Ten Days — Kicking sugar

A few friends and I have challenged ourselves to do a 10 day sugar fast.

I eat, for the most part, quite healthfully. A plant-based diet works well for me, and I’ve eaten that way, again for the most part, for about seven years. But remember that little nursery ditty about the girl with the curl? “When she was good, she was very, very good. But when she was naughty she was HORRIBLE.” (Or something like that.)

That’s me, at least in the area of eating. Mostly I behave well. But when I don’t, I really don’t. God has been putting his thumb in my back about that. After a “horrible” day last week, and a healthy dose of conviction that I ought not be horrible any longer, I made a decision to remove sugar – my nemesis – from my diet for ten days. I’ve done that before, for a far longer time, to very good effect and many pounds lost, but the sticky stuff bounced back.

Here’s what happened last week on Friday:

Four days a week I write for a wonderful MP, who also happens to be my boss. Letters, columns, emails, speeches, etc. But I write at my home desk on Fridays (and weekends and evenings….. Sigh.) Cram in my own columns, Simple Words broadcasts and any other assignments I’ve taken on. I spent the day writing — and not eating well, though very delightfully at first. Chocolates from a recently opened, still quite plump, box sitting far too nearby. Chocolates felt easier than pressing pause on my thoughts to peel carrots or make a salad or open a can of beans.

After about six hours of popping a chocolate every time I needed to ponder a new verb or replace a weak adjective (and not stopping for lunch or supper,  but I did have raisin bran for breakfast!) I felt nauseated, unmotivated, shaky, and thoroughly disgusted with myself. I even hated chocolate. Tossed the remaining ONE in the trash. (Still can’t believe I did that. Entirely uncharacteristic of me.)

That evening, I asked a new friend to hold me accountable for ten days without sugar –lovely friend, she is. I’ll do it with you, she said. “Let’s start Monday,” I said. I mentioned that briefly on my FB page today, and suddenly we had company — a bunch of my FB friends who wanted to give a boot to sugar for a few days too.

I’ve done enough eating plans over the years to know that I work best when I set my own goals and work at my own pace, according to what I know my body needs. But I’ve also learned the value of having company on the way. I’m delighted.

For those who have followed this so far and those who have decided to join me, here’s what I’m doing. Do whatever you need to and what you know is best for your body, but this is my plan, since some have asked:

I don’t drink pop or add sugar to my hot drinks, so I don’t have to cut those out. But for the next ten days, I plan to eliminate the big C’s. Cookies. Candies. Chocolate. (That last one is, in my mind, an entirely separate class.) All those things that have become unbalanced in my diet for one reason or another. I’ll still eat fruit in moderation.

I found this chart helpful for spotting where the added sugar in our diet hides:


I’m also striving to exercise four days a week for a half hour. That’s another habit I’ve gotten lazy about. Sitting at a desk most of the time doesn’t lend itself to burning calories. When I got home from work today, I walked two miles in my living room along with Leslie Sansone. (I have a treadmill, but it bores me silly most days. I’ll add that link below. Her program is entirely doable, and the lady’s very encouraging as you walk. I noticed that she also has a one mile program, and three and four and five….)

God has a sense of humour. When I got to work this morning, I found on my desk four small chocolates, all beautifully wrapped, from my sweet colleague. She doesn’t work Mondays, and doesn’t know what I’m up to. I tucked them away to share with the Beans.

It’s now almost eight p.m. Day one. Done. With God’s help, prayer and a little help from each other, we sugar-busters can do this. In Psalms, David tells God that His Word is sweeter to him than honey. Oh, my heart rises to that. To craving for the Word as much as I pine for something that tastes sweet to my tongue. Most of all, I’m aiming to get THERE. Though I still plan to get some veggies ready in the fridge for Fridays. And I made a bunch of kale chips on the weekend.

Here’s that walking program:

I won’t be posting daily…but I will make regular comments on Facebook, and hope to read something from my fellow 10 day sugar-busters.


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My RSS sent you a very old post…here’s something more recent

Hi there. Funny! I haven’t written anything recently on my Ramblings blog page, but last week my site’s RSS feed kicked the last entry, written over a year ago, out to my subscribers. My apologies. I’m not sure why that happened. Most who received it will know that the news there was stale as yesterday’s porridge, and that much has happened in the Preacher’s and my lives since, especially after the Preacher was diagnosed with colon cancer earlier this summer. Double C, I call it, and I’m journalling the journey at www.caringbridge.org/visitrickgibson .  I still post my newspaper columns on my Sunny Side Up page, (www.kathleengibson.ca/sunnysideup).

I don’t mention my “other job” often, for confidentiality reasons, but yes, I still work full-time for my Member of Parliament, primarily in the communications arena. I’ve never known so much about politics as I do currently. I’ve never prayed so often not to become cynical. And I’ve never respected a politician more than I respect the man I work for. I thank God daily for the work he has provided.

Go well. And now that I’ve said all that, I may come back here more often!

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Why I Haven’t Blogged for a Coon’s Age

God has surprised me with a delightful new thing. In perfect timing with the needs of our family (mere hours after my husband was finally approved for a government disability allowance) he arranged for me to wave good-bye to my long habit of freelance, and instead presented me with a “real” job. I have a new title these days–constituency assistant to a well-respected, long-serving Canadian Member of Parliament.

I never thought I’d do this when I grew up. But sometimes God has things up his sleeve. Big things we know we can’t do without his help. Life has thrust me, once again, into the habit of leaning hard on his grace for my daily bread of provision strength, wisdom, clear thoughts, and the ability to learn quickly, like a teenager. Well, maybe not the latter. But I’d take that too, if it came.

With Divine help, I spend four days a week behind an ample government desk. I write weekly political columns (under someone else’s name), speeches, addresses and letters. Along the way I’m learning to assist constituents through a maze of government-related complications in their personal and business lives. Fun things like immigration and taxes, CPP and OAS. I also hear far too many complaints because, as everyone surely knows–it’s always the government’s fault.

A big task for an old writer? Yep. But the job came my way at the perfect time, and by God’s unmistakeable design, it’s okay.

I have less time for my own projects these days. That’s a good thing–I’m learning how much precious time I’ve wasted along my freelance road, checking markets, blogging, updating web-pages and social media, “keeping up a presence.” I’ve had to pare those things down (and happily) to maintain room for the truly important things in life.

Sunny Side Up and Simple Words continue for now.  And yes, I’m still on Facebook and Twitter–once a week.

 Live leaning. It’s exciting.

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Beware–Sniper in the Church

Sometimes they send their stories by email. But often the hurting ones approach my husband and me after we speak. People who begin talking in whispers, first glancing around the church, restaurant, or hall to make sure no one’s listening. Then, emboldened, their stories of slaughter spill out. And they’re breaking our hearts.

It’s not a full-scale slaughter we’re hearing about. I’d call them “sniper in the church” tales. But the result is the same: moral, emotional, financial, even spiritual devastation, perpetrated by fellow church members against other church members, including pastors.

We know about the snipers, of course. We’ve experienced them ourselves, during our thirty-plus years of ministry life. But during our last three years of travelling to churches of many denominations across Western Canada we’ve become more aware of the problem within the Body.

That the Church has enemies is not news. We’re told to expect them. We’re told to arm ourselves against them. We know they operate on the orders of the devil, even though they wear human faces. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that Christ-followers don’t wrestle against flesh and blood—but against (among others) spiritual forces of evil.

Every time I read that classic spiritual warfare passage, I’m always jerked to attention by the next few words, for where does Paul place those spiritual forces of evil? In “the heavenly realms.” In heavenly places. In, even, the local bodies of the Church.

Many Christ-followers appreciate their churches because, in a world rotting in corruption, they are perceived to be refreshing corners of love, support, and sanity—a haven from the rest of the world that helps equip us to be salt and light to the rest of the world. We feel safe in laying our armour down around our fellow believers. After all, we’re loved by those people who are part of God’s family. That’s what Christ prayed, didn’t he? That we may be known for the way we love each other?

But according to scripture, the walls—figurative or literal—of our churches aren’t a guaranteed safe place from attacks of Satan. It’s the Church he seeks hardest to infiltrate. That means that even in our places of worship, just as in the clearly dark places, those who follow Jesus must make sure we’ve got our spiritual armour on, and hold tightly to the shield of faith, which is our only defense against sniper attacks.

I speak carefully here. I am a child of one arm of Christ’s Church. My husband and I have spent our adult lives in ministry. Without the friendships and connections God has allowed us within it, our lives would be impoverished. Not only that, Jesus founded the Church. Died and rose again for the Church. God has called out the Church as his very own Bride.

But the Bride, quite frankly, has some catty bridesmaids, and they’re spoiling the engagement.

Call them what you will—controllers, well-intentioned dragons, misguided ministry leaders—our conversations, experience, and email tells us that the devil’s ruinous agenda is (and always has been) furthered by well-placed people worshipping alongside us within our congregations.

In an article I wrote for a major newspaper several years ago, I spoke frankly about the things that puzzle me about the Church. About the gap between what the Bible calls us to, and what we’ve become. 

Responses to that article dismayed me. I received a few long emails from people—including pastors, who had been deeply wounded by fellow “good Christian soldiers.” People who were their friends one week—fellow worshippers, parishioners, pastors, Sunday School teachers—and their enemy the next.

To my amazement, a large mainline church asked for permission to make the article into a bulletin insert and a handout tract. I agreed, though not without sorrow that such a bundle of words was so eagerly received.

Somewhere along their Christian walk, the snipers in our midst  have allowed Satan to convince them that because of their _____________ (superior walk with Christ, long history in the church, inside knowledge, education, position of leadership—you fill in the blank), they have a God-given mandate to shape their local bodies after their own images.

Whether it means scheming for leadership positions, beginning a smear campaign, outright confrontations, withholding of salary or benefits, rallying sides, fomenting for change or indoctrinating newer attendees regarding correct behaviour, the snipers are determined to sing Frank Sinatra’s signature song… “I did it my way!” And in so doing they become tools of Satan in his mission to disrupt and destroy the message of the gospel and the work of Christ’s Church, just as surely as this week’s earthquake wrought destruction on Christchurch, New Zealand.  

Perhaps understanding the motivation of the snipers in our midst may help us deal with them in mercy and love. It suspect that if most were able to articulate the reasons for their behavior, perhaps it would sound like this: “I’m afraid that if everyone doesn’t act/believe/speak like I do, I can’t live out my faith the way God would want me to, and, even worse, God can’t do what he wants to on earth!”

But regardless of what Satan uses to drive them, the problem is that along the way people get hurt—and worse. Shot by their own fellow Christian soldiers. The battlefield doesn’t look pretty. Congregations split. Churches close. People lose faith. Pastors’ good reputations are slaughtered. Church members drag each other into court. God’s name is slandered. And though we know God has already won the battle, in those sniper-generated skirmishes Satan folds his hands and chalks up another victory.

Last night I walked into the living room as my husband watched the news of the recent unrest in Libya. I stared in horror at a line of soldiers laying face down on the ground, their hands tied behind their backs. Blood, in wide dark pools, puddled around them. 

“What happened?” I asked, when I could get my voice back under me.

“The government asked them to open fire on the protestors,” said my equally horrified husband, “but they wouldn’t shoot their fellow citizens.”

Another report, also from Libya, stated that two helicopter pilots bailed from their bombers rather than follow orders to bomb a city held by anti-government forces.

Fellow Christian soldiers, take note. If even faithless soldiers are willing to sacrifice their lives rather than submit to an evil leader who demands they shoot into crowds of their fellow citizens, how much more should we do the same? We follow the One who is Life and Love! 

Leaders of districts and local bodies, stop closing your eyes to the sniping in the name of “keeping peace” and deal wisely with the known snipers in your congregations. God gets no glory from a peace that carries the stench of death.

In the spirit of the Apostle Paul…onward, Christian soldiers! Pray ceaselessly. Love mightily. Act fearlessly. And for goodness’ sake, keep your armour on.

Strength and hope to you.

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“My pastor is down and out. Now why is that?”

“Are the attacks on pastors and leaders greater than they used to be?” That was a topic of discussion recently in one of the forums I visit. One of the members mentioned my husband’s story as an example, but he could have listed dozens of other pastors and Christian leaders who have been recently knocked out of service, for one reason or another–which of us can’t name at least one? 

Here’s my response:

 When we still didn’t know what Rick’s diagnosis was, when doctors were telling me he may not survive, God highlighted some specific verses to me. Several had the same theme: “You have trained my hands for battle and my fingers for war.” I found that peculiar, but time has proved it true. We were entering a war zone, as much spiritual as physical.

 Satan has always had a bead on God’s leaders—his goal is ALWAYS to stop the flow of truth. Whether his attacks have escalated in proportion recently, or whether our technology is simply keeping us more aware of those attacks, who knows? Either way, pastors aren’t exempt from trouble, so seeing one fall, for whatever reason shouldn’t surprise us–for several reasons.

1. Pastors are, like the rest of us, human. Made of clay. Clay breaks. 

2. God sees further than we do. Afflictions–for any of us–may have absolutely nothing to do with us. Rick and I don’t focus on the “why’s” because the reason is really none of our business. We rest on the fact that God has allowed my husband’s illness and our subsequent losses (and triumphs) for his own sweet purposes.

 David believed that “in faithfulness you (God) have afflicted me” and we agree. He has used the Nile journey we’re still very much on tremendously for his glory. We believe that one of the most significant factors in that was the high level of prayer initially raised on our behalf.

3. Part of the problem may be US! God is always greater than Satan, and he chooses to work, among other ways, through the prayers of his people. If it is true that more pastors and Christian leaders are under attack, perhaps the fault lies in our own lack of strong, effectual prayer for our leaders. Consider this disturbing quote from an article I’ve just discovered by David Cannistraci in Charisma, in 2003:

“Are you praying and fasting for your spiritual leaders? Others are, but not in the way you might think. Many of us are now aware that witches routinely fast and pray for the downfall of our Christian leaders.

“Spiritual warfare specialist Ed Murphy tells a shocking story of a conversation he had on an airplane with an occult leader who admitted that he and others were fasting for key spiritual leaders to fall into sickness and disgrace.

“The truth is, pastors too often go unsupported during these times of attack. One significant pastor I know suffered a massive heart attack and then a stroke from ministry pressure. Shortly afterward more than 100 families left his big-city church.

“Their reason? They thought his faith was not strong enough. If he had been a true man of God, they reasoned, these things would not have happened to him.

“We had better figure out whose side we are on and keep our eyes open. David made it clear that failing to properly protect your leader is a serious sin (see 1 Sam. 26:13-15).”


Here’s the link to the remainder of that article: http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/features2/418-prayer-and-spiritual-warfare/8067-your-pastor-is-under-attack#ixzz15B8RX8zg

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