Book Review: What Did You Expect?

Despite the completely uninspiring, flashback-to-1950’s cover (which has now been redesigned for release in April), this was a seriously incredible and highly valuable book. Paul Tripp offers really wise, humble, godly, and gospel-centered advice for marriages… that is also intensely practical.

Most often I have found that marriage books to be either one or the other: very Biblically based, with 15 Scriptures on every page but lacking practical, take-home advice in a big way or not so philosophical but all practical, wreaking of pop-psychology and failing to appeal to God’s love and the Story of Redemption as it applies to our lives and relationships. Not so with this book.

For example, at one point in the book he says (I’m paraphrasing), “You don’t have a communication problem, you have a self-love problem.” He goes on to say (I’m not paraphrasing here), “It is self-love that makes you more committed to what you understand than to understanding your spouse. It is self-love that cause you not to listen well. It is self-love that makes you unwilling to wait until you are sure that you have understood your spouse. It is self-love that keeps you from viewing your spouse’s words, perspectives, desires, and opinions as valuable. It is self-love that fills your brain so full of what you think and know that you have little room for your spouse’s thoughts. It is self-love that makes you value your own way more than you value real functional understanding between you and your mate.”

See what I mean? Gospel-centered: showing that our problem is that we don’t trust in the Cross of Christ for our marriages; instead we are trusting in ourselves and loving ourselves. Jesus tells us to take up our cross, but instead we take up a sword because we’re ready to fight. And Practical: The Gospel is not some etherial thing that isn’t applicable to daily life in your marriage (though, neither does it offer Encyclopedic-type help). And it isn’t something that was just for when you became a believer; it isn’t just for getting saved, it is for living saved. So the Gospel there in a highly practical way for every day, every fight, every miscommunication, every lack of trust, every grumpy word, every personality difference and every disappointment in your marriage.

I haven’t read stacks of marriage books. But I have read a few (although, I have not yet read Mark and Grace Driscoll’s “Real Marriage” or Tim and Kathy Keller’s “Meaning of Marriage” that are on my 2012 Book List). Hands-down, I would recommend reading this one above all the others that I have read to date. If you are married, getting married, or know someone who is married, this book should have a place on your shelf (after having a place in your hands and heart). I WILL be reading it again, as it is so rich and useful for my own marriage and also for other relationships in which I need love, self-denial, communication, etc… Paul Tripp and God’s Word are presented in such a way as to humbly bring me back to the Cross.

It deserves an A+++++, truly.

Rating: A. Highly Recommended!

Title: What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage
Author: Paul David Tripp
Length: 288 pages
Genre: Marriage

Tuesday Tip: Use Your Stool as a Tool

For everyone’s benefit, I will abstain from including a picture for this post!

As uncomfortable as this can be for people to discuss (or even admit that they do it?), your very own stool can sometimes be a great tool for revealing the state of your health.

Ideally, though everyone is different, you should eliminate at least once a day.  Healthy stool should be brownish, not black, not green, not grey. If you have eaten enough fiber, they should be light, not dense and heavy. They should be easy to pass with not too pungent of an odor. Here are some possible and general assosiations:

Bloody or mucous-covered
Could be a sign of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or even colon cancer. It can also be something less-severe like inflammation/irritation from hemorrhoids.

Thin, ribbonlike or flattened
Usually the sign of an abstraction like a polyp that narrow the elimination pathway. It can also be a sign of Irritable Bowel Syndrome or spastic colon.

Large and leaves a film in the toilet
Can be a sign of malabsorption, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Abnormally fatty stools
Could be a sign of pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas that can lead to diabetes

Extremely foul-smelling
May mean you have a deficiency of “friendly bacteria” that inhabit your intestines or Candida yeast overgrowth.

Greenish
Food may be moving too quickly through the large intestine (as with diarrhea) and as a result, the yellow-green bile doesn’t have time to break down completely. Also could be a simple reason like the need to cut down on sugar or it may mean you need more whole grains Possible dietary causes could be the inclusion of green leafy vegetables or green food coloring (such as in popsicles or juices with artificial food coloring) or from iron supplements.

Pale, greyish
Can be a sign of liver or gallbladder problems as it probably indicates a lack of bile and therefore a possible blocked flow of bile into the intestines.

Black, tar-like
May mean you have bleeding in your upper digestive tract, stomach or esophagus. Also could be from iron supplements, Pepto-Bismol or black licorice!

Reddish
Humorously, usually the result of eating red foods like beets! If it is bright red, could indicate bleeding in the rectum.

Dark brown
May mean there is too much salt in your diet or that you are not passing your stools quickly enough (eat more fiber!)

Book Review: Bloodlines

I read this book at the same time as reading The Help, which was a great move. This book is as timely in 2012 as it would have been in 1800 or 1964 as our issues have only slightly improved, but haven’t been radically changed or resolved. The book is moving as it tells John Pipers personal story of the racism he carried in his heart growing up in the South.

He begins the first few chapters by discussing the two-sided coin of personal responsibility (changing your life and culture with jobs, improved morality, etc…) and structural intervention (civil rights, government, etc…) when it comes to addressing the problem in this country. He quotes many people on both sides of the responsibility fence, including Juan Williams and Bill Cosby, as well as many academics. But after discussing the very large and present problem and just what everyone thinks we should do about it, he offers one and only one solution to the Christian for dismantling racism in the heart and in the culture: the Gospel.

Some may argue that there are other solutions to eradicating racism. Some things are beneficial and can advance love and acceptance of other races. Activism, education, social awareness, diversity in our schools and neighborhoods and churches can all benefit us. But the Gospel is the only thing that can, in an instant, change a person’s hate to love.

John Piper argues for the Gospel as the answer by presenting at least 9 different ways the Gospel is powerful against racism. I’ll give you #1 as an example. The Gospel is the only thing that has power against Satan and the workings of the evil one. You and I are not stronger than he is. He loves racism, loves hatred. He wants to see races continue to be segregated and separated by hate and fear, misunderstanding and ignorance. So if we, with all of our hope and personal responsibility and all of our structural intervention, aren’t stronger than Satan, there is no way that any of our programs or attempts will eradicate anything.

Read the book for reasons #2-9 that the Gospel is powerful against this issue.

You may not think there is anything to eradicate in your life or heart. You may not see yourself as a real racist. If you are white, you are the majority (at least for now) in this country. Imagine what you would feel and live like if you moved to Nigeria. Growing up as a minority may create a different outlook, different speech in your home, etc… Ask yourself a few questions: Do you ever tell racial jokes? What would you think, deep down in your heart even, if your daughter married a black man? What if there were only African-American people on TV shows that you watched? What if you eventually are the minority in this country? These questions need to be addressed personally and then find their answer and their resolve in the Gospel.

Bloodlines is available for free in PDF from Desiring God.

Rating: A. Highly Recommended!

Title: Bloodlines: Race, Cross and the Christian
Author: John Piper
Length: 304 pages
Genre: Spiritual Life

Weekly Dish: Chocolate Peppermint Coconut Fudge

I know it’s not the holidays anymore. I should have posted this before Valentines Day in case anyone was looking for a real food dessert including chocolate. But because this is almost completely raw and there is not one compromise in the whole pan, feel free to make it for any occasion or non-occasion alike. And not feel guilty about eating half the pan!

I got this recipe around Christmas from Our Nourishing Roots and it is oh-so delicious.

CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT COCONUT FUDGE

1/2 cup coconut butter
1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup thick, raw honey
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

1. In a bowl with a hand mixer (or use a food processor), combine coconut butter, coconut oil, cocoa powder, honey, peppermint, and vanilla until very well combined.

2. Spread mixture into a square glass pan, smoothing the top evenly. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove the pan, cut into squares (if it’s too stiff, then let sit 10 minutes at room temperature and try again). Using a small spatula, loosen the individual squares. Store in the refrigerator in a container. To serve, remove from the fridge and let the chill come off for about 20 minutes.

Weekly Dish: Chicken Vegetable Soup with Ginger Meatballs

Here I am with another soup recipe. And another soup recipe from The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, at that. This one was delightfully different and tasty enough to make it on another menu somewhere in the near future.

 

Chicken Vegetable Soup with Ginger Meatballs

Meatballs:
1 pound ground organic dark-meat chicken
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon real salt or celtic sea salt
Pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup uncooked brown rice

Soup:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced small
real salt or celtic sea salt
2 large carrots, peeled and diced small
2 large celery stalks, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
8 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1 lime, cut into quarters, for garnish

To make the meatballs, combine the chicken, ginger, garlic, parsley, salt, cayenne, egg, and rice in a bowl and mix with your hands or a spatula until well combined. Don’t overwork the mixture or the meatballs will be tough.

Wet the palms of your hands so the mixture doesn’t stick, roll it into 1-inch balls, and place them on the prepared pan.

To make the soup, heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat, then add the onion and a pinch of salt and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the carrot, celery, garlic, ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and continue sauteing for about 3 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and another 1/4 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer, then gently transfer half of the meatballs into the simmering broth. (You can refrigerate or freeze the remainder to use later or make a double pot of soup like I did so that I could use them all.) Cover and allow the meatballs to simmer for around 1 hour, until the rice is tender.)

Add the peas and spinach and cook for 3 minutes more, then stir in parsley and basil. Serve each bowl garnished with a wedge of lime.

Variation: You can always make the meatballs without rice as the binder. Add a little onion and maybe an extra egg and you’ll be fine without it. Or if you’re comfortable using breadcrumbs or raw oats, do that. You can also use cooked rice and then you won’t have to simmer the meatballs in the soup as long.

Weekly Dish: Thai It Up Chicken Soup

Wow, this soup has restaurant quality. I had two bowls and would have had a shameful third, but my stomach couldn’t handle any more broth…

This recipe is adapted from a new cookbook I have found, The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen. Real food doesn’t have to taste like “health food”. This cookbook has gone four for five in my kitchen. Not bad stats. I have adapted the recipes to my food philosophy (Weston A. Price Foundation, traditional foods, properly preparing grains, etc…).

Here is the recipe, in all its glory:

Thai It Up Chicken Soup

8 cups homemade chicken stock
2 shallots, or 1 small red or white onion, peeled and halved
6 1-inch pieces of un-peeled fresh ginger
1 stalk lemongrass, bruised and cut into chunks
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 teaspoon real salt or celtic sea salt
15 oz. coconut milk (not low-fat)
2-3 cups already cooked brown rice or already-cooked brown rice noodles
1 cup peeled and finely chopped carrot
pinch of cayenne
2 organic chicken breasts, cut into slices or chunks (optional: add more or less depending on your broth-stuff ratio in soups)
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
2 Tablespoons sliced scallion, for garnish

Combine the broth, shallots or onions, ginger, lemongrass, lime zest, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a dutch oven over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop out all the solids and discard. Stir in the coconut milk and continue to simmer, being careful not to boil, for another 10 minutes.

Stir the carrot and cayenne into the soup, simmer for 3 minutes, then add the chicken and simmer for an additional 7 minutes, until chicken is tender and thoroughly cooked. Stir in the rice, lime juice, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Serve garnished with cilantro and scallion.

Variation: For an extra immune booster, add 1 cup of stemmed and sliced shiitake mushrooms when you add the chicken.