Monday, February 22, 2010

Praising through the Bible

This week in the Bible in 90 Days I read two of my favorite books: Ecclesiastes and Isaiah.

I love the down-to-earth viewpoint of Ecclesiastes. It's full of doom and gloom and real life. It's a book to read when you feel like Eeyore. Yet every once in awhile the author looks up to get His creator's viewpoint and expresses a sheer enjoyment of life:

So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from Him? (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 NLT)
...People should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. (Ecclesiastes 3:13 NLT)
...To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life---this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.
(Ecclesiastes 5:20 NLT)

Isaiah, too, has its share of doom and gloom. The nation of Israel had turned from God, and it was Isaiah's job to tell them of their coming troubles. Yet within the prophecies of judgment are God's promises to always love and care for His people, and to rescue them when they turned back to Him.
For the mountains may move
and the hills disappear,
but even then my faithful love for you will remain.
My covenant of blessing will never be broken,”
says the Lord, who has mercy on you. (Isaiah 54:10 NLT)

I praise You God today
for avocado on my soup
for children giggling in the playroom
for snow on the mountains
and for Your faithful love.

Check the sidebar to the left to download a free chapter from my book: Sacred Signposts, Exploring the Prayer Paths of St. Paul and St. Patrick.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine Prayer

Today I am thinking of our little Hope, whose due date was February 14, 2001. I miscarried in July 2000. I don't know if Hope is a girl or a boy, but I do know Hope is safe in the arms of Jesus.

When I checked Facebook today I saw an update from a single friend. It reminded me of what a hard day this can be for some of my friends. This would be a good day to pray for
single people
single parents
widows and widowers
families who have recently lost a loved one
engaged couples
struggling marriages

And, like every day, it's a great day to thank God for His amazing love for us.

Check the sidebar to the left to download a free chapter from my book: Sacred Signposts, Exploring the Prayer Paths of St. Paul and St. Patrick.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Praising through the Bible: Day 43

The book of Psalms is full of triumphant praise and joyful hope. I used these verses in my prayer today:

But the Lord is my fortress; my God is the mighty rock where I hide. Psalm 94:22
Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Psalm 95:1
Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart I will praise His holy name. Psalm 103:1
May all my thoughts be pleasing to Him, for I rejoice in the Lord. Psalm 104:34

I'm reading the NLT version with notes by Warren Wiersbe. Today I read that "Praise means looking up, but worship means bowing down."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bible in 90 Days: thoughts on Day 40

The Book of Psalms is like a hot bath with lavender scented bubbles after a long day. Ahhhhh. I really struggled with the books of the Law and the books of History. Reading at this fast pace, without time to research what I'm reading, makes it difficult for me to find strength for the day within those readings. This is not my first time reading through the Bible, so I'm not in search of the Big Picture. I'm just in search of a word from God to bring me closer to Him. Obviously there are lessons in the law, and pictures of the Lord's redemption within it. Of course if you study the lives of the kings you can see God's guidance of the nation of Israel. But at this fast pace it's easy to miss those lessons and I wasn't feeling fed and nourished by the Scriptures. I kept remembering hearing Kings and Chronicles read at the breakfast table when I was growing up. I could almost taste the really boring oatmeal my mom made.

Then the book of Job came along. I love that book. Job is so honest with God, his friends are so annoying, and then God speaks to them and they are all amazed at His wisdom and majesty. I want to be that honest and that amazed.

And then Psalms. Ahhhhh. If I could only have one book of the Bible, this would be my choice. Here we see every human emotion expressed as prayer. God wants to hear my voice, whether I'm grieving, complaining, rejoicing, or worshipping. I stopped using the Bible in 90 Days NIV version, and switched to an NLT with notes by Warren Wiersbe. I don't read all the notes (they would have been helpful in the earlier books) but it's nice to know they're there. They make me feel like I'm discussing and fellowshipping with another Christian while I read. Warren Wiersbe says the theme of Psalms is "Intimacy with God." He suggests that in times of trouble we should read Psalms, searching not for an answer but an attitude.

One of my favorite verses in today's reading was Psalm 32:8: The Lord says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you."

I praise You, Lord, for Your guidance today.

Check the sidebar to the left to download a free chapter from my book: Sacred Signposts, Exploring the Prayer Paths of St. Paul and St. Patrick.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Flat Belly Afternoon Tea

Today I'm having a friend over for tea. I want to serve something that seems like a treat but includes some protein and a MUFA and stays under 400 calories. So here's our menu (with a little help from the EatingWell 500 Calorie Dinner cookbook, which does not include MUFAs with every meal but does use healthy ingredients):

Tea (I drink mine with agave nectar 20 cal. and milk-- 1/8 cup fat-free milk 20 cal.) 2 cups = 80 calories

Fruit and yogurt parfait
in each individual glass bowl or cup layer place
1/4 cup diced pineapple (30 cal), then add
1/2 cup low fat peach yogurt (115 cal), then top with
2 strawberries, quartered (8 cal)
at the last minute add 1 tablespoon pecans (43 cal. MUFA!)
Garnish with a mint leaf if you have fresh mint available
Total per serving 196 calories

Dip 8 gingersnaps in 1/3 cup melted semisweet chocolate chips (MUFA!)
Before the chocolate hardens, add diced chopped ginger and dried cranberries to the top of each cookie. Each cookie is about 79 calories.

Total calories in this meal: 355

Note: a MUFA serving of pecans is actually 2 tablespoons. I kept this at 1 because the chocolate is also a MUFA.

If I only have one cup of tea, I can have two cookies, making this a 394 calorie meal.

Note: I have no connection with the authors of the Flat Belly Diet, nor do I have their opinion on how this fits with the guidelines.

Check the sidebar to the left to download a free chapter from my book: Sacred Signposts, Exploring the Prayer Paths of St. Paul and St. Patrick.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Flat Belly Diet Update--woo hoo!

Last August we came home from vacation and I stepped on the scales and gasped. My daughter was 3 1/2 and I hadn't lost the baby weight yet, but in August I realized I'd gained even more weight. A vacation spent in search of the best clam chowder in the Northwest didn't help. I found a wonderful cookbook at Borders a few days later: The Eating Well Diet Cookbook. I lost 5 pounds quickly, and another 2 pounds very slowly. The cookbook is full of yummy food, but it suits my husband's gourmet cooking style better than my own get-out-of-the-kitchen-quickly methods. My husband used to cook all our dinners, but his schedule this year keeps him too busy to do so.

By November I was ready to try something new. I wanted something I could stick to even if I was doing all the cooking myself. I'd looked at the Flat Belly Diet before, but there was something new: a Pocket Guide with four weeks of menus. The Pocket Guide promised to be a cheaper way of eating and a quicker way of cooking. And I could eat dark chocolate every day. I figured it was worth a try. I do not like to read all the whys and hows of a diet--just tell me what to eat and how to tweak it for my own likes and dislikes. The Pocket Guide is perfect for me. I looked at the menus and chose week 3 to start with, subsituting a few ingredients here and there. My husband agreed to eat the dinners in the menu plan. He grilled some chicken breast to add to a few pasta dishes. After that week I referred to the guide for calorie information and planned our meals, focusing on lean proteins and whole grains and those MUFAs.

The Flat Belly Diet is based on a 1600 calorie per day (4 meals, 400 calories each) plan, with a monounsaturated fat (MUFA) at each meal (nuts, pesto, olive oil, hummus, olives, dark chocolate, avocado). I find it's far easier to stick with a calorie plan when I look at it per meal rather than aiming at a daily total.

I lost 7 pounds in November, the scale went up and down in December, and now in the first week of February I've lost 13 pounds on the Flat Belly Diet...which makes me 20 pounds lighter than I was August 1st. To put it another way, on November 1st I couldn't zip my size 10 jeans. Now size 6s are a bit loose, and I can squeeze into size 4s.

I discovered early on that the 1600 calorie a day plan is great for maintenance for me, but 1400 calories is where I lose weight. This is easy to do by either cutting my snack to 200 calories, or cutting 2 meals to 300 calories each. I didn't do the 4 day Jumpstart with it's very limited menu until I'd been eating Flat Belly meals for almost a month.

My husband is following the Flat Belly Diet too now, and he's seeing great results. The men's guidelines are 2000 calories a day--4 meals of 500 calories each.

This plan really does seem to shrink my tummy. I can wear pre-pregnancy pants now even though I still weigh 12 pounds more than I did pre-pregnancy.

Check the sidebar to the left to download a free chapter from my book: Sacred Signposts, Exploring the Prayer Paths of St. Paul and St. Patrick.