The Best Smoothie in the World
On July 27, 2017, Kathy, my beautiful wife of 50 years, had emergency spine surgery to remove a large tumor that had already destroyed one vertebra and was compressing her spinal cord. An MRI the night before showed what doctors had missed in X-rays. For months she had been suffering through severe back muscle spasms lasting hours at a time. The surgeon explained that these were God's design to hold her spinal column in place. Without the 10 hour surgery she was in immediate danger of becoming a paraplegic. She now has titanium rods and screws fusing vertebrae C4 through T8 and a wire cage replacing the destroyed T3.
What does this have to do with smoothies, you say, much less end times prophecy? Well, it's one of many ways in which God had prepared us for what was coming. This is a personal story about how God, in His infinite wisdom, uses the circumstances of life to make us stronger and to teach us how to hear what the Spirit is saying so we can persevere and overcome in these last days of trials and tribulations.
At the beginning of that year we had gone on a 30 day health diet aimed at cleansing the various organs and systems of the body. One feature was a morning smoothie that changed every two days, for a total of 15 completely different recipes. We learned the health benefits of various ingredients and also what we liked and didn't like. We also acquired an incredibly powerful reconditioned Vitamix blender that had a pre-programmed "Smoothie" mode.
So, as part of Kathy's recovery, I developed the "best smoothie in the world" that we both still drink as our breakfast most every morning. Here is the recipe for two that makes about 50-55 oz, which I pour into two 32 oz plastic cups from our favorite barbeque place (grandkids eat free). Insert smoothie straws, and you are good to go.
- 1 medium frozen green banana (less sugar than ripe bananas; I peel a bunch, cut them into quarters, and put them in a freezer bag)
- 1 oz unsweetened chocolate - 100% cacao
- 2-3 oz (4 cups) pre-washed power greens (we use a spinach/kale mix)
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 medium tomato
- 1 medium carrot (we use packaged baby, cut and peeled, 6-8 pieces)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup frozen blueberries
- 3/4 cup apple juice (or 1 medium apple cored and quartered)
- 1 cup milk
- 3-4 ice cubes and/or enough water to achieve the consistency you want
There are many other ingredients you can add, such as dark cherries, grapes, pineapple, orange, strawberries, pomegranate juice, nuts, cayenne pepper, avocado, and even whole roasted coffee beans. I use organic where possible and items that require minimal preparation. I don't even cut up the tomato. Give it a try and experiment with your own variations.
Of course, that's just a small part of how God prepared us and walked with us throughout this challenging experience. As a result of His grace, Kathy recovered quickly, handled radiation and anti-cancer therapy well, had no complications, received great reports from all tests and scans, and is back to her vibrant and active self. She even asked me to cut her hair at one point and extended immediate forgiveness when she saw the result! It was a miracle!!
Speaking of miracles, God has used this experience to teach us a lot. Here are a few of the things we are still learning:
One day at a time
- We get up early and have a meaningful devotion time together every day.
- For several weeks after surgery I read aloud her favorite daily devotional, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. It so impacted me I got the Kindle version, caught up from the beginning of the year, and continue to read and pray the powerful half-page a day thoughts that come straight from God's heart.
- After we have our separate reading and prayer time, we share what is coming up for the day. Then we hold hands and pray for one another, for healing, protection, guidance, favor, wisdom in specific situations, and for our family and others with urgent needs.
- Trusting God with every detail in the midst of unexpected tragedy; experiencing His supernatural strength and peace when you have every reason to fall apart.
- Finding new ways to keep your focus on Him and persevere when it seems like all your efforts are not working.
- Praying immediately, boldly, and out loud when problems arise. Our first thought is to ask God for wisdom and discernment regarding the problem's source, address any spirit trying to bring fear or harm, ask for specific next steps, and seek promises for healing.
- Clinging to specific scriptures and rhema words of promise, e.g., restoring her youth like the eagle's; God works all things together for good; healing has been purchased by Jesus's death and resurrection, and is for us today. We found a great resource in Becky Dvorak's book, The Healing Creed.
Lessons as care giver and husband
- Keep a consistent testimony of sacrificial love in every word, thought, and action.
- Ask constantly what she needs to be comfortable and do what she asks joyfully; do not allow even a hint of irritation or resentment; taking care of her is your main job.
- Anytime she would try to apologize for being a burden I reminded her that she has taken care of me and the family for 50 years, and this is the least I can do. I reminded myself of that a lot as well to keep my attitude and heart truly grateful for the opportunity to serve her.
- She continued, as she has throughout our marriage, to brag on me to others, giving the impression that I'm the hero, when everyone knows better. I can't even comprehend the pain, physical and mental anguish and exhaustion she has had to deal with. She has shown supernatural determination, perseverance, and faith in the face of the enemy's relentless attacks. And then we see and celebrate God's faithful deliverance, even in small steps of progress that bring us joy, renew our confidence, and give us the courage to keep on fighting.
Love needs to be proven, often in difficult circumstances
- This not only makes true love more visible, but also deepens and matures it. It's a feedback cycle. The more it's proven, the stronger it becomes.
- We always have a choice, though, in how we respond to such situations. Will we allow our love for our spouse, for a family member, for a friend, for a complete stranger, for God, to be proven and grow stronger? Or will we hesitate, criticize, resent, be frustrated and impatient, be jealous, be suspicious of motives, or even become bitter towards them or God?
- How do we show our love, or lack thereof? By our words, actions, thoughts, and facial expressions. As we grow in love, even the smallest indicators become huge. A single passing word, a flicker of emotion in the tone of your voice, or a stray thought can sabotage your best intentions.
- Thoughts are a bit different, since everything starts with a thought. They can be initiated from three sources: self, the Holy Spirit, or a demonic spirit. We have to instantly recognize the source and align with the Holy Spirit (as confirmed by the Word). This means immediately rejecting thoughts from self and from demonic spirits that do not represent fruit of the Holy Spirit. To be able to have this quick discernment we need to put on the full armor of God every day, remind ourselves every minute whose we are, and constantly ask for help and guidance.
- We must fill ourselves daily with God's Presence, Holy Spirit and Word. Godly music, books, teachings, sermons, worship, prayer, and fellowship will create an atmosphere of faith and healing.