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Empathy, A Lost Fruit.

My daughter making fruit salad at our gluten-free food party at Hy-Vee!

We started gluten-free at the end of the school year last spring, in what my son calls, “The LONGEST unit study on gluten sensitivity, ever.”

{I know he means that in a good way.}  But with all of my doctors appointments, and feeling increasingly awful most days, it might go down as on of the longest semester for ME, for sure.  We needed a reason to celebrate!  (I love a good party!)

This summer I planned to make one of our children’s birthdays into a GLUTEN-FREE celebration at the HyVee kitchen club!  It wasn’t as much about a birthday party, as it was about sharing JOY in the things we can do, as a gluten-free family.  All of the books we got on celiac disease for the kids, had somewhat of “here is what you’ll be missing” type of attitude.  Not super positive, or what you hope for you kids.

When we started things, it was the end of soccer… the “big” pizza party… and while the kids were totally fine eating the foods they knew they could have (a sandwich picnic on the floor by all of their friends enjoying Pizza Hut)… a part of a mother’s heart breaks, knowing it’s just “one more way” – we are different.

Some things, we choose – one might say.

You chose to have a big family.

You choose to home school.

You choose to eat like that.

That wasn’t really a choice was it?  Unless we are going to choose to be ignorant on the matter – then obviously, it’s not.

Honestly, we don’t see any of those things as a choice in our hearts – but rather, a surrender to our will – for a responsibility to God’s calling for our family.  Different than a majority, it’s not a burden, but a blessing.

When you look at the way of the world – you see how easy it is to get pulled in.  Like a tornado and all of its sucking power… grabbing everything around it, in its path – and spitting out a less than desirable outcome.

It’s hard to stand firm and be different, especially when it’s viewed as a choice.  Whoever said it was easy…. wasn’t being truthful.

OBEYING God… that part is easy.

Explaining it to the world?

That part is difficult.  Almost, impossible.

When I would tell people I didn’t really want children, nor did *I* plan on a big family… but that GOD opened my heart to all of the children we have… it warrants some really, strange looks.

Yes, one or two would have been “easier” or more managable, and perhaps better for my husband’s job, or in the light of the world – within the limits of how America is set up – family of 4 = perfect.   If it wasn’t for God and my husband’s obedience to his calling – I was fine with two also.  God must have known, we needed more sanctification in our entire family – and he sent us 6 more than the “legal limit.

Homeschooling… you KNOW, that has to be a calling, because no one in their right mind would take on being mom, teacher, and every other roles in-between with no breaks.

I agree – we’re nuts.  The world is right on that one.  (I’m only kidding…. I honestly couldn’t imagine it any other way.  It’s a blessing and a honor to be with our children all day, each day – showing them how to love life and learning in ALL aspects of their daily walk.   We hold this calling, dear to our hearts.  Pretty dramatic heart change for someone who was NOT going to home school.  Ever.)  Is it for everyone?  Absolutely not.  We are all part of the body, and hopefully – we’re all doing what we’re called to do, at the point God has us – without too much opposition, especially from other Christians.  (Not wrong.  Just different.)

How we eat.  We choose this – right?  It could be a point to constantly complain about… the price, or the time it takes to plan… or how difficult it makes it to eat out, or travel, visit other people.  Yada, Yada, Yada…

We see it as a gift… a gift to try foods we would never have tried before.  Time to slow down and be with our family, preparing foods as a team…and serving one another.  {after all, kids DO seem to eat the foods well, that they HELP prepare!}  It forces us to think outside of the box… and witness while doing it.  It also has allowed me to do something I’m horrible about doing except for my closest of friends…  and that is:

Share my struggle.

Share a struggle with the outside world that says … “Hey, we aren’t perfect…  and until glory – we never will be… do you struggle too?”

Perhaps at this point, my friends wish I shared a bit less…  but for me, the more people I connect with who are struggling – the more I talk about it in amazement at all God has done and continues to be at work… and there have been A LOT of contacts each week.  More than I would have ever imagined for something “so rare”…

My oldest, showing off his GF pizza creation at the Hy-Vee food party.

In the lack of empathy world we live in, it’s easy to shrug off hurting people and think, “big deal, I have problems too, quit your whining.”  Or as my husband’s family says; “No organ recitals!”

I took on an attitude of never talking about my health issues for years.  Realizing – no one REALLY wants to hear about complaints, they only want to hear good news.  Even in pregnancy I learned to suffer – in silence, to a fault.  There seem to be two camps – those who always complain (they need more empathy), and those who never complain  (they need empathy too, we just need to show them it’s ok to share!)  Being sick was “my normal” for as long as I can remember.  You don’t really consider your life – full of symptoms, when you’re not looking for a common factor cause like an auto-immune disease.  That was just life…  you deal…

Empathy is just not something that is often taught… very few people have this skill, or fruit of the Spirit.  Yet, Jesus shows us empathy… time and time again in God’s Word, and we want more of that for our kids. So it starts with us, as parents.

I believe this has helped give me eyes I used to have as a child –  to seek out others who are also hurting in a similar way – on a daily basis – to reach out in a way that I wouldn’t before due to hurt, pride or selfishness.  (Definitely not in an all-knowing and in your face way, because the only thing I’m an expert on, is myself and my family.)  I pray not… that isn’t my heart.  But rather, in a way that desires more for others too, the way God has blessed us.

Don’t ever short change how God is growing you.  He doesn’t have us struggle for no reason.  It’s with great purpose, and opportunity to share that with others – so that they might also see God’s love through you.

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.”

1 Cor. 12:12

On The Run, Again

A package of organic arugula (greens), strawberries and raspberries – mix with some BOLTHOUSE Farms gluten free olive oil vinagrette and you have a great salad with some fabulous flavor!

After 6 weeks off from running, I got the ok to run again from my doctor.

Truth be known… I was probably doing more than I should have before getting my “clean bill of health” – but honestly, MOVING makes me feel better – so it’s hard to keep me still!!

I tied on my running shoes and hopped on the treadmill to complete my first 5K in what felt like months.

Whew.

It wasn’t easy… it was plain and simple, UGLY.  I think my time was closer to the first time I ever tried it – maybe under 2 minutes.

I felt like I was a new runner again, and although my other work outs prevented me from being as sore – as long in the days that followed, the facts are, I use totally different muscles when running.

My ankles, and core hurt (I run with 3 lb weights, why?  I have no idea.  OH yes, because it’s good for me.)… but I’m SO glad I got back after it.

There is a fun run that tours the nation called, “The Color Run” and I thought that sounded like some fun I’d like to have one day. The bad news is,  my runner friend Steph informed me that the closest one was 2 weeks away.  Considering it was going to be over 100 that day, and I trained for my first 5K in just 2 weeks…  I decided to pass.  Maybe next year.

I’ll be honest – I still don’t love running.  *shocker alert*  But, there is something about pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone in any type of exercise.  Trying new things, seeing what your body can do.  I enjoy that I can still run… because some day – maybe that won’t be a possibility.

Remember that…  every day that you’re thinking about NOT working out.

If you can move today… then DO IT.  Each day is a gift from God.  Use it as such!!  (Get off your phone or computer.. and GO!! MOVE!!!)

Don’t forget to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!  Even MORE so when you’re working out on a hot day!

“Let us hold unswervingly to the Hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”

Hebrews 10:23

Gluten Free, Trendy?

Almost all of my fitness/health food magazines have recipes or articles about gluten.  There is definitely a trend of awareness going on, and lots of people I talk to seem to have celiac disease, or effects from a gluten intolerance.

Ironic, since celiac disease is so rare, right?

Runners are actually eliminating gluten, and feeling faster, and lighter… many people report health issues they had, disappearing as well.  So, why is that?

I don’t believe celiac disease is AT ALL quite as rare as they once thought, and I believe people are showing up in droves with gluten intolerance or celiac disease, due to awareness of the symptoms they’ve had for YEARS.   Often times, people who have tried a vegan or paleo diet also become more sensitive to the reintroduction of those grains they once eliminated – so the symptoms can come on fast and furious the next time they glutenate, all pointing to the auto-immune disease.

One of the great books I read, called Dangerous Grains, talked about how gluten, and other grains affect our bodies, and often worsen our health, as well as other auto immune diseases – like MS, Fibromyalgia and RA, to name a few.  Since celiac disease was originally thought to be a wasting disease, that showed up in babies (who were failure to thrive), and because it’s not a disease healed simply by MEDICINE, but rather proper diet, it seems the medical field has done a disservice to so many people struggling with thyroid issue, obesity, or depression by not looking at the big picture.

I read that something of only 6 hrs of nutrition is required for a Dr. to get his/her degree.  Out of all of the classes they’re required to take – it seems like healing the body inside out should have some emphasis?  I smell a solution to our growing healthcare “problems”…

Sure, we hear a lot about things to stay away from to lower your BMI, like trans fats, and high fructose corn syrup…. but I don’t know how many restaurants looked at me like I have a horn growing out of my head when I mention the word GLUTEN.

“What is that again?”

“What exactly IS that?”  They ask.

Employees attempted to understand – for which I am grateful, but often times – they’ve never even heard of celiac disease.  {That concerns me, because there is a lot of unexplained “IBS” in the world around us.  I thought IBS was a condition – it’s actually the name of symptoms of uncontrollable “D” with no explanation found… yet.  Meaning, it’s NOT normal – BUT there is a cause. }  Shouldn’t we KNOW what that cause is?

Most people are exactly like me a few months ago – partial to NO understanding either.

It’s important to continue speaking out for healthy eating.  I think the experts are going to find a lot more to this whole “gluten” business than people realize – VERY soon.  With all of the processed foods consumed, and all of the CANCER we have running rampant in our world, specifically in our country … it’s not a coincidence.  We are actually poisoning ourselves… not just with food and gluten – but all of these chemically altered substances that mimic gluten as well as preservatives in foods.

It would be handy if all products listed wheat, barley, rye in a nice – easy to read label.  But the facts are, they don’t – so people continue to cross contaminate – and search for more answers… and they continue to make themselves sick… day after day after day.  Honestly, it’s pretty frustrating.

Call me an extremist – but I’ve lived it, and now I’m a believer.  I totally get it – because I felt the effects of it… for years.  I see and talk to people who are similar to me, or worse… and I see the variety of symptoms in my kids – all different, yet having the SAME cause.  It’s remarkable.

So, while many articles claim you shouldn’t eat gluten-free unless you have celiac disease, because it’s expensive and often times more caloric – I’m NOT so sure.  At the very least – we’re consuming WAY too many grains and processed foods.  I simply don’t think people realize HOW much they’re consuming of first of all, nor do they realize what it’s doing to our bodies for the long run.

As the movie FRESH said, our dollar is our vote, when it comes to food value in our country.  A majority often want the CHEAPEST food available, vs. the best quality fuel for our bodies.  They don’t want to study, and know what they’re putting in.  We want convenience, and short-term satisfaction.  Sure, whole foods and organic foods are going to cost MORE – but we must demand more for them to continue supplying it, eventually at a lower price.  Otherwise, plan on the cancer and illness trend only worsening in our country and you might as well jump aboard because it will be affecting you or some one you love, if it hasn’t already.

I am passionate right now for my children, and for their future – but also for other people struggling with no diagnosis, like I was.  I know what it’s like to feel like a head case, and feel frustrated that no one is listening.  To have chronic pain, and wondering when a next spell is going to hit.

Since I’m in the group of sufferers with a negative blood test, and a negative endoscopy – who was eating gluten-free, to gluten light before the disease spun out of control.  I know there are others like me… who have every marker of celiac disease, and who have suffered for years – who are told, “that isn’t it… let’s test for other things”  and YET, like myself, and my children – eliminating gluten, got rid of the itchy celiac rash they’ve had for YEARS, the neuropathy symptoms, the stomach pains, the sluggishness, heightened anxiety and personality alterations and I can only hope the handfuls of other vitamin deficiency, asthma symptoms and malabsorption issues (in time!).

Please don’t just take your Dr’s word for it – if you suspect celiac disease and they tell you NO, it’s too rare or NO, you’re not wasting away, or NO, it can’t be that.  Keep reading, learning and being your own advocate.  Doctors are practicing medicine.  They’re human, and there is no “one size fits all” answer for this disease and the effects of your diet on your health.  They can’t have all of the answers…  and YOU know yourself and your children best!

If it’s possible, find a specialist or a nutritonist to help get you on the path to health… and then STICK with it – this is your life we’re talking about!!  Who wants to be in the 27% of people who always tested negative when symptomatic, but showed up with intestinal cancer and a POSITIVE blood test years later?

NOT me.  I don’t want that for YOU either.  Stick to the diet – it’s SO worth it.

God Bless! 🙂

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,”

1 Timothy 2:1  

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