healing path

April 5, 2014

our sweet little guy turned 3 this week. the aching love i feel for him is hard to put in words – he is *that* special. in so many ways, older than his three years … astute, hilarious, energetic, tender.

and his struggle with eczema has never been worse.

there is a black cloud of sorts – the only way i can really describe it – that hangs over me, over us … as his body is gripped with unyielding discomfort, consuming itching. i am SO DESPERATE for his healing.

things have shifted in to high gear the past couple months: i have done more research, more trying of new products, more dietary adjustments … and the end result: his skin is worsening.

last fall, we got him in to see a local allergy, asthma and dermatology MD and his recommendation was a long-term (no end in sight and certainly no “cure”) plan including the regular use of steroid creams. his opinion was that diet was negligible; he offered some great insight about immune system action and the way his body was manifesting a reaction to something – but no clear understanding of causes or cures. just symptom management. and because we were – again – desperate, we implemented his recommendations. josiah’s skin did improve but i also began seeing this intensity in his behavior (steroids?!) and he became *severely* constipated. direct causal relationship from the ointments? impossible to prove but after a few weeks, we tapered off.

another serendipitous happening this fall was my husband’s conversation with a local pharmacist. my hubby was at a local chain store, trying to decide which anti-itch ointment to try this time and decided to approach the pharmacist. they ended up having an amazing conversation that was followed by an email exchange in which the pharmacist (a fit, 30-something handsome guy) recommended a number of things that we are familiar with and in fact recommended a specific book that i had *just come across in my research the previous week and had ordered (“the eczema cure”).  a lot of confirmation about the path that we are on and validation that the path is not an easy one, for sure.

i want to share a portion of one of his emails as it is pretty incredible – heartening, honestly, to hear the words of someone deeply embedded within our medical industry: ” I am one of the few in my line of work who believes we are providing the farthest thing from healthcare to our population as a whole.  We have a system designed to keep people dependent and sick, and at no point
along the way do we seek to make them healthy or show them how to be healthy. And frankly, most people aren’t intersted.  They are far too ingrained in the system that feeds them a diet the makes them sick, then more sick, and a healthcare system that maintains their existence so they will forever be dependent, but never healthy.”

to say that his words resonate to my core – and my hubby’s – would be a deep understatement.

so fast forward to january,and our family does another Whole30. as always, i am hoping the changes in our diet lead to healing for our boy. i eliminated even more suspected triggers: tomatoes, coconut. still, no improvement.

i took josiah to see a local naturopath in january, and she was a  lovely woman. she was conscientious and covered a lot of ground, giving recommendations that included some topical ideas, a homeopathic, some vitamins and supplements.

nothing helped.

last month, deep in the throes of research, i sent an email to a local listserv and received over 50 heartfelt, insightful responses. so many ideas, healing suggestions, things that have worked for someone else’s eczema.

there is JUST SO MUCH. SO many ideas. so much information. and i have honestly tried so many things. in the past month we have easily spent $50 on the very best creams, each one feeling ok but none making a change. we are back to using some of the high intensity ointments because we are desperate for him to have relief.

what this looks like for our family in real time is that most every night, for several hours (typically 1-5am) he is awake and *miserable, consumed with itching. hubby and i take turns soothing, rubbing, trying the latest topical option, and have found our best tool is distraction. so he often will be curled on the couch, laying on a soft cool cotton sheet, with his beloved blanket and paci, and “ice pack” (plastic bag filled with crushed ice) and watching an episode of “Dora”. this seems the only thing to take his mind away from his skin and allow him to settle.

clearly, this is an untenable way to live. we are miserable and mostly just so SO desperate for our boy to be well.

we have a couple of next steps: i’ve had phone consults with two other local providers (a chiropractor/naturopath that has experience with eczema and begins with a round of thorough diagnostic blood work; and an accupuncturist that also performs NAET – google it!). we have an appointment with one of them this week.

as i’ve held josiah this week, praying over him, crying out for healing, i have been reminded of the meaning of his name:

GOD HEALS.

i am claiming that healing for our boy and am believing for complete restoration of his body to strong health. i pray that our journey becomes something that allows us to share and encourage others on their healing path.

 

after dinner last night, hubby told me it was the best food he’d eaten in a long time. (crazy, considering he just returned from texas and amazing food galore!). i want to capture what i made so i can make it again ;-) it was pretty  yummy.

chicken enchilada bake

1 cooked boneless chicken breast (i sauteed a couple breasts in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt, then chopped in small pieces and set some aside for the kiddos to eat separately)

2 brown rice tortillas, cut in fourths

1/2 green bell pepper

handful spinach

1 can cannellini white beans

cooked rice

feta cheese

grated pepper jack cheese

dash cayenne pepper

1 small can green enchilada sauce

:: pour enough enchilada sauce to cover bottom of baking dish. place layer of tortillas in dish, then cover with cooked rice, chopped chicken and beans.

:: in saute pan, cook bell pepper in olive oil and season with real salt & garlic. when softened, add handful of spinach and cook a few minutes.

:: place pepper and spinach in a layer in baking dish. pour generous amounts of feta and grated pepper jack over the layer in dish. shake a generous amount of cayenne pepper over the top.

:: place another layer of tortillas, and whatever else (ie more beans, some rice, etc). cover with more cheese. there is really no way to mess this up – layers and lots of cheese = delish.

:: pour remaining enchilada sauce over layers in the dish. cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375* for 30 minutes.

 

terrible pic but it's all i've got!

terrible pic but it’s all i’ve got!

Whole30 wrap up

February 11, 2014

today is the last day of our second whole30. we did the first one last january, and you can read about it here.

i have mixed feelings and many thoughts but the absolute bottom line is that i am SO GLAD to have done this. i find it to be an*excellent tool to truly re-set my self-control; my appetite; my nutritional focus.

today, i feel real control over my food choices. i have not indulged in a single bite of sugar, a bite of a grain, a taste of dairy … in 30 days. and for sure, it was hard at first … i think days 10-13 were the worst as far as feeling discouraged and apathetic. but once i dug my heels in and determined to press forward, the angst *totally* lifted.

i feel totally empowered. i am eating small, smart, intentional and delicious meals. i am pretty much not snacking. i am eating nothing in the evening (a decision i made mid-cleanse) and am *fine*.

i feel “less” as far as body size, squishiness, extra. i am back in the “normal” weight range that i settled in to pre-babies … although i am at the high end of that range and am going to keep moving forward to knock off the next 10+ lbs. i’d like to lose 20 more but who’s counting?!

i lost 10 lbs this time, and several inches.

besides that, and really much *bigger* than all that, is the way that I know GOD uses this cleanse as a big tool during work that i sense Him prompting me to do during a particular season for our family.

right now, we are working with total focus and determination on healing our boy’s skin. a huge piece (but not if you listen to the western medical doctors, ahem) is the food that he consumes. so for certain, this cleanse has been a great tool to tighten (severely!) the food he eats, and continue to evaluate best choices.

about halfway through this Whole30 i had an ah-ha moment that coconut may be a trigger for josiah so i eliminated it in all forms – a huge bummer in that i generally use a *ton of coconut oil. it’s eye opening and paradigm-shifting as some of the things that are touted as the most healthy, whole-food-community-real-food-loving items (ie, coconut oil, raw honey) may in fact *not be good for my boy. alas.

as far as meals … when we started out, i ran out of the gate with a bang and was super creative and motivated in making our meals. i lost my steam a couple weeks in :) and we ate a lot of ground beef, sauteed veggies, sweet potato fries, chicken,  chicken sausage, etc. the boys all continued eating rice and quinoa. i am all about making sure my babies get enough to eat and especially for caleb, who isn’t a big meat eater, rice was essential to keep him full & happy.

for “snacks”, we enjoyed organic pure rice cakes (the boys), some dried fruit, sweet potato chips, raisins & dried coconut (maddie’s favorite).

i am MOST missing real creamer in my coffee. i am super thankful for the canned “coconut cream” from trader joe’s (please don’t tell me if it’s not 100% whole30 legit!). it made my coffee bearable. but not the same :)

another thing … the past couple weeks i’ve had incredible weakness in my leg strength; they feel bone tired after just walking up the stairs. it’s different than a workout-induced tired; they are deep down, muscle tired. i can only attribute it to the radical dietary changes and think it must be connected to lack of carbs perhaps… and it definitely feels unsustainable. i also haven’t had the great energy burst that many have during cleansing but am certain that my lack of sleep must be a big piece of that. :)

overall, this has been a great & needful cleansing time on many fronts. and i am thankful that today is day 30 … whoop whoop! cannot wait for my hazelnut breve at dutch bros tomorrow! :))

odds & ends

January 27, 2014

it’s been a while, so here are a few “highlights” of life lately …

:: we are on day 15 of the Whole30. we did it last january and maddie and i particularly felt a great readiness to do it again. it has been a challenge some days; easier others. hubby and i were having crazy energy crashes during the afternoons which weren’t pleasant! – but getting more manageable. truthfully, the challenge is a different and more difficult one for me this time (aside from the logistical burden of cooking from scratch 3 meals a day for everyone, growing super weary of savory food for all meals even though it is *delish, longing for something sweet, the boys asking for various off-limits items, etc): i am not losing weight the way i normally do. the few times  in the past that i’ve implemented a plan with the goal of losing weight, i see results fairly quick. last whole30, i was down 5 lbs on the 4th day (and 15 lbs after 30 days). motivating! this time, 5 lbs as of *today. not so motivating (but thankfully i took some measurements and have lost 2.5 inches from my waist which feels good). and yet here’s what i know: this is a longer play. i am closer to my regular weight and not carrying as much extra as i was last year. my body has gone through crazy physical changes in the past 2 years with 2 pregnancies and 2 csections. i know intuitively that this time around, this is more of a slow & steady … diligently making good decisions, day in and day out, moving toward the goal of being healthy and strong. so i’m doing it! i haven’t cheated – not one morsel or nugget – so only protein, veggies, fruit, some oils and nuts … for 15 days. 15 to go! and then, moderation. most of all, i am missing my cream in my coffee. coconut cream is ok but just not the same.

:: for certain, one of our primary goals in this elimination diet is to find healing for josiah’s skin. i took him to a naturopath last month which felt helpful and good … a good step of many. so it is deeply discouraging that his skin is worse, and in a severe flare right now … so much so that he can’t sleep well and the past 3 nights has been up most of the night w/hubby or i, miserable itching and raw. (he had been doing SO great w/sleep, for the past few months. ahh.).  again and always, it feels like we are trying everything. and still, the answer – the trigger – is elusive. the other day i had an ah-ha moment: what if it is coconut?? i use coconut oil in *everything and even more on this diet … so i cut it out totally. and just last night, someone suggested perhaps it is *fructose … so all those apples and pears … ?! LORD, please heal our boy.

:: this is a tiring, relentless season of parenting. and yet, i hate being a complainer – both to others, and in my own head. i was talking with a friend about this yesterday – about being *real in how we share life (ie social media) without sounding uber negative. i think social media can also tend to the other direction: sharing only the glowing superlatives about our days and our lives, mistakenly leaving an impression of blissful living. there’s got to be a happy medium. so for me, for today, my happy medium is right here and the words i am sharing. the truth is that parenting these boys – ages 16 & 33 months – is intense. i have literally zero breaks, round-the-clock. and i don’t believe i *deserve breaks necessarily but just that none exist. i have a baby on or near me including pretty much every time i use the restroom. and really the most intense part is the way THEY interact: without boundary, restraint, understanding, control … and thus in constant perpetual motion and inevitable conflict. this is a season of hands on, eyes-always-on training and intervening and directing. EVERY second. caleb is toddling grabbing instigating in all his chubby deliciousness. josiah is possessive of his toys, impulsive in his movements (hitting kicking). they are moving appropriately through age-appropriate learning and training and AND it’s wild and crazy around here.

add to that? i have a teenage daughter for whom i am (attempting to) homeschool *well, as she works through an academically challenging classical education.  i fail constantly in maintaining the patience and grace that i am desperate to share. i know that i cannot share and “produce” something that isn’t being generated within me; i cannot strive harder or more to be more or different. what i can do is be so saturated both in GOD’s Word and His grace in my life, that i pour this forth in my parenting. i see evidence of His incredible work; ways that He has changed and softened, and i am desperate for more.

wow, how is that for some uplifting updates!? LOL. just keeping it real. all is well and good and up and down and OH! that reminds me of this, the most totally awesome article that resonates SO much for me.

thursday afternoon we were preparing for some special company to fly in and i decided it was most imperative to bake a little something delicious. :) i surveyed ingredients i had on hand and decided to do something with oatmeal and raisins. i glanced through my trusty “better homes and gardens” cookbook (thanks, liz!) and found their recipe for oatmeal cookies.

i made several changes and adaptations and came up with these – honestly, some of the most delectable nuggets of goodness *ever*. one caveat: i used real sugar. i haven’t bought regular ol’ white sugar in a couple years but had some on hand from some holiday baking (that i didn’t end up doing! ha). and, i didn’t have honey on hand which is my typical and only sweetener; so, these are free of many things but full of sugar. which is either fabulous or terrible. or maybe just fine :)

:: oatmeal raisin cookies ::

3/4 c coconut oil

1 c sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

heaping spoonful ground flax in 1/4 c warm water (egg substitute)

1 3/4 c gluten free flour (i used bob’s red mill)

2 c oats

1 c raisins

melt coconut oil, and then add sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. mix together. (i melted the oil in a 2 cup glass measuring cup, then added the above ingredients to the measuring cup. once it was all mixed, i poured in a larger bowl).

add “eggs” – ground flax that has soaked in the warm water a few minutes. next, add flour and stir. finally, add oats and raisins.

drop in heaping spoonfuls on cookie sheet; bake at 375 for 9 minutes, and you’ll get this:

 

oatmeal1

 

 

here is where it gets interesting! these were beyond amazing and delicious, but they would *not come up off the cookie sheet!! the recipe had said to use an ungreased cookie sheet so i did and oh boy, never has anything stuck so bad. so after scraping off yummy cookie crumbles, i changed things up: i got a round pyrex and put a huge spoonful of coconut oil in it. i put that in the oven to melt the oil for a minute, then took it out of the oven and put the remaining dough in the pyrex.

i cooked this for 10 minutes and out came this:

 

oatmeal

and really?? this was even better. moist, crumbly and incredible. we were all pretty stoked. :) enjoy!

believe

December 24, 2013

i just returned from a glorious evening with some amazing women. my heart is refreshed and my mind is thinking over the years that have passed since these ladies started meeting. it was eight years ago  … my dear friend, gretchen, started hosting a bible study in her home. i was a part of that “founding” group. every tuesday night, rain or shine, until just after josiah’s birth … 5 or 6 years it was. the group has continued to meet, of course, and is just now wrapping up – the season for this particular study is closing. bittersweet. countless women have joined us over the years; some staying for a couple years, some more, some less. older women, younger women, from different churches and different walks … studying GOD’s word, praying together. sharing life, beautifully.

i’ve missed it so much.

tonight as i was getting ready to go, i was feeling gross: i had nothing to wear, my hair hasn’t been cut or styled in over a year, my body is out of shape (two babies in the past two years, via csection).

what a contrast to who i was when this study began those eight years ago: a fulltime working professional mom of one daughter (who attended a private school), married and part of a two-income household; occasional new clothes; hair done at the salon; away from home most nights (competitive gymnastics for our daughter 3 nights, bible study the other); date nights with hubby and a babysitter (or 2!); funds for lunches, dinner and coffee out; a gym membership and working out at lunch (*sigh*).

Now?  home every night; no new clothes or hair styled in ages; homeschooling, BABIES!

:: life is dramatically different. ::

and really?

it’s because prayers were answered.

my deepest longing to be home with my girl, having more babies?

it’s my life, now.

and i am praising Him in the craziness.

 

believe

one of our very first studies was beth moore’s, “believing God” back in 2006. during the study we were asked to write down areas in which we were struggling to believe God. this is the note card i wrote then, in october 2006. pretty wild and incredible: both areas (getting pregnant and being able to stay home) did eventually come to fruition, in abundance (!!) and in God’s timing. wow.

racing past

November 30, 2013

i’ve missed this space. i’ve shared (whined) to my hubby that i just want (need) to get away, to write here. to share and process and collect thoughts and capture life that is racing so quickly by.

i realized last week that i have been filling my mind and heart with so much information – nuggets of parenting wisdom, healing protocol, recipes, “shoulds” and “want to’s.” yet i am short on the follow through. in fact, in a sobering moment of honesty with myself, i realized that in many areas i am weak on execution. i am full of knowing what i need to do; i feel so caught up in the doing of daily life that my intentions to implement bigger, higher, macro level plans just don’t happen.

for me, it starts with congealing the swirling in my mind and heart on to paper. collecting. sorting. formulating. making plans.

so last week i treated myself to a discounted journal – spiral-bound, lined, smooth. the kind where my pen flows. and i’ve started writing, and it feels good.

i have yet to figure out the “when” for this elusive quiet time we all talk about, and that i desperately need. i am learning how to create that time, and that falls under the big umbrella of areas where i need to execute better: home management. it is perhaps the single biggest burden/challenge/desire on my heart (managing our home well) and has been brought to light (my weaknesses, that is) by my beloved. my pride and my stubbornness make receiving feedback like this very difficult which is strange because i *know this isn’t my strong suit, so why does the feedback fall on a raw and discouraged heart?

part of it i am coming to realize, is that it feels pretty crappy to accept that in my primary job of managing our home, i lack many skills. as i’ve shared before, when i worked outside the home i had a sense of strength and confidence and competence that was reinforced and encouraged.

and here i am at home, having not been taught many basics in this arena, expecting all to flow well and seeing that my strengths don’t necessarily match what may be ideal for creating an orderly, structured, high-standard home environment.

i tend toward flexibility, spontaneity, nurturing, creating special moments, big hugs, long walks, lots of cooking, lots of cuddling and reading and playing outside and seizing the beauty in daily life.

and so i feel this tugging: receiving feedback given in love, with a desire to come alongside … and i resist. i struggle. i grapple.

and that brings me to another space that is foremost on my mind and without uncovering my precious hubby, i will say only that (quite hilariously because we both rolled our eyes during most of the video class we took, with sighs of “we know this; we’ve got this”) emerson eggerichs love & respect teaching is right where we are.

and what i know for sure underneath it all? GOD is calling me to surrender …  to the ways He is shaping and teaching and growing me. to this beautiful and wild and fleeting season, and to my beloved hubby.

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