Chop and Chat

Whether you’re new to cooking at home or have been doing it for decades, cooking can sometimes feel like a chore. We eat every day, so we can potentially cook every day. Just like we go to bed on time or exercise more often when we make it fun, we’ll cook more often if we make it enjoyable.

  1. books-headphonesCook with your ears. Listen to an audio book while you cook or put on some music that’ll make your toes and your chopping knife tap together. If the audio book is a tear jerker, chop up a bag of onions and freeze the extra for later.
  2. 2014 June 049Rise and reward. Rise early twice a week to prep your recipes: chop the veggies or measure spices and save them in a little container. Get your ingredients set so that when you’re tired and hungry and it’s time to cook dinner, all you have to do is heat the pan and throw it all together. Or, in the case of a casserole, throw it in the oven. Reward yourself for your early effort with a special coffee or a favorite fruit salad. For many moms, being able to cook in peace and quiet in the early hours is a reward unto itself. If you use a slow cooker, your meal can be ready and waiting when you walk in the door.
  3. kids cook togetherThis last suggestion is my favorite: host a Chop and Chat. Invite a friend over and cook together. Yes, you will have different tastes and styles, but you will learn from each other and the cooking is accomplished—that’s the point, after all. Make salad together, scrape and cut carrot sticks for snacking, make a batch of soup or a fruit salad. We get together with friends to talk, but why not make our hands as productive as our mouths?

Cooking from scratch at home takes extra time and effort, but it’s worth it and can be enjoyable. Figure out what works for you. My favorite part of home cooking? The thing that inspires me to cook day after day, meal after meal? I love to eat and it tastes so good!

 

friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)

 

Images courtesy of: www.parentmap.com (headphones), me (knife), http://www.pinterest.com (kids)

Self Control is Not My Job

2timothy1_7For the Spirit God gave us gives us power—YES!—and love—YES!—and self-discipline—um, say what now?

Self-discipline or self-control is the Fruit of the Spirit I like to skim over. Love, joy, peace… I park it here and enjoy. Pour it on, Lord, these sound good. Forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness… I like these too, although it’ll take some work to exhibit them consistently. It’s not easy to always be kind and good and patient. I’ll need help, Lord. Self-control… I’m not a fan of this one. It sounds like work. It’s all on me: self-control, control of myself.

Or is it?

Wait, let me read those verses again. God has given us a Spirit of self-discipline. The Fruit of the Spirit is what the Holy Spirit produces in me. So it’s not all on me. I ask God to help me be patient and kind and loving, so why should self-control be any different?

fruit-of-spiritGod wants me to control my body. Self-discipline helps me say no to sin when I want to do what I know is wrong. Self-discipline helps me make time each day to pray and read the Bible when a thousand other ways to spend my time seem more urgent. And self-discipline helps me do what I need to do to get healthy.

Some days I’m focused on my goal and feel motivated to eat right, sleep long, and exercise. Other days I feel like doing anything else. Can’t I start tomorrow? Like a child I whine “do I have to? Can’t I start tomorrow?” I forget that I have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside me, ready to help me. So I pray.

I pray that the Holy Spirit, the same one God says gives us power and love, will help me be self-disciplined. I pray Lord, help me do what I need to do today to get healthy. Some days I pray Lord, help me want to do what I need to do today to get healthy, because I really want to jump off this wagon and bury my face in fudge.

Self-control is a beautiful thing, not a burden. I don’t want to be a slave to my flesh, so I need to take control of it so my flesh serves me and not vice versa. I have plans for my flesh and those plans include feeling comfortable in my own skin, feeling shameless in my tankini and swim shorts, and being mentally and physically active into my 90’s.

I’m not alone and it’s not all on me. The Holy Spirit gives me power, love, and self-discipline. Thank the Lord for all of the Fruits of the Spirit.

 

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

 

Images courtesy of: Pinterest (fruit tree), Verseoftheday.com (rock wall)

A Diet Constant

We don’t always do what we know we should, especially when it comes to eating healthy and exercising regularly. Today’s post is a friendly reminder that God’s love for us doesn’t change with our willpower.

He loves me cartoon

He loves me cartoon_0001For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

Weight Loss and Faith

Weight loss can be frustrating. There are times I exercise more and eat less for weeks and the scale still won’t budge.

It’s tempting to give up, but  I’ve got to believe all of that effort is having a positive effect somewhere in my body. Somewhere, deep down, I have cells that look like they just won Biggest Loser. But I have to keep trying until those effects grow beyond the microscopic and become visible to my naked eye.

Weight loss takes faith. When I started losing weight, I knew it would take work, and I knew it would take resilience, but I never expected to need faith.

I have to have faith that the vegetables I eat, the sleep I snooze, and the exercise I do is making a difference until time has passed and I see evidence of that difference: I feel stronger, my cholesterol drops, I look trimmer, and so forth. I would love faithless weight loss. Eat a carrot and BOOM: one pound lighter. Lift a weight and BOOM: a bicep appears out of nowhere. SIGH.

P1010166But God designed our bodies to adapt to our behavior over time. (And thank God that He did! If a goldfish overate like I did, it wouldn’t store fat, it’d just die.) As it is, our bodies expand to accommodate extra food and shrink back when food is decreased. When we eat sugar and sit on our rears, our bodies crave sugar and tire easily, but when we eat plants and move our limbs, our bodies miss those things if we stop. We adapt and actually begin to crave what’s good for us.

Just like people who read the Bible every day don’t expect an angel-choir mountain-top super-spiritual experience every time they read a verse, but notice changes over time in their relationship with God and others because of their Scripture reading, so too physical changes take time and perseverance to happen. Instead of faith in God, it’s faith in how God created our bodies to function.

2013 August 106Study after study has shown that the benefits of exercise and eating well start at the cellular level. There are many trillions of cells in the human body, so it takes a while for us to notice when a few million of them change.

Don’t give up. (Preaching to myself here.) Have faith that what you do for your health today will benefit you today and next week and next month, even if you don’t see results now.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  – James 1:4 (NIV)

 

Biblical Responses To Hunger

P1010170Got the munchies?  Not sure what to do?  Let’s take a look at the Bible to see how our spiritual ancestors handled their growling tummies.  Some of these people showed wisdom and some showed folly.  Let’s see if you can spot my 2 favorites for application in our own lives!

1. Sell your birthright for red lentil stew. (Genesis 25:29-34)  Poor Esau.  Let’s hope it was the best stew he’d ever had!  Think he got seconds?

2. Threaten to wipe out an inhospitable man and his entire family. (1 Samuel 25)  I don’t really blame David here.  Hungry war bands should be fed right away, especially if they asked nicely.  Good thing Abigail was there to smooth things over.

3. Borrow a kid’s lunch and share it with five thousand men and their families. (Mark 6:30-44) This one might be above our pay grade.

4. Eat only vegetables. (Daniel 1:8-20) Daniel and his friends did this for ten days and became the best looking young men in Babylon’s captive-to-magi training program.

P10101655. Give the last of your food to a prophet. (1 Kings 17:7-16) You’re going to die anyway, right?  May as well please God before you do; He has a way of taking care of his own.

6. Drink some water and wait for God to send you ravens carrying food. (1 Kings 17:1-6) This is a good idea even if you’re not hiding in a desert ravine to save your life.  God might not send ravens your way, but the concept is good: drink and wait.

Did you catch my favorites?  That’s right: #4 and #6!  Eat vegetables, drink, and wait.  When your body asks to be filled, do it right!  And for the entrepreneurs out there, make some really, really good lentil stew and buy your family’s inheritance cheap.

Dessert Snobs

P1010682The one thing that has made the biggest difference in both my body and my lifestyle is savoring my food.  Paying attention while I eat leaves me satisfied after every meal, even with smaller portions on my plate.

Imagine a moist dark-as-night piece of chocolate cake is placed in front of you.  Most people take one bite, emit some sort of grunt of delight, and then shovel the rest of the cake down their gullet in less time than it takes for a toddler to discover how to unroll toilet paper.  When they finish the last two bites, slowing down at last because they see the end is nigh, they sigh and wish for more because “that was so good!” This is how I used to eat cake.  And lasagna, and fries, and ice cream, and cereal, and steak and everything.

Next time you have cake, try this instead: savor every bite.  That’s right, EVERY bite.  Take a bite, emit grunt, take a bite, make mm-mm-mmm! sound, take a bite, paint the inside of your mouth chocolate with your tongue, and so on.  Pay attention to the texture, the flavor, the contrast of cake and icing.  I guarantee that by the time you’ve finished your piece of cake, you will not want a second piece.  Why?  You’re bored!  Seriously.  Five or ten minutes of thinking only about cake is way more time than you need to cover all the bases.

The definition of savor is to “taste (good food or drink) and enjoy it completely.” Food as entertainment; what an interesting thought!

2014 March 005When I savor my food, I find myself feeling grateful for my abundance and for my taste buds.  If you look at the anatomy of the human mouth, we were created to enjoy eating.  Carnivore teeth can bite and swallow, but not chew.  Herbivore teeth can chew, but really, how many taste buds would you want if you were chewing lunch for the fourth time?  Don’t get me started on jellyfish; their mouth is also their anus, so you know they thank God that they don’t have taste buds.  (And I thank God that I’m not a jellyfish!)  The point is, God created food to have flavor and our mouths to detect those flavors.  Just as I realize how blessed I am with my family when I pause and think about it, I am more thankful for my food when I pause and think about it.  (If I’m inaccurate with the biology lesson, forgive me; I’m still convinced that humans have the best deal meal-wise.)

Paying attention while you eat is harder than it sounds.  I never used to sit down to eat without something to do: talk with someone, read something, watch TV.  It still feels weird to sit at an empty table and focus on my food, but I enjoy what I eat so much more now.

P1010687About a year ago my mom said something that sounded crazy to me at first.  She said, “I’m not going to eat Hershey’s chocolate anymore.”  But Mom, that reduces your chocolate options by, like, 90%!  What kind of insanity is this?!

She loves Harry and David’s dark chocolate truffles and she has good reason to: they’re awesome.  They’re so awesome, in fact, that Mom decided not to waste her time, money, or calories on sub-par chocolate.  She became a chocolate snob.  And she should be applauded!

We need to learn not only to enjoy our food while we eat it so that we don’t wish for more when it’s gone, but we also need to learn to stop eating foods that are not worthy of our time, money, and calories.  At church potlucks and family dinners, I used to finish anything I put on my plate, whether it was fabulous, fairly good, or future compost.  Now I try many things, but only finish what tastes fabulous, especially when it comes to desserts.  If I’m only supposed to consume X number of calories per day, I’m not going to waste them on mediocre food.  Does that make me a snob?  Yes it does.  But I’d rather be a food snob than eat like a garbage disposal as I used to.

037newThere’s one exception to savoring your food, of course: vegetables!  Feel free to shovel your veggies in like you’re stoking the engine of an express train.  Don’t get me wrong, vegetables can be fabulous (if yours aren’t, try adding garlic) and they should be savored.  But if you don’t particularly like veggies and you’re only eating them because they’re good for you, then don’t savor them.

You know how sometimes you just want to plant yourself in front of the TV and stuff your face?  You’re not hungry, particularly, but you want that repetitive plate-to-face action happening?  Choose a veggie.  It’s mindless eating, so do it with a food that won’t hamper your goal when consumed in large quantities.

 P1010356So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 8:15