In this week's edition of the Sunday Brunch we have a delicious Cat Head Biscuit and Gravy recipe plus a devotion from Pastor Mic and a new Brunch Playlist plus more books for the Reading Brunch. Here we go.
Why It’s Important to Help Others
Think back to the last time you helped someone, whether it was holding the door open for a classmate or raking your elderly neighbor’s leaves. While you were doing it and afterward, how did you feel? We’re going to make a safe bet you felt happy and more positive about life. That’s because the fastest way to feel joy is serving others.
An old Chinese Proverb tells it perfectly, “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”
But serving doesn’t just make your heart feel good. Studies have shown that there are mental and physical health benefits to serving, like reducing depression, lowering blood pressure and lengthening your lifespan.
Putting other people’s needs before yours also strengthens your relationships. It connects you with the one you’re serving, and if that someone is someone you know, it creates a stronger bond with them.
It also enriches other people’s lives. Taking time out of your busy day to even bring a friend a bowl of soup when they’re sick makes them feel better and can uplift them during their rough time.
And perhaps the best benefit of service is the chance of that person paying it forward. If you help someone, they’re more likely to do something nice for someone else that day. Your one act of kindness could have a major domino effect.
How You Can Start Today
So how do you start? And who do you start with?
First, you have to make helping others a priority. Most people think, “I don’t have time to serve someone today.” And it’s true; we’re all busy. Between school, work, family obligations, ETC. you likely hardly have enough “me” time. But, you do have the time. You just have to prioritize what’s really important.
The second thing you need to do is simply love. And Galatians 5:13 tells us “by love serve one another.” You can serve someone by simply expressing your love to them. A hug, a compliment or lending a listening ear are all small ways you can show love to someone; ways that mean more to that person than you may ever know.
Other ways you can start serving today include:
Cathead Biscuits and sausage gravy
4 cups self-rising flour (we use White Lily)
3 tbs vegetable shortening
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 -1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup melted butter for brushing
Preheat oven to 475. Grease an 8 inch pie dish.
Add flour to a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Dump in shortening and a splash of milk. Use the edge of a spatula to cut and blend into the flour, adding a little more milk at a time until it comes together as a sticky, slightly wet dough. *You may not use all the milk.*
Portion into 8 equal-ish pieces into a large dish; 7 in a circle, last one in the center. Pat down and smooth tops. Bake for 15-20 minutes, watching to make sure the tops don’t burn. Brush with melted butter, return to oven for a minute or two, then serve!
1 pound breakfast sausage (or bacon!)
4 tbs grease (from sausage, bacon or butter)
4 tbs flour
2 cups whole milk, preferably room temp, plus more to thin as needed
Salt and pepper, to taste
Brown sausage over medium high heat, crumbly as it cooks. Remove sausage to a plate, turn heat down to medium low.
You need about 4 TBS of grease in the skillet. Add butter or bacon grease if there isn’t enough from the sausage. Using a whisk to stir constantly, sprinkle in all the flour. Cook while whisking for about 2 minutes to cook out the flour taste.
Turn off the heat and slowly stream in the milk while whisking vigorously to help prevent any lumps. (You can leave the heat on if you want, but I feel like you get a smoother gravy this way because the milk doesn’t seize up from the intense heat).
Season with salt and pepper, and turn the heat back on to medium low. Keep whisking over the next 5-10 minutes as the gravy starts to thicken up. Taste for seasoning and adjust, adding more milk if needed to reach your desired consistency. Remember to adjust seasoning each time you add more milk! Then add the sausage back in and you are ready to serve.
Practicing gratitude regularly has an impact on your life, your health, and your mental and emotional wellbeing. But it doesn’t end there. It will also have a big impact on those around you and the world at large when you start to turn your gratitude outwards and share it far and wide.
Roman writer and philosopher Cicero called gratitude the parent of all virtue. In other words, if we practice gratitude we’re also getting better at things like kindness, generosity, orderliness, courage, honesty and respect to name a few. What does this mean in practical terms? If we practice gratitude, we can’t help but become a better person.
Now let’s take this a step further. What if, instead of simply practicing gratitude for yourself, you take it out to the world at large? What could happen? What force of good could you create? There is no telling how many lives you could influence for the better. Let’s take a look at how you, I, and everyone else reading this can start to turn their gratitude outward and share it with those around them.
Random Acts of Kindness
Do something kind for a stranger. This can be something as simple as giving an open and honest smile to a stranger on the street or a few kind words and a compliment for the cashier ringing up your groceries. Or it could be taking a meal to an elderly neighbor or buying a drink for the person behind you in the coffee shop drive-thru line. Make it a goal to do something kind for someone each day and do it intentionally.
Respect And Thank Those Who Serve You
There are so many people in our communities that serve us from first responders to the waitress at your favorite restaurant. Make it a point to be respectful and thank them with words, with actions, and in the case of that waitress with a generous tip. Show them how grateful you are for everything they do to make your life easier.
Volunteer In Your Community
What better way to show your gratitude than to give your time and your skills. There are many opportunities for anyone to volunteer in various projects and for a variety of different causes. See what’s available around you and make an effort to put in some time to volunteer each month. Not only is it a wonderful way to give back and spread gratitude, but you’ll be amazed at how much you get out of it.
Develop Deeper Relationships
Last but not least, I would like to encourage you to work on developing deeper relationships. You will have a stronger sense of gratitude and lead by example when you make the time to listen and actively work on coming closer to the people you love.
Now that you have some ideas, the ball is in your court. What will you do today, this week, or this month to spread gratitude in your own circle of influence? Go out there and make an impact. Make the world a better and more grateful place.
Welcome to the latest edition of The Sunday Brunch. Each Sunday we want to bring a small devotion and discussion, some cool things to do and a fun recipe for your family to enjoy some time together. This week we have some awesome Croissant Breakfast/Brunch Sandwiches, an updated playlist and new books to check out as well as a short devotional for the family. It's time for The Sunday Brunch.
This week we thought we would look at a few more poems from Mary Oliver. Many of you commented on how her words really spoke to some of the things you had been feeling this past year. We picked a few more poems that dealt with loss and healing since so many of us have been dealing with those very things.
When you are in the middle of a dark grief of the soul, sometimes the most comforting thing you can feel is someone’s understanding. Someone who helps you feel seen and reminds you that you’re not alone in this season. Make sure you take a few moments today to talk about the feelings and emotions that rise to the surface when you read these poems.
But What If You’re Stuck In Negativity?
Practicing gratitude and focusing on positivity is easier said than done. Especially if you are struggling with anxiety and depression. If you ever find yourself spiraling into the deep pit of depression then get help if you need it. There’s nothing wrong with talking to a counselor or getting therapy. It’s the smart thing to do.
When things aren’t quite that bad, there’s a lot you can do to get yourself unstuck from all that negativity. Start by acknowledging them and putting them into words. How exactly do you feel? Is it anger or annoyance? Frustration or disappointment? Try to be specific. Dig deep. Yes, it can be painful and some people prefer to avoid thinking about these feelings, but the first step to getting yourself unstuck is determining exactly where you are emotionally.
Once you’ve identified the feeling, you can start to work on discovering what caused them. Sometimes the answer is obvious. Other times, not so much. In either case, I encourage you to dig deep because often the obvious answer isn’t the real root cause. Yes, you may be mad at our spouse for running up the credit card bill, but if you dig deep, you may discover that there are some underlying core values that don’t align between the two of you.
Once you find the true reason for your negative feelings, you can start to work to resolve them. What that looks like will vary from case to case. The important takeaway here is that it gives you something specific and meaningful to do. You no longer feel out of control or helpless. It’s something you can work with and that alone will help you think more positively.
In addition, it allows you to distance yourself a little from the negative feelings. You may still be upset with your spouse, but it also gives you the space to remember everything you love about him or her. It gives you the space to act outside of the negativity and have a good relationship while you work things out. And sometimes, it may give you the mental space you need to realize that it is up to you to decide if you want to continue to dwell in the negativity, or choose a route of forgiveness. You can’t change everything or everyone. Sometimes your path toward positivity is to acknowledge your negative feelings and then let them go.
Of course all of this is easier said than done. A journal can be a great tool to help you along the way. Try talking to a close friend or confidant when you feel stuck and you can’t see a path towards positivity. An outside perspective can give a lot of clarity. Meditation can be helpful as well.
Last but not least, surround yourself with positivity. Get outside and enjoy nature. Spend some time helping others. And don’t forget to remind yourself regularly of everything you have to be grateful for.
Welcome to our first edition of The Sunday Brunch. Each Sunday we want to bring a small devotion and discussion, some cool things to do and a fun recipe for your family to enjoy some time together. This week we have a beautiful poem from Mary Oliver, a fun booklist, Spotify Playlist and a delicious Peach Crisp.
The past year and a half has been hard. Many of us have lost friends and family and struggle everyday with what to do with our grief. When you are in the middle of a dark grief of the soul, sometimes the most comforting thing you can feel is someone’s understanding. Someone who helps you feel seen and reminds you that you’re not alone in this season of loss.
Mary Oliver is a poet who understood grief all too well. Her words serve as a comfort to other hurting souls who are in the thick of their pain. If you are in a season of sadness, please know that I am aching alongside you. I hope her words can be a flicker of hope for your heart as well. Here are a few Mary Oliver poems to soothe our souls in any season of suffering.
Fewer Stress Hormones
When you are anxious or scared, the body releases stress hormones like adrenaline, cortisol and the likes. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It helps you react fast when you’re about to be hit by a car and make you run faster when you need to get away from someone. But it works against you and robs you of your health and wellbeing when it’s a response to something that isn’t a physical danger. Like tax day or worrying about what your co-worker thinks of you.
Stress hormones can lead to weight gain, depression, anxiety, and they take a toll on your heart. You know you should do what you can to reduce the stress you feel and as it turns out, one of the most powerful strategies here is practicing gratitude and positive thinking. So choose happiness and know that you are doing wonders for your mental and physical health.
So what’s the bottom line? When you are mindful of all of the things you are grateful for in your life then you can learn to appreciate all the good even in the midst of the bad and cultivate happiness. Stop waiting for the right person, the right circumstances. Don’t wait for happiness to find you. Be happy right now. In this moment. And use gratitude to help you get there.
Adversity - Staying Positive When Life Falls Apart
We take a lot of good things for granted in our everyday life. A roof over our heads, a steady paycheck, a loving partner, the ability to go out for a run on the weekends. The specifics vary, but one of the big advantages of modern lives is the many awesome things we can count on. We’re not used to falling short, so when something happens and our life starts to fall apart, it’s easy to fall into thinking patterns that focus on lack and despair.
Sometimes the bad things are a result of choices we made. Sometimes they are outside of our control. In either case, it is up to us to decide how we react to each crisis. One piece of advice that is important to remember no matter what adversity you face is to make sure you don’t forget about how blessed you really are. Gratitude can turn what we have into enough.
There’s a quote I love and would like to share with you by Melody Beattie. Here it is:
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity...it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
Think about how you can start to do this in your everyday life. A good place to start is to simply take a deep breath and pause for a moment when things go wrong and everything is starting to feel overwhelming. Then come up with one little thing you are grateful for during this time. It can be something as simple as being able to breathe fresh, clean air, or living to fight another day.
Find that something and start to build on it. What else are you grateful for? Keep making that mental list until the desperation starts to lift and you can start to think clearly. When you do, you can start to find your way out, no matter how bad things seem at first. And remember, you never know what good might come from the struggle you are facing right now.
When life gets crazy don’t forget to count your blessings and use gratitude to turn what you have into enough. Our ancestors were great at this. It’s time we picked that habit back up.
We’ve all heard how crucial it is to set intentions, goals and targets. Powerful goals electrify us. Clear intentions energize and pull us forward. Without a clear cut intention, we’re reactive and don’t get around to doing the important things when we want them done. Instead, we spend our time fighting random fires.
Without clear intentions, anything might happen. And usually does.
Literally, intentions are like the steering wheel on your car. Their whole purpose is to give you control over where you’re going. But when setting intentions or goals, keep in mind that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Now, it’s good to have intentions at more than one level. When we get up into the more conceptual intentions, such as “I will contribute to the wellbeing of those around me,” these become like a mission statement.
But then, be sure you move on to decide specifically how you will go about implementing your mission in your daily life. Specifics are essential. How — specifically — will you put your mission into action today? What will you actually DO about your highest intentions?
It’s important to set intentions for yourself because this is where the rubber meets the road. Just say “I’m going to do this and this.” It should be nothing big and overpowering. Just some stuff you’re meaning to do or achieve short-term. Be sure to write them down on paper. When you list them out, you can clearly look over your results afterward and check yourself.
At the end of today or this time next week, did you do what you said you’d do? Expressed like that, it’s clear that we’re building a kind of internal integrity check within ourselves.
When you’re first starting to build this new intention-setting skill (habit), it’s important not to pile on too much. Sure, it’s easy to get all excited about turning over a new leaf, but it’s essential that you start where you are NOW, not where you think you SHOULD be.
There are things that, from experience, you already know you can do. Set your intentions to do those things (plus perhaps a little bit more) and achieve them. Then, when you’re comfortable doing what you say you’ll do, then you can begin to stretch your intention muscles a little more.
But as in any new regimen, begin easy. Begin with what you can actually do. And only after you get comfortable with the intention-setting process should you start going for real growth. Patience – taking small, measured steps – is more than a virtue here. It’s the key to keeping yourself moving forward. (Notice I said patience, not procrastination.)
Attempt too much too soon, and the end result will be another round of demotivation and discouragement.
Instead, go about this logically and gradually: keep your eye on the level you want to reach next year, and let today’s effort take you 1/365th of the way there. Do this, and you’ll see real, measurable progress as well as achievements you’ll truly be proud of.
It’s all pretty simple stuff, really. Just training yourself to keep your word to yourself.
Happiness - A Conscious Focus.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret I learned years ago that has served me well. What you focus on comes to pass. When you practice gratitude you are training your mind to be more positive and this has some interesting physical implications. Practicing gratitude and positive thinking directly affects your brain chemistry. That’s right, by focusing on gratitude and happiness; you control the release of certain chemicals and neurotransmitters that influence how you feel both physically and mentally. Let’s take a look at how that works.
More Feel Good Hormones
Focusing on happiness and gratitude leads to the release of two “feel good” hormones - dopamine and serotonin. These two neurotransmitters are responsible for those fuzzy warm feelings. Yes, there are other ways to get them like exercise and chocolate for example. But who wouldn’t want to increase these powerful antidepressants with something as simple as giving and receiving gratitude for example. This stresses the point that you are able to make your own happiness. And it’s not just a mental exercise. Focusing on positivity, making a conscious effort to be more grateful and happier changes the balances of hormones and neurotransmitters in your body and your brain.
In short, practicing gratitude and the resulting feeling of happiness are a powerful strategy to beat depression and anxiety, often working better than prescription drugs - and without the nasty side effects.
An intention is a guiding principle for how you want to be, live, and show up in the world — whether at work, in relationships, during your meditation, or in any area of your life. Ask yourself, what matters most to you? Your answer could form a powerful intention, for which you can align your thoughts and attitude for the day ahead. Having a clear intention with you at your fingertips can help guide your actions as you move through the day.
But an intention shouldn’t be confused with a goal — it’s not something you attach an expectation or evaluation to. It is something you want to align with in your life. It’s an aim, a purpose, or attitude you’d be proud to commit to.
Intentions must come from your heart; they are not the tangible “boost sales by 25%” or “get a promotion” kind of smart goals that you set at work. They are heart-driven and evoke feelings and purpose, like “practice being non-judgmental of myself and of others,” “send compassion out to the world,” “open my heart,” and “let go of fear…” Setting an intention is a way to bring your heart and mind into alignment.
Why Set Intentions?
Setting an intention at the start of a new year, on your birthday, when a new month begins, or at the beginning of your day or week can be a powerful practice because it’s the first step to embodying that which you want. Wayne Dyer said, “Our intention creates our reality.” And how many times have you heard “What you think, you become,” or “Thoughts become things”?
If you’re focusing your mind on a specific intention during a meditation, you are bringing it to your focused mind, your thoughts, your heart … and in turn helping to bring it into your reality.
How to Set an Intention
Your intention should be closely tied to your personal thoughts, values, and perspective on life. Intentions can be a clear and specific wish, or as simple as a word or phrase you’d like to align yourself with, like “open your mind and heart,” “love,” “vulnerability,” “strength,” “kindness for myself and others,” “peace,” or “freedom.” Try to keep the intention positive, so instead of saying “stop being a coward,” or “spend less time alone,” choose the intentions, “be courageous” or simply, “community”.
Here are some thought-starters to help you get started in forming an intention:
10 Intentions You Can Borrow
You can borrow one of these if it resonates with you, but try to create something personal for yourself.
Intentions Put to Practice
Silently stating your intention at the beginning of your day, week, or meditation won’t be enough. You must revisit it often and when needed. Call it to the center of your mind when you feel off center and need to reset. Intentions are a wonderful way to help you stay grounded and reconnect with what matters most. We are going to use the phases of the Moon to remind us when to set our intentions for the month (New Moon) and when to reflect on them and see which ones we've accomplished and which ones need more work (Full Moon). The New Moon for September is the 7th. The Full Moon is the 20th.
“Intentions compressed into words enfold magical power.”
Forgiveness - What’s Holding You Back?
The more you read and learn about the power of gratitude on both body and mind, the more amazed you will be about how much it can do for you. Let’s take a look at how forgiveness can free us from the things that are holding us back. More importantly, let’s dive a little deeper and into the mind body connection of practicing (or not practicing) forgiveness. We’ll wrap things up with a surprising notion that you can’t afford to miss.
Think back on the last time you held a grudge. What did that feel like? Did you have a pit in your stomach? Did you have trouble sleeping? Were you distracted from other, more important things? What did you lose because you chose to stay angry at the other person? Holding a grudge isn’t good for you. Not only that, but the person you’re holding the grudge against probably doesn’t even remember what they did. They are not suffering because you’re upset. You are. You’re holding on to all that negativity and it’s solely poisoning you. And it doesn’t stop at destroying your mental health. All this anger and resentment can and will make you physically sick. Your blood pressure goes up; your immune response goes down. You’re not sleeping well which has other health implications. And let’s not even talk about all the junk food you’re eating while in this state of stress.
Don’t let holding a grudge make you sick. Instead, focus on forgiveness and gratitude. Take a deep breath and find it in your heart to forgive the other person. It’s not easy, but it is within your power. Be the better person. Take the higher road. Do it for yourself because you know you will instantly feel better and it will do wonders for your mental and physical health and wellbeing.
I hinted at the fact that there’s something surprising about forgiveness earlier. I’m sure you’re eager to know what that’s about and why it’s something you need to know. It’s the idea that forgiveness isn’t really about the person you are forgiving. Sure, there are times when they appreciate or even demand your forgiveness. But even so, the person benefiting the most is you. That’s right. Forgiveness isn’t for the other person. It’s what sets you free and allows you to pursue happiness and be fulfilled in your own life.
To recap, forgiving the other person benefits you. It improves your mental wellbeing and your physical health. It makes you sleep better at night and have a good outlook on life. Don’t let that old grudge steal your happiness. Practice forgiveness and feel gratitude that you have it in your power to decide if you let any slight hold you back or not.
Hope is here
Welcome. We are honored you stopped by to check us out. Please, pull up a chair and hang out for a while. We value your presence and conversation. Feel free to message us any questions or thoughts you may have.