HEalthy living


Harry and I

Posted by Mary Jo Hudson on OP8er @ 8:38 PM

Harry and I        


You may be familiar with Harry Truman’s quote, ‘If you cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.’  This summer, Harry and his philosophy appeal to me.  It’s too hot to turn the oven on.  What’s a cook to do?


The options are:  send the husband outside to grill; invest in multiple crock pots and a great recipe book, or eat salads.  We are going to focus on the last option.  But, wait.  Don’t leave just because I’m talking salads.  I promise I won’t talk about them:  just what we put on the top of them.  Dressings.  That’s right, salad dressings.


First, I’m going to offer you nine home made salad dressings.  But, first, I want to give you some disclaimers.  I didn’t create the dressing recipes.  I don’t even use them exactly as they are written because they have toxic ingredients in them.  I substitute.  That’s the topic today:  what and why would I substitute?


Each of these recipes (they are coming, I promise) uses canola oil.  Canola oil is from the rape seed.  No one would buy rape seed oil, I’d guess.  So, it’s called canola instead.  Better name increases the chance of sales.  Canola oil though once touted as a healthy oil is far from it.


First, 90% of canola oil is genetically modified.  I am on the side of the aisle that avoids genetically modified as much as possible.  There are suggestions, though no long term studies that canola oil negatively affects health of kidney, liver, and has neurological effects, and some additional health risks.


 Canola oil is a refined oil that’s often partially hydrogenated to increase its stability, but this increases its negative health effects.

Fat experts, Sally Fallon and Mary Enig say this about canola oil:


Like all modern vegetable oils, canola oil goes through the process of refining, bleaching and degumming — all of which involve high temperatures or chemicals of questionable safety. And because canola oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which easily become rancid and foul-smelling when subjected to oxygen and high temperatures, it must be deodorized. The standard deodorization process removes a large portion of the omega-3 fatty acids by turning them into trans fatty acids. Although the Canadian government lists the trans content of canola at a minimal 0.2 percent, research at the University of Florida at Gainesville, found trans levels as high as 4.6 percent in commercial liquid oil. The consumer has no clue about the presence of trans fatty acids in canola oil because they are not listed on the label.


Other concerns about canola oil:

Life threatening heart trouble

Hypertension and stroke

May retard normal growth (now used in some baby formulas:  a problem)

Increases the intake of trans fats

GMO health risks, including:

  Toxicity

  Allergic reactions

  Immuno-suppression

  Cancer

  Loss of nutritients


Instead of canola oil, I use olive oil in salad recipes.  That’s a topic for another article.  I recommend you read up on the brands that are ‘pure’.  Maybe I’ll share some additional research on it, though I hate offering you brands. At any rate, olive oil should be in a dark bottle to preserve the integrity of the bottle, so that’s the first thing to consider as you make a purchase.


And, now, for the 9 salad recipe link I promised:


They are: balsamic, classic Caesar, garlic sesame, honey mustard, chipotle lime, Greek,

Zesty Ranch, Italian, and Catalina.  Best thing:  they are made in a mason jar, so it is easy to shake and pour.  I think you will find your favorite flavor and be surprised at how easy it is to make it at home yourself for a few pennies. 


My challenge to you:  look at the label of the salad dressings in your refrigerator and see how many have canola or soy oil in them.  Even you will be surprised.


OK,  make a big, meat filled salad with lots of eggs and cheese and pour on the healthy version of salad dressing for a meal you don’t need to cook.  And put the colors of the rainbow in that salad:  carrots, radicchio, spinach, radishes, celery, cabbage, peas, beets, onions, eggs, parsley, basil, oregano, thyme.  Turn your imagination lose and cool down in the middle of the heat.




Eat your Sunscreen

Posted by Mary Jo Hudson on OP3er @ 3:57 PM

Eat your Sunscreen    


The fourth of July is behind us.  My husband reminds me that we are on the downhill side of summer.  The front end is actually the most fun for me.  I like the less humid days of the first half of this season, and the planting and cool part of the earliest months. 


The last part of summer comes with heat and humidity, lots of growth in the garden, and pleas of children to be in or near the water for recreation and refreshment.  Which should naturally mean we need to protect our skin from the UV rays that come with sunshine and intense heat.


Earlier, I wrote about sunscreens to avoid:  ones that can actually create chemical burns on the skin.  Today, I want to address a nutritional way to boost the body’s own ability to process the UV rays:  eating foods that can assist.


Since a sunburn is an inflammation, eating foods that are anti inflammatory is wise.  Think of foods that are high in Omega 3, good saturated fats (another article is going to address the recent hype over whether or not coconut oil is healthy), lycopene, beta carotene and vitamin E. Foods to avoid: vegetable oils, sugar and processed foods.


What to eat:

Eat food that ranges the colors of the rainbow:  tomatoes and red fruits have lycopene in them. Plants use pigments as protection against the sun, so eating brightly colored fruits and vegetables with high concentrations of carotenoids can increase your sun tolerance.


Similar to lycopene, beta-carotene is another pigment found in fruits and vegetables that protects against sun damage and gives them their orange color. Sweet potatoes have more beta-carotene than almost any other vegetable. Purple sweet potatoes have even higher amounts of cyanidins and peonidins, antioxidant pigments that have been shown to increase UV protection in cosmetic creams (and they're delicious).


Greens may not be at the top of a lot of people's lists, but they're great for preventing and even repairing sun damage. In addition to beta-carotene, many greens contain high levels of folic acid and vitamins A, C and E. Broccoli, in particular the sprouts, is a good source of sulforaphane, a compound that reduces the risk of skin cancer.  If you don’t like greens, incorporate them into a smoothy or camouflage them in some way.



Black, white, and green teas are all high in polyphenols and catechins, two flavonoids that can protect your skin from UV rays. Green tea is the most effective.  Drink it iced if you don’t like it hot…but don’t add sugar or aspartame.  That would be counter productive.


 Flaxseed is a good source of omega-3s and has lots of fiber and lignans, which are antioxidants that can possibly protect against cancer.  However, your body won’t digest the actual seeds.  Grind or crack flaxseed to help with the digestive process.  Use a coffee grinder and sprinkle the flaxseed ‘meal’ in a beverage or over a salad.  It adds a nutty flavor.


One of my personal favorites:  dark chocolate, 2 oz a day. It's a good source of omega-3s and has lots of fiber and lignans, which are antioxidants that can possibly protect against cancer. Milk chocolate doesn’t offer the same benefits.  Sorry, no substitutes on this one.


No doubt you've seen coconut oil touted as the perfect skin moisturizer, hair conditioner and all-around miracle worker, but it's also got a ton of health benefits. It's high in medium chain fatty acids and saturated fat, which help up your sun tolerance.  Ignore the lobbyists with the vegetable fat industry (soy, corn, peanut oils…more later on this) who want to frighten folks on the benefits of coconut oil.  It’s my main cooking fat.


One of the best sources for vitamin E is almonds. One study found that participants who ate only 20 almonds a day "had less sunburn when exposed to UV light than their almond-abstaining counterparts." Almonds also contain a high level of quercetin, a flavonoid known to protect skin against UV damage.


Eating all these every day might be overload, but incorporate as many of these suggestions into your diet as possible for optimum effect.  It is understood that physical barriers to the sun are recommended in conjunction with sunscreen and healthy food choices:  long sleeves, brimmed hats, limited exposure to the rays.  Be careful and make every day in the sun count!  It won’t last long.







Posted by Mary Jo Hudson on OP3er @ 3:28 PM



Long ago, the floor in the main bathroom of our house was white.  We chose it to replace carpet.  By ‘we’, I mean someone who wasn’t going to clean it…because I swept that white floor multiple times a day.  Every time I sat down, I saw dirt or hair on the floor.  And, I got up and used my little whisk broom to sweep it up.


Some years back, we remodeled that room.  The white floor left and tile floor replaced it.  I love the tile.  It’s smooth and easier to keep clean.  And the color seems to mask everything.  Of course, we have four fewer people using it, so there is a lot less to sweep and clean. 


Recently, I was on my hands and knees, wiping the floor, a weekly cleaning chore.  There was not much unusual about it.  Except when I looked at my cloth.  There was a lot of hair on it. 


One nice thing about scripture is the way it seems to pop into my mind when I’m doing the most mundane things.  I’m not great about memorizing it.  I love to learn songs based on scripture because it sinks it into a separate part of my brain…so even if I lose my mind, scripture will still be available for recall via song. 


Anyway, the thought that came to me as I glanced at the hair entangling dust picked up with my cleaning cloth was that God must be a pretty busy fellow if he knows how many hairs are left on my head.  He must be excellent at adding and subtracting.  Not just for me, but for my husband and every other man, woman, and child on the planet.


Think about the math skills.  I like math and numbers and it even boggles my mind.  My husband’s hair is thinning.  He doesn’t like math.  Maybe he has been worried about the numbers game.  I should tell him not to be concerned.  It’s God’s problem, not his, to keep track of what is going on atop of his head.


Just think about that when you look at your hair brush the next time.  God knows the smallest detail about your daily grooming:  how many hairs you shed while brushing your hair or how many escaped down the drain during your shower.  It’s amazing

The Tablecloth

Posted by Mary Jo Hudson on OP10er @ 10:51 PM

The Tablecloth


The sunny day lent itself to eating al fresco but we had opted inside rather than carry everything out of doors.  Lunch had come and gone.  I was transferring chicken salad from the mixing bowl which served the food into a storage container.  Over the table cloth.  ‘This is foolish’ I thought to myself.  If I spill, I’ll have to change the table cloth.


My mind meandered down the adjacent steps to the hangers which stored the kitchen table cloths, pressed and ready for service.  Why do I use a table cloth on my kitchen table?  I pondered this question and my mind soared across the decades to years I visited my grandparents’ homes. 


My kitchen table is a vintage, 1930 model with side leaves which tuck under the top.  There is a side divided drawer, probably used for silverware in days gone by.  I use it to store cloth napkins.  I cover the table with one of three things:  a runner; a decorative towel; or a table cloth.  There are several reasons for this.


First, there is a blemish in the top.  The man who owned the table before it came to my home put a clamp on the table holding an extension on which he set his rotary dial phone.  I told you it was vintage.  The clamp removed the original finish in an area and no one in the city can replace the kind of top I have.  So, I cover it.  Sometimes.


The second reason I cover my table is decorative.  Sometimes, I like to add seasonal color or pattern to my white kitchen.  It’s an easily changed accessory. 


The most important reason might be the flour sack table cloths a friend gifted to me when she downsized.  There are several, each with a different color scheme.  They remind me of my grandmothers, who were as different as night and day.  And, I rarely saw either of them grace the doors of a church. 


One loved to be outside in the yard and garden.  Her house, yard, garden were impeccably clean, neat, and orderly.  She was full of fun and laughter.  She was an average cook but there was always food to eat in her house and I marveled that her newer-than-our refrigerator with storage on the door was loaded with 8 oz. green glass coke bottles, or any of a host of other flavors of soda pop.  She never stopped working.  Even in the evening, she would pop out of her chair to make ‘lunch’ at 9:30 p.m. in the middle of Dinah Shore, so no one went home hungry.  The bedtime snack was always a bologna sandwich, a soda from the refrigerator, and a dish of ice cream with store bought cookies, served on a tray to each person in the living room.


The other grandmother never sat down without a crochet hook in her hand.  It created magic things from table cloths to dolls.  She baked, worked as a restaurant cook and then the school lunch lady after my grandfather’s death.  Her house was usually cluttered, never quite clean, but not deplorable, either.  Her food was usually fried.  She made amazing cinnamon rolls, loved bacon at every breakfast, and favored her son over her daughter.  Organization was not her style.  She was round and pleasant and had few words but a gentle smile.  I had watched her nurse my ailing grandfather for years before his demise.  He was my best friend and we missed him.


What do flour sack table cloths, and grandmothers have to do with my kitchen?  Memories.  Memories of simpler days and the women who offered me unconditional love.  We always lived within 30 minutes of my grandparents.  I often stayed with one set and we lived on the same farm as the other for the first 4 years of my life.    When my parents socialized, it was often with family members.  We were together often.


I only remember 4 times in my life that my grandmothers reprimanded me.  I deserved it every time.  Most of the time, I felt like a little chick, sheltered under the wing of its mother when I was near a grandmother.  I don’t remember that they hovered over me or engaged me in their activities.  I just remember I was never in the way, always welcome to join in their work or discussion.  I was accepted for whatever person I was becoming.  I remember being the only grandchild to offer comfort at the death of each spouse.  I had special bonds with my grandmothers.


Unconditional love is a rare commodity today.  We have standards, principles.  We need to elevate not stoop to a different level.  There are expectations to act, dress, create personal space, wear the appropriate attire, dress fashionably to ‘accept’ people today.  Not my grandmothers.  I was not the prettiest or thinnest or smartest of the grandchildren.  It didn’t matter to them.  There was a mutual respect between us.  Maybe because they were my world and there were no outside influences to distort my image of what a wife or grandmother ought to be.  There was innocence and trust and no expectations in those days. 


There aren’t any grandchildren who grace my doors at the moment.  But if it ever happens, I hope I can offer them unconditional love in the same way my grandmothers modeled it for me. I hope when my children come home to visit, the memories they take away are unconditional love.  And, someday, when they sort through the stuff I have accumulated, just maybe the flour sack table cloth will generate memories of unconditional love from the kitchen.



Posted by Mary Jo Hudson on OA8er @ 8:35 AM



The sign beckoned me for weeks.  The clock deterred me simultaneously.  Each week, I drove the same path.  Each week, the sign asked me to detour from my route.  Each week, the clock on my dashboard said the detour would detain me from a timely arrival at my destination.  Repeatedly, I would drive on by.


Till last week.  I have a little route on a particular day of the week:  Bible study, library, bank, grocery store, home.  There is a curvy little road between two main arteries that I like to use on the route home.  It’s probably slower than another direction, but it is more picturesque and pleasant, so I use it most weeks.  Taking the main artery has more stop lights, more traffic, more frustration though it is the same distance.


So, my journey home took the alternate route, with a side detour.  And my destination resulted in a new acquaintance, some human and some growing.  The sign said, ‘plant sale’.  We have had a landscaping project at our house this year.  The purpose primarily was to halt a problem.

A plant sale was just what I was in the market for.


My spending habits are relatively frugal.  I buy groceries.  I hate to ‘shop’.  Frankly, I abhor the shopping mall.  I have considered it a torture chamber since my daughters were teens and loved to walk and browse.  I would rather use bits and pieces I have to make something new.  I like to live by ‘re-use’.  Finding plants for my yard and garden that bring me perpetual pleasure is another matter.  Many of my treasurers have been gifts from other like-minded gardeners, so they have cost only the labor to dig, transplant, water, and tend. 


The lure of the sign ‘had’ me.  I meandered the 5 blocks down the street to find a sweet little lady with potted plants on her driveway, prices marked in sidewalk chalk with the name of each grouping of plants.  Her other customers left and we engaged in conversation about size, environmental demands for her offerings.  Soon, she led me around her house to see her BETTER HOMES AND GARDEN display of growing things.  Heaven.  On. Earth.  Peaceful.  Placid.  Refreshing.  Serene.  Quiet.  Lovely. 


I made my little purchases:  $10 for 2 shrubs and 2 daisies.  I made a promise to bring planting containers to her.  I save the ones from the nursery and she could use them.  It stimulated me to question my motives.  Why did I like to plant so much?  Is it the nature of the farmer in me? 


Gardening, as you know, is my ‘me’ time.  No one else in my family comes along beside me to revel in the work or fun or rewards of it.  Belly up to the table at harvest has been the biggest ‘us’ effort of gardening. 


What feeds my soul about it?  I concluded it is not the reward I get, though I receive plenty from the work and effort.  It is more about an investment.  The investment in my garden is the perennial beauty the next owner of this property will inherit.  The investment is sowing seeds from which I may never know gain.  It is an investment whether or not I know the dividend.


The first year I lived in this house, I praised Elmo and Hazel Nelson daily for their investment.  Every day, I walked around the yard, amazed at a new flower or plant or fruit that emerged from no effort of mine.  I admired the color combinations and the order of planting, the beauty they invested in the 45+ years they resided in this house. 


What investment are you making for the future?  Are you improving your mental health to bring balance to your family and loved ones?  Are you eating nutritiously and exercising routinely to create years of stellar health?  Are you studying for a new profession to improve your earning potential?  Are you spending time with your Creator to know and understand your uniqueness and fill a need no one else can complete?


Whatever your efforts, contemplate how you use your resources.  Plant today for returns tomorrow, whether you can predict who they will affect or not.  It is the principle of reaping and sowing.

Wonder Woman

Posted by Mary Jo Hudson on OA11er @ 11:20 AM

Wonder Woman


Wonder Woman.  I just watched a piece on Good Morning America about the importance of a film with a female super hero.  Maybe there has been discrimination at the Comic Cons and little girls didn’t have a super hero to idolize.  I don’t know.  I don’t watch a lot of movies, either. My boys had Super Man pajamas but the girls were content with candy canes or ice cream cones on their jammies.


Society misses the point, though.  We have a host of Wonder Women as heroes of the faith.  Mary, mother of Jesus is the first one who comes to my mind.  How hard would it be to find oneself with child before marriage.  And, not just any child but the Son of God child.    Courage.  Steadfast.  Faithful.  Willing.  All Super Hero qualities.


I think of Abigail, whose husband wasn’t the wisest Farmer in the field.  He refused David’s simple request for a portion of lambs for the service his men had rendered to the shepherds.  Fools don’t last long.  Abigail interceded for him and found favor in David’s eyes.  She later became his wife.  Beautiful.  Wise.  Exacting. 


There is Rahab whose vocation isn’t something we lift before our daughters but whose understanding of God’s eternal nature and faithfulness elevated her to the lineage of Jesus.  She exercised hospitality and safety to men of God and saved her family from physical destruction.  Apparently, her marriage received God’s blessing because a few generations later, we see she is the great, great grandmother of King David.


Deborah was a prophetess and judged Israel in her day.  She was filled with wisdom and unafraid. She went into battle with Barak, warning him  ‘the honor would not be his, but go to a woman’ for Sisera’s fall. She filled a void in the culture and did it well enough to be mentioned in the Bible.  Verses later, Jael, wife of Heber drives a tent peg through Sisera’s temple.


Then, there is the Proverbs 31 woman.  She sets the standard for all women.  She never sleeps, it seems because her candle never goes out.  She is busy making fabric, creating clothes, knitting garments, buying and selling fields and using her profits for kingdom purposes.  She makes her husband look good at the city gate.  Her character must shine like gold because her deeds are acclaimed.  She is one to model. 


It seems to me the Wonder of women of today are the meek and mild examples.  Every female can intervene as Wonder woman.  It’s by kindness; understanding; exercising compassion; being frugal so there is plenty for those in need; wise from the Word not the world; prayer warriors; merciful, kind, compassionate examples as the hands of Jesus.  Just think of a woman who has affected your life and name the quality that most impacted you.


This week, as our team heads to Tijuana, a personal friend, a Wonder Woman of our age comes to my mind.  She has travelled the globe, worked on mission fields in Indonesia, Middle East, Mexico, mid-America.  She has learned at least 3 languages to minister to those in each continent.  She has lead teams, organized, prepared, chauffeured, and fed folks.  She has managed a home, a school, a mission base.  She has worked with a medical clinic and taught women to read.  She’s one of the models I have had the privilege to walk beside and pray with; admire face to face as well as from a distance.  Our team might meet her while they are there. 


Where ever God leads you, be a Wonder Woman.  Be righteous in word and deed.  Save the day.  Be present.  Be His.

Sun Worship

Posted by Mary Jo Hudson on OP11er @ 11:00 PM

Sun Worship


The days of Gone With The Wind when women wore long sleeves in the hot Georgia sun and carried parasols to protect their skin are no longer the vogue.  The plantation royalty believed white skin was a sign of wealth.  Tanned skin indicated hours of labor subjected to the stinging rays of the sun.


My how times have changed!  Today, our culture worships the sun.  Sunbathing is a past time for young women to tan the skin and look ‘healthy’.  It comes with risks.  Dermatologists warn us constantly to use sunscreen to protect from UV rays.  Meteorologists report the dangerous readings on a daily weather report.  Nutritionists beg us to eat the right foods so our skin can filter the rays.  And, opinions are as wide as the pendulum swings on each position.


In the spring, a few minutes here and there expose my skin to the sun.  I’ve never been a sun worshiper, though on the farm, we spent many days in the sunshine walking beans and baling hay.  Gradually longer exposure creates a tolerance for the sun and allows the skin to acclimate to the more intense rays.


Exposure to the sun,  near the water, in the swimming pool, on the lake, boating, skiing, fishing, or whatever summer fun is involved for you and your family requires extra attention.  It is important to be wise consumers of the products intended to help protect our skin.


Last week, when I came across a particular article, alarms went off in my head.  I haven’t done the research for these products but I will pass it on to you.  Be informed.  Take a list when you go shopping.  Buy products that work rather than those with large advertising budgets.


If you are in the market for sunscreen, here are the recommended ones to consider.  There is also a list of the ones which have actually done harm.  This list is from                  and came as a result of a 2 year old who suffered second degree burns using one of the products recommended for children.  That brand is on the ‘can do harm’ list.


The Best Beach and Sport sunscreens
– All Good Sunscreen and Sunstick, SPF 30 and 50
– All Terrain Aqua and TerraSport Sunscreens, SPF 30
– Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen, SPF 30
– Badger Sunscreen Cream and Lotion, SPF 25, 30, and 35
– Bare Belly Organics, SPF 34Beauty Without Cruelty, SPF 30
– Kiss My Face Organics Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
– Nature’s Gate Face Sunscreen, SPF 25
– Tropical Sands Sunscreen and Facestick, SPF 30
– Releve Organic Skincare, SPF 20
– Star Naturals Sunscreen Stick, SPF 25


The Best for Kids
– Adorable Baby Sunscreen lotion, SPF 30
– All Good Kid’s Sunscreen, SPF 33
– All Terrain KidSport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
– ATTITUDE Little Ones 100% Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
– BabyHampton Beach Bum Sunscreen, SPF 30
– COOLA Suncare Baby Mineral Sunscreen, unscented moisturizer, SPF 50.
– Belly Button & Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30.
– Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, SPF 35.
– BurnOut Kids Physical Sunscreen, SPF 35
– California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen, SPF 30
– Goddess Garden Kids Sport Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
– Jersey Kids Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
– Kiss My Face Organics Kids Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
– Nurture My Body Baby Organic Sunscreen, SPF 32
– Substance Baby Natural Sun Care Creme, SPF 30
– Sunology Natural Sunscreen, Kids, SPF 50
– Sunumbra Sunkids Natural Sunscreen, SPF 40
– Thinksport for Kids Sunscreen, SPF 50
– TruKid Sunny Days Sport Sunscreen, SPF 30


The Worst for Kids
– On the 1 to 10 scale, the below products scored a 7 or higher (with 10 being the worst) because they made high SPF claims or had higher amounts of the additives oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate.
– Banana Boat Kids Max Protect & Play Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100* (*This was the only product that got a 10.)
– Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, Wacky Foam, and Sunscreen lotion, SPF 55
– CVS Baby Sunstick Sunscreen and Spray, SPF 55
– Equate Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
– Hampton Sun Continuous Mist Sunscreen For Kids, SPF 70
– Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray and Stick products, SPF 70
– Up & Up Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55


Physicians recommend doing a spot test well in advance of prolonged exposure to the sun.  Use the product on a small spot to be sure there is no allergic reaction.  Don’t wait till you are spending the day at the pool for the first time to use this all over the body. 


Certainly, enjoy the sunshine with the whole family.  Shop wisely. Replace sunscreen annually, as its effectiveness lessens with age.  Wear protective clothing.  Limit the number of hours in the sunshine.  Find shade and exercise balance.


Let the summer begin!


Maceration or mastication?

Posted by Mary Jo Hudson on OP11er @ 11:10 PM

Macerate or Masticate?


My paternal grandmother was one of my favorite people.  She didn’t interact with her 13 grandchildren by playing on the floor with them.  She was far too busy as a farm wife, tending a large garden, growing award winning flowers, making meals, and gathering eggs from her chicken house.  She just included us in doing whatever she did.  We always lived within 30 min. of her home and spent many hours there.


Both of my grandmothers were wonderful cooks.  One excelled at baking.  The other managed produce from her garden with finesse and simplicity.  The large strawberry patch consumed the month of June.  There were berries to be picked and processed.  No small job, if you have ever harvested gallons of berries in a day.  It seemed to be all consuming.


One trick she had was to put a small amount of sugar on the berries some time before serving them.  Often, dessert was strawberries over ice cream.  The little amount of sugar pulls the juice out of the berry, creating a syrup like consistency.  This process is called MACERATION. 


It was years down the road before I knew what it was called.  I just knew this process worked.  Sugar isn’t the only thing that is used for macerating, either.  Flavored liquids and some alcoholic beverages can also be used.  Maceration is the breaking down or softening of various substances.


Besides softening, maceration changes the texture and flavor.  After maceration, the fruit becomes a new substance because the cells have allowed molecules to come and go through little channels.


Sugar attracts water.  That makes sense when the end result of putting sugar on strawberries, as an example, creates a juice.  As the water leaves the fruit, the individual cells lose volume, causing the fruit pieces to relax and soften.


If you remember science class from some years back, the word osmosis might be familiar.  It’s simply the way fluid moves through a semi permeable membrane:  like a cell wall.  Salt or sugar are good common catalysts for osmosis.  In essence, either sugar or salt soften the fruit or vegetable, allowing water to escape and  the flavor balances between the fruit and the fluid.  Years ago, when vegetables were preserved for winter storage, salt and time created fermented vegetables.  Think of sauerkraut as a common example.


The examples of macerating strawberries and cabbage (for sauerkraut) illustrate differing amounts of time, too.  The strawberry maceration takes only 30 min.  The sauerkraut takes days, weeks, months for optimal flavor.


Mastication is an entirely different process for breaking down food.  A great synonym is chewing.  We masticate our food before swallowing it, mixing it with saliva that begins the digestive process by breaking down starches.  The stomach offers another step in digestion.  We aren’t going to expand the digestive process in this article.


Except to say it is a wise person who masticates the Word of God.  Read it.  Chew on it.  Think it over.  Listen to what the pastor says about it.  Research the meaning of each word and contemplate how it affects your daily life.  Don’t dilute it.  Just apply it to your life and see how delicious it can be. 


Whether you masticate or macerate the Word, it will have an impact on your life.  Some skills, work whether the right name is given to them or not.

On My Knees

Posted by Mary Jo Hudson on OP11er @ 11:01 PM

On My Knees


There is something about boys and dogs that amazes me.  I have never understood the phenomena, though I have observed it for more than 5 decades.  It was as true on the farm as it is in the city. 


They love to walk through dirt.  I don’t know if it is the puff of dust that is created from walking through a pile of dirt or leaving footprints in it.  Walking through dirt draws boys and dogs like a magnet. 


My husband used to question why I washed the kitchen floor at midnight on Saturday night.  The answer (to me) was so apparent.  Everyone was in bed.  There was no possibility of footprints across my clean floor.  And, it stayed clean for HOURS before there was a spill, crumb, or some contaminant on it.  The reward of a clean floor was satisfaction for my soul:  evidence of hard work.  Furthermore, in the morning, when I arrived at the kitchen, it still sparkled.  Ah, clean!


Now that the littles have become big and moved to other states, the problem is less.  There are no pets unless our grand-dog visits.  Yet, as soon as I decide to clean the kitchen floor, someone needs something on the other side of the kitchen.  You see, there is a magnetic attraction.


Recently, my sweet husband needed to be gone for the day.  I decided that in between my ‘hands on’ with Matthew’s cares, I would strip the wax off my no-wax floor and restore it.  There were NO feet to walk across it.  Matt stays wherever I park his chair so he couldn’t track up the floor.


My kitchen is white.  Any spills and stains are relatively obvious.  And, I like neat and clean so it is never pitted out.  But while I was cleaning my floor, I had occasion to be on my hands and knees and I saw spots I had not recognized from my standing posture.  I was appalled.


It occurred to me that my spiritual life is similar.  When I do not kneel before the Lord, I may not see my sin.  But, when I get on my knees, the Holy Spirit opens the floodgates and there is opportunity to clean up my act. 


I’m not certain what your posture before the Lord of heaven is.  For me, finding the dirt that needs to be cleansed is much easier on my knees.  It’s a posture I recommend for a really clean experience.  Try it.  You’ll like it.



The Wedding

Posted by Mary Jo Hudson on OP8er @ 8:37 PM

The Wedding


The sun gloriously shone on the hills dressed in the vitality of a spring green coat.  The birds trilled and thrilled in the awe and wonder of the day.  Twigs pregnant with new leaves bulged, ready to explode into rapturous green.


The setting could not have been more perfect for the union of the day.  The bringing together of two souls intended to blend into one being.  It was magical.  There were friends and family, old and young, suits and dresses, new haircuts, fresh flowers, décor to bring festivity to the moment. 


The doors opened.  People stood.  The bride appeared in her finest apparel.  Her eyes sparkled.  Her nails, perfectly shaped and freshly polished.  Her hair coiffed. Her make up expertly applied. Her attire, spotless, brilliantly white with lace and puffs of tulle.  He looked dapper in his suit, a little nervous, but so excited to see his bride.


The memories made that day will last forever in the minds of the bride and groom.  I reflected on what goes into the planning of a wedding:  hours of thought and reflection; decisions on colors, invitations, selecting dresses, planning, preparing.  It takes months of work, years of dreams, wrapped into a few hours of celebration.


As I considered all that goes into a wedding, my mind kept returning to the phrase ‘The Bride of Christ’.  We are the bride of Christ, as the church.  Like a bridle bit in my mouth, I felt the tug of the reigns as this phrase returned again and again.  Have I willingly conformed to His image for me?  Am I prepared?  Is there any unfinished business?  Am I ignoring any vital detail?  Have I covered all the bases?  What am I doing as I wait?  Do I pray enough?    Will I be the maiden with extra oil, waiting for Him to come?  Will I forget the extra oil and need to beg from my neighbor?   Will He call my name or say, ‘I never knew you?’


What we do, the focus we have, the way we spend our time and energy must surely target the ultimate goal of our life: to be prepared as the Bride of Christ.  Will his eyes dazzle with the beauty of His bride?  Will the wedding feast be unparalleled to anything I can imagine?  Will it be rapturous?  Oh, the preparation to become His bride!  To be clothed in humility and bathed in anointing oils, perfumed with the fragrance of the Holy Spirit.  Can we even imagine the glory of that moment? 


I don’t think we can.  When the bride enters, I watch the groom’s expression as he sees his bride walk toward him.  She has spent hours making everything perfect.  He is entranced by her beauty.  Her efforts have been for him.  He is overwhelmed.  May it be so as we journey on our spiritual trek.  May we delight our ‘groom’ as we prepare as the bride of Christ.  May we be ready and perfectly holy in His sight.  It is the desire of my heart.

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