Today Be Still and Know turns seven years old! Also, before this post, I’ve posted 300 times on this blog. That’s a lot of sharing!
Looking back on my first post on February 22, 2014, I’m struck by how much still rings true. Over these seven years I’ve been walking with Christ and trusting in grace, through ups and down, mountains and valleys. God is always faithful and the Holy Spirit is a constant source of comfort. When I struggle with control and anxiety, it’s because I’ve strayed, never Him.
Through these years, I have grown in my dependence on Christ for everything. Sanctification is a lifelong process and maturity as a Christian looks like deeper dependence, rather than independence. In a Lutheran Hour Ministries Daily Devotion last year, Dr. Kari Vo wrote this about the process of sanctification: “So what is our part in this great transformation process? It is simply to let it happen—to let God do what He’s going to do—to relax and enjoy the process, and every so often, try something new that God is putting before us—a new challenge, a small change or an insight into a difficult situation that might make a difference.”
I love this idea so much! It encapsulates the idea of cease striving, which is another translation of be still. Over these seven years, through acceptance and trust in God, I have been present in the moment to truly experience the full spectrum of emotions. Whether I’m facing medical concerns with my diabetes or cancer screenings, or sharing parenting struggles, or fighting my inner perfectionist, acceptance of myself and dependence on God’s grace are ever present themes. John Kleinig writes: “We are not called to become more spiritual by disengaging from our earthly life, but simply to rely on Jesus as we do what is given for us to do, experience what is given for us to experience, and enjoy what is given for us to enjoy,” Grace Upon Grace, pg. 23. God provides everything we need for this life. Resting in that truth brings such peace and joy.
Thank you for coming alongside me through these years of sharing life and learning to be present to the gifts of grace that only God provides!
As a diabetic, I evaluate my food intake quite a lot. For years, considering what I was going to eat took up way more mental space and energy than I wanted. I’ve eaten a pretty low carbohydrate diet since I was pregnant with Sienna and had to dramatically cut and monitor my daily carbs to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Then, probably about eight years ago, I discovered the paleo diet and further limited my food choices to meat, vegetables, nuts, eggs, and some fruit.
At first, this style of eating was really helpful for maintaining my blood sugar. However, it was obviously limiting and my other health numbers weren’t where we needed them to be: cholesterol, most notably. Since I started taking an additional diabetes medication about five years ago, my cholesterol had been elevated. My endocrinologist kept telling me that a statin in was my future, once I hit 40. There are so many things that magically become an issue at 40!
Eye sight, cancer screenings, and cholesterol medication, oh my!
At the end of last summer, I started reading about the bean protocol. Ironically, it was a paleo blog that introduced me to this approach to eating! Juli of PaleOMG struggled with acne for years and eating beans several times per day cleared up her skin completely. I went to the source of this protocol and discovered an amazing story of one mom’s quest to save her daughter after she was poisoned by insecticide as a toddler. Eating a ton of fiber (mostly from beans) helped her daughter’s liver and kidneys to fully detox when doctors told her (back in 1989) that there was no way to treat her symptoms.
If you’re interested, definitely check out Karen Hurd’s website. The theory, in a nutshell, is that many of the health conditions people experience are due to our hormones being recycled through the body. When we eat enough fiber, those excess hormones are excreted from the body and therefore are not recycled and wreaking havoc on our immune systems. As I researched further, I was intrigued mostly on behalf of Sienna. We’ve tried various dietary approaches to help her focus, in an effort to avoid the medications she does not want to take. ADD/ADHD is one of many conditions that this protocol can improve.
Curiosity and a gut instinct that this protocol could help us all, I gradually increased my bean and fiber intake over a couple weeks, until I was eating 5-6 servings of beans daily in early September. I then started transitioning our entire family, adding beans to meals and researching fun recipes to try. As you would imagine, your body has to adjust to all the fiber, but it wasn’t a big deal for any of us.
Sienna is doing well in school and not taking any medications! She says that math tutoring and her overall maturation as a student are the reason for her success, which is definitely true. However, I think her healthy diet and the extra fiber are helping too.
An unexpected and delightful result of this approach came when I had my annual blood test in late October. I knew that my endocrinologist would advise I start a statin for my cholesterol, if my numbers continued to run in the 200-220 range. After two months of eating a ton of beans, my total cholesterol was down to 154! Wow. That was all the proof I needed that this works and I’m sticking with it! Other benefits I’ve noticed are weight loss, healthier skin, obviously regularity, and more interesting meal options!
There are so many delicious recipes to fit beans into baked goods and treats. This cookie dough dip is a favorite! I’ll use a sugar substitute to keep the carbohydrates down. I created a pizza crust for me to enjoy on our Friday pizza nights. It includes a couple tablespoons of chickpea flour and it’s much closer to a real crust than the many paleo options I’ve tried. My favorite option is a barbeque chicken pizza on this crust (that’s it in the photo!). I’ve really had fun with expanding the types of foods we’re eating, discovering new recipes, and feeling a deeper peace around food choices.
Finding the bean protocol felt like an answer to prayer. For months I’d prayed that God would help free my mind and spirit from struggling with food choices and the associated diabetic guilt. This approach has simplified my eating with one overarching focus: include beans in each meal. Beans are already so versatile, but there are also bean flours, bean chips, bean tortillas, and so many other products made of beans. I’d also been praying for a clear path forward in treating Sienna’s ADD. In addition to adding all the beans, we’ve also reduced sugar for the entire family, especially during the school week. Those things together are helping so much.
So, that’s my story of how beans are helping our family in a variety of ways. Let me know if you have any questions!
Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself thinking about the future a lot. These aren’t deep thoughts about goals or dreams I hope to achieve. They aren’t about planning trips or looking forward to something fun I’d love to do – though one day soon hopefully!
No, these are little things like: Should I make the minestrone soup tonight or just serve leftovers? Should I go for a run this afternoon or would tomorrow morning be better? Do I have all the ingredients for those muffins I wanted to make later this week? Then again, I made those overnight oats which I should probably eat soon. Which book am I going to read next? Maybe I should change that eye doctor appointment for later in the month, or maybe I should keep it for next week to get it over with…?
You get the idea.
Decision fatigue is a real thing, let me tell you. I’ve been known to ask one of my kids to pick out a shirt for me to wear or “Pick a number between one and three!” to help me select which book to read next from my “To Read” cubby.
The worst part is when I get into the mental loop where options are endless and my mind strives to make the “right” choice when actually any choice is equally valid. Run today or tomorrow? Make one dish for dinner or another? Listen to an audiobook on my walk or don’t? It doesn’t matter! I’m sure some of this extra mental chatter is due to the ongoing pandemic and the amount of time we’re spending at home. The routine feels very routine right now. I’m sure on some level I’m trying to extract meaning and purpose from the daily humdrum.
There are also a lot of voices coming at us, all the time. I’ve greatly limited my social media intake in 2021, but still between books, blogs, conversations and the occasional Instagram or Facebook scroll, there is so much information in the world that constantly sends the message that we should be effortlessly organized, fit, beautiful, and productive. If things aren’t going your way, just think differently or try this new product or figure out a new life hack to make everything fall into place.
Not only is all of this exhausting, it’s also not what God teaches us about humanity or our need for Jesus’s saving grace. I loved this quote from a recent (in)courage article: A life of simplicity, an un-frazzled mind, and a contented heart come not from what the world tells us to pursue but from trusting God. When we focus on Jesus rather than on what others are doing or thinking, we find the simpler life that allows us to rest and be at peace with who we are. Inner simplicity comes when we stop seeking wisdom in our own eyes or in the eyes of others, and we start seeking wisdom from the Lord.
God meets us in the messiness of our daily lives. The ups and downs, struggles and successes are all part of our spiritual journey. John Kleinig wrote: “We are not called to become more spiritual by disengaging from our earthly life, but simply to rely on Jesus as we do what is given for us to do, experience what is given for us to experience, and enjoy what is given for us to enjoy.” Grace Upon Grace, pg. 23. What I hear when I read those words is a relaxed, receptive posture towards life.
Instead of striving to plan and accomplish all the things, we can rest in God’s provision for our lives. Instead of trying to control our emotions, we can rest is Christ’s love and care, regardless of the emotional weather we’re currently in. Instead of the mental chatter that the world exacerbates on a daily basis, we can live a simpler, less frazzled life that bring so much more peace.
As St. Paul told the Romans: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2.