Saturday, May 22, 2010

Getting Ready for GAPS

We are getting ready to implement the GAPS diet all the way once school's out (see my previous post about the GAPS book) in hopes that this will help our family with the food sensitivites we've been experiencing as well as the subsequent symptoms as a result. I'm going to do a little symptom tracking here to see where it's bringing about improvements. (Caution: some of these might be TMI for some...but I want to post them anyway in case others are having the same troubles and might not realize that it can be helped...)

My husband may or may not participate in this fully so he may only see slight changes, so I won't be tracking his symptoms much here.

My symptoms in the past have been chronic fatigue, frequent migranes, menstural irregularity, occasional swollen & painful joints, hip pain and stiffness, PMS, adrenal exhaustion, depression, anxiety, mood swings, weight gain, digestive upset (constipation), easy bruising that takes a long time to heal, dark eye circles, very low blood pressure, blacking out and fainting spells, cravings for breads and sweets, constant hunger, allergic reactions to skin irritants (rashes, blisters, etc), nutrient deficiences (specifically B vitamins), anemia, sensitivites to eggs, gluten, sugar, dairy & peanuts. The joint pain, digestive upset, adrenal exhaustion, anxiety, migranes, and fatigue have improved (but not completely gone away) with removal of eggs, peanuts, gluten, and most sugar and dairy from diet.

Lane's symptoms in the past have been that he was a very colicky baby for 3 months or so and since has had chronic swollen lymph nodes, chronic fatigue, dark eye circles, eczema, temper tantrums, night terrors, mood swings, easily frustrated, occasional hyperactivity, anxiety, frequent illness, digestive upset (constant stomach aches, alternating constipation and diarrhea, flatulence), cravings for sweets, constant hunger, chronic cough, sensitivity to skin irritants (rashes, blisters), sensitivities to dairy, gluten, eggs & peanuts. Eczema mostly cleared up on it's own after two years and that's when the chronic cough and swollen lymph nodes showed up. The fatigue and cough have improved greatly with the removal of dairy, eggs, peanuts and most gluten from the diet.

Heidi's symptoms in the past were that she was a very colicky and hyper-sensitive baby and had prolonged baby acne. Since, she was extremely shy and attached, sensitive to over-stimulation, developed geographic tongue, occasional digestive upset (constipation & flatulence), extremely low weight gain, picky eater from the day that solids were introduced, cravings for milk, bread & sweets, nutrient deficiencies (specifically B vitamins), sensitivities to eggs, gluten, soy, dairy, peanuts, almonds, and various others. Weight gain has improved with removal of eggs, gluten, peanuts, almonds, and most dairy and soy from diet.

Right now we are slowly implementing the GAPS intro diet (basically just eating homemade broth, soups with only meat and veggies and taking probiotics) to ease us into it and when school is out we'll go 100% to the intro diet. For myself, as of today I am pretty much off of everything but the soup at this point and have a bit of a headache, which is to be expected for a couple days. The kids are on the soup 2-3 meals a day so far and I'm introducing probiotics quite slowly for them so hopefully they won't experience much for negative symptoms. As we get further into it, I'll keep you posted on how it's going!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Walking the Dog

Walking the dog isn't just for Yo-Yos anymore! Or for my dog. As I was out walking the dog this morning, I got to thinking how much we really CAN learn from man's best friend, well, aside from the usual list you see around on posters.

So our dog is about a year and a half old...a high energy german shepherd who is still very much an overgrown puppy at heart. When I take him for a walk, part of training him to mind his manners on the leash is that whenever he is pulling on the leash (i.e. forgetting that he's attached to someone when he'd rather chase those birds, deer and today, a balloon?...), we do an abrupt turn in the opposite direction. He hits the end of that leash and instantly realizes he was getting a little ahead of his master. Sometimes we have to do this little exercise about a hundred times over the course of three or so miles. He's slowly getting the hang of it...

I need to realize how much like the dog I am! In my childlike ways, I so easily forget what I should be doing and often get a little (or a lot!) ahead of my Master. And He, consequently, has to do an abrupt turn around to remind me of where I need to be. Then he takes me back and we try again...and again...and again... In the fresh air and the freedom we're given in our's so easy to forget our place sometimes! It's one of our greatest blessings but also why I sometimes need to be jerked back into the right place. I'm glad I have a Master that won't give up on me though! Through years of this repetitive routine, I'll get there...someday.

How often do we try to lead God, or at least ourselves, instead of just walking beside Him and allowing Him to lead our every step? I think it's one of our greatest challenges as believers. So today, I hope I can be like my dog. He's made a lot of progress in the year that we've had him. So multiply that by four to get dog years...well, I think Zeke's WAY ahead of me in the progress report!

"Even there shall thy hand lead me, And thy right hand shall hold me." Psalm 139:10

Monday, May 10, 2010

Coming Undone

As a mother, wife of a law enforcement officer, woman, keeper of the home and professional bookkeeper, it seems every single job I do is undone before it is even finished. More bills come in the minute I've got them paid, the house is dirty again before I even finish cleaning, my husband comes home from a long shift only to get called right back out again, and before I finish the laundry there are two more loads that have accumulated in the meantime. It seems unending. I love the satisfaction of finishing a project, but in the many "lines of work" that I'm in, no project is ever finished! This has been a very difficult thing for me to deal with through the years. Oy! What is a girl to do? There are so many spiritual lessons in this dilemma, for me at least...the most prominent probably being contentment and finding peace in these baby steps.

In our "greek" way of thinking (meaning: stemming from the days of Greek domination of the known world and the philosophies of that day -- most of which have carried through into modern society), we tend to be very "goal oriented." We want to start something, see it through to completion, and then immediately reap the rewards and satisfaction of a job well done. However, this is not how our omnipotent God designed the world to work.

God created a very "cyclical" universe. For starters, we are concieved and born, we live and mature and then we die, returning to our state at the start. The seasons are cyclical as we see budding in the spring, growth and maturity in the summer which then slowly dies into wintertime. Then springtime brings new birth again. Our bodies (more evident in women than men, obviously) have montly cycles, and so does the moon. We have the weekly seven day cycle and we have the daily cycle of the sun rising and setting. I have to constantly re-embrace this concept when it comes to the seemingly mundane activites of daily life. Every cycle brings the excitement or anticipation of newness (or at least a goal to work toward), it brings lessons to learn in the "doing" and lastly these lessons learned will, hopefully, bring us to some further state of maturity, at which point it will start all over again!

A dear friend recently reminded me of a verse that I really needed to hear, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Gal. 6:9. It is this very thing that is my struggle. I want to reap the harvest but I don't want to do all the work necessary to get there! Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could just skip all the little stuff and go straight to the reward? But alas, the JOURNEY is what it's all about. Finding peace in the storm and renewal in the cycle.

Maybe the meaning of that unending mountain of laundry to do is that there is always another hill to climb, but like folding each garment makes our mountain just a little smaller (after all, how many clothes can 4 people wear, REALLY? LOL!), each lesson in life brings us that much closer to our ultimate reward. After all, who doesn't enjoy that wonderful, fresh smell when you first pull a clean shirt over your head? Hmmmm. I'll work on that one.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tried & True Tradition

What are the traditions you hold the most dear? What are some that your family holds that is unique to your family alone? I bless our children each Sabbath as I'm tucking the kids into's something the kids (and I) really look forward to each week. We also have a couple of songs we usually sing to bring in the Sabbath and we always have a special private Bible study time each Sabbath morning. For our friday night sabbath meal we always try to have a nice dinner, complete with table decorations and candles to make the evening special. For holidays, we decorate the house as much as we can according to the holiday and we try to share those times with others (since we celebrate different holidays than most people we know, this doesn't always happen easily). Some more "secular" things we do are celebrating the lives of our children with a traditional birthday party with friends and family, cake and ice cream, etc. We also have a tradition of going camping over the 4th of July weekend whenever possible (sometimes a challenge because of my husband's shift work)'s a great family time and we have fun celebrating the independence of our nation with sparklers (if they're allowed depending on fire restrictions!)

A Bible study group that I meet with was discussion the benefits and drawbacks of traditions. They can be a blessing or a curse.

Traditions can bring great blessings by generating a feeling or atmosphere of joy or celebration with familiar sights and sounds. Did you know that human's sense of smell is the best way to recall a memory? Baking bread for a special weekly meal is certain to bring warm memories of that time together as a family once a child has moved out of the house whenever the child smells bread. They can also be a wonderful teaching tool to pass on knowledge and understanding to our children...we can explain where the tradition came from and what that stands to teach us in our daily lives. Traditions can draw us closer together and give us that sense of familiarity...making us feel "home."

Traditions can also be a stumbling block. In some families, they no longer celebrate holidays because of the holiday, but because of the traditions. Many atheists still celebrate Christmas even though it's a "Christian" holiday, for instance, by just getting together and opening gifts. They aren't interested in the least about the story of Christmas, but they still get together on that day to get and give gifts. The family time created by this is still a blessing to them, but they've lost a the reason the tradition was created in the first place. Many children go lifetimes feeling unloved by their parents, but their parents still give them a birthday party each year to give them gifts. It's a trap that is so easy to fall into. Simply going through the motions allows us to forget the reason we're doing the tradition in the first place. And for believers, it is easy to fall into the trap of rejecting the commandments of God, that we may keep our own traditions (Mark 7:8).

If we ask ourselves why we're doing what we're doing, that may give us a clearer picture of where our hearts lie in the matter. Am I keeping a tradition to please myself or to please those around me? Because it's fun? Am I keeping traditions because society does? Am I teaching my children Biblical truth and values through the tradition or is the tradition taking away from Biblical truth? Am I keeping a tradition because it's helping me to keep God's commands? I think the best policy is to examine ourselves and search our hearts.

Hope for our Food Future!

In our family we have allergies to gluten, eggs, dairy, soy, almonds, peanuts, and the list goes on. I make all of our food from scratch and we work very hard to avoid the foods that are giving us a strange array of annoying health problems, but yet meet our nutritional needs at the same time. Eating this way can be frustrating because it's labor takes SO much planning, searching for special ingredients that are sometimes hard to find, not to mention that it's quite expensive and getting worse by the day. Good thing I've always loved to cook and bake! This much work does get exhausting though.

I've got nieces and nephews with even more severe issues than my children have. I suppose it's an inherited turns out our parents and some aunts and uncles recently discovered they have these same problems and they have developed into autoimmune diseases and cancers, so I do feel blessed to be aware of them and be able to deal with them before they become much more serious. Thank goodness we were raised valuing good wholesome, healthy food from the start or our troubles would probably be compounded greatly already!

Well, thanks to the GNOWFGLINS blog, I just discovered a book, or rather a dietary plan, that might be able to help us with our food sensitivity issues! This gives me hope. It's been a frustrating journey that we work hard to stay positive about, but it is consistently getting more difficult as every allergy test gives us additional allergies we must deal with instead of reducing the number of them. The blogger turned us onto the GAPS diet which, from some research, sounds like just the ticket to assist healing these pesky food sensitivites! Even if we can just reduce the sensitivites, it would be well worth the trouble. I ordered the book today and can't wait to dig in and read about what information this author has to share with us! The GNOWFGLINS blogger also seems to hold philosophies that I hold as well in regards to getting back to good, wholesome food. Even if this "diet" plan doesn't cure us, any improvements would be a welcome relief!

Feeling blessed and hopeful today.