How to Make A Smoothie and Smooth Religion

Smoothies are easy to make

Smoothies are easy to make

“I’ll have a green smoothie for breakfast,” my weekend guests ordered the night before. “What about eggs? Don’t you want eggs for breakfast?” I just bought a dozen fresh from a local farmer at the market and I was excited about cheating a little, not that eggs are particularly “cheating,” but the butter and cheese I was planning to add to them would definitely land them in that category. Eggs for breakfast sounded great to me. “No, no, we want a green smoothie,” they insisted. They all wanted to try it and even though my sister later acquiesced to an egg or two, I let her off the hook the next morning and gave her what she really wanted–the green smoothie.

Smoothies are a cinch to make if you have a good blender. Throw in some bananas and other fruit with some almond milk (or soy, or cow’s milk) and power up the blender. If you want a thick smoothie, use less milk, Kefir, or plain yogurt. If you want a thinner textured smoothie use coconut water or fruit juice (maybe dilute it with water to lower the sugar content). That’s really all there is to it and to make it green, just throw in some kale, or spinach, or even romaine will work–or use a mixture of greens to get even more nutrients. I also add some ginger, flax-seed, turmeric, and matcha powdered green tea for a more healthful variety. Using frozen fruit will make the smoothie more refreshing in the hot summer months, and beware that some fruits like blueberries will turn your green smoothie brown. For my guests I made a healthful variety with flax seeds and ginger, bananas, mango, spinach and almond milk. Both mango and bananas have a high sugar content which I thought my guests would enjoy. Smoothies made with low sugar content tend to reveal more of the flavor of the greens which is not bad but may not be the best bet for folks who are trying it for the first time.

Having a green smoothie for breakfast is really like eating a small salad and some fruit, something that is unusual for an American breakfast. I continue to hang onto about a quarter of a cup of granola first thing in the morning. It helps sweeten the coffee I also drink. If I am going to have a green smoothie, I usually drink it mid-morning. One day I plan on giving up that coffee and granola but it’s been a real struggle for me.

Religion is also a struggle for me. There are so many different theologies in the Christian religion and I have been exposed to many churches: Catholic, Church of Christ, Methodist, Anglican, Presbyterian, and Reformed. It is not easy but God in many ways will remain a mystery since He is not like men or women, He does not think like we do, and He is more loving and greater than anything we can imagine. So, of course we will always struggle to know Him. Add to that other two religions about Him, Jewish and Muslim, and all their factions, and we’ve got a real mix of understanding of who the great I AM really is. However, it is interesting to note that in all the religions, and even pagan religions, most will agree that we are to love one another, certainly this is true in the Christian religion. The fact that we so often fall short of this is proof that we all struggle in our faith. The road of faith and trust is not smooth. We struggle to understand what God wants from us and we are tormented by the fact that trying to put the Almighty Creator of the Universe into our small brain of understanding is never really going to happen.

Love, however, can happen. God’s loving presence is always there for us. It can be so overpowering that we tell ourselves that God couldn’t possibly love us quite that much. He would not favor us over others. Why would God give us so many material blessing and almost nothing to someone else? And so we struggle even with His show of love.

But this is a skewed understanding because God’s presence is worth more than any material blessing. When I visit with those who have barely a home to live in, I see that joy does not come from material things but from the love of God and that He is quite generous in providing that love. People who are rich in material things often assume it is these “things” that bring joy and that without them no one can be happy. And so we can feel guilty and confused by what we see as God’s favoritism.

In fact, God’s favor is shown by His presence in our lives, our trust in Him, and the joy that comes from faith. If we have material wealth, God has given it to us to share with our children, our families, our neighbors, and our friends. Opportunities to offer hospitality and charitable giving abound in church ministries and missions. Though we may always struggle to fully know our God, His love for us and our love for others will make all our faith journeys a little smoother.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,  neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

Sugar and God’s Sweet Spot

Have you heard that sugar is bad for us? Of course you have. I’ve heard it was bad for my teeth since, well, since I began having teeth. It is also bad in many other ways, most importantly for me is that tumor cells need sugar to grow. Other bad boy results from sugar are insulin problems, added fat because our bodies convert sugar into fat, and its very acidic, just to name a few.

Fruit has lots of sugar in it but it is served to us in fiber which slows the digestion of the sugar by our bodies, eliminating the sugar spike that raw sugar, honey, and all those other so-called healthy sweeteners cause. Eating fruit is good for us and some of it is very sweet. A ripe persimmon can taste like candy. Dates have lots of sugar with the added benefit of being dense enough to use in dessert crusts, cookies, and yummy gooey fillings. Bananas can be frozen and made into a delicious type of fake ice cream with a little almond milk and nut butter. Dried fruits like raisins, mango, and pineapple can also be a tasty sugary treat that will not harm your body but still satisfy a sugar craving. Be sure that the dried fruit you buy does not have some form of sugar as an additional ingredient in the ingredient list.

Sugar is such a bad boy that it has a variety of names that can fool us. Anything with an “ose” at the end of the word is sugar. Examples are fructose, dextrose, and sucrose. Malts and syrups are sugars. It doesn’t matter where the sugar comes from, it really doesn’t make it any healthier. What is bad is that the fiber has been taken out of it, i.e., it has been processed, and is therefore poisonous to our system because it is coming to us in a highly concentrated form causing a sugar spike that our body needs to “fix” with insulin.

God must have a sweet tooth too because His word talks a lot about a land flowing with milk and honey. God’s own words are described as being sweeter than honey. But unlike honey which can cause illness and promote bacterial growth (eww!), God’s word is “better than” honey. How sweet are the words in the Bible that describe God’s faithful love for us regardless of our actions, sins, and hard-heartedness towards Him. In fact, God’s love is so enduring and so genuine that He has sacrificed the apple of His eye, the very love of His life, for us. But I don’t think Jesus Christ is God’s sweet spot. I think you and I are God’s sweet spot. We are the ones He loves and cares for every day. He listens to our complaints, our grief, our suffering, and He suffers beside us. Give Him your heart today and He will put you in a spiritual land of milk and honey, a very sweet spot, where He is always present to us, and never faraway.

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! — Psalm 119:103