The past few years have demanded many, many lifestyle changes for us. It's not been easy, but I consider these changes blessings ~ God really does work all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.
I would like to share these healthy changes here, because maybe something I have learned will help one of my friends or family on their journey to health and healing. I wish I would've known what I know now a long time ago, to prevent illness from getting to the point it did. That's not to say that everything I mention is for everyone. There are many voices speaking the way to health and wholeness, but God's voice is the only one that really matters.
On that note – these changes are not healing me; only God heals. But as I've researched health problems, I've found some very great tools for taking better care of my body in the long run.
If you ever come up against health problems, you will soon find out that our health care system here in America is very reactive, and not very proactive. We do a lot with drugs and surgeries to fix or manage big problems that have usually been a long time coming, due to our unhealthy living habits. Since my body hasn't responded well to drugs or surgery, I needed to find a doctor who specialized in wellness, prevention, nutrition, and hormones. This has been a gentler way to treat my body as God leads me into healing. These doctors are out there, but unfortunately your insurance company won't help you much with getting this kind of health care. However, this doctor has helped me a lot.
APPROPRIATING OUR FAITH
When you see a grizzly bear in the woods, your adrenal glands pump a hormone called cortisol. Some of us have trained our minds to think that everything is a grizzly bear. We respond to big and little things by agreeing with a spirit called Fear (not an emotion, a spirit... which can train us to accept fearful emotions/thoughts). The problem is, your body was not meant to pump cortisol all day long. When you pump all this cortisol, your body poops out and you get chronic fatigue! This is one way that fear, anxiety, and stress can cause disease.
First and foremost, learning the spiritual roots of chronic disease, casting them out, and reprogramming my mind and body have been THE most effective thing we have done for my health. The Be In Health ministry conference we attended last year was not "hokey" as I thought it might be, but rather very practical, and the valuable information we received there has come up new time and time again.
As the Bible clearly shows us, disease is a direct result of sin: general sin in our world, or sin passed down through generations, or our personal sin. Dealing with sin is the only way to get to the root of disease. God doesn't make this difficult; he wants us to have authority over sin and spiritual oppression, just like Jesus did. God wants us to be free. I can say that with confidence now. I have been freed from Fear, Accusation, and Rejection. As those spirits come back to threaten, I now have tools to recognize them and get rid of them before they take my thoughts, hormones, body chemistry, and actions.
I am not talking about some mind-over-matter psychological thing; I am talking about God's deliverance from real spiritual forces who have known my weaknesses and hung out with me for a long time. But however powerful they have been, the blood of Jesus proves more powerful! I am falling out of agreement with these spirits every day, and my body is responding. This is a process and I am still walking it out, but rejoicing in the new freedom and healing that I've received so far! God is transforming me, Shane, and our marriage because of these new truths we have learned. My friend Michelle writes more in-depth about this kind of deliverance.
Eucharisteo is the other ongoing spiritual practice that is changing my life. I learned from Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts, that God just can't stop giving gifts to us. He never stops, ever. How could this be true, even when I'm stuck in pain? I tested it out, and I found that God's gifts do keep flowing in the dark, and God still loves me abundantly when I'm in pain. So I'm learning to count gifts and consciously thank God. Thankfulness precedes joy.
After lunch I rest. I don't usually need an actual nap anymore, unless I had too little sleep the night before. Good sleep at night makes a world of difference. Shane gets up in the night with the little guy, if needed. He can handle that and go to work and has no problem with it. To that I say, Praise God for putting us together! Shane is really strong, physically and mentally. He also gets up with our son in the morning and gets him ready so I can take my time. Of course, if we ever have another baby, this part of our lifestyle would change. But for now, it works well for us!
SLOW DOWN has become our mantra. When we stop rushing and slow down, we can count gifts, communicate better, enjoy each other more, recognize spiritual attack, and parent better. Losing two jobs this year has been a huge blessing!
The next few changes are not by any means treating the roots of a disease or problem. They are, by God's great mercy, making life manageable in the meantime. One day I hope to never use these methods again, but for now, they are helpful mercies from God! And good for my body and mind.
Taking bioidentical progesterone can help with PMS, sleep, anxiety, stress, and migraine – all of which are caused by excessive estrogen. I take it for migraine. How it works: The progesterone balances out the excess estrogen.
My Vitamin D3 level tested low, so my doctor prescribed therapeutic levels of Vitamin D3 until it tested normal. Now I take a good Vitamin D3 supplement everyday. Vitamin D deficiency is common to Americans, especially those of us that have cold winters, simply because our lifestyle and climate don't allow us direct sun exposure. In fact, experts are calling the D-deficiency an epidemic among Americans. Vitamin D3 fights depression and is a key supporter of the immune system. If you are thinking of starting on an anti-depressant, I highly recommend you try a high dose of Vitamin D3 for a few months and see if it helps first. I also recommend it for colds and flu, especially for kids.
I've heard Vitamin B12 called "the new coffee," and thought that was a great description. The B vitamins help stabilize moods and help the brain think clearly. But there's a delicious, berry-flavored B12 sublingual that I used during my second winter of severe illness. It melts right into the capillaries and hits the bloodstream so fast that you get energy, pleasant mood, and wakefulness right away in the morning when it's most challenging to function.
For anyone with chronic fatigue, Fish Oil helps with "brain fog."
And of course, no one gets enough nutrients no matter what kind of diet we have, so a good Multivitamin is good for everyone.
Recently I started drinking Monavie juice. It has tons of antioxidants which help prevent disease, energize, and Wellmune for immune support. Not going to say anything about this yet as it's only been three weeks since I started.
My body feels it when I eat too much white flour or sugar now. But there are tons of flour substitutes at the health food store. Stevia, agave nectar, and coconut palm sugar have become my go-to sugar substitutes. If I must eat dessert (pretty much everyday) I do it after supper, while there's lots of food in my tummy so I don't get a sugar crash. The Gracious Pantry is my favorite resource for "clean-eating" recipes – food without preservatives or artificial junk. Basically, homemade. My cooking has changed so much.
Eating some kind of protein in every meal or snack helps because protein gives sustained energy, not quick energy. Peanuts, nut butters, oils, avocados, sunflower seeds, cheese, yogurt, whole grains, etc. No more cereal in the morning. Breakfast is now eggs, oats, barley, or buckwheat pancakes! I eat dairy now, but still avoid straight cow's milk. I seem to digest almond milk and rice milk better. Soy milk is full of estrogen, so none of that.
Dehydration can cause tons of health problems, so I drink water all day. A glass of saltwater in the morning to raise blood pressure. This prevents dizziness.
Apples. With peanut butter. I don't know why, but after I eat an apple I seriously feel physically energized. I like to eat one in the afternoon when I'm running out of steam. Salads for lunch do the same thing. I'm not talking iceberg lettuce with some pre-bottled dressing. We make big salads at our house. Dark greens with peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, cheese, seeds, ham, and oil-vinegar!
Instead of trying to ignore something that can actually debilitate me, I'm facing the music. First of all addressing the root of my allergies (Fear). In the meantime, as I walk out of agreement with Fear in daily situations... I take showers at night to get all the allergens off, use a Neti pot to get the allergens out of the nose, run the AC, and started back on antihistamine.
The above are "remedies" for living in an imperfect world in a pre-eternal body. However, I believe that God's Kingdom is coming in this earthly body and eventually I won't need ANY of these things. For now, I thank God for ways to function and care for my family the best I can – I prayed for that!
So, I now have a "homemaking binder." I don't care if you think I'm a nerd, it's awesome. Taking good care of a household is a big job – whether you have one child or 18! Although in this career-driven world, managing a home is belittled as some "extra" thing. In my binder is: eight weeks worth of meal menus, a cleaning schedule (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly), our budget, and all kinds of lists. It's amazing what you don't have to think about once you write it down!
When I moved to Story City, I wondered why God would take me out of a world-focused ministry in a big city back to... rural Iowa. He replied that he was going to teach me how to be a neighbor. Little did I know, the way to teach someone how to be a good neighbor is to put them in a horribly weak and vulnerable position so they are forced to depend on neighbors themselves. :) Yes, being "neighbored" is apparently the best way to learn how to "neighbor." I have been cared for so well by people around me. We have such amazing friends. Furthermore, I've learned that although my husband and child are primarily mine to care for, God also wants to care for them through a community. I love seeing my son being loved so well by so many people. I am so thankful and indebted to my "neighbors" here in town. But I'm learning to relax in letting them care, learning to be loved in a new way. I hate to admit it, but I don't know if I would've allowed myself to be loved so unconditionally without getting extremely weak. What a profound experience. After all this, I don't think I will ever be the same kind of friend, mom, or neighbor that I was before.
There you have it. Seems like a lot, and I left out all the things that we discontinued! Our God makes all things new...