Thursday, February 28, 2013

Healthy Eating Helpful Links

Here are the links that I think are good places to start:

Traditional Diet:
Weston A. Price Foundation (This is an excellent source for all sorts of information about traditional foods like raw milk and the dangers of modern foods like soy.)
Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, by Sally Fallon Morell*
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, by Weston A. Price (This is the original version and is free to read online. For a more recently published, updated version, go here*.)
Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition, 2nd Edition, by Ramiel Nagel*
Bread Beckers, "The Bread of Idleness" (I no longer agree with her method of bread making, but I highly recommend this CD. It is very thought provoking and talks about why in our modern society we see so much disease.)
Passionate Homemaking (This is the main blog that got me started doing more research into traditional foods)
The Healthy Home Economist
Kelly the Kitchen Kop
(There are a ton more great blogs out there, but most of them link back to these and you can easily find them through a Google search.)

General Health and Wellness:
Natural News

Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia, by Natasha Campbell McBride, MD*
Gaps Guide, by Baden Lashkov* (This book is currently unavailable. She has a new edition coming out next month.)
Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet, by Elaine Gloria Gottschall* (This is about SCD--Specific Carbohydrate Diet--that Dr. McBride based GAPS on.) 
Health, Home, & Happiness (She has a very helpful meal plan ebook you can purchase to do Intro in 30 days.)
Loving Our Guts
The Well-fed Homestead

While this list is not strictly food, vaccines are taken into the body and have a major impact on total health.
CDC Table of Vaccine Ingredients (For me this was the most eye-opening piece of information about what makes vaccines unsafe. There are ingredients like formaldehyde, aluminum, mercury, monkey kidney tissue, and even aborted fetal tissue used in vaccines. Once I read this information I knew we needed to stop vaccinating our kids.)
National Vaccine Information Center
Vaccine Injury Info

*These are affiliate links.

Our Food Journey - Part 2

Taking the GAPS Plunge

I had done a lot of research about a traditional diet, and we had seen some improvement in our health after we started eating that way. However, as I continued reading about a truly healthy lifestyle (and anyone who is my friend on Facebook knows that I read A LOT about how to be healthy) I began learning about the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) and how it can benefit children on the Autism spectrum. I learned about gut dysbiosis and realized that all five of us probably have it to some extent and realized that GAPS is not just an Autism diet. I also realized that even though we had seen some improvement with a traditional diet, if we wanted full healing we would need to go further. I began researching the GAPS diet more and more and felt it could help us (this video convinced me), but I have to admit that I was very intimidated. Even with all the changes we had made there were still lots more we would need to make, and I would have to make almost all of our food from scratch.  I already had a lot on my hands with homeschool and housework, but the more I read and prayed the more I knew that God was leading us to take the GAPS plunge. I left it on the back burner for awhile until a local friend told me that she wanted to try the GAPS diet, too, for her son who is Aspergers. This was the thing I needed to spur me into action. I ordered Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia, by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride* and Gaps Guide, by Baden Lashkov* and read them cover to cover. What I read in the books made total sense and confirmed we were on the right track. Even so it was last summer before we actually got started. My friend also added me to a Facebook group devoted to the GAPS diet. That has been one of the most helpful resources for me of all. The people in the group are very knowledgable and I have learned so much from them I could write a book. (If you'd like to join the group, let me know. It's a closed group, so I would need to add you.) Right now we are doing what is considered the "full" version of the diet, which is the least restrictive. (We've been trying to figure out when to do the Intro and decided we'd wait till after we move and get settled for various reasons.)

Even though we haven't done Intro yet, we have already seen a good amount of healing. My son's temper tantrums have almost completely gone away. It used to be that when he got upset I'd have to have him go in the bedroom to cool off. He'd still be yelling and acting out 30 minutes or so later, so I would go in and hold him, wrestle him, tickle him, etc., to get him to calm down. Sometimes it took well over an hour before he would settle. Now he still gets stubborn at times, but it's much easier to reason with him and he almost never tantrums. My youngest daughter would have whole days of cranky and irritable behavior and she would tantrum at the drop of a hat. She can still be quit dramatic, but she never has whole days of difficult behavior anymore. We're still hoping to see improvements in their speech. I'm thinking we'll have to do Intro to see changes there. My oldest daughter would complain every day that her stomach was hurting and she would get carsick very easily--almost every time we got in the car. Since we've been on GAPS she has very rarely complained of a stomach ache and her carsickness has almost completely abated. I think this is because if you already have a stomach ache before you get in the car, riding in the car will make it much worse. Since she doesn't have stomach aches anymore she doesn't get carsick as often. My husband and I have both lost weight. I was the heaviest I'd ever been (even compared to when I was pregnant) before we started the diet last June. I have lost almost 30 pounds as my body has healed, and I don't even go to the gym. My husband has also had comparatively fewer migraines since we started doing GAPS. The diet isn't easy, and we still have a long way to go, but I'm encouraged by the healing we've had so far, and I can't wait to see what happens as the result of doing Intro.

One of the nice things about this diet is, unlike the GF/CF diet, GAPS is not a life sentence. As your body heals, you can potentially add things back into your diet that caused problems before. We will never go back to SAD eating. If we eat grains they will be soaked or sprouted first. Pretty much all of our seed-based foods will be scratch made so that I can control how they are processed. We won't return to processed sugars. We'll continue eating pastured meat and eggs. We'll drink raw milk. We'll eat almost no processed food, and we'll be very selective about the processed food we do allow. And we'll consume lots of bone broth. There's a lot of reasons behind maintaining these changes. One of the most important things I've come to realize is that many of the outward symptoms we see, like being overweight, behavior issues, acne, allergies, and the list goes on, are merely symptoms of a deeper problem. In our society we want to take shortcuts and treat the symptoms without dealing with the source of the problem. Through GAPS we have begun dealing with the source of the problem and have seen true healing as a result. Because of that we don't want to consume foods that could compromise all the hard work we've done so far. So I've learned to be selective and make wise food choices. (I'll talk some more about what I've learned in a later post.) Are there some things I miss eating? Of course, but I the long-term benefits have become more important to me than the momentary pleasure. I want to see my children healthy and I want them to succeed, and I will do whatever I can to make that a reality.

So that brings us to where we are today. There's lots of great information out there about how and why to eat healthy food, and most of what we have been told about what is healthy is wrong. If you decide to go on your journey of healthy eating, do so with prayer and an open mind. You just may be amazed at what you learn and the vibrant health you gain as a result!

Check out the links I've posted here to help you get started.

*These are affiliate links.

Our Food Journey - Part 1

From Awareness to Reality

I have had several people ask me lately about how and why we eat like we do, how we got started, and so on. So, I thought I'd kill several birds with one stone and put it all down in a blog post. I have to say that there is no doubt in my mind that God has taken us on this journey. He wants what is best for us not just spiritually, but physically as well. So, here goes!

When I became a teenager a couple of things happened that changed my general awareness regarding food. First I had the privilege to go on several missions trips in which I was exposed to several different types of food from other cultures. Before this I had been a pretty picky eater, but overseas we were required to eat everything that was set before us. This pretty much cured me of my pickiness. Also, my family got involved in Melaleuca, Inc. This gave me an awareness of the dangers of chemicals and the need for natural ways to clean and be healthy. My parents stopped buying Pepsi for us to drink all the time and we started drinking more tea and water. We also started eating whole grain bread. We also started using natural cleaners. However, beyond that I didn't go much past awareness and avoiding some chemicals. I still ate a pretty typical Standard American Diet (SAD). When I think back on the stuff I used to eat... UGH! I ate some pretty nasty stuff back then.

With my limited knowledge of what is "healthy" I navigated my 20s, and gained a good bit of weight in the process. I met Shawn when I was 26, and we married a little over a year later. He had grown up eating a much more healthy diet that I did. His parents were more aware of the problems with sugar, white flour, and MSG than were mine. Also, since his family was from California, they were familiar with ingredients that I was unfamiliar with. Shawn's mother taught me to use and love things like cilantro and avocados. When I was pregnant with my first child I somehow knew enough to try to have a natural delivery, so I read some books, learned the Bradley method & sought out a midwife who was part of a conventional OB-GYN practice. I was having a lot of pain in my ribs from costochondritis (inflammation in the lining of the rib cage), so she referred me to an amazing chiropractor, Dr. David Block.  He recommended that we not get our daughter vaccinated and suggested a really good pediatrician. (I did consider his suggestion, but at the time I was pretty ignorant about vaccines and only knew the information provided by conventional medicine and the media. It didn't even occur to me at the time to research the ingredients in the vaccines. If I had, I would have definitely refused all vaccines. As it was, we did wait till she was a year old before we started vaccinating.) After my daughter was born I still had to work till she was eight months old. I had a terrible pump at the time and wasn't able to get enough milk for her when she wasn't with me. She also had trouble with dairy. I had to go off all dairy while I was nursing. When I ate dairy she would scream half the day. After I went off dairy she was a different baby within two weeks. (Of course, at the time, the only dairy I consumed was conventional dairy. I didn't know about the benefits of raw milk at the time.) I needed something to supplement nursing while I was at work. We tried soy formula, but she wouldn't take it (and for that I'm extremely grateful now since I've learned more about soy and its dangers). One day a friend was keeping her. She tried to give her the soy formula, but all the baby did was somehow suck on the nipple without taking any of the formula in ALL DAY LONG! I guess she didn't like the taste. That was one HUNGRY baby! She couldn't get enough of me that night! Obviously I needed to find another way to supplement nursing, so I told my chiro about the formula debacle. He suggested that we give her raw goats milk and gave me the name of a local farmer. We tried it, and she didn't react to it, so from the time she was seven weeks old or so, till she was eight months we supplemented with goats milk when I couldn't nurse. The goats milk was expensive, however, so we only used it for her. Shawn and I did the South Beach diet for awhile and lost several pounds. (I know now that the focus of the diet is wrong and it overlooks the foods we need to be truly healthy, but it did help to think more about what is healthy and what isn't.) Other than that we really didn't look much into nutrition, though we did continue to avoid processed flours and sugars and some food dyes. When I was training to work with kids on the Autism spectrum at work I had learned at about how red and yellow food dye contributed to hyperactivity and autistic behaviors, so we avoided them some, but we hadn't completely eliminated them from our diet.

Fast forward a few years to when our son was three years old. We had learned that he had a speech and language delay and we had noticed that when he had red dye he would be extremely hyper, so instead of just avoiding red dye, we eliminated it for him, though we still let our daughters have it. My youngest daughter also has a speech and language delay, but she didn't display the same hyperactive behavior after consuming dyes. Our son amazed us when he was offered anything red (and I do mean ANYTHING till we explained that he could have  things that were naturally red) and would turn it down without any prompting from us, even when we weren't around. Not long after that we learned that he has a Pervasive Developmental Delay (PDD-NOS). This essentially means he is on the Autism spectrum. He is high functioning, but because he has speech impairment, he is not considered Aspergers.

Somewhere during this time I learned about the death of Ramey Reeves, who I had gone to college with at Liberty University. We were little more than acquaintances at college, and she wasn't someone I had kept in touch with. I had just happened upon a post from another friend on MySpace about her illness a few weeks before she died. I started finding out everything I could about her on MySpace and Facebook. God really worked in my life through Ramey as I learned more about her. I was convicted by the joy she displayed in life and her desire that everyone know about Jesus. She had an easy way about her in sharing the Gospel, and she was a great friend to many. I was also able to reconnect with several friends from Liberty as I learned more about her. God has used these connections in so many ways in my life. I have been greatly influenced by what I've learned from these people. There are a couple in particular whose input has had a strong impact on my life. One of these friends has a blog and posted a lot on Facebook about a traditional diet and nutrition. I was intrigued and began reading her blog and several of the ones she linked to (which lead to more links, and more links... I've shared the ones that are good places to start researching here). As I did more and more research we began changing our diet to a more traditional one. We almost completely eliminated processed flours and sugars except when we were away from home. I began making my own organic sourdough bread and began searching out pastured meat, eggs, and raw milk (er, "pet milk", that is, since they don't sell raw milk for human consumption in NC; my "pets"--wink, wink--really loved it). We switched to mostly all organic fruits and vegetables and I started shopping at the local Farmers' Market on a regular basis. I had pretty much nailed down all our sources in North Carolina, and then we moved to Virginia. I had to find new sources all over again! (To me sourcing the food is the hardest part about a healthier diet. Once you've nailed down your sources and worked out your routines then it's no big deal. Plus it's so much more beneficial and enriching to shop from farmers instead of impersonal grocery stores. I've met lots of wonderful, interesting people in the last few years.)

This post is part of Fight Back Friday.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

From Prostitute to Princess

I really should wait till tomorrow to post the first of the sermon notes, but I was so excited about doing this, I couldn’t wait. The first set of notes comes from my days at Wave Church in Virginia Beach, VA. The first several entries in this particular notebook seem to have been taken either during a conference, or when Steve Kelly, the head pastor was out of town (probably at the Hillsong conference in Sydney since these notes were taken in July), because they are from different speakers. Entry number 1 was taken on July 9, 2000. Ps Greg Phelps was the speaker. He is the pastor of one of the Wave Network churches, though I couldn’t find any bio info on him.

“From Prostitute to Princess”
Joshua 2:1-24

Rahab was the lowest of the low in her society. If a king wasn’t to be spared, how much less a prostitute? Because she welcomed the spies she was spared. She became a part of Israeli society. She married Sinoam, one of the spies, who was a prince of Israel. So, Rahab became a princess, mother of Boaz, and predecessor of King David and Christ. (Matt. 1:4, Heb. 11:31, James 2:25)

James 4:7, 1Peter 5:9
Are we willing to defy our society?
  • Rahab defied the world.
  • She had dependence on God (Josh 2:11b)
    • She was totally dependent on this God she had never met. She was willing to risk her life for this God because of the conviction of the spies.
    • Trust God—give up all the old things you depend on.
  • Rahab endured to the end.
    • The spies left and she was alone.
    •  The scarlet cord which had been a symbol of shame (her prostitute colors) became a symbol of hope and salvation when she hung it from her back window.
    • She took down her colors from her front door and had to endure persecutions for weeks from her society until the Israelites came.
    • The promise was kept and she was saved.
      • She brought her family with her. She didn’t seek salvation only for herself. She had a house of sanctuary where others could be saved.
      • She never quit believing.

My thoughts: Yet again, God is confirming what He has been showing me lately. If I truly live in a way that seeks His Kingdom first, then I will be required to defy the society in which I live. I will have to give up all the old things on which I have depended, forsake the life I have known, and depend solely on God. I will endure persecutions, yet I have to continue to believe no matter what happens. I also need to create a sanctuary in my home and life where others can be saved. I can’t just seek salvation for myself, which is the life I have lived in recent years, but I must seek salvation for others as well.

I’m also struck by the fact that the cord Rahab hung from her window was scarlet, much like the blood that covered the doorposts of the Israelites on the night of the first Passover was scarlet, and the blood of Christ that covers my heart is also scarlet. This cord was the symbol of her profession and would've been hung outside her front door when she was open for business. Rahab’s willingness to remove the scarlet cord from her front door and move it to her back window became the path to her salvation. She moved from a place of dependence on herself and worldly pursuits to dependence on God. Her perspective changed. As a prostitute she had probably spent many hours looking through the door onto the streets of Jericho, while waiting for her next customer. Once she took the scarlet cord from her door and moved it to the window, she probably spent many hours looking through it hoping to see the return of the spies. Rahab turned her back on the doorway to her past and sacrificed all she had known. In doing so she found the window to her future. In losing her life she found it. It’s so much easier to go through a door than through a window. There’s much you would have to leave behind to go through a window. Just like there’s much that must be left behind to forsake the broad road for the narrow. Lord, give me the grace, strength, and courage to leave behind what I must and forsake the broad road so that I can travel the narrow way.

This post has been added to "Walk With Him Wednesdays".

Putting God's Kingdom First

Back in 1996 I went to Hyderabad, India with Teen Mania Ministries. Angel Meagher (though that wasn’t her last name at the time) was one of my Project Directors on the trip. Of all the missions trips I have been on, India was the one place where I went that I didn’t want to leave. That trip had a very strong impact on my life and influences a lot of my current ideals and values. God moved so strongly in India, in me, and in the people there. I've always wanted to go back. Angel Meagher left India when I did, but not for long. Eventually she moved back and married a man from India, named Matthew Meagher. Together they have a wonderful ministry that impacts India for God’s Kingdom in several ways. For example, they have an orphanage that houses 700 kids!

This summer, a team from my church, Crossroads Vineyard, will be taking a trip to Hyderabad. We will be partnering with The Jesus Way, Matthew and Angel’s ministry, on this trip. We will be helping them in the orphanage, teaching English, helping with the construction of their new facility, feeding orphans and widows, and loving on the people of Hyderabad.

So, why do I want to go on this trip? I love the Indian people and I want to tell them how much God loves them, minister to the poor, love on those who are so often neglected in our world, and give them the opportunity to know Jesus. But there's more to it than that. God has been working a lot on my heart lately about living a life that seeks His Kingdom above all else. I have to admit that I have not always done that. I have often lived in a way that promoted my own kingdom of self and comfort. When I was younger I committed my life to God’s Kingdom. I dreamed of a life of adventure, bringing the Gospel to those in need. I even said to my parents, “Who wants a normal life?” Every decision I made regarding my schooling and training was with the purpose of enabling me to fulfill the calling I felt on my life. However as time went on, I let the worries and cares of everyday life take priority, and I let my own comfort become an idol. I wasn’t disciplined enough to delay gratification, especially with my finances and habits. I was very shortsighted and allowed momentary desires to guide many of my decisions rather than seeking God’s Kingdom first. This type of life is not the life I desire to have. I desire to live the life of faith. I no longer want to be hindered by the consequences that come as a result of poor choices. Don't get me wrong, I love my family so much it hurts and I am so thankful for the relationships that I have and the blessings God has mercifully given in spite of me, but I’ve realized that the time to make big changes has come. I want my kids to know there is a better way to live. It’s time to stop giving lip service to putting God’s Kingdom first, and actually start doing it. This means my life will have to be different than it has been. It will be uncomfortable for me and for others at times. I will have to learn walk in the Spirit, delay gratification, ask myself at every turn which choice puts God’s Kingdom first, and walk the narrow road of the Kingdom. Thank goodness I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I’ve already shown how miserably I fail when I try to walk the narrow road in my own strength.

So, does putting the Kingdom first mean I’m going to hop the first plane to a distant continent and become a full-time missionary? Well, no. Not yet anyway. I do have a family and obligations that God wants me to honor, but I can go to India this summer, if God makes the arrangements. It will not be easy for us to get there. Because of our current financial situation and potential schedule conflicts, it doesn’t look likely for us to go. The trip is June 24th through July 5th. We may be moving around that time, and family may be coming in during that time as well. The first deposit of $500 each is due on March 24th. There is no earthly way we can make this happen, but with God all things are possible, so I’m putting this out there in faith. Further, I currently need $135 to get my passport as it takes several weeks to obtain one. Please join with me in prayer that God will provide. If you feel He is leading you to be a part you can make a secure, tax-deductible donation via my church’s donation page. (If you make a donation on the page, put "For India missions trip via Ordinary Marvels" in the comment section.) Please, don’t make this decision out of sympathy or a sense of personal obligation, but only because of God’s prompting. What happens if someone donates, and Shawn and I don’t go? Well, my desire is to help the team get to India whether I go or not. This is not about Shawn and me, but about God’s Kingdom. So in the case that I raise money for the trip, but don’t end up going, I will give it to the team so others can go in our stead.

Thanks for joining with us in prayer. I know God is going to move in a mighty way!