France – My Epic Journey (3)

Bicycling Day 1

Today holds a warm-up ride of 55 km introducing us to ancient soils and their modern-day agricultural practices along the plains of Burgundy.  Once out into the countryside, I immediately notice limestone cliffs in the distance.  I ran across a quote from Anthony Hanson’s book Burgundy that I’d like to share related to how this land became rich in limestone and limestone clays, making some of the world’s best minerally pinot noirs and chardonnays.

“During the Jurassic period (135-195 million years ago), the whole of Burgundy sank beneath shallow seas…the shells of myriads of baby oysters piled one on another, while the skeletons of countless crinoids or sea lilies were compacted together; from such petrified remains, limestone is formed.  Jurassic limestone rocks, interspersed with marlstones, are fundamental keys to the excellence and variety of Burgundy’s wines.”

An artfully crafted small cup sits on my kitchen counter.  It holds things that special to me.  At the top of my treasure-trove sits not a Petoskey stone but the distinctively different crinoid.  An ancient lily that’s been trapped to become one of Michigan’s many rocks.  Like Marble Mountain, Vietnam, and Hiddenite, North Carolina, share similar geological characteristics observed oceans away from each other, so too I see pockets that remind me of home.  Once again, I feel the camaraderie of humanity both in space and time.

Having started our day at the Casino, a local grocery store, acquiring a traveling ceramic knife with basic supplies for a picnic along our path consisting of a crusty baguette, local sausage, a Brillat-Savarin cheese – yes, I break rank with a Dutch gouda – Dijon mustard with plums, and raspberry tarts, we pedal out of town. 

The vast vineyards are mostly out of sight as we ride a different terrain, one filled with fields of wheat and rape seed, forests, picturesque villages, and fortified farms.  The villages we pass along the way include Meursanges, Chevigny, Chaublanc, and Pussey.

We make our way to the Saone River where we enjoy the flatness of the ride and see beautiful moored boats along the canal, an occasional house that abuts against the shores, and wild ducks that are at home upon its waters.  The river hosts perch, pike, eel, and tench.  Pocheuse, river fish stew, is a local favorite dish having been brought here by the sailors of yesteryear with a fondness for bouillabaisse.

We enjoy seeing churches in the squares of most villages.  They are from as early as the 13th century, and most are still in the lifeblood of these communities as houses of worship.  It is breathtaking to see Romanesque, Gothic, and other influences throughout the centuries don naves, facades, steeples and, later, clocks.  I get a sense of just how small the span of one’s life is in the march of time.

Our ride ends up winding through vineyards in a Grand Crus appellation, Le Montracet.  Our bags are waiting in a room at a hotel by the same name.  Tonight is sure to be a pleasure as we are booked for a private wine tasting and dinner to learn about the fabulous wines that come from this region.

Psalm 118:24 (NIV)

This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

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France – My Epic Journey (2)

Travel Day

France is six hours ahead of Eastern Time.  American Airlines’ business class cubby reminds me of a cross between a corporate office cubicle and a pollywog –you know, those soft chaise lounge reading chairs that once occupied grammar school library resource centers.  Complete with a lie-flat seating position, this was quite different from our last experience when we flew international business class to Vietnam.

This contemporary personal space was my home for the next eight or so hours.  I would watch an Indie movie I had missed at The Nick, play a droning documentary that lulled me to sleep for a fresh start on the new time zone.  My only disappointment is that I could not put my legs up with a footrest until I was in a very relaxed recline.  Bruce says the engineers who design and the decision makers who purchase need to spend eight hours in a seat before it gets put in use.

Charles de Gaulle Airport is 14 miles northeast of Paris and houses a mega transportation hub.  We boarded a high-speed train and were whisked off to Lyon Part Dieu to make a transfer onto a SNCF train which stopped in Beaune.  Bruce sprang for first-class train seats in both, and they provided great views, a table for enjoying snacks, and a relaxed vibe to get us established on the ground.

Bruce Relaxing on Way to Beaune

By the time we stepped off the train in Beaune, we were fatigued.  We now needed to lug our bags some distance to meet up with our tour coordinator, Florent, at Hotel de la Paix.  Some of the town’s streets are cobblestone; all are narrow. The leaves showcased the advent of fall and a pleasant aroma wafted through the air.

Upon arrival at the hotel, we were fitted for our hybrid bikes specially equipped for the task at hand.  A briefing took place for the tour in a pleasant inner garden.  Maps and instructions were reviewed; yet our brains retained only a fraction of the information being conveyed.  Homework!  We were then shown to our room for freshening up after receiving verbal directions to the restaurant where we had pending dinner reservations.

The excitement of our first meal in France overrode the exhaustion as we were in utter disarray as to where we were supposed to be.  Right, left, right where?  Our motto: There are no problems, we’re in France!  We kept wandering.  We walked through the city square a number of times trying to gain our bearings, each time passing the delightful children’s carousel and seeing folks enjoying beverages and meals under the canopies of local establishments.

Voila! Miraculously we arrive at Ma Cuisine.  This is a very small, romantic restaurant with excellent local dishes and a vast wine list.  We arrived as they opened, so did others.  A sign quickly went up to signify there were no more seatings available.  To start off this holiday, I order escargots traditionnel, magrets de canard (duck) in memory of my dear friend Jackie, and Mocha Pots de Crème (chocolate mousse).

Now happy, content, stuffed, and overly tired all at the same time.  Tomorrow the real adventure begins.

France – My Epic Journey (1)

The Plan

Anyone can say they’re going to save for that “special trip,” but it takes discipline and resolve not to dip into the kitty which holds a glimpse of paradise for you.  It had been ten years since I started to sock away reward points to pay for two business class tickets to Europe, and now was the time to dive into that virtual sock to cash in.

Street View in Beaune, France

Bicycling through France’s vineyards has been a longtime aspiration.  My husband and I love being active and thought our later years could be spent enjoying a culmination of many of our pastimes:  traveling, bicycling, food, and wine.  My bout with ovarian cancer put the reality that our “later years” were front and center.  We needed to enjoy the fancy plans dreamed up in our youth now.

It was two years ago, sitting in a chemo chair, his hand holding mine, we promised each other we would start seriously traveling again.  See, our lovely vacations had become somewhat mundane.  We needed the sense of adventure we had experienced years ago.  One year into recovery, having walked myself into reasonable fitness, we took a long weekend on St. John, snorkeling and traversing the volcanic terrain.  It was spectacular, and I had proved my ability to be physically active again.

So upon our return from the Virgin Islands, I announced it was time to realize our dream of bicycling in France.  It didn’t take long before my husband was all in.  A touring company was hired to coordinate the logistics of lodging and providing a bicycling route from Beaune, the center of Burgundy’s wine-making region.  We secured a rental car to make the cross-country journey to Normandy after cycling.  TVG and metro train routes were identified.  Quick drying clothes were purchased.

Almost two years to the date of my diagnosis, here we are making our way on a plane bound for Paris, each with only a carry-on suitcase and backpack.  The champagne being savored before liftoff is a nod to the effort it had taken to attempt this seemingly whimsical caper.  Wheels up, we’re off!

A Promise from The Lord

He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:29-31 (NIV)

Starting A Pantry for The Frugal Shopper

This is a special post for my FPU Seacoast friends. 

To my subscriber friends, yes, after a long hiatus, I will be back soon with some regular posts, and I will fill you in on all that’s happened and how God has shown up in a big way.  It might interest you to know that the idea of starting a pantry came from my favorite how-to manual, Proverbs, particularly Proverbs 31:10-31, some years back.  I hope you find this post helpful in planning and maintaining your own pantry.

 

*PLEASE NOTE:  Any links associated with this article do not constitute an endorsement of that website or organization but serve as merely a starting point for you to further your investigation on the topic.

Pantries

stocking your pantry

Pantries vary in style and uses.  These pantry thoughts are limited in scope to grocery items with a shelf life.  The purpose of this article is to share money-saving tips on your grocery bill, particularly items you buy and use regularly in the preparation of dishes for your household.  An additional benefit is the feeling of peace you will have in being able to feed your loved ones if you encounter an unplanned hardship in acquiring food for any reason.

You will want to use multiple savings techniques that best suit your lifestyle and shopping preferences when considering the items which you will stock.  The first rule of stocking a pantry: Limit the items you stock.  Only buy items you and your family will eat.  This means 1) recognize the quantity of food you and your family can reasonably eat before expiration dates, and 2) only purchase food that you normally consume, and this includes making sure you like the brand.  Throwing food out will negate any savings and defeat a wise use of resources.

GET ORGANIZED

The best way to limit items you stock is to become organized.  If your food storage area is not organized to easily see what you have, start with cupboard cleaning.  This can be as simple as grouping similar items together or as complex as adding bleacher-style organizer shelves and using see-through containers to hold bulk items like cereals and flours.

IDENTIFY CORE ITEMS

Identify the items you use week in and week out or go through your weekday recipes and create meal plans.  Core items will include things like tomato sauce; stewed and diced tomatoes; tomato paste; dried or canned beans; artichokes; capers and other pickled items; pastas like spaghetti, orzo, and macaroni; general purpose, whole wheat or bread flour; tuna fish, minced clams, anchovies or anchovy paste; peanut butter and jelly; different types of rice; breadcrumbs; beef, chicken and vegetable stock; mayonnaise; olive oil; coconut oil; turbinado and brown sugar, maple syrup;  parmesan cheese; tortilla chips and salsa; time-saving items like spaghetti sauce and bruschetta spread.

COOK FROM SCRATCH

Give it a try cooking one or two meals a week.  You will not only save money cooking from scratch, you may also eat a more healthy diet.  Scratch cooking will most likely reduce the calories you’re consuming, as well as the additives and preservatives you’re feeding the family.  You can use quick meal recipes or a slow cooker to reduce the time needed for meal preparation.  From scratch meals do not need to take more than a half hour to prepare if you have the right recipes.  I even have a five-minute sauce recipe for pasta, and it’s the water coming to a boil and the cooking of the pasta that are the longer activities.  I have a dump Mexican pulled pork recipe for my slow cooker that makes a delicious taco or burrito stuffing and ensures leftovers for at least one more quick meal that week.

If cooking from scratch, be sure to add spices to your kitchen offerings.  Consider including these basics: onion, garlic, chili and cumin powders, pepper, dry mustard, hot sauce, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce.

To read more on cooking from scratch, click here.

CONSIDER MEAT-FREE MEALS

I know this may be heresy to some, but if you want to look at the big picture of saving your household some money, meatless meals typically cost less.  To add to your savings, there is a health benefit, which ultimately will help reduce your direct and indirect healthcare expenses. Don’t just replace meat with cheese.  Build your meals around vegetables, beans, and whole grains.

MAKE A LIST

Once you’ve identified your core items, put them in a list.  Save your list.  This list can be used for ongoing inventory assessment and replacement of items.  The task of keeping your pantry stocked can be made easier by putting your list into a spreadsheet and including a column for desired quantities and current quantities, as well as when the item actually comes on sale in the stores you shop.  You can make grocery lists from your inventory list.  Being disciplined about stocking and turning the stock in your pantry is a must to save money.

A list helps you avoid a grocer’s marketing strategies, such as end cap teasers, the layout of aisles, and shelf placement.

Lastly in regards to inventory, don’t forget about the shelf life of items and their expiration dates.  To read more about the shelf life of items, click here.

If you would like some additional ideas about items to stock, there are some good starter lists online, but don’t forget to only put items on your list that you and your family will eat.

The Pioneer Woman’s List

The Food Network’s List

Real Simple’s List

CREATE A BUYING PLAN

Now that you have your list, do not make the mistake of rushing out to fill up your pantry with groceries.  Instead, look at your list and determine the best months to most likely purchase certain stock.

The Sales Cycle

Grocery items have a sales cycle.  To save the most money on food, you will want to buy non-perishables when they are at their lowest price.  The general rule is that most items in a grocery store have a three-month sales cycle.  Some sales cycles are shorter, like pastas and cereal.  Some sales cycles are longer, table sauces like catsup, for instance.  So when something is on sale that you use regularly and it’s in your budget and it’s a brand you like and it’s truly a good price and the expiration date is distant enough, plan on buying enough to get you to the next sales cycle.  Again, for most items, that will be a three-month supply.

Coupons

If you are a couponer, rock on!  This is not my thing.  I am not organized in the small things enough to make this work.  It stands to reason, though, to significantly improve your cost savings with the use of coupons, you would want to use your coupons when that item is on sale.  The development of smartphone apps may eventually make couponing easy enough for people like me.

Click here for more information on coupon apps.

Store Brands

Store brands can be a big money saver, but you will want to try a store brand in small quantities before committing to switch from your name brand item.  I like all of Publix’s diary items and a few of their cereals.

Warehouse Stores

Bulk buys can seem enticing, but you really need to know the unit price of items to understand whether you are saving money with your purchases.  I use a warehouse store for bulk items like nuts, cereals, chips for a party, wine, paper products like toilet paper and paper towels, and plastic storage bags and freezer bags.  I find that you have to really watch expiration dates of many items because they are simply too voluminous to be consumed before going bad.  If you are considering buying from a warehouse store for your pantry, maybe enlist a friend with which to buy and split bulk items.

BE DISCIPLINED

If you are going to build your pantry over time, you will need to budget for pantry items on each of your shopping trips.  To save money at the grocery store, you need to be very intentional in your buying, so make out your grocery list at home and include pantry items on that shopping list.  You can use an inventory-based meal plan to create your weekly grocery shopping list if that fits your style.  Remember to look at sizes.  If you’re buying for a family, buy the family size if that’s the best priced option; but if you’re buying for yourself or two of you, buy the smaller size that won’t spoil.  In all circumstances, only buy  the size you can eat before its expiration date.

Grocers’ Sales Tactics

Avoid being pulled off your shopping list by marketing ploys.

Promotions at the front of the store and end caps are there to entice you.  If it’s an item you planned on purchasing, wait until you go down the item’s regular aisle placement so you can price compare with other brands and sizes.

The most marketed items are typically on the middle shelves at eye level, and it’s not uncommon for a grocery store to actually sell middle shelf space to manufacturers to display their items.  Be sure to look above and below those middle shelves to discover if there is a better priced item that’s acceptable to you.

For more information on grocery store psychology, click here.

Ask yourself, “Is the BOGO deal really a good cost savings?”  If you don’t need two of something, will the store give you half off one item?  The labeling on store shelves can sometimes help you determine the best value as far as a particular size by giving you a unit price, but make sure the label has been updated for the sale.

Compare prices for different sizes of the same product.  Sometimes the prices will surprise you.  An item in a smaller volume may be cheaper to buy in multiple packages versus a single larger volume package. Again, the shelf labels for items can assist you in this price comparison.

TURN YOUR PANTRY STOCK

Once your pantry is stocked, you will need to keep turning it.  A monthly inventory can help if you are not keeping up with it another way.  There are various pantry challenges that can help you turn foodstuffs before they expire if you happened to over-purchase a particular item.

I’m a visual person.  So I keep things rotating by looking at what items are available in my pantry.  I pick one or two and then add another item or two from the refrigerator.  Then I go to my smart device and enter a search string into Google.  It would look something like this:  beans spaghetti canned tuna recipe.  From there, I would look at the search results, recipe ratings, and comments.  If I liked what I saw, I would make the recipe.  Allrecipes, Epicurious, and Foodnetwork have good recipe databases and are frequently found in the top search results.

For more thoughts on meal planning and pantries, click here.

Occasionally I find that I have too many items of this or that.  It’s usually a result of purchasing food without my list in hand.  There is joy in giving, and here are a few ways I choose to “give” my extra items away.  Make a meal or treat out of your surplus to encourage someone who is struggling or help out someone who is sick, invite friends over to enjoy a simple weekday meal, volunteer to make a slow cooker meal or dessert for your small group, or donate your surplus items to a local food pantry.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The best way I’ve found to save money on groceries is to go to the grocery store as little as possible.  I supplement my pantry with fresh produce and dairy from farmers’ markets, farm stands, and CSA. When I do a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share, I usually find a friend with whom I can split the deliveries.  During the various harvest seasons, I buy fruit to put in my freezer (using the discounted freezer bags from a warehouse store).   So all winter and early spring, we enjoy fruit in and on dishes at a fraction of the cost it would be to buy at the grocery store during off-season months.  I will admit to a quick weekly or biweekly run through the left outer aisle of my favorite grocer to buy fresh items I didn’t secure through a local farm source.

A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Wearing Armor

This came across my email this morning.  I found it particularly timely to amplify the wearing of God’s armor referenced in my post, More Waiting.

The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment for 2 Kings 4:18-20.

If you like what you read, I would encourage you to sign up for The Berean’s daily email.  Although I can’t read them each day, when I do find time, it’s helpful to read.  Different authors publish the daily emails and share their commentaries when looking at verses on a little deeper level.  Just like today, some of them are very timely.  One word of caution.  The Berean is published by non-trinitarians, so there may be interpretations that you need to ponder and decide what is truth.  Don’t be spoon fed.  Reading different thoughts on an interpretation in articles and other materials adds to the depth of my understanding of a God whose love reaches far and wide.  A God whose reach is vast is not too big to care about YOU today and to put something in your path, such as an email, that will help you grow in your relationship with the Divine.  If you feel a nudge to stop and notice something, open something, it may be a prompting from the Almighty to stop by and sit for a spell.

More Waiting – A Story of Healing, P3

Our Corgi’s collision with a vehicle left her with a busted pelvis, tail, and ribs; but the immediate surgery was to repair the life-threatening separation of the ureters from her kidneys.

It was a few hours before the vet’s surgical nurse made her way out to the waiting room. She relayed the news, that though it was touch and go on the operating table, our canine had survived the surgery. The surgeon was finishing up and would be out to speak with me soon. There was a guarded wave of relief that rolled through my body.

The surgeon reported that he had reattached our dog’s ureters, but we would have to wait to find out if the urinary system would successfully restart itself once he removed the catheter in a few days.

I didn’t want to wait. I wanted assurances that my sweet pup would mend completely back to her original, fully functioning, pre-accident condition. The have-it-our-way-now societal expectations did not mesh with reality. God’s ways are higher than my ways; waiting was the only apparent answer. Isaiah 40:3 (AMP), “But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.”

Now was a time for more prayers. In my post entitled, “The Wait,” I shared the concept that citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven in good standing enjoy privileges. Prayer is the privilege of an intimate relationship with the Most Holy One. You gain an intimate relationship through conversations (both talking and listening) with the Divine. With Christ, the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Today the words are written on our hearts. The Spirit of God lives within our hearts, and the revelation of His words are brought to light as we read them, study them, and meditate on them.

Birds on a WireWe have many conversations and all kinds of communications with the people with whom we have solid relationships, and some of our most intimate conversations are with close family members or friends. We text, talk face to face, email, Facebook, lean over and whisper to each other, chat on the phone, yell down the hall. We discuss the small things, the big things, the unspeakable things. We hug, laugh, cry, celebrate, and mourn. We even sing lyrics from our past to share a special memory and bond.

We are invited to have a similar intimate relationship with God Almighty, who through Christ is likened to a loving father. Paul instructs us to put on the whole armor of God, and then in Ephesians 6:18 (GNT), he says, “Do all this in prayer, asking for God’s help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God’s people.” He says this because “we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age.” Ephesians 6:12. The Almighty wants us to not only be capable of withstanding attacks from the enemy but wants us to be standing, after fighting till the end, and still holding our ground. In my case, still being able to claim and know that God heals.

Do we have to be perfect to engage God in a conversation? David, a man after God’s own heart, was also known for committing an abomination in God’s sight. He coveted another man’s wife, committed adultery, and then tried to cover up his sin. You can read more about David’s fall in 2 Samuel, but David eventually repented. His repentance brought him insight and great sorrow. The good news is that the same grace and mercy that God gave David is available to you. Your sins can be removed with the mercy and grace given you through the blood of Jesus. Just like David, if you confess your sins with sincerity and regret, you too can be restored and find favor with God again.

Great friends of God’s – David, Solomon, Moses, and others – wrote psalms of thanksgiving. Philippians 4:6 (NIV) says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

If you have a chance to read David’s prayer in 1 Chronicles, you will see that thanksgiving is oftentimes interwoven with prayers of worship. A god who has dominion over everything is a god who is worthy of praise. When times of great stress come over me, I find myself reaching for the radio or a mobile device to listen to songs of worship and praise for comfort. I don’t consciously say to myself, I need to praise God. It is something that just wells up from me. Do you find yourself reaching for the dial, humming a praise tune, or singing songs of worship?

The situation with my dog found me in a humble place where I asked for corporate prayers. Sometimes we don’t know what we need, but we know we need Divine providence. My family, friends, and coworkers covered our concerns with their intercessory prayers. There were prayers of hope, healing, and faith. Their prayers pressed on for God’s favor despite setbacks we encountered.

There are times we find ourselves in a situation so dire that we cannot utter a word or issue a thought. It is then that I find great comfort in knowing that the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf.

“So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance. And He who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will.” Romans 8:26-27 (AMP)

I was a frequent visitor to my dog’s side as she laid there recovering. At times, I stroked her broken body and whispered loving well wishes. At other times, I extended my hands into the kennel and prayed over her condition. I was quiet in my prayers. I was not ashamed to pray but was respectful of the public room where staff maintained watchful eyes over their patients. I spoke softly in plain English, but with faith and thanksgiving that my God would see my dog through to a full recovery, despite the gravity of nature’s reality.

The real test of her recovery lay ahead.

1 Corinthians 8

Now about food offered to idols: of course we know that all of us possess knowledge [concerning these matters. Yet mere] knowledge causes people to be puffed up (to bear themselves loftily and be proud), but love (affection and goodwill and benevolence) edifies and builds up and encourages one to grow [to his full stature].

If anyone imagines that he has come to know and understand much [of divine things, without love], he does not yet perceive and recognize and understand as strongly and clearly, nor has he become as intimately acquainted with anything as he ought or as is necessary.

But if one loves God truly [[a]with affectionate reverence, prompt obedience, and grateful recognition of His blessing], he is known by God [[b]recognized as worthy of His intimacy and love, and he is owned by Him].

In this matter, then, of eating food offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing (has no real existence) and that there is no God but one.

For although there may be so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many of them, both of gods and of lords and masters,

Yet for us there is [only] one God, the Father, Who is the Source of all things and for Whom we [have life], and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through and by Whom are all things and through and by Whom we [ourselves exist].

Nevertheless, not all [believers] possess this knowledge. But some, through being all their lives until now accustomed to [thinking of] idols [as real and living], still consider the food [offered to an idol] as that sacrificed to an [actual] god; and their weak consciences become defiled and injured if they eat [it].

Now food [itself] will not cause our acceptance by God nor commend us to Him. Eating [food offered to idols] gives us no advantage; neither do we come short or become any worse if we do not eat [it].

Only be careful that this power of choice (this permission and liberty to do as you please) which is yours, does not [somehow] become a hindrance (cause of stumbling) to the weak or overscrupulous [giving them an impulse to sin].

10 For suppose someone sees you, a man having knowledge [of God, with an intelligent view of this subject and] reclining at table in an idol’s temple, might he not be encouraged and emboldened [to violate his own conscientious scruples] if he is weak and uncertain, and eat what [to him] is for the purpose of idol worship?

11 And so by your enlightenment (your knowledge of spiritual things), this weak man is ruined (is lost and perishes)—the brother for whom Christ (the Messiah) died!

12 And when you sin against your brethren in this way, wounding and damaging their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.

13 Therefore, if [my eating a] food is a cause of my brother’s falling or of hindering [his spiritual advancement], I will not eat [such] flesh forever, lest I cause my brother to be tripped up and fall and to be offended.

The Prayer of Faith

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
James 5:13-16 (NIV)

  

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God’s Favor During Trials

But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. ” Isaiah 43:1-2