Faith, Relationships, and Food

Faith Relationships Food

As I was trying to decide how to write what was on my heart regarding all the arguments around food choices, I came across this passage which pretty much summed up what I was feeling. I would encourage you to read the whole thing, even though it’s a bit long. This version put it in everyday language, but the basic meaning matches the 3 other translations I read.

Romans 14   (The Message)

Cultivating Good Relationships

14 Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.

2-4 For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ’s table, wouldn’t it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn’t eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God’s welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.

Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.

6-9 What’s important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God’s sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you’re a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.

10-12 So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture:

“As I live and breathe,” God says,
    “every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will tell the honest truth
    that I and only I am God.”

So tend to your knitting. You’ve got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.

13-14 Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I’m convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.

15-16 If you confuse others by making a big issue over what they eat or don’t eat, you’re no longer a companion with them in love, are you? These, remember, are persons for whom Christ died. Would you risk sending them to hell over an item in their diet? Don’t you dare let a piece of God-blessed food become an occasion of soul-poisoning!

17-18 God’s kingdom isn’t a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness’ sake. It’s what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you’ll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.

19-21 So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? I said it before and I’ll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.

22-23 Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.

I encourage all of you to really think about how we treat our family and friends when it comes to their food choices. If we ridicule them, or shame them, or make them look bad on social media or at the coffee shop, we are not pleasing God. He knows what’s in our hearts, and certainly knows what comes out of our mouths…or keyboards. As it says in the passage above, “Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve your position there one bit.” Let’s work on building each other up, and showing Jesus’ love through our words and our actions.

Love Is….

I had the awesome opportunity to attend the AgChat Cultivate and Connect conference in Austin, Texas this week. However, that meant for the first time in 26 years, Jonathan and I would not be spending our wedding anniversary together. I was so worried about my flying by myself for the first time ever, that I forgot to even pick up an anniversary card. It is something that has really bothered me this week.

When the conference concluded on Friday, I headed up to my hotel room, and met one of the desk clerks who said she just put something in my room. I opened the door, and there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers from Jonathan! Missing him even more, I burst into happy tears. I’m sappy that way, I know.  I called him, and started crying on the phone right away, to which he replied, “oh, you must have gotten the flowers!” Yep, he knows me!

The flower arrangement is beautiful! It is a mix of flowers that, individually, are pretty. Together, they are gorgeous. It’s sort of like our marriage…and the quote below. Jonathan and I are individuals, but together, we are stronger.

I love you, Jonathan!

CarolynCares Love Is

Wordless Wednesday – 26 Years!

Happy Anniversary

You have to walk carefully in the beginning of love; the running across fields into your lover’s arms can only come later when you’re sure they won’t laugh if you trip. ~Jonathan Carroll, “Outside the Dog Museum”

Thanks for not laughing at me every time I trip!     Happy Anniversary, Jonathan! I love you!

Wordless Wednesday – What a Weekend!

CarolynCares Wedding Ceremony

Pretty proud momma…and yes, I took this with my cell phone during the exchange of vows, and sent it out for our family members overseas. I guess I’m that mom. 🙂  So happy for Anna and Doug! Love them to pieces!

Happy Birthday, Jonathan!

CarolynCares Happy Birthday Jonathan

Happy Birthday, Jonathan! I love you more today than yesterday. Thank you for being my love, my calming force, my protector, my partner in pranks, my encourager, my friend, my favorite boss….I could go on all day. I am so thankful that I am your wife!

Love, Carolyn

Loving the Good – A Challenge

CarolynCares Love One Another

Our scripture texts for this week’s mid-week Lenten service have been on my mind all day. The first reading was from Micah 6, with verse 8 really standing out. “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” That sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

The second reading was from Romans 12:9-13. The photo above contains the portion of the text that has stayed with me today. Again, the words sound so simple. “Don’t just pretend that you love others: really love them.” Another version says, “Let your love be genuine.”

When was the last time you showed real love for others? Too often we say one thing, but are thinking another. We say things to please or appease our audience, thinking they will like us if we say what we think they want to hear. Is popularity the driving force behind posts, or is it an outpouring of what is truly in your heart?

Everyone sees things thorough their own filter. My reality is different than your reality. In my opinion, that is the way it should be. I think where things go wrong, is when we feel our way is the only way. When we insist that we are the only “right” ones, we are not really loving others. We cannot honor each other if we are too busy judging them based on our own set of rules as to what is right.

My mind tends to connect scripture lessons and snippets of Pastor’s sermons to things happening in agriculture.  Lately, I haven’t been feeling much love on social media when it comes to agriculture. So many articles, memes, blog posts, tweets, statuses, whatever, have been divisive. If you don’t agree with this person, you are a shill. If you don’t agree with that person, you are anti-scienceIf you choose to eat this food, you are an elitist. If you choose to eat that food you are poisoning your family. Read my 10 truths about this farming system that I have no experience in, but am writing about anyway. Sometimes I just want to bang my head on the wall! One thought from Pastor’s sermon seemed to fit into these feelings. We want a set of rules to follow, yet we don’t all agree on the rules. The rules were made to make order out of chaos, yet now we have chaos because we don’t like the rules. It helps to explain church denominations…yet the same can be said for agriculture. There is no one hard and fast rule about how to grow things…or even what things to grow. Yet, we want to separate people into categories, and we judge them based on which category we put them into. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?

This is the part where I’m really thankful for grace and forgiveness. As much as I try to live like these scripture passages say, I know that I will fail. That doesn’t mean that it’s okay to give up on trying! Some days, being kind is awfully difficult. That is when I need to hate the wrong…the wrong being my attitude. Some people like to make loving them more of a challenge, but when you are loving the good, you can usually find something to love. 🙂

My challenge to you, is to work on really loving others, and focus on the positives when you write. Think about how your post might be perceived by those who do not live in your box. Was the post written with good intentions, or was it written because others have posted on this topic and received a good response?

The power to change the attitude of the multitude begins with one…you. Love the good!


25 Years Later, Still in Love!

Today Jonathan and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. I am so thankful that God brought us together…and that Jonathan was wanting to be a pig farmer and not a dairy farmer. I am so not a morning person.

August 20, 1988
August 20, 1988
December 24, 2012
December 24, 2012

Our hair may have turned a bit gray – or thinned some. We’re both a bit fluffier – me more than him. We move a little slower after a day of filling the planter. But I think it’s safe to say, we’re still in love after 25 years. I love you, Jonathan!

If you want to read more about how this city girl became a farm wife, read my very first ever blog post, Why I Care.



Throwback Thursday – My Baby is Growing Up!

Tomorrow will be our youngest daughter’s 19th birthday. This summer, she is staying in her college town to work at her first “town job”. This will be her first birthday away from home. It may be cliche, but they grow up so fast!

She had a need for speed!

I think when Jonathan got his go-cart running, it took a few years off my life! Laura was either all on the gas, or all on the brake whipping around corners. She was little enough that she had to slouch down to reach the pedals. She’s had a couple other go-carts since this one, but the memory of the first day behind the wheel of this first cart really sticks out. I came to dread the phrase, “Hey, mom! Watch this!”

Happy Birthday, baby girl!

Thank You Seems Inadequate

Memorial Day is a day set aside in the United States to remember those who gave their lives for our freedom. Many of us also remember all the family members and loved ones who have also gone on before us. Some will decorate graves with flags and flowers.

Sometimes, I wonder. Is one day enough to pay our respects to our military families, or the soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice?  Shouldn’t we be thinking of them, praying for them, and showing our appreciation every day?

When I was growing up, we would visit my grandparent’s home in Iowa during the summer. In one corner, grandma had a little display area where she kept photos of my step-uncle, along with his medals and the flag that draped his coffin. He died when I was a toddler, so I never had the chance to meet him. Grandma would tell us stories of Johnnie, and we would always look at his bedroom upstairs, which was decorated exactly as it was when he left for Vietnam. Whenever Jonathan and I have been to Washington, DC, we always stop by the Vietnam Wall on a night tour. All 4 times we have taken this tour, it is either foggy and freezing cold, or raining. The weather makes this visit very emotional every time. But I wonder, is an occasional visit to a monument honoring these men and women enough?

Uncle Johnnie….John B Ulfers



Right now, my youngest brother is serving in the Army. He has been deployed for the past 10 months, leaving his wife and three sons state-side. I am loving the fact that they are in Minnesota, although with our winter, I’m not sure they are as thrilled! Although I haven’t been able to see them in person as much as I’d like, I have gotten to know them a little better. It is difficult for the extended families to really get to know the children of military families when they are living so far away. I feel blessed that we’ve been able to connect with our nephews this year.

Bruce, Heidi, and their boys at a Twins game July 2012


While we have been able to connect with our nephews, my brother has missed out on many of their milestone events. They are fortunate that Bruce has been able to come home for short visits a couple of times, but that doesn’t make up for the things he’s missed.

What this year has taught me, is how important it is to support the military families as well as those who are deployed. My sister-in-law is a single parent to these three very active boys while her husband is away. I have always admired the way Heidi gets the boys involved in sports, and takes them off base to explore the area they are in. She has also gotten involved in spouse groups (mostly other women, but there’s been a few men as well), and has been active in running groups, and Bible studies. While in Minnesota, though, they have not had the advantage of living on a military base where everyone is pretty much in the same situation.

It seems as though people really can’t grasp the scope of the impact a deployment has on a family. There have been some incredibly insensitive comments from “friends” of hers on Facebook that are quite appalling. Once again, I have to admire Heidi, and the way she handles these people. This makes me wonder, is saying “Thank You” one day a year really enough?

Today, my Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of emotional photos and memes telling us how we need to remember the fallen, and thank those who are currently serving. It is good to spread that message, but how many of those who are posting these memes today will shake the hand of a soldier tomorrow? How many of us have sent an encouraging word to the military spouses who are being single parents while their husband or wife are deployed? How many of us have volunteered to watch their children so they can have a day to relax? How many of us have helped to mow lawns, or shovel driveways, or pick up an extra car-pool shift?

Remembering the fallen on Memorial Day is good. But sometimes, saying thank you to those who are currently serving just seems inadequate. Please, take the time to show your appreciation throughout the year.

Thank you for your service, Maj. Bredlow! We’re proud of you, brother!


Throwback Thursday – Made for Each Other?

Jonathan and I will be celebrating our 25th anniversary in August. We met when we were in college, so it was always fun when my mother-in-law would bring out baby photos and show me how cute Jonathan was as a tow-headed tyke. There were a couple of photos that our parents found that were taken when we were about the same age…both with toy guns. We must have been made for each other, don’t you think?