Learning to Wade

January 23, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Heather Allen –

My first fly-fishing adventure was in the cool, hauntingly still Blue Ridge Mountains. Small shantys scattered along the dirt road followed the bends and twists of the stream, and had their own slow Southern drawl. It would not have been a surprise to cast in time with an impromptu fiddler. Or find myself trailed by an old, mangy mutt.

Yet here, clotheslines flapping, corked moonshine resting on wooden porches, I found a new kind of appreciation for my Maker. My hubby led me straight into this wonderful world of trout and entomology. He had me crawling on hand and knee to the banks so we would not spook fish out of a run. He had me flipping rocks and taking pop quizzes on what insect life I was beholding. And then he would take out a fly he had tied with feathers and thread designed to replicate the insect we looked at, tie it on, and catch a brightly colored Brook Trout.

If I did wade in to release a fish, or to climb one of the enormous boulders that shaped the stream I would be not much deeper than my knees. The river had deeper pockets but they were easily avoided. It was the perfect environment to learn: peaceful wading and stunning scenery.

But the day came when we would leave the South and fish new, fast flowing rivers and my belly kept me off balance. Seeing where I was placing my wader boots became tricky. One hand carried a fly rod the other protectively swaddled my unborn baby. And it felt new and scary and I stepped off a ledge. I bobbed around trying to get my footing. My husband’s ashen face as he ran down the bank trying to rescue me is as sealed in my mind as my own panicky thoughts. Months and an infant later I felt brave enough to try again. The waters were deeper, unfamiliar and fast. I knew I wanted to know how to maneuver through them, but I understood how fast they could take me down.

Jesus invited His disciples into a boat and into a storm and went to sleep. The waves rushed over and they woke Him and asked if He cared that their lives were in jeopardy. I know how those thoughts come when life seems to take a misstep and you fall off the ledge and cannot seem to find your footing. I have laid on my face seeking. Jesus knew there would be a storm. He speaks; the storm ceases. He questions their fear and faith. Wide-eyed and afraid the disciples question, “Who is He?”

And it all comes back to that. How deep I’m willing to wade, the lengths I’m willing to run, the journey I’ll follow Him on will flow from who I believe He is.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” Hebrews 11:1 (KJV).

Eating Clean – It’s in the Bible!

Laurette Willis –

Bless the Lord, O my soul…who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s (Psalm 103:1, 5 NKJV).”

God didn’t arbitrarily forbid the Jews from eating certain foods. God doesn’t operate under the law of “whim.” Every meat deemed unclean by God is unfit for human consumption.

In 1953 science caught up with the Bible when Dr. David Macht of Johns Hopkins University published a study on the toxicity of animals listed as clean and unclean in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. He ran tests to determine their toxic effects on a controlled growth culture in his laboratory (“An Experimental Pharmacological Appreciation of Leviticus XI and Deuteronomy XIV,” Bulletin of Historical Medicine, Johns Hopkins University).

Not surprisingly, every animal God calls toxic, science finds toxic, too. Unclean animals include: swine, horse, rabbit, squirrel, dog, cat, bear, opossum, groundhog and rat. The clean animals (cloven-hoofed and chew the cud) include cattle, goats, sheep, oxen and deer. Interestingly, the blood of all animals is more toxic than the flesh.

Many of the animals God calls unclean eat flesh or have parasites that would sicken or kill humans. Pigs, bears and vultures eat decaying flesh. Wolves, lions and other predators often prey on the weakest, sickliest animals in a herd.

Jesus, being a devout Jew, did not eat pork. In fact He used pigs as receptacles for the demons within the Gadarene demoniac (Luke 8:22-39)! The man was set free when Jesus evicted the demons from him and sent them into a herd of swine. The pigs were destroyed when they plunged off a cliff into the lake and drowned.

Clean birds include poultry (chicken, turkey, geese), ducks, pigeons and quail. Many supermarkets now carry organic chicken products raised without antibiotics or hormones. We certainly don’t need to be ingesting synthetic estrogen (a hormone typically given to chickens). Pre-menopausal, peri-menopausal and menopausal women need to be especially aware that hormonal imbalances may be linked to synthetic estrogen and estrogen-producing foods.

Instead of pork, how about turkey franks or kosher beef hot dogs once in a while? A stir fry with fresh vegetables, crumbled organic or GreenFed™ burger, slivered almonds and water chestnuts is a quick and easy dinner your family will love. If you’re concerned about estrogen-producing foods, try fermented soy products such as tempeh instead of regular soy.

Archeological Evidence of Benefits of Eating Clean

Moses, who received the dietary and hygiene system from God, had been trained as a prince of Egypt in the most advanced medical system of his day. Yet Moses did not advocate the Egyptian way of avoiding disease. Forensic examinations of mummified Egyptians show that the wealthiest Egyptians didn’t seem to benefit from the best that their physicians had to offer. They suffered from many of the same diseases of our day. Many researchers believe this is due to their taste for unhealthful foods and disregard for hygiene, contrary to God’s directive to the Hebrews through Moses.

In short: Detox, eat clean, eat lean and always eat green (lots of veggies!).

O Happy Day

January 12, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Marty Norman –

Remember the song “O Happy Day”? You know, the one about Jesus washing our sins away and teaching us how to rejoice, love and pray each day. Well those are the lyrics that came to mind as I sat down to write this article, probably because I’m in a place of joy and thanksgiving myself.

So many things I’m thankful for: Palm Sunday, Easter, Mother’ Day, my grandson’s 8th birthday, safe return from my Mercy Ships Mission trip, good friends, loving family and health. The list goes on. But today I’m thankful for the publication of my new book, and I wanted to share my joy.

God is good. I marvel at how he creates each of us, giving gifts and talents, time and treasure to help him build his kingdom. I’m more than grateful for the gifts he’s given me this year.

I’m overwhelmed with pre-release details but God is even in those. Especially the women I meet at book signings, the ones who share their heart and love for writing. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed God is raising up an army of women writers. It’s as though he’s calling many to speak up for the kingdom and has provided this season for such a time as this.

The book encourages leaving a legacy of faith, for the Lord has created each of us unique. He expects us to use his gifts for his glory. As I age, I’m drawn to scripture that exhorts us to pass on faith to the next generation.

Psalm 71:18 Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation. NIV

Psalm 145:4 One generation will commend your work to another, they will tell of your might acts. NIV

Proverbs 17:6 Children’s children are the crown to the aged and parents are the pride of their children. NIV

These scriptures pose the question – how are you planning to pass down your faith?

For me it’s easy – through writing. It’s my passion, my life. But there are so many other creative ways to tell our stories, to pass on our faith. I’ve met so many women with creative ideas that I never thought of.

Mary is a scrap booker. She shares her faith through combining scripture and photo journals for her grandchildren. Sharon is a quilter. She shares her love for Christ through amazing quilt works. Suzan is an artist. She paints her faith while Karen sings her faith, making up special songs for each grandchild.
I don’t know how you are sharing your faith. But I want to encourage each of you to get your stories down in some creative form. We never know how much time we have left. Once we are gone, our stories are lost forever.

So, “O Happy Day” is not just a song, it’s a mantra. A way for each of us to give thanks and glory to God who richly blesses us beyond anything we do or deserve.

Are You Out-Running Old Age or Allowing It to Catch Up with You?

January 11, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Julie Morris, R.N. –

I always said that exercising helped me to out-run old age, but now I am beginning to understand why!

News came out recently of a study by Dr. Beth Levine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She is studying the health benefits of exercise on mice and discovered this important fact: exercising increases the body’s ability to get rid of trash.

All of us have trash caused by broken-down cells that needs to be removed. This trash-removal process is called autophagy (aw-TAH-fa-gee). Autophagy may also help protect us against cancer, infection and other diseases.

Just as your car gets dings and the tires wear out, the structures inside of our cells wear out and need to be replaced. Autophagy collects these worn-out pieces and wraps them in a membrane. Then it carries them to a tiny spot inside the cell, called a lysosome, where there are recycled and digested into reusable products. Bottom line: out with the old–on with the new.

Dr. Levine’s studies have concentrated on autophagy in mice, but it’s a good bet that this process is the same in humans. Let’s look at one of her test results.

She discovered that mice that were fed high-fat diets to create diabetes associated with obesity were able to reverse their diabetes when they exercised daily for eight weeks. She found that mice that exercised for 30 minutes on a treadmill increased their autophagy 40-50 percent. Those that ran 80 minutes increased their autophagy 100 percent. Those that didn’t exercise were not able to induce autophagy and were unable to reverse their diabetes.

Dr. Levine and other researchers feel that these results have implications beyond the effect of exercise on diabetes. They speculate that autophagy may represent a cellular mechanism that prolongs life and protects against disease.

If spending 30 minutes or more a day will make me healthier and help me to out-run old age, I’m going to do it! How about you?

A Return on Our Investment

January 1, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Diane Mayfield –

Raising children is quite a lengthy investment with no real guarantee of a certain return. It’s probably the only investment my dear husband embraced with me that had no tangible outcome. We raised three children, two years apart, all believers. That is worth the investment for sure but there have been others.

While raising them, we prayed together, read Scripture as a family and were involved with our church. We set boundaries, gave them responsibilities and established consequences for their choices. Family traditions were important to building family values and cohesiveness so we created many, like vacations to the beach and skiing. I planned evening meals together for most days. In short, we did what most Christian parents do. We did the best we could to “train them up in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV)

For us that meant, not only appropriate discipline and exposing them to Christian values but also discovering with them who God created them uniquely to be. That meant allowing for self-expression that wasn’t always pleasant or what we would have chosen, like the time we allowed our son to get a spike haircut. Our thought was that if we allowed choices of self- expression that were harmless, he might not feel the need to make more self-destructive choices.

Then the teenage years hit and the roller coaster began. Verbal self –expression of feelings and desires played into the discovery. I’ll never forget the day my 16 -year old- son said to my husband, “I want to punch you out right now.” My husband calmly said “You seem really angry. How come?” An honest conversation ensued. My son’s anger dissipated. Peace was restored to the family.

Frankly, I wasn’t sure what path our son would follow. A few years ago, we begin to get a return on that investment. One evening, our son and his wife were sitting with us on the back porch of our home. He had just won a big sales award and we were celebrating. Here’s the first return. He said, “You know I would never have won this if it wasn’t for you guys, especially you Dad. You gave me my work ethic and that’s what won it for me.” Wow! Dave and I were blown away. Those words were like a taste of rich, creamy homemade ice cream. A return we had only hoped for but didn’t know it would really come.

Another return came several months ago. My son called and asked if I would talk with him before I left for home. We spent the next two hours discussing the dynamics of our relationship. I was so proud of my son’s relational courage.

One more stands out to me happened a few weeks ago. He sent a forward from a friend. He wrote in his e-mail “this really speaks to me.” It was a verse from the book of Phillippians.

There have been other sweet returns from the invested years of parenting. All our children practice some of our family traditions. The beach is still very important in their lives. They are all believers though they express their faith differently. Our son and his wife lead a small group last year in their church. His wife told me he seems to have the gift of teaching. What a sweet return.

I really had no idea if our parenting years would reap the investment I longed for. But, we have received abundantly more than we could have asked or imagined, as only the Lord would do.

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