Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Family Thanksgiving

Before I leave my Nourishing November series, I wanted to squeeze in one last post about our family's Thanksgiving.  For you see, spending time with those we love celebrating holidays and special occasions, making memories, and observing family traditions are also ways we nourish our families.  

We had a quiet Thanksgiving this year, with just our family (minus Ashlyn, plus Kristi).  No guests.  It has been a few years since we've had such a low-key Thanksgiving day!  (Why is that when we don't have company, we are tempted to make things less special??  Don't our families deserve The Best we have to offer??)

The kids started off the day by running in the local Turkey Trot!  

Bethany, Matt and Tiffany ran the 1 mile Fun Run.  Then, Matt ran the 5K, too, with Chris, Hannah and Luke!!  It was their first race, and they all did amazingly well!  It was a very small turnout (maybe 40 runners?), but Luke came in 7th and Hannah was 8th!  Not bad for their first effort!

Back at home, Tiffany worked on her pies . . . 

And the Big Guy helped peel potatoes!  :)

Plus, the guys played football at the marina for about two hours!!

Then, Hannah and Bethany set the dining room table and made it look special . . . . 

And Hannah took pictures of some of the handsome fellas in our family!!

Does Matt have this posing thing down, or what???  ;)

It took a little longer to get dinner on the table, because the oven started shooting sparks and quit working in the middle of baking the side dishes!!  Fortunately, Ole Tom was browning nicely in a free-standing Roaster Oven and the sweet potato casserole was able to get done in the oven.  We finished off the rest of the casseroles in the microwave, went without rolls (we didn't need those extra carbs anyway!), and eventually took one of the pies to a friend's house to bake!!  

When it was finally time to eat, everyone gathered in the kitchen, eager to partake of their annual favorites.

Alan asked God to bless the food and thanked him for His Many Blessings to our family during the past year(s).

Amen . . . and dig in!  ;)

Here is my plate!  (It looks so good, I'm ready to eat it all over again!!)  ;)

I love seeing my family gathered around the table, enjoying good food and good times!

After eating our fill, we all went around the table and shared some things we were thankful for.  In our family, this is a time of seriousness mixed with hilarity!  :)  Especially when Alan shared an embellished version of how we met!!!  ;)

Taylor impressed us with his Tebow-inspired speech!!  He promised to come prepared next year with an even better speech . . . and a girl by his side!!  Hmm . . . .

Then, Alan and the boys built a fire . . . and we all got warm and cozy, and you know what happens when your belly is full of turkey and all the trimmings and you get warm and cozy . . . 

After our naps, it was time for dessert!  We enjoyed Tiffany's delicious pumpkin and apple pies!

And before we knew it another Thanksgiving was behind us . . . . only to be remembered through the stories, the pictures, and, of course, the blog posts!   ;)

Nourishing Words

Unbelievably, today is the last day of November, and I've not yet explored all the ideas I had hoped to blog about for my Nourishing November series!!  Oh well, I guess blogging is a lot like football -- there's always next year!!  ;)

Today, I want to discuss the impact our words have to nourish and build up our families or to destroy and tear down.   Proverbs 14:1 says, "Every wise woman buildeth her house, but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands."  A major way that we as women either build up and nourish or tear down and destroy our families is through our words.

Stop and take inventory.  Are most of the words you speak to your husband and children loving, gentle, encouraging, uplifting and nurturing??  Or is the majority of your speech angry, harsh, negative, sarcastic, belittling and critical??

Proverbs 12:18 puts it this way, "There are those who speak rashly like the piercing of the sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."  (Amplified version)  

We are either wise or foolish women.  A wise woman uses her tongue to build up and nourish her family, while the foolish woman uses hers to cut and wound like the piercing of a sword!  Wow!  What a vivid picture!  Obviously, we want to put our swords away and speak words of life to our families!!  Let's talk about ways we can use our words to nourish those we love the most!

Speak sweet, pleasant words.

Proverbs 16:24 says, "Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones."  (Isn't that thought-provoking in light of what we discovered yesterday about osteoporosis??)

So, the first thing to keep in mind is that our words should be sweet and pleasant.  Not sickly sweet and insincere, but sweet to our own taste buds when they roll off the tongue, and pleasant to the ears of those who hear them.  Pleasant words nourish our families, just like honey and the honeycomb nourish the body!

Speak words of encouragement.

Proverbs 12:25 says, Anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down, but an encouraging word makes it glad."  (Amplified version)

Our husbands are often weighed down with the cares of this world, including financial woes, problems at work, and troubles at home.  We should not add to their burdens, but seek ways to make their load lighter!  Instead of complaining, nagging, and criticizing our husbands when they get home from work, we should look for ways to encourage them and speak life-giving words to lighten their spirits.

Our children also need to hear words of encouragement and praise.  Of course, children require much correction and instruction, but at times the scales are tipped so that all a child hears in the course of a day is correction.  We need to make sure we balance the scales by heaping on the blessings and the praise! 

Speak gently.

Proverbs 15:1 says, "A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger."  This should be one of the first verses we teach our children!!

Many times an argument can be diffused simply by reigning in our tongues and forcibly causing ourselves to speak quietly, gently and calmly, even when we feel like lashing out!

The wisdom of this verse will amaze you as you apply it in a variety of situations!  Try speaking gently and quietly the next time your husband speaks harshly or your teenage son responds testily. (Remember that he is just a ticking testosterone bomb and tread softly!!)   Many times that soft answer will diffuse a difficult situation and help avoid an explosion!

Speak words of wisdom.

Proverbs 31:26 says, "She opens her mouth in skillful and godly wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness (giving counsel and instruction)."  (Amplified version)

Our words should be full of godly wisdom and spoken in kindness.  This will only be true if we are consistently renewing our minds with God's word.  Otherwise, we will instruct and counsel our families based on the foolishness of the world's wisdom, which is what we hear when we turn on the TV, read the newspaper, or flip open a women's magazine.  The best place to start if we want to acquire godly wisdom is the book of Proverbs.

Nancy Campbell, who has been encouraging women through her Above Rubies ministry for the past 32 years, has this to say about the power of our words -- "Your husband will change when you stop nagging and start encouraging.  Your children will thrive and blossom on encouragement.  The atmosphere in your home will change.  You will even be healthier.  Discouraging words can make people sick.  Positive, life-giving words give health."

Truly, nourishing our families is about more than what we put into their mouths!!  Actually, what comes out of our mouths may have an even greater impact on our families' health!  (Take time to read Matthew 15:11-20 for greater insight on this.)  

So, how healthy are you and your family?  Is your family flourishing?  Or is it weak and malnourished?  Are you willing to commit with me to speak only words that nourish and build up your family??  Please leave me a comment letting me know!

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Nourishing Effect of Joyfulness

As has already been explored here this month, providing life-giving food is one important way we nourish ourselves and our families; however, it is certainly not the only way.  Nourishing the body is more than just consuming healthy food and drink. One crucial way we nourish our families (and ourselves) is through maintaining a joyful spirit.  

Consider these verses from the Amplified version of the Bible:

Proverbs 17:1 -- "Better is a dry morsel with quietness than a house full of feasting [on offered sacrifices] with strife." 

Proverbs 17:22 -- "A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones."  

Proverbs 15:13 -- "A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken." 

Joyfulness is an essential ingredient to a nourishing life!  

Joyfulness Nourishes Our Relationship with God.

God commands that we give thanks in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  When we obey this command, God rewards our obedience by filling us with His peace and joy.  But what happens when we refuse to thank God for hard things?

"When I pout instead of being joyful, grumble instead of praying, and complain instead of giving thanks, I am in effect telling God that he is mishandling my life and I don't like it. At that point, I have ceased to put my faith in my sovereign Lord and have chosen to put my faith in my circumstances. In other words, I am telling God and myself, that if my circumstances change, then and only then can I be happy. Until then, I have nothing to be thankful for. And that, according to Paul, is when I step out of God's will."   (Seasons of a Mother's Heart, by Sally Clarkson)

Maintaining a thankful, joyful attitude brings spiritual and physical blessings and fosters an intimate relationship with Christ.  

Consider these excerpts from the month of November from the outstanding devotional, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young -- 

"A thankful attitude opens windows of heaven. . . "

"Thankfulness is not some sort of magic formula; it is the language of Love, which enables you to communicate intimately with Me.  A thankful mind-set does not entail a denial of reality with its plethora of problems.  Instead it rejoices in Me, your Savior, in the midst of trials and tribulations. . . "

"Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity.  That is why I  have instructed you to give thanks for everything.  There is an element of mystery in this transaction.  You give Me thanks (regardless of your feelings) and I give you Joy (regardless of your circumstances). . .  "

"Thankfulness opens your heart to My Presence and your mind to My Thoughts. . . . "

"This is the day that I have made.  As you rejoice in this day of life, it will yield up to you precious gifts and beneficial training.  Walk with Me along the high road of thanksgiving, and you will find all the delights I have made ready for you.  To protect your thanksgiving, you must remember that you reside in a fallen world, where blessings and sorrows intermingle freely.  A constant focus on adversity defeats many Christians.  They walk through a day that is brimming with beauty and brightness, seeing only the grayness of their thoughts.  Neglecting the practice of giving thanks has darkened their minds.  How precious are My children who remember to thank Me at all times.  They can walk through the darkest days with Joy in their hearts because they know that the Light of My Presence is still shining on them. . . "

"Every time you thank Me, you acknowledge that I am your Lord and Provider.  This is the proper stance for a child of God: receiving with thanksgiving.  Bring Me the sacrifice of gratitude, and watch to see how much I bless you."  

Nurturing a thankful, joyful attitude is one of the most important things we can do to develop a closer, more meaningful relationship with God.

Joyfulness Nourishes our Marriages.

Proverbs 21:9 says, "It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop [on the flat oriental roof, exposed to all kinds of weather] than in a house shared with a nagging, quarrelsome, and fault-finding woman."  (Amplified version)

Men are attracted to happy, smiling, grateful women.  In fact, I have a hunch that being a thankful, contented wife will get you far better mileage than being drop-dead gorgeous!  As we all know, physical beauty is fleeting, and even a beautiful woman can make herself ugly through her words and attitude.

Debi Pearl, in her no-nonsense, plain-speaking style puts it this way --  "Always remember that the day you stop smiling is the day you stop trying to make your marriage heavenly, and it is the first day leading to your divorce proceedings."  (Created to be His Help Meet, p. 32)

She emphasizes that it is God's will for a wife to have a merry heart and a cheerful countenance that refreshes her husband.  Regardless of our circumstances, contentment and joy are choices we make that nourish our husbands and our marriages.

Proverbs 15:15 says, "All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances]."  (Amplified version)

Our marriages can be a continual feast, if we will just remember to cultivate a happy heart!

Joyfulness Nourishes Our Children.

According to Debi Pearl, "The most important thing a mother will do for her children is to create an atmosphere of peace and joy by deeply loving their Daddy and being satisfied with life."  (Created to be His Help Meet, p. 177)

She also shares this secret -- "A wise woman sets a joyful mood in her home.  Through laughter, music, and happy times, she creates a positive attitude in her children.  She knows that a lighthearted home relieves her husband of stress."  (Created to be His Help Meet, p. 35)

I've come to believe that creating a joyful, loving home atmosphere and seeking to "tie heart strings" with our children is one of the most important things we can do as a mother.   A harsh, legalistic upbringing where children feel that they can never measure up is usually a recipe for disaster.  

I love the way Sally Clarkson puts it in Seasons of a Mother's Heart, "If you really desire to reach your children's hearts for Christ, you cannot do so until you build a deep and trusting relationship with each child.  They must feel that they can find no better confidant, no more loyal friends, no greater encourager, no one who better understands their thoughts and dreams, fears and doubts, joys and hurts.  And even though they understand that you want to help them grow to maturity in Christ, they must also sense that you accept them just as they are, and love them no matter what they do."  (p. 106)

Joyfulness Nourishes Our Own Bodies.

It is no secret that anger and bitterness affect our physical health as well as our mental health. There are numerous research studies and articles that document that fact.

But, did you realize that a joyful spirit even protects your bones??

Proverbs 17:22 teaches that a happy heart and cheerful spirit brings health, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. God's Word is so Practical and contains a treasure chest of wisdom and knowledge, if we will just take the time to search it out.  As I read this verse, I started thinking about osteoporosis and decided to do a little research.  Sure enough, a simple Google search revealed a number of articles (such as this one and also this one) that revealed the link between depression and osteoporosis!!   Truly a broken spirit does dry up the bones, making them weak and brittle!

Surely, there is no greater investment we can make in our own health and that of our families than to develop a joyful, contented spirit.

"Joy begins with thankfulness:  Thankfulness is how you think; joy is the abundance it produces." -- Debi Pearl

Monday, November 28, 2011

Staying Healthy the Natural Way {a Guest Post}

Yes They're All Ours: Nourishing November

Today I'm sharing a guest post from Mary of The Encouraging Home.  She has a wealth of wisdom on staying healthy the natural way.  I sure wish I had had this information at the beginning of the month, before I succumbed to a nasty "cold virus" that hung around for well over two weeks, eventually going into a sinus infection and then settling in my chest and giving me a nasty cough that still lingers to this day.  :(

It's that time of year again -- when the colds and flu start. Are you prepared to keep your family healthy?

There are basic things that we all know to do: drink plenty of water, limit sugar intake, get seven to eight hours of sleep each night, exercise (T-Tapp is amazing!), and eat healthy foods.  But have you thought of these things?

  1. DON'T take the flu shot. Instead, we take a flu homeopath. It is called Flu Nosode or Influenzum.  This is something we take off and on throughout the year, especially as fall and winter approaches.

  2. Drink green smoothies. I love to grow plenty of greens in my garden for smoothies. When I don't have them, don't have time to blend a smoothie, or extra energy is needed, I use Nutritional Dreams Dream Greens.  I love the minty flavor that I have not found in other green drinks. (Most do not taste good to me.) My kids even drink it! The most amazing benefit that I have found is that is cuts out my craving for sugar -- a BIG plus!

  3. Use Essential oils. The highest quality that I have found is Young Living. We use oils daily topically or diffused in our home. Essential oils were used in the Bible and the health benefits are excellent. My favorites are Peppermint, Lavender, Peace and Calming, Purification, Lemon, and Thieves. Thieves oil is especially great during the cold and flu season to kill germs. Add peppermint oil to your water. Tastes great. Helpful for digestion, detoxification, stress relief, increased immunity, and much more.

  4. Try Living Clay. This is the newest part of my health regimen and I am very impressed! It is the main staple in my first aid kit and I always have it with me. You can drink it, bathe in it, use it topically for bug bites, cuts, burns, broken bones, for brushing your teeth, for facial care (you will NOT believe how smooth your skin can feel!), and so much more. Living clay sounds amazing and it is!

  5. Visit a natural practitioner. I have been sick all my life with many problems, including chronic fatigue, Epstein Barr virus, thyroid disorder, fibrocystic breast disease, and endometriosis. I am thankful that my parents took me to natural practitioners, after the doctors wanted to put me on medication and treatments. (My mother survived stage 4 breast cancer the natural way 23 years ago.) If they hadn’t, I would have been living on medicine and not having a productive life. Today, I am in better health than ever. 

  6. Take high quality vitamins and supplements. We take liquid B's, D, Co-Q10, Green Tea, along with vitamin C, a multi-vitamin and fish oil.

  7. Take Sambucol (elderberry syrup) to prevent getting sick or when you notice the first symptoms. You might want to try making your own.

  8. Try Aloe Arborescens. This is a super-immune boosting product. Pricey, but worth it to stay healthy all through the winter.
  9. Be careful with hand sanitizers. They are so convenient to carry with you, but should not be a replacement for soap and water. I like to use one made with essential oils when we are on the go.

  10. Eliminate emotional stress.  This is easier said than done. Stress can kill you and suppresses your immune system. This last year was extremely difficult due to a trial we faced. I allowed it to take over my life. Thankfully, I had the Lord to see me through and everything I described above. An additional help was the book Who Switched Off My Brain?  Using scripture and scientific research, Dr. Leaf helps you learn how to take control of toxic thoughts before they do damage and how to heal from the ones that already did. Everyone should read this book!

You can stay healthy during the cold and flu season. It takes an investment of time and money, but it is worth it to build a healthy immune system and have a healthy family. I hope this will provide you with some suggestions for staying healthy this winter.

Mary is a farm girl and homeschooling mom to two sons. She blogs about her crazy but blessed life at The Encouraging Home.  She is passionate about her faith, family, homeschooling, healthy living the natural way, and T-Tapp.  Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Feast of Gratitude {a Guest Post}

Today's Nourishing November post is by my dear friend, Lori, from a Happy Busy Mama.

In thinking about what it means to nourish, I consulted an online dictionary to gain the precise meaning of the word:
  •      to feed and cause to grow
  •          to support, to maintain
  •          to supply, to encourage, to foster
  •          to cherish, to comfort
  •          to educate, instruct

I admit that my first thought when it comes to nourishing my family is to plan a tasty, nutritious menu that takes into account various allergies and food intolerances and promotes good health.

That sounds good on the surface, but now it's time to confess.  Nourishing my family can become way too important to me, way too quickly. I can become so consumed by nutrition that I swap the art of cooking for the science of cold-calculated caloric experiments.   I am prone to pour over books, making master menus of maximum nutrition at minimal cost only to have trouble actually getting a meal on the table.  On top of that, if I manage to get the experiment on the table, I can easily feel defeated when my family is resistant to my efforts.

I don’t blame them; I have put them through some culinary adventures.  I am still apologizing for the Tofu Pups (imitation hot dogs) and the high nutrition “brownies” that tasted like shredded cardboard sweetened with dirt; they did not even have the benefit of the cocoa to cover over the recipe-gone-wrong, because I used carob instead of cocoa.  Now I have a healthy respect for carob, but chocolate it is not!

Armed with many wonderful goals for nutrition, education, hospitality, home-keeping, decorating, you name it, I can easily be overwhelmed if I set out to “nourish” my family to perfection, 100% of the time.  What starts out as a noble task will plummet into a spiraling cycle of perfectionism, stress, burn-out, and if I'm not careful, despair. Balance is key.

On most days, I admit that I am Pollyanna-like, always looking on the bright side, but I also fight a daily battle of perfectionism. It comes so naturally; I hardly even see it in myself. When I do see it, I realize I have lost sight of what is most important. 

The answer ? Gratitude.  Joy in action.

Gratitude is the due consideration that everything that happens will strengthen and bless us, even trials of many kinds.  We do not want to be inconvenienced, much less suffer, but we are likely to experience seasons of tremendous refining in the fires of difficulties. We might doubt that we are able to bear it, but once the storm has passed, we find ourselves changed people with fresh outlooks of gratitude. We have become stronger with broader perspectives.  (James 1: 2-4)
 “2My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
 3Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
 4But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting                                                           nothing”.

An attitude of gratitude is the most nourishing thing I do for my family.  I love to feed, educate, encourage and comfort them, but I believe that the most important habit is to nourish them in thankfulness.  Even in the worst of circumstances, in plenty or in want, sickness or health, joy or in sorrow, gratitude guards the heart. Grateful, thankful hearts are not just good for you soul, but medical science verifies that it is also good for the body and nourishing to the body.

Recommended Daily Act of Gratitude:

Everyday, take one minute with each person in your family.  Only affirm them, or just say nothing at all.  Do NOT instruct or advise, correct or challenge. We already do plenty of that. ;-)

Simply look into their eyes, the window of the soul, and savor those seconds of uninterrupted joyful communion. Your hearts will be tied together in gratitude.

Good food is essential to good health, but it is perishable.  A feast of gratitude refreshes the heart, soul, mind and strength continually. Come what may, gratitude will nourish our hearts for the day at hand.

Lori, enjoys blogging at a Happy Busy Mama, when her life slows down enough to allow her that privilege!  She has been married to her best friend, John, for over 25 years, and is the happy busy mama to a houseful of children.  She has homeschooled for twenty years and draws from that experience to encourage and aid other homeschooling parents, especially those who have children with special needs.  She loves sitting on her front porch and drawing strength from the mountains, and she enjoys learning, living, laughing, loving, reading, music, drama, a nice cup of tea, and of course . . . . chocolate!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Mystery of Thankfulness

Yes They're All Ours: Nourishing November

Just as healthy food nourishes the body, a spirit of gratefulness nourishes the mind and the heart.   That's why we would do well to maintain an attitude of thanksgiving every day of the year!!  

I loved the devotional reading for today from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young:

"Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity.  That is why I have instructed you to give thanks for everything.  There is an element of mystery in this transaction: you give Me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you Joy (regardless of your circumstances).  This is a spiritual act of obedience -- at times, blind obedience.  To people who don't know Me intimately, it can seem irrational and even impossible to thank Me for heartrending hardships.  Nonetheless, those who obey Me in this way are invariably blessed, even though difficulties may remain.  

Thankfulness opens your heart to My Presence and your mind to My thoughts.  You may still be in the same place, with the same set of circumstances, but it is as if a light has been switched on, enabling you to see from My perspective.  It is this Light of My Presence that removes the sting from adversity."

Isn't this a great reminder??  May your Thanksgiving be blessed and may you carry a spirit of thanksgiving into every day of the year!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why a Fast-Food Diet Fails to Nourish

Yes They're All Ours: Nourishing November

We live in a fast-food society.  It affects more than the food we eat; it influences who we are and how we live on many levels.  We want everything to be quick, painless, immediately gratifying, and to tickle our taste buds.  

Sacrificing Quality for Speed

Our emphasis on speed causes us to sacrifice quality.  We are in too big of a rush to prepare our own food from scratch at home or to sit down and enjoy a leisurely meal with the family.  Instead, we rely on the drive-thru.  And when we order fast food, it better be fast!  We don't put up with even the shortest wait without complaining or "taking our business elsewhere."

This mentality even affects our relationship with God.  How many times do we settle for a "drive-thru devotional time" in the mornings, because we are too busy to settle down and "eat a solid meal" from God's Word??  I'd say way more often than we care to admit!

What about the many verses that instruct us to wait upon the Lord?  Waiting goes against the grain!  We are an impatient people!  However, the Bible is full of verses about waiting on the Lord, especially in the Psalms.  Probably the most beloved verse about waiting on the Lord is found in Isaiah 40:31 --

"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." 

We need to learn to discipline ourselves to wait patiently on the Lord and to sit expectantly in His Presence.  What a challenge for modern Christians living in our fast-paced society!!

Devitalized, Processed Food

Another problem with our addiction to fast food, is that we have developed a taste for devitalized, processed foods -- you know, all those food items found in boxes, bags, packages, microwavable containers, etc.  These "foods" are quick, convenient, easy, contain chemicals that tantalize our taste buds, and fill us up (and out) but fail to really nourish our bodies.

God designed our bodies to need Real, whole foods, like our grandparents or even great-grandparents ate.  Real food has been defined as that which we can theoretically pick, gather, milk, fish or hunt, or make ourselves at home using such ingredients.  That means butter rather than margarine; cheddar cheese rather than processed cheese food; whole grains rather than "enriched" white flour products. 

Likewise, God designed our bodies to be nourished by His Word, not a modern-day substitute.  I once had a woman tell me that her Quiet Time consisted of reading Christian Romance novels, which was how she grew in the Lord!!!!  Really??  1 Peter 2:2 instructs new believers to grow by thirsting for and consuming the pure Milk of God's Word.  (That would be Real Milk, by the way -- raw, unpasteurized milk full of all the nutrients and enzymes, just the way God created it!!)

God's Word also teaches that mature believers should go beyond milk and graduate to solid food.  Their diet should consist of the meat of God's Word.  (See Hebrews 5:12-14.)

Just as real, whole, living foods provide the optimal nourishment for our bodies, God's pure, Holy, living Word provides the optimal nourishment for our spirits.  Hebrews 4:12 says that God's Word is Alive and Powerful and Sharper than any two-edged sword!

Mindless Eating

Another by-product of the fast-food mentality is our tendency to mindlessly gulp our food, consuming a huge number of calories in record time without even tasting what just passed over our tongues and entered into our bodies.  In order for our meals to be more nourishing, we need to slow down and chew our food, savoring the taste and the texture, and taking time to interact with those who are dining with us.  Americans could learn a thing or two from Europeans when it comes to leisurely enjoying our meals.

Spiritually speaking, most of us would be better off to avoid gulping down large portions of Scripture, and concentrate on smaller passages.  Surely you've had the experience of hurriedly reading your chapters for the day and having absolutely no idea what you just read!!  Instead, we should discipline ourselves to tackle smaller portions, reading them slowly and thoughtfully, taking time to "chew" on them before swallowing, and letting the truths soak into our very being.  We would also do well to take the time to actually commune with the Author of these life-giving Words!

Unbalanced Nutrition

Fast-food meals rarely provide balanced nutrition.  While dietitians may disagree on the ideal proportions of proteins, carbs, and fats, it is still an undisputed fact that our bodies need all three of these macro-nutrients to be healthy and well-nourished.  It is also a well-established fact that we need to start the day with a balanced breakfast.  If we rush into our day without eating, or if we grab a quick, high-carb breakfast, we are likely to experience a "crash" a few hours later when our blood sugar bottoms out, leaving us feeling hungry, weak, shaky, mentally confused, and even panicky. 

The same thing happens spiritually when we jump into our day without taking time to nourish ourselves from God's word.  Perhaps we don't feel "hungry" and skip our Bible reading, or we grab a light breakfast as we rush out the door or begin to tackle our to-do list.  Gulping down a single verse or a quick devotional reading may satisfy us for a short time, but it will not sustain us for the demands of the entire day.  

Also, we often have the tendency to read from our favorite book of the Bible day after day, which doesn't really provide the balance of nutrients we need.  We need spiritual "protein" for growth and rebuilding; we need spiritual "carbs" for quick energy; and we need spiritual "fat" for satiety and long-term energy.  Taking time to consume a balanced meal from God's Word will equip us for whatever twists and turns our day may take, preparing us to think clearly and make wise decisions, and equipping us for battle.

So, even though we live in a fast-food world, we would be wise to avoid being conformed to the present fast-food mentality, but instead to renew our minds (and our taste buds) to be drawn to a slower, healthier, more balanced, more purposeful way of nourishing our bodies and our spirits.   

What have you done to get "out of the drive-thru line" physically or spiritually??

Monday, November 21, 2011

Nourishment is More than Food

Yes They're All Ours: Nourishing November

Have you ever worked hard and made a nice meal for your family, only to encounter the following scenario -- Your little daughter turns up her nose and says, "Yuck!  I don't like _______!"  Your older son bounds out the door yelling, "I'm late for work, Mom! Studying with a friend after work, so I'll grab a burger later."  Then, another son says, "No time to eat, Mom, I'm off to basketball practice.  See you later!"  Then your husband sends you a text saying, "Working late. Eat without me."


Before you know it, you're left alone (or maybe with just the baby of the family) to eat a nice meal that you spent a lot of time and energy preparing in order to nourish the bodies and relationships in your family.  How do you feel?  Sad?  Lonely?  Hurt?  Rejected?  

I wonder if that's how Jesus feels when we neglect spending time with Him and acquiring nourishment from His Word.  He has provided everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), but sometimes we find His Word dry or boring or too difficult to understand, so we turn our focus to more exciting things (like connecting with our friends on Facebook or reading our favorite blogs).  Other times, we're just too busy or harried to stop and sit at the feet of Jesus, receiving the nourishment He has prepared for us.  Many times we stumble through life with spirits that are starved or malnourished, when God has set a banquet table for us and delights in filling our cups to overflowing. 

That's why Jesus clearly stated that He is the Bread of Life and the Living Water.  Just as our bodies hunger and thirst for physical sustenance, our spirits also hunger and thirst for God.  Sometimes, we seek spiritual nourishment from counterfeit sources, which never satisfy our emptiness.  God, Himself, is the only thing that truly satisfies our longing hearts!

One resource that has helped me nourish my relationship with the Lord is the amazing devotional book, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young.  Consider this entry from August 19th:

"I continually call you to closeness with Me.  I know the depth and breadth of your need for Me.  I can read the emptiness of your thoughts when they wander away from Me.  I offer rest for your soul as well as refreshment for your mind and body.  As you increasingly find fulfillment in Me, other pleasures become less important.  Knowing Me intimately is like having a private wellspring of Joy within you.  This spring flows freely from my throne of grace so your Joy is independent of circumstances.  Waiting in My Presence keeps you connected to Me, aware of all that I offer you.  If you feel any deficiency, you need to refocus your attention on Me.  This is how you trust Me in the moments of your life."

Here is another inspiring entry from August 16th:

"Meet me in early morning splendor.  I eagerly await you here.  In the stillness of this holy time with Me, I renew your strength and saturate you with Peace.  While others turn over for extra sleep or anxiously tune into the latest news, you commune with the Creator of the universe.  I have awakened in your heart strong desire to know Me.   This longing originated in Me, thought it now burns brightly in you.  When you seek My Face in response to My Love-call, both of us are blessed.  This is a deep mystery, designed more for your enjoyment than for your understanding.  I am not a dour God who discourages pleasure.  I delight in your enjoyment of everything that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable.  Think on these things and My Light in you will shine brighter day by day."

Have you taken time to be nourished by God's Word and Presence today??

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