Prozac in the Garden
My husband jokes with the children that someday, I will expire and it will likely be in the garden. He knows it is my happy place. One day, recently, my plans for the day were delayed because there was some equipment repair needed before the lawn mowing process could begin. I needed to cover another several hours with Matt instead of visiting the garden. I had a little self-talk to avoid being irritated. The truth was that I DID want the lawn to be mowed and I WAS willing to take part of a shift for that to happen. The delay meant I didn’t get time in the garden.
I could argue that based on science, there was a reason I was irritated. Missing some hours in the garden is akin to missing anti-depression medication. I was delighted to read there is scientific reason behind this malady. It is more than just the yearning to have my hands in the dirt. I’ve known for some time that I do not garden well wearing gloves. I have never been able to articulate why until I read this article.
Bonnie Grant, an urban agriculturalist writes in her article that mycobacterium vaccae has indeed been found to mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide. The bacterium is found in soil and may stimulate serotonin production, which makes you relaxed and happier.
Gardeners inhale the bacteria, have topical contact with it and get it into their bloodstreams when there is a cut or other pathway for infection. The natural effects of the soil bacteria antidepressant can be felt for up to 3 weeks if the experiments with rats are any indication. So get out and play in the dirt and improve your mood and your life.
Most avid gardeners will tell you that their landscape is their “happy place” and the actual physical act of gardening is a stress reducer and mood lifter. The fact that there is some science behind it adds additional credibility to these garden addicts’ claims. The presence of an antidepressant is not a surprise to many of us who have experienced the phenomenon ourselves. Backing it up with science is fascinating, but not shocking, to the happy gardener.
Not only the dirt under my fingernails, but the beauty and cycle of God’s creation brings a spiritual connection to my soul. His principles of sowing and reaping; multiplication and fruit bearing; of eliminating weeds to improve productivity; of mulching to keep disease away remind me to tend to the environment and friendships I create in my life. I’m always learning; always being reminded; always thankful for this piece of heaven He has given me.
Who would think that in the midst of a pandemic there would be a shortage of yeast? As far as I knew, bread baking, or baking food that require yeast was becoming an archaic art. In the days of bare shelves, I asked my husband to pick up a jar of yeast when he went to the store. He was a faithful warrior and searched the aisles whenever he needed to go to the store. None was to be found.
It occurred to me that I could and should try my hand at sour dough. Years ago, I tried my hand at sour dough. It was confusing and seemed a little wasteful in the beginning and then I took a break from making sour dough and I let my starter go.
But my recent efforts have been more successful. When my niece inquired about starting a sour dough, I decided it was time to write about it.
Sour dough is a mixture of water and flour. As the mixture sits and ferments, wild yeast spores from the flour and the air create the right home environment for the yeast to grow. Once a ‘starter’ is developed, meaning the flour water mixture can act as a leavening, one never needs to buy yeast again.
If you have ever read the LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE series, you may recall that Ma regularly made bread. She saved a little of the dough and fed it and kept it in a warm place to grow. Then, she could use a portion of it to create the leavening for her next batch of bread.
There are some guidelines and tricks to it, though. I’ll share with you what worked for me. Most of my information came from these two teachers:
To start a sour dough, mix together ¼ cup warm water (about 100* F) and 3/8 cup of flour. A glass bowl or jar works well because you can watch for the bubbles that indicate it is working. Cover. Let it sit in a warm place. I put mine in my oven with JUST the light on. It was 90* in there. I kept a measuring cup of water in there as well, which is what I used each time I added more flour and water. Although I’m giving you measuring cup measurements, the greatest accuracy will be by weight. If you have a kitchen scale, use it. The Jovial address above gives all measurements in grams, which is what I used.
In 12 hours, repeat: add 3/8 cup of flour and ¼ cup of water. Mix it well. Scrape down the sides of the container. Leave it in a warm spot.
Twelve hours later, remove half the mixture and dispose of it. (The Pioneer Woman has a cracker recipe that uses the ‘dispose of’ quantity of sour dough, so it doesn’t really go to waste.) Add 3/8 cup flour and ¼ cup warm water. Mix. Leave in a warm spot.
Every twelve hours, repeat this process of removing half; feeding the remainder with the amount of flour and water given above.
On day 5, you can stop removing half of the mixture. Just feed it morning and night and keep it in a warm spot. The feeding can be just a tablespoon of flour and a little less of water. It should develop lots of air bubbles.
You might want to put a rubber band around the outside of the container to mark the top of the dough level. The mixture should bubble up and rise and then ‘fall’. By scraping down the sides of the container well, marking the top of the dough when you have mixed it, you will see if the dough has risen and then fallen by any residue on the container walls. Obviously, the mixture volume will increase. I continued at this rate for about 2 weeks.
The evening before I want to make my first batch of bread, I make what is called a ‘levain’. I mixed 2 Tbsp of starter (30 grams) with ½ cup water (120 grams), and 1 cup (130 grams) of flour. Stir it well. Cover and let it sit overnight. In the morning it will be bubbly with lots of air holes in it.
It is recommended that this be used for the leavening with ¼ tsp of dried yeast till the starter is really mature. I did this the first few times I made bread with my starter. I use a regular bread recipe and followed it. Because the ‘levain’ is a liquid, you may need an additional tablespoon or two of flour. Generally bread recipes give a range of flour needed. It is likely you will need the full quantity of flour.
If you have never made bread before, the dough should pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl without sticking. If you are hand kneading, the dough should not stick to the surface on which you are kneading. Those are signs there is sufficient flour incorporated.
Sour dough will take longer to rise than dry yeast. Just plan for 3-5 hours of rising time, instead of 1 hour for the first rise. I do like to let it rise a second time before shaping and a third time between shaping and baking. Sour dough can rise in the refrigerator, too.
The starter can be refrigerated if you only bake bread occasionally vs. every day. Put a label on the container with the date it was last fed. Once a week, take the sour dough out of the refrigerator and feed it a tablespoon or two of flour and slightly less water. The sour dough is a living organism, so it needs to eat to stay alive. I named mine, so I know when I need to feed my little guy.
One word about flour. Always when making yeast bread, I prefer bread flour. It has a higher protein content than all purpose flour and gives a better result. It’s a little more costly. I would use all purpose flour for quick breads like baking powder biscuits or banana bread. But for optimal results, bread flour is best for yeast products.
That said, we have learned that the gluten intolerant in our family can occasionally tolerate real wheat flour if it is the imported ‘00’ flour. It can be purchased at a store that sells flour imported from Italy.
If bread baking has become something you do during the pandemic and shelter in place, maybe starting a sour dough would be a great experiment. It takes time and effort to make and sustain living organisms. Keep that in mind at the beginning. If you grow tired of the experiment, just use up the starter in baking and be wiser for having tried it.
It came to my attention this week that not everyone is a gardener. I should know that. Because I anticipate spring and the warm weather primarily because of the flowering plants and the ability to dig in the dirt, it seems like a new revelation that not everyone likes dirt under their fingernails.
When the Women of Valor met via Zoom this week to discuss the Chasing Vines study, we talked about the stages of growth. This will detail the steps I take when I start my garden.
I like to start my own seeds. Often, I save seeds from the flowers or vegetables from the previous year. I also purchase vegetable seeds. I start my seeds in trays with 1” wide by 3” deep pots. If you purchase plants at a nursery, you may know what I’m describing. There is a special seed starting ‘soil’ mix that is very light weight. It retains the moisture well, which is important for seeds to germinate. I cover the trays with a clear plastic lid that serves to retard evaporation. It allows the sunlight to urge the germination and tease the plant upwards. Beneath these trays, I place a warming mat, similar to a heating pad. It keeps the soil at a warm temperature to encourage the life within the seed to spring forth. I use a solarium as the location for starting seeds but a sunny window sill works, too.
Once the seed has germinated and broken through the surface of the starting mix, two leaves develop. But these leaves are not the defining shaped leaf that would identify the plant. The identifiable leaves are ‘second leaves’. Once the second leaves have emerged and the plant continues to grow, it’s time for a transplant.
The next container for the baby plant is larger to allow for space for roots to grow deep and spread out. The soil mixture changes, too. The next level of soil contains nutrients for the roots to absorb and fortify the plant as it grows. The soil is heavier, a blend of compost and potting soil is what I use. My compost is vermiculture, available at some garden centers, or a result of the worm farm I use to consume vegetable scraps. I mix it half and half with a potting soil.
Potting soil has white flecks of vermiculite in it. Vermiculite also helps to keep the soil moist and prevents the soil from compacting with the percentage of moisture. The plants continue to grow and create new leaves. By this time, the lids above the plants are not generally necessary. I do need to check more frequently for moisture in the soil. And, now, I begin to train the plants.
I turn a fan on in the room where they grow. The fan causes the stems to grow stronger to withstand the velocity. Without this force, the plant would only grow upward, developing ‘leggy’ plants: too much height to withstand any force. The air movement forces the roots to hang on for dear life and it actually makes the stems thicker and more durable.
Depending upon the variety of plant and the weather conditions it likes, plants may move from the warmth and shelter of the solarium to my cold frame. This structure has sides and a lid that is slanted at an angle so the sun’s rays can multiply the heat in this outside space. I leave the lid closed at night but open it during the day to let a breeze come in. Once the plant has grown accustomed to the rigors of outside temperature ranges, it may be time for it to move again to its final resting place.
The garden: the environment in which this growing plant can find the optimal conditions to grow and bear fruit. Keep in mind, I don’t anticipate fruit when the seed goes into the soil. The time from seed to transplanting into the garden has spanned six to twelve weeks, depending upon the plant and variety and its specific demands.
Each kind of plant requires different and unique conditions to properly grow and develop. The squash gets different treatment from the tomatoes. The potatoes and beans are planted at different times and with different expected outcomes. Each plant needs special attention and provision for it to bear fruit.
Tomatoes like to be buried deeply. They need specific nutrients to grow into sturdy plants that will bear much fruit. They need support to grow vertically. They need to be pruned so all the energy isn’t used to make leaves and branches, but to focus on fruit development. This requires the assistance of a persistent and attentive gardener. The insects and blight that love tomatoes require perceptive eyes and attention to prevent what could and would easily overtake the tomato plant, leaving it ill and unable to bear fruit.
All this information parallels the life we each have with Christ. Once we give our hearts and minds to Christ, we need to be kept in the faith with encouragement and teaching from our brothers and sisters. There is a need to be watered faithfully to grow and develop roots. Not much is expected at first because we are just coming out of our shells and beginning to grow. But once we start to develop, new soil, new expectations, new teachings help us become strong. Trials will require us to stand firm and extend our roots deeply and though the storms batter us, we must develop a thick skin to know how to withstand those storms.
Still, it isn’t till God moves us to the place he expects and anticipates full growth, maturity if you will, that we send roots deep to anchor us. Deep roots absorb the nutrients necessary for growth. One nutrient isn’t sufficient for growth and development. It’s generally a combination. Some plants need more nitrogen; others require heavy amounts of calcium for optimal fruiting. Some of us need worship; others require prayer as the lifeline of growth. All of it is important but it will be in different proportions for each of us.
Our environments will vary. Some of us will be cloistered in our homes with children or loved ones; others will be in the work place; some teach; some research; some work with their hands; some use their minds; some use their bodies as vessels of employment. Wherever we have been planted, it behooves us to depend upon the Word, prayer, fellowship with the Lord as our source in the perfect ratio for our optimal growth.
I love the book of James. I struggle with the message. Count it all joy when troubles come my way. Why? My weakness makes me dependent upon God. This is what strengthens me in my faith, my trust, my every need. Dependent is the only way to survive and thrive.
God’s world is upside down from what we see in the world today. But, He is faithful to teach us if we will observe the principles at work in creation. He doesn’t expect fruit from a seed. But, he expects us to create a lot of seeds and scatter them once we are mature.
Our goal should be to seek the environments conducive to maturity so we can be fruitful. The next time you consume a fruit or vegetable, count the seeds within it. Often, there are many seeds. Each seed, planted will generate many fruits, each containing many seeds. The multiplication is beyond what I can calculate in my brain. This is how Christ sees the expansion of His kingdom. One seed germinating, growing, maturing, multiplying. What an amazing example.
I wanted to take a short cut. It would be easy, I thought. I would just skim the file folder and pick what I needed and copy and paste.
The problem is I have no idea what I named the article I was searching to find. I opened a few with promising titles only to be disappointed that it wasn’t the item I needed to ‘cheat’ a little.
Just that morning, I found another somewhat surprising letter in my inbox. One more seed company no longer selling seeds. Because the COVID 19 pandemic has set in motion a panic. People are concerned about getting food, once finding shelves virtually empty of bread, water, and miscellaneous canned goods. Many seed companies have depleted their supply of seeds.
If you are one who has a garden plot, or the intention of creating one this year, good for you. If you cannot find seeds or the season escapes before you get that done and you would like fresh vegetables, I recommend you investigate Consumer Supported Agriculture.
There are several CSA’s in the area. Each one functions differently, so it is wise to investigate how they operate. The essence is, one buys a ‘share’ for a set amount of money which entitles him to a share of the crop and the risk the farmer takes, too. One CSA I know has different size shares: a small would feed one or two people; a medium would feed up to 4 and a large, more. The cost of the share is then commensurate with the quantity of food one receives.
Some have weekly pick-ups at the farm; others have drop points that may be more convenient. Many use organic methods. Some encourage visits to the growing sites and relationship development between the farmer and consumer. Some like feedback on what to grow. Many have crops new to the consumer with instructions on how to incorporate them into the weekly menu.
With the delayed start to the Farmer’s Market, this might be an enticing option. Certainly, for those who don’t have space for a garden; time to devote to it; or lack of desire, a CSA is a great way to procure locally grown, delicious fresh fruits and vegetables. If you have children who are interested in the how and why of foods (or if you want to expose them to such a thing), a CSA with farm visiting privileges would be ideal.
Here’s a source (old though it is) for some options across the state. Please check with each one to be certain they still are in operation; what their protocol is; if they have space for new members; and the cost. https://practicalfarmers.org/2016/03/looking-for-a-csa-near-you/
While I am generally familiar with several, I will recommend Heirloom farms from Earlham. They offer multiple sizes of baskets to best fit the needs of a family. In addition, one can buy fresh eggs, butchered chickens from them. I’ll let you investigate how that works by visiting their site. They also have special Facebook group for members to keep them abreast of what is happening on the farm regularly. There is a weekly newsletter. In past years, there have been events on the farm. They have goats, sheep, gardens, berries, chickens. They have welcomed family visits in the past. The current situation with the pandemic may alter any and all of these factors, so please investigate directly with the CSA.
If you have your own garden or want to, there is a demonstration garden in Urbandale planted and maintained by the Master Gardeners. Located at 3305 92 Street, it’s on the south side of Walker Johnson Park. Check out google maps for directions on how to find the hidden treasure.
There are flowers as well as vegetable gardens and orchards. Often volunteers will be found working any of these beds. They have in past summers had one night a week of instruction on specific topics. Check out their face book page to get more information. One can always visit the garden to see what is happening and the volunteers are wonderful at answering questions.
I see this as a new opportunity for many to develop a hobby that benefits the family. Seize the day. Build a garden or buy into one. Let’s expand our vista because we are forced to do it and be blessed with the opportunity to learn new things and experience new adventures.
Up From the Grave
Last week when the rain came amidst colder weather and ice covered many surfaces, my daffodils hit the ground. They had been so beautiful, blooming and nodding their heads in the breeze. I’d had great fun describing the progress to Matthew during his bathing and dressing routine, as the first to bloom are directly outside his window.
We talked at length about recovery the next morning. I didn’t know how resilient they would be. But in a day or two, they were starting to raise their heads from the forced bowing. I was surprised at the resiliency they showed.
With the COVID 19 situation at hand, I reflected on resiliency. Will we rise from the imposed regulations? Will we illustrate resiliency after unemployment and unknown futures for the jobs that aren’t currently available? Will our pantries see us through this time of fewer resources and the concerns of being in the grocery store.
Will we see the world situation as an opportunity to serve our neighbors in whatever capacity we can? Will we love one another the way Jesus asked us? Will we put aside personal agendas to look to the needs of others near and far; in and out of our circle of friends?
Will our Holy Week look different? Will we be so distracted by circumstances we are blind to opportunity? Or, will we see that what He sacrificed was a model for us in the behavior we now choose. No greater love has a man than he lay down his life for his friend.
As we celebrate this week, the penultimate of the Christian faith, join me in hearing and discerning how to live out the love and sacrifice of Christ for those around me. Let us be known by our love for one another because of His love for us. This is how we celebrate Easter.
Several years ago, a mystery at our house was resolved. It took visits to 25 specialists who thought there were no problems. A simple program on the public broadcasting television station hinted that a particular test should be run. The test was so positive it had a life altering effect on our family.
Gluten intolerance. The results of that test gave answers for medical mysteries over more than a decade or two. It began a series of experiments of what could be substituted and consumed to resolve the health issues and rebuild ailing bodies.
As the chief cook and bottle washer of the house, I was convinced starvation was in our future. Everything we ate had wheat in it: pasta, fresh bread, soups, cookies, all baked delights. The ‘gluten free’ aisles overwhelmed me in cost and choices. The efforts to find tasty substitutes brought more disappointments than success. The costs were higher and the results lower. It was quite the trial for all involved.
Countless trips to the library to read and research grain blends to substitute were made resulting in more frustration than answers. My goal of finding a nutritious blend to substitute for glutenous flour failed more than it succeeded.
About two weeks into the journey I realized that meat and fruits and vegetables were ‘free’ from the culprit of gluten. We would not starve after all. And as you can tell we have survived quite well. We hit a stride and found some satisfactory substitutes that fit our budget and taste buds.
Years later, a friend asked if I had ever used an imported flour and if it worked for the affected folks. About the same time, the grocery shelves were more bare than stocked. I decided I needed to start a sour dough to leaven any efforts at baking bread because yeast seemed to be unavailable. I worked hard to get the sour dough percolating, feeding, dividing, feeding, keeping it warm, watching it bubble and grow and then deflate only to repeat the next time. I watched countless videos on ancient grains and the merits of baking with them.
Once the sour dough levain was working, I made bread with the new flour. The newest experiment began. Would this bread make the gluten intolerant ill? It did not. The next step in the adventure was bagels. They were acceptable. Then, the longed for delight: cinnamon rolls. Win. And, now, the pantry is back to normal. We are baking with real wheat flour, although not made in America.
There are two potential reasons. One, American farmers use hybridized forms of the wheat. The genetic restructuring of hybridized crops are not uniformly tolerated by all. Secondly, the crop is sprayed with glyphosate before harvest. The window for wheat harvest is very small. The glyphosate kills the plant so harvest can be accomplished in that tiny window. The grain is saved from weather that could ruin the crop. But the residue of the glyphosate is intolerable for some.
The imported flour is not sprayed with glyphosate. It may not be hybridized. Whatever the difference is, we have switched to an imported flour.
Why is this important? Jesus said He was ‘the bread of life.’ We can eat His Word and digest it and be strengthened spiritually by it. He is our daily sustenance. We must depend upon this food to get us through, especially during the time of crisis we are currently experiencing.
Let us be careful as Americans we do not pollute nor alter what He said. So many change the gospel message to fit their lifestyle so their harvest can be gathered in. Let’s be sure we deliver the authentic version of Christ: love one another. This is the season for us to shine, to bring healing to those who have looked in every nook and cranny for the answers to their issues only to be discouraged. This one answer, this simple resolution can heal a nation one person at a time. Repent. Be humble. He will give us rest. He will feed us. He is the answer.
As we draw near to Easter, may our focus be on the cross and the way Christ fulfilled the law of God. And may we ask how we can spread His message and feed His sheep.
For Such A Time As This II
Last week’s topic was surviving life with children at home. This week, a new direction is necessary and it might get personal.
Queen Esther was put in a precarious position. Her life and that of her people was in jeopardy because of Haman’s influence with the king. She had a choice to make: ask the king for mercy for her people or do nothing. What did she do? She asked for prayer and fasting, a great sign of humility. We all know the end of the story. The king was well sated with the delicious banquet she had prepared for him. Haman was eventually seen for his evil design and met his demise.
How does Esther’s story affect us? It’s a model for what we might do to make the most of this time. I don’t want to presume that I know or understand what you are experiencing. If you have lost your source of income or you have to work at home and your extroverted nature is in peril, I may not be able to advise you. We can each grow as the Lord leads us in the middle of it. So, if you have a need, please let it be known. Someone might have just what you need.
Here are some examples: Pastor Brian surely spent a rigorous week finding equipment and somehow getting it set up to livestream the service last week. Some things were out of his control, like the overload on the platform used to broadcast. Still, he learned some new skills in how to circumvent and roll with the punches. We were all thankful to hear his excellent message and be fed spiritually. The numbers of ‘clicks’ on the service or people who have watched the video are far greater than normal attendance. Who knows that this situation has shoved us into a great opportunity to share the gospel message and encourage believers for ‘such a time as this’?
Someone in our body shared a Facebook message on ‘how can you help’. New ideas; new needs; new ways to reach out in the midst of isolation were presented. Personally, I was able to dip into a great stash of leftover fabric and create masks for health care workers at a facility we know well. Family members even requested some. How thankful I was that my skill of sewing and my stash of fabric (much donated by a former neighbor) can fill a need! I have been encouraged just to see the ways folks are helping one another.
A friend from around the world shared this message as a good reminder as her country is now in lockdown mode:
L - isten to God's voice and reflect.
O - bey His word and teachings.
C - all on Jesus' name and be calm.
K - now what God's purpose is in this.
D - well in His presence. Don't panic.
O - ffer a prayer for everyone's safety.
W - ait and be patient. This, too, shall pass.
N - urture our relationship with Him.
How often have you wished for more time to spend in prayer or with the Lord? How many times did you wish you had time to do a particular project? How often have you desired more time with family?
Let’s use this opportunity to see the ‘gold’ in the situation: What will we do with this opportunity? How can I help you?
For Such A Time As This
Crisis happens. In 1993, we were without water for a bit. We had access to water but it didn’t come out of the tap. We had to carry water home from the local school parking lot in jugs, buckets, and any container that would not spill before it returned home.
We learned to be inventive. So, when the water fell from the heavens so hard the gutters could not contain it, in 1993, my children and their dad took the shampoo bottle and bars of soap outside and ‘showered’ in the over flow off the roof (in their swimming suits). The pictures are priceless. The memories of using what we had to meet the need will not be forgotten. It was survival.
Today, we have a new ‘crisis’. If you are not accustomed to having your children at home 24/7. This may be your crisis. Keeping children happy and parents sane can be a delicate balancing act. As a veteran of having children at home for the last 37 years, I’d like to make some suggestions.
All hands on deck. Everybody gets a responsibility that is age appropriate. If mom and dad are working from home, the kids can work, too. There is laundry to sort, wash, dry, fold and put away. Even a 2 year old can learn to separate darks from lights. Food preparation can be a family affair. Cleaning chores can be distributed. Work before entertainment. Family before friends. The household is for the benefit of all members therefore, everyone shares in the responsibilities that come with the household. No exceptions.
Make a schedule. It can be as lose or tight as necessary for your family. My recommendation is to have your children move every hour (all ages). Seriously. Five minutes of jumping jacks or toe touches energizes the body. Do a chore between a sedentary activity. Be flexible with the ages and stages of your children.
Even though children aren’t at school, recess will be important. Physical activity will be necessary to work out the wiggles for every age. Physical activity enhances learning. Several ten minute breaks throughout the day will serve everyone well. Take a walk. Jump on the trampoline. Find ways to move the body inside or outside the confines of home. Create an obstacle course with sidewalk chalk: run, jump, skip, hop, etc.
Since local libraries are closed for hand held books but their digital capability is still available. Sharing books might require some cooperation with friends and neighbors. If books are not collected in your home, think of folks you know who might have some you can borrow. Keep them clean and return them in the same condition you received them.
Learn a new skill. There are lots of you tube videos available to teach creative endeavors. (Be creative with supplies: use 2 pencils and some string to learn to knit!) Learn to draw cartoons and make a ‘movie’ book with cartoon characters advancing on each page.
Games can be used to teach skills. A deck of playing cards can be used to play concentration. Uno teaches colors and numbers. Strategy games can teach thinking and reasoning skills.
Go to the zoo in the living room. Or take a trip. Here are some virtual opportunities: https://adventuresinfamilyhood.com/20-virtual-field-trips-to-take-with-your-kids.html?fbclid=IwAR3RnPXGdFyCJzRkcGbEYUriIAbngvnDv9sObZYwGNquA3NHBUUur-8I6j4
Think about using Legos, Duplos, Lincoln logs, Marble works, cardboard boxes, colors, paints, to create drama, creativity, building skills, etc. Create plays. Make up stories. Make a tent and read under the tent. Pop corn. Watch a movie. Give a hug. Tickle. Wrestle. Throw a ball (outside). Make a vision board for next summer’s vacation. Read a Bible story and act it out.
Make a plan and be flexible. Think of this as an opportunity. It will require the creative energies of every person. Use discipline: personal self discipline and Godly discipline as people get on one another’s nerves. Will that happen? Guaranteed. Use it to teach conflict management or perhaps anger management. Learn to listen to the heart of the matter.
We might be in this status for a while. So, put on your thinking caps and do all the things you have not had time to do until now. It might become one of the best things that has happened to your family!
Light of the World
There is something to be said about light. We willingly submit ourselves to the gruesome task of changing our clocks spring and fall so we can rise in the dark and have more light at the end of the day. We love light. We seek light. We see light.
In the faces of people, we can read light or darkness. When our son was in PICU at the University of Iowa hospital, a couple arrived from a far corner of the state. Their son was to receive a new heart and they had driven all night to arrive at the hospital for the surgery. We met them in the family lounge. There was a light radiating from their exhausted and anxious faces. It was very noticeable to us, the kind of light that drew us toward them. Immediately, we predicted their faith was foremost in their lives.
Over the next few days, we got to know this family and confirmed what we had seen in their faces: some kind of light not seen in the faces of many other patients and their families. We had an immediate bond and discovered we had common faith and common friends. Though we have not seen them in person for 16 years, we maintain contact with them via Facebook. We have watched the boy with the new heart graduate from college, begin a teaching career, marry, and father a son.
When I read an article about what and how one’s face conveys emotion, I was intrigued. Specifically, the article asked if our face ‘lights up’ when we see our spouse or children arrive home. I thought about the kinds of greetings I receive that make me feel welcomed. I have a sister in law who gives the BEST greetings. Over the phone. In person. She is delighted to see people. She is universally happy to greet anyone. She is a magnet for friendliness and folks love to be around her.
Specifically, the article I read came from a teacher and parent. She addressed the question about facial expression as a communication device in each arena. She said, “We have a holy obligation to see dignity in every person.” By inference, we have an obligation to communicate that dignity to every person.
She also references Fred Rogers ability to convey such dignity to children by accepting their uniqueness. A new movie relates this ability. He had the ability to shine light into the lives of each person he met and knew.
We are told to be the Light of the World. How do we do that? We let our light shine. One way is to have so much Jesus in our hearts it comes out in our facial glow. Our words and our expressions reflect what is in our hearts.
As Easter approaches, we hope invitations yield visitors for that Holy Day. Let’s abandon our concern for how we look to others and focus on being glad to see new faces. Let’s let our guard down and mirror the reflection of Jesus as we meet and greet people. As we shop, as we go to and from work, let your expression reflect the light of Christ. And, at home, let’s light up our expressions as we greet family members to convey their importance to us. We all need to be wanted and needed. Letting our lights shine helps meet that need.
What Kind of Salt Are You?
With the Lenten season in the calendar, I’ve been thinking about different qualities we are supposed to have. What did Jesus tell us to do/be/how to act? One of the things that He said was that we are to be the SALT of the earth.
Salt acts as a preservative. A little goes a long ways. Too much salt can kill a person. Too little can spoil an individual. Food without salt is tasteless. Food with an excess cannot be stomached. Believe it or not, there are many varieties of salt.
A friend of mine shared this little piece with me and some others who are interested in ingredients and the way they act and interact. I compared it to the body of Christ: lots of variety for seasoning the masses. Some work better in some situations. We aren’t all the same. Can you identify what kind of salt you are? What are the ingredients you best season? Think and pray about the way you affect the audiences God has give you and ask Him to let you bring flavor to that crowd.
DIFFERENT TYPES of SALT 1. Table
Table salt is created by superheating natural salt to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which destroys most beneficial compounds. Fortified with essential iodine, table salt is also bleached and devoid of trace elements, so it’s certainly not the healthiest salt you can shake. This type of salt can often contains additives to slow moisture absorption so it is easy to sprinkle in your salt shaker.
Some experts claim that this highly refined version of salt is responsible for many sodium-related health issues, whereas unrefined salts heal the body instead of harming it.
Most people are very familiar with sea salt. This salt comes from—you guessed it—the ocean and undergoes an evaporation process to separate the salt from the water. Sea salt contains a small amount of natural iodine, although not nearly as much as iodized salt. It is typically much less refined than table salt and comes in both fine and coarse varieties.
While sea salts are a great unrefined choice, unfortunately, pollution is steadily becoming a concern. Whereas ancient seas were once clean, we have sullied our ocean coastlines with pollutants like microplastics. While this is no means a reason to give up sea salt—microplastics have infiltrated nearly everything—it’s good to keep yourself in the know and balance your sea salt consumption with other, earth-bound salts.
3. HIMALAYAN PINK
These salts come from ancient seabeds in the Himalayan mountains. Their pink color comes from their rich iron content. This salt is, in fact, quite rich in minerals, containing all 84 essential trace elements required by your body. Pink salt can assist in many bodily functions, such as reducing muscle cramps, promoting blood sugar health and promoting healthy pH in your cells.
Many experts recommend pink salt as one of the healthiest salts you can consume. Its popularity has made it more affordable than other more exotic salts on the market.4. Grey
Colored by the clay from where it’s harvested, grey salt is often called Celtic Sea Salt. It is hand-raked in Brittany, France, where the natural clay and sand create moist, mineral-rich crystals. This salt generally retains its moistness.
Grey salt can help to restore electrolyte balance, has alkalizing properties and can prevent muscle cramps, much like pink salt. However, this salt is a bit more expensive, due to the labor intensive process of hand-raking.
5. FLEUR DE SEL
Meant to be used as a finishing salt, this “flower of the salt” usually has a hefty price tag. It is hand-harvested along the French coastline in the same pools as grey salt.
However, for every 40 kilograms of grey salt produced, only 1 1/2 kilograms of delicate fleur de sel is harvested. This light and flaky salt is highly prized and generally used for finishing foods. In terms of health, it’s simply a pricey mineral-rich sea salt with a delicate flavor and texture.
Originating from Hawaii, black lava salt is unrefined and volcanic. Its black color is due to its content of activated charcoal, which is great for digestion and removing impurities in the body.
The contrast of color can also make dishes more visually interesting. There is also another black salt, kala namak, which originates from India and is actually pink once it’s ground. It is highly sulphuric in taste and content. For this reason, it is thought to be a beneficial digestive aid. Both black salts are highly prized and can be healthful when used on occasion.
Another Hawaiian salt, red salt gets its color from the volcanic Hawaiian clay called alaea. As water evaporates, this salt gets trapped in tidal pools, where it mixes with the alaea.
It is estimated to contain the highest concentration of essential trace minerals of any salt and is especially iron rich. If you have a tendency to be low in iron, this salt may be a good addition to your balanced diet.
8. Persian Blue
This unique salt harvested from an ancient salt lake in Iran is extremely mineral rich and slightly sweet. Its blue color comes not from mineral content, but from the natural compression of the salt’s structure over the millennia. The same beautiful effect is seen in blue glacial ice, where the molecular structure has been compressed to the point that it begins to refract light differently.
While aesthetically exciting, as one of the rarest salts in the world, this salt may not be worth the price tag if you’re just shopping for health benefits.
Smoked salts have no significant nutritional benefits over normal sea salt. In fact, they are simply sea salts smoked at low temperatures over a bed of coals, which lends a lovely smokey flavor to the crystals and a grey or tan color. The smokey flavor lends dimension to certain dishes, but they have no health benefits beyond those associated with regular sea salt.
When it comes to choosing a healthy salt, don’t get confused by price. In general, it’s better to consume unrefined salt over table salt, since it’s generally lower in sodium and high in essential minerals. Other than that, you don’t need to spend a fortune to consume healthy salt. Exotic salts can make for a lovely culinary experience, but in terms of health, no single unrefined salt is undeniably better than another. Choose a salt that suits your needs and enjoy it in combination with a smart, healthy lifestyle.10. Redmond's Real Salt FLAVOR – Real Salt is unlike any salt on earth. It’s subtly sweet, never bitter sea salt that makes every bite delicious. First try Real Salt, then try any other salt. The difference will amaze you!
Taste and see that the Lord is good. He brings just the right balance into our lives if we will trust Him and ask Him to reveal the lessons He wants us to learn.