Many of us live with the fullness of an overwhelming number of daily tasks or seemingly insurmountable obstacles to building the lives we envision. This can wear down our desire to worship God and serve our brethren and sistren with a happy heart. All busyness and high hills to climb, with no respite of physical and spiritual refreshment, makes for a dull and/or broken Jack or Jill.
Resting in God
We start with solid spiritual feeding each day: Bible reading, prayer, and meditation on God's word. Even if all we have time for are a few verses read or remembered before a bigger meal of the Word later in the day, a good starter for the day in prayer and praise allows us to tackle our duties with the awareness that we depend fully on God's abundant grace to help us accomplish them. We don't wait until we feel God's grace on us before we begin performing those tasks. We get on with the job.
As we go forth in obedience, we can trust in God's grace for the fulfillment of what is before us in just the way He has planned for us. Trusting in Him brings peace, rather than anxiety about the number or types of things we are trying to accomplish. Trusting in Him also means we trust He will bring about all that He desires for us each day rather than focusing on our failure to accomplish all we want to get done or what others want for us to get done each day.
This certainty gives comfort and energy in and of itself rather than worry over whether we’ve made the best decisions possible. The most freeing counsel our family was blessed to receive was from our pastor several years ago. He encouraged us to stop trying to make the perfect decision but to make a faithful – not sinful – choice and trust it to be God’s plan because once the decision is made and the action is taken, we can trust God’s leading. To oversimplify and goofify this notion, an example would be when I fold my towels a particular way, this is God’s plan for our towels. When someone else folds their towels differently, I can trust God to be leading them as well. No need for me to question the way I fold my towels or the way they fold theirs until the time God provokes me to think, “Hmm. I think I’m going to fold in half rather than in thirds.” No sin in how we fold our towels.
If only we could apply the same peaceful trust in the way we fold our towels to the way we get up and try to make a go at each day and find our way to accepting the day's ending. If only we could think it's just as silly to get squirrelly about how someone else might fold their towels as it is for us to get all squirrelly and judgy about how someone else presses on each day trying to make the best decisions possible with the information and grace available to them at the time.
Do we really think we're doing this business of life on our own? That what we do or do not accomplish is by our own hand? If we really recognize that the grace of God upholds and strengthens us for what lies before us, how is it we deny the presence of the same grace in our brothers and sisters in Christ?
God gives what He wills to each of us. And it's good.
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I've long wanted to make this blog more active, but I felt like I've said a lot over the years in my course and in teaching my students and I say a lot to the general public over on Facebook, www.facebook.com/shondaparker. Given both the Naturally Healthy Facebook page, www.facebook.com/naturallyhealthyshondaparker, and the Shonda Facebook page activity, I felt all talked out.
Then I began getting in a good many requests from folks who wanted to learn about herbal medicine but could not necessarily afford to purchase the full course materials or who wanted to learn but could only handle small bites of the information rather than a whole lesson's worth in one sitting or 36 or 72 lessons over 1-3 years. I put my thinking cap on, or, rather, I had a cup of tea and pondered how to do two things at once.
And voila! I can deliver small bites of the course here on the blog, which also happens to give me something I enjoy talking about and is too wordy for Facebook posts...even for my very verbose Facebook posts. A win-win for everyone!
So yesterday that process was begun. My plan is to deliver a little something each day, either information from the course or links to information my students and I use to help us learn or recommended resources for learning. The full herbalist training programs will still be offered for sale since those are delivered in full so students can have all the information at their fingertips and on their screens, have daily support for their lessons and further questions in the student forum, and weekly classes each semester to give them further instruction. So if you want it all, please click on the herbalist training program options and choose the one best suited for you.
If, however, you just want small bites of nutritional and herbal education, stay tuned to the blog. I'm greatly looking forward to this new adventure with you. It may take us some time to wade through over 1,000 pages of material plus all the supplemental resources, but we'll get there. I guess this now makes me...
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What is health?
Health is not contained in a drug, a pill, an herbal medicine or a the perfect diet. Health is total, involving body and spirit. A healthy individual wakes up in the morning looking forward to another day of serving God, praying for Him to gird him or her for the day's work, and listening to God's voice in His Word. A healthy person is a good steward of their body, taking care to eat nutritious foods and recommended supplements. They take delight in the day’s activities and people with whom they have chosen to share life, shares thoughts with a friend or friends, settling into calm and bringing the mind captive to contentment in present circumstances before contentedly closing their eyes for a restful night's sleep. Health is much more in the heart than in the snuffling, sneezing nose.
Our attitude forms the foundation for our health. The city slogan of Asheville, North Carolina, is: Altitude with Attitude. An attitude to health might instead be: Attitude with Altitude. We should set our minds on things above, not on earthly things. Yet, how can we do this when our bodies are undeniably earthly things until the final day of Jesus Christ?
My body, His temple
If I believe that I am in control of my own destiny, my spirit is burdened when I have a health problem. This in turn produces more health problems. If I believe that God will not let me get sick if I eat all the right foods, take all the right supplements, and pray in the right way, and then I get cancer, either I have to blame someone or something else, or I have to question my whole belief about God. If, on the other hand, I believe my sole purpose is to glorify God, that my body is His temple, to feed both spiritually and physically until that day when sickness and death will be finally conquered, just as our Lord Jesus Christ has already conquered spiritual death, then I will live each day seeking the glory of my Lord, not merely my own health and comfort. I recognize that there is no health within me. Health must always come from the Father through His Son. Only when we understand that can we greet even cancer with an attitude of health.
We cannot create health, any more than we can do any good thing apart from the grace of God. When we eat grains, and natural meats, fruits and vegetables, we are not creating health; we are obeying God's command to be stewards of His creation. He can choose to bless us with a body free from disease, or choose to allow disease for the sake of His glory, as he did with Job and the apostle Paul and me and countless others through the ages. It is a glorious, amazing glimpse of grace to see someone who has endured personal loss, disease, or a life of hardship, continue to see her Lord as the "giver of all good things." Everything that comes to us, the Lord says in His word, is good for us. Everything. Knowing this allows my attitude with altitude to prevail. My health, like my faith, is not dependent upon my circumstances, but completely dependent upon the will of my Father, who has a plan for my good that brings Him glory, a plan that has been in effect since the foundation of the world.
One of the most difficult to things to face as you grow in knowledge and understanding as someone who desires to care for others is the reality of not being able to fix everyone. More times than you will like, you will not be able to identify a root or cause you can clearly address. Nutrition and caring for our body matters, but we must remember we are created works of God and our bodies function according to a plan far beyond our ability to understand and direct. We don't direct our body; we steward it. There is a huge difference between the two. In the first, we could have the arrogance of believing we can control what is and what isn't. In the second, we humbly walk in accordance with God's will: eating, drinking, enjoying the days and those He has blessed us with...thanking Him, submitting ourselves - come what may - to His good will and plan, endeavoring to care for our bodies, not for our own comfort but for the service of His plan and for His glory.
Illness does not stem from nutrient deficiencies;illness stems from the sin of mankind. Jesus came to heal the world and us, and while He paid the price, God's plan is not such that we are free yet of the effects of sin. This is why we look forward to the new heavens and the new earth. I look forward to that day.
Until then, why are we doing what we do? Spending time studying to help our families and our friends and clients? Because we live in service to God and His glory, thus we endeavor to steward - care for - His creation as He commanded from the very beginning. We nourish our bodies and give encouragement and nourishment to others precisely because we understand we must give our ourselves, our own very comfort of body, knowing we will suffer for our own sin, for the benefit of others, for the very glory of God. We do our very best to nourish, to strengthen, to help uphold others for this glory.
Practically we do our best to understand the nourishment of the body, though we clearly cannot understand all, and we work to provide it as best we can. We trust God and teach others to do so, no matter the suffering. Think about it. Do you learn best how to serve God when we see miraculous healings? We see those every day. To be healed in a world of sin...that is a miracle...every single time. Miracle! We learn best to serve when we see folks suffering and trusting. When they do it well, they shine, be it the common cold or cancer. Our job? To help them do this suffering well. To hope in God to heal them or uphold them. To nourish with the tools at our disposal. Remember, even that which we believe to be nourishment is only that by God's desire, His blessing. To believe anything else is to have pride in that which we have no hand. Trusting God means understanding His power and His mercy and the full grace of the life He gives us.
Once we have our spiritual foundation firmly fixed, we can proceed to the issues involved in the stewardship of His creation, our bodies. This stewardship is accomplished through healthful food choices, bodily exercise, and the regular, mysterious feasting on the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ through the communion meal, or Lord's Supper.
Glorying in His goodness,
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