Going Green!!!

Saint Patrick’s Day is quickly approaching and I thought what better time (week) to incorporate some extra going green initiatives.  Every March 17th we wear our green clothing…….mostly because no one wants to be pinched (they always seem to hurt a tad bit more on this day!), but do you know why you are wearing green clothing? Saint Patrick’s Day is a day to honor a foremost patron of Ireland Saint Patrick. Now history reports that Saint Patrick was not born Irish but circumstances beyond his control brought him to Ireland…….a.k.a. slavery.  As the story goes he was captured as a child and sold into slavery and was a slave for many years in Ireland.  After giving his life to God he began to work to help the Irish community.  In honor of his efforts we celebrate the Irish culture on March 17th. Now this does not simply mean wearing green attire……there are many parades, festivals, dancing and we cannot forget the food…….(I am not of fan of corned beef or bangers but I can indulge in shepherd’s pie and Irish cream cake….yum). So my idea for this week is to incorporate additional going green efforts…….since we will be wearing green, eating and drinking green………why not boost our saving the world efforts while we enjoy the festivities? If you are not already recycling this might be a bigger stretch for you.  Instead of throwing the plastic container with food rem-lets……simply clean it out and place it in a recycle bin. Or you could gather up your old magazines…..you know the ones from 5 years ago that are sitting around collecting dust. You do not have to limit your recycling efforts….the sky’s the limit. Figure out a way to make a change and do it.  There are many small things we can do to make a big difference. Enjoy the holiday, eat, drink and be merry but lets also makes sure that the next generation will have the same opportunities!!!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

Love Thy Enemy

Love

Christians are familiar with the greatest commandment in Mark 12:30-31:

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (ESV)

It is easy to love your neighbor, especially if they are considerate ones.  Ones that are enjoyable to be around.  Those that we see eye to eye on multiple things in life.

But, what about those that aren’t so kind back?  What if your neighbor (which can represent a family member, coworker, acquaintance, customer service rep, etc.) makes it hard for you to love them?  Maybe they aren’t located on the love spectrum in your eyes – they are on the polar opposite: hate.

You know, everyone (that is human) has said this line before – “I hate __________.”  I hate those individuals that cut in front of me in stand still traffic.  I hate those individuals that abuse animals.  I hate those that defame my name for their advantage.  I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about when I wrote these simple “I hate” lines.  Sound familiar?

So, what did Jesus do with those that would be considered our enemies?  He loved them still!  Sounds outlandish, but our savior loved those that we despise just as much as He loves us.  Take a moment and consider the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10.  Jesus befriended a despised chief tax collector!  Out of all the individuals that were present to greet Jesus, he requested to stay at Zacchaeus’ living quarters the night before being sentenced to death.  What an honor!

Why did Jesus choose to stay at Zacchaeus’ house instead of one of his followers?  He wanted to show his people who being a Christ follower also means to love your enemy.  He came to seek those that were lost and save them by making them believers.  As Christians, we should seek those that are lost and be kind to them.  Show them who a follower of Christ is, by being like Jesus.

Acknowledge who you may be “hating” at this moment and ask yourself, how can I show brotherly/sisterly love towards this individual that will exemplify Christ within me.  Love thy enemy, by recognizing they are your neighbor as well.

If you are still finding difficulty in loving your enemy, here are five Bible verses to assist:

Luke 6:27 – “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”

Exodus 23:5 – If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.

Acts 7: 60 – And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Mark 11:25 – And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

(http://www.christianpost.com/buzzvine/5-bible-verses-that-will-teach-you-to-love-your-enemies-in-spite-of-everything-125406/)

Happy New Year!!!

new year

The end to 2015 here.  I was looking up traditions from various cultures as to how they embrace the New Year. What I learned is that most of these traditions involve food….my favorite!!! While surfing the web, I saw numerous traditions from different cultures but most were dealing with food. I decided to share a few that I found on epicurious.com titled “Lucky Foods for the New Year” by Lauren Salkeld

We begin with the yummy fruit- grapes.

Grapes

New Year’s revelers in Spain consume twelve grapes at midnight—one grape for each stroke of the clock. This dates back to 1909, when grape growers in the Alicante region of Spain initiated the practice to take care of a grape surplus. The idea stuck, spreading to Portugal as well as former Spanish and Portuguese colonies such as Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Ecuador, and Peru. Each grape represents a different month, so if for instance the third grape is a bit sour, March might be a rocky month. For most, the goal is to swallow all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight, but Peruvians insist on taking in a 13th grape for good measure.

We move onto green. This is a tradition I have practiced as far as I can remember- usually cabbage but sometimes collard greens

Cooked Greens

Cooked greens, including cabbage, collards, kale, and chard, are consumed at New Year’s in different countries for a simple reason — their green leaves look like folded money, and are thus symbolic of economic fortune. The Danish eat stewed kale sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, the Germans consume sauerkraut (cabbage) while in the southern United States, collards are the green of choice. It’s widely believed that the more greens one eats the larger one’s fortune next year.

I also practice this one- hello black-eye peas

Legumes

Legumes including beans, peas, and lentils are also symbolic of money. Their small, seedlike appearance resembles coins that swell when cooked so they are consumed with financial rewards in mind. In Italy, it’s customary to eat cotechino con lenticchie or sausages and green lentils, just after midnight—a particularly propitious meal because pork has its own lucky associations. Germans also partner legumes and pork, usually lentil or split pea soup with sausage. In Brazil, the first meal of the New Year is usually lentil soup or lentils and rice, and in Japan, the osechi-ryori, a group of symbolic dishes eaten during the first three days of the new year, includes sweet black beans called kuro-mame. In the Southern United States, it’s traditional to eat black-eyed peas or cowpeas in a dish called hoppin’ john. There are even those who believe in eating one pea for every day in the new year. This all traces back to the legend that during the Civil War, the town of Vicksburg, Mississippi, ran out of food while under attack. The residents fortunately discovered black-eyed peas and the legume was thereafter considered lucky.

Next we have pork. Growing up we would have neckbones and ribs. Some of my older relatives like to partake in eating chitterlings……yeah, I  pass

Pork

The custom of eating pork on New Year’s is based on the idea that pigs symbolize progress. The animal pushes forward, rooting itself in the ground before moving. Roast suckling pig is served for New Year’s in Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, and Austria—Austrians are also known to decorate the table with miniature pigs made of marzipan. Different pork dishes such as pig’s feet are enjoyed in Sweden while Germans feast on roast pork and sausages. Pork is also consumed in Italy and the United States, where thanks to its rich fat content, it signifies wealth and prosperity.

I’ve never had fish for New year’s but this is one tradition that I might incorporate.

Fish

Fish is a very logical choice for the New Year’s table. According to Mark Kurlansky, author of Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, cod has been a popular feast food since the Middle Ages. He compares it to turkey on Thanksgiving. The reason? Long before refrigeration and modern transportation, cod could be preserved and transported allowing it to reach the Mediterranean and even as far as North Africa and the Caribbean. Kurlansky also believes the Catholic Church’s policy against red meat consumption on religious holidays helped make cod, as well as other fish, commonplace at feasts. The Danish eat boiled cod, while in Italy, baccalà, or dried salt cod, is enjoyed from Christmas through New Year’s. Herring, another frequently preserved fish, is consumed at midnight in Poland and Germany—Germans also enjoy carp and have been known to place a few fish scales in their wallets for good luck. The Swedish New Year feast is usually a smorgasbord with a variety of fish dishes such as seafood salad. In Japan, herring roe is consumed for fertility, shrimp for long life, and dried sardines for a good harvest (sardines were once used to fertilize rice fields).

Lastly, we have my favorite……..cakes!!!

Cakes, Etc.

Cakes and other baked goods are commonly served from Christmas to New Year’s around the world, with a special emphasis placed on round or ring-shaped items. Italy haschiacchiere, which are honey-drenched balls of pasta dough fried and dusted with powdered sugar. Poland, Hungary, and the Netherlands also eat donuts, and Holland hasollie bollen, puffy, donut-like pastries filled with apples, raisins, and currants.

In certain cultures, it’s customary to hide a special trinket or coin inside the cake—the recipient will be lucky in the new year. Mexico’s rosca de reyes is a ring-shaped cake decorated with candied fruit and baked with one or more surprises inside. In Greece, a special round cake called vasilopita is baked with a coin hidden inside. At midnight or after the New Year’s Day meal, the cake is cut, with the first piece going to St. Basil and the rest being distributed to guests in order of age. Sweden and Norway have similar rituals in which they hide a whole almond in rice pudding—whoever gets the nut is guaranteed great fortune in the new year.

Cakes aren’t always round. In Scotland, where New Year’s is called Hogmanay, there is a tradition called “first footing,” in which the first person to enter a home after the new year determines what kind of year the residents will have. The “first footer” often brings symbolic gifts like coal to keep the house warm or baked goods such as shortbread, oat cakes, and a fruit caked called black bun, to make sure the household always has food.

And we can not leave off what not to eat……

What Not to Eat

In addition to the aforementioned lucky foods, there are also a few to avoid. Lobster, for instance, is a bad idea because they move backwards and could therefore lead to setbacks. Chicken is also discouraged because the bird scratches backwards, which could cause regret or dwelling on the past. Another theory warns against eating any winged fowl because good luck could fly away.

Now that you know what to eat, there’s one more superstition—that is, guideline—to keep in mind. In Germany, it’s customary to leave a little bit of each food on your plate past midnight to guarantee a stocked pantry in the New Year. Likewise in the Philippines, it’s important to have food on the table at midnight. The conclusion? Eat as much lucky food as you can, just don’t get too greedy—or the first place you’ll be going in the new year is the gym.

Wishing you much happiness, health and prosperity in the New Year!!!

 

Holiday Fever

Keeping Stress Under Wrap During the Holidays

Keeping Stress Under Wrap During the Holidays

The holidays are my favorite time of the year, or at least Christmas is. I love all things Christmas. Everything from the Christmas music to the gifts. From watching Christmas movies to wearing onesie pajamas. Most importantly though I love the gift giving. It is just something about putting a smile on someone else’s face that just gives me a sense of happiness and satisfaction. I enjoy the decorations as well. I usually put my tree up the day after Thanksgiving and we make it a family event. But what I have noticed is that Christmas has become less about family and giving and more about commercial things. Nobody is excited about the thought behind the gift but rather the gift itself. People could care less about family because they are more worried about the sales on Black Friday. As a Christian sometimes I notice that there are a great deal more Santa Claus displays than there are Nativity Scenes. For my family Christmas is the holiday that we spend at my house as a family and I try to make it a cozy and personal for my family as possible. We drink hot chocolate and sing ‘O come all ye faithful’. We watch feel good movies and make gingerbread. I even make sure everyone only puts the name of the person who will be receiving the present and not the person giving the present. I have found that this cuts down on envy and favoritism. Lastly we do some form of community service as our gift to Jesus. After all it is supposed to be a celebration of His birthday. I guess what I am saying as we enter into the holiday season don’t forget the meaning. Enjoy your holiday!!!!

Heritage or Hatred!!!

The South Carolina and American flags flying at half-staff behind the Confederate flag erected in front of the State Congress building in Columbia, South Carolina on June 19, 2015.

cnn.com

 In wake of the horrific act that occurred in Charleston, South Carolina…I am left wondering why we are pondering if the Confederate flag should continue to fly at the state capitol? I have not lived in South Carolina in over 20 years but the flag was flying when I lived there and every time I visit. I have heard that the flag is a symbol of heritage and not race related. I have also heard that African Americans should not bring up slavery and/or segregation every time something that may have been racially motivated occurs…..hmmm….very interesting. Isn’t slavery/segregation apart of our heritage? Should we minimize the minority struggle to make the majority feel better? Any flag representing racism has no place at a state capitol. What do you think this says to the minorities who reside in South Carolina?

What do you think, Heritage or Hatred?

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Safety

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs: Safety

Once someone has obtained physiological needs, the next step up in Maslow’s hierarchy is to achieve safety.  Safety refers to physical, psychological and spiritual stability.  The ladies that enter the program that I work for usually do not have safety upon entering, but do after completion of the program.  When checking to see if someone has obtained this need, ask the following questions:

– Where do you stay?  How long have you stayed there?  Consistency is the key for stabilization.  If someone has moved around multiple times (i.e. couch surfing) in less than a year, they probably have not felt safe to settle down.

– When do you feel safe?  When was the last time?  Most individuals that report they haven’t felt safe in a while may still be running on fight or flight mode.  Acknowledging that there was/is safety available can lessen anxiety.

– Who do you feel safe with?  Are you currently in an abusive relationship?  Check and see what the person’s support system looks like.  Not everyone is considered safe… especially if there has been abuse in the past.  The person needs to find someone who will be physically, emotionally and spiritually supportive of them.  The more positive and supportive individuals, the more the person will feel safe.

– What does safety look like to you?  Have the person describe what safety looks, feels, smells, hears and tastes like to them.  Using all the senses to describe safety can assist the person in recognizing when they feel safe.

Safety can take all different forms – from staying clear from an abusive relationship to freedom of speech without penalty.  Once safety is obtained, the person can then focus on the next need: love and belonging.