Fermented foods

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.- Martin Luther King

As a part of Dream Week San Antonio, one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants, Alchemy, hosted Fermentation Evolution featuring Jason Gourlas, PA-C, with the San Antonio Weston Price Chapter. I’m not ignorant to the benefits fermented foods offer, but after this meeting I am convinced I have to drastically change my diet. Fermented foods have been around for centuries & each culture have their own versions. Americans consume chocolate, coffee, cheese, sauerkraut, wine, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, kimchi, miso, kombucha, Yakult, sour cream, tempeh, and other foods considered to be fermented or a result of a particular fermentation process. My personal favorite is Tabasco sauce! Who knew?  I should’ve because it’s produced in my home state & I’ve visited the factory when my son was in 4th grade!  In 2008 I began a journey of eliminating many things from my diet.  These included artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, processed foods, fast foods, powdered coffee creamers, overly processed meats, any Monsanto related foods, and more.  This change came about after watching the documentary, Food, Inc.  Using the terms eye opening or life changing are mere understatements.  Reading the book, The New Wellness Revolution by Paul Zane Pilzer, was another excellent convincing tool.  In times past I have practiced the Raw Food Diet.   I loved this philosophy & my body responded extremely well to it.  After 6 months I began adding certain foods back in.   In the recent several months I began juicing & absolutely loved it.  Again, my body responded very well to this.  Losing weight, not having kankles due to excess salt & having more energy were just a few affects I enjoyed.  I moved out of town & the juicer wasn’t able to make the trip, so I found myself following a healthy lifestyle eating regular foods.  In doing so, I’ve noticed I actually crave smoothies or juicing. I’d like to think my body recognizes the nutritional benefits & prefers this over regular meal choices. I’m fortunate that Central Market juices several amazing blends, so I have access without having the juicer! And I don’t have the guilt of throwing away all that pulp! Actually that’s great for composting. For 13 years I’ve chosen to do the 21 day Daniel Fast.  This is primarily for spiritual reasons setting time aside allowing God to direct me for the upcoming year & praying specifically for certain people.  I so respect this fast as it has been the single most important time in my life to hear clear, precise direction.  Sometimes when I need to make an impactful decision, I will do this type fast for 7-10 days.  I can’t imagine making serious type decisions without it.  Daniel Fast is basically a vegan diet.  I have to confess, I do not follow this 100%, but have realized, through experience, God is more pleased with the fact I’ve chosen to commit some level of self-sacrifice putting His will first rather than chastise me for eating honey or real butter. I always feel better during this time & often hesitate adding normal foods back in.

Before my recent move, I discovered kombucha thanks to a friend who makes her own. I respect her natural food choices, like making her own almond milk, so it caused me to research the benefits of drinking kombucha.  My daughter began buying it & after my move, I did the same.  I have to admit it was pretty cool talking to Kevin, one of the owners of Alchemy, listening as he explained their choices & driving home with a growler of milk oolong kombucha.  The best part is that I’m now addicted to it!  Other than adult beverages, kombucha is primarily the only fermented food I eat.  During my season of juicing, I stopped eating yogurt or kefir.  Now I feel like a total idiot!

Jason titled his presentation, Counter Culture.  One of my favorite quotes was mentioned,

“Let food be your medicine & medicine be your food-Hippocrates.

He explained how epigenetic traits are heritable (can be passed on to your children), are affected by food, sleep, exercise, beliefs, stress, & environment.  He stated every bite of food you take sends a message of health or sickness to your body. The comparison between Traditional vs Standard American Diet (SAD) was beyond enlightening.  I was proud on many levels to have already made significant changes from the SAD toward Traditional.  This almost evened out being an idiot for stopping kefir & yogurt!  Almost!
Learning how fermentation changes food substrates, makes food more nutritious, removes toxins, were just a few of the facts worth learning more about.

“All disease begins in the gut – Hippocrates” has been believed for generations.  I vividly remember my mother forcing a tablespoon of castor oil down our throats should we ever miss school.  This was torture.  Years after I became a nurse & I would almost puke when having to administer a certain bowel prep containing castor oil.  There was no way to mask that smell or memory!  Dysbiosis – overgrowth of bad bugs & not enough good is believed to be the primary cause of most problems.  Small intestine bacteria overgrowth is the primary cause of most problems. A great reference –The Second Brain, Michael Gershon, MD– is going to be one of my reads.  Here is an excerpt from one of his studies on autism. This reference, in itself, was mind boggling.  To think how parallel our gut is to our brain in the context of being able to create, not only messages, but other cellular level products is unbelievable.  Another quote & thought was how the gut relates to mental clarity, depression, mental illness & beyond.

“The primary seat of insanity generally is in the region of the stomach and intestines.- Phillipe Pinel, Father of modern psychiatry, 1807” 

Think about it.  Horrible bacteria forms in the gut releasing toxins which cross over the blood brain barrier………. the cycle is never ending.  Then patients are given meds to reduce the awkward symptoms never addressing the gut issues.  When I took care of patients with the diagnosis of sepsis, 9 out of 10 times, they experienced an altered mental status. This was the first indicator something had to be wrong. Then caretakers noticed the patient had fever. With some patients, fever induces an altered mental status. Fever is our first line defense for fighting infectious processes.   Cellular. Level. Imbalance.  After hearing the symbiotic breakdown of what happens in the gut, it all began making crystal clear sense.

I think one of my favorite research studies Jason shared related to diabetes.  Subjects ingested Kefir, fermented milk products, which resulted in a decrease in Hemoglobin A1c levels.  Fermented milk.  Another discovery was that while Miso in itself is salty, instead of having the effect regular salt does, it is proven to actually reduce liver damage & lower blood pressure. I use Pink Himalayan Sea Salt for this very reason & because it creates an alkaline balance.
I couldn’t help reflect on the age old adage, “You are what you eat.” I know my level of dedication when it comes to “growing” things at home & other than houseplants or pets, I’m non-committal!  I did, however, realize I could make my own kefir.  I’m already in love with this product & knowing I can use it in my daily smoothies made me even happier.  Generally one thinks they have to use raw milk, which is optimal, but because the bacteria makes everything better, I can purchase organic milk to use until I find raw milk.

So…..my ever changing, evolving, lifestyle of eating healthy is now going to include as many natural probiotics as possible.  Jason mentioned while probiotic supplements contain upwards of billions of units of healthy bacteria, fermented foods provide trillions.  To protect my immune system, I take Beta Glucan daily.  When I asked about this particular supplement, he suggested Saccharomyces boulardii, which is obviously many, many, times better.  I can order it from the same place I order my Turmeric Caps & that’s awesome!  In beginning probiotics, it is wise to introduce them into your diet slowly.  After hearing how autism, immune deficiency disorders, psychological disorders, and more can be affected by our diet, I’m convinced the references they provided will be downloaded on my Kindle immediately.  Here are a few:
Nourishing Traditions-by Sally Fallon = recipes
Wild Fermentation  -Sandor Katz
Mother Culture – local San Antonio vendor at Pearl Brewery Market best known for her phenomenal yogurt
Cultures For Health – Starters for Kefir, kombucha, etc.  (use powder for kefir to make it thicker)
Mommypotamus Blog – kid friendly suggestions & recipes using fermented food for children.
Brain Maker – The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal & Protect
Your Brain for Life- book by David Perlmutter
Nutrition & Physical Degeneration – book by Weston A. Price, DDS
Gaps Diet for Autism, Auto Immune Deficiency, etc.

image

To change things in your life, you have to change things in your life!  What I ingest is something I can control & choose to change.  In fact, I refuse to refer to it as a diet.  It is my lifestyle. I’ve ordered both kefir & kombucha starter kits. I can’t wait to brew my own & save money in the process!
Blessings on your endeavors in becoming a better YOU!
g

Cast the first stone………

My heart is always in tune to single parents or people striving toward improving their current situation.  Having faced some pretty desperate situations, I completely empathize.  I am careful to observe actions, reactions, choices & habits of others as to determine if the current state is indeed a cyclic behavior pattern or a true emergency.  It thrills me to see changes occur from assisting others with a hand up, not necessarily hand outs.  There is a definite difference & I learned to discern it long ago. While I am sensitive to needs, I am not a bleeding heart.  Compassionate, yet cautious!

Recently an incidence occurred that stirred me to assist.  While discussing it with a friend, I could hear this phrase going over & over in my mind.

Purple ripples

Instead of casting the first stone of judgement, guilt or condemnation,  perhaps we could cast the stone that creates the ripple effect.  

Why not re-frame our thoughts? Instead of thinking, “I can’t believe they’re doing this. I would never……..”  How about asking, “How can I help that person achieve their next goal?”  I understand we live in an instant gratification, self entitlement society.  Everywhere we look, compassion is demanded & repetitively taken for granted.  What if we stop stereotyping everyone into certain categories & truly attempt to ask simple questions?  It’s easier to judge!

Except for the grace of God, I would be in dire straights.  At an early age I chose to get an education in a field that had been my passion since the tender age of 4 years old.  Nursing.  I was the greatest nurse to all our farm animals & they knew I would take very good care of them. So what if it meant getting a “shot” from my moms straight pins!!!  I experienced divorce almost immediately after graduation & that career provided for my family for 26 years.  One choice.  One act of courage.  I refused to let circumstances define me.  Once I moved from LA to TX, I made the decision to leave the nursing field.  I can explain why in hopes you can understand.  The same career that provided for my children also became my crutch when it came to trusting God.  I needed Him in every area of my life except this.  Yes I trusted Him to provide agency, float pool, travel & nursing strike assignments.  I daily prayed for these.  However…….I knew I had a job anywhere. My prayer for others needing employment even began with how grateful I was to have this ability, but……deep down I knew I could make things happen on my own. When God instructed me to move to Texas, I had to know He was my all in all.  I felt like Esther…….if I perish, I perish, but…….I would not resort to putting my hand in the area of nursing for provision.  Many could argue that God did provide that for me through a nursing degree.  I understand that part, but again……I could make things happen.

So…..after moving to Texas & bouncing around a few dead end jobs, I enrolled in a computer course to gain required skills for practically every job I was interested in.  That one act of courage landed a job specifically designed for me during the FEMA Katrina Aid Today Recovery Program as a Corporate Tech Trainer.  Once that program ended, my position was absorbed by the same department & 10 yrs later, I’m still at the same organization. Funny thing…….prior to becoming a Corporate Trainer, I decided to enroll in a local Community College for Grant Writing classes. Instead I was hired & when my Trainer position ended, my new title became Divisional Grants & Program Analyst.  I was trained & currently process grants/contracts in every phase from a statewide position.  I also assist locations submit internal proposals for new programs.  One act of courage to take a computer course, that led to a job, that trained & prepared me for what my initial area of interest was. I must admit the in-between time was a little scary.  Well, a lot scary to be honest!!  Embracing uncertainty is not one of my strengths.  In doing so, I learned fortitude, courage, faith, trust, faith, hope, faith, tenacity & faith!  LOL!   I feel empowered that from here, I could go anywhere.

I give that example because there are many people, like myself, wandering through the valley of decision.  Maybe they’ve decided & their fate is temporarily hanging in the balance of preparation time. It’s not pretty. I learned long ago that regardless of how it appears, preparation time is never wasted time. Remember……we will reap if we faint not!

Many years ago someone believed in me.  Rapides Parish developed a program granting me to be paid minimum wage while attending nursing school.  My computer & career development course was offered through a local organizational grant.  My OJT (on the job training) provided more wisdom & experience than any college course could ever begin to provide. Out of desperation, I acted on every hand up I received. My personal task now is to see how I can pay it forward for others. Before we judge,  I encourage everyone to see how a simple stone in the form of an act of random kindness, creating a ripple effect, could change the course of a family for generations to come.  I love this quote:

natural mother teresa ripples

Except for grace…….

Blessings,

g

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

– 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Chosen

geneva chosen

I have to share with you what I experienced last night. I began attending a new church in November 2014.  I knew the moment I walked in the building I was home.  There was a familiarity about it that just caused me to take a deep breath, exhale & smile. Since that first day,  there hasn’t been a time that I’ve left unaffected.  You have to understand….I’ve served in the local church faithfully since 1984.  Now that I’ve totally dated myself, you can gather I’ve seen quite a few trends come & go.  Real. That is what I’m gravitating toward now more than ever.  Real people; real faith; real purpose; real motives; real love; real acceptance; real challenges to help me grow spiritually; real life; real humility; real servant leadership; real Jesus. Real.  Now that I’ve typed that word so many times it looks like it’s spelled wrong!

Every week I find myself telling my daughter, “I’ve never heard that taught like that before!”  or “OH MY GOSH!! I’m blown away finding out about yet another ministry they offer!”  Seriously it’s like a new experience every week & yet at the same time, such a feeling of belonging.  Hope that makes sense!

Last night is no different.  There are sooooooooooo many connect groups to become a part of that every excuse for not developing relationships within the church body is completely annihilated! There is a group for women, named Journey. Within that group are options for different nights of the week or lunchtime meetings, prayer groups, & etc.  Any of these choices promises to fulfill whatever  you are searching for.  They planned a combined meeting for all the groups to come together & it was awesome.

Actually…..it was my first time to go & what a time to pick!  After praise & worship, four ladies were introduced.  Normal Disciples of Christ Prison ministryladies. When each began to give explain their ministry, I was awestruck.  How is it possible for me to still be finding out about things to participate in or know what gifted talent is here?  I’ll give just a summary of what they disclosed:

Lady #1- Founded Disciples 4 Christ Prison Outreach Ministry. She was incarcerated for 5 years & now the DOJ contacts her to hosts meetings & conferences across the state. She decided to offer hope to those who are walking in her shoes.

God of all comfort books

Lady #2- Published the book, God of all Comfort,  describing the loss of two of her children within a few months apart. They already had a special needs child & this new grief experience was certainly overwhelming. Instead of this journey destroying her life, it changed it.

Lady #3 -For the past 15 years, along with her husband, has developed a ministry of devoting time & attention to pastors children.  If you don’t think these relationships are vital & beyond priceless, talk to a PK.

Lady #4 – Corporate Executive who wanted to bridge the gap between the churched & unchurched.  Created a YouTube presence called Real Issues. Real Jesus. She addresses common questions in normal, everyday terms while exposing the listener to the Bible.

Lady #5 – became a blogger, published 3 devotional books that is available in 35 countries & translated in several Laura devotionslanguages.  She wasn’t actually present to talk, but her books were.

These ladies were just the opening part of the meeting!  As you may or may not know, I want to write two books.  I felt so beyond empowered being surrounded by these phenomenal women! Each of them were so humble & simply began pursuing their purpose while walking through their valleys & finding their passion.  Their obedience, however small it may have felt in the beginning, is an enormous act of faith for many women to emulate.

I could’ve left at that point & been full of courage & strength.  Of course…there was more.  The main speaker was a lady who grew up so intimidated she literally became beet red & broke out in hives while reciting her wedding vows.  Her description of herself growing up was a fair complected, red haired, overweight, shy girl named Lucretia.  Talk about having a complex!  She felt like God had given her a story within this past year that she wanted to share with all the ladies. She is recently a widow & yet found strength to continue walking in what God is doing in her life.  Amazing.

Her message was straight from Revelation 2: 12-17.  I’ll give you the short of it!  God edified & then chastened people from the church in Pergamum for partaking in the practice of the Nicolaitans.  God hated the deeds of Nicolaitans.  Strong words, but He hated, nonetheless.  In essence, the Nicolaitans straddled Christianity & paganism.  This rendered the people powerless preventing them from fulfilling their identity.  He mentioned giving those who overcome a white stone with a name written on it that only He & that person will see.  In that particular dispensation of time stones were used in the judicial system.  White stones signified acquittal while black stones sentenced condemnation & guilt.  Throughout the Bible you can find God changing the names of people.  Those names are what He sees in them or anticipates who they’ll become.  Many times people don’t know who they are or their true identity because they’ve been called everything else. We also tend to wear badges that identify seasons in our lives.  Single, widowed, divorced, rejected, depressed, bitter, angry, forlorn, etc.  Such badges lead to entitlement mentality in how we expect people to treat us.  We are holding black stones.  God doesn’t see us in that sense.  As a child of God, He sees us through His son, Jesus.  Acquitted.  Black stones & badges prevent us from fully embracing who He’s called us to be & prevents us from elevating God to the place He belongs. God wants to do an exchange of stones & show us our new name.

Relationships can enable certain identities to mask who we really are.  Even if we have left certain people or severed all relational ties, we are still “in bed” with those things that were spoken over us.  We are an overcomer & God already calls us that.

At the beginning of the message we were handed black stones .  At the end, we were encouraged to take our black stones & exchange them for a white stone of which had names written on them. The names were not visible, so we didn’t know what we were picking up.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but the name I received was exactly what I needed to see.  My daughter already had a name in her head & that was the exact name she picked up.  Not only did the name mean something special, but it was a major confirmation that God is ever present in her life.  From a mother’s perspective, it’s a huge blessing to see your child being well so taken care of & honored.

geneva chosen

Here’s my name. Chosen.  Of course you could say that’s nothing special!  The Bible calls Christians a chosen generation or states how we haven’t chosen Him, but He’s chosen us,  so….big deal.  Well….I beg to differ.  Lemme splain…..Being single now for 21 years & currently believing God for my husband to suddenly appear lets you get a glimpse of the rejection I combat feeling.  Seeing friend after friend get married & microscopically picking myself apart as to what could really be wrong with me.  I’m too picky with unrealistic expectations. I’m healthy, but not skinny.  I’m middle aged. I’m not pretty enough.  I’m whatever! Or…..what about applying for a new job only to get a rejection email the same exact day of this meeting.  Of course…I’ve spread my net far, but….still. For more years than I dare admit I’ve quoted, “I am accepted in the Beloved.” Anytime anything attempts to separate my belief in how much I’m loved by the perfect Father, Husband, Friend I have in Jesus, I quickly remind myself of this.   Getting the new name of “Chosen” takes that to a whole nutha level & was applicable in more areas than I dare to explain. Besides…..even if all those badges were non-existent, I still love the fact that out of all the people in the universe, God chose me.  After all….I am His favorite daughter!

Whew……I mentioned loving my church for being real & I just word vomited my negative self talk.  Trust me…..I have a mantra I repeat as often as necessary to combat any / all of those words.  I refuse to become identified with them.

I encourage you to lose the black stones of guilt, condemnation, unworthiness, hopelessness, abandonment, rejection, low self esteem & confidence, deception, or whatever haunts your thoughts & see yourself acquitted.  See yourself loved, forgiven, chosen, accepted, capable, beautiful, wonderful, gifted, talented, & etc.  This blog was lengthy, but I’ve learned it’s times when I don’t share my “eureka” moments that someone could really use one of their own.

Have an awesome weekend.  Come to church with me wherever you are!  We’re also available on Vimeo!

Blessings,

g

No pressure!

Happy Hump Day!

Hopefully your week is beautiful, your attitude of gratitude is opening unseen doors of possibilities, & being thankful is the secret sauce to life!

Prayer has always been a huge part of my life.  Many years ago I learned praying for others removes the pressure & focus off my own circumstances & helps me focus on being a servant leader. I also believe in the laws of sowing & reaping or….Karma.  I wish to stay on her best side & reap an abundant harvest of good vs evil.  During the beginning of every year I participate in the Daniel Fast.  This is as close to vegan as I’ll ever get!  LOLOLOL!  This is my routine for the first (21) days of the year as my sacrificial offering to God to direct my entire year.  I attempt to plan, develop goals & specifically pray for those during this time.  I’ve done this for the past (13) years. When I have important decisions to make,  I’ll often do a shorter 7-10 day version of this.  God has constantly & continually spoken clarity to me.  I can’t begin to elaborate how many things have been avoided, happened, & surfaced because of this one simple step of obedience.  Along with my goals & plans, I choose up to 5 people to target with prayer during those 21 days.  I love seeing the hand of God move.  It isn’t always how I picture, but He is infinite.  For the rest of the year I’ve develop a list of people in my life who require daily or more often prayer support. Some are life-long friends who are battling cancer or other disease processes that are robbing them of a beautiful quality of life.  Others are new found friends who have situations draining their joy. As God intervenes,  I can cross names off my daily list. This is the greatest feeling in the universe!   Sometimes….people mark themselves off.  That’s hard to understand, but even Jesus knew when to stop investing in the lives of others.  For instance….wiping the dust off His feet; recognizing their conscious has been seared as with a hot iron; having or turning them over to a reprobate mind;  suggesting we can’t make a silk purse from a pigs ear;  or casting our pearls before the swine.  Pigs were really mentioned a lot weren’t they?  Anyway….. people can choose not to change, harden their heart or whatever the situation may be.  God gives each of us a will & even He refuses to move against it.

If you haven’t fallen to the points of no return mentioned above, I want to encourage you to embrace the promise of a loving Father who will never leave or forsake you.  There’s been many times I’ve felt like my prayers were hitting the ceiling or He turned a deaf ear to me, but….it’s during those times I’ve grown to appreciate His faithfulness even more.  It’s extreme testing, but regardless, I love & trust Him.  Remember….He’s infinite!

I received the words below in an email today & I want to pass it on to you. It’s terrifyiing enough to face unpleasant situations, but even more so when you have to grin & bear it living up to other’s perception of who you are.  If I may ask something of you, please do me a favor. Never mind me…..do yourself a favor!  Please find someone to share the burdens of life with. Friends, support groups like Celebrate Recovery, church connect group, or counseling. Never, ever allow the unrealistic expectations of society dictate the need for you to put up a facade. This is an exhausting practice where you lose yourself in the game.

Be human.

Be vulnerable at times.

Be honest with yourself.

Tear down the walls that keep people out, pain inside & hindrances preventing you from becoming your authentic self.

Be blessed & know you matter & your life is important.

g

You – God’s Prince & Princess – are destined to win.
He knows how tired you’ve become, just by trying to do and say all the right things.
Take that pressure off yourself, because He did not put it there.
The world may judge you by what they see and hear, but He looks within your heart.

He sees your desire to please Him, and He sees your struggle to please others.
If you want to win this endurance race, you must let go of your need for the approval of others, seek His will
and His pleasure.

Simplify your life, and let go of the burdens that weigh you down.
You’ll find His Grace will lighten your step,
and His favor will even draw others to join you!

Yes, at times you will stumble and fall.
But…..
don’t worry.
He is there to help you get back up again – as often as it takes.
Make it your daily passion to run with Him, and He will carry you over the finish line of your faith.
Together you will win!

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”
1 Corinthians 9:24

Need a reminder?

Wow can you believe summer is almost over?  Not sure of your location, but due to spring flooding, the first part of our summer could be considered mild for Texas!  Never fear…..we have temps predicted to reach 108 just this week so it will be a regular scorcher.

Season temps are fickle, but there’s a few things that can be counted on.  As you know, my heart is always focused on single adults & how they navigate through their lives. Summertime, for singles, especially single parents, generally induce additional concerns & expenses. Sports, vacays/stacays, increased child care & more.  When my son was younger, I remember all too well how much I had a love-hate relationship with summer.  I made sure he was in sports which meant my usual 12-16 hr shifts at the hospital were reduced to 8.  Weekend games & tournaments meant no OT. Then…..childcare was my dreaded expense. During the school year he attended a local BGCA after school program for a nominal cost.  Thank goodness we had a local YMCA for summertime!  The last, but certainly not least, concern was back to school clothes & supplies.  Cutting hours & OT during the biggest budget busting time presented many opportunities to panic. I’m not one to panic, but it did take some juggling!   It wasn’t until said son was grown did I learn frugal, budgeting technics.  This past weekend he made a comment of how he honestly didn’t know how I survived & made it during those many years.  This thought was provoked because he is now a parent & understands the often daily requirements of sustaining a household.

Looking back, I have to give thanks & gratitude to Jehovah for being my all in all.  Many times there were subtle reminders of how much He is looking out for my best interest or is in control.  I could never blame Him for my poor choices or sticky situations because it simply wouldn’t be fair.  There were several occasions where the answer I sought, was not the answer He provided.  Also there were numerous instances when His word of advice left me sad or disappointed only to realize later how much wiser He is than me.  Often, during my daily commute, I consider just how much He has spared me from over the years & am beyond thankful for His grace. In the midst of trials, tribs, tests or whatever you wish to label your misfortune, maybe you’re like me & tend to forget He is ever present, all knowing, & concerned for the smallest detail of what concerns us.  It’s in these times when I tend to elevate or just spend more time solving problems on my own or place circumstances above the one who can obliterate them & bringing peace.

In the busyness of life, I tend to lose focus.  Daily scripture reading & morning prayer time is my true north! Within the past 6 mos there has been almost a constant system, for the lack of a better term, of how God reminds me He is listening, thinking of me & is very well aware of what is taking place on my timeline. Such happenings can be me thinking of something insignificant only to have that very thing transpire immediately. Perhaps I’ll think or dream of a person I haven’t thought of for years & within the same day hear from them or read something about them.  I can entertain a question only to have the answer materialize.  For instance……I completed a certain TV series & one day on my way to work pondered how the institution in the series actually began.  While watching another series, that interrelates with the previous one, an episode explained the formation of the institution in question.  This was a day or two apart.  Completely insignificant details that cause me to wonder.  Time & time again this has occurred & I refer it to my “thought thingy.” Instead of being weirded out by them, I embrace the happenings as a constant, continual reminder how important my thought life is & discern how much God is aware of my actions.  It’s a reminder for me to “tow the line” or walk upright & right standing.  Don’t get me wrong….I fail often, but am becoming more consciously aware of God’s presence.  I can read or believe scriptures every day, but one “thought thingy” quickly snaps my attention.

As you may have read in past posts, I work at the Divisional level of the Texas Salvation Army.  There is a precious ritual practiced every Tuesday called devotions. Yes, there’s weekly donuts too, but…..I leave those for others!   For the past nine years many people have spoken into my heart with their 20 minutes of history, personal stories, recently read books, & of course, the word of God.  This weeks devos were certainly no exception. Not only was the main message phenomenal, but my point of focus came from the “popcorn testimony” of someone who had recently attended the International Boundless Convention in London, England.  Along with the words he spoke about the convention, he presented an occurrence that immediately moved me to tears & lead me to write this blog.

TSA history bookThis guy, we’ll call him “Churchill,” along with another co-worker, are cousins who grew up in the small town of Bedlington on the outskirts of London.  After returning from the Boundless Convention, another one of Churchill’s department co-workers presented him with an antique book. This co-workers wife, whose sister happens to be one of our Divisional Salvation Army officers, had noticed the book at a yard sale, I think, & picked it up.  The book was Volume One covering The Salvation Army history from 1865-1878 written 80 years after William Booth began to preach the gospel.    TSA history book inside coverWithin the book was a tattered envelope. Within the envelope was a small card, referred to as the Open-Air Plan. Open air planThe card listed streets of where The Salvation Army Corps Band would be playing & who the leader was.

The same Corps where the cousins attended as youth & played in the band. This was strictly an internal schedule which probably only those band members would’ve received. The dates were November 1947-January 1948.  On January 4, 1948 the leader listed is the grandfather or great-grandfather of the recipient of the antique, yard sale book. Churchill is trying to find out which one it was because both of them went by the same name.

Think about it………Bedlington, England 1948 to Fort Worth, Texas USA 2015.  An antique book. Family. Hometown Corps. Co-worker.  I’m not sure what this means to you, but I was immediately reminded of just how mindful & mighty GoTSA history jacket coverd truly is. Who else could have orchestrated such an occurrence?  He moves through space & time because He can. He created it! I asked Churchill what he thought this meant.   He was contemplating how this book could have traveled countries apart to land here in this dispensation of time.  Who migrated here & brought it with them? Those are very logical questions that would be way cool to find out!  My primary question was, “Is there anything significant in your life you are praying for? Or just maybe there’s something you’re believing God for an answer to & this confirms God is truly listening?”  Churchill replied that he hadn’t even thought along their lines. You can tell I’m totally blown away with this divine connection!  I wonder….what “plan” God is guiding Churchill toward as the leader?? He has a very sweet, beautiful family & I can’t wait to find out!

I even appreciate how they discussed the necessity of having the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament to bbook nt version2e more relateable. Talk about forward thinking! Through this happenstance, I want to encourage you how scriptures recount God has numbered the hairs on our heads(yes, He even knows if you’re bald!), numbers of our days, thinks of us as the apple of His eye, He even bottles our tears & keeps a book of remembrance for every time we speak about Him. Jesus can never forget us as our name carved in His hands. I’m sure this would cause controversy, but it seems that’s the original tattoo! Lighten up!  Just my thoughts here!

Whatever you’re facing, regardless of your relationship type, please understand you’re not facing it alone.  God genuinely knows where you are & more importantly, He is no respecter of persons. After the book incident, I’m inspired & convinced, more than ever, He longs for us to have conversation & sweet communion with Him.  Again, He is not the author or instigator of bad choices, but He absolutely can help guide us in making the right ones. We need to listen to His voice, thought thingy’s, or unexplainable instances only He can devise.  If we quieten our busyness long enough, I’m sure more important things than a TV series question will be revealed. Preaching to myself & duly noted!

Blessings,

g
Open air plan supporters

So far

One of my friends, lovingly known as The Goddess, posted this & I wanted to share. It is simple when you think of it, yet very profound. There are seeds of greatness in all of us.  The choice of what we do with those seeds has been & always will be up to us alone.  emerging butterflies

The caterpillar lives its entire life span instinctively knowing it will soon become a butterfly. This metamorphosis dictates every decision the caterpillar makes. From each morsel of food it eats to where it will finally attach its chrysalis.   Could we, perhaps, determine the passion that stirs our soul being worthy of such pursuit?

Her words below……….

Enjoy the journey,

g

rose buds

I’ve come to realize that there is no “becoming”.

A bud doesn’t “become” a rose.
It already IS a rose.
Always has been.
What you can see is the result of the journey, so far.

Just as an acorn holds an entire forest within it, you have within you all the greatness you’ve been seeking.

It’s there.
Always has been.
What you can see is the result of the journey, so far.

The decision for each of us is what to do with our greatness.
Let it ride, or let it rise?
The choice is ours.
Always has been.
And at the end of this day, this year, this life,
What you see will be the result of the journey, so far.

*The “so far” bit is key.

Jacqueline Gates

2015 Expectations

wpid-goalsetting.jpg

As I contemplate the ending of 2014 (which I feel I just got used to writing) & face 2015,  I want to embrace new journies.
In retrospect of accomplishments to goals set this year I’ve:
(1)become debt free
(2)lost a clothing size  & am embracing an even more health consciousness lifestyle
(3)become a minimalist by creating most of my own health & beauty products using Essential Oils
(4)moved into a fabulous new neighborhood
(5)set a course for new personal business endeavors

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This leads to what new goals to set!
I want to begin with things like  updating my passport, organizing the chapters of my book, maybe even taking some courses in things that interest me like concealed handguns, join a gun range club or etc. Yes….. I have a gun & used to love target practice!!

I ran across this list from something I read today by John Maxwell & want to share it as it has many attributes one could adapt resolutions from.

I will choose and display the right attitudes.
I will determine and act upon important priorities.
I will know and follow healthy guidelines.
I will communicate with and care for my family.
I will practice and develop good thinking.
I will make and keep proper commitments.
I will earn and properly manage finances.
I will deepen and live out my faith.
I will accept and show responsibility.
I will initiate and invest in solid relationships.
I will plan for and model generosity.
I will embrace and practice good values.
I will seek and experience improvements.

I pray 2015 brings a beginning of peace, joy, comfort, love & opposition as without that, we often neglect to respect the first few!!
Blessings,
g