The Best Thing We Gained at the Fair

Have you ever noticed how kids have a very accurate internal clock, like, from the get go?

We took our oldest to the county fair when she was about three and the next summer, days before the fair was going to start, she started asking me about that place with lights and food and rides? We definitely went to the fair again that year,

and the next,

and every year. ¬†ūüôā

Nowadays the fair falls the weekend after youth camps end so it’s easy for all of us to anticipate. ¬†It’s a tradition.

When our oldest kids were little, and there were just a handful of them (instead of 2 hands-full) we would buy a sheet of tickets and let them ride a few kiddie rides. ¬†As they got older, the more mature rides cost more. ¬†With more children, one sheet didn’t provide enough tickets to go around. ¬†We learned to be content walking through all the exhibits, petting the animals and having a treat. ¬†My husband loves the malted milk shakes… it’s once a year. ūüėČ

{Farm to Table Children’s Exhibit}

 

Fair 2017- 03

{Miss our goats this year!}

Fair 2017- 04

{Still wearing the camp swimming arm band… and look at that adorable face!}

This year, the big kids were hankering to do some rides and I promised them we’d save up for them to buy an arm band to do unlimited rides. ¬†Tuesday of this week was that day. ¬†However, rather than simply purchase the arm bands and send them off to get hot, dizzy and tired, we gave them the $20 we’d saved for each one of our flock. ¬†We told them that they could pay for the arm bands themselves, or… ¬†they could spend it (or save it) on whatever they pleased.

Somehow, with the $20 they gained in their hands, fair rides didn’t sound so appealing to them anymore. They suddenly appreciated the effort that it would take for them to earn that money back themselves. ¬†Somebody mentioned having money for Christmas presents.

Fair 2017- 05

No one went on rides.  When dad bought his malt, they bought their own ice cream (while mom *cringe* said nothing about all the sugar) and they enjoyed eating them together.  Dad got to taste every flavor because dads are good at sweet talking a taste.

We took in the exhibits.  We petted the animals.  C2 won a frisbee from The Pulse Radio. We won a $10 gift card for Cub Foods.

Yes, we brought home a lot of extra stuff, but the best thing we gained was the reminder that God is a Good Father when we lost. a. child!

Yes! Standing in a crowd with other people, holding tickets as the union for the grocery stores had a big drawing, Ella had a winning #.  She claimed her prize.  The giveaway ended, and as we started to walk away from the booth, I did what I always do:  I counted heads.

“5, 6, 7…” someone was missing. ¬†I have had kids coming and going from camp all summer. ¬†Every week we’ve had a different number at home, so the counting thing has been a little strange. ¬†This is the first week we’ve had all the kids home since the beginning of June.

I re-counted with names and I panicked. ¬†C2 is 4, and I didn’t see his little buzzed head or tye dye shirt. ¬†We had been standing there, all together, the whole time! ¬†How did he slip away? ¬†Where could he have gone?

It’s amazing the clarity with which one can remember the details of a beloved in a moment of bereavement. ¬†His big, tender eyes, full of wide wonderment filled my mind as I hollered his name and scanned the crowd.

I prayed.

While hubby turned the whole crew around, I spoke with the man at the grocery booth, and he said someone had taken a child to the fair office –{he pointed}– >>> that way.

We found him with an older couple, sitting in front of the information booth, and quietly crying as hard as he could. ¬†He was hugging 2 stuffed animals from someone’s game booth. ¬†When he saw us he flung himself into Dad’s arms and held on for dear life, and I silently praised God for keeping him safe. ¬†As we walked away, the older couple who had cared for him said to him,

“Now, remember, your parents will always come for you.”

It was all I could do to restrain myself from snatching him up.  I let my husband hold on to him, but my arms ached to hold him, and I know that is how God feels about every son and daughter who wanders away from the safety of His will.  I can picture Him at the ready, even watching us as we consider stepping away; how he wants to snatch us from danger, but allows us to choose our own footing.

He’s the Good Father.

You’re never really a lost child when you belong to the King. ¬†You can be rebellious, and you can suffer the consequences, but your Father knows where you are. ¬†He has his eye on you and He’s listening for your repentant cry. ¬†When you’re ready to find your way home, He will always come for you.

Always.

“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them gets lost, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountain and go in search of the one that is lost?¬†¬†And if it turns out that he finds it, I assure you¬†and¬†most solemnly say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that did not get lost.¬†¬†So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones be lost.” Matthew 18:12-14 (emphasis mine)

Always.

 

Caring For Your Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter

 

 

gluten-free starter care

If you have never baked with sourdough, there are a few good things to know.

What Is Sourdough?

Sourdough is a mixture of flour and water that contains wild yeasts and lactobacilli. These naturally occurring cultures¬†actually “eat” the simple sugars in the grains, beginning the process of breaking it down. ¬†During this process, they produce carbon dioxide, which appears as bubbles, that helps rise your dough. ¬†These cultures also produce lactic acid which prevents the growth of harmful bacteria.

Sourdough is an efficient way to bake for your family. ¬†As long as you save some some “starter” each time you use it, and continue to “feed” it, giving it more flour and water, it will continue to multiply and serve you indefinitely. Because using sourdough incorporates the use of these wild yeasts as leavening in your baked products, this means you do not need to buy instant dry yeast from the store… so you may expect to save time and money.

Since the wild yeasts feed on the sugars in the grains, properly prepared sourdough products are lower on the glycemic index than non-sourdough goods. ¬† Now, let me be clear here… I said it is low-er on the glycemic index… I didn’t say it’s safe to pig out ¬†ūüėČ Grains are still starches that provide quick energy to the body. ¬†Moderation, as always, please.

Also, because the sourdough yeasts begin the process of breaking down the flours you bake with, the finished product is easier on the digestive system.  The wild yeasts and bacteria neutralize anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors that are naturally occurring in grains, and actually produce some vitamins themselves, which means more nutrition is readily available.

Other Advantages

Gluten free grains are often more dry and gritty than their glutenous counterparts, and recipes can require more starch.  As the yeasts begin to break down the grains, they are softened, giving baked goods a more pleasant texture, and our family thinks they have a richer flavor.

How to Care for Your Starter

  • Wild yeasts do not like metal. ¬†Whether you are cultivating sourdough, kefir or kombucha, please do not store your cultures in metal–it will kill them. ¬†You can use metal fork/spoon for mixing your baked goods; just don’t store it in metal. Keep your sourdough starter, and unbaked products, in glass. ¬†Except for dipping, as shown in the featured photo, avoid storing in plastics as you do not want your culture to leach chemicals for your family to later consume.
  • If you are perpetuating more than one type of culture in your kitchen: ie, kombucha… ¬†it is a good idea to keep a few feet between them.
  • Cover, but do not seal air tight. ¬†Fruit flies and other insects just love fermented goodness. ¬†If your sourdough is not covered, it will turn into an insect trap. ¬†(yuck!)
  • Sourdough is more active in warmer temperatures, and slows down in colder temps. ¬†If you keep your starter out on the counter in a moderate temps, it will probably need fed every 12 hours. ¬†If you use it daily, then this is perfect. ¬†If, however, you do not want to use it daily, store your freshly fed starter in the refrigerator and it will not have to be fed for at least a week.
  • After sitting, if there is a layer of liquid on top (may be clearish, pinkish or brownish), this is called hooch. ¬†Just pour it off, down the sink, and freshen your starter: assuming your gluten free starter is brown rice, so feed it some brown rice flour and water. ¬†Stir well, cover, and give a few hours for your starter to get all bubbly and active before using in a recipe. ¬†If you are used to glutenous sourdough which can get frothy on top, it’s helpful to know that the rice starter does not get bubbly on top, but you can see the gas pockets all through the “sponge” through the side of your glass storage container. ¬†(In the past, I did maintain a buckwheat starter, which I began following the same directions as the boosted rice starter. ¬†It was easy to maintain. ¬†I eventually threw it out because buckwheat is stronger smelling and the rice worked equally well.)
  • It is important to know guidelines for how much to feed starter. ¬†Do not exceed 4:1. Four parts new flour and water to one part active starter. ¬†You may feed your starter less, but do not feed it more than this at once because you do not want to weaken it. If your starter will be sitting on the counter all day, do not feed it less than a 1:1 ratio; One part starter to one part fresh brown rice flour and water. ¬†So, for example, if I have had 1/2 cup of starter in the fridge all week and I take it out to use it, I am going to feed it 1/2 cup of fresh brown rice flour and stir in enough water to make it the consistency I want it. ¬†If you make it too thin, the extra water will rise to the top.
  • If your starter sits too long and the top gets dry and pinkish, use a spoon to ladle off the top and discard. ¬†Transfer to a clean glass container and then feed.
  • What about discarding down the sink? ¬†The yeast is amazing for your pipes and septic. ¬†A friend of ours is a septic designer and he highly recommends it! ¬†ūüėČ
  • Recipes are mixed up ahead of time, and ferment to allow the wild yeasts to do their magic. ¬†They should not ferment for less than 7 hours before baking. ¬†If you are in a time pinch, remember that sourdough is more active in warmer temperatures. ¬†You can place dough next to a slow cooker or place in an oven that is OFF: if you have a gas oven that is kept warm by a pilot light, or if you have an electric oven you can turn the light on to keep warm. ¬†If you feel the oven is too warm, just prop door open a smidge by placing an oven mitt in the way so it doesn’t close completely. ¬†Remove to complete and bake when ready. ¬†If you have a cool kitchen in the winter, then again, you will want to let your goods sour longer, or find a warm spot for them. ¬†If you have a HOT kitchen, your products will be ready to bake sooner rather than later.

If you have questions or need clarification, please ask about it in the comments.  If you are wondering, someone else is bound to question the same thing!

Well, now you are ready to begin baking with your starter, and I am ready to begin sharing recipes!

Care instructions are available as a PDF for download here: How to care for your gluten free starter

 

From King Size to Twin Size, Breathing Usefulness into a Worn Quilt

One of the ways we are able to provide for the needs of our large family while keeping a reasonable budget is by thrift shopping, and I have discovered I really enjoy it.  It feels good to provide for a need (or want) and not break the budget.

We have a little local shop that supports a school, and it’s one of my favorite places to browse. ¬†It is astounding, really. ¬†If I think of something I know I’m going to want, or I pray about a need, it’s not uncommon to find it the next time I visit. ¬†Other times I may keep my eyes peeled longer, but God always provides, one way or another!

Last year when we had a cold snap I realized that C1 needed a real bed quilt instead of the over-sized baby blanket and throws I had layered on his bed.  I started watching for a cotton twin sized bed quilt, and found a Target brand quilt with automobiles on it,  but a couple of the applique`s had begun to pull away so they were only asking $2.00.  This is something I can fix, so I was thrilled and thankful!

Then last winter that annual cold snap hit and I realized C2 also needed a real, bed sized quilt, but I wasn’t find anything.

My own bed quilt was a king sized quilt.  Our bed is a queen, but I like my quilts to hang long and cover the sides of the bed.  The top edge and whole first row of blocks had grown ratty from 12 years of wear, and my husband mentioned how nice it would be to replace it.  It did occur to me that our old quilt, a mix of blocks in the green and brown spectrum, could make a very nice boy blanket.

Sometimes using what you have is the most creative endeavor of all!!

I laid it out on the roomiest floor I could find, and spread C1’s quilt on top for a template, avoiding the ratty side of the old quilt. ¬†C1’s quilt was a little shorter than I like, so I cut C2’s longer so that it will tuck under the bottom of his bunk mattress. ¬†I just cut along¬†the rows and pinned as I went to hold the layers together.

quilt 1

Using a heavy cotton camouflage fabric from Joanne’s, I cut strips and made a binding. ¬†I used this tutorial as a guide to piece the binding and¬†sew it on the quilt. ¬†I’ve done a lot of bindings, but this is my favorite method by far! ¬†The tutorial is clear and easy to follow, and it saved me a lot of time. ¬†I did the whole project in one day.

quilt 2

 

quilt 3

I wasn’t sure I was going to like the camo fabric. ¬†It had the browns like the quilt, but it was a completely different style. ¬†However, when I put the quilt on the bed, I loved it! ¬†The dark browns in the binding match the dark brown of the wood in the bed and make it look like I gave the project more forethought than I actually did. ¬†(Really, I just didn’t find anything I liked better.)

C2 bed

I’d like to do a little woodsy theme in the boys’ room, with stars and some camp inspired decor. ¬†There are old, green and flannel marine sleeping bags on the bottom of the beds for colder nights. ¬†They’re fun to crawl around inside too, if you’re 4 and 6 years old. ¬†ūüôā

Back at the thrift store I found a pair of matching pillow shams for 75 cents that also contribute to this woodsy theme and I’m keeping my eyes open for small stuffed animals that match the sham.

C2 pillow

For $15.00 I replaced my quilt at the Salvation Army. ¬†I still have some camo fabric to make the boys some hot and cold pack/bean bags (if I ever get around to it!) ūüėČ

The best part?  C2 loves his new blanket, and seeing me make it for him makes him feel special too!

How to Make Coconut Water Kefir

In my journey to health I spent a long time eating Body Ecology style, which eliminated some foods, included some lesser known foods, and incorporated proper food combining.   I still apply some of its principles to the meals I prepare for my family.  Body Ecology founder, Donna Gates, highly recommends coconut water kefir.  She sells it on her web site, but being who I am, I opted for affordability and the challenge of making it myself.

Not to be confused with coconut milk, coconut water is found in young green coconuts, before it is replaced with coconut meat.

I was told by a “sample lady” at Costco about one of her customers who had served in the military. ¬†He said that in times of war, when no IV fluid was available, they used straight coconut water in the IV’s of the wounded due its purity and high electrolyte content. Bottled coconut water is not as ideal as fresh, but this is what I have to use.

Kefir 4

Coconut water contains some B vitamins, and is high in potassium and sodium which are good for adrenal health.  It is sweet, as it contains easily digested carbohydrates which is what makes it suitable, temporarily, for kefir grains.

The name Kefir means “feel good” in Turkish. ¬†Kefir contains the essential amino acid tryptophan which helps calm the nervous system and is also used by the body to produce serotonin. ¬†Serotonin affects mood, appetite, digestion, sleep, and memory.

There are two types of kefir grains.  One thrives in milk and the other in sugar water (called water kefir).  I have not made water kefir, though I someday hope to try it.  I already had dairy kefir grains and so I use them to make my coconut water kefir.  If you have an allergy or intolerance to milk, you may want to use water kefir.

A mixture of live yeasts and bacteria, kefir grains digest sugars in the beverage they are added to, fermenting it into a sour but probiotic rich drink.  Combining the coconut water and kefir gains you the benefits of both, but with less natural sugars.  It provides good bacteria to populate your gut where most of your immune system resides and it improves digestion along the way.

Kefir 1

Here you can see my kefir grains have been busy turning this milk into a thick kefir. They tend to float up toward the top.

I use a plastic mesh strainer that came with the Kefir Kit I bought from Cultures From Health to rinse my grains.  Never use metal with your kefir grains.  Use a plastic strainer, but store your grains in glass so that your kefir does not leach chemicals from the plastic.

Kefir 3

When I wash the grains under cool water, I use a wooden spoon or clean hands to rinse the milk off as best as possible.

Because milk kefir grains thrive in milk, it is important not to keep them out for too long. They do not convert the coconut water as quickly as they do milk.  The grains will float up and down in the liquid.  Milk kefir is ready to consume 12-24 hours after adding grains, depending on how thick and how sour you want it.  I leave my kefir grains in coconut water between 2-3 full days.  I often do 2 batches in a row so my fridge is stocked and then I promptly put the grains back into milk for one or two cycles to make sure they are fed well and strong before placing them back into the refrigerator to store.  If they spend too much time in the refrigerator they will lose their ability to ferment.  As long as I give mine a couple of days in milk on the counter every two or three weeks they are fine.

Kefir 6

Once your coconut water kefir is done fermenting, strain the grains out and add to a clean glass container to either make more coconut water kefir or refresh with milk. Store your finished products in the refrigerator.

Drink 1/4 cup in your Plexus Slim for a lemonaidy taste or with meals for better digestion.  My little ones beg to drink it anytime as they are accustomed to sour flavors and enjoy them.  I love this since I know I am giving them something that will protect their immune system and benefit them in many ways.

Are you ready to add this to your wellness routine?

If you do not already have kefir grains, or don’t know anyone who can share (they multiply over time) you can order a starter from Cultures For Health. ¬†The grains come dehydrated with detailed directions on rehydrating and using. ¬†The website also has many video tutorials and recipes for using their cultured products.

If you would like to read about more of the health protecting benefits of kefir, Dr. Axe has a good article.

If you plan to make a boosted rice sourdough starter, this coconut water kefir is what I used to create the starter.  Look for instructions in a future post!

Can you use milk kefir grains to make kefir from coconut milk? ¬†Umm, yes. ¬†I did it once with canned coconut milk. ¬†It worked. ¬†It was also one of the few things that ever made me gag! ¬†ūüėČ ¬†So, you can try it if you want to. ¬†Maybe you will like it better than I!!

My Journey to Health & Weight Loss, Part 2

 

Journey to health part 2

To Read Part 1, visit HERE.

I think it was some time during month 2 of dietary changes that I decided to add back in the meat and proteins that I had removed to follow the detox diet.  I used a salad plate for meals instead of a dinner plate, and continued to eat gluten free and sugar free.  There were no frills to my food, you know?  Just the basics: meats, grains, fruits and vegetables,  and with the Slim I wasn’t really hungry a lot of the time.  I continued to steadily lose weight, but more slowly than the first month.  I was able to dig out tubs of clothes that had been packed away for years, and it was like Christmas finding pretty an things that fit.  I felt less sloppy when I looked in the mirror.  I was standing up straighter, sleeping better at night, the natural practitioner I checked in with said my blood sugar levels were amazing, and my brain fog was lifting.  I didn’t remember ever having so much energy.

{11 weeks of gluten free, 10 weeks of Plexus Slim}

Years earlier, when I was pregnant with our first baby, I had researched an education in natural health, but it had not been feasible at that time, and over the years and our growing family I had forgotten that dream.  Now that passion began to rekindle, and my husband and I started discussing the possibility of me taking some classes in order to help our family instead of paying someone else.

I decided to get my feet wet.¬† One class, I decided, to see if I could really do this school thing, and find out if I liked it as much as I thought I would.¬† It was a block class that was held for long hours, several days in a row, and I had to travel away from my family to do it (which if you know us–it is a huge thing).¬† The class was on Enzymes and the part they play in our bodies, and I loved it.¬† I had learned just enough over the years, because of my own research and experimentation, to understand what the instructor was explaining and it made sense‚Ķ a LOT of sense.¬† I was never going to look at nutrition the same way, ever!

I came home from that class armed with knowledge and a whole lot of enzymes!¬† I started giving them to our family with every meal, and tackled the job of changing our children’s diets.¬† I switched them to a primarily gluten free diet.¬† I worked the refined sugar out of their diets, too. ¬†Within 6 months I noticed many of the health quirks each child had suffered were resolving… gone was bloat, dark circles under eyes, immune function improved and they stopped catching EVERY bug that went around, my husband’s heart burn went away and he was able to stop using kombucha after every meal, and the list is LONG.

Even with the Plexus Slim and dietary changes, I had continued to have soreness in my knees which had persisted since 6 weeks following that fateful tick bite and rash.  Applying the knowledge I had gained about enzymes, this pain now went away.

My husband and I began planning for my continuing education. ¬†I felt like God was propelling me forward, and my confirmation was my husband‚Äôs persistence in sending me despite the fact he hardly sleeps when I am gone, so this was a huge deviation from the norm. ¬†People started sharing with me on a regular basis about their struggles with Lyme Disease, even people I didn‚Äôt know‚ÄĒit appeared epidemic and I felt a burden to help others.¬† By the end of that first year, I completed certification as a ‚ÄúNatural Health Professional‚ÄĚ.

I had been sharing Plexus Products with other people.¬† I genuinely wanted to see others attain better health, and I felt that sharing Plexus products could be part of that journey for others while helping me pay for my own products.¬† However, people are creatures of habit and we tend to take the easiest path. ¬†So many wanted a product to do it all for them, wanted immediate results, and weren’t willing to make long term lifestyle changes to see that come about‚Ķ in addition, because Plexus is structured as a multi-level marketing company I was concerned that people I might really be able to help as a practitioner may avoid visiting me for fear I would just try to sign them up in my downline. ¬†I stopped sharing about Plexus.¬† I pulled back.¬† I experimented with what I had learned~ one can gain a lot of practical experience working with a large family.¬† ūüėČ

6 months into my own Plexus experience I discovered I was pregnant and stopped taking Slim with the intention of going back to it after the first trimester.  I suffered an early miscarriage.

My husband and I have committed our family planning to the Lord, and I knew another pregnancy was possible. Having lost a total of 50 pounds, I was comfortable with my weight and my body for the first time ever. God had been changing my heart in amazing ways. ¬†He had used the difficulties of this season in my life to teach me to look to Him alone instead of looking to others for answers and approval. My “why” became completely focused on pleasing Him and being available to walk in His will.

I made the decision not to go back on the Slim, but to take time to evaluate where my health was without it.  My goal was not to need it.

Great progress had been made in rebuilding my health, but when I stopped taking Slim my energy plummeted again.  The rule of thumb for any practitioner working with someone who suffers from nutritional deficiencies and needs to rebuild their bodies is that after applying appropriate changes, it will take 3 months PLUS 1 month for every year an individual has lived with the deficiency for their body to regain proper balance.  In addition, the body picks its own order of priority.  The symptom you want to eliminate is often not the first thing to resolve.  The tick bite had been a catalyst to my making appropriate changes, but my health had been a struggle since I was in grade school, and I had been diagnosed with Environmental Illness and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as a young adult. 6 months of doing things right had only reached back 3 years in my health history.  I had a LOT further to go.

In my studies, I kept reading about the importance of proper food combining over and over.  Grrr.  This was another change I really didn’t want to make, but after it popping up in my studies so often, I began to feel like God was beating me over the head with it.  So, I obeyed.  Eventually I found the best platform for doing this was by following a Body Ecology Diet.  This diet is also good for controlling candida, which was a plus I needed.

In addition to food combining, my goals were to increase nutrition and decrease empty calories.  I made sprouts and learned how to cook some new foods, including coconut water kefir and kimchi.

I quickly became pregnant again, and this time I miscarried at 12 weeks.  It was a heart break and emotionally draining, and I also bled heavily which caused symptoms of severe anemia.  I continued to eat right, packing in the nutrients, and paid special attention to iron rich foods.  I took Maca Root, an adaptogen that slowly and gently aided my stamina and is good for hormones and reproductive health.  It is nutrient dense and rich in essential fatty acids.  As a result of the healing that continued to take place in my body, over the course of the next 6 months I slowly lost an additional 10 pounds.

Education wise, I really felt that I had barely scratched the surface of what I should learn, and so I continued studying and my family sacrificed to send me to more classes.  I became a Health Kinesiologist, and it changed our lives.  It will take a whole post to share exactly what that is, but I can start by sharing that the allergies that we have suffered with our whole lives are becoming a thing of the past as I take time to do the corrections.  Candida overgrowth is gone.  I have absolutely no residual symptoms of any tick borne illness.  HK is also a wonderful tool to aid emotional healing and the physical symptoms that can be a tied to emotional distress as our body, mind and spiritual health are intertwined.

God blessed us with a beautiful baby girl who is now 17 months old, and she is a lively, mischievous and healthy sweetheart.  God’s grace is abundant.

19875274_10214033868028727_5098794248412999304_n

I am 3.5 years into this health journey: 3 months plus a month for every year takes me back to those grade school years when my original health issues began in earnest.  I am following a ketogenic diet and am aware that a lot of detoxification has been happening… this has been something I have known I needed to do for a long time, and I believe it may be the last major step in healing.  I recently decided to try Plexus Slim again as Plexus has improved the formula and I wanted to rebuild muscle.  It’s still a great product, and yet I am grateful that I have not noticed any marked change in my energy.  I don’t NEED Plexus products to feel good anymore, though I know they are a beneficial product for my health.  The chronic fatigue that I have lived with since childhood is GONE, Praise the Lord!

God answers prayer.  I’m still studying.  Still learning.  I believe I always will.

God is the Master Healer.

The heart of man plans his way, but the¬†Lord¬†establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Whatever it is you may be struggling with, ask Him what to do and then listen carefully… pursue Him, expect to feel a little nudge, and then buckle up. ¬†His plan is always bigger than anything you and I can imagine. ¬†God NEVER wastes pain. ¬†He will never waste any experience you go through if only your submit your plans to Him.

Even the most difficult experiences we feel that we may barely survive are, as Ann Voskamp calls them, “Hard Grace”, but grace nonetheless.

He takes our impossible and turns it into glory.

glo¬∑ry–

noun: glory
1.  high renown or honor won by notable achievements.

synonyms:renown, fame, prestige, honor, distinction, kudos, eminence, acclaim,  praise

2.  magnificence or great beauty.                                                                                                          synonyms: magnificence, splendor, resplendence, grandeur, majesty, greatness, nobility   {a thing that is beautiful or distinctive; a special cause for pride, respect, or delight.}

3.   praise, worship, and thanksgiving offered to a deity.

My Journey to Health and Weight Loss

My Journey to Health and Weight Loss copy

I was at a garage sale recently, pumped to find a cache of 50 cent fancy flip flops that I could pick from for my big girls, when conversation with the home owner turned to just that: all my girls… AND boys!

‚ÄúYou have 8 kids!‚ÄĚ she exclaimed, ‚ÄúAnd you look like THAT?!?‚ÄĚ

I have to say, it was a pretty flattering change.  I have found a hobby that I enjoy more than food…finding beautiful, small, and incredibly cheap clothes that fit me nicely by shopping thrift stores and garage sales, because for years my wardrobe size was the only small thing about me.  I was overweight and I didn’t want to invest in clothes that I was sure I would not fit for much longer… I desperately wanted to lose the excess pounds.

I was a size 8-10 when I got married.  I had a slender waist and curvy hips, but even back then I was not comfortable in my own skin.  Some kid in the 6th grade had made a comment about the size of my hips and thighs after PE hour in the school pool, and the blissful age of innocent self-awareness ended, ushering in decades of painful self-consciousness.  I was never happy with my body.  Eventually, during my high school years, I drank a Diet Coke in lieu of lunch and began the horrible practice of purging when I felt guilty for eating anything I worried would negatively impact my weight.  By the grace of God I watched a movie about the Carpenters, and was touched by the story of how Karen Carpenter died young because of the damage her body sustained as a result of her eating disorders.  I was convicted that my body was the holy Temple of God, and that I was harming myself, and by this awareness God rescued me from these damaging habits.  And yet, I still did not like my body.

During my first pregnancy I followed recommended dietary recommendations of that time and gained a whopping 40 pounds.  Precious #1 was a year old when I lost it all plus some, and was almost happy with my body for the first time.  I followed The 7 Day Miracle Detox Diet for a whole year and was smallest I had ever been in my adult life.  Then Precious #2 came along and I gained another 40 pounds, only this time I became pregnant again when she was only 8 months old, and I had not lost all the pregnancy weight.  4 more pregnancies, retaining some weight from each one, found me the mother of 7 and very overweight.

I hated the way I looked.  I hated the way I felt.  And then there was a tiny tick bite that caused a rash, joint pain and began to cause numbness in my feet, throwing my health (which was already challenged) into a tail spin.  When a doctor told me that my precious baby (#7) would inherit the bacteria that was making me sick through my breast milk, I thought I was going to lose it.  I was afraid.  And I was desperate for answers. I prayed without ceasing.

An antibiotic cleared up the numbness that had been coming on in my feet, but it did nothing for the exhaustion and joint pain I struggled with daily.  Instead, the antibiotics instigated new symptoms, like bruising easily, my hands began hurting, and candida soared.  That, coupled with growing brain fog, had me wondering if I should stop home schooling.  To add to depressing, the trip to the doctor who gave me the antibiotic revealed that my home scale (which was 17 years old) was off by 20 pounds which meant I was more overweight than I even knew.

We began to see a natural practitioner who was giving us drops which she said would eventually clear up our symptoms, but a couple of months and too many dollars later, I noticed no improvement.

I knew several people who had been diagnosed with tick borne illnesses, and their doctor had recommended that they cut all sugar and gluten from their diets.¬† I had spent several years completely revamping our recipes to low sugar and wheat free sourdough (spelt), and in many ways our family ate very healthy‚ÄĒbetter than others we knew.¬† I felt so bad, I didn‚Äôt think I had the energy to learn a whole new way of cooking, nor did I want to cook one way for me and another way for my family.¬† I had been doing that for years in order to deal with our various food allergies, and how exhausting!¬† To be honest, I really rebelled against changing my diet again, but desperation would eventually win out.

About this time our pastor asked our entire congregation to fast for two days and to pray for direction for our young church.  I was not sure I could do it, but the more I considered it, the stronger I felt the Lord was prompting to go ahead.  Baby boy was eating solid food and so I did the fast, and at the same time I made the commitment that when the fast was complete I would go back, for a time, to following The 7 Day Miracle Detox Diet.  It would be challenging, but it would be sugar-free and gluten-free.  After all, my body was God’s temple, and I owed it to Him to give Him my best, right?

During the fast I prayed for our church, but I also prayed for personal direction.  The fear and the panic melted away and I developed a new found strength rooted in faith that no matter how difficult this health challenge, God was going to be faithful to carry me through.  I read a book called The Uncommon Woman by Susie Larson.  In it, she shared how she had been very ill as a result of Lyme Disease and that during a low period God indicated to her that He was going to heal her, and He did. I was just overwhelmed reading that, and the tears came.  I felt the Holy Spirit’s peace, indicating that this was a personal promise, and I held on to it.

During the fast, I was surprised at how much better I felt.¬† A home-school group mom contacted me on Facebook and began telling me about a product called Plexus Slim which had helped her recover from year‚Äôs long symptoms she had suffered from Ehrlichiosis, another tick borne illness.¬† It had taken several months, but she felt it had been worth it.¬† The product was expensive, but it came with a 60 day warranty.¬† I hemmed.¬† I hawed.¬† And then finally, after discussing it with my husband, I decided to try it.¬† I wanted to feel better. The cost of not doing it and remaining ill seemed far more steep than the actual price tag.¬† One of the other ‚Äúside effects‚ÄĚ of using Plexus Slim was weight loss, and if that happened it would definitely be a welcomed, though I tried not to think about that in the beginning.

 

 

{This is me, the Day I started Taking Plexus Slim, sick and overweight.}

 

I had lost 4 pounds during the fast and the 2 days following, but I was suffering from headaches and body aches from the detox that was occurring.  I have known for years that I have a liver detox pathway that doesn’t work efficiently, so detoxification is hard for me.  My body tends to take the easy path which is to hold on to toxins, and so detoxification has to be deliberate and it often makes me sick.   When I started using the Plexus Slim the normal ill feelings I experienced with detox went away, my back pain faded, and even some of the little issues I had lived with since childhood (and assumed I always would) went away.  The Slim tasted good.  It is a powdered drink sweetened with stevia and Lo Han extract (Keto friendly) that you mix in water and drink, not as a meal replacement, but 30 minutes before breakfast.  I looked forward to the sweet drink every day, but more than that I looked forward to the extra energy I began to experience.  And to top it all off, I lost 15 pounds that first month.

 

You can find the rest of my story in Part 2!

The Results of June’s 30 Day Fitness Challenge

Someone mentioned renewing our vows. ¬†I don’t remember who. ¬†And then my husband surprised me by acting interested in the idea.

“Does your wedding dress fit you?” he asked me.

“I imagine it does,” I told him, “after all, I weigh less now than I did when we got married. ¬†He made a comment about it being flattering to him that 20 years and 8 children later, his wife still fit in her wedding dress.

But then I tried it on… and despite my lower body being smaller than ever, the upper half was not proportioned the same, and I could not zip it. ¬†Add additional insult to my pride, hubby had been pointing out to me that even though I was thin, he couldn’t feel muscle tone, especially in the lower half. ¬†He was suggesting, more and more often, that I start exercising.

His persistent suggestion was made out of loving concern. ¬†Several years ago he was concerned about how my weight could lead to health problems. ¬†He was right then of course, and he was right this time too, but I was busy and didn’t feel like figuring out how to fit exercise into my schedule. ¬†I was becoming increasingly annoyed by his suggestion.

And then, when teaching on the Fruit of Self Control, I asked the women how they were exercising self control in the area of diet and exercise, and conviction began to seep into my heart. ¬†Sure, my diet was impeccable. ¬†But the exercise… Every time I became annoyed with my husband’s loving suggestion, I knew I had a heart issue. ¬†And so I decided to kill two birds with one stone. ¬†I would exercise, and get back into that wedding dress!!

My goal: To tone up and rebuild muscle, to target belly fat, and get back into my wedding dress by our anniversary at the end of the summer.  This gave me 3 months to reach my goal, and I would do it one 30 Day Fitness Challenge at a time!

What I did:
* 30 DAYS OF EATING LOW CARB. I have been doing this since February, but I really reigned it in and recorded what I was eating so I kept my macros where they belonged. On week three I did a 5 day egg fast to give my liver a break and turn up the burn.
Week 4 I remembered how great green tea is for flushing toxins and cellulite, so I drank a ton since I love tea anyway!

* EXERCISED 6 DAYS A WEEK (when I was not previously exercising at all). I was faithful in this!
Week One: 2 miles with Leslie Sansone, different miles to target different areas each day, but pretty consistently doing the mile for belly.
Week 2: Walked 3 miles a day with Leslie, targeting different areas each day,
Week 3: Saved Leslie for days I couldn’t get out and began walking 3 miles (4 days a week) outdoors, up and down hills. ¬†and began doing 2 days of T-Tap, which is a 55 min. work out.
Week 4: Same as Week 3

* I drank the new Plexus Slim every morning upon waking, mixed with coconut water kefir… because:
* I’ve noticed that when I use Slim I target more fat and preserve more muscle, and muscle is what this was all about.
* It contains nutrients that aid in detox, and boy was I flushing toxins (yay!!)
* It contains yummy pre-biotics which nourish friendly gut bacteria which are foundational to immune support, mood, the manufacture of many vitamins in the gut, digestion, pH, keeping harmful bacteria and parasites under control, staying thin, and more…
* It supports my adrenals, and I’m working hard!
Oh, and I’m also taking Plexus Probio5 at night, a probiotic that also targets and cleans up the “bad” bacteria.

The result:
**My fasting blood sugar level this week was 78! Fantastic!!!**

I lost:
1/2 inch above each knee
1 inch on each thigh
1 inch in my hips
1/2 inch in the belly
1 inch in my waist

I lost 6 pounds! I totally did not expect that as I was aiming to build muscle, and it weighs more than fat!

I dropped a pant size, which I didn’t think was possible. My lower half has never been so small. Wish I could say the same about the abdomen!
Hubby can feel muscle, yay! And I can SEE muscle

 

And as you can see from pictures, I can zip and button my wedding dress! But as you can also see, it’s a little tight, as evidenced by the creases in the waist.

So what’s next? Another 30 days. Same diet, same Plexus products, and same basic exercise routine. I’m adding in some weights, Theresa Tapp’s flat belly exercise every morning, and some exercises to strengthen the diastasis recti.

My goals?
* To loosen that waist on the wedding dress so that it fits just right. Our kids are already planning our vow renewal.
* To continue to build and shape muscle, particularly in the arms this month. Hubby is officiating a wedding mid July. I have a sleeveless dress and want to knock his socks off!
* Continue to target that stubborn upper belly fat. That stuff is bad news. I gained with during my pregnancy with Precious #4 when I started drinking soy milk!! And by the time I realized the soy wagon wasn’t a good thing to join, it was too late for my belly. This fat contributes to the inflammatory “dis-eases”, and produces hormones I don’t want going on! So, banish the belly fat! ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† * ¬†Increase my bone density
* Enjoy doing some thrift shopping and garage sale-ing to find some fancy pants that fit.

Taking care of my body is not only a privilege, but also my responsibility. ¬†God gave me one body with which to serve Him. ¬†I never want to miss out on walking into good works He has prepared in advance for me to do because I didn’t take stewardship of my health seriously.

30 more days…Who wants to join me? As Theresa Tapp likes to say, “YES, you CAN!!!”

If you would like to learn more about Plexus products and how they can help you on your wellness and fitness journey, please let me know. ¬†I’d be happy to help in any way I can.