Friday, February 26, 2010

Going Crazy in the Kitchen

Do you enjoy cooking? I didn't used to. Right up until recently, it was just something I had to do to keep me and my family alive.

But God is changing even this old dog. Who says I can't learn new tricks? Between my daughter and daughter-in-law I'm learning how to fix foods the old, natural way. It's a lot of fun! Using The Body Ecology Diet and Nourishing Traditions books together, I've discovered some ways to make my candida dieting much more palatable. For instance, I was under the impression that I should not be eating any grains because of the high carb content. Not so. The B.E.D. diet says there are four grains I can eat that have low glycemic impact. Imagine my joy when I ate a bowlful of millet with clarified butter melted in. Mmmm! And I can make bread out of these grains. Yeehaw! Bread in my life again! I made two batches of bread this week, and they were yummy.

I had a blood allergy test done in December which showed allergies to wheat/gluten, milk, and egg among other things. That motivated me further to try to change my eating habits radically. I can really tell a difference from being off store-bought milk and yogurt. The lactose was evidently too sugary and left me feeling bloated after a smoothie. Now I make smoothies using young coconut kefir and coconut kefir cheese, raw greens, pure cranberry and/or lemon juice, and stevia. If I ever do get the candida symptoms to go away, I'll try throwing in some fruit.

We have started buying some organic products. I was amazed to find how sweet a batch of fresh organic chard was--it was actually sweet like beets, not bitter at all. And my new favorite green is Italian kale. Stir-fry it with some olive oil or coconut oil (organic of course) or butter and some onions. MMMM!

I'm also soaking all of the grains, seeds and nuts overnight before cooking or eating them. I use coconut kefir. This ensures that the grains are digestible enough, and actually neutralizes any phytic acid or enzyme inhibitors in the grains/seeds that lead to poor absorption of minerals and, ultimately, tooth decay. What a wonder to find out that teeth can re-calcify if we are taking these precautions and eating pre-soaked or sprouted grains in our diet!

Thank you, all you ladies in my life who have helped gently prod me on this journey. There have been half a dozen who have shared this or that gem and helped me down this new adventure. And thank you, Lord, for giving me the strength to be on my feet more than I have in years, as I work with joy in the kitchen.

My husband is not so crazy about the changes. My bread wasn't his favorite. And even I didn't much enjoy the beef liver I served a couple of weeks ago. He chokes at the price we are paying for raw milk now. But he is being a good sport. Maybe my increasing strength is convincing him to put up with it all.

Woman's Calling: Helper

I have been praying and thinking about hosting a mother-daughter tea and wondering what I should share as a devotional. God is giving me a whole bunch of good tidbits to share. Now I need to organize them. For now here is a tidbit.

Women were created to be helpers--a comparable help-mate for her man. See Genesis 1. The Holy Spirit is called the Paraclete, which is Greek for Helper. So we women are a type of the Third Person of the Trinity in that we are also helpers. If even Almighty God is called our Helper, should we then feel demeaned by such a title?

What are some characteristics of the Holy Spirit that we can emulate?
1. He does not seek His own glory, but that of another. When the name of Jesus Christ is exalted, the Holy Spirit is at work. The Holy Spirit operates by the motto "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30)
2. He helps by providing the support, the strength, the power necessary for others to flourish.
3. He works almost secretively, in cognito. His effective work is often mistaken for that of another, often human, agent. Yet He is okay with that, for He does not seek His own glory. "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8)

Doesn't this describe well our condition as home-centered women? We often work to assist our husbands so they can flourish in the marketplace or civic circle. Yet we do not get a lot of credit for it. Our names are "lost" in that of our husbands when we take on their surname. In earlier days a woman would even give up her first name in public by signing "Mrs. John Smith". Douglas Wilson, in his book Reforming Marriage, points out that this practice was rooted in a biblical understanding of a wife's role as helper. It rubs most of us the wrong way today, steeped as we are in egalitarian thought.

SO we must ask ourselves the hard questions: am I willing to give up my identity for the sake of my husband's name? Do I love him enough to lose myself in him? Am I willing to focus on his needs more than my own, and break my back for his benefit?
This is no more than what Christ did for me: "7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant,being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Phil. 2) Can I do any less?

Mr. Wilson also points out that a man's calling is defined by what type of occupation he chooses, while a woman's calling is defined more by the particular man she is called to help. Not what she does, but who she helps.

A woman's activities are not limited to the home; nor are they narrow in scope and aspect. She can help her husband with his occupation; if she is widowed, she can fill the shoes he emptied, for her continued support. She can consider a field and buy it, and steward it to bring him and her children greater wealth.

If a woman goes to work for another man or woman, however, she needs to consider--is she helping her own husband to flourish, or is another man benefiting more from her help?

Monday, February 1, 2010

God is Good! We are Mortgage-Free!

Today I wired the payoff payment to our mortgage company. We own our house free and clear! Thank you Lord! Yahoo!
A friend asked me today how long it took us. If you count the payments we've been making since our first house, building equity as we sold and re-bought and did it again for our present, third house, it has been twenty-two years. We had originally hoped to pay off in fifteen, but we were tempted into upgrading to larger, nicer houses whenever there was a bubble in the housing market, and continued to increase our debt service. However, we have stayed put in this house for fifteen years, riding through the worst bubble burst in history (2007). We also benefited from dropping interest rates and refinanced twice until our last mortgage had only 4.25%. We don't deserve such favor. But it does show that a SILK (Single-Income, Lots of Kids)family can still make it and do well if one is frugal and follows practical biblical principles. We have never bought any new vehicles on time. The only debt we have carried is for the house. We might have been smarter to put more money down and avoided tens of thousands in interest dollars; but we can hope our children have learned from us to do even better than we did. Indeed, Nathan hopes to pay for their house in less than seven years--a good biblical number.
Soli Deo Gloria!

Year-End Sleadd Newsletter for 2009

Oh, goodness, I'm behind on blogging and corresponding. Here is our year-end newsletter. Enjoy.

2009 Sleadd End-of-Year Newsletter

Words from Alexa
Well, though you may not believe it, all of us Sleadds got a year older than we were last year--except for Mother, of course, because mothers are ageless. I might take the liberty at this time to disclose all those things that nobody will bother to mention: like the fact that Dad’s consistent reliance on reading spectacles really helps complete his studious pastor image. (He just gave his 66th sermon, and I have yet to fall asleep during one of them.)
What’s new with me? My parents get regular stress-management tests in the passenger seat while I practice my driving skills. I’ve only been pulled over once for driving like I had ADHD, so no worries. I’m now a reluctant senior, because, as a homeschooler, I’m not sure when I want to graduate. (Mother’s note: we plan to graduate her in 2011 with her age-mates). I really enjoy doing graphic design/photography-related projects and maybe it’ll turn out to be an occupational pursuit. Nathan says he’ll hire me as soon as I’ve taught myself how to use CS7 and Illustrator (computer programs). Grandma Steves has been very indulgent, taking me on multiple photography trips and letting me use her equipment. Now she has given me her laptop to use for my photos; I feel so spoiled!

I’d have to say a continual highlight for me is church every week. Our church is growing a lot, but is still small enough to know everybody. I’m just in awe at what God is doing through the people, and Sunday is always a sanctuary in a busy week! We’re “family integrated”, so when I say I like to see “my friends” at church, it’s inclusive of people of all ages. Aaron built a website (and I helped design it) for our church so check it out:

I got braces last January, and had some minor gum surgery. Only got six months to go, before I can get all this metal out of my mouth!

Caleb’s a 7th grader now. (Mother’s note: he’s also getting taller and quite lanky.) His favorite pastime is reading and grazing in the kitchen. He eats everything in sight—if he’s not allergic to it.

Aaron, the brilliant fellow, coordinated a show called “A Night of Music”, in which he used a lot of Dad’s originals. We had a whole bunch of our teenage friends involved with singing, dancing, and playing various instruments. I made a flyer to advertise, we used the church building, and we made lots of memories with rehearsals and pizza! The turnout was fantastic. We also realized that Aaron played drums on every song except one!

Last Fourth of July, Mom and Dad gave Aaron a .12 shotgun, and Nathan a .22 as sort of a patriotic celebration of the right to bear arms… I’ve tried the shotgun a few times, and boy it’s got kick!

In October Nathan and Colleen bought their first house in downtown Grants Pass. It’s a cute little place built in 1900; Nathanael (Naomi’s husband) built them a shed and replaced eleven windows, and installed a dishwasher.

On the health front, Aaron keeps dislocating his shoulder (see picture). A genetic tendency, unfortunately. The Swine Flu really swept through our area, and everybody knows someone who had it. We all got sick too, but it may have been a seasonal bug. We knew some acquaintances/friends who were hospitalized, and it seemed like everyone in church was sick for awhile, but all seem to have recovered, thankfully.

Home improvement
One exciting part of our year has been the remodel. Nathanael, my brother-in-law, worked on our house for two months. Our current situation is no different on the inside of the kitchen yet; we just have the enclosed addition outside the kitchen. Caleb and I sure appreciated the interruption of our arduous school schedule to run out and do odd jobs for Nathanael. And with all the demolition debris lying around, I stepped on a nail, (which didn’t get past my sole), while Caleb fell and got a fat one in his knee. Ouch. We also completely re-shingled our house. That was an experience! Apparently the previous lazy roofers came to the conclusion that whacking down a third layer over the top was easier than tearing up the old shingles. So we had ourselves a big mess. We tore off the three layers and spent several weeks picking out tons of brittle flakes of shingle out of our lawn and hauling away load after load. One highlight was ripping off the bathroom roof, and interrupting an ant civilization therein. They had networked through the gypsum in the drywall ceiling and if anyone had poked it from underneath, they would have unleashed a shower of biting ants. That’s not the kind of shower you want in a bathroom. It happened anyway. We’re still killing an occasional ant.

Our well, which had been losing flow for several years, finally went dry this summer. After a temporary fix of buying city water to fill our holding tank (chlorinated—tasted awful!), we had another existing well drilled deeper, to 300 feet. It was an expensive mess, but we have plenty of tasty, clear water now!

Words from John
What highlights from 2009 come to mind? Here are a few.

I ran in a 10 mile race in April just to see if I could do it at fifty years of age. I spent five weeks warming up for it (3 jogs a week) and was grateful to make it to the end without passing out and spasming in front of the crowds at the finish line. I’m content to wait another 50 years to try such a thing again.

I enjoyed six glorious days with Arden in the tropical paradise of Kauai, Hawaii. It was beautiful and restful. We had fun exploring the island, visiting resorts, eating out and relaxing. I took some short solo hikes to scenic spots. Snorkeling among the colorful fish, that would gather when I snapped my fingers under water, was a thrill.

I was assigned to teach third grade this year at school and am enjoying working with a sweet batch of little whipper snappers. I will most likely be moved to fourth grade next year.

It was fascinating to watch Nathanael remodel the backside and roof of our house. I enjoyed coming home from school each day to marvel at the progress. I got to do some electrical work. I decided to hire out the plumbing to a professional.
I enjoyed another year of studying and preaching God’s Word in Household of Faith Community Church. It is a blessing and an honor to work with such wonderful people. As a bi-vocational pastor I preach two Sundays a month, and the other fine men on the teaching team preach on the other Sundays. Nathan and Aaron Sleadd both preached at HOFGP in 2009.

Words from Arden
We have so much to be thankful for: new well, new add-on, new grandsons. Our grandson population tripled this year with the births of James Christian Phillips (March 12) and Brock Alexander Sleadd (July 10). They are growing up strong and lively and are the joy of our lives.

Aaron graduated from high school along with a dozen other home school comrades. We are very proud of his hard work ethic. He is still interning as a computer programmer and working for Nathan as warehouse manager while living at home and driving a $500 Toyota Tercel—that is, he was driving it, until it threw a rod or something. (P.S. Aaron has replaced the Tercel with Nathan’s Stratus, who bought a new/used truck.)

I have only two children left to homeschool this year, Alexa 16 and Caleb 12, and it seems much easier. For once I feel organized!

For the last eighteen years I have battled fibromyalgia, and every year I have tried something new, to be disappointed with the results. This year was no exception; I took an antiviral for a year to combat HHV-6 and EBV, both implicated as possible causes of FMS and chronic fatigue. Though the treatment succeeded in lowering my antibody levels, my symptoms are largely unchanged. Now I am on Sporanox, an antifungal, to treat systemic yeast, in hopes that my red-hot, burning feet will respond.

In August John and I spent our 25th anniversary in Kauai, Hawaii. It was a wonderful week spent together in paradise. I had much help and prayer from John and my friends just to get me there. I agonized for months over the wisdom of planning such a trip, right up to the day we left, but God made a way and I enjoyed it greatly. We spent a day at my cousin Anita’s on the layover in Seattle, and we talked for hours to catch up on our lives. We saw soaring tropical birds over flood-swollen falls muddy from a storm. We saw turtles cavorting in the waves. We had great food and Polynesian entertainment at a luau. See more pics and a video clip at my blog. The twice-daily swims in the hotel pool helped me improve so much, I learned my lesson that daily water exercise was what I needed, and have continued them to this day. It has made a significant difference.

Caleb and I were both found to be allergic to dairy, wheat/gluten, eggs, and half a dozen other foods this year, so much time and attention has been diverted to changing our eating habits. Alexa, the chief cook, has been quite accommodating, but she’s a busy gal so I am pushing myself to the limit preparing more raw veggies for my diet. I’m trying the Body Ecology Diet (which targets candida) with Naomi’s help. John is as healthy as a horse.

We are currently reducing our flock of hens because 1) the egg business is not a money-maker, 2) two of us are allergic to eggs, 3) the kids have lost interest, and 4) John has lost willingness to spend any more money or time on their accommodations. Last summer a large, multi-colored, exotic rooster with long, black tail feathers found his way onto our property. He was in seventh heaven with so many dames. We let him stick around for some weeks until we noticed the hens’ egg production dropping precipitously and their behavior growing more aggressive and broody. Since we couldn’t find the cock’s original owners, Caleb and I drove him down to the nearest riverside park and let him loose. I hope he didn’t become food for another critter.

Come spring we hope to start again on phase II of the remodel. John and the kids also have big plans to visit the KY/DC Sleadd relations in the summer. So life doesn’t get much fuller, and we are blessed.

In the midst of economic and national uncertainty, God still reigns supreme. He has kept us in the hollow of His hand and blessed us, materially and spiritually. We can only stand amazed in His presence. May 2010 be a year of blessing for you as well.

In Christ’s Love,
John, Arden, Aaron, Alexa, and Caleb Sleadd