Saturday, February 18, 2012

Basic Goodness...Chocolate

And on a lighter note…

Yes, I’ve been a little heavy lately so today’s post will be devoted to the beauties of one of life’s most wonderful gifts: chocolate. I think chocolate is part of basic goodness. A term oft used in Tibetan Buddhism, “basic goodness” describes the natural Buddha nature of people. While I have my own theology regarding human nature, original sin, etc, I do think chocolate is one of those good things in life that rises above morality.

As I stood in my kitchen the other day eating some home-made chocolate mousse that one of my sons made for me for Valentine’s Day, I had to force myself to eat it slowly and calmly – as opposed to wolfing it down with perpetually rotating wrist, dipping into the glorious goo and swiveling back up to my mouth. The popular book French Women Don’t Get Fat came to mind and I pretended to be French, savoring each bite, appreciating the pleasure of the chocolate flavor. Eating slowly is, I understand it, part of the French way of eating unlike the American way of inhaling food. Why is it that sometimes rich chocolate can sometimes be like crack – just can’t get it in fast enough. I’m happy to say I only had half a ramekin and stopped thereafter. Okay, that was all there was left so I didn’t have a choice, but I did feel satisfied and wasn’t craving more. After all, mousse is rich and this particular recipe has just two ingredients fabuleuse: dark chocolates and heavy cream. Does it get any better than that?

Chocolate gives me endorphins; I’ll take that over the Stairmaster any day, even if I don’t have a smokin’ bod. Studies have shown that chocolate can release certain neurotransmitters, the happy ones like endorphins and other opiates that reduce stress and lead to feelings of euphoria. And all the wonderful news about dark chocolate actually having antioxidants and being healthy is so very welcome to chocoholics, I mean Lovers of the Cocoa Bean. And yes, I know it's supposed to be 70% cold-pressed cocoa made with unprocessed, unalkalized (whatever that is) cacao, and natural unprocessed sweeteners to be truly beneficial.
We want the antioxidants not the fat and calories.Yadayadayada..

Mousse is loaded with all of the above, the good and the evil (fat, calories). But the great thing about mousse is it’s so very rich that you can’t have too much or you’ll live to regret it.

So, thanks be to God for His gift of chocolat and we can be like those femmes Fran├žaise and indulge in little bits sans guilt.

Pourquois pas?

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How to Have Faith?

Have you ever been around someone going through an excruciatingly difficult time and observed how they seemed so peaceful and trusting of God (or something) to deliver or at least sustain them? They seem to have so much faith…or for some, denial. At some point we all face extraordinarily challenging times and then often find to our dismay how unfaithful we feel, right?

This title sounds as though I think I possess some magic answers, as if I see myself as a self-help expert who has mastered the art of faith. Couldn’t be further from the truth (note the question mark in the title). There are certain types of hard times that I respond to by absolutely crumbling internally. I can’t count how many days (probably totaling months) that I have lost any possible productivity or joy due to being consumed with anxiety, fear, sadness, anger, and what-if wondering. Maybe with the raised blood pressure, release of stress hormones, and psychological strain, I’ve even lost days of my life. I’d try to pray, read, journal, rest, exercise, call a friend. All of those means of dealing with adversity are good, but few of them work for me if I’m stuck in the obsession vice. Running on the treadmill of worry or resentment.

Recently, I read a wonderful line from one of my devotionals that said simply this (speaking from the point of view of Jesus): “Lift up empty hands of faith…to receive my precious Presence.” That first part struck me. Empty hands. How refreshing – I don’t have to be the "strong person" to have faith. Ever heard someone say, “You gotta be strong”? I think that’s b.s., to put it bluntly. In fact, I don’t have to have any skill or even determination to try to summon faith at all. Trying to force faith, at least with me, proves unequivocally futile. I simply can
offer my emptiness. Buddhists are big on emptiness in their meditation as a relieving and freeing place to be once worldly cares and burdens are shed. Those in twelve step programs are familiar with Step One: “I am powerless over (fill in the blank with whatever plagues them or someone in their life)”. It’s surrender, not mastery, thank God.

Isn’t that encouraging? We don’t have to fight, when we’re already down for the count, to conjure up some ounce of strength to be faithful. It’s not about us anyway. Admittedly sometimes He gives me what I need way later than I wish, after I’m exhausted from days of suffering. But it's relieving to finally get to a place when I’ve turned the corner and can rest in his Presence free of the weight. Don’t think I’m taking the credit for that corner either. Perhaps in my weakness (and I believe genetics/biochemistry plays a part in this too), I’ve somehow subconsciously fought the process.

Just sharing an insight that mitigated that tight feeling in my gut and made my smile, inside.

(Friends who prayed for my biopsy -- it all turned out benign :)  Thank you for your support)

Linking with Ann at A Holy Experience:

Check out my guest post on meditation appearing last week on my friend Cheryl's blog "Live Fit Daily":


Monday, February 6, 2012


Despite having to endure a few days wait for path results of a biopsy, I am looking at the good things in my life. Still keeping my gratitude journal with the women who follow Ann Voskamp’s blog (she’s the author of One Thousand Gifts).  I’m now in the seventies:

65. The beauty of the birds that visit our feeder, especially in winter without leaves. Red cardinals, bright bluebirds
66. The pristine, stunning eastern morning sunlight through the work room windows
67. That Matthew actually wants to go to a high school FCA retreat though he barely know anyone going
68. Warm sheets after Wesley gets out of his bed this morning
69. A little naked dude curled up on my bed
70. Discovering Wesley’s Big Nate book stashed under the table for sneak reading
71. Hugs from a sweet student needing love; round shaved head
72. The French doors are finally fixed! Shiny new brass lock
73. Beautiful wood and shape of the new breakfast room table
74. That neither I nor any of the children have a serious mental illness
75. The glossy sheen of Wesley’s blond hair in the sunlight

I’m still compressing my wound from the procedure. It is akin to liposuction of the breast! And being a redhead (this was new information for me), the doc says I’m apparently prone to bleeding more. So I spent over an hour compressing myself to help stop the oozing from the wound. Have another hour to go.

I look forward to walking again after the 24 hour waiting period. A person needs to move to work out tension. For now – peace, lighter burden (Matthew 11:28 – 30), being present.

Linking with Ann at A Holy Experience