for the simple satisfaction of being able to cross it off. Holidays are a great time for lists (and checking them twice) to aid in getting tasks done.

And for stressing about what isn’t getting done, for losing sleep and forgetting the reason for all these tasks – family, friends and our Lord, for getting cranky with our loved ones, and WHO put That ornament THERE!?… oh, wait.

Once we finally make it through Christmas, it’s time for New Year’s Resolutions! Another list! …yeah. Set a goal, or maybe 10. Common ones are eating better and getting more exercise. I even saw one on facebook that said “be more pleasant.” As a perfectionist, it’s easy to set my aim too high, in the wrong direction or too many directions and end up defeating myself before I even start.

Numerous Bible studies give lists of the qualities we should exhibit and we can begin to create to do lists –

  • The Prov 31 woman — weave, farm, lose sleep, feed everyone, work fast, be strong, start & run a business, make a profit, provide a portion for the household, give generously to those in need, produce well-made clothes and bedding to keep everyone warm, have another business, be wise and share this wisdom, don’t be idle. IF you do all this, THEN you are worth more than rubies, your husband will be respected and your children, husband and the whole town will honor & praise you. What? Whew! I’ll just give up before I start.
  • Galatians 5:22-23, Fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. All facets of one fruit, without one facet the whole precious gem is damaged, flawed, worthless. *sigh*
  • 1 Corinthians 13 – No matter what I say, what I know, what I do or what I share, without love I am nothing, so I have to be patient, be kind, don’t envy, don’t boast, don’t be proud, don’t dishonor others, don’t be self-seeking, don’t get angry easily, don’t keep track of others’ wrongs, don’t delight in evil, rejoice in truth, always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere. Always? As in not ever not doing it even a little, not even once by mistake? Hmmm….
  • Don’t forget Titus 2, 1 Peter 3, Ephesians 4-6, and 1 Tim 5
  • And if you’re still feeling energetic, you can check out the rest of Paul’s writings and the rest of Proverbs. As for me, I’m tired.

Hmmm, I just made a list, didn’t I? But I can’t be the perfect Proverbs 31 woman. If you are, let me know the secret, would you? Proverbs 31 is wisdom from a mother to her son. Jewish comedies are fraught with the notorious epitome of the mother-son relationship, nobody is good enough for the Jewish mother’s son. But seriously, I believe the intent was to remind her boy what to look for, not necessarily to tell women what to be. It tells her son what kind of women would make a good wife to keep the relationship going beyond the puppy love. What to look for beyond the pretty face so he isn’t distracted by the temporary, the physical. Someone with whom to survive all life has to dish out, to count on for Godly counsel, to be a woman to love. Also, there are clues to women as to what kind of godly wife a godly man is looking for. What qualities will cause her to be treasured by those she meets. A reminder to both men and women to focus on deep issues like Godly character. This is not about perfection, just a picture, an example.

So, what am I to do? As the woman of the house, I have a huge influence on the tone of the house, an impact on the relationships between family members, not to mention friendships. It’s important for me to remember I am setting an example to my children and all who see me. Am I putting more effort into a task than the result is truly worth? Often, the cost is too high, the reward worthless – praise from others. Losing sleep, losing relationships all to give the right impression, do the job “right,” get praise and approval from others. What is the real value in that? There is so much more in life that is important.  As one perfect task is completed, the next comes along. A never ending cycle that takes the living out of life. I have learned if I put God first, the rest will work out. Studying & memorizing scriptures will put them in my heart so they reach my hands. Allowing God to bring the changes through study, knowledge, and opportunities to practice living out a Godly life, puts Him in charge of the spiritual to dos.  My best isn’t going to be THE best. God doesn’t ask me to be THE best, just my best with Him. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have standards, but I need to be realistic and remember what is important, relationships with people & Jesus, seeing the beauty in God’s creation, including my family and myself, including our flaws. It’s time to have fun, enjoy friends & family, live life… and trash the spiritual to do lists.

Cease Striving: It’s OK

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God –  nobody is perfect

3:24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus – but it’s OK, Jesus has me covered.

As a young adult I knew I was a perfectionist and didn’t see any problem with it. In fact, would proudly exclaim this. Thinking it said to others, I don’t give up until I’ve done it perfectly. While this is true to a degree, there were many things I didn’t even try, knowing I wouldn’t be good at them or having tried once and failed. There was no room in my life for not doing it well, to near perfection. For those things that I did do well, there always seemed to be someone better. I had high standards for others and even higher standards for myself. High, impossible, unreachable, perfect standards. Whew! How I survived to adulthood with my sanity intact, though that point might be debatable by some, is uncertain. I thought it was a good thing. Once my oldest daughter was born, I began to realize, not only how much perfectionism had permeated my life and so much in it, but also that it wasn’t ok, maybe even a bad thing. How do you perfectly raise a child, keep house, cook, etc. all at the same time? I preferred to make foods from scratch and still do. But with a baby that refused to sleep and required entertainment 24/7, this overwhelmed and introverted mama had to come to the realization that nobody died from spaghetti sauce from a jar. I began to realize the grip this perfectionism had on me, this need to not make mistakes. Where did it come from? In part, it came from the Creator and the fabric He wove in me. But this was also nurtured in me by parents, aunts, uncles, teachers and others. For a first-born, the standard was high. As a quiet, smart little girl who could do much independently, the expectations were even higher. I can even remember moments of being taunted and teased by adults when I didn’t know something or performed sub-par. Though I will assume it was done in good nature, nonetheless, I added these expectations to my own. I added the deflated value of myself reflected in those taunts to the expected result if I did not perform perfectly. And so I spent much of my life striving. Striving for perfection, striving to perform perfectly, striving to know everything, striving to hide what I couldn’t do and didn’t know.

My first-born was a blessing in so many ways, but one of the most significant to me is that at her birth God began a transformation in me. But it wasn’t so much a light switch flipping on as it was a dimmer slowly bringing into view the different areas of a room. I began to make small changes and accept my own limitations, but still struggled with feeling accepted by others in my imperfect state. I always viewed being imperfect as a privilege afforded to others, but not to me. That other people in their failings found support, forgiveness and camaraderie with their fellow man. I felt harshly judged, unaccepted, unworthy. It was several years later I realized I was still struggling with wanting to know where the line of acceptable/unacceptable imperfection is. In other words, I was striving to be perfectly imperfect!  Thankfully, God is patient and continues to turn that dimmer switch a little at a time, to shine light on as much as I can handle to address at once. Still, I occasionally struggle with accepting my best in the circumstances as good enough. I questioned whether to write this series because don’t have it all figured out. But it’s ok. I need to accept that what I can do is good enough. What God does through me is not good enough, it is simply good.

Even as I now write, I think of the people that will not approve, who will think little of the efforts I have put forth here. Like the preacher I once overheard saying I have no gift, no talent, from God. I’m guessing there are others who have felt the sting of being slapped in the face by the words of others. Those people, those word-slappers, for their own reasons, find only fault with what even God does. I don’t want to absorb those words into my view of myself, or attribute them to how God sees me. I don’t want to see every one of my faults all at once, counting them, becoming overwhelmed at hiding until I fix them, worrying that others see them and judge my value to God by them. I’m not perfect. God loves me. It’s ok.

Cease Striving: A Perfectionist’s Perspective

Cease Striving: What’s in a Name?

Bacon, Beans, Squash & Greens

Inspired by Chef Jose at the Carriage House Farm OEFFA Farm tour, Martha Stewart and the 10 squashes I had on my counter, I created a surprisingly delicious dinner. Roasted butternut squash, blended with milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice topped with a combination of sauteed red onion, broccoli and canellini beans, drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette and sprinkled with bacon. Quite filling, yet another of those meals that 2 servings didn’t seem to be enough for everyone. I imagine this would be equally good with the addition of tomatoes and garlic. Or salad greens instead of broccoli for a cold salad. I think I’ll be trying Martha’s butternut squash pot stickers soon. With my own twist, of course. ;)

What are your favorite ways to eat squash?

Cease Striving: What’s in a Name?

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23

refers to our human ability to turn our backs on God and commit sin. It reminds me that nobody is perfect.

Every day, people across the world, I suspect, read and recite Proverbs 46:10. “Be still and know that I am God,” it says. This verse has for me always conjured up a vision of people literally being still with their bodies. Of quiet and prayerful contemplation. Of opening one’s heart and spiritual ears to hear God’s words. For He is God. He is in control. Everything is under His charge. It is a reminder that we must take time out to spend time with God, to listen and discover His will in our lives. Upon reading a friend’s blog, I came to have a completely different understanding of this verse. Don’t get me wrong. Quieting our minds & bodies to hear God is not only a valid interpretation of this verse, but supported throughout the Bible. This is something we should do. However, when I read a friend’s blog entry, she had chosen to use the NAS version, which says “Cease striving and know that I am God.” A light went on, a piece of the puzzle fell into place. Sure, I had heard that version before, but this time God gave me a clearer understanding of “cease striving.”

Cease: quit, stop it, cut it out! Striving: exerting strenuous effort, battling, struggling, working hard. Aha! God wants me to stop struggling, to quit working so hard. No, I’m not saying I believe God’s desire is for me to sit around eating bonbons and not do any work. Quite the opposite. God wants me to put forth effort for Him, according to His plan for my life. To help people come to know Him. But to do so effectively, I must have proper focus, not distracted by those things that would keep me from taking and making bold steps for Him. For many people, myself included, one of these distractions is perfectionism. God wants me to stop working so hard in a futile attempt to be perfect and let Him do the work on me. I just go for the ride, taking comfort, relaxing, if you will, in the knowledge that He is doing a good work in me, in His time.  In His perfect plan, I will have been trained and will be prepared for each task He has for me. I am not perfect. I will never be perfect in this life. It is only through the blood of Jesus that I can be made perfect. Not from my own doing, but from His death, I am made perfect. And that’s okay. Everything will be okay.

We perfectionists can get so caught up in what others think and end up trying to see ourselves through their eyes. Are we accepted? Good enough? We need to get rid of what we think others want from us and even the “to do lists” that we think the Bible is giving us. We do need to “be still”, we do need to take time out to focus on God and worship the Almighty to recognize God’s will in our lives. But we need to throw away our perfectionist perspectives and look from God’s perspective.

Why should I work so hard at trying to do everything perfectly when I will never succeed? Why should I not give it to God, who is perfect and can sort it all out with no effort? I will have my part to do, of course, not the least of which is to try to trust His plan and promises. This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t give my best effort at whatever I do, but I don’t need to count my worth, my value, my life, my salvation or any other such things on the result of my efforts. The result of my efforts might not be perfect, but through Jesus, I can be. Be still says stop a minute, take time out of your day. Cease striving. Well, that’s quite a different connotation, isn’t it?

Cease Striving; a perfectionist’s perspective

Years of my life and God’s work have gone into this series. I have wondered how and when, and even if, to share this. Though I’m still wondering, it seems now is the time. I have for several years described myself as a recovering perfectionist. I have seen perfectionism in others and heard one refer to themselves as “recovering.” I hope this series speaks to someone. I don’t know exactly how this will play out, but I expect there will be a few to several installments. I’m trying to let God write this series without getting in His way. It is because He chose to allow me to be involved in its production you will find it isn’t perfect.

Remember, God is big enough that He loves every one of us and holds us all in His protective hand. His shoulders are broad enough to carry all our worries; He is strong enough to hear when we are angry. Yet, He makes himself small enough to fit into our hearts so He will be with us when we follow Him. He hears our every whisper and wish.

Please join me as I try to share a perfectionist’s perspective.

Cease Striving: What’s in a Name?

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30 Meals

I recently read somewhere about a person that had a list of her family’s favorite 30 meals she used as a resource for her meal planning. I think I might have seen it on Nanny Goat, but I’m not certain. With school starting soon, and well, because I can always use help with meal planning, I decided to begin my own list of 30 meals. My list is just starting, a collection of dishes from the top of my head. I can add a salad &/or fruit to these dishes to create a complete meal. If I end up with a surprise ingredient from one of my CSAs or find a great deal on something, I can check my list for ideas on how to use it. I plan to keep this list and related recipes handy for meal planning while ordering my food from Green BEAN.

I have added my list it to the Menu Plans page in case you might like some ideas or might be interested in creating your own version of this tool. As always, the dishes are made with whole, real foods. I’ll add recipe links as I am able. If you see a dish listed you are interested in trying that I haven’t posted a recipe for, please let me know. If you have an awesome family favorite recipe, I’d love for you to share it.

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