Sanctified Tourist

Living holy and fit both spiritually and physically in today's culture.

Find out about a terrible spiritual struggle I had while I was living in Cambodia that I pray you can use as a parable for your own anxiety.


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When It’s Not a Cobra After All

One of the challenges of living in Cambodia six months out of the year is snakes.  They pop up when you least expect them.  During our first three months of living here, there were several snake sightings in the yard.  I never saw one myself, but the guys living in the dormitory across from my house always said the same thing, it was big…it was black…and it would run away by crawling up the bamboo plants next to the wall.   Beyond the wall of our house is a wild area, perfect for all kinds of critters.  I guess every once in a while the black snake decides to hunt on our side.

So here is the problem.  Two Khmer friends were living on the property, and described the snake by gestures…making their arm go up as if in a striking position.  It also appeared that they were describing a cobra hood.  So naturally I Googled cobras and discovered YES there are cobras in Cambodia.  Thus began the reign of terror in my mind.  One night I was so overcome by my own fears that I cried myself to sleep repeating scripture, Bible by my cheek.  It turns out that the experience I had with the cobra is a perfect metaphor for the anxiety I experience when I don’t trust God.

Find out about a terrible spiritual struggle I had while I was living in Cambodia that I pray you can use as a parable for your own anxiety.

There was a communication gap.

First of all, I never saw the snake myself.  I made hasty assumptions based on my own fear.  This is often the case when life circumstances look grim, I seem to find myself believing the worst.  I jump to conclusions.   The enemy knows me.  He tempts me to abandon ship when the ship is not really sinking.  He tempts me to yell out,  “Master, how can you sleep when the waves and wind are overtaking the boat?”

But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, you of little faith?”  Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea.  And there was a great calm.  Matthew 8:20

I seem to live in a cycle.  PANIC…CRY OUT FOR HELP…GREAT CALM.  Why can’t I ever just skip the first two parts and go straight to great calm?

The facts were less scary.

One day I was by myself inside my house (we have three houses within the walls of our complex), windows open, when the constant bark of our dog Quondo drew my attention to the yard.  I saw a dance going on between Quondo and the black snake.  Quondo would bark, and the snake would rise up as tall as the dog’s head.   Several things I noticed in my excitement:  Each time the snake would take a strike posture, it would quickly turn to flee, it was terrified, and most importantly, I noticed it was NOT a cobra.  But it was big.  So I started yelling for help.  Once Quondo killed the snake, with a little help from a friend with a shovel, I got a good look…a rat snake.

Find out about a terrible spiritual struggle I had while I was living in Cambodia that I pray you can use as a parable for your own anxiety.

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Y’all, I still didn’t like the idea of a snake on the property, but no one was going to die horribly.  I had wasted all those days filled with the possibility of  death when I never even considered that Jesus was in the boat.  To be honest, ALL of my anxious moments in life turn out exactly like this.  I find myself hearing Jesus say,  “Why are you fearful, you of little faith?”  My cheeks momentarily heat with shame, and then I enter into the calm of trusting Jesus.  I need to stop assuming the worse.

Snakes in the yard

There evidently is a whole family  of black snakes living on the other side of the wall because the incident above was not the last time I saw a big black snake.  There were several more sightings and more observations on my part.  The biggest surprise to myself was that my fear no longer crippled me.  The day of our big Christmas event arrived.  I went back to my house when I saw the snake drop down out of the tree in front of my house.  I saw the direction he was heading and ran to find Quondo or one of the guys in the house. Everyone was busy, even Quondo. Surprisingly I found myself okay with that.  I was living in the great calm that only can be experienced when Jesus changes a heart.  When someone, like me,  decides to start trusting, even though occasional snakes drop in.

I still don’t like snakes.

Just because I wasn’t overcome with anxiety over the prospect of a snake in the yard, that didn’t make me a snake lover…just watch me run!  In keeping with this analogy, I could say the same thing about things I stress about.  I am learning to trust in Jesus for my safety, but it doesn’t mean I am comfortable going through suffering.   I still don’t like it.  At all.  And that’s okay.  The point is that when the enemy presents a problem that seems like a cobra, I will remember this experience and try not to jump to a conclusion that will debilitate me.

Find out about a terrible spiritual struggle I had while I was living in Cambodia that I pray you can use as a parable for your own anxiety.

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Pictures:  +Quondo my hero.  She keeps the property safe from all intruders.  When we wake up in the morning we often are surprised  with the remains of an animal she has battled in the night.  ++My favorite place in the world,  the Montana ranch where my father grew up.  This is a view of Snake Butte at sunset.  The story goes that my great aunt was visiting from out of town one year when my father was a teenager, and she decided to go to the top of this butte to get some pictures.  What she found on top was a nest of rattlesnakes.  Legend has it that there were hundreds of them…anyway, there was a lot.  My father and grandfather blew them up with dynamite.  At least that’s the story.  Appropriate for my Cambodian snake tale wouldn’t you say?  The name Snake Butte stuck from then on.

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Why our family DE-emphasized Santa. Just one opinion.


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Why Our Family DE-emphasized Santa

From the earliest of age I have not been very impressed with Santa.  I remember laying awake terrified that a strange man would be lurking around in our living room, and worse, that my parents would let him.  Later, the idea of presents dried my tears when sitting on the mall Santa’s lap, but I still didn’t like it and I have pictures to prove it.

Why our family DE-emphasized Santa. Just one opinion.

When I had children of my own I decided that there would be no more white lies about Santa.  Here is my reasoning.  I spent a good deal of time training my kids to know the difference between real and make believe, especially from the Bible.  Let’s face it, there are plenty of crazy stories in the Bible that seem like fantasy.  When we opened the  Bible together, everything they heard…snakes talking, arks floating, men in fiery furnaces, Jonah being swallowed by a fish, God being born in a  manger…no matter how fantastic…all of it was TRUTH.  I was determined that my children would be able to trust me to tell them the truth, even about Christmas.  I would stop the innocent Santa lies of my mother, and my grandmother before her.  I would never tell them that there was another man who had the same omniscient qualities as God…someone who knew everything about them…when  they  sleep, and when they are awake. I just couldn’t do it.

Lest you think we were opposed to Santa altogether, let me be clear that Santa still came to our house.  We still had all the fun of Christmas morning that the rest of the world did.  The only difference was that the kids knew the real origin of all the gifts under the tree.    Our children enjoyed talking about Santa as if he were real, much like my granddaughter imagines she is having conversations with her stuffed animals.  We never had any problems with our children revealing this big secret to their classmates once they were school-aged.

I know this idea is not for everyone, but it worked for our family.  My daughter is now a mother and she and her husband are putting more emphasis on the birth of Jesus than I ever did.  If I could do it again, I would use this time of year for our family to grow spiritually together with an emphasis on giving.

Blessings for a wonderful Christmas, Alice

Why our family DE-emphasized Santa. Just one opinion.

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She told us of her poverty, and how she and her husband struggle to survive on their salaries. Unbelievably, She makes $30 a month as a Kindergarten teacher. How do you teach your children to be compassionate givers?


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You Might be Richer Than You Think

At church one Sunday here in Cambodia, a Christian Khmer woman encouraged us with how Matthew 6:25 has played out in her life, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear…” She told us of her poverty, and how she and her husband struggle to survive on their salaries. She makes $30 a month as a Kindergarten teacher…a month y’all, and he makes about the same as a Tuk Tuk driver.  It rains a lot here in Cambodia, but during a dry spell, all of the rain water in the cistern outside was gone.  She had no money to buy water for the family and she remembers standing over the cistern and praying for rain.

And it immediately started to rain.

As I sat there listening to her praise God for His unending love for her, I thought about how different her prayers are than mine…the prayer of the one who has instead of the one who has not. I already KNOW where my food, drink, and clothes are coming from.  I don’t beg God to send me the necessities of life because I have excess.

Instead of skimming over this beautiful verse in Matthew 6:25 because it doesn’t relate to my situation, maybe I should speak this verse as a prayer. To ask Father to lead me to the people who don’t have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear, and to help me be bold enough to be the answer to someone’s prayer.

She told us of her poverty, and how she and her husband struggle to survive on their salaries. Unbelievably, She makes $30 a month as a Kindergarten teacher. How do you teach your children to be compassionate givers?

Many times we compare ourselves to others who have more, instead of the other way around.  Even the working poor in America have it better than most who are suffering with poverty in other countries.  American homeless populations even have options like shelters and food banks, whereas the poor and displaced in some foreign countries have no options but starvation and death.  What do you do if you lost both hands in an electrical accident, your wife leaves you with the children, and you no longer have a way to make a living in a third world country?   This is a true example of a local beggar living here in our Cambodian city.

You can’t really say you are a friend of Jesus unless you are helping the poor.  Take for example the sheep and the goats, a story with a warning from Jesus.   (fact check: Matthew 25:31-48)  The goats didn’t seem to  “get” Jesus.  They missed the kindness characteristic of the Holy Spirit. (fact check: Galatians 5:22) Maybe they thought about helping, but never had any follow through. At any rate, Jesus says, “When you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.”

So how can you help your children develop a desire to give?  You must first develop that desire yourself, then go forth together.  Start by praying that God will consume you with a BIG  kind of love for others.  Have you read Love Does by Bob Goff yet?  Each chapter tells a story from Bob’s life, then ends with a spiritual application.  The beginning of each chapter starts with “I used to think…but now I know…”  Join me on the Sanctified Tourist’s Facebook page in January while I share quotes from this book to encourage and inspire you.

She told us of her poverty, and how she and her husband struggle to survive on their salaries. Unbelievably, She makes $30 a month as a Kindergarten teacher.   How do you teach your children to give to those in need.

Next, search the Internet for ideas on projects you can do with your children and grandchildren.  Here is an idea for a project from  Story of This Life.   Good literature can also help.   The King’s Christmas List  takes Matthew 25:31-48 and teaches children that every act of compassion is a gift for Jesus.  Maybe you could write your own family giving book using a photo book company.

I will leave you with this video that shows a little girl overcome with compassion for a homeless man outside the restaurant where she was eating, and then DOING something about it. click here  Father, lead me to the people who don’t have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear, and to help me be bold enough to be the answer to someone’s prayer. (Matthew 6:25)

She told us of her poverty, and how she and her husband struggle to survive on their salaries. Unbelievably, She makes $30 a month as a Kindergarten teacher. How do you teach your children to give to those in need.

Note:  all the scriptures I used today in my post were straight from Jesus)

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God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family. This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.


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Will Wonders Never Cease? No, Never.

The literal answer to this age old expression is, “No, a thousand times NO!”  God’s wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, an answered prayer, a second chance, and the togetherness of a family.  God’s wonders take us to new heights if the one in the middle of the wondrous decides to catch the kite string and soar into the spiritual.

God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family.  This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.

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This summer, my husband and I saw many wondrous things in our month long road trip and I would love to share some of my best pictures with you.  Psalm 148 just seems to fit.

God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family. This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.

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God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family. This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.

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God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family.  This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.

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God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family.  This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.

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God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family.  This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.

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God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family. This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.

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God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family. This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.

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God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family.  This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.

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God's wonders are in the food we eat, the scenery we take pictures of, in an answered prayer, and in the togetherness of a family. This post is to share a few wonders I captured this summer during our month long road trip, along with Psalm 148.

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This excerpt from The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones  captures the childlike simplicity of creation and its response to wonder.

And when God saw them He  was like a new dad.  “You look just like me,” He said.  “You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made!”  God loved them with all of His heart.  And they were lovely because He loved them.  And Adam and Eve joined in the song of the stars and the streams and the wind in the trees, the wonderful song of love to the one who made them. 

This post is just a reminder to join the song.

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Pictures:  1)  glacial ice seen on our Alaskan cruise, 2)  hummingbird perched on a branch near her nest in my California son’s yard, 3)  California beach, 4) Oregon coastline,  5) View from a train in Skagway Alaska, 6) More Alaskan beauty, 7) It was a surprise to find Washington Lake Wanapun in the middle of such barren country, 8) My family’s Montana ranch, my favorite place, 9)  Ranch sunset on our last day.  The sky was especially beautiful.  10)  Ranch sunrise  on our last day.  The sky was especially beautiful.

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Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please. At the end of the day I was ready to make Banana Blueberry Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Muffins and I tried my hand at dehydrating some in my oven.


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Hooray For the Blueberry!

I can’t say enough about the health benefits of the blueberry.  God was so creative when he thought up these finger staining, antioxidant filled,  disease fighting delights. But they are so expensive and are on the list of produce high in pesticides called the dirty dozen.  Domestic blueberries are  number fourteen,  and imported are number nineteen.    (here is the 2016 list)

Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please. At the end of the day I was ready to make Banana Blueberry Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Muffins and I tried my hand at dehydrating some in my oven.

The possibility of pesticides make it important to buy organic blueberries from your local store, which naturally  makes them even more expensive.  Or you could find a local blueberry farm and pick them for yourself.  Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please. I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please.Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please.

But what does one do with that many blueberries?  Well, blueberries freeze beautifully, but I did cook with blueberries for days after our picking adventure   Scroll down to see several recipes I used.

Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please.

The small basket we got free

Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please.

Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please.

Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please.

Free blueberry lemonade and a cool country porch when you need a break.

Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please.

This makes me happy.

The first thing I tried to do was to dehydrate some of these beauties thinking they would be perfect in my granola recipe.  I used my oven set on 200 degrees for about 5 hours.  I spread out the blueberries on the parchment paper and turned them periodically.  When finished they had the consistency of raisins.  A few were still plump with juice so I just ate those.

Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please. At the end of the day I was ready to make Banana Blueberry Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Muffins and I tried my hand at dehydrating some in my oven.

Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please. At the end of the day I was ready to make Banana Blueberry Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Muffins and I tried my hand at dehydrating some in my oven.

Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please. At the end of the day I was ready to make Banana Blueberry Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Muffins and I tried my hand at dehydrating some in my oven.

Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please. At the end of the day I was ready to make Banana Blueberry Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Muffins and I tried my hand at dehydrating some in my oven.

The next thing I made was my Banana Blueberry Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Muffins.  These are adapted from my mother’s banana bread recipe using whole wheat instead of white flour, olive oil instead of butter, and a handful of oatmeal to help with battling my cholesterol.  I have a printable recipe for you below.

Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please. At the end of the day I was ready to make Banana Blueberry Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Muffins and I tried my hand at dehydrating some in my oven.

Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please. At the end of the day I was ready to make Banana Blueberry Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Muffins and I tried my hand at dehydrating some in my oven.

Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please. At the end of the day I was ready to make Banana Blueberry Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Muffins and I tried my hand at dehydrating some in my oven.

Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please. At the end of the day I was ready to make Banana Blueberry Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Muffins and I tried my hand at dehydrating some in my oven.

Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please. At the end of the day I was ready to make Banana Blueberry Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Muffins and I tried my hand at dehydrating some in my oven.

Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please. At the end of the day I was ready to make Banana Blueberry Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Muffins and I tried my hand at dehydrating some in my oven.

Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please. At the end of the day I was ready to make Banana Blueberry Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Muffins and I tried my hand at dehydrating some in my oven.

Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please. At the end of the day I was ready to make Banana Blueberry Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Muffins and I tried my hand at dehydrating some in my oven.

Hooray for the blueberry! I enlisted my husband one day in June, and we braved the heat and bugs to spend 90 minutes picking and eating these fun berries at a local blueberry farm. The deal was to pick a huge basket and get a smaller basket free. Yes, please. At the end of the day I was ready to make Banana Blueberry Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Muffins and I tried my hand at dehydrating some in my oven.

click for Muffin Recipe PDF

Eating real food is not a diet, it is a lifestyle change and unfortunately clashes with popular food culture.  A decision to eat naturally is often misunderstood by those who do not share your convictions.  Spiritual motivation to change eating habits is not based on weight loss, even though eating naturally does drop the pounds.  Good health for Jesus, and for the temple of the Holy Spirit…your body,  is the greatest motivation.    Being healthy is a form of worship for me as I deny myself what culture tempts me to taste.  See my post  7 Simple Ways to Eat Healthier for more about real food.