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Archive for May, 2011

A vacant blue house by the river prompted the stop.  We’ve been looking well over two weeks for a suitable rental home for us to enjoy for several years to come.  A place where we can have a dog, a large experimental garden, a fire pit, a place to watch the stars at night up to the 7th magnitude, and perhaps even try our hand at raising chickens.  The idyllic “dream home” continues to escape our grasp, however, and my high hopes threaten to fall daily.  She’s out there, we just have to continue to believe the Lords wants to give us His very best, and we (me especially) must exercise the patience that a well-seasoned believer like myself should surely possess by now ???

She looked about sixty-five as she swung open the porch door on the tasteful, rustic log home.

“Hello! Hello! How are you today.” She sang as she smiled.

I shouldn’t have been the least bit surprised.  Every single person we have met in this small town has gone out of their way to make us feel welcome and to try to help us find our perfect spot, that we might become one of them.  In fact, when inquiring of someone on the road or in their home, we have learned to become prepared for a very long visit.  Gotta love the country.

“We’re inquiring about the house next door…” led to information about the abandoned property and an invitation to come inside to meet her husband, an offer of beer, and/or, apple juice.  He was a diabetic laid up in a large easy chair.

“It’s my own fault though.  All of those years in Seattle as a police officer and enjoying too many rich foods and hard liquor.” he offered ruefully.

She brought apple juice on ice and he told us that they had been in the Okanogan Valley twenty-three years now, but it didn’t matter, the locals still refer to them as “Coastees.” Certainly, they weren’t considered locals.  I wonder how the folks in this town will settle into referring to us.  Retired missionary travelers, one from Canada, one from the U.S., one black, the other white, and not really from anywhere the past several years, but having been everywhere.  We’ll probably stump them for a while and keep them guessing for years to come.

One thing I know for sure: the whole town is already talking about us.

“Oh, yes, you introduced yourself to *Shelly who owns the flower shop.  She really liked you,” the owner of our RV site spoke knowingly (Now how did she know that?).

“Oh my goodness you are the lady that I was supposed to call,” chimed the vibrant, healthful, rosy cheeked goddess from her Leaping Sheep Farms stand at the farmer’s market.  “You want to intern with an organic farm right?  (Huh?  My! word does get around in a small town).

“Oh, you are the couple Aleah told me that I should meet,” smiled the gorgeous African American clerk at the Natural Foods Market.  (within minutes numbers were being exchanged and plans being made).

Patricia and Bill Miner were their names and they bought the log house twenty three years prior, raised the last of their children there, and were now settled into a house too big for the two of them. A house full of clues to a much more active life in years gone by.

But what struck me the most was their trust.  They didn’t know us from Adam.  They were alone and virtually defenseless.  They invited us into their home without any close neighbors.  It turned out Patricia was actually eighty- something, and moved slowly down her basement stairs.  I know this, because she asked us to follow her down there as she showed us her prize 1958 Cadillac.  Candy apple red, with the original leather inside and in mint condition.  I mean pristine.

“Sold it.  He’s coming to pick it up tomorrow.  You’re probably the last folks I’ll ever get to show it to.”

It was hers, not her husband’s.  He had his own classic car parked in a building out back.

“Guess what I’m getting for it?”

More information offered. Too much to give out to strangers I reasoned.  But that’s because I’ve spent way too much time in the city.

“Twenty-five thousand,” was her proud disclosure.
Oh my.

He couldn’t follow us down into the basement because of his condition so he stayed sitting in his chair a floor above.  I wondered if he worried about her being down there alone with us.  Alone with strangers.  Especially when she extended our knowledge of his gun room, ammunition storage, and safe. She also showed us all of her canning from years gone by, and their stock pile of store bought non-perishables.

“We could feed an army if we had to.”

I could sense that she was ready and willing to do so at any time.  Bless her heart.  These were certainly not the stuffy, stingy, grumpy elderly I was used to encountering “on the block” so to speak.  This was going to take some getting used to.  This small town stuff.   Something to wrap my head around.

Ascending the stairs, we were introduced to a newcomer- a former Canadian like myself.  Only he had naturalized thirty years ago.  A pilot and also a former police officer.  We were soon joined by three others who had also popped by for an afternoon meal.

“Everyone is welcome in our home,” Bill said heartily.  “You are both welcome anytime.”

We began to try to take our leave, and forty-five minutes later we succeeded in doing just that. But not before Patricia showed me her orchard and former garden area out back, her large deck that overlooked the river, her bath and bed rooms.  I told her it was good to get to know some people in the area.  And again her openness caught me off guard.

“Oh, well you have a friend here.  Right here.  We are your friends.”

And in case I somehow missed the whole point of what she was saying,

I am your friend.”

A six year old would have received that with joy.  I pray I learn to receive that like a six year old.  It’s tucked away in my heart like a precious hidden gift that may actually be opened one day.  I pray I learn to unwrap that gift with the same purity it was offered.

And as we were going out the door, she extended a heartfelt invitation that warmed our souls.

“Sunday mornings at eight thirty, we usually invite some people over for breakfast, but for you two, the invitation is a standing one anytime you want.  Don’t ever bring any food, just bring yourselves.”

As we walked to our vehicle I wondered, “Could she just tell instinctively that we were harmless?  Did she sense that I really needed a friend?  Or was she like that with everybody?”  Tim says she sensed the Holy Spirit in us, and perhaps that is true, But if that is the case, then I sensed it in her too.  I suppose there is no more accurate description of the Holy Spirit than child likeness in all innocence, openness, and love.  Sometimes we might just have to live eighty- something years to really get that.

*all names of individuals have been changed.

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How they eat in Okanawa, Japan….(and why they don’t have (relatively any) disease, or menstrual symptoms & often live past 100).  (Click to enlarge photo)

I’ve always found this Okinawan food pyramid to be rather fascinating and probably as close to the way we should be eating as possible.  I don’t always “arrive” here as I go in and out of routine (esp since we have been on the road so much lately), but it is something I know we should all shoot for!  And, therefore is a goal I have set ever before me.  Perhaps someday  I’ll settle into healthy eating across the board and consistently.  Below are some notes I have compiled and some of the things I have learned along the way.

DO EAT: (FOODS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU)

Good, Healthy Grain (sprouted is best) BREAD (or made with “Whole Wheat” or NO wheat)
LEGUMES, BEANS, BARLEY etc. (green split pea, black & white beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, bean medleys or mixtures of beans etc. Prepare according to package directions, go online or ask friends for recipes).
FRUITS & VEGETABLES –  Eat huge amounts.  Grow as much of your own as possible.  Buy organic when possible/can afford.  Make stir frys, soups, stews, -when veggies are going bad, throw together any you can find for stews, soups etc.  Can freeze for a later date.  This way you don’t throw expensive veggies out and nothing goes to waste, saving on your grocery bill.
FISH, Catch as much of your own as possible.  Freeze for a later date.
TURKEY, CHICKEN, BEEF Buy Organic, free range, with no added hormones if you can afford it.
VENISON, BEAR Organic, free range, no added hormones.  Hunt your own.  Freeze for a later date.
PORK  Limited amounts. Pork is very hard for the body to digest.  Cook pork exceptionally well, failure to do so can result in bacteria causing sickness.
SUGARLESS JUICES Only buy juice with “No sugar added” only other ingredients should be juice, water, and citric acid sometimes.  Absolutely nothing else! Invest in a juicer if you can.
SUGARLESS APPLE SAUCE (watch out for high fructose corn syrup in store bought apple sauce).  Make your own by cooking apples, a little water, and cinnamon on the stove (dont’ add any sugar) Amazingly sweet and delicious naturally. Apple sauce is a great sweetener in baking and replaces sugar and brown sugar well.  Also great on pancakes, with pork chops etc.
COTTAGE CHEESE & SUGARLESS FRUIT This is the only time I buy canned fruit from a store.  I get Del Monte’s peaches, pears, & pineapple.  It says “No sugar added” on the label.  I do this so I can eat it with cottage cheese.  Of course you can always can your own fruit and not add any sugar.  Fruit is naturally sweet enough.  By eating the cottage cheese I get the calcium I need for my bones, which is very important for women especially.
WHOLE WHEAT PASTA only!! If it says “Whole Grain”, or “enriched grains” don’t buy it.  And never buy pasta with white flour.
WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR only!  White flour has been: bleached & stripped of most nutrients in the refining process.  It’s crap food and not real food anymore.
OATS, RED RIVER CEREAL, ZOOM CEREAL, CREAM OF WHEAT, GRANOLA etc. These are grains in their purest form and packed full of nutrients.  Excellent to keep your body regular (bowel movements) which help move food through your body faster and don’t allow you to get plugged up, or plugged arteries.  Grains are the most important food you can eat along with fruits and vegetables, so try to eat them once a day at least.
PLENTY OF NUTS IN ALL VARIETIES Only buy natural…..UNsalted and UNroasted.  Roasted cooks out most of the nutrients.
ORGANIC MILK only.  Without added hormones, also from free range cattle if possible. Some good brands: Organic Valley, Horizon etc.  (Free range means they have been allowed to roam free and in this way they exercise and are much healthier).  As opposed to cattle production plants where cattle are hemmed in and not allowed to exercise, and cattle that are fed dangerous hormones and antibiotics to plump them up, and make them disease resistant.  You don’t want to eat anything that has been fed antibiotics because then eventually you too become resistant to antibiotics, thus weakening your own immune system and making it easier for you to contract diseases.  Hormones wreak havoc on your system and are especially bad for menstruating and menopausal women.
SUGARLESS JAMS  Can your own without adding sugar.  I’ve tried Smuckers “Simply Fruit”  The fruit is canned in it’s own fruit juice instead of adding sugar.  Don’t buy the brands that have a sugar substitute.  Read up on why sugar substitutes are very bad for us (too much to mention here).  Very important to read jam labels.
HORMONE FREE, LOW FAT CHEESE only!  They are hard to find so good luck.  Please let me know if you have come across any, I’m still looking.  Will have it on occasion if  I can find it.
BROWN RICE only!  White rice has been bleached and refined: stripped of the nutrients in the refining process.
100% NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER such as Adams brand.
BLACK, CHAI, & HERBAL TEAS Caffeine free is best of course or limited amounts of caffeine tea.   Good with honey or agave sweetener, and organic milk.
FREE RANGE ORGANIC EGGS Find a local farmer or name brand who offer free range organic.  (Free range means they have been allowed to roam free and in this way they exercise and are much healthier).
UNSALTED BUTTER Who need more salt? None of us.  Never buy margarine of any kind. (hydrogenated oils etc)
RED WINE   They say 1/2 a cup a day is good for your heart.  I don’t like red wine, but you may.
LIMITED AMOUNTS OF CANNED FISH Has salt added and sometimes preservatives, so be careful with it and read the labels.
OLIVE OIL OR GRAPESEED OIL for cooking.  Healthy fats, but don’t overdo it.
MOLASSES, PEPPER & SPICES, HONEY (unfiltered & uncooked), AGAVE SWEETENER (sparingly)  Good, good, good, all good!
CANNED TOMATOES AND TOMATO SAUCE  Tomatoes are the one vegetable (fruit) that get better for you as you cook them, so I tend to use a lot of these in pastas etc.  Be careful with the labels and buy unsalted ones or at least low salt.
SUGARLESS COCONUT AND DARK COCOA POWDER (no sugar added).  Taste nummy and natural this way.  Good for you too.
SUGARLESS DRESSINGS  Here is a fantastic recipe for sugarless dressing for salads: Ginger (grated fine or as a spice), Lemon juice, Olive oil, Honey.  So amazing!  Also can use a red wine vinegar or a balsamic vinegar dressing.

VITAMIN D (esp in winter months), OMEGA 3 – two a day.
4-8 cups of WATER per day
Brisk WALK at least 3 days a week.  
Work in garden, ride a bike, or other EXERCISE.

DON’T EAT (FOODS TO AVOID):

COFFEE (I lcertainly can’t have it, wrecks havoc with my system. You may be able to have small amounts, but pease no sugar or cream).
SALT ON COOKED FOODS  Because our bodies do require small amounts of salt, I use a little bit in the cooking water itself to boil vegetables, but I never add it to my food once it’s cooked and on my plate.
MILK WITH HORMONES, ANTIBIOTICS ADDED (see above organic milk to see why not).
CREAM & WHIP CREAM especially chemical whip cream  i.e: Cool Whip
SUGAR There a hundred reasons why you should eliminate sugar from your system (diabetes and cancer growers to name a few).  Just eliminate it all together if you can.  Do an online search on why sugar is bad for you, and you will be stunned.  Note* I do not consider the natural sugars in fruit bad for you as some people do.  Our bodies do need a certain amount of natural sugars.  And if you must have sweetener, raw sugar cane, honey, agave, stevia, apple sauce etc. are better than white and brown sugar.  (brown sugar is refined white sugar with molasses added, so you are still getting all the white sugar).
CHOCOLATE BARS, CHIPS, CANDY, JUNK FOOD, PASTRIES    Duhhh. Probably the worst things you can eat right there, but then we all already know that 🙂
WHITE FLOUR PRODUCTS Crackers, cookies, white bread, white pasta, pastries etc. The list is huge.  common sense will let you know what contains white flour, but read labels if there is any doubt.
CHEESE Pretty much all cheese, but see above for ok cheeses to eat.  —Very fatty.
BEER, WHITE WINE, HARD LIQUOR, AND LIQUOR FLAVORING Phenomenally fattening (sugar, yeast etc), but also dehydrating (headaches, sluggishness, etc), and will age you physically probably faster than any substance on earth.
SOUR CREAM Fat, fat, fat, fat, fat!  And full of hormones and antibiotics they give to cattle.
NON ORGANIC EGGS Compare to healthy eggs above.
PACKAGED, & SMOKED MEATS (bacon, sausages, hotdogs,lunch meats etc) (packaged with deadly nitrates, now known to also cause Alzheimers).
KETCHUP 7 tsps sugar per one regular sized bottle, full of high fructose corn syrup and other chemicals and preservatives.
SODA POP  Huge amounts of sugar and chemicals as well.
SUGARED JUICES Usually full of high fructose corn syrup as well.  Aways read labels.  The only ingredients you want in your juice is fruit, water, and citric acid.  Best is just plain juice, however.  Ocean Spray have a good  “100% Juice” line with “No sugar added.”
WHITE RICE, WHITE PASTA, OR “WHOLE GRAIN” PASTA Has been bleached & refined (most of the nutrients extracted).
PROCESSED FOODS: (ANY FROZEN FOODS, CANNED FOODS, OR BOXED FOODS) NON FRESH, CHEMICALLY ALTERED OR PRESERVED. i.e., crackers, vegetables,fruit, soups, pancake batter, fish & chips, frozen cakes & pies, ice cream, noodles, microwavable meals, frozen lasagnas, etc etc etc.
BROWN BREAD with chemicals and preservatives Often with “refined grains”, “whole grains”  or “enriched flour”.  Very Deceptive. High fructose corn syrup is used to give bread brown color.  Only “Whole Wheat Flour” is unprocessed, but even then, watch for chemicals and preservatives galore.  Some good brands I have found are Ezekiel Bread or Spring Hill Bread (among others)…these use “Sprouted Grains”, avoiding flour all together.
MOST SALAD DRESSINGS AND SPREADS (see above for healthy dressing ideas)
PROCESSED CEREALS i.e., Cheerios, cornflakes etc, Including the “healthy” brands.  Eat whole grains only: i.e., Oats, granola etc.
DEEP FRIED FOODS: Chicken, french fries, etc.   Too much greasy fat that has been boiled and refined.

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I’m beginning to slow.  It’s only been four days away from the city, but there it is already.  Slight, but discernible for sure.

We were out waking by the river.  I just had to stop to allow for a thorough drinking of the aroma deep into my lungs.  Breathe in- One, two, three, four.  Mmmmm.  Breathe out- One, two, three, four.  Baby poplars lapping up streams of water from the river’s edge and spraying grateful sweetness to passers by.

God is so good, so creative, and so kind. He waters the saplings and brings peace to my soul all in one fell swoop.  But then, too, there are a myriad- a host- of miracles all connected to this moment in eco-time.  The most basic of functions that cause everything else to continue in the excellency of life.

Strip away the noise- the vehicles, the social chatter, the talk show host, the paved driveways, the IPad, the lawnmower, the shopping mall- and life would go on.  Nature would take care of her own.  Spring would turn to summer, and the soil eager and ready to yield, will bring forth her harvest.

And if I sit and listen long enough, I will begin to slow.  I will begin to hear.  I will learn wisdom.  Heavy weights will crash from my shoulders and disintegrate into the soil below.

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