All posts by Pat Gustafson

Artificial Sweeteners May Actually Cause You to Gain Weight

If you think switching to artificial sweeteners will help with weight loss, you may want to put down that diet soda for a moment.   A new meta-analysis published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that artificial sweeteners may be associated with an increased risk of obesity, long-term weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Artificial sweeteners include stevia, sucralose, and aspartame. <!–split–>

Researchers from the University of Manitoba reviewed 37 studies involving 400,000 people for an average of 10 years. Seven of these studies were randomized controlled trials that followed 1,003 people for an average of six months. Researchers said the seven trials failed to show a consistent link between artificial sweeteners and weight loss. The longer-term studies actually showed a higher risk of health problems. “Most people consuming artificial sweeteners do so assuming these products will help them avoid weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease. Yet we are seeing the opposite association from multiple studies,” Meghan Azad, PhD, told Healthline. Azad is the lead author of the study and an assistant professor at the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba.”  “Based on all of the research done so far, there’s no clear evidence for a long-term benefit (of using artificial sweeteners). But there is evidence of potential harm from the long-term consumption of artificial sweeteners,” she said.  Too much sugar  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people in the United States consume too much added sugar.                                                                                                                                                                      These are sugars that are added to foods and beverages when they’re processed or prepared. Naturally occurring sugars in fruit or milk are not considered added sugars. Both the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend people should keep their sugar intake to less than 10 percent of their total daily calories.  For a 2,000-calorie diet, for example, only 200 calories should come from added sugars.  “The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and USDA MyPlate recommend people choose and prepare foods and beverages with little added sugars or caloric sweeteners,” Lauri Wright, PhD, assistant professor in public health at the University of South Florida, told Healthline. “In excess, sugar can contribute to nutritional deficiencies by supplying calories without providing vitamins and minerals. Excess sugar can also cause tooth decay and contribute to obesity, heart disease, and poor control of diabetes. Additionally, sugar causes inflammation, which worsens arthritis and is bad for blood vessels,” she said. Be aware of the consequences Azad said it’s important that consumers are aware of the risks of both sugar and artificial sweetener consumption. “Sugar is receiving a lot of attention lately as a major cause of these conditions. It’s important to study ‘sugar substitutes’ in parallel, to understand their impact on the same conditions. If we don’t do this, consumers may (understandably) assume that artificial sweeteners are a healthy choice — but this may not be true. Reducing consumption of sugar and artificially sweetened products in general is likely a good strategy,” she said.

Azad added that more research is needed to understand the long-term health impact of artificial sweeteners.  “This is especially important given the widespread and increasing consumption of artificial sweeteners in the general population, and the increasing use of artificial sweeteners in our food supply. Over 40 percent of adult Americans consume NNS (non-nutritive sweeteners) on a daily basis,” she said.  Artificial sweeteners are everywhere  Azad noted that studies have also found that some people are exposed to artificial sweeteners without even realizing it. Blood and urine samples taken from people who reported not consuming artificial sweeteners still found traces of the product. “This should inspire consumers to think about whether they want to be consuming artificial sweeteners, especially on a regular basis. We don’t know if they’re a truly harmless alternative to sugar,” Azad said. So which is the better option for weight loss? Artificial sweeteners or regular sugars?  Wright says it’s not as simple as switching from one product to another. “Weight loss is very complicated. It’s not realistic to think that sugar substitutes alone will result in significant weight loss,” she said. She advises that those who want to lose weight should work with a registered dietician. A dietician can help identify lifestyle changes that need to be made and develop strategies to support those changes. “Switching to sugar substitutes may be one strategy, but alone it will probably not have as great an impact,” she said.

Your Parish Nurse,  Kara

From the desk of Pastor Stan – The Lord Is My Shepherd, PSALM 23

A Shepherd To Individuals

“The LORD is my shepherd ….” Who can make this claim? Israel, certainly. Yes, Moses, too. David? God was surely David’s shepherd. When no one, absolutely no one, took the stripling David remotely seriously as the one who would wrest the throne from Saul, the LORD raised up Samuel to anoint him king, selecting him over his brothers who were far more likely contenders. David, himself a shepherd, traditionally thought to be the author of this psalm — surely he can make the claim, “The LORD is my shepherd.” <!–split–>

Yes, when we think of it, there are many scattered throughout what we call the Old Testament who could pray this psalm and mean it: “The LORD is my shepherd.” We have what the letter to the Hebrews calls a great cloud of witnesses who, when they were reduced to nothing, were led, shepherded, provided for by the LORD. Deborah and Barak, Gideon, laying out his fleece, all guided to take on the mighty Philistine charioteers — and prevail. Ruth, clinging to the skirt of her mother-in-law, like Abraham leaving her country and her kindred and her parents’ house. The prophets: Isaiah. Jeremiah, no more than a child, yet speaking the truth to power, and being imprisoned in a dry well for his trouble, brought out again by the intervention of those who had ears to hear God speaking through him.

And finally, David’s direct descendant, the one we call Lord: Jesus Christ — yes, certainly he can pray this prayer, as he prayed, on the cross, the lament contained in the psalm immediately preceding this one. The LORD delivered him out of the very jaws of death.

This psalm and its promises are surely accessible to all of these. Even in the New Testament, those first apostles could surely lay claim to this statement, “The LORD is my shepherd.” When they could do nothing but cower in a locked room, suddenly, the Lord, the risen Lord, Jesus — the Good Shepherd — was there among them, showing them his hands and his side, sending them forth to proclaim the Good News to a world hungry for it. Saul, later Paul, yanked off his horse by the Good Shepherd’s staff as he made his way to Damascus to give those first Christians reason to cry out, “The Lord is my shepherd!” — Paul, persecuted, beaten with rods, given the 40 lashes minus one, and going on to raise up churches throughout that Empire that thought it ruled the world; certainly he had as much claim to the words, “the LORD is my shepherd” as any in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Our Shepherd, Too

But what about us? What about me? Can we be so bold as to make this claim, “The LORD is my shepherd?” Can we move beyond reciting, yet barely daring to believe, these verses as words we were required to memorize as children? How, when, do these words, “The LORD is my shepherd,” become, not just words in the Bible, but our words, even my words? How do I lay claim to these words and make them mine? May I be so bold …?

Let’s look at what comes after the psalmist makes his claim, “The LORD is my shepherd.” I will, the psalmist says, lie down in green pastures. I will surely find myself beside, not troubled waters, but still waters. My soul shall be restored. I will discover right paths, and even in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil, for the LORD, who is indeed my shepherd, will lead me.

Surely the psalmist makes a bold claim in the first verse: “The LORD is my shepherd.” But then the bold claims, by necessity, stop. Yes, I will find myself lying in green pastures — but they will not be pastures I will have sought out or constructed; it is the LORD who will lead me to them. I will rest beside still waters — yet it is the LORD who will take me there. I myself, in my own wisdom, haven’t a clue where they are or how to find them. I cannot find my way to them any more than sheep — let’s face it, notoriously stupid animals — can find their own way to adequate pastures and watering holes.

In making the bold claim, the LORD is my shepherd, the psalmist must move immediately to the understanding that if the LORD is the shepherd — then I must be the sheep. And herein lies the proverbial rub for us denizens of this postmodern world, this self-sufficient, independent culture. We would rather wander in the wilderness than admit that we even need a shepherd. We hold in contempt the very idea that any God worthy of the name — worthy of us — would stoop to be something so lowly as a shepherd. We don’t want a “shepherd,” anyway; we want a warrior king to turn us into a triumphant army of which we will be co-commanders.

 Our Need For God

If we would lay claim to this claim, made by so many throughout the centuries, we need also to lay claim to our need for God. If I would pray, The LORD is my shepherd, I have to relinquish my claim that I will find my own way forward. If I would have the LORD as my shepherd, if we would call the LORD our shepherd, we have to let go of our expectation that we will find pastures for ourselves, that we with our technology and our “can-do” spirit will wrest water for ourselves from whatever rock dares stand in our way.

Would we claim the LORD as our shepherd? Then we need to let go. We need simply to rest in the presence of the LORD, seek the LORD’s guidance in prayer, both personal and  collective, let go and let the LORD lead. If we would have the LORD as our shepherd — let us first off acknowledge that the LORD is our shepherd.

And then — may the LORD lead us forward, to green  pastures, still waters. May the LORD take us down our right path. Even if our right path takes us into the very Valley of the Shadow of Death — we in our humility will be bold, in that we will fear no evil, for we will know our shepherd, and we will know that the shepherd — our shepherd — will be with us  always.

An Invitation To “Aaron Power”

MONDAY, May 21, 2018, 7:00 pm (Activity Center)

DON’T MISS THIS NEW FUN MUSICAL READING-RECITAL

WITH DAN HAUGHEY & MICHAEL CALLAHAN

AARON POWER is an exciting, new, full-length musical about a talented but troubled Anglo-Navajo teen!  <!–split–>  Aaron is sent by a medicine man on an epic quest to Ireland to escape a possible crime. The teen is to discover the mystery of his Irish roots. A gifted musician, Aaron Power Thorn meets up with a cutting-edge Celtic Rock band that is running from the suspicion that one of its members may have committed an act of terrorism in Belfast. Aaron is quickly assimilated into the band, its culture and its Irish tour–a journey for its own musical identity. Aaron falls in love with the lead singer, Kate, who helps him find his place in Irish music, traditions, and the discovery of his haunting heritage: that Aaron’s mysterious and late grandfather was a “Taoiseach” (pronounced teé-sheck): one of Ireland’s most loved yet hated political chiefs of modern times. With the pressures of a new culture and challenges of relationships converging on him, Aaron—in a flurry of emotions– flees to the Great Blasket Island, the apparent burial ground of his grandfather. Aaron aims to resort to violence, to “blow up” and deface the controversial, ill-fated family legacy that is now his own. In his struggle, he slips on a rock during a terrible island storm, and falls unconscious into a dream-like, nightmarish state. He is confronted in a dream sequence by an apparition of his infamous grandfather, Charles Power, as he confronts Aaron with his Irish identity, family and troubled values, and even the meaning of love. Aaron is rescued, and in the denouement, begins a healing process as he reconciles issues that have haunted him. He pledges a new-found understanding of his heritage, his love of family, and his love for Kate. He sees himself now as a man and a musician with a meaningful message, who has much to express about the world and who he really is. He vows to return to the States with Kate, reunite with his Navajo family, and resolve his tempestuous life. This is a musical of cultural discovery, family fusion, and a quest for peace. It is a right-of-passage story about personal challenge and growth, set to distinctive, uplifting sounds of contemporary Irish American and Native American music.

May Fellowship Luncheon

Thursday, May 24th at Noon in the Activity Center

The menu will be:  “Breakfast for Lunch” – Including Breakfast Casserole, Fruit Cup, Made-From-Scratch-Biscuits With Sausage Gravy!   Please RSVP to Steve and Mary Ann Harvey at 786-2062.

Nurse’s Notes: Take Changes in Stride – 6 Tips for Healthy Transitions

Periods of transition or significant change in your life, whether the death of a loved one, a loss of a job, a divorce, or adjusting to an empty nest, can take a toll on physical, mental and spiritual health.  It’s important to take changes in stride and do your best to keep your health and attitude up even when you feel down.  Here are some tips for coping with change. <!–split–>

ACCEPTANCE   The first step for coping with any change is to fully accept it.  Many times it is already out of your control, so accept that fact, and move forward.

POSITIVITY   Try to visualize the positive aspects of the change.  Transitions happen for a reason, and many times change challenges us in ways that may make us uncomfortable but can strengthen us if we let it.

HONESTY   Take time to honest with yourself and reflect on your emotions but do not let them control you.

GOOD VIBES   Do your best to surround yourself with people who want the best for you and can help feed your positivity and boost your self-esteem.  Being around others with optimistic attitudes can greatly influence your own.

VULNERABILITY   Let yourself be vulnerable and ask for help when you need it.  Realize that you’re not the only one who has faced these obstacles, and seek out those who have had similar experiences and come out on top.

LETTING GO   The most important step of accepting and embracing change is to let go of the past.  Letting go does not mean banishing it or forgetting it ever existed, but make a conscious effort to let the past be the past.  The future is always unfolding, and dwelling on the past does little to help ride that wave.  Keep yourself present in the present!

Lastly, ALLOW YOURSELF TIME   Transitions take time to adjust to and everyone I different and needs a different amount of time.  Don’t worry that you aren’t transitioning properly because it is taking you a different amount of time than it took someone else.  Everyone is different.

— taken from “Church Health”

 Your Parish Nurse,  Kara

From the desk of Pastor Stan – The Lord Is My Shepherd, PSALM 23

I wanted to share this message with you because I think it’s a reminder of why we are so important to God. It also reminds me that I, we are also the apple of God’s eye. I pray that the messages that I preach are always thought provoking and uplifting. Be encouraged! Pastor Stan

SUMMARY

If we would be so bold as to make the claim, the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Creator of the Universe, is our shepherd, we first need to relinquish our claims of self-sufficiency and acknowledge our need of a shepherd. <!–split–>

 What more can be said about the 23rd Psalm? How many of us were — thankfully — required to memorize it when we were yet barely able to read? How often have we heard it? How often have we recited it? How often have we thrown it up unto the Lord our God, frantically, as our own personal cry of the heart, when (and only when) it seemed as if all else had failed and we could not see the way before us?

Really, what promises this psalm puts forward! It is good for us to return to it often, savoring, pondering each line, rather than thoughtlessly repeating it as an exercise we have been required to commit to memory. Returning to it, even as adults, brings much in the way of rewards. Why has this psalm been commended to legions of youth over the centuries of the church’s life? Simply because it promises so much.

“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want ….” This is quite a claim, after all! Who would dare make such a bold statement, a claim bordering on spiritual pride, even arrogance — the LORD, God, the Creator of the Universe, the God of the Exodus, is my shepherd; mine! Who is speaking, here? David? Jesus? Israel? Me? Us? Who could make such a claim?

The Shepherd Of Israel

Israel could, to be sure. The LORD was indeed Israel’s shepherd, as Israel made its collective way out of Egypt, out of slavery, and onto the land promised to them forever, with the LORD, yes, shepherding them with mighty acts of salvation. When Israel was in the wilderness, Israel “wanted” nothing; Israel lacked nothing. The LORD provided what Israel needed: manna for food, water out of a rock, leadership from Moses, correction when straying off to golden calves and to political rebellion. The clothes on their backs did not wear out; the sandals on their feet did not rot away. Surely God shepherded Israel; God provided for Israel as a shepherd provides for sheep.

Even before that time in the wilderness, when Israel was helpless in the iron grip of an oppressor requiring them, literally, to make bricks without straw even then, God was Israel’s shepherd. The Israelites, ground down, could do nothing for themselves. God raised up Moses to lead them out from under Pharaoh’s heel — indeed, even before Moses was born, God was Moses’ shepherd. Moses, born of an unnamed Levite man and an unnamed Levite woman, was shielded from Pharaoh’s grip by the faith and the resourcefulness of his sister Miriam. And Moses, tending his flock in Midian after being driven from Egypt by faithless and ungrateful Israelites, was shepherded, against his own stubborn will, back to Egypt by a Voice calling from a burning bush.

Moses, himself shepherded by God, shepherded Israel out of Egypt. Then, during that time in the wilderness, when the Israelites could do nothing for themselves except complain, God provided food from heaven; God provided water from bare rock. God provided. God was Moses’ shepherd; God was Israel’s shepherd.

                                                        — to be continued in the June “Chimes”