Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Month: January 2010 (page 1 of 5)

breaking the rules

i’m a pretty rule-driven person. it’s comfortable to me to know the boundaries. i believe that you can enjoy yourself more when you know where the confines of “safe” is. and it’s been said in writing that you must know what the rules are before you break them. i frequently told the kids who complained about particular rules that “for every rule, there’s an idiot [that caused the rule into being]”.

for some reason i woke up early on saturday morning thinking about food rules. ironically, my mom, sister & i later talked a lot about michael pollen on oprah and his newest book is called Food Rules (seriously, pollen, i deserve endorsements).

my first food rule ever, circa 2002,revolved around diet coke. i love a good fountain diet coke. i’m not a huge pop drinker, but i do love me some diet coke. i found, at one point in my life, that even though i really loved diet coke, i would drink pop on all occasions – even pop i didn’t thoroughly enjoy. when i decided to think more about what i ate, i decided that i would only drink diet coke at restaurants that served it. if the restaurant served pepsi, i drank water. it was a good compromise. and i found myself eating at taco bell and kfc less (because they serve pepsi). but still, it works for me.

my eyes have been opened to the food world mostly because i’m becoming more conscientious of what the child is eating. as he is growing and developing, i feel like i need to offer the best stuff i can to help him get a good start in life, building a stronger baseline. later in life, like where i am now, it’s about extending what i have- i’m not really creating anything new (well, currently i am, since another child is getting a direct line of my food selection). i have a firm belief that anyone over 70 should eat whatever they want without anyone complaining. but i digress. surprised?

what i’ve come up with as my personalized guidelines to feeding my household operates off of a principle one of my cousins told me about a while back – “always foods” vs. “sometimes foods.” this goes great with the discipline ideology i ganked from KLM’s training, based on “rights” vs “privileges” (separate post). i don’t like the idea of “never” foods – God created all things and said that it was good. perhaps not good in the sense that we make a dinner out of chocolate, but good enough that I can’t put a “never” label on it.

i’m starting to try to see things more on a spectrum – that there are always foods (good example: broccoli) and sometimes foods (example: cookie). there’s no dark black line between the 2 and sometimes foods vacillate between the two based on factors. and there are things about foods that make them a stronger always food – always, like daily – or a sometimes food that is best enjoyed once you’re 21.

so how does one know where on that spectrum a particular food lies? here are my primary factors:
1. Number of ingredients. the fewer, the more it’s an always food. broccoli has one ingredient. milk the same. burger. apple. all very good always foods. the more ingredients, the less often you eat it. because it goes with the next….
2. Pronunciation of ingredients. hydrogonated anything doesn’t sound appetizing. anything that sounds like it should be a medicine instead of a food ingredient rapidly sends it down the sometimes food line. high fructose corn syrup puts it at the back of the line. (i know, “its nutritionally the same as sugar.” but. it’s not. it’s not sugar. its CORN. corn should be eaten off a cob, not sipped through a straw). the ingredients of the ingredients of a dish do change where in the spectrum a food falls. mac and cheese made of real cheese, milk and butter is closer to always than one made of velveeta because the list of ingredients on that box is 80x longer. i fully accept and understand that velveeta does make mac and cheese much creamier. you win some, you loose some.
3. packaging. the less, the better. and if it needs to convince me that its nutritious, it’s probably not. no one disputes the grapes in a ziploc baggie with holes, but the fruity pebbles seem to need to tell me about all the “vitamins and minerals.”
4. Locale of creation. jj and i decided that it’s ok for H to enjoy a treat or two if mommy (or grandma) made it. specifically if we made it and it did not come from a box / bag / plastic square. so pancakes sans bisquick. cookies sans nestle tollhouse tub. ice cream sans ben & jerry’s artwork. they’re on the sometimes food list – we don’t have pancakes every day, or even every week – but they work their way higher in the frequency chart by having roots in my kitchen. theory applies also to where foods are grown, such as in my garden vs. Argentina. and i think my crawford county cow is better than what’s been shipped to my meijer from omaha.

i think that’s all to my rules, but you never know. my list could be ever evolving, much like my reading list. but it’s helping me to achieve balance in my life, that i can enjoy a few things as a sometimes food (especially if i’m truly only sometimes eating it) without too much guilt because i’ve established a good repertoire of always foods.

happy eating.

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there’s a person in there somewhere

there’s an irony in the fact that jj is watching the state of the union while i try to gather these thoughts into words. i fear that it’s not fully gathered, but i suppose you can watch the show unfold.

not long ago i was listening to a few friends discuss things that were going on in their lives and somehow the topic of the church’s (specifically the UMC) stance on abortion came up. my friend’s family feels very strongly that it’s not something the church should support and they’re starting to consider what that means for them. (*disclaimer: i have no idea what the official church polity is on the issue. i didn’t even google it.)

something was left unsettled, however, when i left the conversation. i started thinking about what it would mean to other people that the “church does not support abortion.”

i had a pretend conversation in my head later (let’s not pretend that you don’t all do that in the car, too…). what if i told my friend that that I, 5 years ago, had made that kind of decision? would the church stop supporting me? what would it’s people’s feelings be toward me? how would i fit into that group of people?

the conversation in my head continued. what if now, after i had been to that point, i have a heart, a leading to reach other women in that situation. what if i felt God leading me to help bring a voice to the pain, guilt, sorrow and shame that comes with making such a decision? would the church support my efforts? what does it mean to support someone who has – or IS – facing such a decision? can you not support an issue but support a person struggling with that issue? uh oh, this may open a bigger can than i thought: can you really “love the sinner but hate the sin?”

now, abortion is not my make-or-break issue. i feel like i blog about it frequently enough that it might appear that it is, but really it’s not. i have more make-or-break to me in how the issue is discussed and approached (oh, it got under my skin at election time!). and the reason the thoughts keep swirling around is because i’m wondering how many people are hurt by the way we talk about “issues.” in our vigor to march for a purpose, are there people who are trampled underfoot? surely there’s a healthy way to feel strongly about certain things. i think it’s a fair and valid opinion (of which i share) that it’s not ok that babies don’t know life. it’s a very sad thing. but is there a way to help slow or stop this sad thing from happening still while recognizing that there are thousands of people out there that this isn’t an “issue” – it’s a reality of life.

i listened to a few podcasts today, one about judging and one about doubt and questions in faith. seemingly there’s not a lot of connections between the two, but in actuality i heard the same message repeated. walking with God is not about being right. it’s about trusting God and loving others. God has never called on us to know the answers. But he has called us (repeatedly) to love others.

those that would disagree with me would say i’m wishy washy. that we can’t just go around telling people to do whatever they feel because we “love” them. but that’s not what i’m saying. opinions and convictions are fine and good. we need people to take a stand on detrimental actions in our society. walmart, consumerism and processed foods need to be dealt with! but not in ways or with words that hurt people.

now, i’m not a huge dr. phil fan; i never watch him. but i do know that he often challenges married couples by saying, “do you want to be right or do you want to be married?” if you know me you know that i need to be asking myself this regularly – i love to be right. when someone tells me, “yeah, you’re probably right,” i typically respond “i usually am!”

but now i want to want to be loving over being right. not that i have to eat my convictions (and there are a lot of things i feel strongly about…). but i want the desire to put my knowledge and opinion out there in an effort to change someone else to decrease – well, that is, when it’s an effort to change someone so that they’ll become more like me. we could use a little less of me in the world, and perhaps maybe a little more of Jesus.

so i’m asking myself that question a little more often. is this an effort to be right or loving? in my marriage, my family, my friendships and my attempts to follow Jesus. what are my “issues” that it is more important for me to be right than for the person to know that they are loved?

(and if you’re tempted to comment about the actual issue of abortion, i challenge you that you completely missed the point of this entire post).

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what you give is what you get

we’re entering a series at church of a study of the gospel of mark. this past fall was the NT challenge, and several dedicated individuals in the church read the entire NT in a small number of days. jj and i were not a part of that dedicated crowd, i won’t lie. but i’m very impressed by the people who followed through. now we’re going to slow down just a bit and read the entire gospel (mark’s version) over a period of time. this week’s “homework” was to read the gospel of mark in one sitting. again: failure. i didn’t even get through it in a week. but i did give more of an effort to this assignment then the previous.

part of my problem is that i like to appraise on thoughts as they arrive. when this or that catches my attention, i want to ponder. not necessarily a bad thing, but not conducive to speed reading mark. however, i read much larger chunks than usual, and i’m quite thankful because this post was born.

first was the story of feeding the 5k. it starts by the disciples gathering together with jesus after just having been sent out to do a bunch of ministry – healing, preaching, proclaiming, whathaveyou. they gather together and jesus says, “lets go off by ourselves and rest – we’ve been on the go, you haven’t even had time to eat!” so off they go and, lo and behold, the crowd follows them. then it’s dindin time and they’re hungry.

this was supposed to be a restful retreat with jesus. it was time for the disciples to be fed, not serve as waiters. so i can understand just a little bit of their feeling when they tell jesus, send them home! when jesus asks how much food they have, it’s 5 loaves, 2 fish. not much. but he says to serve it anyway. so they do, and in return there’s a dozen baskets left. more than what they started with.

this is a wonderful story of faith, of serving, of looking beyond what is right in front of you. but i was most caught by the pericope that followed not even a few chapters later. it’s a climatic moment, no doubt, when jesus asks the disciples “who do you think i am?” after Peter answers the Christ, Jesus gives a brief speech. the message puts it like this: Don’t run from suffering, embrace it. Follow me and i’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

i wonder if the feeding of the 5k (and then later, again, the 4k) was a precursor to what Jesus finally put into words. that the way of a fulfilling life is not self-preservation but self-giving. and there will be times that you’re tired – drained -and feel like people are just sucking the life out of you and now they want dinner. there will be times that you look at what you have to offer and say, it’s not enough.

but jesus says the way to find more is to give it away. by breaking the bread and offering it to others, the disciples ended up with a feast. and isn’t that the way it goes with love? when you preserve and protect you limit the love you are able to recieve.

in our culture today there’s this idea that you “always have to look out for #1.” that if you don’t take care of yourself first, you’re worthless to others. i think there’s a grain of truth there. i’ve been in ministry enough to know that extrovert hangovers exist for a reason. and if you’re not drawing in the water, you can’t pour it out. Jesus was habitually taking care of his own spiritual connection to the father in that he got up every day and prayed alone. he had “me time.” but never at the expense of others. never, when someone needed him, did he say, “you know, i could just use an evening in tonight. raincheck?”

i think about the dryest times in my life and they are, more often than not, also the lonliest. they’re the times that i’m making an attempt to focus on the self. they’re the times that i’m not connected and contributing to anything beyond my tummy or pocketbook. my relationships falter when i begin to think that they’re not serving me enough. but the better friend or wife or mother i try to become to others, the more fulfilling those relationships become.

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