Monday, April 27, 2015

Five Weeks In - DHwRF

I'm five weeks in, as of this past Saturday. So far in that this diet is starting to feel like my normal life now, which is rather crazy.

The awesome news is that I'm definitely feeling some healing. Hurrrrrrray!!

My cold continued into this week, which left me feeling gunky and with a stomach ache in the mornings, I assume from all the drainage. I also had issues with foods causing immediate sharp gas-type pains when I ate them in the evening but not when I ate them earlier in the day. It was rather bizarre.  Overall I've been feeling better and wanted to reintroduce something, but given these evening GI issues, I decided to be careful with what I selected.   So I reintroduced decaf coffee (yaaaaaaayyyy COFFEE!!) and strawberries.  The reasons for my choices were this:  1) I knew from last time I did the diet that coffee wouldn't give me digestive symptoms.  I am only concerned about whether it gives me autoimmune symptoms, mainly brain fog, and my brain fog has been good for many days now.  So I knew I had a good baseline to start from.  2) Our local strawberry patch just opened up and my sons and I bought some strawberries this week.  They looked SO DELICIOUS.  I looked it up, and strawberries are very unlikely to cause any issues (they are allowed on both a SIBO diet and AIP).  So I decided to go ahead and reintroduce them too so I could enjoy the berries with my sons.  Totally worth it.  They were delicious. :)  Neither the coffee nor the strawberries have given me any noticeable symptoms so far.  I'm going to watch the coffee carefully for at least five days, up to a week, to make sure my brain fog doesn't return, but so far so good.

Below is the roundup of my symptoms this week. (If you're just now jumping in and would like to know what in the world I'm talking about, you can check it out here: Digestive Health with REAL Food - Take 2.)

Digestive symptoms:  My only symptoms have been occasional bloating and the sharp gas-like pains I experienced a couple evenings, mentioned above.  Otherwise I've been good.  It's been wonderful.

Reflux symptoms: Reflux hasn't been noticeable.  I've had a couple meals where I felt like my food was staying in my stomach too long, as if it weren't digesting.  I felt bloated and overly full even though I hadn't eaten in quite some time.  In those cases, I took either a betaine HCl pill or an enzyme pill, depending on what I'd most recently eaten, because I assumed that my stomach was having a hard time breaking down the food.  Both times the pills helped.

Autoimmune symptoms: Autoimmune symptoms have been pretty good.  If I let myself wake on my own in the morning, I sleep about 9 hours, which isn't bad.  Brain fog hasn't been bad and word recall is pretty good.  I struggle occasionally but not often.  This aspect of my health is definitely affected by whether I have a cold or some other bug affecting me.

Cravings:  I am really, really craving Mexican food.  Probably because my husband and sons have been eating Mexican a few times lately, and I have to sit around and smell it without getting a taste. Other cravings are about the same as they have been.  I would love some chocolate or a granola bar. Or something crunchy other than banana chips and spinach chips.

Overall, my health continues to improve but seems to be plateauing a bit.  I'm starting to reintroduce some foods, which makes me super excited.  Variety sure tastes great when you get used to eating the same 8 foods over and over and over.

If you'd like to catch up on my past weeks, you can find them all below.

Digestive Health with REAL Food - Take 2
One Week In - DHwRF Update
Two Weeks In - DHwRF
Three Weeks In - DHwRF
Four Weeks In - DHwRF

That's all for now!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Krewson Lee at 5 Years Old

This post is so long overdue, but fortunately kids stop changing as rapidly the older they get.  So although Krew turned 5 years old over a month and a half ago, I'd still consider what I share in this post to be about the same as what I would have shared back then. :)

Dearest Krewson Lee,

You turned 5 years old on March 5th, and a month and a half later you are now approaching the end of your first year in preschool.  You have grown and learned so much, and I'm so grateful for the wonderful year you've had.  You now know all your letters and can write them fairly legibly, and you're even learning to read some smaller, simpler words.

I love seeing your artwork from school, especially when I get to view it on the wall next to all your classmates' artwork.  The reason is this:  you always do something different from everyone else.  You always go outside the "rules" a little and add a little extra something.  Whether it be an orange-stemmed flower or a cowboy with stamp prints all over his face, very rarely do I see you do exactly what you're instructed to do.  I talked with your teacher about this, and she said it's just your personality, not necessarily a desire to break the rules.  I love that.  My little creative kid.

You took hip hop classes for a couple months over the last year and right now you're in soccer.  You seem to enjoy both, although you struggle with shyness and lack of confidence.  If we can convince you that you're awesome, then you really do well.  But if you start feeling unsure of yourself or forgotten in a mix of kids, you tend to pull away and quit trying.  It's something we'll have to learn to work with as you get older and probably start participating in more activities.

You're really starting to enjoy playing with your little brother, which is just wonderful.  Now that he talks well and you can communicate, it's really opened a lot of doors for the two of you.  You play make believe, build together, play cars, etc.  You really get along pretty well despite your different personalities.  I pray that your relationship continues to grow.

You are still our quiet, often melancholy child.  Oh, you have your goofy, crazy, loud moments.  But your average personality is one of quietness and introspection.  You typically prefer to do quiet activities like build, color, paint, and draw rather than play make believe or play with cars.  You will spend hours and hours building with Lego sets, but playing with cars will typically only last ten minutes, tops. Your favorite time to act crazy goofy is when I'm trying to take some normal, decent pictures of you.

You are still a little guy, ranking in at the 18th percentile for height (41.5 inches).  You weigh 40 lbs (42nd percentile).  You're wearing mostly 4t clothes and size 11 shoes.  You did grow two inches in the last year, though, and you're maintaining your place on the charts.

You are still emotional and sensitive, and we have to be gentle with our reprimands.  It really doesn't take much to discipline you, other than some strict words and occasionally sending you to your room. Very rarely do we have to actually take away a toy or privilege.  A talk is usually sufficient. You still get in a lot of "moods" that affect everything in that moment, and it can be hard to deal with you when you get in these funks.

We've decided to hold you back a year before sending you to kindergarten, so you'll be back at your current preschool next year for Pre-K.  We're hoping it will give you some time to grow emotionally and socially before heading into the big school.  Also, given that you're a little guy, we think it will be beneficial for you to grow a little physically as well, although that wasn't the main reason for holding you back.

If anyone would like to see your personality in action, we did a video interview right after you turned 5-years-old, which can be viewed here:

Alright sweet boy, that's all for now.  We love you so much. :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

When It's My To-Do List vs God

Yesterday I was driving Krew to school, feeling anxious and torn up inside. My morning had been hectic, I had tons of to-dos I wanted to get done while Greyden and I were at home during Krew's school hours, and yet I hadn't spent any time in my Bible yet. I'd told myself the night before that I was going to get up early in the morning and do my Bible time, but instead I had listened to my sick body screaming for more sleep and so I missed my quiet time window. Now, a couple hours later, as I drove Krew to school and the boys chattered in the back seat, I kept going back and forth in my mind. "I have to do my Bible time. But I don't have TIME to do my Bible time. But I must. But then nothing else will get done during that time. But I need to read my Bible..."

Suddenly this random thought (or perhaps God-given thought) crossed my mind. I pictured a different scenario. What if a friend called me right then and asked to come over during Krew's school hours to talk? How would I reply?

I knew immediately what I'd do. I'd tell her yes of course, please come on over. And then I'd tell myself that the to-dos could wait, I had a friend in need, and God would take care of everything else for me because I was following His will to support a friend in my life.

Then I flashed back to my present moment. God was asking me to put my to-dos aside to talk with Him. Why did it seem so much easier to push everything aside for a friend than it did for God? If I believed God would take care of my to-dos and my schedule so I could talk to a friend, how much moreso would He take care of my to-dos and schedule so I could talk to Him??

Well that was food for thought.

So I came home, stuck Greyden on the iPad (because heaven knows he won't let me get any focused reading done otherwise), and dove into my Bible. I read the passage of Luke 8:43-48, in which a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years shoved her way through an intense crowd to touch Jesus' cloak, believing and knowing that she would be healed if she could just lay her fingers on him. My Bible commentary then said the following about the passage:

"Many people surrounded Jesus...It was virtually impossible to get through the multitude, but one woman fought her way desperately through the crowd in order to touch Jesus. As soon as she did, she was healed. What a difference there is between the crowds that are curious about Jesus and the few who reach out and touch him! Today, many people are vaguely familiar with Jesus, but nothing in their lives is changed or bettered by this passing acquaintance...Are you just curious about God, or do you reach out to him in faith...?"

Suddenly after reading this I realized: I should be like this woman in my quiet time with God. I should pursue it like my life and well-being depend on it -- on Him. If I would only view my time in His presence as the answer to my problems -- as is actually the case, and as this woman did -- how much more peace would I have? And how much more devoted to Him would I be? How much better would my day be? He should be the fuel that gets me through the day. To try to plow through the day without fueling up is neglectful, and I've faced the implications of it many times before. By the time the sun goes down I find myself exhausted, irritable, and feeling defeated. But on those days when I meet with God in the morning and focus my eyes on Him, everything else fades away and a hope fills my heart and I know it's all going to be ok.

So how about you? How's your time with God? Who is winning in your life? God or your to-do list? Are you pursuing Him with the fervency of a bleeding woman, or are you just a passerby in the crowd, hoping to catch a brief glimpse of Him sometime throughout your day? I'm certainly not perfect at this, but I'm trying more and more to pursue Him and push all else aside for that time. When I do, I know He'll take care of the rest.

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Matthew 6:33 NLT

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Four Weeks In - DHwRF

Well, yesterday marked four weeks on the DHwRF basic elimination diet.  Unfortunately, I'm still not at the point of being able to reintroduce foods.  This past week didn't go exactly as I'd planned.

First, I got a cold, which knocked my whole body off whack.  Then I had a stressful week and we also had a vomiting episode with our youngest son (his health story is a million blog posts on its own), and I found myself overeating as a way to cope.  Anyone else do this kind of stress eating?  I hate that I do it.  I'm actually reading a book right now on how to learn to control it.  It's amazing to me that even on this limited diet, I can still find a way to overeat.  I got sick on spinach chips, ghee bites, and bananas (which I reintroduced last week).  Ridiculous.

Anyway, between the cold and the emotional overeating, my body was not happy.  I had a lot of digestive pains and issues.  It was really disappointing.

Nevertheless, here's the round up of my symptoms this week:

Digestive symptoms:  As I mentioned, it was a bad week.  A lot of bloating, jabbing pains, and nausea.  All my fault for eating to soothe myself rather than fuel myself.  On a positive note, no issues with diarrhea or constipation.

Reflux symptoms: I felt a little bit of reflux at the beginning of the week, but otherwise nothing. Also, a really exciting update on this aspect of my health is that I was able to take a betaine HCl pill and enzyme pills this week without experiencing any resulting burning or nausea.  This is HUGE for me!!  Every time I took either pill in the past, I would experience extreme burning or nausea and would even vomit at times.  Over the last month and a half, I have been taking a lot of supplements to try to heal my stomach lining, and I am SO EXCITED that it seems to be working!! I'll have to write a separate blog post about my regime I'm following and why I decided to follow it.

Autoimmune symptoms: I've been tired this week, but I'm pretty sure it's just due to having a cold. This week I also had dry mouth symptoms and a leg ache so severe that I had to use a heating pad in bed.  On a positive note, my brain fog continues to dissipate and my word recall is improving.  I'm finding that I can actually focus on difficult or annoying tasks, which is a huge improvement compared to a month ago.  I continue to have bouts of anxiety (I think I've forgotten to report this in weeks past, but it's been ongoing), but I'm learning that they usually happen when I'm feeling overstimulated with too many to-dos.  So when anxiety hits, I try to seek some quiet and calm myself down and find a way to reduce the input.

Cravings: As with last week, cravings are totally manageable until I get stressed.  And then I would do about anything for some chocolate or a chewy granola bar.  This ties into that emotional eating mentioned above.  It's a struggle for me.

Alright, I think that's all.  If I have a good week in terms of brain fog, I may try reintroducing (decaf) coffee soon.  I know it doesn't give me digestive symptoms, but I removed it from my diet because I want to be sure it doesn't cause my brain fog.  I don't think it does, but better safe than sorry.  I want to be 100% sure it's not making me sick, because it's a beverage that I'll drink quite often.  And yes, I do decaf.  Caffeine turns me into a crazy, anxious, jittery mess.

If you'd like to catch up on my past weeks, you can find them all below.

Digestive Health with REAL Food - Take 2
One Week In - DHwRF Update
Two Weeks In - DHwRF
Three Weeks In - DHwRF

'Till next week!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

God (in)couraged me

Last night I busted into tears over my exhaustion with our current life.  But I knew a good night's sleep would refresh me, and I'd have the energy to face another day in the morning.

Then this morning Greyden had another vomiting episode, after six months in the clear.  The mystery of our child's health issues continues.

I kind of sometimes feel like I'm going to break.

I stumbled upon the words below on (in)courage this afternoon, and they leapt at me off the screen.

"I have been discouraged and battered but not without hope.

Sometimes obedience feels like exhaustion. Sometimes doing the thing He calls us to doesn’t mean it all works out how we thought...

Sometimes our message is one we’d rather not live with for one single day more, and we can’t bear the timbre of our voice when the pen slants or our lips part, we want a new song, a new story, but God tells you to keep speaking it because people need to hear that He is good. Not just when it seems like you should believe that, but when it seems you should absolutely curse Him and be done.

Even when we break, He is good.
Even when our worlds crumble, He is good.
Even when we cannot see, He is good.

Even when there are days that feel like the cruelest of jokes and hardships pile up at our heels, He is good.

Sometimes faith feels like more uncertainty than you’ve ever faced and you’re pushed forward and asked to trust yourself to be loved by God, fully and completely and just as you are. Right here in the storm."

You can read the whole article here: The Truth Is I Am Tired.

This article was so spot on for me right now. I actually don't even have any extra words to add. Just that, what it says. That's what I want to say, too.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Three Weeks In - DHwRF

Well, as of Saturday morning I completed three weeks of the DHwRF basic elimination diet.  It's continuing to be easier to maintain the diet, and my cravings for other foods continue to lessen.  Mid-week I decided to add bananas into my diet.  The reasons for this are: 1) when I reintroduced them the last time I did the diet, the reintroduction went fine and 2) I need something cheap and quick to eat, preferably with a little sugar in it.  Bananas fit the bill perfectly, and the reintroduction has gone well as long as I eat them in moderation.

Otherwise I continue to eat as I have been.  I was visiting a friend this week at her parents' house and I got sick with stabbing pains and bloating two days in a row.  I was a bit perplexed about what was going on, but then she and I figured out that I was probably getting sick from gluten cross-contamination due to my highly sensitive celiac disease.  So I switched to using my own sponge and my own towel and began rewashing all dishes and utensils before using them, and sure enough I stopped experiencing the pains I'd been having.

Nevertheless, I have yet to experience five days in a row without symptoms, so I'm not reintroducing any potentially problematic foods quite yet.

Here's an update on my symptoms:

Digestive symptoms:  Bloating still happens almost daily, but it's less and less severe.  I'm still pretty sure it's just the raspberries, which I'm eating to get a some sweetness in my diet and because I've been using them to fight a potential h. pylori infection.  I may have to give them up completely to get five days in a row symptom-free.

Reflux symptoms: I still occasionally feel some reflux, but nothing like what I experienced during the first week.  I haven't been able to pinpoint a particular trigger.

Autoimmune symptoms: Still so much better!  I have the energy of a normal human being now and can actually get by with a few nights in a row of only 7 hours of sleep.  I'm able to find energy to play with my kids and clean my house and do yard work.  It's SO wonderful.  I do still get leg aches despite all other body pains being gone, so I'm curious as to what could be causing them.  I can't tell how dry my eyes are; they don't bother me during the day, but I also haven't tried wearing my contacts lately.  My mouth actually felt a little dry a couple times this week, which was interesting. Hair loss seems to be approaching normalcy, yay!  Brain fog is still there but very slowly getting better.  My word recall is improving at a snail's pace, but it's improving.  Once I stop struggling to find my words, I'll know that my brain fog has cleared and I'm ready to reintroduce some foods that may cause autoimmune symptoms.

Cravings:  My cravings are really totally manageable - EXCEPT when I feel stressed.  When I feel stressed, all bets are off, and my cravings for snacks, chewy foods, and chocolate go through the roof. So I try hard to keep myself calm so I don't end up in that situation.  Also, we've been working on potty training our youngest son the last few days, and I keep giving him jelly beans as encouragement and rewards.  Looking into and smelling that darn bag of jelly beans a million times a day is starting to get to me.  Seriously, I want to dump the entire bag into my mouth.  But I haven't.  I haven't.

So overall, not a super exciting week, but healing continues.  :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why I Won't Read the Bible in a Year


In early January of this year, I decided this would be the year. I wanted to read the whole Bible. I wanted to be able to say that I’ve read every word of it. I felt like it was this mark of being a serious Christian, to be able to say I’ve read it cover to cover, to show how devoted I am. So I started a one-year reading plan with She Reads Truth and dove right in.

At first, I was diligent. I read every day no matter what. But then I missed a day or two. Life got a little crazy. I lead a women’s quiet time accountability group, but we only check in during weekdays, not on the weekends. And so I would take a day or two off on the weekends with the rest of the group, but then then I would fall behind because the one-year plan requires that I read EVERY DAY. A day here and a day there built up, and I found myself close to a month behind. Every day I’d say to myself, I’ll just start reading two days’ worth tomorrow, and I’ll be caught up in no time. But tomorrow would come, and I’d be tired and I’d get through one day’s reading and just want to quit. And so I’d say, tomorrow is the day. And the cycle would continue, and I’d get more and more behind.

Also, in case you haven’t noticed, the Bible is LONG and oftentimes (go ahead and gasp) it can get pretty boring. Seriously, don’t hate me, but the Old Testament can be rather torturous. It’s long and confusing and a lot of it is crazy lists of laws or descriptions of God’s instructions to the Israelites. Sure, I love the Psalms and Proverbs, but I honestly have a hard time getting enjoyment out of most of the Old Testament, especially if I’m just reading through it and not doing some type of Bible study to bring it more to life. It’s tedious to read.

Which leads me to the ultimate reason that I stopped my one-year reading plan.

Reading the Bible had become an arduous to-do instead of a way to grow in relationship with God. It had become a worldly task rather than a spiritual desire of my heart.

I was reading, but I wasn’t hearing. I was taking in words, but I wasn’t growing. I wasn’t feeling any closer to God. If anything, I was feeling farther and farther from Him. My free time for being with Him was spent reading long passages of Scripture as quickly as possible, rather than dwelling on certain verses or topics and waiting to hear what He wanted to say to me through the text. My joy in reading His Word had disappeared. I honestly dreaded it every day.

Then late last week, I spent about 20 minutes focusing on one small passage of the Bible. I read it in two translations and read two commentaries on it. Suddenly, I heard God. I could feel Him touching my heart and speaking to me. I had a lesson to walk away with, something to think about throughout my day. And I felt myself grow more spiritually in those 20 minutes than I had grown in the prior three months.

And so I knew it was time to change my plans.

Yes, it would be awesome to read the Bible in a year. It would be awesome to say I’ve read the whole Bible, every word of it. But not if it means I am sacrificing my relationship with my Lord. I am a follower of Jesus, not of religion. I want to grow close to my God, not build up achievements that may be impressive in this world but mean nothing in eternity. God doesn’t care if I’ve read the whole Bible in a year, and I honestly don’t think He even cares if I’ve read the whole Bible, period. What He cares about is that I seek Him, follow Him, trust Him, and bring Him glory through my life. He speaks to me through His Word, and it’s His instruction book to me, but it’s not the end-all-be-all. HE is the end-all-be-all.

It’s so easy to turn inherently godly things into worldly obsessions, isn’t it?

To any of you who have managed to read the Bible in a year, and especially if you maintained your relationship with God throughout it: I am SO IMPRESSED with you, seriously. I absolutely admire your devotion to such a difficult task. But me? It’s just not something I can pull off right now. At least not without letting my relationship with God suffer. And, as I think we’d all agree, nothing, nothing at all, should come between me and my God.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Two Weeks In - DHwRF

Two weeks.  I've been doing this crazy diet for two weeks.

And guess what?  It's really not that bad anymore.

I know.  You think I'm crazy.  But really.

Reason this diet isn't horrible anymore #1:
My cravings have dissipated and rarely knock me off my feet anymore.  Just tonight, I just sat at a dinner at church and had people offering me gluten-free pizza and salad and coffee and sodas and cookies and oh man it smelled so good.  But I was able to sit between two other ladies who were chowing down on pizza and cookies and honestly I was fine.  Did it smell good?  Yes.  Did I wish I could have some?  Yes.  But did I want to punch someone like I would have wanted to a week earlier?  No.  It was totally manageable.

Reason this diet isn't horrible anymore #2:
I always know what to make for dinner.  Seriously, meal planning for myself is SO EASY right now. Every meal is pick a meat, pick a veggie side, and choose water, hot tea, or kombucha to drink. If I'm craving sweets, I know to go for my ghee bites or raspberry gummies.  If I'm craving crunchy snacks, I go for spinach chips.  It's so simple.  I buy the same foods every time I go to the grocery store and don't have to bother with searching through recipes or making long grocery shopping lists.  It's actually a quite efficient way to meal plan.  [Side note:  I'm not sure my husband is loving this so much, though.  We both, in general, love to have variety in our diets.  He and the kids are basically eating what I eat or some variation of it, maybe with a potato or some rice on the side or an extra veggie.  He's probably getting pretty sick of the diet at this point since he's not reaping any obvious health benefits from it like I am...]

Which leads me to reason this diet isn't horrible anymore #3:
I'm starting to feel like a normal person!!!  I am seriously so excited about this.  Just within the last few days, I've started only needing 7 1/2 to 8 1/2 hours of sleep per night.  This is compared to the 10 to 12 hours of sleep (minimum) I was needing for quite a while leading up to now.  Do you know what that means???? It means that I have 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 extra hours in my day.  It means I'm actually getting fully rested, so I'm not dragging through my days feeling fatigued.  I have more energy to live life, and I have more awake hours of life to live.  You guys, THIS IS SO EXCITING!!!!  The interesting thing about this is that it all turned around the day after I had a complete emotional breakdown over my life.  God gave me an answer to my cries for help, He gave me some hope.  He gave me the physical ability to actually live my life without wanting to collapse.  Because seriously, living out this diet while trying to do normal life and take care of a family AND being incredibly sickly with zero energy was SO HARD.  Hence my breakdown.  But now, God willing, the hardest part is past me.  And I am SO, SO excited about this!!

For an update on my symptoms:

Digestive symptoms: My GI symptoms are basically gone other than bloating, and that only seems to happen when I eat raspberries.  I expect raspberries to give me symptoms anyway, due to their fructose content (I have fructose malabsorption).  [I'm keeping raspberries in my diet due to their supposed ability to fight h. pylori infections, even though they're technically not DHwRF-compliant.]

Reflux symptoms: My esophagus finally stopped hurting from the previous week's injury on Wednesday.  So it took one week to heal.  I still occasionally get reflux at night when taking my supplements, and when I do I just drink some apple cider vinegar in water and the reflux stops.  So this is still something I need to watch.

Autoimmune symptoms:  So much better!!!!  Fatigue is basically gone and I'm actually feeling like I could start exercising again soon.  No more body aches, chills, or feeling drained.  I do get frequent aches in my legs, which I've had my whole life.  I'll be curious to see if these stop with the diet. When I get them I usually take a hot Epsom salt bath to relax the muscles since pain meds like NSAIDS need to be avoided unless absolutely necessary.  My eyes are still dry but not so severe that they cause me discomfort during the day.  My mouth does not seem to be dry at all.  Hair is still falling out but the amount seems to be lessening.

Cravings: Amazingly, I don't get severe cravings anymore.  Would coffee taste good?  Yes.  Would chocolate taste good?  Yes.  But will I punch someone if they eat it in front of me?  No.  And let me tell you, it is SO AWESOME to feel like I'm controlling my cravings rather than them controlling me.

So all in all, I seem to be on track to be healthy again soon.  I am so excited.  And hopefully that means I'll be able to start reintroductions at three weeks or soon after. :)

(To read the list of what foods I am currently eating, you can read my previous post here:

What about you other readers who are on the diet?  Have you been experiencing improvement in your symptoms??

Thursday, April 2, 2015

God's Answer to Yesterday's Post

I read the post linked below on another blog today, and it brought tears to my eyes.  For anyone struggling with chronic health issues and difficulties, please read.  God spoke straight through this sweet girl to me and my aching heart.  It was like a personalized response to yesterday's blog post. He's there, He's holding me, and He wants to use me for His purpose.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

When I'm Not Ok

Usually, I feel like I’m handling the chaos of our life fairly successfully. And really, it’s just a wee bit chaotic right now. Excuse me for a moment as I blab out all the stresses in my life.

I’m a part-time working mom and work 16-21 hours a week as a biostatistician for a company about 25 minutes from my house. I do Bible study on Monday nights, church on Sundays, volunteer at church two Sundays a month, and create surveys for the church staff as I have time. I’ve recently begun blogging again, as you may have noticed. I also lead a women’s quiet time accountability group on Facebook.

I do tons and tons of reading and research, trying to learn how to heal myself and also keep the rest of my family healthy, including our son who has a disease in his esophagus. Right now, our son cannot have gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, beef, chicken, peanuts, tree nuts, or green beans. We eat all of dinners at home, and I cook basically all of our breakfast and dinner food from scratch, except the few times when we throw allergen-free fishsticks and french fries in the oven. And when I mean scratch, I mean scratch. Very rarely does anything come out of a can or bag, usually due to allergen issues or additives in it. Nothing is preseasoned or flavored. I do a lot of chopping, dicing, baking, and sauteing. I spend hours and hours in the kitchen. Although I do believe this way of eating is healthier, it’s exhausting, and I don’t know if I’d keep it up if I didn’t have to. I mean, yes, I would still try to eat healthy. But I’d probably cheat a little more, use a few more premade items. Health issues and life circumstances have pushed us into this way of life, and so I feel like I have no choice. If we stop eating this way, my health suffers. And I also worry about Greyden’s health suffering if we stop, given that he’s already experiencing autoimmune issues. So continue I must.

I pack Krew’s lunch once a week, I pack mine twice a week, and I pack food for Greyden 4 out of 5 weekdays. This is no easy feat. My food has to be leftovers from dinners that I’ve prepared, so I need to always make sure I made enough at mealtimes. Greyden’s snacks and quick foods he can eat are incredibly limited, so I’ve had to learn which grocery stores carry which and often have to visit several of them to fill our pantry for him. Of course, I’d love to be able to replace these packaged foods with homemade because I think it’d be better for his healing, but I’m learning to accept that I’m only one person and I’m doing things one step at a time.

Meanwhile, I do normal wife and mom stuff. Laundry, bills, errands, grocery shopping, taking kids to appointments, driving to and from preschool, spending time with friends and traveling to see family, meal planning, going through the paperwork that stacks up the second I blink my eyes, thank you notes, changing sheets, organizing clothes, decluttering, working in the yard, feeding the birds, watering the plants, and oh yeah, trying to spend time with God. See, I hate that. I throw God in last. It’s HORRIBLE. He should be FIRST. And I feel like life is just sucking me dry, and since I know He’s always there and He’ll always love me, He gets the short end of the stick. At moments like this, when I write this paragraph, I realize how backwards my priorities can and have become.

Also, I’m trying to pick up extra work hours whenever I can, because our health bills are constantly coming in and our food is so incredibly expensive. So I have this constant self-imposed pressure that I should be working extra hours to help pay our bills. But when am I supposed to do that?

On top of this, I feel like I’m not spending enough time with my kids or husband. I feel like I spend all my time trying to keep up with life, especially in the kitchen, and then the day ends and I realize I’ve spent about 5 minutes of one-on-one time with each of them. Guilt, guilt, guilt. I feel so lost sometimes. It’s always time with them vs maintaining and healing our health. Because our health will inevitably spiral downward if I stop all my work in the kitchen. I’ve learned this over the past six months. So health vs one-on-one time. Which do I choose?

I write this because I’ve heard a lot of “I don’t know how you do it all” lately. And I want you all to know that honestly, I don’t know how I’m making it day to day right now. I keep pushing forward, but I’m tired. On top of doing everything listed above, I’m sick. Not like I have a cold. No, I’m sick, like autoimmune disease sick. My body is not my friend. I’m incredibly fatigued, I need enormous amounts of sleep, I’m weak, I can’t think clearly, and I feel like new health problems keep cropping up. A spot on my eye, my IT band suddenly becoming injured with no known cause. I keep smiling, telling myself it’s ok, that this is just a season of life, that God is getting me through, but sometimes I just lose my mind over it all. Last night, when my IT band was hurting so bad that I couldn’t get comfortable in bed, I just broke down. Started sobbing to Dave. I said I’m tired, I’m so angry sometimes, I just want to have a normal life for a little while. He just held me and said, “I know, I know.” Because really there’s nothing else to say. This is the life we’ve been given, and we’re seeking to live it the way we believe God wants us to, and that means that right now things are just hard. But honestly, it sucks.

So for those of you who think I’m some miracle woman holding it all together, I’m not. I’m sitting here in a coffee shop trying not to cry as I write this. There are times that I’m ok, but then there are times when I’m not ok. Keep me and my family in your prayers, would you?

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13