Yes, I'm a pastor's wife, but I suspect not all of my readers are Christian. I won't hold back on my beliefs, but I also won't shove religion at you. I try not to accept things just because they're told to me but read and research in order to make up my own mind. You'll find a random mix of stuff here, depending on what interests me at the moment. I like to read others' opinions, whether they agree with me or not, which means I love comments on my posts!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Let's Talk About...Pseudo Food

Just a heads up, any posts about artificial food colors will now be posted at Pseudo Food. Posts about other health topics, marriage, church, young women, and the rest of my interests will still be posted here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Artificial Food Colors - What's the big deal?

I find it ironic when kids are given brightly colored sweet treats, and then an adult complains when the kids won’t behave.

It’s possible they’re having a reaction to the artificial food colors and preservatives. A study done by the University of Southampton looked at 6 artificial food colors and the preservative sodium benzoate and their effects on the behavior of children. The result? In some cases, the children were “significantly more hyperactive” after ingesting the artificial ingredients. Removing these ingredients is not a cure-all for behavior problems, but the action has the potential to help.Artificial food colors have also been linked to other behavior changes (like aggressiveness and autistic characteristics), migraines, allergic reactions, and cancer.

So how difficult would it be to remove the artificial colors from our food supply? Apparently not as difficult as it seems, since many companies have voluntarily removed them in Europe. In the U.K., Kraft, Mars, Nestle, and Coca Cola are just a few of the ones who have switched products to natural food colors. Even the brightly colored Skittles no longer contain the 6 colors from the Southampton study. But only in Europe. The US version still contains them.

That’s stupid. I don’t know how else to phrase my opinion so simply. Studies have shown adverse effects of these ingredients, but companies who operate in Europe and the US have only removed them from their European products. I feel cheated, like my health is not as important as that of Europeans. Or like there’s a conspiracy theory.
I think the truth is much less complex. Darren Blackhurt, food trading director of Asda (U.K.’s branch of Wal-mart) said “We know that our customers, particularly those that are mums and dads, are becoming more and more concerned about what’s in the food they buy.”

Companies in Europe are removing many artificial food colors because consumers have demanded it. Apparently, we’ve been too quiet and accepting in the US. Robyn O’brien wrote an article for the Allergy Kids Foundation that delves into it deeper.
The FDA argues that there’s not enough evidence to ban artificial food colors or to even place a warning on them. But if companies already have a way to replace them, what’s the point in leaving them in? We’re allowing our children (and ourselves) to be science experiments. The “evidence” that will finally get them banned is when too many children have a reaction to them. That’s how Orange 1 was banned – children fell ill after eating it in Halloween candy in the 1950s.
What can we do about it? First, we can stop buying the products for our own children. Second, we can educate others. Third, we can express our opinion to the companies who use these colors.
Schools are where behavior issues become the most problematic, since 1 child can prevent a whole class from learning. With that in mind, I created a Powerpoint presentation for school faculty to educate them about the potential risks of artificial food and what can be done about it. The Powerpoint can be presented at faculty meetings, sent by email to teachers, brought to the attention of the principal, or used in any way that may benefit students.

The presentation and accompanying resources are available for free on Teachers Pay Teachers, though you do need to create a free account in order to download it.
I also have started a Pinterest board devoted to natural food colors and products that contain them: Goodbye Artificial Colors. Bake Cakery’s board of natural colors to use at home is worth checking out as well: Natural Food Color Options.
This post is linked to Healthy Roots, Happy Soul.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Menu Plan 11/11/13

I mess up when I don't have a menu plan. I know that about myself, and then get angry with myself when I mess up because I don't have a plan. And then I feel physically rough because I don't give my body what it needs. So here's the plan, free of grains and soy.

Eggs with veggies
Green smoothies

Salads with homemade Italian dressing (minus the sugar and less salt)
Bean soup (It's more like bean chili with the flavor of soup. Not much liquid, just the way I like it)

Vegetable soup (with homemade beef broth)
Sweet Potato Hash with bell peppers instead of kale
Italian chicken (marinated in Italian dressing, but without the sugar and less salt) with sweet potatoes and green beans

When the sweet craving strikes
Homemade Almond Joys
Homemade gelatin (just fruit juice and gelatin)

When I'm hungry, I want food as soon as I can. I don't want to have to cut, dice, prep, and cook, so I'm doing a few things tonight. Bean soup is actually leftover. Vegetable soup is in the crock-pot now. I just cooked bacon with extra for salads, mixed up the dressing, and I cooked the sweet potato hash tonight. Italian chicken is in the freezer, leftover from a few weeks ago.

The eggs are what I was most proud of tonight. Mornings are the time I most often reach for convenience foods, so tonight I diced barely cooked vegetables (tomatoes, kale, and bell peppers) and mixed them with  raw eggs and seasonings. Now, all I have to do over the next few mornings is scoop out a big spoonful and drop it on a pan. Done.

What's on your menu this week?
This post is linked to OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday and Musings of a Housewife.

Does the Bible Say Women are Weak?

I’ve begun a new series with the girls at church about the things people say of godly women and whether or not they are biblically sound. Over the next couple of months, we’ll be looking at jewelry and makeup, whether women should hold positions of authority, if women should be quiet in church, what it means to be submissive, and other things that people say about us.
This week: Does the Bible actually call women weak?

I’ve heard it many times. “Women are weak, and the Bible says so.” The verse referenced is always 1 Peter 3:7
Husbands, likewise, dwell with your wives with understanding, giving honor to them, as to the weaker vessel
I see a few major problems with using this verse to support the argument, so let’s break down the verse, piece by piece. First, though, please remember I am not a Bible scholar and all of the following is my own opinion.

1)      Who is Peter writing to? Husbands and wives. He is not addressing all men and all women but just how a husband should treat his own wife. Let’s think about the cultural significance of this time period as well. The Bible is written for anyone in any generation, but we can’t separate the fact that Peter was also writing to a specific group of people.  In general, men had the power and ruled over their households. Women were less educated and had fewer opportunities. In paganism and other religions, wives were seen mostly as instruments to satisfy the man’s needs and desires.

2)      “dwell with your wives” – or live with them. Got it. Husbands, live with your wives.

3)      “with understanding” – uh oh. Husbands, live with your wives with understanding? A man will never understand a woman (and vice versa)! What else could this part mean? First, the husband is to understand what God desires from the relationship. Second, he is to understand what his wife needs. This can only be accomplished with communication. The husband and wife must communicate in order to understand each other’s needs, and then meet those needs to the best of their abilities. Another translation says “living with knowledge” – so while men and women don’t understand each other, they seek to know each other, to know what each other wants and needs from the marriage. Here’s a personal example: Sometimes I cry for no apparent reason. Mr. T doesn’t yell at me “Shut up woman! There’s nothing to cry about!” Living with understanding or knowledge means, even though he doesn’t understand why I’m crying, he understands/knows that I need his comfort. Culturally (and for modern-day), this part was important. Peter was telling men that it’s not all about what the husbands want.

4)      “giving honor to them” – I think this is the most important part of the verse. Women were seen as possessions, as means for gratification and someone to bear children. Christianity brought a different concept – one where the wives are honored. When you honor someone, you respect them; you look up to them; you admire something about them; you see something about them that is better than what you have; they are your superior in some way. Now, I’m not at all saying women are better than men, but think about how it works in a good marriage, where both partners are happy. They both think they got better than they deserve! Peter is not saying women are better than men, but is calling husbands to treat their wives as if they are—as if they’re something special.

5)      “as” – One word can make so much difference. The verse says “giving honor to them as the weaker vessel.” Not is, but as. The verse never says wives actually are the weaker vessel, but that husbands should wives as if they are. If someone around you is weaker, what do you do? A caring person would help them however they could. For example, I’m perfectly capable of carrying groceries into our home, but Mr. T usually carries them for me. He treats me as he would someone weaker. Also, remember what was going on culturally. Husbands had the power, which meant they could beat their wives if they wanted to. But Peter is giving a call to husbands to not bully their wives or abuse their power.

6)      “weaker” – An average-muscled man is fairly strong, but if he stands next to a body builder, one of them is obviously weaker. The Bible does not say “weak,” but “weaker.” 2 people can both be strong, but one will be weaker.  Does the Bible say women are strong or weak? We’re told the Proverbs 31 woman “girds herself with strength and strengthens her arms.” (Proverbs 31:17) So nope, not weak.

7)      “vessel” – Some scholars think the verse means women are weaker spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Or basically in every area. Personally, I think the verse is only referring to physical strength because even in the original Greek, the word is “vessel,” which is the outer shell. Some English translations have changed this to “partner” instead of “vessel.” is my favorite site for checking original texts since some things are lost or easily misinterpreted when translated. In general, men have the potential to be physically stronger than women. Our bodies are built differently, plain and simple. Some men don’t take advantage of it, though, and some women work out to become buff.

8)      Finally, there’s more to the verse. When people quote it as proof that women are weak, they usually only mention the first part. The rest of the verse says “and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” Husbands and wives are heirs together of God’s grace. God doesn’t put the husband higher than the man or give him a greater portion.  They’re equal. In the very last part, Peter says husbands better treat their wives well or else their prayers will not be answered.  
Image from pixabay
My conclusion: Peter did not write this to say women are weak. He wrote it to address a problem among marriages and to tell husbands how God desires a marriage to be.
What are your thoughts on 1 Peter 3:7 and the view of "weak" women?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Marriage Journal

I think my husband and I have a great marriage. There's communication, love, mutual respect, physical attraction, prayer time together, etc, but I'm always open for suggestions to make it even better. I came across one great suggestion on The Dating Divas: A Couple's Journal.

Basically, you take a regular notebook, make it look special, and then take turns writing special things in it. What kind of special things? I told Mr. T to write "a special moment with me that you remember, something you appreciate that I did, a characteristic about me that you particularly like, a reason that you love me, a time where you felt the most loved/respected, or anything else that you want to write as long as it's nice." The Dating Divas has a list of starter ideas that can be printed and pasted in the front of the notebook.

Our notebook is a simple composition book with a piece of paper glued to the front. The quote at the bottom is a sticker that says "Now I know what love is." I have the intention of pasting a picture of us in that blank space, but it's over a month since we began and I haven't done it yet.

It stays in our bathroom. When deciding where to put it, I wanted 1) a private spot where company wouldn't pick it up and 2) a place where we would both notice it. The bathroom was the only place that fit those parameters.
We write whenever we feel like it -- maybe once or twice per week. So how could we know when the other had written in it without them having to say "hey, go read the book"? That's another reason that the bathroom has been helpful. A dry erase marker stays with it so that we can write a note on the mirror once we've included something in the journal.
I like the notes on the mirror almost as much as the things in the notebook. So far, the journal has been a place for loving sentiments, memories, and thoughts -- things we should say to each other but just don't think to mention in the craziness of the day. The mirror notes are cornier. Sometimes loving, sometimes just fun.
In the picture above, it says "Pigs give us bacon. Cows give us cheese. I love you so much, that writing why is a breeze." Before that, Mr. T wrote "Fire in the hole!" and "Looky, looky, I wrote something in the booky."
It's been good to have the journal front and center in the bathroom. Even if we don't read the sentiments daily, it's a visual reminder that they are there. And the mirror notes brighten my day with a laugh.

Have you done anything similar in your marriage?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dealing with Insecurity: Is High Self-Esteem the Cure?

I alluded briefly to this when I wrote of the conclusion of our Insecurity lessons for Sunday night Girls’ Club, but a few things I have read recently keep bringing it back to me.

I’ll use me as an example. I’m insecure about my looks, especially when I’m wearing my glasses. I’m thankful to have them so that I can see, but otherwise, I hate my glasses with a passion because of how they make me look. When a young woman who, I feel, is prettier comes around, my insecurity shows its ugly head. I sometimes become more introverted, with an irrational fear that no one will want to listen to me since I’m not as pretty as the other woman speaking.

Now let’s say I feel equal to or prettier than the other women around me. Can I be worry-free because my insecurities aren’t provoked? Nope. It’s false security. It’s a superiority complex. All it would take is one woman to walk in, and my false security would come crashing down. Feeling superior means I am judging someone else, I have put myself on a high pedestal, and I have transferred my insecurities on to someone else, as if I believe the other women around me should feel inferior like I do when someone prettier is there.  It’s messed up in so many ways.

In the study So Long Insecurity, author Beth Moore first brought this point to my attention: Superiority is not the same thing as security.

I originally wanted a title picture that demonstrated security and immediately thought of this one. How much more secure can you be than, as a grown man, allowing 2 young girls (who were strangers to him) paint his face however they wanted? Alas, simplicity won out in my decision, but this was one of the first endearing qualities my husband demonstrated when we met. But I digress...

Insecurity can be destructive when we allow it to control our actions, but superiority can be as much or even more damaging.

It can go by different names: superiority, pride, high self-esteem.
Wait. What? I thought high self-esteem was a good thing??  I’ve always heard high self-esteem be taught as a virtue, at home, in school, and even in church, but looking around, I can see the problems that arise from it.
Superiority, pride, and self-esteem all involve thinking highly of oneself. Romans 12:3 cautions against this: “I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” (NLT) In other words, we’re not to judge ourselves by our abilities, wealth, appearance, or other material things, but to use another standard – to evaluate ourselves by our Christian character.

More than once, the Bible warns against pride and high self-esteem. Take Proverbs 11:2 for example – “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Instead of placing a high value on ourselves, God’s word calls us to be humble. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary says humility is simply “not thinking of yourself as better than other people.”
I see two big problems with thinking so highly of ourselves. First, we’re thinking only of ourselves, which is incredibly selfish and conceited. We can’t help others when we’re focused only on ourselves. Secondly, it sets us up to fall. The more highly we view ourselves, the harder the fall can be.
Pride (or high self-esteem, superiority, or whatever else you want to call it) is always on the defensive. If we place value on ourselves for anything that we feel is better than other people, such as wealth, possessions, appearances, or talents, then we’re constantly vulnerable to someone better coming along. If a basketball player prides himself on being the best, but a new player proves to be better, the pride is shattered. If an artist has high self-esteem because of her creative abilities, but a tragic accident mangles her hands so that she can no longer create, her esteem will be destroyed.
True security does not depend upon circumstances, abilities, or appearances. It does not matter who is around or how we compare to them. It is not fragile or defensive. True security shows up when we know, truly know, that we are children of the Almighty God and saved by His son Jesus. This God-given identity cannot be taken away from us no matter who comes along.
Rather than trying to raise self-esteem in ourselves, our kids, and each other, what if we centered our lives on God and focused on the needs of others? We can’t be self-absorbed when we’re helping others. As for God-centered lives, He calls us to be humble. Humility is not saying “I’m horrible at the piano” even if you’re a musical prodigy. It’s recognizing that your value is not tied to that particular talent, that others are gifted in different ways so you’re not the only gifted one, and just simply knowing that your talent does not make you better than anyone else. We’re all wonderfully made by God, and He loves each us with the same agape love.
Want to read more about biblically-based self-esteem? I recommend these links:
1-Minute Bible Love Notes - A series on the
Dangers of High Self-Esteem - How Should a Christian View Self-Esteem?
It's not just in the Bible. Science Daily writes "high self-esteem is not always what it's cracked up to be."
Note: This post contains affiliate links which help the author of this site.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Vegetarian and Soy Free Dinners

Yes, I want to eat meat from grass-fed, pasture-raised animals. No, I can't afford the price very often. One solution seems to be incorporating more meatless meals. I tried vegetarian (almost vegan) for a few months because of health reasons and discovered my body is not meant to follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. It's great for some people, and it's not for others. I'm in the latter category. However, that doesn't have to stop me from having some vegetarian meals.

The only meatless meal my husband and I have regularly is vegetable soup, and I'm ready to find other meals to try. There was 1 catch on my search, though. I wanted soy-free as well. Have you priced soy, tofu, and meat-substitutes? Their price isn't much better! And I would want organic since most other soy is genetically modified. Also, I'm laying off of soy to see if that helps any with my hormone issues. So far, so good.

Fortunately, the Internet is a wonderful network of foodies and creative cooks who don't need meat (or soy) in every, single dish. The majority of these are egg-free, as well.

Pasta and Quinoa
1. Pumpkin Thyme Rigatoni from Whole Living
2. Hearty Vegetable Lasagna from AllRecipes
3. Pasta with Marinara and White Beans from Real Simple
4. Easy Cheesy Veggie Salsa Mac from Mom Foodie
5. Warm Cauliflower and Israeli Couscous Salad from Oh My Veggies
6. Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables from Dishing Up Delights
7. Festive Fall Quinoa from Mom Foodie -- with peppers, onion, sweet potato, and sun-dried tomatoes

Soups and Stews
8.Winter Lentil Soup from Carrots n Cake
9. Moroccan-Style Vegetable and Chickpea Stew from The First Mess
10. Roasted Tomato and Rosemary Soup with Kale and Potatoes from Food52
11. Bean Soup with Kale from All Recipes
12. Creamy, Light Potato Soup (except without bacon) from My Recipes
13. Roasted Butternut Squash Soup from Chow
14. Hearty Potato Minestrone from Simply Potatoes
15. Mixed Bean Chili from London Bakes

16. Inside Out Chinese Spring Roll Salad from Better Recipes
17. Autumn 3 Bean Salad from Internet Cooking Princess
18. Peach, Feta, Pistachios and Romaine Hearts with Lemon Dill Vinaigrette from Internet Cooking Princess
19. Spiced Eggplant and Cucumber Salad from A Couple Cooks
20. Heirloom Tomato and Nectarine Salad from Vegetarian Times

21. Grilled Pesto, Mozzarella, and Tomato Sandwich from Joyful Homemaking
22. Wild Mushroom Melt Panini from Panini Happy
23. Farmer's Market Vegetarian Quesadilla from All Recipes
24. Mexican Grilled Cheese Sandwich from Bakeaholic Mama
25. Grilled Vegetable Wrap from Vegetarian Times

26. Asparagus and Tomato Bake from Grandma's Kitchen
27. Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Orange Cumin Dressing from In Pursuit of More
28. Ratatouille from AllRecipes
29. Rustic Ratatouille with Chickpeas from Self
30. Vegetable Goulash from Grandma's Kitchen
31. Burrito Bowl from A Couple Cooks
32. Roasted Potato Salad with Dijon and Goat Cheese Dressing from Mom Foodie

33. Vegetarian Tacos from Taste of Home
34. Grilled Pizza with Pesto, Tomato, and Feta from Eating Well
35. Portabella and Kale Pizza with Roasted Garlic Sauce from Oh My Veggies
36. Garlic Mashed Potato Pizza from Simply Potatoes

What's your favorite meatless meal?

This post is linked with A Humble Bumble's Healthy Tuesday.