Archive | November, 2013

Leaving Weight Watcher Points on the Table on Thanksgiving Day!

29 Nov

Yesterday my husband and I tried an experiment on Thanksgiving Day.  Since we are both in Weight Watchers, me as a lifetime member (for almost a year now) and him as a 20-pounds-lighter version of himself, we decided to try to do a Thanksgiving meal centered on low points fruits and veggies, with turkey available, but not the central actor in the drama!

Our son is away at college and Noel, my husband, just had eye surgery so we were home with just the two of us.  We agreed that this meal, minus dinner rolls and pie, was just what we wanted.

I began our day with a serving of real Irish oatmeal, cooked in 1% milk.

I then started cooking up a storm.  I began with a recipe a friend of mine, Ruth Brown Peters, had shared on our local Weight Watchers website.  There are several ways to do this, but the idea is to make a zero point dessert by cooking apples in the crockpot all day with water, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  I think I threw some ginger in there eventually, too.

Oooooo-la-la!  That dish tasted exquisite by the time it was done.  The cloves seemed to have absorbed into the apples so they tasted as though every slice had a clove inside! They tasted like a solid version of apple cider.  They tasted like a crustless apple pie. They were one of the best desserts I have ever had and . . . they were zero points.

As I cooked our boneless turkey with just olive oil and thyme, I put in sweet potatoes to roast, with the skins on (we eat them that way).

I cooked our fresh green beans in garlic and the minimal amount of olive oil necessary to stir fry them.

I steamed a cauliflower to mix into our mashed potatoes, which were red-skinned potatoes that I boiled, mostly with the jackets still on them.  After mashing and mixing the cauliflower and potatoes, I added thyme, some chives, 1% milk, and olive oil in place of butter. They were delicious this way.

I made a cornbread stuffing with real cornmeal–I didn’t have a few ingredients that my recipe required, so I improvised a bit this time.  I will try the allrecipes.com recipe again at a later date and do it right!!!  What I made was pretty good, though.  

I finished by mixing up a salad with nuts and light raspberry vinaigrette dressing.  I also made up a fruit salad of all of our leftover fresh fruit and a can of pineapple in its own juices.

I ended up spending 21 Weight Watcher points on my Thanksgiving meal, which was spread out over both the noon and the evening meal timeframes. Our oatmeal had been 7 points. I get 34 Weight Watcher points for my lifetime daily allowance, so I actually ate a packet of processed Slim Fast snack food we had lying around just so I could get three additional points. Even then, I left three points on the table for the day, as well as the four exercise points we picked up with our afternoon walk. It can be done. We actually aren’t supposed to leave Weight Watcher points on the table and I seldom do it, but we proved it can be done on Thanksgiving!!! Delicious!

P.S. At our Saturday weigh-in this week, I had lost two pounds and my husband had lost more than three. That is not something I seek, as a lifetime member, and, in fact, there has not been a week in the past year when I have lost two pounds. But that does make our point that Thanksgiving can be deliciously centered on fruits and veggies and people can lose weight as they feast on low calorie goodies. Just in case anyone wants to know!!! Easter, anyone?

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Cheesecake Day!

29 Nov

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This delicious cheesecake is sold at the bakery across from Carnegie Hall in New York City; it is Carnegie Deli cheesecake. The only place to buy it locally (fresh, never frozen) is at Route 58 Deli in Virginia Beach, our most famous Jewish deli.

I went there for a piece of this cheesecake once a month while losing my weight in 2012. I now go once every three weeks. It is my reward for staying on plan. I usually eat it in place of lunch, as it is immense.

And, yes, I count the points in my Weight Watchers tracker.

Today was fun as yesterday was not only Thanksgiving but the first day of Chanukah . . . It felt festive to be in a Jewish deli today!

I will follow this with a post on how my husband and I ate fruits and veggies for Thanksgiving yesterday and left Weight Watcher points on the table at day’s end . . .

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A Believer Who Struggles with Same Sex Attraction Speaks Out

29 Nov

A Believer Who Struggles with Same Sex Attraction Speaks Out

We need to listen to our brothers and sisters in Christ who self-identify as gay–remember, temptation is not a sin. Giving in to temptation is a sin.

There is no more reason to be standoffish from someone who has been tempted with gay sexuality than there is to be standoffish with a heterosexual who has been tempted by an extramarital affair and walked away from temptation.

All sexual sin is disordered, in its own way. Saying no to it is a step toward the Saviour, no matter what that temptation was.

When we say Christ’s blood breaks the power of all sin, we have to say that with conviction. All sin!

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Unity in Diversity, Christ’s Body the Church

29 Nov

Unity in Diversity, Christ’s Body the Church

Christena Cleveland, a young woman consulting on diversity in the church, Christ’s Body, packs a wallop with this interview with Thabiti Anyabwile, a Baptist pastor and blogger.

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Thanksgiving and Losing My Job!

28 Nov

Thanksgiving and Losing My Job!

Is Thanksgiving a sacrament? Is it still a sacrament when it falls on November 28 and you know that, on November 30, you will be losing your job?

Set out with me on this journey, as I have just undertaken it, never having done it before!

The contract I worked on for the Navy was rebid and, after much rather suspicious interplay between six or seven bidders, a new company got the contract, then promptly rehired mostly the members of a rival team we have worked with over the past four or five months. Our military commands merged over the summer, so they suddenly had duplicates for almost every civilian position on our contract. I can’t say I blame the new person in charge (from the rival company) for keeping his own people and letting us go . . . tribalism usually trumps just about everything else.

The reason I can say that and not grow bitter is not because the behavior of these companies was ethical. It certainly doesn’t pass the “smell test,” although I have nothing tangible to prove that it crossed any lines. Since the contract was subsequently contested, we will see whether the government comes up with anything tangible to prove unethical behavior. This is far beyond my paygrade at the moment!

No, the reason I can say that I am able to move on is because I serve a great God who has never let me down yet. He knew this was going to turn out this way and He let it. Since I am only 55 and at the peak of my health, ever, I know He still has some things for me to accomplish in this life. So it is up to me to find that next “something.” I am encouraged . . .

Meanwhile, I am seeing sacraments everywhere. I looked up the definition of “sacrament” and also read why denominations like Baptists (my own) do not use that word about ceremonies that occur in a church setting. Episcopalians have “sacraments” at church; we have “ordinances.”

That does not mean that Baptists don’t acknowledge the existence of sacraments. We just define them as things God does, while ordinances are things man does.

See the fine point of difference? And see why I can say my life is full of sacraments right now? God has done so much for me. God is doing so much for me. Often in the stillness, often in the silence, but I know His love and it surrounds me, always.

One sacrament is the very great blessing of being able to turn to cooking. In our land of abundance, even the very poorest can afford low cost raw ingredients to turn into wonderful, nutritious meals.

It is a blessing to live in the midst of abundance, to be able to afford that abundance, and to be able to turn that abundance into feasts.

This week alone I have built three feasts from scratch, two prior to Thanksgiving. Some people call that “clean eating” (the absence of prepackaged foods). I call it a sacrament and a delight.

It is warmth. It is creativity. It is beauty, visually, and in the tastes that emanate from my cooking.

I love it. And, in a world that may seem a bit out of control right now, that centers me.

Bless the Lord!

Enjoy the recipe for cornbread dressing, above. I changed it so much (because I had vastly different ingredients) that I will have to try it another time to see what it is really like!

A Paradox, Bible-style

27 Nov

You know how the Bible has those paradoxes that unbelievers call contradictions?  Things that seem to not be able to both be true at the same time . . . except they are?

I saw one in action three weeks ago.  I lived it.  I then made a Sunday school lesson out of it.

The Bible says, “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20).

It also says, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee; the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain . . .”  (Psalm 76:10)

So . . . how can those both be true?  

Let’s pick up my story at my hotel three weeks ago, as I checked out in the morning before an all-night flight from San Diego to Norfolk, Virginia (my home).

I decided to go to the San Diego Art Museum in Balboa Park to while away the time before my flight.  I had plenty of time after that to turn in my rental car and check in for my flight.  

I made a mental note, while navigating to Balboa Park, that I would need to look up a gas station on the way to the airport.  San Diego is so compact that I could get from my hotel to Balboa Park in less than ten minutes, then get from the park to the airport in less than ten minutes as well.  But San Diego is also old and doesn’t have many chain stores or gas stations just standing around–at least I saw very few in my two weeks there, going most places on the I-5. There  were not many chains located within a few blocks of my exits from I-5.

So, while at lunch in Balboa Park, I found a gas station on Google, as I looked up my directions to the airport.  Problem is, when I drove those directions, I never saw the station.  Either it was not there anymore or it was one block off of the beaten path or . . . I just never saw it.  

So it was that I ended up at the turn for where I had to drop off the rental car with . . . half a tank of gas.  And I knew my company would be furious if I turned in a half-full car.  That is expensive!

I decided to keep going, straight ahead, on the shore drive that seemed to run through the airport.  Our Norfolk airport is a deadend, but this one did not appear to be.  There were exits in every direction to various airport facilities, but the road itself kept going on.  

It was about three in the afternoon and it was stop and start traffic.  Especially with so many of us out-of-towners driving in that area.  

I later found out it was the hour that many Marines were checking into nearby hotels for the Marine Corps Ball that night.  

The young lady who was behind me in traffic may have been a Marine anxious to get to her hotel.  All I know is that I suddenly noticed she seemed to be holding me responsible for the entire traffic pattern in that area.  

I was in the right lane, but she was riding my bumper, about six inches away.  I stayed in the lane (didn’t want to switch lanes at the same moment she did) but tried speeding up, slowing down, pulling to the left of the lane, pulling to the right.  Nothing deterred her.  She was staying right on my bumper no matter what I did.  She even did that when the passing lane was open.  When all three passing lanes were open . .. 

I was becoming rather afraid of what might happen at her hand when I noticed we had entered Point Loma, the area where another Navy base is located.

In desperation, I decided to take the first right, to try to shake her off.

It worked!  I also saw a gas station, up on the right.

As I pulled into the station, a women popped out of a booth, asking for my ID.  It seems I was at the Point Loma Navy Exchange gas station.  Off-base.

Hurrah, I could fill up and the gas would be cheap(er).  

I looked skyward and asked, “How did You do that, Lord?”  And then I remembered that even the wrath of man praises Him!  And the remainder of wrath He restrains (I didn’t get hit, after all . . .).

See how that works?  From the young lady’s perspective, the wrath of man (woman) worked not the righteousness of God.  She did not glorify God, blowing her top like that.

But from God’s perspective, and mine, He used her wrath to get me to the gas station where I was supposed to fuel the car!!

Amazing God!!!

Facebook as a Free Speech Zone!

25 Nov

A couple of my posts this week have pushed me in a further direction.  Sometimes there is a story behind the story . . .

First, there is the post on measuring our words when we speak, particularly when we write something online, because sometimes the context/inflection, etc. can be lacking in online communications.  That is one occupational hazard of employing the written word!

The caution there is to remember, even when disagreeing with someone, that he is still created in the image of God and must be spoken to with dignity.  That never ceases to be the case, no matter how heated the argument.  

And then I wrote the post on the proposed plan to close the military commissaries and, yes, I was angry when I wrote.  Yet, I believe I succeeded in voicing my view without flaming any other human being.  Even the president/executive branch of our government, from whence so many of these “good idea fairy” thoughts seem to flow.  

But now I want to tie the two strands together and say that there is a time when one must speak gently and tactfully, but one must speak.  

In a country with free speech, no one has the right to claim the floor indefinitely, never letting anyone else speak or voice a viewpoint.  

Yet I see that conviction every day, and on both sides of the political aisle.  Folks who only want to keep shouting their viewpoints, talking/shouting past other folks who are doing the same thing with the opposite viewpoint!

I love the old saying that you can freely speak your views in America, but you have to find your own audience.  

Too many people think they can walk up to a conversation in progress, either in real life or on social media, and divert everyone’s attention to them.  

Well . . . no.  

If I put something on my Facebook wall and you either have an opposing viewpoint or want to go off on a tangent, I will allow that to a certain extent.  I will never drop you as a Facebook friend or block you or anything like that, because I believe in free speech and in being kind.

If, however, it becomes apparent that you are trying to commandeer my wall to get a readymade audience for your viewpoint (maybe you like my FB friends better than your own, or there are more of them . . .), I will probably comment to that effect.  I will probably say that your behavior is inappropriate and try to discourage it.  

That doesn’t usually happen on my wall, but I have seen it elsewhere and it is ugly.  

A young person I know who has a strong Christian faith had an atheist relative go off on a rant about superstition and faith on her FB page just last week.  In a private discussion with said relative, I asked him whether he also goes into someone’s private living room and lectures them on their leather furniture on behalf of animal rights activists.  See, since our FB pages are kind of like our online living rooms, his behavior to my young friend was very similar to walking into someone’s living room and denouncing their furniture that way.  Uncalled for! Of course, he countered that I had no right to speak to him that way, even privately. And I said when he spoke up on my friend’s wall, he automatically invited comments, like it or not.

Someone else’s relative went on a rant about the Democratic party restoring everyone’s pet funding sources, in response to an article about the commissaries being closed.  That relative went so far as to say, “Vote Democrats in and you will get back your commissaries and everything else the Republicans have taken from you.”  I answered that:  1) I could not ever vote for a party that has the right to abortion as a central plank, even if that means losing my commissary and 2) since I earned the right to my commissary via 27 years of service to my country, I don’t expect to see any political party holding that right hostage in order to buy my vote.  

Honestly, that rant reminded me of when the slaves were freed and political parties tried to buy their votes (before they were educated) by promising to give them the inalienable rights that God gave them at birth.  Very insulting when a party does that, ya know?  Even if we are not talking inalienable rights but rather rights I have earned via my military service.  Don’t turn around and tell me your party will give me what is already mine by right of my military service!!!   

And, of course, in so many situations when we push back a bit and voice, gently but firmly, the idea that we don’t agree with some of this nonsense, we get the online equivalent of a slammed door as the person says, “You have no right to talk to me like this.”  

Oh, yeah?  So that person is allowed to throw an idea out there and go on a rant, saying whatever he wishes, but no one is allowed to disagree with him?  And he is not only talking like that, but doing it on someone else’s FB page, not even his own?  

Wow, I would call that inappropriate. And I have said as much (to the response of that door being slammed!). 

There is a time to speak out, gently but firmly.  If someone slams the door, it is obvious that they don’t wish to be involved in dialogue.  And that is okay . . .

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