Monthly Archives: May 2012

Memorial Day Feast…Good Enough for Any Special Occasion

We had company this weekend, so I planned this special dinner, but it never worked out to make it (it’s fairly heavy and takes about 4 hours to make). So, when our friends (and mentors) from church texted me on Sunday night, I asked if they had anything planned for Memorial Day. We ended up having a delicious dinner and played a game of Dominion while eating dessert and sipping coffee. What a fun night! Here’s the menu:

They brought a salad and blackberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream and we made the following dishes, along with coffee and iced tea:

I forgot to take a picture the night of, but here’s a picture of the leftovers with some steamed broccoli and fruit salad:

Bryan told me I could make this dish anytime I want (actually he told me about six times over the next three days). That’s a definite win… (*scurries to write down recipe*). And we had plenty of leftovers for several meals. So rich and delicious!

Note: It did take a while to make, but most of that time is inactive time, so you can do something else while it simmers away on the stove for three hours. When the ribs have 30 minutes left, start your risotto recipe and finish it  while your sauce reduces (you may want to add a little cornstarch to thicken the sauce after it’s reduced for a while; put 2 Tbsp. of cornstarch in a small ball and stir in 1/4 c. of the hot broth until it’s smooth, then add the cornstarch mixture back into the sauce pot). While your sauce is reducing, start the carrot dish (takes about 15 minutes total).

Bon Appetit!

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“Never a Parade without Tears” by Aunt Cheryl

A Memorial Day Memory from My Aunt About Her Father…

“Somtimes you just have to write. . .

Never a Parade without Tears

“Grief can be defined as an overwhelming sadness over the loss of a loved one. To me it is more. It is remebering the things that I love about the person. These are happy and joyous thoughts, but they come out in tears. This morning in church I had one of those grief times. We sang several patriotic songs, and I was reminded that my father always cried at parades whenever a soldier walked by. As the band played, he always sang out ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ even though singing wasn’t his thing.

“As a child I thought the tears were just a grateful response to what the soldiers had done. The real story was quite different. Dad was a WWII Army Air Corp cadet in training to be a B-17 ball turret gunner (Very high mortality rate). While in training one day he heard a buddy humming a tune. When he asked what it was, the buddy said it was a hymn and went on to share Christ with my Dad. Dad accepted Christ and his buddy became a very important part of his life.

“They exchanged phone calls and Christmas cards every year. It became part of our Christmas tradition to listen to Dad share his testimony of salvation and share the Christmas card from his buddy, Eddie that had introduced him to the Lord.

“My Dad’s mom had suffered with dementia before she passed away. She would often become angry. This concerned my Dad as he grew older that he might have the same problem and become a poor reflection of the love of Christ. One Christmas Dad got a card from Eddie, but the handwriting was very poor. The next year the card was from Eddie’s wife explaining that Eddie had Alzheimer’s and didn’t recognize any of his family any more. He was in a vet home. The only thing that he did remember was scripture, and he had been named “Chaplain” at the home. This was a great comfort to my Dad, especially after he had his first stroke.

“The rest of the story.

“So why the tears at parades? WWII was life changing for my Dad. He had a very clear understanding of the sacrifices made by so many of his friends and commrads. He also understood that the position he was training for was a very dangerous one, but the war ended before he was sent abroad. But more than that, WWII was where and when he came to know Christ. So many lives were changed by death. My Dad’s life was changed by life. He couldn’t face a uniform without considering what his life was like before, and thus the tears of joy and gratitude to his buddy Eddie.

“So, with happiness and joy, I have a memory that makes me smile, but comes out with tears.”

~Cheryl

Memorial Day Weekend Basket and Weekly Meal Plan!

This Week’s Basket from Milk and Honey Organics Included Chef’s Greenhouse Tomatoes, Parisi Farms’ Summer Squash (yellow squash and zucchini), Parisi Farms’ Cucumbers, Parisi Farms’ Baby Potatoes (red and white), Parisi Farms’ Cabbage, Watsonia Farms’ Peaches, Cameo Apples, Strawberries, Sunnyridge Florida Blueberries, Baby Spring Lettuce Mix, Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, and Yellow Jumbo Onions.

This Week’s Meal Plan via PepperPlate.com:

Recipes for This Week’s Meal Plan:

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Hope it’s a good holiday, remembering those who have served our country and sacrificed their lives for our freedom! Have fun sharing these gorgeous fruits and vegetables with your friends and family as you celebrate! I know I will!

Early Summer Basket and Another Weekly Meal Plan

This Week’s Basket from Milk and Honey Organics included the following: Cameo Apples, Valencia Oranges, Peaches, Blueberries, Green Scallions, Sweet Jumbo Vidalia Onions, Romaine Lettuce, Parisi Collards, Parisi Potatoes, Hurricane Creek Tomatoes, Parisi Beets, and Parisi Squash.

This Week’s Meal Plan via PepperPlate.com:

*Recipes from this week’s meal plan can be found on the M&H Blog’s Recipes Archive page, plus a few new ones here:

“World Renown Heart Surgeon Speaks Out On What Really Causes Heart Disease” by Dr. Dwight Lundell

The following article was posted at PreventDisease.com  and Signs of the Times (sott.net). My mom’s been saying this for years, and her dad Dr. O.C. Thompson before that (he was a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and international expert in the field of poultry medicine). Ever wonder why the “good ol’ boys” who worked hard on the farm and ate eggs and bacon and all kinds of other saturated fats, along with grains and home grown produce didn’t use to struggle with heart disease?! This explains a little of it.  Go back to the whole foods. Stay away from packaged foods, especially when you can’t pronounce ALL of the ingredients. Stay active. Meet Dr. Dwight Lundell, M.D. and celebrated Cardiac Surgeon.

Dr. Dwight Lundell, M.D.

“We physicians with all our training, knowledge and authority often acquire a rather large ego that tends to make it difficult to admit we are wrong. So, here it is. I freely admit to being wrong. As a heart surgeon with 25 years experience, having performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries,today is my day to right the wrong with medical and scientific fact.

“I trained for many years with other prominent physicians labelled “opinion makers.”  Bombarded with scientific literature, continually attending education seminars, we opinion makers insisted heart disease resulted from the simple fact of elevated blood cholesterol.

“The only accepted therapy was prescribing medications to lower cholesterol and a diet that severely restricted fat intake. The latter of course we insisted would lower cholesterol and heart disease. Deviations from these recommendations were considered heresy and could quite possibly result in malpractice.



“It Is Not Working!

“These recommendations are no longer scientifically or morally defensible. The discovery a few years ago that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease is slowly leading to a paradigm shift in how heart disease and other chronic ailments will be treated.

“The long-established dietary recommendations have created epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the consequences of which dwarf any historical plague in terms of mortality, human suffering and dire economic consequences.

“Despite the fact that 25% of the population takes expensive statin medications and despite the fact we have reduced the fat content of our diets, more Americans will die this year of heart disease than ever before.

“Statistics from the American Heart Association show that 75 million Americans currently suffer from heart disease, 20 million have diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes. These disorders are affecting younger and younger people in greater numbers every year.

“Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended. It is inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped.

“Inflammation is not complicated — it is quite simply your body’s natural defence to a foreign invader such as a bacteria, toxin or virus. The cycle of inflammation is perfect in how it protects your body from these bacterial and viral invaders. However, if we chronically expose the body to injury by toxins or foods the human body was never designed to process,a condition occurs called chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is just as harmful as acute inflammation is beneficial.

“What thoughtful person would willfully expose himself repeatedly to foods or other substances that are known to cause injury to the body?  Well,smokers perhaps, but at least they made that choice willfully.

“The rest of us have simply followed the recommended mainstream dietthat is low in fat and high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, not knowing we were causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. Thisrepeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart disease,stroke, diabetes and obesity.

“Let me repeat that: The injury and inflammation in our blood vessels is caused by the low fat diet recommended for years by mainstream medicine.

“What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flourand all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods.

“Take a moment to visualize rubbing a stiff brush repeatedly over soft skin until it becomes quite red and nearly bleeding. you kept this up several times a day, every day for five years. If you could tolerate this painful brushing, you would have a bleeding, swollen infected area that became worse with each repeated injury. This is a good way to visualize the inflammatory process that could be going on in your body right now.

“Regardless of where the inflammatory process occurs, externally or internally, it is the same. I have peered inside thousands upon thousands of arteries. A diseased artery looks as if someone took a brush and scrubbed repeatedly against its wall. Several times a day, every day, the foods we eat create small injuries compounding into more injuries, causing the body to respond continuously and appropriately with inflammation.

“While we savor the tantalizing taste of a sweet roll, our bodies respond alarmingly as if a foreign invader arrived declaring war. Foods loaded with sugars and simple carbohydrates, or processed withomega-6 oils for long shelf life have been the mainstay of the American diet for six decades. These foods have been slowly poisoning everyone.

“How does eating a simple sweet roll create a cascade of inflammation to make you sick?

“Imagine spilling syrup on your keyboard and you have a visual of what occurs inside the cell. When we consume simple carbohydrates such as sugar, blood sugar rises rapidly. In response, your pancreas secretes insulin whose primary purpose is to drive sugar into each cell where it is stored for energy. If the cell is full and does not need glucose, it is rejected to avoid extra sugar gumming up the works.

“When your full cells reject the extra glucose, blood sugar rises producing more insulin and the glucose converts to stored fat.

“What does all this have to do with inflammation? Blood sugar is controlled in a very narrow range. Extra sugar molecules attach to a variety of proteins that in turn injure the blood vessel wall. This repeated injury to the blood vessel wall sets off inflammation. When you spike your blood sugar level several times a day, every day, it is exactly like taking sandpaper to the inside of your delicate blood vessels.

“While you may not be able to see it, rest assured it is there. I saw it in over 5,000 surgical patients spanning 25 years who all shared one common denominator — inflammation in their arteries.

“Let’s get back to the sweet roll. That innocent looking goody not only contains sugars, it is baked in one of many omega-6 oils such as soybean. Chips and fries are soaked in soybean oil; processed foods are manufactured with omega-6 oils for longer shelf life. While omega-6’s are essential -they are part of every cell membrane controlling what goes in and out of the cell — they must be in the correct balance with omega-3’s.

“If the balance shifts by consuming excessive omega-6, the cell membrane produces chemicals called cytokines that directly cause inflammation.

“Today’s mainstream American diet has produced an extreme imbalance of these two fats. The ratio of imbalance ranges from 15:1 to as high as 30:1 in favor of omega-6. That’s a tremendous amount of cytokines causing inflammation. In today’s food environment, a 3:1 ratio would be optimal and healthy.

“To make matters worse, the excess weight you are carrying from eating these foods creates overloaded fat cells that pour out large quantities of pro-inflammatory chemicals that add to the injury caused by having high blood sugar. The process that began with a sweet roll turns into a vicious cycle over time that creates heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetesand finally, Alzheimer’s disease, as the inflammatory process continues unabated.

“There is no escaping the fact that the more we consume prepared and processed foods, the more we trip the inflammation switch little by little each day. The human body cannot process, nor was it designed to consume, foods packed with sugars and soaked in omega-6 oils.

“There is but one answer to quieting inflammation, and that is returning to foods closer to their natural state. To build muscle, eat more protein. Choose carbohydrates that are very complex such as colorful fruits and vegetables. Cut down on or eliminate inflammation- causing omega-6 fats like corn and soybean oil and the processed foods that are made from them.

“One tablespoon of corn oil contains 7,280 mg of omega-6; soybean contains 6,940 mg. Instead, use olive oil or butter from grass-fed beef. 

“Animal fats contain less than 20% omega-6 and are much less likely to cause inflammation than the supposedly healthy oils labelled polyunsaturated. Forget the “science” that has been drummed into your head for decades. The science that saturated fat alone causes heart disease is non-existent. The science that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol is also very weak. Since we now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, the concern about saturated fat is even more absurd today.

“The cholesterol theory led to the no-fat, low-fat recommendations that in turn created the very foods now causing an epidemic of inflammation. Mainstream medicine made a terrible mistake when it advised people to avoid saturated fat in favor of foods high in omega-6 fats. We now have an epidemic of arterial inflammation leading to heart disease and other silent killers.

“What you can do is choose whole foods your grandmother served and not those your mom turned to as grocery store aisles filled with manufactured foods. By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body from consuming the typical American diet.”

“Dr. Dwight Lundell is the past Chief of Staff and Chief of Surgery at Banner Heart Hospital, Mesa, AZ. His private practice, Cardiac Care Center was in Mesa, AZ. Recently Dr. Lundell left surgery to focus on the nutritional treatment of heart disease. He is the founder of Healthy Humans Foundation that promotes human health with a focus on helping large corporations promote wellness. He is also the author of The Cure for Heart Disease and The Great Cholesterol Lie.

Psalm the Second

Reading: Psalm 2, ESV

Verses 1-3 remind me of a saying that Ken Collier (President of the Wilds Christian Camp and Conference Center in Brevard, NC) used to say, “We do what we do and we say what we say because we think what we think. We think what we think because we believe what we believe about God, about God’s Word, and about ourselves.”  Here’s the passage from Psalms: “Why do the nations rage [emotions] and the peoples plot [or “imagine”: think] in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves [will: action], and the rulers take counsel together [think and speak], against the Lord [God] and against his Anointed [dual meaning of King David and Jesus], saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us [action].” The people believed they were more important than Jesus, and that drove their thoughts, which drove their words and ultimately their actions. They rose up against God [and God’s anointed King David].

But how does God respond? Read verses 4-6. He just laughs. He knows their power and will and emotion is futile against him. But he is also angry and displeased at their choose to elevate themselves against him. We’re not far off in our nation today: we have a culture that believes “It’s all about me,” and they forsake and even fight against God–even the existence of God. But God is real and powerful, more powerful than we can imagine. Fortunately for us, he’s also good. Verse 6 tells us that he sets up Jesus as King of Kings. As Charles Spurgeon writes in his Treasury of David, “Jesus sits upon the throne of grace, and the / throne of power in the midst of his church” (vol. 1, pp. 11-12). But yet we put up our fists as if to fight with God.

In verses 7-9, God declares Jesus to be His Son, the Divine Godhead. He declares Himself as owner of everything, with the power to destroy. So, it is with no surprise in verses 10-12 that He pleads with the kings of the earth to be wise–rethink your actions and beliefs, and be willing to be teachable–and turn to Christ, to grace, to truth, to freedom in trusting. All those who trust Him are promised blessing.

“Have we a share in this blessedness? Do we trust in him? Our faith may be slender as a spider’s thread; but if it be real, we are in our measure blessed. The more we trust, the more fully shall we know this blessedness. We [may] therefore  close the Psalm with the prayer of the apostles:–‘Lord, increase our faith'” (Spurgeon, Treasury of David, vol.1, p. 13).

Weekly Basket and Meal Plan

We were out of town for my brother’s wedding in New York last week (hence, no meal plan on the blog). It was fun, but we are glad to be home.

This Week’s Basket from Milk and Honey Organics Included Parisi Farms Curly Kale, Parisi Farms Red/White Creamy Potatoes, Tomatoes from Kem at Chef’s Greenhouse, Texas Jumbo Sweet Onions, Red D’Anjou Pears, Star Ruby Red Grapefruit, Kiwifruit, Bananas (oops, they didn’t make it into the picture), Carrots, Broccoli, Crimini Mushrooms and Baby Spinach.

This Week’s Menu (via PepperPlate.com):

Note: All recipes from this week’s menu can be found on M&H’s blog’s Recipes Archive page.

Love, Respect, and “The Meaning of Marriage”

Every marriage has its ups and downs, it’s bumps and lulls. I know ours has. Now, the good memories far outweigh the rough ones, but even the rough ones teach us so much, if we’ll just stick with it. Praise the Lord I have a husband that is willing to do just that.

About four and a half years into our marriage, we hit one of those tough places. There were long hours at work coupled with lack of job satisfaction, followed by a period of four months of being down to one income. This put a strain on our finances, as you can imagine, which strained us emotionally as well. At the same time, we had some very close friends move away–some across town and some across the country. And we couldn’t afford to go out to eat with those that were left, so we stayed in, feeling disconnected and discouraged.

But God’s grace shone through. Sooner or later, you choose to stop hashing out the same frustrations and bringing up the same hurtful topics of conversation…hopefully. You see that hardships are to refine us, like purifying gold in the furnace and pressurized coals becoming diamonds. Randy Alcorn, in his book If God is Good writes, “God’s purpose for our suffering is Christlikeness. That is our highest calling. If God answered all our prayers to be delivered from evil and suffering, then he would be delivering us from Christlikeness. But Christlikeness is something to long for, not to be delivered from.” And when it’s just the two of you, you learn to talk about other things, about life, including hopes and dreams and wanting to be more like Christ.

During this down turn, a slightly-older-than-us couple in our church started getting to know us better, asking questions that were deeper than, “So, how are you?” We also joined a church volleyball league, and they “happened” to be two of the other players. They’re maybe 15 years older than us, but we clicked. As much as many may think I’m an extrovert, the truth is actually quite the opposite. She shared some of their struggles in the early years, and even later on in their marriage, and I found myself opening up to this dear Christian lady, and my husband was able to connect with her husband as well.

She would pray with me, and cry with me, and encourage me, and point me towards respecting my husband, no matter if I agreed with all of his choices or not. She showed me that the wife loves her husband BY respecting him. Some of it is earned, but some of it is given by choice, with or without merit. I’d get random “just checking in” emails or texts from her, saying she prayed for me and hoped I had a blessed day.

Over a year after this downturn, she still checks in. We’re all pretty busy, but she stopped me in the hall at church on Sunday and told me that if I ever needed her, she’d drop everything and come running. What a mentor! Just to know that someone’s watching out for you is a huge blessing and ray of sunshine!

Finally, we had the chance to sit down as couples and do dinner about a month ago. We breezed through the normal small talk and life updates, and then there was this dramatic conversation shift. They looked at us and said, “Bryan, how are you loving your wife? Melissa, how are you respecting your husband?” It was not as easy an exercise as you might think. We looked at each other, and answered. Both of our answers were “I try to love/respect my spouse by [fill in the blank].” It was a really good exercise, and it was nice to hear him say how he thought he was loving me and to tell him that I do respect him and that I’m trying to show him that. If you’re married and you’ve never done an exercise like that before, go for it; everyone’s answers will look somewhat different, but it’s a blessing to share and it actually grew our love and respect for one another even a bit more.

Another bit of advice they gave us was to always be reading books on marriage (obviously, not to the neglect of Scripture), and to never stop learning and loving (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, sexually). About this same time, a friend of mine, who is preparing for marriage, let me borrow a book he just read by Timothy and Kathy Keller called The Meaning of Marriage (244 pages plus notes; Dutton: NY, 2011). So I thought I’d right up some of my favorite quotes from the book and give a mini review.

Timothy Keller is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, NYC. This book is an excellent reference guide, a refreshing reminder, and I highly recommend it to those who are married, single, and “single-again” alike. It was thought provoking and biblically based.

Quoting C.S. Lewis, “Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling…of that something which you were born desiring…?” (p.10).

“God says, ‘I didn’t put a parent and a child in the Garden, I put a husband and a wife. When you marry your spouse, that must supersede all other relationships, even the parental relationship. Your spouse and your marriage must be the number one priority in your life.’ …No other human being should get more of your love, energy, industry, and commitment than your spouse” (p.127).

“Marriage is so much like salvation and our relationship with Christ that Paul says you can’t understand marriage without looking at the gospel” (p.130; see also Colossians 1:15ff and Ephesians 5:28).

“Ultimately, to know that the Lord of the universe loves you is the strongest foundation that any human being can have. A growing awareness of God’s love in Christ is the greatest reward. And yet we must not forget Adam in the garden. Though he had a perfect relationship with God, his humanity’s relational nature was designed also for human love. Your spouse’s love for you and Christ’s love work together in your life with powerful interaction” (pp.148-9).

“One of the most basic skills in marriage is the ability to tell the straight, unvarnished truth about what your spouse has done–and then, completely, unself-righteously, and joyously express forgiveness without a shred of superiority, without making the other person feel small. …What does it take to know the power of grace? First it takes humility” (p.165).

“Even the best marriage cannot by itself fill the void in our souls left by God. Without a deeply fulfilling love relationship with Christ now, and hope in a perfect love relationship with him in the future, married Christians will put too much pressure on their marriage to fulfill them, and that will always create pathology in the lives” (p.198).

“The kind of love that lasts a lifetime is not only a matter of the emotions. It has to be a commitment strong enough to move us to glad, non-begrudging, sacrificial service of another person even during the inevitable seasons when the emotions are dry or cold. That kind of love grows out of this comprehensive attraction to the person’s character, future, and mission in life” (p.213).

And finally, “seventeenth-century Christian poet George Herbert” is quoted in the epilogue on pages 237-8). I studied this poem in my British Literature courses in college and it was a fast favorite. In this poem, Love is Christ and the poet (or the reader) is the sinner that receives Love’s affection.

Love (III)

“Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d anything.
‘A guest,’ I answer’d, ‘worthy to be here’;
Love said, ‘You shall be he.’
‘I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.’
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
‘Who made the eyes but I?’
‘Truth, Lord, but I have marr’d them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.’
‘And know you not,’ says Love, ‘who bore the blame?’
‘My dear, then I will serve.’
‘You must sit down,’ says Love, ‘ and taste my meat.’
So I did sit and eat.”
 

For some additional resources on Marriage, our Pastor Dan Brooks of Heritage Bible Church, in Greer, SC, recently went through a series on Marriage that you may find helpful. They can be found at SermonAudio.com.

Online Financial Resource: Mint.com

My brother told me about Mint.com a couple of years ago, but I didn’t pay much attention to him. My loss…probably literally. A couple friends from church started using Mint.com and loved it so much they couldn’t stop talking about it, so I thought I’d give it a try. It’s a pretty helpful tool. You can link all of your accounts for tracking purposes, set up budgets, savings goals, retirement tracking, and so much more. And it sends you a weekly email to let you know how you did in reality compared to your budget. Pretty cool! Worth a shot, especially if you’re trying to save and live within your means. Oh, and did I mention it’s free! Happy Saving!

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