Forty Days {The Grove: Health}

The green smoothie I’m chugging is purple thanks to blueberries seasonal, fresh, and cheap. It’s also sporting lettuce, mango, coconut milk and seeds (flax, chia, and hemp). In case you’re interested, the five basic components of the best green smoothies[i] are:

Greens Approximately 2 cups of whatever you have or can get – spinach, kale, lettuce (darker leaves pack more nutrients), or chard (this flavor can be intense, so make sure you like it before you commit).

Creamy fruit like a banana, mango, papaya, or avocado.

Sweet fruit like berries, cherries, pear, apple, or citrus.

Liquid 1 ½ cups of water, juice, milk (almond, coconut, or soy), or a combination of these.

Boosts like flax, chia, and hemp seeds. [These were always on my packing list to bring back to China or to request in care packages. Costco (an American wholesale warehouse) rocks big bags of easily transported goodness.]

Put it all in a blender and whiz-a-roo. My blender in China was challenged, so I blended in batches. There’s enough here to share or to store in the fridge for several days.

But the story I really want to tell is about another drink that had my heart, until recently.

Back in early February I started thinking about what to give up for Lent, the forty days leading up to Easter. I wanted it to match my One Word for the year, which is slow. What could I give up that would help me gear down? The answer came pretty quickly, but I didn’t let it through for several days. Coffee.

On a Sunday morning before Ash Wednesday I sat clutching savoring my cup as the Pastor prepared us for Lent saying that what we choose to give up creates a gap in us that we can fill with God instead. He said that some years by the end of Lent, he doesn’t add whatever-it-is back into his life at all. Thankfully, I was able to stifle my snort. I’m getting coffee back, I prayed.

Ash Wednesday dawned and I had a cup of green tea, and an incredible headache by the evening. Much of my everyday was anchored by my coffee habit, and truthfully, I hated the discomfort it created in me and my relationships to forego.

I was already praying the daily office by then, but over those Lenten weeks the habit anchored into some deep crevice in me when before it had floated on top of my liquid god.

Fast forward to Easter. I got up with the sun and alleluia-ed my way through my coffee routine of boiling, measuring, grinding, and percolating. It tasted amazing and I gave thanks, but by mid-morning I felt like crum-diddly I was so jittery. I knew I could get my tolerance back, but I had an itty-bitty doubt that I wanted to.

I continued recreating my habit that week after Easter, and by Saturday my face was back to normal. By normal, I mean marked by the deep and painful cystic acne that has plagued me for years. I asked Nick if he thought there could be a connection, and later that afternoon he sent me this article.

It would have meant nothing to me before. I would not have stifled my snort, and just continued on my caffeine-fueled way. For good measure I might have sought out an article on the merits of coffee consumption and liked it, tweeted it, and shared it.

Now, I couldn’t deny that God had gently, incrementally moved me to an altar where the offering wasn’t only about cultivating a more robust prayer life, but was also for my good physical and mental health. Mercy.

If you don’t have a rock-solid reason to set your cup down, don’t do it! The comfort and community created by coffee culture can be evidence of God with us. This isn’t about coffee in particular.

To make consistently healthy choices, we have to have a taste for healthy things. That taste can be acquired…apparently, in about forty days.

May we each have a taste for the good stuff.

Is there a healthy habit you want to add into your life? An unhealthy one you want to subtract? Could you give it forty days?

[i] Adapted from Thug Kitchen.

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  1. Amy Young July 24, 2015

    Kim, I absolutely love the tie-in between 40 days and health. Someone pointed out to me in the year before I turned 40 how often (and how holy) the number 40 is … and now to see it used for good for body (which connects to mind and soul) just seems to right. Thanks for your invitation to keep leaning in to Jesus in all areas.

    1. Kimberly Todd July 24, 2015

      Thanks, Amy! I can’t remember where or when, but I once read something about the sacredness of 40. It is stunning to read the Scriptures and look at church tradition with that awareness. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. ErinMP July 25, 2015

    I love this post. I was literally just praying about improvements I could make in my health and, I kid you not, was coming on this site to look for a DIY smoothie (since you gals always post cool recipes I always promise myself I’m going to try) and voila! So thanks! This was all really encouraging and great timing. 🙂 Praying about ways to help glorify God in this temple and bring about a healthier, happier mee.

    1. Kimberly Todd July 25, 2015

      That is so cool, Erin! I hope you like the smoothie. A green smoothie really should be yummy, not just tolerable, and certainly it shouldn’t taste like grass clippings, so if it’s not right the first time, play with the ingredients and ratios until you get something you like. I should have said the boosts are optional. I’m raising a glass (of smoothie) to your good health!

  3. Elizabeth July 25, 2015

    I think it’s so interesting that these things that are so good for our health, whether spiritual, emotional, or physical, are often HARD to implement. For me going to bed on time and getting up early have been hard to implement, but oh so good for me. Learning to pace myself with food and not starve OR stuff has been hard. Learning not to worry (or who am I kidding — learning to worry less) has been hard. Learning better conflict resolution skills — hard. All those healthy changes — HARD. The gold on the other side, however, is worth the hard.

    1. Kimberly Todd July 28, 2015

      Yes! Hard, hard, hard. (Sorry I’m just now circling back to this conversation.) I have to know that God is calling me to the change, and that He is in each moment it takes to implement it, or I quickly drown in a cycle of resolve/failure/guilt. It’s amazing how much easier a hard path becomes when I can rest/listen/obey.

  4. Ruth July 27, 2015

    Kevin has been doing smoothies for breakfast – I should get some of those “boosts” to bring back.  I need to stock-pile spinach – the little veggie store seems to have it every few days or so, but I could probably buy out their whole stash and it wouldn’t go too far.  Does it work to freeze fresh spinach, or do you need to blanch it first or something?

    For some reason lately I keep thinking about your story of the doctor asking if you exercised and you said, “I’m active,” and he/she marked down “no.”  It makes me giggle.  Have you still been able to walk a lot of places in your small town?  Do you have bikes?  I would really miss biking.

    1. Kimberly Todd July 28, 2015

      Hey, Ruth! I never freeze spinach. I don’t know how it does. I like it fresh so I buy it, keep it in the fridge, and wash it just before using. (It seems to spoil more quickly after being washed, even in the fridge.)

      That story still tickles me, too. We do a lot of walking. This town is built for it and I love that. Shep starts at the local public school in Sept, and we’re classified as “walkers.” Nick bikes back and forth to work. We haven’t been able to find a kid seat that works with my bike for Basil so we’re not bike mobile as a family. I miss it so much.

  5. Bo Yang July 31, 2017

    I enjoyed reading your comments and relate to the content you provide. The article you related to that shook you up about coffee and acne is worthwhile and a good primer for what coffee does to us and how it may relate to acne. I recently wrote a blog comment that went into a littler further depth about this topic and hope it will be of some service for you at the following:

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