Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Know This Woman #2: Julie
I am thrilled to be able to introduce you to another phenomenal person, who I am blessed to call my friend. This lovely woman is also probably the most credentialed gal I know: she attended the University of Washington before joining the LDS Church at age 20 (she grew up RLDS), then transferred to BYU where she earned her undergraduate and law degrees. Julie was a practicing attorney for years, and just recently took down her shingle to focus her complete efforts on her husband, four lovely daughters, and her home. She is a published author of both articles and books, has been our ward Gospel Doctrine teacher extraordinaire, and is now our Primary president. She is the PTA president at her girls' elementary school, and in all her spare time, (whew!) she's an accomplished artist and athlete. Julie has a phenomenal mind, which I lovingly call her "steel trap" ... nothing gets by this girl, and she remembers everything.
But we're not going to focus on any of that. The thing that I love the very most about Julie is her talent in being a devoted friend. Some of the most uplifting, Spirit-charged conversations I've ever had have been with her. We say that we are kindred spirits because we share such similar love for all things spiritual. Many a Sunday evening you will find us on the phone together, talking over the events from Church that day. Julie is one of those rare people who easily sees the good in all people and situations. We give each other synopses of the lessons we heard / taught that day, and marvel over the way the Gospel is working in our, and our ward family members', lives.
For years Julie has gently nudged me toward a more healthy lifestyle. She hooked me up with my first pedometer years ago and has been my walking buddy, usually with one or more of her daughters in tow. Rarely do I leave her home where she isn't coaxing me to try some new dish that she has created, or plucking a home grown veggie of some sort from her garden for me to sample. In my eyes, Julie is a Word of Wisdom EXPERT (and a self-described "foodie"), who is on a constant quest to create foods for her family that are both healthy and delicious.
I thought it would be fun to do a real "interview" with her, so that you might glean from her insights and passion, too. Following are five questions that I emailed to her, and in italics are her responses. I have taken the liberty of bolding key points that particularly struck me.
If you aren't familiar with the Word of Wisdom, it is a revelation received by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1833, in response to his inquiring of the Lord about the use of tobacco by the brethren in early Church meetings. This Word of Wisdom is found in the Doctrine & Covenants, Section 89. There are 21 verses, and you can go HERE to read it in its entirety.
Following the interview, stick around at the bottom of the blog post for a list of ten yummy things that Julie has shared with me.
1. (Macy) YOU GREW UP IN A HOME WHERE GOOD NUTRITION AND EATING FRESH, WHOLE FOODS WAS THE NORM. AFTER YOU JOINED THE CHURCH AT AGE 20, HOW DID THE WORD OF WISDOM AFFECT YOUR ALREADY HEALTHY EATING HABITS?
(Julie) For me, the critical question was one we all have to ask ourselves when we move away from home and start trying out our own wings: "What is this going to look like in my life?" At some point after leaving the nest, we all have to make those critical decisions about how we are going to live our individual lives.
Tossed into a system where sleepless nights, high stress levels, and nutritional apathy were the norm, it took me a little while to figure out what choices I was going to make on the eating spectrum. I had decided early in my life that most of the "abstinence" list (contained in the Word of Wisdom) were things I had no desire to touch. I found the biggest transition involved learning to put 'what I was going to eat' on the radar far enough in advance to ensure that there were Word of Wisdom-friendly foods in my apartment. This made it possible for me, in the time crunch, hectic, grab-and-go collegiate life, to grab things friendly to my body. When I didn't do this (which happened more frequently than I'd like to admit), I could feel a difference in my energy levels.
2. (Macy) WHAT BLESSINGS HAVE YOU SEEN IN YOUR LIFE THAT HAVE COME FROM STUDYING, AND TRYING TO LIVE, THE WORD OF WISDOM?
(Julie) The blessings for me that come from living the Word of Wisdom mirror blessings I have experienced from following any principle or law Heavenly Father gives us. I came from a family where I saw early-on the devastating effects that addiction can wage on individuals and families. I had a relative who struggled unsuccessfully to battle an alcohol addiction his entire life. Though our contacts with him were infrequent, they were enough to vividly impress the freedom that comes from avoiding the addictive substances outlined in the Word of Wisdom. As I have grown, every experience I have had has reinforced that truth to me. We are blessed with freedom to choose. Following the Word of Wisdom helps us to retain that freedom.
As an adult, as I read, ponder, and try to implement the Word of Wisdom, I find that many of the blessings promised in the revelation have come to me as a result of those efforts. I will read a section, and find specific thoughts and promptings come to me through the week, as I try to follow what I have read. The "wisdom" and "treasures of knowledge" have come frequently. I also find that when I am closely trying to follow ALL of the Word of Wisdom, my energy levels, attitude, and ability to accomplish my busy schedule are all significantly helped.
3. (Macy) WE HAVE TALKED ABOUT THE FACT THAT BECAUSE WE AS LATTER-DAY SAINTS HAVE SPECIFIC, MODERN REVELATION GIVEN TO US ON MATTERS OF HEALTH, WE SHOULD BE AMONG THE HEALTHIEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD. WHY DO YOU THINK WE, FOR THE MOST PART, ARE DILIGENT IN ADHERING TO THE PART OF SECTION 89 THAT TELLS US WHAT TO AVOID (TOBACCO, STRONG DRINK, ETC.), BUT DON'T GIVE AS MUCH ATTENTION TO DIET AS RECOMMENDED?
(Julie) Unlike the agrarian generations in the past, where the Word of Wisdom diet (lots of grains, seasonal fruits and vegetables, supplemented by a bit of available meat) mirrored the available resources, following the Word of Wisdom today requires effort. We live in a "non-friendly" Word of Wisdom culture. The scope of available food offerings and plethora of prepared and fast foods makes following the Word of Wisdom diet impossible without effort. We have to read labels just to figure out what we are eating. (Is this product that looks like a grain-based product actually grain, or is it mostly additives??)
Couple the effort required with the fast-paced life we live, where the whole concept of preparing dinner is becoming antiquated, and it becomes another item on the "to do list". I think many Latter-day Saint women are struggling just to get the 'check list' of things we must do each day done. It becomes easy to fall into the "comparative righteousness state": "At least I'm preparing dinner ... which is better than what she's doing."
I think that sometimes LDS women also feel like in their hectic lives, it's hard enough even to get the scriptures open. If given a choice, many aren't going to delve into the Word of Wisdom with that precious spiritual time. The interesting thing, however, is it is one of the principles in the scriptures that has the greatest promised return for one's effort! The blessings promised for obeying the Word of Wisdom are huge and miraculous: the Passover blessing (preservation of life) given to the Jews of ancient Egypt are promised, spiritual blessings are promised, and physical blessings are promised. These blessings are promised to ALL who follow the Word of Wisdom. As LDS women, if we establish a household which serves Word of Wisdom-compliant meals, those blessings apply not only to us individually, but to our spouses, our children, our grandchildren, and any who eat at our table. It is not hard, and the blessings are immense.
4. (Macy) WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE WORD OF WISOM RIGHT NOW?
(Julie) I'm really focusing on the part about eating meat sparingly right now. Many of our modern meals are planned around "meat as the main dish". Part of that is tied to our economic prosperity. Interestingly enough, in a lot of other cultures, meat is used as more of a condiment or flavoring, augmenting the grain and vegetables which is the main offering. I am enjoying exploring some of the recipes of other cultures to see how well I can implement some of their dishes.
I think men, especially, sometimes wonder if a meal where meat is not the center star can be "satisfying". I am enjoying experimenting to create dishes that are "great" and not just "a great dish without a lot of meat".
5. (Macy) HOW CAN SOMEONE BEGIN TO REALLY APPLY THE TEACHINGS OF SECTION 89 IN THEIR EVERYDAY LIVES?
(Julie) I think it has to start with a careful, prayerful reading of Section 89. Like any other rightous desire, if we want to follow the Lord's commandments, He will help us. The initial read might prompt a small change, followed by progressive changes.
We cannot apply the Word of Wisdom without knowing what we are eating. Label reading is a must! I also think thoughtful grocery shopping is crucial. Having fresh (or freshly frozen) fruits and vegetables on-hand is important. Having whole grains available in your pantry is also critical. When we need a last-minute supper (which, for many of us, is all we have time for), we will use what we have on hand.
Hooking up with friends for great, quick recipes (or even surveying your own recipes for Word of Wisdom-friendly choices) will increase the chance you will use them when you need a quick "go-to" meal, and will decrease the likelihood of an all-out rebellion in your home if this is a big departure from what you have been serving.
Thank you, Julie!! Isn't she terrific?? This is one woman who truly practices what she preaches. Below are a few of the many food combinations or preparations that Julie has taught me about:
1. Roasted vegetables, in nearly any combination (in the oven or on the grill);
2. Couscous with fresh veggies, feta, toasted almonds, lemon juice and olive oil;
3. Using a little orange juice as a sweetener, or flavor enhancer in savory dishes;
4. Buffalo burgers (very low-fat, had my first one at their cabin on the lake);
5. Home-grilled fish tacos with the appropriate garnishes (chopped cabbages, tomato salsa, and homemade yogurt white sauce), brought to our family last month after my husband's emergency appendectomy;
6. Whole wheat pita pockets spread with soft herbed cheese, filled with greens tossed with balsamic vinaigrette;
7. Angel food cake spread with a thin layer of lemon curd, topped with fresh berries;
8. Slow-cooked oatmeal with nuts/seeds/dried fruit bits (also at the lake);
9. Pureed sweet potato added to homemade chicken noodle soup to thicken and add richness;
10. Shaved Parmesano-Reggiano as a secret ingredient to salad of field greens and balsamic vinaigrette.
Finally, at Julie's recommendation, I have been following AND LOVING Skip Hellewell's fabulous blog called "Word of Wisdom Living". Check it out!