I love the 4th of July! With the exception of Christmas, it’s my favorite holiday.
Every year we host a birthday party for America. We swim, throw water balloons, sing Happy Birthday to America, eat cupcakes, grill, and set off fireworks. It’s a spectacular way to celebrate our freedom with our children. However, this year, I stressed out about the party – namely the food.
Aside from the fireworks, the cupcakes are the highlight of our 4th of July party every year. The children wear party hats and gather around the cupcakes while I share a cool fact about our Founders. This year, I asked if the children could identify the flaw in the famous painting of George Washington kneeling in prayer at Valley Forge.
After the children took turns guessing, I revealed that George Washington is looking down in the painting, but he actually prayed looking up to Heaven. (He also prayed before and after each meal.)
After “sharing time,” each year we sing Happy Birthday to America, blow out the candles, and enjoy a cupcake. Needless to say, the dessert portion of the evening is always a huge hit! This year was different. This was the first party I have hosted since adopting my new principle:
Feed the Good and Starve the Bad.
One of the main messages of Hands Off My Food! is: Stay true to yourself.
Stand for your principles.
While conducting research for the book, I did a lot of soul searching in order to discover my core principles. I decided that I could no longer support companies that are not aligned with my principles. That stance turned out to be more challenging than I anticipated.
This 4th of July was also the first party we’ve hosted since learning that my children and I don’t respond well to eggs. I haven’t figured out how to make egg-free, grain-free cupcakes yet. And, coming up with a cupcake recipe in time for Independence Day was not a realistic goal. So, I considered making a separate dessert that my family could eat, and baking cupcakes for our guests. However, my kitchen is grain-free, which eliminated that option. Then, I considered buying cupcakes at the store for our guests. But, supporting the consumption of some of the chemicals in those cupcakes is against my principles. I had to stay true to myself.
So, Hunter and I attempted to make a grain-free, egg-free dessert for everyone. We created a pear pie with no butter and no grains. The filling was delicious! But, the crust was not right. Instead of trying to fix it, which could take many attempts, we changed direction. We tried making a pear crisp. Again, the filling was great, but the crisp was dry.
Still, we were determined to create a recipe that is aligned with our principles and that our party guests would love. But, then I began to feel pain in my right arm. That pain is my unique indicator that my body is inflammed.
I was inflammed from eating so much sugar.
The crazy part is that I didn’t even want to eat the sugar. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the first piece of pie and the first few spoonfuls of pear crisp. But, I hit a point of sugar overload. If I had to eat one more bite of sugar, I thought I might get sick to my stomach. Suddenly, I felt even more stressed. I knew I couldn’t keep eating sugar. But, I still didn’t have a dessert to offer my guests. I was faced with the moral dilemma of whether or not to compromise my principles. And, unexpectedly, I came face to face with my Mother’s legacy.
Before she got sick, my Mother was a legendary hostess. She cooked everything from scratch. Every recipe was unique – from orange zest in her cranberry sauce to lemon meringue pie that even lemon haters loved to eat. She was famous for making the most delicious dinner rolls that took half a day to create. And, she didn’t ask for help from anyone. She made every dish herself. And, every dish was simply superb. My Mother made hostessing look easy. Needless to say, my Mother set the bar high. How could I live up to her example?
How could I be a legendary hostess while standing for my principles and not making my body sick? In a moment of truth, I realized that I would not be walking in my Mother’s footsteps. For my own health, I had to let go of that expectation. I had to recognize my limitations and embrace my own path. Instead of beating myself up for not living up to her example, I decided to do something that I’m still not good at:
I gave myself grace.
I called my good friend, Hope Egan – author of What the Bible Says about Healthy Living Cookbook. Hope rescued me.
She reminded me of one of my principles:
The holidays are not about food.They are about relationships.
Then, Hope did something that lifted the stress from my body. She offered to help me.
My old self would have said, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll figure it out.” But, I’m learning to put my ego aside. I’m learning that asking for help is not necessarily a weakness. We all need help from time to time. And, it’s funny, because I’m quick to offer my help, but slow at allowing others to help me. But, on that fateful day when I reached out to Hope, my body was hurting and I knew I needed help to make it stop.
So, I swallowed my pride and accepted her kind offer.
Hope teamed up with another friend, Kelly, and together they created gluten-free cupcakes that are aligned with their principles. My children volunteered to decorate the cupcakes with flags, bows, and candles. All I had to do was make a dessert for my children. Luckily, they chose brownies with ganache icing – a dessert I already knew how to make and that is aligned with my principles.
Swallowing my pride turned out to be the best gift I could have given myself – and my family.
The guests loved the cupcakes, my children loved their brownies, and the pain in my arm went away.
Because I accepted help, I was able to enjoy the party.
I stayed true to my principles:
*It’s not about the food; It’s about the relationships.
*Feed the Good and Starve the Bad.
I focused on the true meaning of the holiday: Celebrating the sacrifices that others have made so that my family can be free.
I enjoyed every moment of the day: I reflected on how grateful I am for the opportunity to gather with friends, how fortunate I am to live in a country where I have the freedom to speak my mind on a blog, and how blessed I am to have friends that love me – not in spite of my limitations, but because of my limitations.
By accepting me for who I am, and not placing judgment, Hope helped me realize that it’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to recognize my limitations and to respect the boundaries that my body is trying to set for me. And, it’s okay to walk a different path than the one I had anticipated – the one I expected myself to walk.
Besides, God has a better path in store for me. I trust that His path is more freeing than the limited path I have been paving for myself. I’m excited to see where His path will lead. And, I’m grateful to live in America where I have the freedom and the opportunity to find my path and to seek my truth.
Happy Birthday America!
God Bless America!
God Bless the Men, Women, and Children who Sacrificed so my family can be Free!