Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Guest Post: In the Desert by Alyssa

I've been thinking about the desert a lot, I'm not that cold (usually!) that I crave the dry heat of the desert. During Lent, I followed a reading plan that included the story of the Israelite's getting out of Egypt. And lately I've been reading the part about how they grumbled against God for not giving them food. And then he gives them holy food--manna--and they are commanded to not store up for the next day because God will provide accordingly for them each day. Any manna they tried to save got maggoty and moldy the next day because they were told not to save any extra.

And, not for the first time, was I convicted on that very point. Let me see if I can more accurately explain. Point blank, I've struggled with bingeing and purging. Bulimia. A lot of times around the dinner table we will have eaten, and I will be consciously full, but for some reason I still stuff my face and stomach. Why? Because in some way, I think, if I don't eat this now, it will all be gone later. Or, If I don't eat this now, somebody else will eat it later and I won't get to have anymore of it. Those thoughts aren't the result of facing starvation at some point and thus now hoarding. It's just simple selfishness. It isn't eating out of self-preservation, it is out of self-indulgence. Most simply, it is not trusting God that He will provide.

Like I said, I've never, ever gone through a period of time where I feared I wouldn't have enough to eat. See, later in Exodus, after the Israelites have kept up their bouts of complaining and trying to hoard from God, He gives them the 10 commandments. And how often I break half a dozen of them a day over just FOOD!

Don't covet: I see something someone else has and it makes me want to eat it too, even if I'm not hungry. Or I try to make a "healthy" alternative (like a yogurt dessert instead of ice cream) and then I end up eating waaay too much yogurt.

Don't murder: I put my own life at risk (which in a sense is "killing" myself) anytime I binge-I put tons of unnecessary calories in, cause my blood sugar to be totally out of whack and if I throw any of it up, that is definitely harming my body.

Don't have false gods: I choose to put my desire for food--desire borne out of rebellion--before my desire for God.

Have you read the Hunger Games? There is a point where the opulent Capitol people-those indulging and living a lush life with no thought to consequence have a big party and the only way to enjoy and try every kind of food is by eating tons of food, then taking a pill to throw it up so that they can just keep eating. I thought it a very apt commentary on our culture--we crave the most we can get even when it harms us. We stuff our faces because we irrationally fear it won't be there tomorrow. What little faith we have in a big God. What a selfish life I lead to think that.

Cheerful food for thought, huh:)?


(Alyssa Peiser also writes on  "the gypsy cook" , so check her out!)

Friday, April 20, 2012

I Miss Asian Food

Last Friday night, Chance and I went out for a date. More importantly: a sushi date! Sushi has long been our favorite meal (it was after all what we ate on our first date ever!) but since I have become gluten-intolerant we haven't splurged on it, being too cautin about what is in some of those sauces... But since we hadn't been in so long we decided that we might as well try to go and see what I could eat. I toted along my very own bottle of Kikkoman's Gluten-Free Soy Sauce, found a lovely table at Blue Fish (on Greenville Ave. in Dallas) and turned to our waitress to grill her on her ingredient knowledge. Well after a very thorough analysis of the menu, and only one dissappointment (eel sauce is NOT gluten free - so sad!) we ordered our food. It was awesome. Eel is still my favorite :)

Well, we have never tried to re-create sushi at our house (we leave that to Billy and Ruth Poe - both a 1/4 Asian and amazing hosts!)  but I have tried to cook a few Asian-inspired dishes. Unfortunately they mostly end up tasting like soy sauce or sesame oil, and not much like anything else. On quick & easy dinner nights I will pop some Aidell's Chicken Pineapple Teriyaki meatballs in the microwave, heat up some organic frozen broccoli and throw some jasmine rice in the rice cooker. So last night I did just that! Except I can't eat the delicious Chicken meatballs because they are not gluten free either.. soy sauce has WHEAT in it people! I had no fear though because I concocted a new Asian-inspired dish!

Earlier in the day I was looking up recipes that included: swiss chard + radishes. I found a great salad and adapted to my liking of what I had on hand. Here was the result:

1 small tilapia filet, pan seared (seasoned with salt + pepper)
1 bunch organic Swiss chard, chopped/torned
4-5 organic baby carrots, sliced
a handful of portabella mushrooms, sliced
a handful of radishes, thinly sliced
1/4 c. onion, chopped

1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. olive or grapeseed oil
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ginger
1 clove garlic, diced
salt + pepper to taste

Toss the above ingredients into a bowl and lightly drizzle homemade dressing on top! I put fish on top and cut it up too. The dressing was so good - I loved the paprika! Only remember that swiss chard is a very thick leafy green, so be prepared to do some major chewing. I had the organic broccoli and jasmine rice on the side. A new favorite Asian-inspired dish!

Food on Friday: Feature Films


In the last few weeks, I have been on kind of a food documentary kick. I thought it might be helpful for me to give some brief analyses of these types of movies to those of you who are interested. I will go chronological order of the documentaries that I have watched:

  1. Food, Inc. - This is a popular and controversial documentary that focuses on American's major food/meat packaging companies. The film interviews expert nutritionists and local farmers about the 'questionable' ingredients that we put in our bodies via processed foods/meats. Food, Inc. looks at the meat industry's vast production plants and the potentially harmful practices that ensue. The film interviews one woman whose son died from e.Coli poisioning in a hamburger, and an immigrant family who can't afford to eat healthfully. The film presents how the American food industry lowers prices of their processed foods, while at the same time driving up the prices of fruits and vegetables
    • Positives: This film reveals some very disturbing facts about where our meats come from, and how they are processed. The multiple interviews with major industries and local farmers provides a good contrast of each side's argument for their 'way of eating'. Lastly, the film advocates a message of supporting local farmers who treat their animals with care without adding hormones to them.
    • Negatives: The film is very emotionally-charged (thank you Chance Sumner for pointing this out). The interviews with different families and experts appeal to the sympathies of film-watchers. Take caution: some of the images are disturbing and you may be skipping your next BBQ. Lastly, in a word: agenda. The filmmakers, like the major food industries, have their own agenda, so if you watch the film be sure to do so with discernment.
  2. Forks Over Knives - This film is another popular documentary that advocates for a plant-based diet, based on the scientific research of two expert doctors. Forks presents the problems with America's diet and links it to the downward spiraling health of this country. The research and actual footage is very compelling and the case for a plant-based diet (or even a significant increase in the amount of meat we ingest) is very convincing.
    • Positives: Like I said the film follows two doctors in particular who came out with highly controversial evidence (in their day) that advocated a plant-based diet to reverse medical problems like heart disease and diabetes. It's hard to argue with the experts. The statistics presented on America's percentage of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, obesity, etc. is abundant. I really liked this film because, while the film is advocating for something, they are doing so with solid, factual evidence. The film also follows a number of people who go on the plant-based diet and see significant results! Major plus for that!
    • Negatives: I wish that this film was a little more exciting.. or a little bit faster paced. While I did very much enjoy this film, I was a little dissappointed that the two people that went on the plant-based diet were both from the same economic class. I would like to see diversity in the demographic that switches to plant-based diets so we can ask questions like : is it afforable? is it possible?
  3. Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead - This film has true documentary roots. Fat follows one native Australian man, who comes to America to "get healthy". At the beginning of the film we see Joe living a life of busyness, loaded with medications, and grossly unhealthy eating. Joe comes to America in order to take on a month-long juice fast - consuming ONLY fruits and vegetables through juicing. The film follows him on his solo journey as he interviews common Americans all across the nation. At the end of the film we see the results of his juice fast and they are shocking! (Highly recommend).
    • Positive: This documentary is honest and entertaining. Joe is an average guy who takes it upon himself to get healthy via nutrition. I loved the uncut style of the film and the "no agenda" attitude that Joe has throughout his experience. He isn't trying to necessarily convince anyone of his way of thinking (juice fasting), he simply asks people if they would try the fast and then gives them his reasoning based on his recent experiences. In addition, near the end of the film Joe helps one very overweight truck driver take on the challenge of losing weight to become more active, which is a really cool thing to see.
    • Negative: Joe can be a bit blunt at times, but it all depends on how you take it. The film ends on kind of a cliff-hanger, but other than that, this was one of my favorites.
  4. Chow Down - This film uses two of the same doctors as in Forks Over Knives to portray the possibility of reversing certain medical problems using nutrition. This film has more of a real life appeal. It follows the lives of three individuals as they take on the challenge to switch from an unhealthy, processed food-filled, sedentary lifestyle to a healthier, nutritionally rich lifestyle. It tracks their progress throughout the film.
    • Positives: The film does a good job of showing the realistic sides of a plant-based diet. While this diet is proven to help reverse heart disease, high cholestrol, and diabetes, it is also not easy to maintain long-term for some of the folks who tried it. I appreciated the honesty in showing both the negative and positive aspects of plant-based diet. I also appreciated the balance of real life interviews and expert interviews.
    • Negatives: There were a few interviews with the family members of the "guinea pigs" who went on the plant-based diet, that were just plain awkward. The film was too long - almost 1 hr. 45 minutes - and could have been half of that.
I hope that this gives you some ideas about what to watch the next time you order your NetFlix. Both from an experiencial and statistical stand point, each of these documentaries have something to offer! Happy viewing and happy Friday!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Commander

When I think about the future ("after seminary") sometimes my head spins. There are so many options, so many needs, so many avenues to travel down, but yet we don't have a clue what it is that God wants us to do - specifically. Okay, we have a few clues, which would include: church ministry, pastorate, teaching at a seminary, overseas church ministry or teaching at a seminary overseas. Like I said-the long list makes my head spin. I am grateful for the direction and clarity that the Lord has recently been providing my husband with: he wants to teach the Bible to people. What a praise! Honestly, I am thrilled for the heart that he has and the drive that he has to do what it is God has called him to up to this point. But as far as a clear cut calling from the Lord to (fill in the blank) that just hasn't happened... yet.

In light of that, I find much comfort in the words of my all-time favorite hymn: In Christ Alone. The last verse reads:

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From a life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Could ever pluck me from His hand
Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I stand

Although everyone's journey will look differently along the way, only in Christ can we be certain to arrive at our final destination. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Eat What is Good"

This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at a women's event at our church here in Dallas. I had been praying about what the Lord would have me to speak on, in the context of this event and in preparing I felt confirmation that God wanted to discuss two specific passages of Scripture and their application. The first passage was from Isaiah 55:1-3, and verse 6:

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live... Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.

 In this passage, the Lord, through the prophet Isaiah is offering the invitation for the people to come and eat and drink, that which does satisfy. He then asks in verse 2, 'why are you buying that which doesn't satisfy you?' I then used John 6:25-40 to explain the passage above:

25 "When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”... 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.  38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

I explained from these two passages that we have both physical and spiritual needs in this life. We need to eat and be physically fed, but we also have a deep-seated spiritual need that we often try to fill ourselves. Whether we attempt to fill our emptiness with relationships, material possessions, achievements, or our status, none of these things will EVER satisfy completely. Only in God's Son, Jesus Christ, can we be truly satisfied and content.. it is He alone who is the bread who does fill our emptiness; in Him we will never thirst nor suffer hunger. I was more than blessed to be able to share this from the Word and from my own experience in life. God can and does satisfy "our every need in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:13). Remember to nourish your soul on this truth today, and be contented in the true Bread.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Cost

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?" - Mark 8:34-37

And I love "Doing Missions When Dying Is Gain" - one of my favorite sermons by John Piper

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Unedible Communion

If you have moseyed on over to my Food & Eating page, you will find there the story of my allergies to food. First lactose, then gluten. Well, this past weekend I experienced one unpleasant and unexpected result of one of these allergies. While away on a women's retreat for the weekend, I had the opportunity to partake in the Lord's Supper with a group of ladies as we celebrated Palm Sunday. I was very much enjoying the hymns we were singing and the sharing of testimonies amongst the women, and when it came time to partake in the elements (eat the bread, drink the"wine") I felt that my heart was ready to do so not in an unworthy manner (1 Cor. 11). As the server offered the plate of bread to me, to tear a piece off, I shyly shook my head and she moved on to the next lady. I'm sure part of me feared what others were thinking, and part of me was just plain discouraged at the fact that: I can't eat bread. It's made of wheat which means it contains gluten [a wheat protein]. And although I take a 'symbolic' stance on the Lord's Supper - the bread and the wine being symbols of Jesus' body and blood, and not the actual body and blood - I recognized the importance of this participation as a believer in the body of Christ. So needless to say it was slightly disheartening realization for this fairly new gluten-free dieter.
Not being able to eat the communion bread because of an allergy doesn't mean that I lose my salvation, or that I am less spiritual than anyone else.. it doesn't change a thing about me or the importance of the ceremony in general. However, my inability to participate in eating the bread which symbolizes the broken body of my Savior, serves to remind me that I live in a fallen world. Although Christ has come, conquering death by rising from the grave, the world is still not as it should be - it is not yet restored. Romans 8:18-23 talks about how creation is groaning, suffering the pains of childbirth, anxiously awaiting the final day of salvation [of the children of man] when the earth will finally be set freedom from its bondage and corruption. In other words, that which God has created, including you and I, has been marred by sin. Yet there is coming a day when God will set things right again! Including my digestive system.

So for now, when I pass up the bread on communion Sunday, I won't be disappointed. I'll be reminded that soon I will eat of it again without pain. It may be very near or it may be far off, but that time will be when I join my Savior at the marriage supper of the Lamb. And that bread will surely be way tastier anyways.

"Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"-- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God." -Revelation 19:7-9