Category Archives: celiacs

learning new ways

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for the past 4 months, i’ve been working out with a trainer at the gym.  I send him a food log of everything i’ve eaten that day, we track body fat, weight loss and overall food intake.  The diet is not much more restrictive than what I was eating before as a result of my Celiac’s disease and other food allergies and because we monitor the times and quantities eaten, I actually find that I eat more now than I did before and am rarely (if ever) hungry.  In the past 14 months, I’ve lost 45 lbs.  My goal would be to lose another 20 -25 and maybe another 2 clothing sizes (am already down 4!)

At the first of the year, Ted and I started working out together with the trainer.  This has been a change from what I was used to, but has been a lot of fun to share this area of my life with him.  I’ve been cooking now for both of us, to help him get used to the diet, and he’s been very helpful in planning meals, cleaning up, organizing and encouraging me through the learning process.

I love to cook.  But its been a challenge to cook not only gluten and dairy free (which has now become the norm), but now also sugar and sodium free… and to prepare everything in measured and weighed quantities, pack it in individual containers for our respective 4 meals a day and do it so that neither of us get bored with eating the same foods over and over again.  The first week I did it, I can’t tell you how many times I just broke down and cried from feeling completely overwhelmed.  :(   this week has been much better.  Ted’s been helping me plan the week in advance and then we go shopping together to buy what we need.  Then its just a matter of figuring out when to cook.  cooking is beginning to be fun again… :)

For Christmas, Ted bought me a Breadman bread machine.  I’m enjoying playing around with different recipes and mixes.  The first loaf I made was Pamela’s wheat free bread mix.  It was absolutely delicious… the best gluten free bread I’ve ever tried.  Nice and fluffy… held together well… tasted great as bread or toast… and had just a bit of sweetness to it, kind of like a sourdough bread.  The only problem is that at 280 mg of sodium per slice, its way too high for our diet.  So, off I went on the adventure to find another gluten free bread mix that could compare.  The next attempt was Gluten-Free Pantry’s French bread mix.  It has a recipe for a loaf of bread in a breadmaker, so I gave it a try.  Due to the fact that its primarily rice flour (aka no flavor or taste), it is not nearly as good as the other mix.  But it has much less sodium and by not adding extra salt as directed to the recipe, it is even lower than the 120 mg listed.  So, a better option, but sadly you compromise taste.  :(

This weekend, I’m going to try several other recipes…  once i see how they turn out, i’ll post an update. :)  happy weekend everyone!

through many dangers, toils, and snares

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lately it seems i’ve been connected with and talked in detail to many other folks who suffer with severe, chronic physical pain.  this has had a two-fold effect on my soul.  first, it has encouraged me.   its helpful at times like this, when just getting out of bed is a challenge, to be reminded that I’m not alone.  i’m not the only one with undiagnosed issues and with the fears, pains and sorrow that accompanies these pains.  the thoughts and fears swarming my mind are not unique to me. 

I really do find much comfort in knowing this, for one thing that chronic pain does is make you feel isolated.  Its easy to think that no one understands my pain.  No one understands what I’m going through, etc…  How grateful I am to God for the reminder that these thoughts simply are not true.  He has placed me in a body where there are many others who not only understand, but who pray for me as I pray for them… who encourage me in my weakness and who point me to Jesus. 

My friends are much like the friends of the paralyzed man in the New Testament.  He couldn’t walk to Jesus, so they carried him.  My friends have carried me lately through car rides when I was too weak or dizzy to drive, through meals when I have been too tired to cook and through prayers when all I  seemed to have the energy to do was cry.  Thank you.

But on the other hand, the more i talk with other folks who suffer with chronic pain, the more my heart breaks.  I hate to see the rampant effects of sin.  I hate to see the sorrow and trials and fears that are simply part of day to day life.  the more i see suffering here, the more i long for the day when my Jesus will come back to judge evil and wipe all tears away… not just my countless tears, but the tears of my sweet friends as well… the tears of Jess C, Charissa, Jenn S, Missy, Wendy, Jess B, Sarah and so many others. 

And then to add on to the physical pain, I could list so many who have suffered in other awful ways as well…miscarriages, death, abuse, persecution, broken hearts, divided families… this world is a violent place.  But we have the promise that Jesus will wipe all tears away … what sweet hope and comfort I find in those words.

oh come Lord Jesus.  Come and rescue your Bride from this fallen world of suffering and shame.  Come in mercy to give eternal hope to your children who eagerly await their inheritance.  Come and rescue those like Gao Zhisheng who are imprisoned and beaten for your sake.  Come and give comfort to the fatherless, hope to the barren, comfort the widow with your presence, and come and give trust and peace to those like me who often live in fear of the unknown (or in regret and shame to the past).

but until that day, I will hold on to you.  Until the day you answer that prayer (could it please be today?), I will continue to cling with my feeble fingers to the ledge of your great grace.  I will hold fast to the One who will never let me go.  I will follow the example of the one who suffered in my place.  Give me grace to not grow weary as I seek to follow you.  Keep my eyes riveted on your grace when my sins begin to overwhelm me.  Grant hope … as you’ve promised is the result for enduring trials with a steadfast heart.

Oh God, my heart is steadfast on you.  You are the only hope for my life.  I am looking to you to satisfy, not to what makes sense to me.  Please, won’t you give my weary heart some hope?  You have consistently shown me hope and you have faithfully given me comfort and steadfast love.  Be faithful to once again answer my prayer.  Let my weariness find rest in you.  And care for my friends… remind them also of your unending love and care.

update on health

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I just wanted to post a quick update on my health. Since july 2nd I’ve had severe nausea, since the following wednesday, I’ve had migraines several times nearly every day and starting a week ago have had severe abdominal pains. Last tuesday night I was in the ER and starting last night, I began vomitting and couldn’t even keep fluids down. I ended up back in the doctors office today for nearly 5 hours of testings. They gave me a shot that should help with the nausea and dehydration. I was able to keep down some toast and some gatorade just a bit ago. The drs know that its not appendicitis but he is now thinking that it is something caused by my pancreas or gallbladder…possibly some kind of severe infection or maybe some type of cancer. I should know the test results either tomorrow or wednesday. Thanks to everyone who has been praying for me…I’ve really been in so much pain these past few weeks. I really can’t remember being in this much pain ever before. But thankfully since I am able to drink again, I’m also able to take more pain meds. I’m hoping the doctors are able to find something wrong soon so I’m not having to take pain meds just to make it through the day. Thanks again for your prayers! I’ll keep you posted as I know more…

whirlwind

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wow! the past few weeks have been an absolute whirlwind for me. i’m glad to be back home. i’m hoping things calm down back to some degree of normal…

I left Greenville on June 20th for vacation in Washington DC and haven’t really stopped since.  I got back from DC on the 28th, spent 4 days working, unpacking, cleaning, etc, and spent the last 4 days in NC visiting a friend.   

Though the past few weeks have been great, I am exhausted.  Lately God has been reminding me that rest and peace don’t mean that life is not in chaos – it means remembering that He is faithful through all the changes and confusion.

Emotionally I feel worn pretty thin… like I really haven’t had any time to think, process, pray, recuperate, etc. And I really have been missing my church… its been 3 weeks since I’ve been there and in many ways I feel very alone.  Physically, my body has been thrown through the ringer due to eating out so much and that doesn’t agree so well with my food allergies.  And I haven’t slept well in about 2 weeks as a result of it all.  Today starts a 2 week detox diet so hopefully things will start to get back to normal soon.

Yesterday at my friend’s church in NC, the sermon was on Philippians 4:6-7 (do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.)

What a helpful truth to be reminded of.  I’m so prone to anxiousness and worry.  I am glad that my God is in control of everything… even the changes that make no sense to me.  And I’m glad that though He is aware of my weakness and failure, that He grants me the gift of peace, that He guards my heart and mind, and that I am secure in Christ Jesus.

is this what normal feels like?

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its funny, at times we get so used to the “abnormal” that when things settle down to “normal” again, it seems weird.  (who defines normal, anyways?)

i’ve spent the last several years struggling with insomnia and other major health issues.  typically the way it looked for me is one month i would sleep no more than 2 -3 hours a night, and then the next month i would sleep on average 5-6.  and about once a month i’d spend a day or two in bed too exhausted and sick to even move.  it was really to the point that i could anticipate… “i’m not gonna sleep much for the next month” and then i’d mentally prepare myself for this. 

well over the past 2 years, and especially the past 8 months or so, the doctors have been trying to get to the root cause of many of the health issues i’ve been having.  and slowly, i’ve begun to see some pretty major improvement. 

i’m not on seizure meds anymore. i’m not having to take migraine meds as often, and i’m able to control most of the migraines by very carefully watching my diet (aka no wheat, barley, rye, gluten, oats, dairy, artificial color, artificial flavor, etc).  i’ve got the energy to exercise again on a consistent basis and am able to concentrate during the day.  and over the past 3 months, i’ve slept on average nearly 6 hours a night! (for me, that’s pretty amazing!)

but the weird thing is this… i feel like i NEVER have enough time now.  i’ve gone from having approximately 21 hours a day to do things and now i’ve only got about 17.  I thank God for the extra 4 hours of sleep i’ve been getting but its crazy…  

is this how “normal” people feel??? :)  never enough time?  too much to do?  does this mean i’m “normal” now? (haha!)  :)

its just a new and weird experience for me and i’m having to learn how to adjust.  i’m not reading as much anymore.  that makes me sad.  but i’m wondering when to do it… my typical reading time is from 12 – 3 or 4 am!  i miss my 2 am facebook chats with the other insomniacs.  seriously, when is there time now for a bubble bath?  or to organize your sock drawer? 

 

all these important questions in my mind as i’m readjusting to a new “normal.”  praise God for His gift of sleep!  now I just need to learn the gift of managing time.  :)

i would love your prayer…

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its really funny, so much seems to have been going on lately but somehow last month was the least amount i blogged in the last 2 1/2 years.  i guess part of the reason for this is because in many ways, there is nothing new to say… life just goes on.  and i haven’t been learning any life-altering truths, simply learning to cling to the ones i know. 

but the other reason is that much of what i have been working through just doesn’t seem to have adequate words to describe it.  physical pain or loneliness or discouragement often has no words.  i’m glad God knows the prayers that I often don’t know how to pray.  He perfectly understands my questions.

That being said, I would really be grateful for your prayers. 

1.  Pray that I would grow in a deeper trust of God so that when life seems topsy-turvy, that my confidence remains in my faithful God.    Pray for fresh reminders that my God is all powerful and greater than all my fears.

2.  Pray that God would grant me wisdom for knowing when to walk forward in faith and when to simply sit at His feet with a childlike faith.  (though often these two seem to go hand in hand…).  Pray specifically with my job that He would grant me wisdom to know what to do (if anything).

3.  Pray that God would heal my body from all the physical problems, migraines and allergies that have simply become a part of my life.  I know He is the God who can heal.  I have seen His work in amazing ways time after time.  And He is compelling me to ask for this, aware I don’t deserve it and aware that I struggle even asking for such a gift, but aware that He is a merciful God who delights in my asking and coming in humble faith and obedience.

4.  Pray that God would give me wisdom in knowing where to invest my time.  The past few weeks I have felt stretched very thin.  I really would like to grow in knowing how to balance time for myself, time to serve others, time to care for and love others, etc. 

5.  Pray that I would sleep. 

that’s what’s going on in my world right now.  i need wisdom.  i need God’s strength.  i need to be reminding myself cotinually that my God is merciful and kind.

the last 18 months… and a very faithful God

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I just want to take a second and look back to remember what God has done, specifically over the last 15 months of my life. All too often, I get discouraged by an apparent lack of growth or what I perceive as changing too slowly. But God in His faithfulness is training me and keeping me at this marathon pace, though my heart would rather be zooming along at a sprinters pace.

February ‘08 – on Sunday, February 24th, during worship rehearsal, Katie Britt came up to me with a little piece of paper. On the paper were these words… “His strength is made perfect in weakness.” Little did I know how those words would define the next season of my life. I woke up the next day with a splitting pain in my head. Imagine a migraine. Then make it exponentially worse. That day was the start of many long and painful months ahead… months of confusion, months of crying out to God, and months of things just seeming to only get worse. This month also was when I began writing poems.

March ’08 – On March 7th, I had my first MRI of my brain. I was terrified and in so much pain that I didn’t know how I would stay still throughout the procedure. And since the doctors were running ahead of schedule there was no time for sedation. God brought to mind the passage of 1st Peter 1 that I had just memorized. He reminded me that He was working… that He had a plan for me (an inheritance that is sure) and that even in my current trial, that His goal is that my faith and hope would rest in God… my loving Father. It was a sweet time, yet I was overwhelmed and confused as to what God was doing.

April ’08 – I had to stop teaching German. The migraines continued. I lost count of the doctors I visited and the tests that were run. There seemed to be no answers.  And though my body was exhausted, sleep wouldn’t come.  Matt preached a sermon that when God brings us into the waves, He is always behind us, holding us secure. He won’t let us drown. He is doing this because He cares for us and wants us to know the freedom found in trusting Him.

May ’08 – May was a month of answered prayers.     I got a new position at work, which was an answer to several years of praying.  I was diagnosed with and treated for a bacterial infection in my brain (similar to meningitis), which had been one cause of the migraines.  I think God was just reminding me here of His faithfulness… and that He hadn’t forgotten me.  However, May was also a month of new trials.  I became very sick with what I thought was the stomach flu.  New Attitude (singles conference) was a struggle.  I had gone expecting great things from God.  I left disappointed that there was no “thunder and lightning” simply a “I’m faithful… trust Me.”

June ’08 – I found out in June, shortly after my 27th birthday that I am allergic to dairy, wheat, oats, food dye and several other things.  Unfortunately I found this out the hard way, after weeks of not being able to keep food down.  On June 26th, my good friends Dave and Melissa lost their baby.  Melissa was 6 ½ months pregnant and went into labor.  I will never forget singing “blessed be your name” while standing in front of a casket not more than 1’x2’.  Their steadfast faith through that unthinkable trial encouraged me to keep looking to our loving Father, no matter what.

July ’08 – on Sunday July 13th, I was baptized.  July was a month of trying to figure out what I could eat and what makes me sick.  My grandparents celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary.  Doctors visits continued.  Migraines started coming back as I was testing food options.  July was a month of learning that blessing and suffering go hand in hand.

August ’08 – August was the month of diagnoses.  The doctors found out that what I thought was a stomach flu back in May, was actually salmonella food poisoning from a puffed wheat cereal.  This was a mixed blessing because though it threw my body into overload, the doctors were able to also diagnose that I have Celiacs disease, something that has gone undiagnosed for about 10 years.  This month was another month of physical weakness.  I had no energy and constant migraines.  The Worship God conference was encouraging and this month began my study of the Psalms.  The Psalms CD quickly became one of my favorites.  At the worship conference, I was able to see God miraculously heal my friend Dave Johnson, after suffering for many years with kidney stones.  Still to this day, he has not had one!

September ’08 – Migraines began getting worse.  Due to the fact that you can’t take migraine medicine every day, the doctor put me on an anti-seizure med that is effective for treating migraines.  After a few increases in the doseage, the migraines began subsiding.  This was a month of ups and downs, along with very little sleep.  September was also the month I decided to move from living with a family in the church to getting an apartment with two friends.  Emotionally, there were many struggles, as I was working through where God was leading me to.

October ’08 – I started having some severe reactions to the medicine and the doctors had to quickly take me off, depsite the risk of seizures.  This was one of the scariest times I have ever faced, not sure what was happening, if I was dying or what to do.  Thankfully, my pastors were extremely helpful in reminding me of my hope in God, the God who knows all, is in control of all and who loves me.  The doctors changed my medicine and I only got worse.  I met with my pastors one afternoon and they prayed that God would heal me.  Sleep was unknown at this point now.  Oh, and on top of that there was the physical and emotional stress of moving, yet again…for the 7th time in 5 years.

November ’08 – November was a hard month with relationships.  And with dealing through issues from my past.  I found a new doctor who diagnosed me with sleep apnea, and a severe vitamin B deficiency.  We were able to take me off all the migraine meds, except to treat the occasional migraine.  I am grateful to have found this new doctor.  I am grateful because slowly, it seems that God began healing my weak and dying body.  I didn’t know He was just beginning to work on the heart and emotions.

December ’08 – if i had to summarize December it would be “face your fears.”  December was a difficult month as I continued working through some pains from my past, thanks to the help of Matt and Julie.  My body continued to improve.  I started having more energy, but still wasn’t sleeping.  In December, the doctor did a second sleep test. Oh, and during my Christmas break from work, I almost died of carbon monoxide poisoning and an allergic reaction to wheat.  Both in the same week.  It was a draining week.

January ’09 – As the new year began, I was continually reminded of the word “peace.”  I was reminded that God is the One who brings peace and that this was His goal for me in the coming months… to learn peace, not because there are no storms, but because I am held by the God who controls those storms.  “the flame shall not hurt you I only design your dross to consume and your gold to refine.”  God seemed to be saying that the coming months would be a clear picture of God’s care and a refining of my dross.

February ’09 – in February I took a trip to Charlotte NC to visit a friend.  I was encouraged to realize that some of my sin struggles are the same things she struggles with.  I felt God say that this weekend would be pivotal in freeing me from certain sins and strongholds in my life.  I returned home, only to fail.  As I saw those waves of condemnation crashing down, I again became very discouraged with my lack of trust and faith in God.  And the emotional scars continued and in some ways only seemed to increase.

March ’09 – God continued to remind me that He brings beauty from pain.  And that my life, which has involved a good deal of pain, is meant to bring Him glory.  Each step I’ve taken and each tear I’ve cried was not lost to His care and love.  As my hours kept getting cut at work due to the economy, I found trusting in that love a struggle.  But I remembered where I was a year ago, in the tube for the MRI, and was refreshed to remember that my God is providing for me.  Since I still wasn’t sleeping, the doctor put me on a sleep med, for the next 3 months to try to train my body to sleep again.

April ’09 – Migraines are more an occasional occurance now instead of a daily trial.  Physically the changes in my body have been phenomenal since last October when my pastors prayed for God’s merciful healing hand to touch me.  I’m even training for a half marathon at the end of this summer!  Lord willing, I’ll have the physical strength to make that goal a reality.  The struggles to trust God to provide financially became greater as I saw to greater depths the mess I’ve created.  I was confronted about a relationship issue that I had left unresolved.  God used that to show me grace in a new and special way.  I was surprised to see such grace to me… a clearly undeserving sinner.  God overwhelmed me with that grace.

May ’09 – Again, God has overwhelmed me with His grace.  I’ve had many nights of restful sleep.  He has provided for me financially in some spectacular ways and has again and again proven Himself to be my faithful Provider.  I’m also amazed at what a gift my friends are and how God has used them to show me His care.  They have sacrificed so much just to simply show me God’s love.  I’m grateful… and overwhelmed.

So, that’s the last 18 months.  I don’t know what the next ones will contain.  But I know that the faithful God who has carried me through many physical, emotional and financial pains time after time, will continue to carry me through every storm He has ordained for me.  I continue to struggle with fear… fear of the unknown, fear of future pain.  But God is faithful in comforting me with the truth that no matter what trials come, He is with me.