There have been many aspects on my journey toward finding personal health. But, a large part of strengthening my physical health has included adding lots more fresh produce. I have only recently gained a great appreciation for the healing properties of food. God made delicious and glorious foods for us to enjoy. He did not make the processed foods that our brains beg us to crave on a regular basis (me too!).
Last year, my family made the commitment to sign up for a local CSA (community supported agriculture). My Dad always had a wonderful garden growing up and there were summers in my teen years that I think I survived off his homemade salsa. And, while I know tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers and herbs. That is where my gardening knowledge ceases. Plus, we like to camp and I'm still traveling some for school. So, it makes it hard to commit to caring for a "big garden". In our little "square foot garden", my 8-year old son and I have planted cherry and roma tomatoes, red and orange bell peppers, chives, cilantro, basil, rosemary, stevia, spearmint and parsley. I'm finding that the herbs really are a plus. They require very little upkeep and are a wonderful addition to our home cooking (I am not a chef, but I am learning to love "good for me" food and herbs help simple recipes taste great). Our garden requires little maintenance and should produce a decent harvest.
However, I wanted more variety out of my produce and the grocery store chains just don't compare with fresh, local food (I promise). So, back to the CSA...my first reaction to considering purchasing a CSA was that it was "too expensive". Secondly, I was afraid we wouldn't "like it all". Third, I wasn't sure I would know "what to do with some of the things".
Interestingly enough, none of those objections were fair. We have learned so much in this process. First of all, we spend less at the grocery store than we used to (even with the upfront cost of the CSA). We eat what we have and it is usually delicious (there was once a blue hubbard squash recipe that was not our favorite, but the dog did not let it go to waste!). This simplicity of eating what we have helps menu planning and grocery store anxiety and gets us back to basics and closer to simplicity. We eat what we have. And, it is good good good for you. I find that I do like vegetables that I had previously "turned my nose up at" and my husband and son are finding they like a lot of new things too. Because local, organic and fresh produce tastes really good! Kale chips rock! You can do a LOT with sweet potatoes. And, good greens could change your world! The CSA we are a part of provides recipes and the internet is a gold mine when I'm unsure of what to create with what we have on hand. Plus, the CSA that we are a part of provides us with yummy recipes. All of my excuses were unfair and proved to be untrue.
So, I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of this season's first box. We have signed up for a half share and so we get a box every other week from Delvin Farms. Our box yesterday included some amazing strawberries (those are almost gone and won't last 24 hours), squash, sweet potatoes, romaine lettuce, kale, collard greens, green onions and broccoli. I can't get our son to eat strawberries from the grocery store but he was eating these straight out of the box before we ever got home and washed them. We had a salad last night. I plan to make kale chips and a broccoli salad today. We'll grill squash this weekend. Yes, it takes time to prepare these foods and I do not always love being in the kitchen. But, I realize this is a vital aspect to my family's overall health. And, I've been reminded recently by illness that when I do not put forth the time to fuel my body and stay well, I have to find the time to recover from being sick.
Consider the goodness that gardening, visiting your farmer's market or joining a CSA could do for your body, mind and spirit. I am working to compile a list of local resources for CSAs, Farmer's Markets and other community opportunities for local vegetables in middle Tennessee. If you have links, post them here or feel free to send them directly to me via email. You will find the resources I've already compiled on this site under the local resources tab. Also, my friend, Jen, plans to blog regularly with photos and recipes from her CSA share. So, get inspired and take the chance to enjoy the goodness that God's gift of fruits and vegetables can bring to your body, mind and spirit. It really is a miracle that I crave kale chips these days over potato chips! Give it a try and your body, mind and spirit may just thank you!
Then God said, "I now give to you all the plants on the earth that yield seeds and all the trees whose fruit produces its seeds within it. These will be your food."
- Genesis 1:29 (CEB)
On Sunday night, I was asked to speak at one of my favorite places, Gallatin C.A.R.E.S. This non-profit started by providing basic needs of food and economic relief and has grown into a place that cares for the soul as well. They have a worship service that meets on Sunday evenings and I enjoy slipping in for worship. I usually go alone but I never leave feeling alone.
This past Sunday night was no exception. I arrived in plenty of time (too much really) and looked like a lost puppy as the volunteers prepped the meal for afterward and set up the sound system in preparation for worship. I read my "sermon" for the millionth time (well, probably not that many, but a lot) and waited.
My sinuses and allergies have been troubling this past week (along with nearly every other Tennessean) and so cough drops and water were my friend. I have never shared a full message before. I have been part of a "Youth" or "Young Adult" Sunday where you take turns running the service. But, this was my first "real" sermon. When I was asked if I would speak, my friend had to remind me that I was an "official Lay Speaker" in the church and trained to do this because I was trying to think of someone else who could fill in. But, there was a little nudge that God wanted me to do this. So, I said yes.
The message was on 1 John 4 and Love. God's love. And, I can summarize it pretty easily: God loves us so much that Jesus died for us and we are now to love as Jesus loved. Love one another for God is love. And, that is what Gallatin C.A.R.E.S. is all about. They are God's love to the community every day by offering food, services, health care, worship, family and friendship. They offer this to everyone.
Aren't we all called to be God's love each and every day? I have been saddened this week by some hateful posts people have made on Facebook and Twitter. I really don't think Jesus wants us to treat each other the way we often do. And, history has not modeled for us well how to treat God's people with love and care.
Now, I have learned that you shouldn't say "no" to God. But, at this point in my calling, I do not feel called to pastor or preach. But, as I shared that night, I was reminded that I feel called to share God's love and his message of hope and healing.
Funny enough, I awoke to silence on Monday morning. My voice was completely gone - laryngitis had settled in. I have had a few days to think about this message and why it is so difficult for us as humans to model the love to one another that Jesus modeled for us. And, while, I may not have a voice, I do not feel silenced. Because I do not think that I need to shout God's love to share it. Sometimes, I need to sit back and soak it up in the silence so I can remember for myself how much He loves me. Sometimes I need to step out and share it by telling someone about it with a whisper. Sometimes I need to put God's love into action by doing something that looks more like shouting.
No matter what it looks like for me or for you in any season, I just can't shake the feeling that God wants us to really love on each other. I mean, really love each other and our differences. Not just pretend like we do when we see each other at the local grocery store. I had a friend make a post "complaining" about the service she received at her local Kroger on Facebook and within 12 hours there were 47 responses debating and defending the pros and cons of the rivaling local Publix and Kroger grocery chains. Why are we so ready to defend our favorite grocery chain but so reluctant to defend God's people? We'd rather beat them down and shout how wrong everyone else is. Speck, meet plank.
So, I am going to try to love. I'm going to try to love all of God's people. I will not be perfect at it, I will fail. I will be judgmental and not even realize it. I will be un-lovable at home and away from home. But, I'm going to try and not be silenced. I'm going to try and give God's people the love that God has given me. Even if I have to do it in a whisper.
Whitney R. Simpson
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Whitney R. Simpson,
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC