t h e m a y f i l e s is foremost a family blog, chronicling everyday life. Life including natural, healthy eating (with recipes thrown in at random), home educating (with ideas popping up sporadically), an attempt to homestead on .2 acres (with very meager yields), raising 3 of 4 children with a rare genetic disorder, and lots of highly personal family triumphs and failures. You may also find an eclectic array of musings on politics, exercise, sewing, emergency preparedness, backyard chickens, and religion. This blog isn't a campaign to glorify anyone or anything. Just simply a record.


Sunday Insights: Discovering our Weaknesses

People can change.

This statement is one of the most powerful, life altering, and difficult concepts to truly believe. But believe we must. Neal A. Maxwell said asking the Lord to show us our true weaknesses is "a painful, vital part of coming unto Christ."

Ether 12:27

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

There is the doctrine. Pure and simple.

My Experience

This week Brent has been out of town. It is always an adjustment to run the household alone. Thankfully, it rarely happens. As I knelt by my bedside praying this week certain events from that day, and days past began to flash through my mind. It was quite a slideshow.

A distinct, clear pattern of behavior demonstrated in myriad situations suddenly became crystal clear. The Lord unmistakably showed me a personal weakness. I was humbled. Not that I didn't realize earlier this was something I needed to work on, but the message was clear, the time has come to change.

On a side note...we all receive revelation in different ways. Recognizing the ways the Lord speaks to me personally is critical. Often I find the Lord speaks to me when I am praying, not in words but in pictures, and where my mind goes. I realize it isn't wandering, instead there is often a message and purpose.

This was the highlight of Callista's day, taking a "ponderous" (snicker, snicker) picture of Mom with Mom's camera!

Praying for Help and Receiving Answers

My prayer immediately turned into a plea for help. I need help because really this has been a part of my character from the time I was a little girl. Each morning I have supplicated the Lord for the help of the Holy Ghost as I seek to change. Each night, my heart has overflowed with gratitude because I feel myself changing. Changing only because of the gentle whispers of the Holy Ghost in the moments I most need them.

Confess the Weakness

My tendency to hurry. It doesn't sound huge, but the picture was clear to me, I was detracting from the spirit in my home with my rushing.
So instead, I tried to enjoy Ellery sitting at the piano and wanting to gaze and the pictures in her piano books, and talk about each and every lyric to all her songs. I reminded myself that taking longer is more important than finishing on time and creating contention. And she takes a long time. She loves to just ponder. Ponder the sentence she just read, or the picture. Ask questions. What a lesson to me.
Emmett and Callista "helping" me move our raw almonds from the box into bags for the freezer.

I tried not to rush Emmett through his bath or his stories. Following his cues instead of mine. I let Callista sit on my lap for as long as she wanted and watch home videos on the computer and talk about every one of the thousands of family pictures in the "picture folder" on the desktop.

All these little things brought a little more heaven into our house. I wasn't perfect. But with the help of the Lord I was better. I have faith "his grace is sufficient" for me. This weakness can and will become a strength to me in time...if I continue to be humble and seek his help.


The Cholesterol Myths: Book Review

All this talk about food. More fruits and vegetables. Less Meat. Is it an ongoing rant by myself?


I do not claim to come to subjects without bias. I have an ingrained dietary bias both personal and religious. From, the moment I walked into the Bilmar Turkey Slaughter House in Southern Michigan, as a fourth grader I was biased. Something spoke to me in my gut, this was not right. My little mind processed it as "gross" and "wrong." More recently, my study of LDS church history and the Word of Wisdom, and several other books, have biased me to extreme moderation for my entire family in animal product consumption.

This is exactly what it looked like in the "kill-room." The turkeys came in upside down, squawking their heads off. From there they entered a shock chamber to stun, and stop their hearts. The belt continued to move, their throats were slit by line workers. The turkey then entered another chock chamber to restart their heart so the blood would pump out of their systems.

Becoming more committed to this belief system, I had a good opportunity to add some balance. My friend Jessica brought to my attention a few books offering an alternative view point. It provided great quest for me.

I tried to set aside my bias and be objective. Frankly, I have many family members, friends, and nearly all Americans for that matter, who disagree with our dietary practices and interpretations. My objective was to try to see diet from a different perspective, and then evaluate and modify my current beliefs if necessary. And so I researched. Scoured the internet. Read. Read. And read some more. Reread a bunch of books (or portions of them). I chose one particular book to read and study in-depth.

The Cholesterol Myths

The book I chose to expand my horizons was one I researched and felt it may have truth in it, The Cholesterol Myths is by Uffe Ravnskov. Dr. Ravnskov is a Swedish Family Practitioner and PhD. He has spent a copious amount of time researching and analyzing the research, past and current, related to the premise that saturated fat/cholesterol are causes for heart disease.

It was fascinating to read Dr. Ravnskov's book side by side with Dr. Campbell's book The China Study. Their backgrounds differ. Dr. C is a researcher and not a medical practitioner. Most of his conclusions are built on his own laboratory and field-based studies. While Dr. R's conclusions stem from detailed analysis of a vast breadth of research.

I expected the two book to be in opposition on most fronts. What I discovered was surprising.

My Discoveries in a Nut Shell...
  • Selective Interpretation: The majority of researchers selectively interpret and publish results to cater to their bias. A portion of this is natural. In fact many of the graphs I thought could legitimately be interpreted more than one way.
  • Disease's are Multifactorial: The authors agree that diseases are not caused by a single factor. In fact, their is a multitude of probable causes. Trying to "cure" one risk factor like lowering cholesterol to prevent heart disease, for example is ineffective.
  • Lifestyle Makes a Difference: How we live our lives directly correlates to our tendency toward degenerative disease. Smoking, exercise and stress all become factors. It is great how Dr. Stephen Brynes in his Myths of Vegetarianism, uses "The Mormons" as an example of how you can be free of many debilitating health concerns by abstaining from drugs, alcohol and caffeine. Oh yes, the religion also advocates "meat sparingly in times of winter and famine." It also prescribes early to bed, early to rise, fruits and herbs, wheat and grains, and fosters peace and contentment by following its tenants. But none of this is mentioned. Only that it is proof you can eat as much meat as you want.
  • Diet Makes a Difference: Dr. R may disagree with my interpretation of his book on this one! He vehemently opposed the diet-heart connection. But I felt as he tried to disprove the connection he made a strong case for it. Let me explain. Dr. R aptly and concisely exposes the gross misinformation of the diet-heart movement. The movement preaching to Americans to eat low fat has been disastrous. Think margarine, and transfat laden lowfat goodies and processed foods. More recently think of the cereals, yogurts, crackers, anything you can dream up which are now "high fiber." One word, ridiculous. Americans choose to get vitamins, minerals and fiber from processed breakfast cereal instead of whole fruits, grains and vegetables. Single nutrients, (like chicory root extract for fiber) added to food are not the same as consuming them in their natural state.
It is unethical and deceptive to market this product as "zero guilt." The artificial coloring aspartame, and extremely processed dairy will wreak havoc on anyone. Adults and children alike.
  • Medication is Not the Answer: Both authors agree that medicating for risk factors is not making a difference in our fight against disease. Cholesterol medications do in fact reduce cholesterol but do not prevent heart disease.
  • Saturated Fat isn't the Big Culprit: The research clearly shows simply reducing saturated fat intake make no difference in disease prevention. Olive oil consumption appears to do the same thing. I thought Dr. C did not do a good job of presenting this in his book, but he brought it out strongly in the lecture I attended. Do not add additional fat to your diet, except in very small amounts. I loved the example Dr. R gave of how saturated fat couldn't be to blame for heart disease and high cholesterol. He used the islanders and coconut oil (a saturated fat)! This was perfect. He described their excellent ability to withstand disease and how it can be attributed to their high consumption of saturated fat in the form of coconut oil. Clearly all my coconut oils in the food storage are keepers.
  • Indigenous Cultures are Difficult to Draw Conclusions From: I have come to believe differently than both Dr. C and Dr. R about the value of drawing conclusions from indigenous cultures. Dr. R's favorite example was the Masai people. Their main diet consists of milk, blood and meat. Their days are spent running across the country chasing cattle. They are extremely fit. They also have the shortest life span of any other people. They don't have heart disease.
Some difficulties with drawing conclusions on the benefits of eating a high meat diet from this society are many. First, they eat the bones, and organ meats and of the animals. All raw. Thereby attain vitamins and minerals not a part of the standard American meat diet. Secondly, they spend their days exercising. Third, the use medicinal herbs extensively. Fourth, they consume no processed or sugar laden foods.

Dr. C of course prefers the Chinese as the example of health. Again they are not pillars of health, and do not have enviable lifespans. They do not have heart disease, cancer etc. Dr. C does not address the severe vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the rural Chinese diet. Things aren't all roses. I believe we can learn lessons, but must exercise extreme caution in using a single society to base lifestyle on. Especially when that society differs so dramatically from our own.

My next post about this book (and all of my research into this topic) I will detail my main hang ups, and what I changed about our diet because of reading about the meat-lovers perspective :)

I will also tell you about the Weston Price Foundation. The organization publishes most of the books and articles pushing meat, and decrying the evils of vegetarianism. They also mounted the only real attack against The China Study. But wait....they actually aren't all that bad. I know everyone will be on pins and needles until then.

By-the-way, I love to read your comments. What are your opinions? Am I off the deep end? How have you been guided to nourish your family? What makes you cling to building each dinner around meat? And don't be afraid to descent! That is how I learn. I love to hear different ideas.


Happy Birthday Roe v. Wade

Last week we celebrated the 37th birthday of Roe vs Wade and with it eclipsed the 52 millionth killing of an unborn child. Congratulations to our civilized country. Ponder the following actions/policies of the US government couched under the auspices of caring for others:

  • We pay single mothers, in the form of free housing and monthly stipends, to have more children. Of course the fathers must be kept out of the home or these mothers wouldn't qualify for government assistance.
  • We continue with wars of aggression in opposition to the non-interventionist policy our Founding Fathers set up under the Constitution. These invasions/occupations kill millions of innocent foreign civilians. All this to “protect” US citizens.

Maybe we aren’t surprised this country will not cease the unborn slaughter that occurs within our borders thousands of times a day. These killings are mainly performed by Planned Parenthood (affiliates performed 305,310 abortions in 2007, up from 289,750 in 2006).

According to wikipedia "Planned Parenthood receives about a third of its money in government grants and contracts ($349.6 million in FY 2008). In the 2007–08 Annual Report, clinic income totaled $374.7 million and miscellaneous operating revenues $68.9 million. Planned Parenthood is also heavily sponsored by private individuals, with over 700,000 active individual contributors.[7] Large donors such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation contribute a substantial part of the organization's budget."

Does Eugenics ring a bell? The Eugenics movement of Nineteenth century Communist Manifesto authors, Marx and Engels is alive and well today under the less diabolical name of Planned Parenthood.

Let's celebrate. Go buy a Gates owned computer product to help support the cause, better yet, support and encourage your congressmen and senators to act and VOTE more like Ron Paul, the congressmen who has done more to support human life and anti-abortion than many others combined.

How can we protect liberty when we can't protect life?

Posted by Brent


Welcome our new Guest Blogger

Get ready for a dose of politics, economics, history, constitutional studies and religion. I have invited my lovely husband Brent to post on the blog. He has this great little email group he sends thoughts, research, and current event tid-bits. I thought many of these would make great additions to our family historical blog record.

We are one of those families who sit around at dinner and discuss politics, economics, history etc. (While we clean up spilled water, and threaten all sorts of punishments if the children's broccoli isn't finished in an hours time.) In fact, hit our house any night of the week after 8:30 pm, and most likely you will find Brent and I engrossed in some sort of wildly engaging discussion on one of the former mentioned topics.

We are passionate about the truth, thus always on the hunt. I hope you enjoy my husbands take on things as much as I do. Don't be alarmed. And try to keep and open mind. Considered yourself warned :)

Feeding the Chickens

Now that our chickens are a bit more contained, we've started feeding them scraps or spoiled veggies from the kitchen. And my goodness with 3 children we have scraps. It seems like I sweep up and entire meal from the floor every day.
They gobble it up. This morning I even threw in some kale leaves, because if you will remember from my garden last summer, it is their favorite! Four eggs so far this week.


The Junk Jar

This Weeks Junk Jar after only 3 Days!

Our home is a very controlled situation. "Junk" is not available. But my children are inundated with sugar, chemical laden food everywhere they turn. Church, school, piano, birthday parties, you name it. It is hard to keep up. Three weeks ago we came up with a little plan. We call it a "Junk Jar."
Week 1 Junk Jars: we started with 2 but Callista had so much less, we combine now.

The girls can collect any unhealthy food they are given and instead of eating it, bring it home for the Junk Jar. Then on Sunday night, we count and weigh up the food and the girls get paid. I admit we pay them well. So far the range has been $4 - $8. But it is extremely motivating for them. And they are amazingly generous with their money. We told Ellery we needed her help paying for our family vacation this Spring. She is more than willing. In fact she wants to help pay for everything now. So precious.
Week 2 Junk Jar, Brent and the girls actually cooked it all up in a brew on the stovetop before dumping it. They loved it.

It took Callista two weeks to get into it, but this week she is gung ho. She brought home 2 tootsie pops and a cupcake. Ellery brought home an entire goody bag from a birthday party. It has actually been horrifying to me see how much they actually get that I had no idea they were eating.

Ellery is so proud of herself. She tells me how much she really wanted to eat, but she knew it was junk and she should bring it home for her jar. Callista smells her for a few minutes before she is willing to drop it in. She also licked off quite a bit of frosting from her "beautiful pink cupcake with purple sprinkles." But the progress was huge. The first week she held on to her marshmallows and m&m's for dear life.

I'll let you know if it loses steam or stays strong.


Green Thumb? Help!

Not me. This is last ditch effort to save these 2 plants. They have so much sentimental value to me, but I admit they are extremely neglected. One was from my Grandma's funeral and the other from my Grandpa's. I took them out of their diseased pots and put what was left of them together. The plants are 4 and 6 years old. I put new soil and fertilized. Anyone have any ideas? I really don't want to lose these 2 plants.


From Their Mouths...


Brent: Baby I really need help. I need a break.
Me: Sweetheart you just woke up from a nap an hour ago.
Brent: Rebecca I am like a union worker. I need a 15 minute break every hour. And a snack.

Singing "Oh an ostrich went yodeling on a mountain so high..."


Said matter-of-factly as Ellery cowers in the shadow.
"So Dad here's the deal. If you give me an Ellery a nectarine then we will go to bed. Because we are soooo hungry and this is how it works."


"Wan touch Ma. Touch Ma! Wan touch. "
This as he scratches the delicate skin off the back of his knees ridden with eczema. Poor lamb.


Sunday Insights: An Ephiphany

A moment of sudden revelation or insight.
The word is so fitting of an experience I had this week.
They don't happen often, but on the occasions,
I try cherish, build, and record them.

Sunset on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. July 1998

It started with a book, well 2 books...

I'll start with the second book. Here We Stand by Joseph Fielding McConkie was given to us a year ago. The book sat in our pile of "to read" books until I picked it up on Monday. As I read, I gained a personal insight for which I am truly grateful.

The background first, and then maybe you will can understand my epiphany.

Never Doubting

Now for the first book, The Book of Mormon. I was born a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. One of the first books I read, as my mind exploded into the amazing world of the written word, was The Book of Mormon.

At the age of 10 years old I finished reading The Book of Mormon. All 531 pages. I've never doubted. But, I also knew I didn't want to just know because my parents knew. So prayed to Heavenly Father, acting on the words of Moroni, at the end of the book,

Moroni 10:4-5

"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."

In knew in my mind and in my heart. It wasn't the last time the Holy Ghost would witness to me. Usually, it is a warm feeling of peace. Other times the sacredness and power overwhelm me.

The Plan of Salvation

What do I know? I know I am a literal child of God. He is the Father of my spirit. Jesus Christ is his son, in the spirit and flesh. Both have resurrected bodies, spirits united with a body. I lived with them before I came to earth. I will live with my family and God again. I need to be baptized into his church, follow all his commandments, and continue to be faithful.

The Atonement in the Garden

During His atonement in the Garden of Gesthsemane, Christ suffered the pains, sicknesses, and sins of each of us. Because of His suffering and perfect life, He is the only one, who has earned the right to satisfy the demands of justice. I must live my life each day serving him, following his example so that after all that I can do, He will be my advocate at the judgement seat of God.
An olive tree in the Garden of Gesthsemane. Olive trees are one on the longest living plants. In fact, the roots of this very tree may have been where Jesus lay in agony, sweating as it were great drops of blood in his infinite atonement for you and I. Often in the quiet moments of the sacrament I close my eyes and bring myself back to this garden, and the Savior prostrate on the ground.

Death on the Cross and the Promise of Resurrection

The garden alone was not enough. Christ also had to give his life on the cross. He descended below all and was resurrected three days later. Here is the hope and glory for all of us. That we too will be resurrected some day. Our spirits will reunite with our bodies, just as Christ. We will come to judgement as resurrected persons. As God is.

Sitting in this very tomb was sacred and surreal. But the most powerful message, is one you don't see in this photo, engraven on the inside of the door. It reads, "He is not here, for He is risen!" Stronger than the feeling of the cold, tangible stone on my skin, was the warm,
palpable knowledge in my heart that He does live.


This knowledge grows and strengthens. But has always provided me clarity of purpose and direction. There have been times I struggled. Things I didn't understand. In college, as my personal religious and scientific studies deepened and intensified, questions arose. But the foundation of my testimony was solid. I never needed to look anywhere else for truth. I knew the Holy Ghost would help me understand.

Usually the problem was timing, or lack of understanding of scripture or modern revelation, or the need for more personal humility. But the answers come and clear any doubt in my mind. Anything that linger I just continue to search the words of the prophets and the scriptures. When I have prepared myself sufficiently for the Lord I'll receive what I need.

The Epiphany

Now, to the second book. The epiphany came this week as I was reading it. A book about how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is different than other Christian churches. It was like a light went off in my head.

I had no idea how lucky I was.

I didn't realize the Bible makes absolute sense to me only because I bring to it the light of revelation received from the Book of Mormon and modern prophets. The background knowledge I wrote of above. If the 14 year old Joseph Smith had not had the faith to act upon the words found in the James 1:5;

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all me liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

if he had not believed the heavens were still open and a loving God had not stopped speaking to his children on earth, I would have none of the peace, joy and clarity that sustain and uplift me everyday. The whole earth, including I, would still be wandering in darkness. But the heavens are open!

This isn't my photo. I haven't visited that sacred grove in New York since I was a little girl. But it isn't difficult to remember the feelings I had as I walked that ground. I remember holding my Dad's hand, and feeling the spirit testify to my heart again of Joseph.

Joseph asked God. And God answered. He answered by appearing in person, with his son Jesus Christ. He answered Joseph, by directing him to the sacred record of the Book of Mormon. Another testament of Christ. A record written for us. A record unfettered by thousands of years of men extruding and corrupting and reorganizing the truth. He answered Joseph by revealing the fulness of his church upon the earth once again.

Joseph was as Moses. He brought the law and the fulness. Moses asked his people to accept the revelation from God, the fulness he brought. As did Joseph. Joseph even acts as Christ did. Christ came and required the people to reject the Law of Moses, to no longer look only to the scripture and tradition, but to accept Him. To eat of the bread of life and partake of the living waters.

Most times I walk on a rocky shore, it brings me back to Galilee.
I envision the Savior walking on these same stones, feeling the same earth beneath his feet as I did.

The people had a choice, hold to the traditions of their fathers, or accept Christ and the fulness of the Gospel he brought. When his apostles died, the fulness of the gospel was gone. The Christian world has been searching ever since.

But my testimony of the Bible is as strong as my testimony of the Book of Mormon. The reason I know the Bible is true is because of the Book of Mormon. In fact it is one of the great purposes of the book is to convince the world the Bible is true.

I can use the words of living prophets to help me understand the sacred truths within it. If we really understand the Bible we know God speaks to his people and reveals his gospel through his living prophets.

A living prophet is on the earth today. His name is Thomas S. Monson, and he stands as witness of God, like the prophets of old. He is God's mouthpiece on earth.

Several years ago, before he was prophet, I had the opportunity to shake this mans hand. It was a crowded wedding reception, and so many people recognized him. He didn't have to take the time, but he did. He moved down the line and shook hands, looked in my eyes and smiled.
I hear and read his words. It isn't hard to know.

This week I discovered a lens. A lens I have used my entire life to recognize truth and detail. A lens others whom have not had the privilege of hearing and praying to the know the truth of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ do not have. A lens which has been the abundant source of all light and joy in my life. There is nothing I would not sacrifice to keep it with me.

Experiment Upon His Words

To anyone who has not tried this lens, whether unknown, set aside or forgotten, pick it up! Read in humility. Pray in faith. And, in the words of the Book of Mormon prophet Alma "experiment upon the [living] words" of Jesus Christ as found in the Book of Mormon and his living prophets.

I want everyone to have the clarity I have experienced without interruption from birth. This is why this particular Sunday insight is so important to me.


Sparkling Magic

How else could I describe these photos I took last night?

Ellery has a favorite poem:

by Dorothy Alids

The fenceposts wear marshmallow hats,
One a snowy day.
Bushes in their nightgowns,
Are kneeling down to pray.
And all the trees have silver skirts,
And want to dance away...

The End Has Come...Sigh...

Here I am the morning of my last run. I only made it 3 miles and had to turn back.

It was a sad week for me as my running days came to a close for a solid 6 or 7 months. My braxton-hicks started a couple weeks ago, mostly during the day. But when I tried running this week, it was one solid contraction. Sigh...

But I really can't complain. My body isn't rebelling against the p90x workouts so I should be able to keep in great shape doing those for the next little while.

As far as the pregnancy goes, the last month has been fabulous! Hooray for the end of the first trimester. I can sincerely say I have zero cravings for sugar of any kind anymore. I haven't had any emotional breakdowns. My skin is clearing. I am still "thick-waisted" but actually haven't changed too much in the last 2 months. It was like I plumped up really fast and then just stayed the same. I can function on 8 hours of sleep without any problems.

I am 18 weeks, so pretty soon here we will know if a little boy or girl is on the way.

My blood pressure is fantastic. I am averaging around 110-115/55-60. I don't think anyone could argue that isn't under control.

Thank goodness there is a second trimester of pregnancy.


Vitamin Cubes

This is a classic trick, but I thought I would post it anyways. Whenever I steam some spinach or asparagus or any vegetable, I save the water and turn them into ice cubes. Add the cubes to a morning smoothie for a little extra vitamin punch! Easy as can be, and you never have to pour those precious vitamins down the drain.


Spicy Black Beans and Rice

This recipe is straight from the classic Better Homes and Gardens cook book. I love it. I can't say it is my children's favorite, but eventually they will come around. It is inexpensive and easy to cook a huge batch of black beans in the pressure cooker. I put the extras in ziplock freezer bags and store in the freezer. But don't be afraid to just pop open a couple cans of beans too in a pinch! I usually double this recipe because it is actually better the next day.

Spicy Black Beans and Rice

1/2 c chopped onion
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
1 15 oz can of rinsed black beans (or 2 cups homecooked)
1 can stewed tomatoes
1/8-1/4 t cayenne pepper
Mexican seasonings to taste: I usually add 1 t chili powder, 1 t cumin, 1 t coriander
I you wanted you could also use the mexican styled stewed tomatoes.

Saute onion and garlic in oil until tender. Stir in remaining ingredients. Simmer uncovered for at least 15 minutes.

Serve over brown rice, quinoa or cornbread.

*In the photo I actually used black-eyed peas as well as black beans, and my home canned tomatoes.
The consistency was chunkier than normal but still delicious.


I left this as a comment in the last post, but I thought I better post it to be sure I was clear, and if some readers don't read the comments (and I don't publish them in my books).

In no way am I saying that the Word of Wisdom is a vegetarian document! It is not. Scripturally we have many accounts of appropriate times and places for using animals as food. Most often these occasions are after sacrifice, so the animal was not wasted, and while people are traveling in the wilderness (think Nephi). Clearly, also, they are to be used sparingly in times of winter and famine. At these times our bodies need more protein. Some experience these times much more often. It is up to each of us to decide personally how much we actually experience "winter," famine, and other circumstances where it is appropriate to use animals in this way.

As far as D&C 49 verses 17-19, I think first it is important to understand the revelation was given specifically to the Shakers. The Shakers forbade the eating of meat. Clearly, eating meat has a place in our lives and should never be forbidden. However, the place of meat in our lives is different depending on the situation and times in which we live. There may be times when I and my family need to increase our meat consumption.

I found it very interesting in the question and answer period, Dr. Campbell mentioned if someone was undergoing chemotherapy that was one particular instance where the research shows their bodies actually NEED more protein. So it should be consumed. I have read the same thing when recovering from surgery, and in climates that are very cold. I thought this was further proof he didn't have an agenda, he was only driven by the truth of the data. I immediately shared this information with my father-in-law.

I understand the struggle with dairy. I read a book by John A. Widstoe "The Word of Wisdom A Modern Interpretation." I highly recommend it. He is actually quite a big proponent of dairy. But all dairy should be unpasteurized and unprocessed.

My opinion is that where there is no modern revelation given it is best to study it out for ourselves and pray for personal revelation. My conclusion for our family is to follow the data and my studies in this case.

Much of the problem with dairy is probably the massive quantities, which any animal humanely bred and kept cannot produce to feed the average American dairy consumption. All the pastuerization, additives, hormones, antibiotics and other processing the dairy undergoes could be a major source of the problems too. Our dairy isn't coming from the family cow anymore. In fact it bears very little resemblance.

So while agree it is not out of accordance with the word of wisdom to consume dairy, I find it is in accordance with the research I have done to drastically limit it.

The Lord has also told us not be commanded in all things. So in this, we have moved forward in a way appropriate for our family and our stewardship. I feel very comfortable in keeping our animal (fish/eggs from our chickens/raw dairy) at levels below 10%.

Hopefully this clarifies how I was finally able to come to a decision on our dietary practices and what I do and don't believe is addressed by the breadth and scope of the Word of Wisdom.


The China Study and Dr. Campbell

On Friday I had a great opportunity to attend a conference where Dr. T. Colin Campbell was the keynote speaker. It was a priceless opportunity. What I took away from this conference is that Dr. Campbell is a man of integrity. He was motivated by research. His entire career he has spent researching nutrition and cancer while teaching at Cornell University.

I hesitated to post this picture because I look like gremlin. But here's the proof.

If I can be so bold as to summarize, what he has taken away from his lifelong research are the following things:

1. Do not exceed 10% animal protein in your diet. The SAD (standard american diet) contains 11-22%. Animal protein causes cancer to progress, while plant protein suppresses it. He trys to eat a 100% plant based diet.

2. Most diseases we suffer from (cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease...) are actually nutritional diseases. There is of course a genetic component, but this can almost always be counteracted through nutrition.

3. Nutrition is not about focusing on a single vitamin or mineral. Instead it is "the integrated effects of countless food constituents, which work in infinitely complex mechanisms for comprehensive health. It includes exercise, water, and sunshine. It is greater than the sum of parts. A biological symphony.

What I appreciate about Dr. Campbell is he doesn't have an agenda. His agenda is to educate and keep people healthy. He isn't selling a magic pill or diet, or special mineral drink. By simply eating a whole food (and that is key, not potato chips and candy) plant based diet we greatly reduce if not eliminate our chances of suffering from so many of the common, debilitating illnesses of our times. Plagues, if you will (my words).

I highly recommend his book The China Study. When I read it, it was the nail in the coffin of drastically reducing our dairy consumption. His advice was no mother should feed be giving their child milk (beyond breast milk). In his opinion (based on his research), casein, the protein found in dairy, is one of the most potent carcinogens known. It is a provocative claim to make. Read his book, examine the research and decide for yourself. It is worth your time and health.

I investigated those who have spoken out against him. The majority of the criticism has come from the Weston Price Foundation. This foundation promotes high cholesterol, high animal product diet. I just haven't found the legitimate evidence to follow a diet like this.

In the question and answer period, someone asked about fish and yogurt. Dr. Campbell responded that there is some emerging evidence to show that fish protein may not have the same affect as other animal proteins. He also said there is some evidence to show that the fermentation process negates some of the negative effects of dairy. He still does not recommend them, but did mention if he does choose to have animal protein on rare occasion, he choses fish.

I appreciated this, since this is alignment with how I have felt for my family. We aren't vegan but we are definitely committed to staying below the 10% mark.

After the lecture I was able to speak with Dr. Campbell and his son, who happened to sit behind me. I was impressed of the respect with which he spoke of his father. He said his entire career has been driven by integrity. My gut told me exactly the same thing.

I encourage you to decide for yourself. And then put it in context of modern revelation from a prophet of God, The Word of Wisdom D&C 89. How blessed we are to have the directive straight from God. We weren't required to spend our entire lives doing research. Our only requirement is to have faith sufficient to act upon His words.


Sunday Insights: The Easiness of the Way

In accordance with my goal to:

Bear testimony of the truths I know more consistently to my family and friends.

I am going to try to and have some insights each Sunday. Moments of gratitude, awakenings, tender mercies, or simply testifying. Because my blog is now a "book of remembrance" to pass along to my posterity in addition to verbally expressing to my children what I know, they will have a written and recorded record. Because Sunday is my day of rest and worship, what better time?

I love the sidebar my friend Sandra has on her blog. Quoting former President Gordon B. Hinckley in 2006 it reads:

You will have significant experiences. I hope that you will write them down and keep a record of them, that you will read them from time to time and refresh your memory of those meaningful and significant things. Some may be funny. Some may be significant only to you. Some of them may be sacred and quietly beautiful. Some may build one upon another until they represent a lifetime of special experiences.

Here are the thoughts that fill my mind today.

Don't Disregard the Easiness of the Way

I have been reading in the Book of Mormon the book of Helaman this week. The coming of the Lord was soon at hand and the people were ripening for destruction. Sound familiar? At this point the prophet Nephi was pleading with his people to repent and believe in Christ.

Helaman 8:14-15

Yea, did [Moses] not bear record that the Son of God should come? And as he lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, even so shall he be lifted up who should come. And as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal.

It was as easy as looking at the brass serpent and believing and the people could have had life and been healed. But many chose to disregard this, because of the simplicity. It is so much the same with me. I cannot dismiss the simple truth of looking upon the Son of God to live. It translates to every moment of every day.

How does it translate?

How I chose to respond to my children when I am tired and busy.

What I do when my son is pulling on my finger begging me to go somewhere with him, as he struggles to communicate.

How much of the day do I have a smile on my face.

My response to a hungry husband who sees absolutely no food in the house that he could possibly eat.

Thinking before I react when my children refuse to eat the dinner I so painstakingly prepared for them in accordance with our chosen dietary principles.

Only nice people will be found living with the Savior in the next life.

Those who try every moment of every day to act as he did will be there. Eventually it becomes who we are. And his light shines from within us. I testify the more we try, the more we remember, Him, the more he will write his names upon our hearts and we become as he is. It is as simple as being good and kind and selfless. It is true in my life. It gets easier, not harder the more we try.

Real Life

Several months ago I was putting the children to bed. It seemed like Ellery had called or come down at least 20x. I can't remember where Brent was or what he was doing. My patience had worn thin. The last few times telling her to go to bed was about it for me. She called down again. I was ready to snap. Then that familiar quiet voice of the Holy Ghost said go up, with gentleness. Try a different way. I went upstairs and decided to take a few more minutes and snuggle in close. We shared a special 5 minutes that I might have missed, had I reacted the way I felt. I even felt a little sick, thinking about what she said to me, the tenderness.

Those are the moments when I feel closest to Him. The easiness of the way. I could have ignored the prompting, because it was so simple. Easy. I chose to listen and felt Him there. Since that time I have gained more moments that previously I may have let slip away. I have missed some too. The rewards are so rich. I love the inspiration that comes by writing down our experiences. I think I like my new Sunday tradition.


Day of Reckoning for the Hens

The weather has been warming ever so slightly as Utah continues to wallow under high pressure. The results are varied.

One...we are still stuck with this, even nastier air than before

Two...zero precipitation. The snow recedes in my backyard. My natural barrier for the chickens is gone. The last 4 days they have been pecking on my window and leaving the goey evidence plastered to my deck.
Just when I began to feel slightly favorable to the birds, the children are so delighted to come out to the hen house in the morning and find this....

We even cooked our first fresh egg. Although it was a little difficult to stomach, considering we have been virtually egg-free for 6 months. I'm still trying to decide what to do with these eggs. We will see how many we actually get. I think only one hen is currently laying. Maybe two, since today we had a speckled egg, and 2 days ago just brown.

But the poop was more than I could handle. We headed to the hardware store last night. Yesterday was my little hens last day of overrunning my backyard.

A little green wire fence and few posts allowed us to easily construct a simple, and very discreet run. Right now it is temporary, until we know it will keep the hens inside. It was a family effort to round up the chickens and put them in their new home.

Anna, who heads up the pecking order was distraught by her captivity. She paced for hours along the fence, poking her head in and out searching for an out. After several hours we did find her happily pecking away on the grass. Brent wove some branches to stick straight out above the fence as a deterrent. So far so good.

I feel this is a real turning point in our relationship. Snicker all you want. Brent and I both spent a good portion of the day being entertained by our little hens in their pen. Secretly, relishing our roles as conquerors. We have taken back our yard. Anna however seemed so distraught we had to do something to ease the pain of captivity. For the first time they feasted on table scraps. These chickens were in heaven.

An Allegory to Life?

Brent decided we had created our own communist regime in the backyard. He rehearsed an entire allegory relative to our chickens and their loss of liberty. How easily they were distracted from the fences when delicious food was hand fed to them, the need to work vanished. Brent actually came inside chuckling in a diabolical fashion, knowing soon our chickens will be fat and happy in captivity and we are in charge of our domain. And theirs! Ha, ha, ha....

....that is, unless they prove to have more fortitude and desire than we anticipate. Only time will tell.


Young Coconuts and Virgin "Crackers"

Since being introduced to young coconuts several weeks ago, I have been longing to make a first attempt. Thankfully to some great readers I was alerted of some great places to buy them in bulk. Oriental markets are usually the best. But I first just headed to the health store to buy a couple and try my luck.

This is what they look like.

A young coconut is actually is a young coconut, but the outer green husk has been removed. We shaved off the white husk to reveal the familiar brown, hairy outside of a coconut. Who knew? Who also knew, we would need a hammer and a new knife? Once Brent got the feel, he easily cracked open this little baby.

We had our collection receptacle ready and actually harvested almost 1 1/2 cups of coconut water. Why would you want coconut water you may ask? I also would have asked this question to myself until last year at the Boston Marathon Runners Expo.
Coconut Water an Ideal Sports Drink

The Expo had about every health product imaginable. The only one I was sold on, hook, line and sinker was coconut water. All athletes understand, when working out for extended periods at high intensity, we lose a lot of electrolytes. And if I took anything away from Physiology in College it was that our bodies better have electrolytes or we are sunk.

I struggle however to put down the typical gatorade. They are chock full of high fructose corn syrup, sugar, fructose, cane juice, whatever euphemism you choose, I don't like it. And also food dyes and salt. Lots of salt. Which is an electrolyte. But these drinks tend to be heavy on salt and low on potassium, with little or no other nutritive value.

According to nutritiondata.com coconut water is... very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Vitamin C, Riboflavin and Calcium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese.

They claim as a negative the high sodium. However the sodium levels are just right for an electrolyte drink. I began using coconut water in my races last summer. I have just bought it prepackaged until this recent adventure in coconut cracking. Coconut water has also been proven to reduce blood pressure. Scientists believe this is because of its high potassium and vitamin C concentrations. You can bet I will really start pounding this as my pregnancy progresses.
Now on to the "meat." We simple took a spoon and scooped out the inside. The results were a 1/2 cup of gelatinous coconut meat. The taste was pleasant. But I really wanted to try it in was vegan ice cream. It was amazing! My best textured ice cream yet. The flavor this time was Banana Almond Butter Cup. Below you will see a picture of the Almond Butter Cups I made. The recipe came from Everyday Raw, but actually think I can improve it quite a bit. So I will work on it and keep you posted.