Keepin’ it REAL… “Food” for thought….

 FOOD.

I just couldn’t stop thinkin’ about it….

But as I strolled the produce aisle of the La Montanita CoOp (hub of all things local and organic in Albuquerque), I was distracted…nay… shocked, by the hefty prices. One mango would steal a whopping 15% of my food budget for the day, should I choose to place it into my organic hemp reusable shopping bag, (for the use of plastic is a serious faux pas amongst “green” folks).

But remember, you’re voting with your dollar, I said to myself, struggling to recall those determinations I felt after watching Food Inc. for the first time. I had vowed to do my part to change the world, one local, organic, free-range, hormone and anti-biotic free egg at a time.

Yet here I stood, turning this fruit over in my hand, pretending to examine it when in reality all I saw was my budget shrinking before my eyes as I anxiously pondered, What would Michael Pollan do?!!

But seriously. How does a pastor’s wife, music teacher, and stay-at-home Mom with a passion for eating well, support the local/organic economy and feed her family REAL food, without blowing nearly $4.00 on a single mango?

For those of you who empathize with this dilemma, we can all agree that this is a tough place to be in. Sometimes, it’s just not realistic, nor wise for our pocketbooks, to shop exclusively organic. But the more I learn about the dangerous chemicals, preservatives, and GMO’s in our food, how can I feed my family these harmful non-food items, and still sleep at night?!

As a wise friend feeding 4 growing children on a tight budget always says:

“Do what you can, and pray the rest of the way.”

I agree, and I do. But it’s often hard to know which “hills” to die on, and which battles to walk away from when it comes to buying food for the family.

I’m not going to attempt to reiterate what many others have already said much more poignantly on the subject of eating and buying real food, but if you’ve done any reading lately about the state of our nation’s food, you too will want to fight to keep it “REAL.”

Allow me instead to just encourage you with a few things I’ve learned about how to eat well and not break the bank. These may not be new ideas, but they’re good reminders:

1. Buy what’s in season. Out of season produce tends to be more expensive, not to mention, not as tasty.

2. Buy local. SUPPORT your local farmers and economy. Try a CoOp or farmer’s market. It would even be worth it to track down a local farmer and go there in person. Don’t you want to know where your food comes from?

3. Plan your meals. Don’t shop when you’re hungry, and don’t go without a list, and try to stick to the list! (This coming from a girl who just caved in to buying a slice of carrot cake this afternoon…definitely not on the list….and definitely LOVING every bite as I write!)

4. Shop where you can get the best deals. This may take some time to figure out, but start keeping track, of how much things generally cost at the stores you go to, and then try to tailor your list based on where the best deal is. This may mean running around town a bit, but is worth it.

Here’s my own breakdown for shopping in Albuquerque (in addition to the CoOp):

Trader Joe’s

Seems to have the best deals on dairy. Their cheeses are very well priced and almost all of them are hormone and RBST free. I also usually buy eggs there. They have good free-range and hormone/antibiotic free eggs. Also, they’ve got a great selection of wines at reasonable prices.

Sunflower Market

They have a huge produce section and a good organic selection therein. I refer to the Dirty Dozen list of foods to buy organic, and as for the rest, I just wash ’em really well!

Keller’s Farm Store’s

Great option for well-priced, local, organic meat fare.

Whole Foods

Their meat and fish market is awesome. I think they are pretty well priced as well. They also have a lovely bakery. Everything else is rather pricey.

These are the places I shop mainly. Other good options are the Natural Market on Coors, and the Vitamin Cottage on Montgomery. P.S. Notice I didn’t mention Smiths or Albertsons? That’s because they have a terribly small organic/natural section and it’s all WAY overpriced compared to these other places….IMO.

Anyway, don’t take my word for any of this…..click on some of these links I’ve included and check out some of these things for yourself! There’s a wealth of info. out there!

H A P P Y    E A T I N G    E V E R E Y O N E  !!!

…..And in case any of you were wondering…yes…I did cut the cheese at Grandpa’s Cheese Barn.

This is How We Know What Love Is….

It seems like no one wants to fight for anything anymore.

As I was flipping through some popular magazine while getting my toes painted the other day, I was reminded of how just about every advertisement and article presses our false sense of entitlement.

I know I am the queen of stepping into that trap.

I’m often suckered into thinking that I “deserve” to be comfortable in every avenue of life….. at no cost. If anything challenges my comfort, invades my space, or disagrees with my taste, the world would have me disconnect from it immediately and move on to something else.  My Dad (who manages two TV stations), calls it “changing the channel.”

The saddest victims of this mentality, as seen on just about any popular movie or show, are relationships.

These days, commitment is fast becoming an old-fashioned idea, and when “that old feeling” starts to wane, rather that fight for love, we are led astray by what we read, watch, and hear, and are tempted to take the easy road….to love ourselves first.

As the old adage goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”…..right?

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

What worth is there in settling for the easy way out? What do we gain by loving only ourselves and putting ourselves first?

Sisters, whether you are single, married, never been kissed, or have been through the ringer of broken relationships and divorce, no matter where you are in life, you are a daughter of the Most High. He has designed you for love….to be loved, and to give love.  It was out of his perfect love for you that he went to the cross, gave up his own life so that you could know love in its purest form. Oh, that we would cling to these words of truth, and let them be our guide in our fight for true love:

“Love is patient, love is kind.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,

it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

[ 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, emphasis mine]

Nothing that is WORTH pursuing in life is easy……. TRUE love is costly.      True love DIES to self.

“This is how we know what love is:

Jesus Christ lay down his life for us.”

(1 John 3:16)

Confessions of a Pharisee

Road Rage

What is it about driving that makes us so quick to be impatient and judgmental? I know I am not alone in this. And I believe it it has, on more than one occasion, revealed to me an area in which I am in DIRE need of sanctification!

I took Aria to Michigan a few weeks ago to visit family, and on our way to the reunion it started pouring rain. I was on the freeway, trying to keep the car steady on the slick road. As I was trying to focus through the splattered windshield, I realized that the blue Miata behind me was tailgating me and would not back off. At that moment, I was road-blocked in the passing lane with a slow van in front of me and a sedan blocking my right side. I had nowhere to go.

Mr. Miata was getting ticked….and so was I. Who was this guy, speeding up so dangerously close to me in a rain storm? And I had my infant in the back seat!

My heart began to pound with growing anger toward this stranger.  I motioned to him through my rear view window that I couldn’t move, and that he should “back off!” The subsequent array of gestures that ensued from his end were, to say the least, unpleasant.

We exchanged perturbed looks as he finally zoomed past me a moment later, and we were again on our separate ways.

I grumbled in my heart the rest of the way about how horrible he was. I imagined of all the nasty things I would have liked to say to put him in his place,  and thought of how justified I would be in telling him off.

Then, when the heat of anger began to drain from my face and my pulse finally slowed, the conviction set in. The Holy Spirit whispered into my soul the truth that I had chosen to ignore in my moment of rebellion. I had given in to sin. And I knew it.

I didn’t even know this man from Adam, and here I was judging him….even cursing him in my heart. The pang of guilt rang clear in my heart as I recalled Jesus’ words:

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. ” (Matthew 5:21-22, emphasis mine).

I was the Pharisee in Luke 18, mocking God, thinking that I was justified in my reaction, when in reality, I failed miserably to “turn the other cheek,” and represent Christ. Even though words were never exchanged, I know my face had communicated all the unloving things I felt.

The tax collector in Luke 18, on the other hand, fell to his face under the weight of his sin. He saw the darkness that was in his own heart. He confessed it, and repented of it. He walked away justified.

If only I had been more self-controlled in that moment, and reacted more patiently and lovingly. But I am not perfect, and I fell short.

It is in those moments when I realize I’ve fallen short that I can be humbled and rejoice that I have a loving God who wants to save me.What Christ did on the cross covers our shortcomings. It is his sacrifice that compels us to season our words with salt, saturate our actions with love, and spread his glory broader and deeper.

Full With Love

The floor is littered with addition flash cards that Aria has pulled out of a cupboard. I watch as she takes them out one by one, bending, throwing, and of course tasting them. As one who is not mathematically inclined,  I can’t help but think that these cards will never know a better purpose for now than to be slobbered upon by my 11-month-old.

She is so busy exploring the world of “Home.” With the soft thwap of her tiny hands on the brick floor, she ventures out with squeals of delight and experimental sounds, her own beautiful song of “naming” the things she finds.

And later, when Greg and I hold her fresh from a bath, we sing over her a blessing and prayer before bed as she leans into us, her sweet, warm scent captivating the moment.

“I have to kiss you a thousand times before you go to sleep,” I whisper against her cheek between kisses, “because I’ll miss you until the morning.”

Still, I will sneak into her room before I fall into my own bed, happily exhausted from the day, and I will watch her sleep, whisper one more prayer, and know that I am full with love.