Friday, December 19, 2014

Allergic to Breathing? Ten Years of Change

I sat in a tight airline seat, my knees killing me.  I mean excruciatingly painful and MANY more hours to fly to Ethiopia.  If I didn't straighten my knees, this always happened.  I'd been experiencing joint pain for years and taking Ibuprofen every night to sleep.

This was one of the many symptoms my husband and I experienced over the course of YEARS due to unknown allergies and sensitives.

I know this blog post may not be the norm for many of you to read, but the last ten years had so much misery (yes, I said misery) go away when we stumbled across the allergies/toxicity.  I meant it when I say stumbled upon.

EVERY.TIME....flat on my face right into it.

This post is going to cover a lot of ground, so be patient with me.  It won't just cover one thing, but THREE. Three instances of allergies (and toxicity) that left us with all of the following symptoms (and I'm pretty sure I forgot some).  I know many people struggle with these without allergies, but I wanted to throw out there the possibilities.
Extreme joint pain
Nightly vomiting of acid (acid reflux)
Pain so severe in the chest and stomach that I almost took my husband to the ER several times.
Extreme fatigue
Brain fogginess
Extreme stomach upset
Constant diarrhea and cramping
Seven years of migraines
High blood pressure
Acne (pretty intense at times)
Allergies
Skin Eczema


....and many of these we just thought were normal.

About ten years ago I started hearing rumors.  I would sit with my Diet Coke and read articles and links that friends would forward to me and all their family members.  Truthfully, I completely got tired of hearing how everything is bad for you. (I am convinced someone will say breathing is next.)  I pretty much blew it off.

Finally, I had enough.

That is when I had a face first plant into the world of Aspartame toxicity (or poisoning).

(Shoot! Really?)

Ya, apparently it's not that good for you.  I really didn't believe it until I started hearing things about military men and women suffering.  That finally got my attention.  You don't mess with people fighting for our freedom.

Fine, I'd give up my Diet Coke (sulk, sniff, sulk)...just for a little bit though, since obviously everyone was overreacting.

My knee pain reduced by 70% within two weeks of no aspartame.  No more ibuprofen after only two weeks.  Another friend was diagnosed with arthritis and it also went away by about 75%.  Awww man...

Ok, this is good.  Thank goodness I wouldn't have to give up anything else.

Cue a stomach virus about nine years later by a boy named Benjamin.  Now you will see the stumble right into the muck number two...gluten/wheat.  Most of you know about this one, but I can't NOT touch on it.

Ben has Celiacs.  For those of you like me that had no clue, this is an allergy to gluten (derived from wheat). Gluten is a binder used in MANY foods (NO JOKE)  We even found some turkeys containing gluten (while looking for a turkey on Thanksgiving).

We were told that many  people are gluten sensitive.  There are several theories of why this is increasing in the United States.  (When in Ukraine which uses almost no processed foods many have no problem at all.).

Theory One: Many believe it's not really the wheat, but the excessive nature that it is used in EVERYTHING in the United States.  It is overwhelming many bodies and our bodies were not meant to process it.
Theory Two: Genetically Modified Foods-These are banned in many countries and the fear is that the modification (to make it more durable, etc.) is causing it to be harder to break down (or some such).
Theory Three: A combination of theory one and two.

How did I stumble across several in our family being gluten sensitive? (Actually we think my husband probably had Celiacs, but you can't get a test for it after you are already off gluten.)

I decided everyone needed to go off gluten so that I could learn to cook it successfully.  It wasn't purposeful, but it was a gift from God.

Anna using the Rice Cooker (which we use A LOT).


Migraines disappeared withing two weeks
Brain fogginess disappeared
Diarrhea disappeared
Extreme stomach and chest pain disappeared
The worst of the fatigue disappeared
Eczema went away by 50%
A nasty green snotty nose and severe morning allergies went away for our son
Acid Reflux went completely away
Joint pain was reduced just a little bit more

NO.WAY....NO.STINKING.WAY...

Now I had to give up my Diet Coke AND wheat/gluten.  (Banging Head Repeatedly on Table)
Actually, after I got over the head banging, I found out it was fairly simple to do.  We could still eat a lot.

Then, the final straw happened.

Seriously?  This happened about a little over a week ago.  You see, one of my children has struggled off and on with acne.  We've saved and gone to doctors and bought expensive medicine, to no avail.  We finally tried a home remedy of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar and water as a cleanser.  THAT was awesome.  About 50% cleared up within a couple weeks.  AWESOME! Yet, the rest was still there.

Until we removed sugary snacks (not fruit and such, but candy, ice cream, etc.).

I, the "on board" mother that I am decided I wouldn't eat sugar unless it was a Christmas party (and it was gluten free of course) in sympathy.  I was looking forward to my Hershey's Kiss cookies on Christmas Eve.  I really was.

BUT NO...that would be too easy.

My blood pressure, which I've struggled with for years and have medication for, went down immediately (not cured, but went down).  After just 24 hours I felt calmer.  Not only that, but the remaining pain in my joints is about 90% gone with sugar removed.  Sigh...

Really?  My Hershey's Kisses were gone?  Yup
 (Ok, mostly gone, because occasionally I am willing to have a little hike in blood pressure...lol)

So, let's recap...
Extreme joint pain -90% Gone
Nightly vomiting of acid (acid reflux)-Gone
Pain so severe in the chest and stomach that I almost took my husband to the ER several times.-Gone
Extreme fatigue-Gone (only normal  fatigue occasionally now from a lack of sleep or some such)
Brain fogginess-Gone
Extreme stomach upset-Gone
Constant diarrhea and cramping-Gone
Seven years of migraines-GONE
High blood pressure-Lowered (and working on gone!)
Acne (pretty intense at times)-Almost solely during hormone fluctuations or extreme stress 
Allergies-Limited and runny snotty morning nose gone
Skin Eczema-Reduce by 50%

SOOOOO....you guys might see where I'm going with this.  We all have so many more allergies/sensitivities to things than I even think we realize at times.  I think we accept much of what we feel just as "aging".

I wanted to give you a heads up.

If you decided to do an elimination diet (try going off of it for awhile) let me know.  I'd love to cheer you on.
Though I joke and complain, our lives have changed for the better.  They really have.  I don't miss Aspartame.  There are so many new and healthier alternatives now.  I don't miss gluten.  Once I went off of it for a bit (two months is recommended to truly see what the results might be) I stopped craving it 99% of the time.

Now, I try always to be honest....I miss sugar.  I do, but it's not that bad unless I'm stressed (which means it's completely mental).  (No surprise there...)

So friends, this is my throwing it out there.  I'd LOVE to hear about allergies/toxicity/sensitivities changed your life.  If I get enough responses here (and on Facebook) then I may do a post number two with all your stories.

Have a blessed, aspartame free, gluten free, sugar free night! (Shoot, I'm just eating air now, aren't I?  Glad I'm not allergic to breathing.)


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Revamped and Rewritten "Epiphanies and Lies" (When You Feel Like You Constantly Fail)

Originally posted in 2011, I thought it might be time to rewrite and repost this today.  I was thirty nine when this was originally posted, at forty three many of my battles are exactly the same...that screaming in your ear that you're not good enough.  

That's not God's truth.  We are never "good enough".  We don't have to be (though we strive to follow in Christs' footsteps).  We are sanctified, washed clean, and covered with the blood of Christ Jesus.

Here is the newest, revamped and rewritten version of "Epiphanies and Lies".  

Side note: You may notice, in my blog posts, that I don't capitalize satan's name.  I refuse to show him any respect.  He has none in my book.  Some may feel it's a matter of proper English, and I get that.  I'm just a rebel (NOT...smile).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Oh, it's not that bad. Today was one of those days. I didn't sleep well last night.  I woke up to spend time with God and just felt this rebelliousness in me.  Truthfully, it felt yucky (mommy dictionary is open).  The kids are being good (though sweet Ben is testing limits), but my nerves are "buzzing" today. It was a day where I am tired and struggling with many instances of others "not thinking it through" and little hurts.  I'm worried in my "Mommy Brain" about a couple of situations and feel desperately inadequate.  In other words, it's a day like most of us have now and again...or a week like we all have now and then.


Ben laying down on the couch beside me today.  

The triplets at play.

Yet the difference in today is that when satan started working on me, I knew he was lying.  It doesn't always make it easier to fight, but it's a start.


"He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." John 8:44b

Did you read that? Lies are his native language. It's not the exchange student in the back of the room struggling for words.  It's the college professor, teaching "Lies and How to Become a Success Through Them" on a doctorate level.

"You're a failure"
"You're not good enough, completely stupid."
"They're pretending to like you, but they really don't"
"See, no one listens to you. You're a lousy parent."
"You're not pretty enough or skinny enough"

"Why would God talk to You? Have you looked in the mirror called reality?"
"Why would God answer YOUR prayers?"

The lies rest in the lap of satan. Oh, we are all far from perfect and we all have times in our lives where we are faced with the knowledge we need to change, but God's soul (yes, I meant to spell it that way) purpose is not destruction.  THAT is satan's job.


"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

GOD is reconstructive (even when it hurts).
satan is destructive.


GOD is always honest in His instruction, telling painful truths to reconstruct us to His tool.
satan is the master of lies, telling us lies in a way that will only cause us harm.

GOD brings life.
satan causes death.

GOD numbers our days until we can be with Him.
satan tries to cut short our days with depression or suicide.



There's a pattern.

GOD says things such as, "You are turning from me and letting others opinions be your master."
satan says, "You are a failure, AGAIN, no one likes you."


"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39

GOD says things such as, "Your children are not listening, just as you have not listened to me, in their rebellious spirit.  Turn to me as the example of the Ultimate Father.  I can heal even this."
satan says, "You're no good as a parent. You've made a mess of your kids. You can't undo this."


"Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them;
    he rescued them from the grave." Psalm 107:19-20


GOD says things such as, "Your body is mine. You need to grow and treat it with the respect I want you to. Do not let food be your master.  I love you period, but you do need to choose to treat your body, this gift, as I would have you treat it."
satan says, "You're too fat/too skinny, your shaped like a kangaroo on steroids. Man! You are so ugly. There will not be an end in sight.  You can never do better."




GOD says things like, "I'm proud of you my child."
satan says things like, "You don't need God. You are amazing on your own."


"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalm 18:2


GOD says things like, "I gave you my promise."
satan says, "You will fail."


"For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God." 
II Corinthians 1:20

GOD says things like, "I use the weak things of the world and I know you feel weak right now.  I talk to you not because of what you've done, but because of who I AM."
satan says, "Why would God talk to You? Have you looked in the mirror called reality?"



"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." I Corinthians 1:27

GOD says things like, "I love you.  I give my children good gifts, but it's in MY timing, not yours child.  Your walk with me is beautiful and I know what you need, what will bring you joy, more than any other."
satan says, "Why would God answer YOUR prayers?"

"If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:11

GOD is reconstructive.
satan is destructive.


When the ugliness and shattering lies rack through my brain, trying to ruin me...I have to ask myself, is this destructive or reconstructive? 


Is this making me want to curl up in a fetal position or straighten my shoulders, take a deep breath, and face the day with God?

Is this making me want to shut the door on the world and God (feeling so completely not worthy) or is this making want to curl up in HIS Arms and let His Love wash over me?

When you have your answer, you know exactly where it came from.

What do you do at that point, when you recognize the lies of satan?  Truthfully, much of the time the fetal position sounds wonderful, BUT if you can claim that spark of flame that resides within you.  There IS something you can do....

FIGHT.

Fight with God's truth.  

Take your thoughts captive.  

When satan tells a lie, tell the truth even if you don't know it emotionally.  

Write it on your arm (you know it's one of my favorite things to do...smile) and on your heart.

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." II Corinthians 10:5

My life is not my own, why would my Savior want to destroy it? 

satan has a good reason. We are not his children. He has been disinherited. We are now claiming exactly what he wants.

"Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Romans 8:17

I ask you to join me in remembering (again) that God loves us. He claims us as His own. He is a jealous God. He wants our untarnished devotion. He cherishes our spirits. He knows our flaws. He has taken our sin.  He will not bend easily to the shedding of His children through the lies of the great deceiver.


"...so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power." I Corinthians 2:5


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I wrote about this in another area of my life, as you can see in the post
  "The Lies satan Tells Us About Adoption".



Monday, December 15, 2014

Pictures "Catch Up" (The First Half)

Please tell me it's not just ten days until Christmas?  Please tell me that I've posted of pictures of birthdays and big events of the last, ohhhh....hmmmm...five months?

Ya, I thought so.

I have attempted a catch up post WAY too many times.  I have now officially let myself off the proverbial hook.

I will now "catch up" in pictures, with maybe a little story thrown in there.

July

So, I have this friend from college.... 
 He may deny it, but now I have proof.  I have memories of Bob teaching me to cheat VERY
obviously at cards....VERY obviously.  He happens to be a Christian comedian with a wonderful 
heart for God.
\
Tom (our oldest) and Bob Smiley (above)


After a night of my husband, I, Tom and Anna watching Bob Smiley and 
Tim Hawkins perform...
that is the face you get.
Tom (our oldest), Tim, and his friend Scott

August

Max turned twelve this year.  He's growing up in so many ways...especially 
his relationship with God.  Keep reading....

Taylor (who we claim as family), Rachel, Jael, Ben the blur, and the
Birthday Boy!


I posted this because he is SUCH a goofball!!!


One of our first tries at gluten free cake.  Max
was the guinea pig.


And now the beauty....
In a fountain at our friend's church Max gave his life to
Christ in baptism.

Happy Rebirthday Max!


The month continued very cutely.
The twins turned five!
I know the picture quality isn't great, but I'm 
thankful I got at least a few!




Now the Random....
Sarah's first day at college! Medical missions, here she comes! (above)
Side note: Sarah just finished her first semester with three A's and one B plus.  She is smarticle!


Ok, they're just cute.


The two being baptized are two we consider family, Taylor and Farrah.
Taylor has a story that has BLOWN us all away in praise.  It's his story though.
Maybe someday I'll convince him to let me share it (hint hint Taylor).


September


This was the triple 18th birthday threat.  They all turned 18 within a couple weeks.
Above is Sarah (our oldest daughter)...which she will probably kill me for posting, but EVERY TIME I pointed
the camera she made a face. (Laughing)

Below is Lexi (who we consider family) and her sweet boyfriend
Caleb.

October

 Annnnnnnd Jael gets her running legs!!!!!



I got to have my first girls weekend in 10 years. We went to 
our 20th university reunion!  Yup, I'm old.  My husband
was my hero this weekend.  He watched the kids (smile).
Me and Yvonne


Our Speaker...inspiring to hear Kent Brantly speak.  Bad picture, beautiful speech...


Our oldest (Tom) turned twenty!  He may hate this picture too, but 
if they would pose for me...lol.  My brother's birthday was also this month, but 
since he's bigger than me and can hurt me (chuckle)....and I don't have permission...I won't post 
pictures.

Randomness...
Me and my Ben-JAMIN'


This is Levi, Taylor's son.  He is a gift. Family...Precious....


I love Love LOVE this picture of Ben.  It cracks me up!!!!

 Now, so I don't bog down blogger, I'll be done.  I've caught you up a bit.

I gave up on the deep detailed catch up.  This is it.  My beautiful family....with more pictures coming.

Have a blessed night and I'll catch up more with you soon!!!!


Saturday, December 13, 2014

"Bull Through"~When God Seems Distant

"Mama Kat...I feel so distant from God right now.  I am just not hearing Him." (They say, usually using my last name instead of first.)

"God seems so far away.  Everything....sigh...just seems so hard and I feel like I'm just not good enough for God to care about me."

"God is acting in everyone else's life it seems and He just seems too quiet in mine...so far away."

"I've prayed and prayed and God just isn't answering.  This is just too hard."

"I doubt He even cares about me."

"God won't use me.  Truthfully, I've failed too much."

These conversations have been happening over the course of several weeks.  My heart breaks every time.  It's not because I don't understand. It's because I get it.  I've been there.  It's so hard walking through the desert.

"How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?"

Psalm 13:1-2a

You feel parched, longing to feel the thirst quenching water of the Holy Spirit washing over you.  You put one foot in front of the other on the heated desert sand.  You logically may know this desert will end, but the weariness inside of you may actually leave you wondering if you will live to see it.



The desert is my least favorite place to walk without God.

We are not though, without God that is. (Absolute Truth #1)

He is in the desert with us, even if we can't see or hear Him.  He's there.  I find (in the desert) that I know that logically, but emotionally, not so much.

"So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10


Logically, I know the absolute truth of the inspired scriptures. (Absolute Truth #2) 

Emotionally...sigh....

When I'm asked what to do, traditionally you will get what some may see as a pat answer. It's not.  Please bare with me.

I feel like I've said this phrase over and over again, at times to myself.  It's an odd phrase to say.

"You have to bull through."


With determination you have to keep going.  One step in front of the other.

"God brought them out of Egypt;
    they have the strength of a wild ox." Numbers 23:22


You walk forward and hold onto the knowledge of absolute truth.

God

God is. (Absolute Truth #3)

You know this.  You have felt God's presence.  Hold onto that fact, even if you can't capture the emotion or feeling.

BULL THROUGH

Know that logically that one step in front of the other (on the right path) still leads to your destination.

I asked God for a word the other day, an example, as I was talking to someone dear to me.

This is the picture that presented itself.


A tunnel...

A tunnel filled to the top with wet goopy cement.


Assuming you could breathe, you have to push and plod through the tunnel.  It's slow, painful, stifling, isolating, and just feels horrible.  We know there's another side though.  Logically we know if there's a beginning, there is an end.  There will be an end, but we don't always know when it's coming.  We don't know how long the tunnel is.  The cement makes it impossible to see.  You keep going though.

You don't stop going to Church, seeking a Church, or worshipping and fellowshipping.  Stay in your Bible very deliberately each day and pray...DON'T STOP.  Look for gifts in your life daily and thank God.  Praise Him for what you have seen and know.

"The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
    a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 Those who know your name trust in you,
    for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you." Psalm 9:9-10


BULL THROUGH

As satan tries to convince you you're not good enough and that it isn't worth it, this isn't truth.

"He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." John 8:44b

Tell yourself truth...

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Luke 12:6-7

God loves you, whether you can feel it or not. No matter how awful you think you are. (Absolute Truth #4)

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." 
Romans 5:8

"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." 
1 Corinthians 1:27

BULL THROUGH

As you fight to hold onto your own sin, obey God's correction...for sometimes we are in rebellion.  We are saved by grace.  God loves us through how messed up we are (smile).  It helps though.

"...and do not give the devil a foothold." Ephesians 4:27

BULL THROUGH

 When we doubt....

"Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
    and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted,
    and every morning brings new punishments." 

Psalm 73:13-14

"For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
They have no struggles,
their bodies are healthy and strong." 
Psalm 73:3-4

Speak truth...dig into the Bible...read books that speak even the beautiful scientific proof or logical proof of our great God. (Example: A Case for Faith, A Case for Christ, or A Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel)

“Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
Do you have an arm like God’s,
and can your voice thunder like His?
10 Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor"

Job 40:8-10

BULL THROUGH

When you feel finally like turning away.  Hold on, satan loves to look lovely, preening in front of a mirror when the horror that lies behind him may only begin in your imagination, but ends in eternity.

"...and no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." 
1 Corinthians 1:27

BULL THROUGH

When others empty promises fail...
When it feels like God is silent, this cannot be truth because you are surrounded by hypocrites....
  
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." 
John 3:16

God came to save the sinners...the hypocrites.  That's me.  That's you.  We cannot say that on some level we are any different.  This does not mean WE are failures, but are sinners redeemed by Christs' Holy Blood.

BULL THROUGH

You may not be able to see the lighthouse through the fog.  You may feel like your ship is doomed to crash.


You may not feel like you will ever reach that oasis in the desert...that the desert will never end.

BULL THROUGH

Because...

What God has begun, He will see through in you.

He has not left you to sit in decay, but is with you.

It is not necessary for us to feel our Heavenly Father for Him to be there.

He does not cease to exist, because we don't acknowledge His existence.

He does not stop loving us, because we don't feel lovable.

Our Heavenly Father is who He always was.  I promise you.

I give this advice, not out of ignorance, but out of being there.  Bull through, precious sisters and brothers.
God is still there and you WILL see HIS light again.

"The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirsheirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Romans 8:16

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12b

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