Whether you’re a follower of Christ or not, I bet you’ve heard this verse before:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
-Philippians 4:13 (ESV)
I’ve generally seen this verse used in the context of being strong or able to accomplish great things. But do you know what it says right before that verse?
The Apostle Paul writes the following in his letter to the church in Philippi:
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
– Philippians 4:10-13 (NIV)
You see, read in context, this verse is really not about being strong or accomplishing great things. It’s about contentment.
Contentment. Yeah, maybe 2000 years ago, but in this day and age? What is that? In this “gotta have it now”, smart-phone-driven, “just Google it” world that we live in, what value is there in contentment?
Let’s back up a bit. Earlier this year, before I started back on the Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet**, I was really struggling with the concept of “fullness”. It didn’t seem to matter how much I ate, I was never full. I was so frustrated that I sat down at my computer and pounded out a big, long rant about the futility of the pursuit of fullness. I felt better after ranting, but it still didn’t solve my problem.
Thankfully, I remembered the Carb Addict’s Diet, bought the book again (I must have given away my old copy) and got back on it. Turns out that insulin is one of the most powerful “drugs” available and it’s manufactured right here inside this amazing human body of ours. I’ve heard it said that food addiction might be the most difficult addiction to deal with because we can’t just go “cold turkey” and stop eating. It must be managed and it’s crazy hard to do.
I had been on the Carb Addict’s Diet for five years (2008 to 2013) and loved it, but in 2013 I found out that I had a gluten problem. I was in so much pain that I hired a Functional Medicine doctor and a health coach and I completely changed the way I ate. If you’re interested, you can read more about it here: Salsa Chicken
Through that whole endeavor, I solved my gluten issue, but I created an insulin monster that was getting harder and harder to tame. Thankfully, in April 2017, I had enough knowledge, along with a gentle reminder from Jesus, to put myself back on the Carb Addict’s Diet, without the gluten madness, and the insulin monster has once again been tamed. Thank you, Lord!
But that process got me thinking about the concept of fullness, or the pursuit of filling that “hole in our soul”, instead of living in contentment. And I came to the conclusion that, on this planet, we are always going to feel a little empty. We’re always going to want one more thing, one more toy, one more taste, one more nap, one more show, one more laugh, one more hug, fill in the blank: one more, one more, one more.
Vince Antonucci from Verve Church in Las Vegas said that God longs to fill us because He knows that we leak. No matter how full we are, we leak. And we need to be filled again. Vince’s solution? Go to God and let Him fill you. But don’t stop there. Vince encourages us to ask God two questions, every day:
“How do you want to love me today? Who do you want to love through me today?”
I love it. I love the focus. But if I may, I would like to tweak those questions just a bit. Because I think that asking one time per day isn’t enough. We lose focus much too easily. And it seems that the more challenging our day is, the faster we “leak”. How about:
“Lord, how do you want to love me right now? Who do you want to love through me right now?”
If we could ask those two questions over and over again, all day long, listening for the answer and doing what He says, what kind of world would we live in? If we were to let God fill us and then take that love and pass it along to someone else, I bet we’d feel a lot more full, a lot more complete, than filling ourselves by our own devices.
So, let’s do it. Let’s let Him love us and pass that love along. Let’s not fill ourselves completely, but leave room for God to fill us. Let’s not focus on what we don’t have, but instead thank Him for what we do have. I believe God wants us to want what we already have. We may not feel like it’s enough, but it is. We can do this through Him who gives us strength. This is contentment. This is enough for now.
King David said it this way, a few thousand years ago. I think it still applies today:
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
– Psalm 37:4 (ESV)
** Update from 1-1-18: One thing I didn’t mention in this post is that the Carb Addict’s Diet is the only low carb diet I know of that lets you eat whatever you want for one meal per day (as long as you’re done, first bite to last bite, within one hour). You eat low carb/ no carb the rest of the day and your insulin levels stay steady. I am living proof, as a former hypoglycemic. I hope this is helpful info! Happy 2018!!
In 2013, when Joshua was 11, he and I were blessed to be able to go on a mission trip to Costa Rica with Joshua Expeditions through Kensington Church. I brought my iPad with me and sent email updates home every day to keep all of our trip supporters “in the loop”. Once I got home, I compiled all of the emails into a sort of “blog”, added pictures and sent out the PDF to all of the friends and family who had supported us on our trip through their prayers and financial gifts. I’ve always thought about sharing that “blog” here, but I’ve never really felt the push to put the work into doing so. Until now.
You see, I’m still shocked that I went on the trip in the first place. Looking back, it was an amazing trip, but it was also full of new experiences and uncertainty, which would normally put a person with my anxiety issues over the edge. When I first heard about the trip and read that it was “ideal for first-timers” and for those “11 and up” and realized that Joshua would be turning 11 a couple weeks before the trip, I knew we had to go. And it was that certainty that pushed me through all of the uncertainty.
But when we returned home and I thought about all that we had done, I couldn’t see myself going back. What if it didn’t turn out as well? What if I did completely fall apart? What if I didn’t have the energy to push through the challenges? So many “what if’s” (from the enemy, of course, as that’s where most “what if’s” come from), that I thought the only way I would go back was if John would come with us. So, for the past 3 years, we’ve casually talked about John and I taking Joshua and Jordan in 2017 when Jordan turns 11. But John really doesn’t have an interest in going, so it remained casual talk. Safe distance. No commitment.
Something changed last week. I had dropped Joshua and Jordan off at SpringHill Day Camp in Troy and was driving home. As I drove, I had this vision of taking Jordan to Costa Rica, just the two of us, or maybe the two of us with another mother-daughter team. And I knew exactly who that mother-daughter team was, I just didn’t know if God would give them the same vision, or if the vision was just to encourage me to take Jordan. A gift from God to light a fire under me. So, I came home, asked John what he thought of the idea, he loved it, and I sent an informative email off to my friend. Included in that email was this blog. I thought I would share it with you as well. It’s about time. 🙂
Update December 2019: Turns out I didn’t take Jordan in 2017, as she was having some health issues and I wasn’t comfortable taking her out of the country. However, we have officially decided that I will be taking both Joshua and Jordan in July 2020. I see this as a “launching” trip, as Joshua will have graduated from high school (18) and Jordan will be heading into high school (14). Joshua will be able to put all of his engineering and woodworking experience into helping the construction team build a house for a local family. And I’ll be blessed to be able to watch Jordan use all of her childcare experience while we both work with the kids’ camp. Stay tuned for more info on how you can help. 🙂
Friday 7-5-13 @ 10:24pm
We’re at the Marriott by the airport, getting up at 2:45am to catch our 6am flight to Costa Rica.
Night-night! Love, Beth & Joshua
Saturday 7-6-13 @ 2:30am
Got 2 hours of sleep, woke up, got ready and now I’m sitting here drinking coffee waiting for time for Joshua to get up.
Blessings to you! Love, Beth
Saturday 7-6-13 @ 9:42am
Feels like afternoon, but it’s 8:25 in Houston CDT. Costa Rica is on CST, so we will be 2 hours behind you. Our flight doesn’t leave until 11:30 (about 3 hours from now). We just found bacon and eggs for $14 for the 2 of us. Yikesters!
Love this Logitech keyboard. 🙂 Happy Mother’s Day to me.
Love you and talk to you soon! -Beth & Joshua
Saturday 7-6-13 @ 10:31pm
We are home from a lovely dinner and settling into our rooms for what will hopefully be a much longer night sleep than last night. 🙂 Two hours was not nearly long enough (nor was Joshua’s 3 hours), but I did manage to sleep on both planes (Joshua didn’t – he was too busy visiting with friends – can you imagine?).
We are at the Country Inns & Suites, so any contact info you had for the Radisson is not correct. That was a mix-up of dates. They had plenty of room at this hotel for this week and it’s the hotel they’ve stayed at all 7 years, so it is the natural choice.
You are all on the blog list, so you should be receiving a blog update each night. Now that we’re here, Joshua and I plan on putting our electronics away for a few days. It was great to talk to Ma, Papa, Jordan and John on Facetime tonight and also to Rick on iMessage. I’m glad we got to connect with you. But don’t be concerned if you don’t hear from us for a few days (other than the blog). I’m so glad that Rick was able to help Ma & Papa get Facetime working. Great job, Uncle Rick!! 🙂
Have a good couple days. Much love to you all! -Beth & Joshua
Monday 7-8-13 @ 12:42am
Or really good morning, as I think it’s 12:30 am your time. Getting out my iPad to set the alarm for the morning, and thought I’d send you and update. I don’t think a blog post went out last night and we just got home from dinner, so I don’t know what their plans are tonight.
Today was a great day. Long, but wonderful. The food here is so fresh and delicious and I had no idea that rice, black beans and scrambled eggs taste good together, but they’re fab! Joshua mixed his together too and agreed with me – yum!
We went to church where we’ll be working this week, they fed us lunch (delicious again!) and we started getting ready for the medical clinic tomorrow. SOOOO many medicines to unpack and repack (we could only take sealed containers through customs), but we got a big chunk of it done before it was time to go. We traveled all around San Jose in our 2 tour buses, briefly stopped at an open air market and road the buses up the steepest hills I’ve ever seen to get to our dinner destination. The view of San Jose was incredible – so many lights going on and on, twinkling and dancing in the distance. There was beautiful dancing at this restaurant and we didn’t leave until about 9:30.
We’re up at 6am tomorrow to meet with everyone at 7am, 7:30 breakfast and on the bus by 8:15, so I better sign off. It will be a busy day getting everything finished and ready to see 400 patients this week.
Love you all! Beth & Joshua
Monday 7-8-13 @ 11:47pm
I got to Facetime with Dad and Jordan for a few minutes before we left for dinner tonight. I tried John, but he had already left the store (it was 8pm your time). Jordan got to say hi to lots of people on our team of 57.
Started out the morning with a small stomach ache (I’m sure I ate some hidden gluten yesterday, but not much), running a few minutes behind (really tired still from getting home so late last night and not getting enough sleep), and a bit unsure of what our day would look like.
Our day turned out to be wonderful. I am on the welcome team for the medical team and our plan was to wash people’s feet and offer them a pair of flip-flops and maybe paint their nails if they wanted while they waited to see the doctor. We weren’t sure if anyone would let us wash their feet, but out of the approx. 50 people we saw (34 adults plus children), all except about 4 let us wash their feet. A couple women cried and I got to hug almost everyone. They don’t just give you a hug and a pat. They REALLY hug you and squeeze you. Really, I was the one who got to receive the hugs. It was just beautiful. I told them “Christo te ama” which means “Jesus loves you” and they all said “Amen, amen”. They were so sweet.
We spent the morning finishing up our 400 first aid packets, counting out pills and putting Spanish labels on everything. The first patients started coming around lunch time, so we stopped for lunch so that we could see them at their 1pm appt times (they were an hour early for the appts). Our original plan was to wrap up around 3:30pm, but it was just after 5pm before we were done with the last patients. Off to the hotel to freshen up quick before dinner (that’s when I tried Facetime) and then off to the restaurant. Everything is so fresh and wonderful. And when they say “fruit punch” it’s REAL fruit blended into a punch. Or they serve a wonderful peach tea that everyone loves (especially Joshua).
We arrived home about 8pm and shared together as a group until about 9pm. It was really neat to hear about everyone’s experiences on all of the different teams. The construction team got to meet the family today who is receiving the new house. We all get to go see the finished product on Thursday before we head up the mountain to go ziplining.
I better get to bed. They need us to come earlier tomorrow, so we need to meet at 6:45am. I got up too late this morning (too rushed), so I’m setting my alarm for 5:15.
Love you all! -Beth & Joshua (who is asleep up in his loft bed – hopefully he’ll get a full 9 hours tonight, from 9pm to 6am, as he was REALLY exhausted tonight. He even laid his head down on the dinner table when he was done and almost fell asleep there). 🙂
Wednesday 7-10-13 @ 12:10am
Started out the morning taking pics around the hotel and posting them on Facebook. I told Joshua he should be very proud of me for getting so much done on the iPad so quickly. 🙂 I tried to Facetime Mom & Dad (but I think I was too late – it was already 8:30 your time and I’m sure Jordan was already off to camp) and tried John, but he was probably busy with customers. Tried again tonight, as well as Rose & Mr Dean, but no answers. Thankfully, when we tried Rick & Delia, they were there and we got to chat for a few minutes before leaving for dinner. Tomorrow night we won’t be coming back to the hotel before dinner, so we probably won’t be able to Facetime at all unless we catch you early enough in the morning.
Today was a great day. We saw about 50 patients yesterday and I believe we saw 101 today. I didn’t wash nearly as many feet today, as I wanted to give other people a chance to experience it (VERY emotional for some people), but the couple people whose feet I did wash were very impactful. One dear woman kept crying every time I looked at her. We hugged a lot and one of our team members who spoke some Spanish came just in the perfect timing for me to ask her how to say that I am this woman’s “Sister in Christ”. When she told her, the woman’s face lit up and she grabbed me and hugged me even harder. She was so sweet.
I ended up making number tickets this morning and gave them to each adult as they came in to keep everyone in order better today. So, my job revolved around welcoming people and getting them set up with clipboards to start giving us their medical info. I also picked out a lot of flip-flops (matching up shoe sizes to what we have) and painted some nails.
Oh, Rick, I think the picture you saw of me in the blog was of me helping a woman pick out nail polish after having her feet washed. Our welcome area is a hallway, so it’s a bit crowded, but it works.
Our meals were all great again today and Joshua’s highlight of his dinner was having a lizard of some sort (which was on the ceiling in the restaurant) poop right onto his hand and his plate. 🙂 He laughed so hard that the tears were running down his cheeks. They offered him a new plate of food, but he was already done. And it rather spoiled his appetite too. 🙂 He wasn’t nearly as exhausted today as he was yesterday. He did manage to get about 9 hours of sleep last night, so that was great. My body just really wants to wake up at 4:45 (6:45 your time) and I don’t have time to fall back to sleep again, so I just get up. Makes for a more relaxing morning too having extra time.
We should be able to go see the completed house tomorrow after 4pm. It’s up and the roof is started. Our biggest challenge tomorrow is going to be something we have absolutely no control over – if people come on time for their appts. We are praying that they will come on time or early and that we’ll be able to see everyone before 4pm so that we can head to the construction site. I know we all want to meet the family and see the house. We haven’t finished until after 5pm today and yesterday, so we would appreciate your prayers for tomorrow. Thank you!
Sharing at our debriefing each night has been really special. And spending time with everyone through out the day has really bonded us all together. I really feel like we now have 55 more people in our family (plus Beth and Jimmy from Joshua Expeditions).
Mom – Beth is Beth Andersen, the sister of Don and Dennis Andersen. She looks just like Don when she talks! And Jimmy is from Costa Rica and tells us all about the country. We have decided that Jimmy’s bus (the smaller one) is the best bus and we all try to get on his bus whenever we can. No offense to Beth Andersen. 🙂 She’s great too.
Ok, time to go to sleep. Love you all! -Beth & Joshua
Thursday 7-11-13 @ 12:32am
I feel like these e-mails are getting later and later each night. And we just found out that we might be back REALLY late tomorrow, so don’t be surprised if there is no e-mail at all tomorrow night. Maybe I’ll just write quick to tell you we’re still alive. 🙂
Today was another amazing day. I spent most of the day charting kids’ heights & weights on growth charts. It was more relaxing that doing the welcome/intake/feet washing/flip-flop fittings and a lot of other people still wanted the opportunity to wash feet, so I was good with that. Later in the morning I had a chance to go up to the kids camp to see well over 200 kids in all different activities that our kids’s camp team had planned for them. I also took my camera today, so I got lots of great pictures of the kids and of people back in the medical clinic. I was really happy that I had waited to take pictures, as I really got to capture quite a bit of what I really wanted in a short amount of time.
Later in the afternoon, I got to go help out where the doctors work, filling prescriptions and saying goodbye to people as they left. Some of them had seen me at the beginning and the end and they looked confused – like I had a twin or something. 🙂 The pastor taught me to say “God bless you” (Dios te bendiga) the other day and I got to say that a lot as people were leaving, as well as “Christo te ama” (Jesus loves you). We’re all slowly building our Spanish vocabulary and it’s been really fun.
Sonja (our trip leader) and the camp director (Flory, which means “flower”) were leaving to go to the kids’ camp over in Guarari about 3pm and Nancy, our medical team leader, said I should go with them, as I was done with my job. Thank you Nancy! What a wonderful opportunity to drive over with a small group of women and one little boy from the neighborhood who Flory watches. We also called him Flory’s GPS, as he tells her how to get around that side of the city. 🙂 Joan (pronounced “Joe-an”) was his name and everyone loves him. When we got to Guarari, Joshua said, “Joan!” He was very happy to see him. What a special little boy. We all prayed for him later at the construction site, as Mariela really felt that he is going to make a huge impact in his life. He’s just that kind of kid. It was beautiful to hear Joshua join in on that prayer for Joan too.
We were only at the Guarari kids camp for a few minutes before it was time to head over to the construction site. The kids had been there since about 1pm and their time was up. We did get a few pictures before we left, but I can’t share them until I get home and can download them on the computer. When we got to the construction site, we were all overwhelmed by the fact that people live in these kind of conditions. Susan shared tonight that she’s been in a lot of proverty-stricken places in her life, but that city poverty feels much worse. Being in Africa out in the bush, at least you’re surrounded by nature. But in the city, it’s just filthy.
What a bright spot in the middle of all of this to see the newly constructed home. And we got to completely surprise the family with the furnishings. They had no idea that the house wasn’t empty. After everyone on the construction team had a chance to share, and the pastor prayed for them, they got to go into the house all by themselves. They screamed when they saw the inside. Screams of joy. We let them have some time and then came and knocked on their door as their first visitors. But it had rained through our whole ceremony, so our feet were pretty muddy and we didn’t want to dirty their brand new house, so just the construction team went in and the rest of us took pictures from outside. I’ll share those after we get home. It was just beautiful.
We went directly from the construction site to dinner and arrived back to go directly to our debriefing. Lots of people shared tonight and it was a wonderful meeting. The kids and teenagers commented that these people have so little, yet are filled with so much joy. Joshua agreed – why are they so happy? He concluded that it could only be the love of Jesus that fills their hearts with joy. I completely agree. Our “stuff” weighs us down, but these people are free to be generous with whatever God brings into their lives. It’s really beautiful to see.
Tomorrow is our last morning at the church and Beth Andersen warned us tonight that it will be very emotional saying goodbye and that we need to leave plenty of time to do so. She said “Saying goodbye takes a long time in Costa Rica”. 🙂 We have to leave the church no later than 1pm tomorrow to get to the zip-lining mountain on time. But God completely answered our prayers today and everyone who wanted to see a doctor got to see one and the rest of the medical team was on the bus by 4:05. Whew!! I know He will answer our prayers again tomorrow.
We got to talk to John on Facetime this morning and maybe we’ll have a chance to try Mom & Dad & Jordan again in the morning. We’ll see how it goes.
Love you all! -Beth & Joshua
Friday 7-12-13 @ 12:27am
As promised, I am writing to tell you that we are alive. 🙂 We did all 12 zip lines today and they were AMAZING! We finished up at the church this morning with a very emotional send off from the pastor and were off to the zip lines. Then we went from there to dinner & shopping and this time we managed to buy a few things (no bargaining this time).
We have to be on the bus at 6:30am, so I am going to bed now. Figure I need to get up at 4:45 to be ready on time. We take a tour bus 1.5 hours to the catamaran, then eat breakfast on the dock and then take a 1.5 hour catamaran trip out to Tortuga Island, where Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. Tortuga means turtle. 🙂 We’ll be on the island for 5 or 6 hours and then we take the 3 hour trip back to the hotel. I’ll try to send another quick “we’re alive” e-mail tomorrow night. 🙂 We have a 6:30am flight on Saturday morning, so we’ll want to head straight to bed tomorrow night.
I just gave my SD card to Sonja for her to use pictures for the blog, so check it out Friday. You may see some of my pics from Thursday (the only day I took pictures). Just go to Sonja’s e-mail from a couple days ago with the link to the blog and then click “home” to get to the home page (which will probably show you today’s blog once it’s done). Please pray for Sonja. She looks exhausted. Too many late nights up working on the blog, thank you cards, and other trip details. No rest for a great leader.
It was great to talk to Mom, Dad & Jordan this morning on Facetime. I don’t think we’ll be Facetiming again until the airport, if I can find a wifi signal.
Love you all! -Beth & Joshua
Friday 7-12-13 @ 11:55pm
What a day! On the bus to Tortuga Island at 6:30, breakfast on the dock at 8:30 and to the island by about 10:30. Took more pictures today on my camera, so I’ll download those when I get home. The camera battery is now dead, so I’ll charge that at home too. It lasted just the perfect amount of time.
We snorkeled in the ocean (lots of beautiful fish!), road on a banana boat being pulled by a fishing boat (with a 75 HP Yamaha, may I add), ate a lovely 4 course meal on the beach (in the shade – very nice), rented a 2 man kayak for an hour so that the boys could paddle around and it ended up being used by about 6 people, which was really cool, played in the water, and watched as 9 people from our group got baptized in the ocean. Wonderful!
Then we got back on the boat for another 1.5 hour ride, which was really nice, and a 1.5 hour bus drive during which most people slept (you guessed it, I was talking the whole time). 🙂
Dinner, shower, packing and now heading to bed. Joshua was so exhausted that he took his shower and went right to bed with no dinner (he wasn’t hungry). I could only eat veggies, as we were having pasta tonight, but it was the perfect night for it. I wasn’t really hungry either.
Joshua fell asleep on my bed, so I’m up in the loft tonight. I just posted a quick pic on Facebook. Bittersweet tonight – happy to be going home, but really sad to leave. It’s been an amazing trip for everyone.
Should be home in about 24 hours if all flights go well. We should get into Detroit about 8:30 tomorrow night.
It’s official. Our $1.5 Billion PowerBall lottery dreams are gone. All of the hopes and plans for that money, or even just a small part of it, are no longer. But it sure created a buzz while it lasted. What would you do with all of that money?
Did you know that Jesus taught more on money than on any other subject? There are more than 2000 verses in the Bible about money. That’s more than prayer, more than faith, more than forgiveness, heaven, hell and the Kingdom of God. Check out some of the “financial” words that God uses to describe His relationship with us:
1) we are redeemed (Is. 44:22, Lam. 3:58, Gal. 3:13),
2) we are reconciled (Rom. 5:10, 2 Cor. 5:18-20, Col. 1:22),
3) our debt is cancelled (Luke 7:41-43, Col. 2:14),
4) Jesus became poor so that we might become rich (2 Cor. 6:10 & 8:9),
5) we cannot serve two masters, both God and money (Matt. 6:24, Luke 16:13).
And that’s just a small sampling.
There’s a hymn that describes the gospel of Jesus this way:
“He paid a debt He did not owe,
I owed a debt I could not pay”
–He Paid a Debt by Ellis J. Crum
Let’s take that a step further. What if Jesus is more powerful than PowerBall? What if He died so that all of our debts would be forgiven, literally? What if our mortgage was paid, our cars were paid, we had no credit card debt, no student loan debt, or any debt at all, and all of the food, clothing and shelter we would ever need were provided for us?
Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:24 about not serving two masters and goes on to say:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
-Matt. 6:25-26 (ESV)
Our heavenly Father knows that we need food and clothing, and He provides them for the birds and flowers. Why wouldn’t He provide them for us? We’re so caught up in making money, saving money, spending money, moving money around, worrying that there won’t be enough money, trying to figure out how to get things without money (lotteries, loans, credit cards, getting you to give me something), anxious and distracted.
What if we never had to think about money again? What if wealth and power and greed had no meaning? What if I didn’t need to be concerned about what you had (envy, jealously, keeping up with the Jones’s), because I had everything I needed? What if I were content down to my bones? What would my life be about? Would I go to work? Would I strive? Would I do anything? What would define me?
The Apostle Paul says this in his letter to the Romans:
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
-Romans 13:8-10 (NIV)
What if Jesus is the one who takes away the debt of the world? What if believing in Him and receiving Him means that we get to see the world through His eyes? Would our entire focus change? Would we no longer be slaves to the “stuff that makes the world go round”? Would we instead be free to love one other, because that’s what Jesus does and that’s what He wants to do through us? Would that be Heaven on Earth?
1) If someone from Heaven could talk to you, what do you think they would say?
2) If someone in Heaven was praying for you, what do you hope they’d be praying for?
Do you think they’d tell us that we should focus on accumulating more while we’re here (“whoever dies with the most stuff wins”?) or do you think they would pray that we would focus on what really matters? PowerBall or the Power of God? It’s only by His power that we can truly love one another. We don’t have it in us. But if He is in us, we have all we need.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matt. 6:33 (ESV)
There is power in the name of Jesus
To break every chain
All sufficient sacrifice
So freely given
Such a price
Bought our redemption
Heaven’s gates swing wide
–Break Every Chain by Jesus Culture
Ever been one of those adjectives and tried to make a good decision? Or tried to respond appropriately to a given situation? Doesn’t work very well. More likely, we’ll react on impulse and it won’t be pretty.
Let’s try this instead. First, let’s stop (HALT*) and ask if we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. Once we’ve identified the problem, let’s respond:
1) Hungry: This sounds really simple, right? Eat! Well, it could be that we’re thirsty and we really just need some water. Or maybe we ate not long ago, but it was the wrong food. Or it was pop when we really needed water. Sugar crash? Try some protein or some fresh veggies. The worst part about hunger is that the easiest food to grab is usually the worst option. If our options are limited, let’s skip the candy bar and bag of chips and reach for the nuts instead.
2) Angry: Identify the source. Is there anything we can do about it? I should rephrase that. Is there anything positive we can do about it? Not sure? Check this out: In your anger. If nothing good will come out of it, our best option is to give it to God. Yep, that sounds cliche’, but it really is the best option. For more on that, click here: Moment by Moment
3) Lonely: Phone a friend? Maybe it’s the friend who upset us and now we’re angry with them and lonely because we can’t call them to talk about it. Sometimes just knowing that we’re upset because we’re lonely, identifying the source of the “ick”, is enough to help us get past it. Let’s take a look at our schedule. What’s next? What is the next best thing to do right now? Fold the laundry or put away the dishes? Sometimes moving on to the next thing is enough to breathe some fresh air into our day. And, all the while, don’t forget that God is always there. I know that it’s good to have someone “with skin on” to help work through the loneliness, but know that God is always longing to talk to us. Having trouble hearing Him? Read this: Hearing Aids
4) Tired: This one sounds simple too. Take a nap! Well, that’s not always practical. If I can grab a five minute cat-nap, sometimes that’s all it takes. Set an alarm and close my eyes. Even if I don’t fall asleep, a little time with my eyes closed can help clear my mind and gain new perspective. But if a nap is out of the question, what’s something else that can help us wake up? Music? Playing my favorite song, singing along, dancing along, even if I’m driving (as long as my eyes are on the road and my hands are on the wheel), can be just the medicine I need to get me where I need to go.
The thing I like best about HALT is the awareness of what’s really going on. All is not lost, the world is not coming to an end, it’s not time to fall into a pit of despair. It’s just hunger, or lack of sleep, or the fact that the person I called to help solve my problem couldn’t help me, leaving me angry for wasting my time calling in the first place and lonely because I really needed someone who could help. But it’s okay. We don’t have to sit “in the grip” of those feelings. We can do something about it.
Seth Godin put it this way in his blog post called Retribution: “When we react to a medicine, that’s a bad thing. When we respond, it’s working.” We can choose to respond to the situation we’re in instead of reacting on impulse. Beth Moore once said that “kindness wears down when we do.” When we’re worn out, we react, and it’s usually not kind. And then we have guilt and regret to deal with. There must be a better way.
Life is hard. It takes endurance. Things are going to go wrong. There are going to be problems. But there is hope and I wrote about that here: Decide to Keep Deciding. I hope you’ll read it, especially at the beginning of a New Year. What will our year be like? When we look back a year from now, what do we want our year to have been about? A series of problems and irritations, pits and valleys? Or do we want to grow up a little more this year? End the year a little wiser? Is there a way to prepare for the problems that will come?
An old Cherokee told his grandson, “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth.” The boy thought about it, and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?” The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.” – Author unknown
Which wolf will we choose to feed this year?
*Special thank you to Jack Wilson for sharing this information with me and John so many years ago. Jack, you are a blessing to so many people.
In May 2013, abdominal pain was making me a miserable wife and mother. By the end of June, it had gotten so bad that John started doing research. He suggested that I stop eating gluten, and when I did, the pain went away. About a month later, the upper abdominal pain was still gone, but lower abdominal pain started. Again, John went back to his research and suggested that I cut out dairy. I did, and again, the pain went away. But what was I supposed to cook for my family so that I wasn’t making separate meals?
Thankfully, I was referred to nutritionist Nancy Raymond from Optimal Health Solutions and health coach Lindsay Green Molina from Wholesome Ever After. Nancy confirmed my gluten and dairy issues and directed me to supplements to help heal my gut. Lindsay held my hand for 6 months, teaching me how to put this new lifestyle into practice. I’m so grateful to both of them.
One of my family’s favorite dishes had been based on a McCormick spice packet called “Salsa Chicken”. Not only had they had stopped making the spice packet, but it also had a bunch of ingredients in it that would no longer work for me. Lindsay helped me revamp the recipe so that it worked for everyone in my family. Since then, I’ve added a bit more to it and I’ve also made it with pork. I’m often asked for the recipe, so I thought I would put it here.
Salsa Chicken (or Salsa Pork) – serves 6 to 8
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp tumeric (optional)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 green or colored pepper, chopped
1 bunch broccoli, cut or pulled apart into small pieces
Any other vegetable you’d like to add (I’ve used asparagus and zucchini), cut into small pieces
1 cup uncooked rice (whatever kind you like – I’ve used long-grain brown rice, white rice, basmati rice, but my very favorite is Lundberg’s Brown Short Grain rice, but I’ve only found it at Farmer’s Market grocery store in Clinton Twp – if you find it somewhere else, please let me know! It’s very hearty and reminds me of barley)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes with green chilis
1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast halves or chicken breast tenderloins (I use the ones frozen in ice, but you have to cook it longer)
1.5 lbs pork (I like center loin chops, and I like to cook them first and cut them up into small pieces)
1 cup water
Serve with (all optional):
1 cup shredded cheese
1 cup sour cream
Taco/ burrito shells or corn chips Hot sauce and/or jalapeños
1) Preheat oven to 375 F. Sprinkle rice in a 2.5 qt baking dish (I use a Corning Ware French White 11×8.5×3 inch dish), sprayed with olive oil or cooking spray to keep everything from sticking. Add vegetables. Shove chicken (or pork) down into the vegetables and rice so that it sits below the top of the pan.
2) Mix cans of tomatoes and seasonings in a separate bowl until well blended. Pour evenly over chicken/pork, veggies and rice. Add water to the empty bowl (that had the tomatoes in it) to get all of the seasonings out and pour that over the chicken and veggies. Add more water to the dish if the chicken isn’t covered (need enough liquid to cook the chicken and rice, but too much will make it soupy). If the water is too high, it will also boil over the edge, so use your best judgement. Cover with lid or foil.
3) Bake 45 minutes or until chicken/pork is cooked through and rice is tender (may take up to 75 minutes if the chicken was frozen). Remove foil (or lid). If not already cut up, cut chicken/pork into serving-size pieces (chicken should shred easily with 2 forks). Stir everything together before serving.
4) Serve as-is or with optional toppings (see above under “serve with”).
Recipe doubles and triples well. Just use multiple dishes and spread it all out between them. I usually make three at a time (different sized French White dishes) so that it lasts for several nights. Feel free to mess with the ingredients, quantities and ratios and make it your own. Enjoy!