23 Feb

Our Journey to Origins

“The chief end of man is
to glorify God,
and enjoy Him forever”
– Westminster Shorter Catechism 

When Michael and I accepted the call to have his little brother move in with us and finally make the move to Greensboro, North Carolina, we were excited. No apprehensions accompanied that emotion. We knew from prior experience that there are always adjustments that come with any move, but we had no idea just how much was getting ready to change.

We packed our tiny Roanoke home and moved to an apartment complex near Guilford College on September 1, 2012. It took us a few days to settle in, but it didn’t take long for Greensboro and our tiny apartment to feel like home. Although at times challenging, we were enjoying having Stephen in our home, and we will always be grateful for the time God gave us to help guide him toward maturity.

It was Stephen who began asking the questions: “Why do we eat this? Why do we clean like that? Didn’t God condemn that in the Bible?” He wasn’t being disrespectful or rude. He truly wanted to know and was looking to us to teach him. Too many times I didn’t have an answer other than, “I’ve always done it this way,” or “That’s what I was taught growing up.” I began to also ask, “Why do I eat this? Why do I clean like that? Did God really condemn this in the Bible?” And more.

I found myself wanting to search for the real answers, not just the clichés to which I had grown accustomed to using. We began to watch documentaries as a family, to research using the Internet and other resources, and to glean from other families around us.

We were so blessed to be in a small group at that time with two families, in which the wives were practicing very “natural living.” I knew almost nothing of natural health or natural anything – I probably had about the worst bio-print on this planet. In fact, prior to my journey, I looked at most of the things and people labeled “natural” and thought it was part of the hippie movement or at least very unBiblical/unspiritual. But as we continued researching and began to dig deeper, I realized how closely connected a relationship with God is to all things natural and that (although there are some of these out there) it was not just the path for the godless or the hippies. And if this was the path for God’s people, why were more Christians not living this way?

I can’t answer for everyone, but I do know that I was not being a good steward of the natural resources that God gifted us, and I needed to CHANGE.

My brother, who was a pastor at a church plant in Pennsylvania at the time, had been consistently bugging me that I needed to begin listening to his “Origins” series. He was already on Sermon #108 (literally) in the series, and I just kept putting him off, telling him I would get to it at another time. One day, I decided I would finally set aside some time and listen to the first sermon. It was at that point that I knew that I needed to help my family make some major changes in all areas of life. Through the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I decided that I needed to go on what I call our “Origins” journey – getting back to the origins of what God intended. This included food, cleaning, health, and even spiritual aspects of holiness, purity, and relationships. Thankfully, Michael was on board from the beginning, and I am constantly grateful for his patience and encouragement, as we are on this journey together.

I had it all laid out… starting in January 2013, we would work on a focus area each quarter that year and everything would come into order. Each point was detailed and had three subcategories that we would “fix” each month of the quarter. The first quarter, our family focus area was the Origins of Provision – this included nutritional, medicinal and financial provision.

Second was the Origins of Purity, including cleaning products, personal hygiene and other possible harmful chemicals or substances (cell phones, microwaves, etc.).

Quarter 3, we were on to the Origins of Pastime (yes, each had to start with a ‘P’ – learned that in my college days). How did God design activity (physical, social, mental, emotional)? In which activities should we participate? From what then should we abstain or limit ourselves?

And finally, in quarter 4, we were on to the Origins of Publicity. How should we publicize ourselves in personal celebration (birthdays, graduations, etc.) and uphold our reputation? How should we publicize others (national holidays, upholding the reputation of family and friends, helping those in need). And lastly, in December – of course so fitting for the Christmas season – how should we publicize God (religious celebrations) and uphold his reputation and holiness?

Are you tired yet? That doesn’t even include my corresponding personal focus areas of Origins of Relationship, Righteousness, Routine, and Rest that I was also planning on “fixing” as I somehow would just miraculously wave a wand and everything would suddenly be all better within the short time frame I had set for the journey.

Needless to say, my plans to return to my Origins did not go as easily or quickly as I had planned. Two years after beginning, I have finally written this blog – that I planned to write in Quarter 1 of 2013, haha – and we are still figuring out what it means to live natural lives as God intended. We are grateful for the people and opportunities He has placed in our path in order to get there in His timing, and we are definitely on the path toward our Origins.

Our prayer for this website and our work is that others might find a hand to hold on the same journey. We are all children of God trying to find our way, and we are at different places in our walks and livelihoods. May what the Lord is teaching me and my family resonate in the hearts of you and yours, and hopefully, help you find the path to your journey to Origins much quicker than it took us to find ours. The most important thing you can do is pick up the baton and begin the run – it may not be perfect, and it may take you much longer than you were hoping, but one step at a time you can offer yourself as a holy and acceptable sacrifice to God, and daily be Living to Worship.

19 Sep

Paleo Chocolate Banana Pancakes

This morning, I had the blessing of taking care of my children while my wife rested after taking care of a sick child overnight. Like most dads when they have extra time at home, I tried to make the day a little more special. Breakfast was first on the list, so I decided to try finding some paleo pancakes. (A few days ago some friends of ours invited us over to dine with them. They were very thoughtful to try to make us a paleo meal. Our hostess whipped up a paleo-ish pancake recipe that she found online. The search for this recipe was sort of inspired by her.)

After finding one, I checked to see what we had in the house and gathered everything together. By the grace of God we had all that we needed, with some small (paleo) improvisations (I made the chocolate part a little different from what I found online – my version is what is in the recipe below).

As I was cooking the pancakes, my children suddenly became very silent. It was the calm right before the storm. My oldest daughter had been in the stickers and was putting them all over herself. This wasn’t a big deal. But then my youngest started screaming because no attention was being given to her. So as I began trying to entertain and calm my little ones, I could smell the pancakes beginning to burn. Fortunately, I was able to hold a baby in one arm, while flipping the pancakes in time, so they were still edible.

After the crying had subsided, we sat down to eat. One taste, and I was hooked! I don’t think I have ever had such delicious pancakes, with no flour in them whatsoever. This is a recipe that we will continue to use for years to come.


12 Sep

Paleo Failure – Fishy Bites/Coconut Flour

About a month ago, my wife and I started a program called Whole 30. Essentially Whole 30 is a very strict Paleo diet. We did this for many reasons. One of the main reasons for me was to get rid of some skin problems I have been having. During this diet, I was wanting to try out all sorts of recipes that I found online. After having chicken and potatoes for 20 days in a row, I was ready for a change in cuisine. My wife was nice enough to try a recipe that I found online for “Fishy Bites”. Just so you know, fish is my favorite type of food. Not only that but these were supposed to be just like fish sticks which I absolutely loved growing up. Yes, I know that fish sticks probably contain no fish at all but it was still good.

Some how during the course of making dinner, I volunteered myself to make most the recipe. Kelley started it but I ended up finishing most of it. I could taste the “Fishy Bites” with every ingredient I added to the bowl. It was like being a kid again. When it got to the almond flour, we decided to use coconut flour instead. (WARNING: If you ever exchange any flour for coconut flour, you need use 1/4 cup of coconut flour for every 1 cup of flour. Also for everyone oz of coconut flour you use, you need to add 1 egg. If the recipe calls for 1 cup for flour and 2 eggs, you would use 1/4 cup or 2 oz of  coconut flour and 4 eggs. You will see why in a second.) Back to the story. It wasn’t long until we had replaced a few of the ingredients and still thought, “Hey, it shouldn’t matter. It will taste fine in the end.”

After cooking the “Fishy Bites” in EVOO(Extra Virgin Olive Oil), they didn’t stay together like I wanted them too but it was only my first time. I served them up on a plate and called the family in for dinner. Kelley and I blessed the food and started to eat. It only took one “Fishy Bite” then out came the buffalo sauce. The taste for ok but the texture was like trying to swallow sand paper the size of a golf ball down your throat. By this time, we had each consumed two “Fishy Bites”. We asked our two year old to take a bit and she immediately was disgusted by them. We continued to eat each one trying not to gag ourselves as the tuna slowly, and I mean slowly, made it’s way to our stomaches. By the fourth bite, Kelley and I are about to die, not only from lack of air but how much we were laughing at our first Paleo food fail. We finally got all five bites down…but wait. I had thought they were going to be so good that I had made fifteen of them. I quickly texted my friend to send his dog over to finish of the last five. Sammy gladly devoured the remaining “Fishy Bites” and returned home satisfied.

The lesson of the evening, even though something might look good on a website doesn’t mean that it will taste as good as it looks. The same thing is true with sin. Sin looks to good to us when we are just thinking about it. We mull it over in our minds. We think about all the different things we could do if we gave into the temptation. Then we execute our plan. Sin is good for the moment but after the pleasure is gone, disappointment comes. Yes, we laughed about the “Fishy Bites” until we were almost on the floor but sin is not a laughing matter. Sin not only takes the joy that we find in Christ, it destroys everything around us including ourselves. It creeps in unaware in the small things that we think and keep in our minds.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:14-15 ESV)

Let us take hold of the thoughts that tempt us:

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV)

We are promised that God will not tempt us more than we are able to bear through Christ:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV)

Thank you Lord for allowing us to see and know what the desires of the flesh are compared to the desires of the Spirit. Lord, by your strength may we follow you each day as you guide our path through this life. You are the rock that we build our house upon so that when the storms come, our house will stand.

12 Sep

Quick Running Fuel

Larabar bar single

When Kelley and I started our Paleo journey, one of the hardest things was trying to figure out what we would eat for our workouts. It needed to be something quick, easily accessible and cheap. I asked a friend of mine who had been on Paleo for a while and he said that Bananas, raw eggs and coconut milk made into a smoothie were a good source of fuel but I wanted something already pre-made. I researched around and found a great product called Lärabar. There are not many prepackaged products out there that only include whole ingredients.Larabar Bar Double

The main three that we eat are:

The store we went too didn’t have much variety. We went to a different store and found a few more that I we will be trying next:

Now even though Lärabars are great, there are different types of Lärabars that contain not so friendly Paleo foods. The ones that contain chocolate or peanuts are disqualified because peanuts are in the lagoon family and chocolate is made with sugar and unclarified butter.

I usually eat one before I go running and then after I’m done with the run. After you eat the Lärabar, wait about 10 minutes before you workout and no more than 75 minutes. When you are done, make sure to eat even though you might not feel like eating. You want to make sure that your body gets the calories and nutrients it needs to build muscle. It’s never good to substitute one of ours meals as our workout food. Workout food needs to be eaten on top of  the normal three meals a day. We can all run or workout until we are overly sore but if we don’t put in calories that our body needs to build, we will never be able to grow our muscles.