Titus 2:11-13

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus."

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Eating and the Meeting: A Couple Updates...

It's 9:30 p.m., and all four kids are finally in bed. Three-part grocery list in hand, I head out the door for my weekly, kid-free grocery shopping trip. But this trip will be unlike others before. This time, I have no idea what I'm doing.

I arrive at the store and start in my comfort zone. Bananas... check. Apples... check. Potatoes... check. The "Non-Health Market" section of my grocery list is soon complete. As I make my way into the inner aisles of the store, I refer to the "Check Labels First" section of my grocery list. I begin reading labels and trying to recall what I've learned about high fructose corn syrup and refined flour and things I can't pronounce. Unsweetened applesauce... check. Spaghetti sauce... check. Baked beans... better not. Graham cracker pie crust... yikes!

Next I arrive in uncharted territory--The Health Market. I enter the first aisle where I am now officially out of my comfort zone. I look at the "Health Market" section of my list and then back at the shelves. I find myself standing there staring, lost in a foreign world of foreign name brands and foreign packaging. My eyes scan every box, carton, can, and bag, looking for something... anything... that might be on my list. With no possible way of even pretending that I know what I'm doing, I am suddenly thankful to be standing alone and out of sight. Bread crumbs... bread crumbs.... BREAD CRUMBS!... Check! Now for xanthan gum. What in the world is xanthan gum?....

And so, three list sections and two hours later, I finally arrived back home with my ($80 worth of) groceries. (Yes, it really did take me two hours to buy twenty items.)

Other than spending lots of time in the grocery store (Ha!), the past couple weeks since we started changing our diet have gone well! In order to help me feel less overwhelmed and more successful, I came up with some specific eating/cooking goals for November/December. These include
  1. Do not cook with sugar. Use natural sweeteners such as raw honey or real maple syrup instead. (I also bought some Stevia and some organic evaporated cane juice crystals so I will have a wider range of natural sweeteners on hand as I learn what works best in different types of recipes.)
  2. Make my own bread using healthy ingredients. (My bread-making deserves a post of its own, so hopefully there will be more to come on this.) :-)
  3. Find healthier snacking alternatives. (I'm still working on this. So far I've been snacking on gluten-free crackers (I don't even know what gluten is, by the way....), stovetop-popped popcorn with sea salt, homemade bread with butter or organic peanut butter and raw honey, and fresh fruit.)
  4. Make my own butter. ( I hope to try this sometime this week!)
  5. And, of course, break my sugar addiction! (The first week or so of not eating chocolate or ice cream--my primary sugar sources--was a little hard. I found that I had a pretty persistent dull headache and felt extremely tired and even a little bit depressed for several days--all of which I assume was from the lack of sugar--but now that I'm through that, my cravings for chocolate have weakened and become fewer and farther between!)
I have also tried a couple new recipes and hope to do more of this as I gradually get my pantry re-stocked with healthier items. I have to keep reminding myself to take this a couple steps at a time! All in all, I'm having a lot of fun re-learning how to cook (and how to grocery shop!). I'm gaining knowledge and humility and self-control, and I'm even losing a few pounds in the meantime. :-)


Also, some people have been asking for an update on our meeting with the Mormons who came knocking on our door. They did return on Saturday afternoon as planned, and I guess I feel that things went pretty well. Travis and I pretty much just let them do their first teaching, and we asked good questions along the way. I thought Travis did an especially good job of speaking Truth in his responses to the young men. Our discussion never became argumentative in any way, and they seemed to be very respectful of our beliefs. We left the door open for them to return with the thinking that more opportunities for us to speak the Truth will arise in future discussions. Thanks to all who prayed for us and them! I will update again if a second meeting is indeed scheduled.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Knock at the Door

Dear friends,

This afternoon a couple Mormon missionaries came knocking on my door.  When I opened the door and found two young, well-dressed men standing on the other side, I immediately knew who they were and why they had come.  As they began to speak, God filled me with a confidence that seemed to override my "fear of man," and I stood and visited with them for a few minutes before inviting them to return tomorrow afternoon for a friendly, spiritual discussion.  I ask that you please be in prayer for this meeting which we scheduled for 1:30 tomorrow.  Please pray that Travis and I will speak with wisdom and grace and that a seed of Truth will be planted in the hearts of these two young men.  May God be glorified....

"Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.  Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person."  ~Colossians 4:5-6

Monday, November 9, 2009

His Provision

How many of you have ever had an unexpected, not-bugeted-for expense?  The car breaks down, the sump pump quits, the refrigerator has to be replaced.... Large or small, the expense was not planned for and you have made no provision for it.

Travis and I have had our share of unexpected expenses in the four years we've been married.  We had to replace the A/C compressor on our car--and then replace it again a year later.  We had to buy four new car tires to replace the one-year-old ones that had worn so unevenly they were ruined.  We had to replace the control panel on our two-year-old clothes dryer.  To be honest, I can't remember all the unexpected expenses we've had pop up.  But I can remember this:  Every time we've had an unexpected expense, we've had an unexpected extra source of income.

Here's the latest example.  At the end of September, we privately sold Travis' commuter car (which happened to be the car I had brought into the marriage).  The buyer handed us cash, I signed off on the title, and the deal was done... or so we thought.  About a week ago we found out that in order for the car to be sold in Iowa (where we live), it had to be titled in Iowa.  Because there was a lien on my car when I moved from Nebraska to Iowa, the car still had a Nebraska title.  So when the car's new owner tried to have the title put in her name and couldn't, we found out that we would have to pay for an Iowa title on a car that wasn't even ours anymore (Well, technically it was still ours because a car titled in Nebraska can't be sold in Iowa....).  Anyway, I was immediately disappointed to learn of this unexpected expense and had no idea what it would cost or where the money would come from.

In the meantime, Travis was summoned for jury duty.  Because he is a salaried employee, he wouldn't lose money for the missed time at work; and he would be paid $30 a day for jury duty.  Thirty dollars times a couple days minus a couple lunches comes out to more than enough to cover the $34 title and registration fee.

Granted, the expense was much less than I had originally feared it might be, and it could even have been paid out of our normal salary; but that is not the point.  The point is that when we had an unexpected expense, God once again provided us with an unexpected extra source of income.

Why do I ever worry, even if only for a moment?  God knows what we need, and He has always been faithful to provide it.
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and wealth.  For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not worth much more than they?  And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?  And why are you worried about clothing?  Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do no toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow in thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you?  You of little faith!  Do not worry then, saying, "What will we eat?" or "What will we drink?" or "What will we wear for clothing?"  For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:24-33)
For more neat stories of God's provision, check out The Crunchy Mommy or ask my friend Melissa about the chapstick and the dish soap. :-)

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