Tag Archives: journey

Back on Journey

Hello again! It’s hard to believe how fast the last year has gone. And just because the blog has been silent, it doesn’t mean the journey ended. Our journey has changed directions a bit, however. Since the last post, Bryan and I have welcomed a new baby into our family! Kyle was born late February, and life during pregnancy and this new stage of parenthood has been a bit crazy–to say the least–but a wonderful, exciting kind of crazy. Kyle is absolutely beautiful and one of the sweetest kids we’ve met (we might be a little biased). 🙂 But we’re truly enjoying this new part of our journey. Pregnancy and childbirth has actually drawn us together as a couple–and family–more than we could have imagined or hoped for!quietlife

Bryan’s still in culinary school (only six and a half classes left), while working as a cook. I’m back at Frontline as their Development Coordinator and learning to juggle home life, mom life, work life, and childcare. We still love creating meals together and look forward to sharing those with you again.

We are also in the middle of negotiating the sale of our first family home and will be in a “house-sitting” transition for the next little bit while we look for the next property that we can call “home.”

If there’s one thing this new journey of parenthood and house hunting has taught us, it’s the value of leading a “peaceful and quiet life” (I Tim. 2:2). We’ve slowed down a bit, gotten to bed a little earlier (despite waking up multiple times throughout the night–especially early on), made family time more of a priority, and are enjoying family walks on the Swamp Rabbit Trail and around Furman Lake. It’s a simple life, but one full of joy in Jesus and grace towards one another (hopefully).

So, thank you for your patience, and stay tuned as we pick up on the next step in this journey of seeing and savoring Jesus as a family of three.

Book Review – The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball

This was one of the first books I read off of my summer reading list, and it was a fast favorite! Kristin Kimball, Harvard grad and journalist from Manhattan, NYC, falls in love with farming (and farmer Mark) and shares her love story in this charming, autobiographical novel. (The e-book subtitle is “On Farming, Food and Love.”)

Kristin describes her journey from a high-speed city with its high-stress jobs, high heels and high-priced designer clothes to an Upstate New York, ground roots, self-sustaining, organic farm; from being a vegetarian to learning to eat every last piece of the cow they slaughtered themselves. Humorous, romantic, and inspirational.

She goes season by season, sharing the hilarious moments of starting Essex Farm from scratch, the agonizing memories of the morning cow-milking ritual, cold nights, delicious home-grown meals, and planning a wedding and feeding everyone from the animals and produce you’ve raised with your own sweat and tears.

In fact, I loved this book so much, I gave it to my mother to leave on their farm in Tennessee.

Published by Scribner in 2011. 304 pages.

Another Step in the Journey: Is It Time to Go 100% Organic?

Growing up, my parents fed us pretty healthfully. Don’t get me wrong, we still ate Little Debbie Snack Cakes occasionally, but we always had fruits and vegetables readily accessible. Most of what we ate was made from scratch at home.

Through the years, I’ve taken Nutrition courses and done personal study. It was only in the last few years that I started looking into what “organic” meant. My study of the “organic” lifestyle began after watching Food, Inc. a couple years ago. I had no idea there were that many chemicals added to our foods: pesticides, fungicides, insecticides (notice the Latin suffix “-cide” which means “killer”).  On top of the killers, we add growth hormones and excess antibiotics to our livestock. None of this is natural or necessary. After watching Food, Inc., we decided that when we bought meat, we would buy “all-natural” meats (aka, no hormones or antibiotics).

Then I watched Supersize Me, which really made me lose any desire to eat fast food ever again. We started eating less meat (even the “all-natural” kind) and filling up on fresh produce. This past winter, we found Milk and Honey Organics(a local produce delivery service) and switched to mostly “organic” produce.

I’ve tried various diets and studied a myriad of nutrition methods, read The China Study, researched Raw Diets, Vegan Diets, Vegetarian Diets, Lacto-Ovo-Pesco-Vegetarian Diets, and the list goes on. There are studies for everything, and you have to decide what’s right for you on this matter. One Scripture passage that keeps coming back to my mind is Acts 10 and 11, when God tells Peter in a vision, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat. …What God has made clean, do not call common.” Also, Jesus fed fish to the disciples in John 21 and ate fish in Luke 24.

I saw The China Study’s research and was intrigued at the seemingly direct correlation between vegan diets that allow seafood (not bottom-dwellers) and the decreased risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, etc. I’ve seen people with diseases healed by eating Raw or Vegan diets; and I’ve seen those on Raw and Vegetarian diets recently switch back to eating a more balanced diet that includes meat because of lack of energy, anemia, cholesterol levels or moodiness.

The hard part is that there are too many factors to control in many of these studies. There are some countries that only eat meat and vegetables, especially starchy vegetables, and yet they’re not overweight or malnourished and they’re not seeing the rates of heart attack, stroke, and cancer that we see in America.

So, is there a good, better, and best with food and nutrition? It seems to me that a good rule of thumb is balance: “all things in moderation.” Though the phrase does not come from the Bible, the thought is there in I Cor. 9:22, “all things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful.” Also, in Genesis 9:3, God tells Noah, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” The key is eating a balanced, nutritious, sustainable diet, not following some short-lived fad diet.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been watching more and more documentaries about food and nutrition. I watched Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution and saw communities in France make steps towards 100% organic diets. As a result, they saw decreases in miscarriages, deformities, diseases, and other abnormalities. Then I watched Food Matters, and saw the nutritional research behind an organic lifestyle and the importance of vitamins and minerals.

The more I think about it and study it, the more I want to be 100% organic. I see some definite benefits to it. And since we’ve been eating more organic, we’ve noticed an increase in energy and a decrease in sickness and even allergies. Plus, say we’re wrong and organic isn’t necessary, at least the lack of chemicals in our systems won’t hurt us. So, I asked Bryan if he was ready to take this step with me and he said yes. We’re going to do our best. It won’t happen overnight; it may never be 100%; but, it’s something we want to try to do eventually if possible.

What does this practically mean for us?

  • Only buying what we need (since organic products are more expensive)
  • Not buying processed items (or genetically modified items)
  • Not eating out as much (there are very few organic restaurants in our area; this will also help our budget)
  • Only buying organic meat (this is one step further than all-natural)
  • Possibly limiting our menu items (as not all things are readily available in organic yet)
  • Making more things from scratch at home
  • Ordering bulk organic flour, sugar, etc.
  • Sticking to the meal plan and shopping list (studies show that “the average household goes to the grocery store 2-3 times per week, shops 90 minutes a week in the store, and spends $1.89 each additional minute he or she is in the store. They also know that because few shoppers use lists, 66% of purchases are unplanned, and often unnecessary” ~Brent Honshell, M.M.)
  • This doesn’t mean that we will not eat non-organic food ever. We know that the Lord will protect us as we serve Him, so if we go out to eat with friends or co-workers, or are invited to share a meal in someone’s home, it won’t be something that is asked or even brought up.
  • It’s certainly not something to be paranoid about. We’ll do our best to make informed choices, but we won’t flip out if we eat something that isn’t 100% organic.
  • It’s not an alter I’m willing to die on. If someone thinks the entire organic movement is a big conspiracy theory, targeting individuals that are willing to spend more to get what they believe to be more nutritious, I’m not going to argue with them. It’s just not worth it.

It’s better to eat conventional produce than to avoid eating produce at all just because it might have been treated. Conventional produce still provides adequate nutrition levels. We just believe organic offers a higher quality of nutrition and, therefore, want to choose it as often as possible. I believe eating a balanced “organic” diet, rich in vitamins and minerals, is the best thing, even if it’s not always feasible. The first step was balance. The second step was nutrition. The next step for us right now is eating as organic as possible. We may or may not do this forever, but for now, we believe it’s a step worth taking.

Also, one other point I must make is that just because something says it’s 100% organic does NOT necessarily make it healthful for you. If you have to choose between a 100% organic triple fudge sundae or a conventionally grown apple, the apple is going to provide more nutrition. So, it’s not about eating 100% organic junk food. It’s about being good stewards of our bodies for the glory of God to the best of our abilities.

Which step are you on? Are these steps even necessary? Or are there other, better steps to take? Should we go 100% organic or just do our best to eat balanced meals? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

The Inspiration Behind the New Banner

In celebration of reaching 10,000 hits on the blog, and in a continued effort to simplify, I decided to create a new banner and change the background of my blog to white. Here’s the banner I designed and a little insight into each image it contains:

1. Rest.

  • We all know how important rest is. If we don’t have it, our bodies and brains don’t function properly. Each of us requires a slightly different amount of rest each night. For me, that means a minimum of 7 hours. 8 hours is preferable, and I love Saturday mornings, when I can soak in 9 or 10 hours in one night! Too bad America doesn’t instate siestas for people past the age of 5.
  • Sleep deprivation is a real and rapidly spreading problem in our impulsive, instant-gratification society. So many of us come home and run straight for entertainment to “detox” from the demands of the day: TV, Facebook, video games, and the list goes on. We live in a digital age. It’s not all bad, but throwing quickly moving images in front of our eyes doesn’t help us rest; it just adds more “noise” to our lives. Know when to unplug. Plan to turn off electronics a good hour before bedtime, so your brain has time to decompress from the day.

2. Good Nutrition.

  • “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” right?! Healthy eating is a necessity to live a balanced, whole life. Food is fuel, and if we want to “live long and prosper,” we need to be conscious of what enters our systems. But who says healthful food has to taste bad?! Think about this: God wants the best for our lives. Meanwhile, God created us to need food to survive. Every good gift is from God, food being one of those gifts. He’s given us creative minds and tons of different flavors. So, let’s praise God by creating delicious, beautiful meals that are full of nutritional value, and then use the energy from those foods to bring Him glory.

3. Fellowship, Support, Communication.

  • What is fellowship? If you’re not familiar with the Christian term, you may be familiar with the classic trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings. Part I is The Fellowship of the Ring. The Fellowship was a group of people who joined together over a common goal. In the Christian worldview, the one thing that binds us together is Jesus Christ. So, when we fellowship, we are joining together over the union we find in our Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • God knew what He was doing when He put more than one person on this earth. We need each other. We need support; we need love; we often need correction. We need each other. It’s important to have a support circle, a small list of close friends and family you know you can count on if your car breaks down a thousand miles from home, if you need a shoulder to cry on or a solid kick in the pants, or if you need to ramble at 2AM. Most of us won’t have more than 5 of these in our lives, so when you find them, hold them dear and be mutually supportive.
  • It’s also a reminder to practice communication, just like any other skill in which we want to excel. We need to communicate with each other, always remembering the perfect balance of truth and love. And we need to communicate with God through prayer and Bible reading. God created us to be dependent on Him. But it’s more than a dependence; it’s a personal relationship that He desires to have with each one of us. And it’s amazing!

4. Environment of Growth.

  • I liked this picture because it’s in an office setting, which encompasses things like working (and blogging: see the computer in the background), but it also contains new life being nurtured. Create an environment, at home, in the office, in your car, wherever you are, that is an environment of growth. Eliminate things that hold you back or distract you, and encourage things that push you to be the person God wants you to be.

5. Exercise and Hydrate. Two more vital necessities in life.

  • It’s a constant battle to get off the couch or out of the house and just move, but we all know it’s important. Not only does it help us burn calories, it releases endorphins which lift our moods and help us keep a balanced perspective on life. You don’t have to join a gym or spend lots of money on fancy equipment. Just be endeavor to live a healthy lifestyle.
  • For years, doctors and educators recommended 6-8 glasses of water a day. Today, they’ve increased the recommendation to 9-13 glasses per day! The majority of our bodies is comprised of water; it’s essential for every function of our bodies. It’s important! It’s really important! So, hydrate! And when you’re exercising, remember the trifecto: prehydrate, hydrate, and rehydrate.

6. Refresh.

  • Carve out a block of time each day, even if it’s only 15 minutes, that’s set aside to reboot. Soak up the word of God and give yourself time to meditate, pray, and apply what you’ve just read. Go on a short walk, listen to music, read, practice some yoga, or just sit still. Your body and mind will thank you.

This is My Journey to Lean. And it can be yours too. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the journey! ~Melissa

Celebrating 10,000 Hits with Guest Author Catherine Hosack and Her Zucchini-Tomato Pesto Rolls Recipe

I met today’s guest author several years ago at a local Barnes & Noble while we waited for the midnight release of the final Harry Potter book. Catherine Hosack is a dear friend who is also in a journey towards better health. She writes a blog called “Going Raw: Adventures in Uncooking.” Check it out here. I wanted a guest author to help me celebrate 10,000 hits on my blog, so I asked her to share her story with my readers, and here it is:

“I love Melissa’s “journey to lean” blog for a lot of reasons; for one, it shows that everyone has their own spiritual and physical health journey to experience. The process of learning what is best for our individual bodies, minds, and spirits is, I think, an essential part of our lives. As Melissa’s blog testifies, this process can be hard, but it’s worth it. My personal journey along these lines has led me to eating a mostly raw, Vegan diet. Briefly, a Vegan raw food diet is a pure vegetarian diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. In order to qualify as raw, no food can be heated above 118Âş F, which is the temperature at which the whole live enzymes and nutrients in the food start to be destroyed.

“I started eating this way because in 2002 I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which basically means that my immune system and my colon were not happy. After seven years of dealing with really strong medications and a very bleak outlook for my long-term health, I decided to increase my health through nutrition. I decided to try a raw food diet because it maximizes one’s intake of live enzymes, antioxidants, and alkaline-forming foods – all of which actively improve your body’s immune system and increase your natural health. The idea, in short, is to eat foods that make you stronger, instead of eating foods that make you weak and therefore more susceptible to disease.

“Transitioning to this new way of life was difficult at first, but now I am happy to say that after a year and a half of eating a diet heavy in raw foods, I have experienced NONE of the ulcerative colitis symptoms that used to disrupt my life every couple months. Additionally, I have more energy, I hardly ever get sick (not even a cold), and I’ve experienced other unexpected health benefits as well.

“I LOVE raw food. If I go a couple meals without a big raw dish, I crave it. I still eat cooked foods sometimes, of course, and it’s still fun to eat my old favorite foods like Pad Thai and pumpkin pie and things like that… but as time goes on, I feel less and less drawn to my old comfort foods, and more and more attracted to my new favorite dishes, like avocado-carob pudding, fresh sprouts, garden-fresh okra, and marinated eggplant.

“This is one of my favorite raw food recipes.”



    • 1 cup of pine nuts or walnuts, soaked in water for 8 hours or more
    • 1 cup of fresh basil
    • 3 cloves of garlic
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • dash of sea salt to taste
    • Appliance needed: blender or chopper
    • A couple medium tomatoes or 3-4 small ones
    • 1 zucchini


“Blend all the pesto ingredients in some sort of small blender or chopper. Next, you need to make thin zucchini-strips. You can either do this by getting a big knife and cutting your zucchini carefully, lengthwise; but it’s far easier to use a cheese slicer if you have one. Just hold the zucchini and pull the slicer down from one end to the other, keeping the thickness of the slice as even as possible.

“Dice the tomatoes into pieces about the size of large grapes. Then take a slice of zucchini, spread pesto on the slice, and stick a tomato on one end of the zucchini slice. Carefully roll the zucchini around the tomato. I like to grind peppercorns over the finished rolls. These are so tasty…and cute too!”

Bon Appetit! I hope you enjoy this raw Vegan treat! Don’t forget to check out Catherine’s blog! ~Melissa