Legacy

Last night, after prayer time, this midnight conversation was in my head & heart, so I wanted to get it on paper today.  Often times we talk about being Christ-like. What does that really look like? It’s beyond bumper stickers, crosses on our walls, working in church ministries, or speaking Christianese.

So many times people rush through life trying to hang on for dear life or climb to the top rung of the ladder & completely neglect the weightier matters. Matthew 23:23 defines this as justice, mercy & faithfulness. Many of our races to survive or succeed neglect most, if not all, of those. Some people feel being the best parent they can be; supporting their spouse in the most dedicated measure or simply being a good human is their life goal. Others believe that is degrading & are constantly striving for more. There should never be judgement from either category towards the other.  The last time I noticed, what we choose to define personal happiness & purpose wasn’t a competition! And….it was just that…..personal.

During raw, emotional prayer time before God I realized & confessed to sounding so double minded it was if I had alternate personalities. I think I would give Sybil a run for her money.  Yes, I just dated myself, but……. it’s OK! Being single for 23 yrs has presented a plethora of challenges; obstacles; unbelievable circumstances; tears; fears; anger; uncertainty; doubt; rejection; repetitive failures;  defeat; victories; triumph; success; & miracles. The most important factor of all,  faith in an unseen God who holds my future.

Numerous times I’ve prayed that I wanted a husband & other times I’ve been beyond happy not to risk having another possible heartache or having to answer to anyone for anything.  My dog, Sven, is all the responsibility & accountability I want! Then I want someone else to make decisions because I’m tired of making them. But… what if he’s not making the right decisions?? What if he’s a worse procrastinator than I?  What if…..

hear my cry o God

I clearly don’t need to be rescued, but sometimes want to be, but don’t want to appear weak or appear as a damsel in distress. Can someone just fill up my tank with gas & wash my car??? Or…..help me unload the groceries??? The simplest decisions & activities really suck sometimes. How can God answer any of my prayers when I’m so wishy-washy??? My pride or time honored independence totally creeps in wreaking havoc on my humility!  I can just picture God probably scratching His head wondering, “What in the world does she really want?!?!?!?!” At any given moment He could be directing angels to act on my behalf only to have to call them back to wait…….. I’m so thankful He knows what’s best for me regardless of my fickle mindedness!

In 2009 I was sitting on my love seat petting & talking to Marshall, my son’s Cairn Terrier. The conversation with Marshall happened after talking to a friend having marital problems.  I admitted to Marshall I didn’t want to deal with any of that stuff ever again. My life was complete & for that I was extremely thankful. If I felt the need to fill a void, all I needed was a dog!  Marshall loved that idea!  A dog would love me unconditionally; be happy when I returned home; make attempts to please me; offer emotional support; provide companionship; allow me to spoil them rotten; & most of all…..never question my loyalty to it. Perfect!  Marshall proved all this while patiently & lovingly enjoying his time of being petted.  Notice a pattern? There was more focus on me being happy with the current situation rather than waiting for someone else to make me happy.

Suddenly….. I had a stark revelation that, for the first time after being single 15 years, I was content in my state of singleness. It was a very painful, yet surreal moment. My best friend, Kayline would tell me, “You’ll find love when you’re not looking.” I used to become incensed that she would say that & finally asked her never to tell me that again. I was always looking for love! I loved the union of marriage. I immediately called Kayline to apologize & ask her to forgive me for being a tyrant when she’d mention that. I could honestly tell her I was content & not specifically looking.  The morning after my stark revelation, on my way to church, I made a pact with God.  If I could fulfill my purpose & complete my destiny as a single woman, then I would happily live the rest of my years contently single. If said purpose & destiny could only be completed joined with a husband, then I would trust God would direct our paths to meet. According to simple math, that was 8 yrs ago.  I haven’t stopped pursuing my purpose or just sat around for a mate to suddenly appear.  This reminds me of a famous quote:

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. -Theodore Roosevelt

What do I really want? Besides giving angels whiplash??? In this raw prayer time I determined exactly what I truly wanted. To leave a beautiful legacy just as Jesus did. To be servant minded; a cheerleader for the underdog; be civic minded within my community; love the unloving; participate in social justice; be present & involved more in with my loved ones; be supportive & influential to those walking the same path I’ve walked. To be sincerely Christ-like, not perfect. I simply want to leave a legacy. Like the words of one of my favorite Nicole C. Nordeman’s song…..

I want to leave a legacy,
 How will they remember me?
 Did I choose to love? 
 Did I point to you enough?
 To make a mark on things
 I want to leave an offering
 A child of mercy and grace 
 Who blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy.

Regardless of my state of contentment with my relationship status, when the time comes, I want to hear His voice welcoming me home. Simple. Clear. Precise. Decisive. Unwavering.

What does your raw prayer time look like? What have been some surreal moments for you? What type of legacy would you like to leave? Please share!

Blessings,

g

Happy Mother’s Day ’17

Happy Mother’s Day to YOU!! I love Bible Journaling (others, not mine!!) so I’m adding some of my favorite scripture passages for you! A couple may be the same scripture,  but I love the different artistic concepts. 

As a single mom of 23 yrs., now empty nester of 7, my heart always gravitates toward single mothers. I do admire & respect single dads equally, but afterall….I am female & this is Mother’s Day, so please don’t think I’m purposely leaving you guys out!! Each day has the potential to present rewards & challenges. Some days you are the best friend; confidant; coolest neighborhood hangout; the styling & profiling everyone’s favorite! Other days or often even within the same day you can be labeled as the hateful boundary maker; wicked witch; rude; mean; disinterested; uninvolved; clueless; old fashioned troll. 

No one knows or comprehends the sacrifices made. Between juggling the finances of your one income; balancing the emotions of anxiety, stress, depression, or sanity; fighting with ex-spouses regarding child support & visitation; making sure food & everyday necessities are adequate; school uniforms & supplies are purchased; being the chaperone; nurse; teacher; coach; mentor; spiritual advocate; mediator; counselor; chef; handyman; lawn care provider; mechanic & let’s not forget……veterinarian. That sounds like a lot, but in all honesty, there’s probably some duties left out. Multiply all those tasks times the number of children one has & you’ve just taken multi-tasking to a whole nutha level. 

I look back on my early days of being a single parent & can’t even fathom how my kids or I survived. The only way to describe it is, ”Except for Grace!” Once someone told me I functioned in a perpetual survival mode mentality & I guess they were right. In my eyes, it was far better than being a co-dependent; weak minded; vulnerable; victim who easily surrendered or cowered to the weight of responsibility.  I’m not being judgemental of anyone, but this is a polar opposite description of what I was. I sincerely didn’t know any other way. I worked as a nurse & had four jobs. Add juggling four work schedules on top of all the duties listed above & I should’ve been a robot. Because I could make more money per hour by working options such as Per Diem, Float Pool or Agency, I chose this option over being a staff nurse in an attempt to make ends meet. I also worked some travel nurse & strike assignments out of state. Ends never seemed to meet, but… This also meant I had zero medical benefits & if I didn’t work, I didn’t get paid. My son developed asthma at fifteen months old. He was in & out of the hospital, often Pedi ICU for status asthmaticus attacks or pneumonia. Once divorced, making sure he always had meds & keeping him out of the hospital was the ultimate goal. His pediatrician used to lecture me on the lack of insurance benes, but he soon learned it was a futile attempt.  He also learned & later appreciated that I knew every trigger, early onset warning signs of impending attacks & exactly what the best method of treatment was for him to quickly recover. When he got sick, taking off work to nurse him back to health always meant there’d be a reduction in income & jeopardizing my job security. None of that mattered. His health & well being was my number one responsibility.  Add this to the ongoing list of dealing with school situations & honestly just typing this gives me a headache!! You see, not only was I a single parent, but I had no familial safety net because both of my parents were deceased. My daughter was eleven years older than my son & she was a fabulous resource.  She was an amazing daughter, excellent student, teachers favorite, was taught household responsibilities at age nine & loved kids. She used to beg to not be the only child. Although he referred to her as the ”Drill Sargent” I can’t tell you how fortunate I was to have a brilliant; mature; responsible; reliable; low-maintenance; trustworthy child who didn’t add drama to our fragile world. Don’t get me wrong,  it wasn’t always her favorite thing to do & she often reminded me he wasn’t her son, but….Everyone pitches in & there’s sacrifice at every level. We were a family & that’s what families do. Now she’s a single mom & trust me, she’s in my daily prayers. 

Fast forward to 2017 & the world has evolved exponentially adding even more pressure & responsibilities for single parents. Just the technological advancements & addition of social media alone has altered the single family nucleus significantly. Staring at tiny screens has replaced looking into the eyes of tiny faces. It’s supposed to help is stay in constant contact, but oh my goodness the drama!! Then….the changes, requirements & expectations within the educational system alone makes me dizzy. My grandkids are soaring, but to be honest, I’m so thankful to have all that behind me! 

I’ve said this before & it bears repeating. The struggles I endured, whether self inflicted or just happenstance, made me who I am today. The lessons were often repeated until learned, but I grew from them. It is hard. It isn’t fair. It is lonely. It is sad. It is frustrating beyond measure. It is extremely & unbelievably exhausting. It is confusing.  It is heartbreaking.  It is sometimes moment by moment devastation. It is cruel. It will cause you to discover or develop layers of emotions you’ve never even dreamed could co-exist in one human. You can do it! It isn’t easy, but I can now tell you it’s worth it. 

Many of my friends have watched their children succumb to various addictions; become involved in tumultuous affairs; develop relationships with the wrong influences; become estranged; never find themselves outside of their parents circle of provision; attempt to take their own lives or have even lost their children at an early age. I thank God on a daily basis for my family. Through all my mistakes, misunderstood tough love & some right decisions they are beyond amazing.  I treasure & love spending time with them. I used to pray for God to at least let me live long enough to make sure they were alright.  This was selfish & conceded because He’s the only one who could do that.  I’m just an earthly guide. I can honestly say…. they are more than alright. 

Some of my single parent friends have just experienced watching their children graduate from high school, begin college or even get married. It’s an entirely new season & portion of your journey. Take a deep breath, look at yourself in the mirror & say, ”Good job Mom!” Embrace the moments ahead & be thankful for every step. Please remember…. you are never alone.  

Blessings, 

g



And so it begins!!

Many of you know I’m ready to put down roots in San Antonio so…​the home buying process has begun!! One of my neighbors is selling her house & wanted me to look at it today. It’s a small 2br / 1 1/2 ba; living room with a fireplace & built ins; original wooden floors with ceramic tile in kitchen & bath; huge walk-in pantry; a bonus room; located on a corner lot with decent sized, well established shaded yard with some of my fav plants & trees. Favs as in crape myrtles; mountain laurel; desert willow; oak; pecan; bamboo; pittosporum; agave; prickly pear type cactus; purple jew; jasmine; firecracker plant; roses; privet hedge & more.That was just my quick glance inventory!  

Mountain Laurel

I think every room in the house was painted the colors I’ve used to paint past houses, especially my house in Libuse.  Exact same colors! My neighbor is very artsy & eclectic. She did the coolest thing to the kitchen ceiling by hanging assorted vintage, various sized lamp shades across the entire ceiling. She wasn’t even taking them down! 

The house desperately needs updating & the only major room is the kitchen. It actually had a fireplace that had been covered with sheetrock. I went gaga over that thought! Master bedroom & half bath needs to be resituated, but that’s an easy fix. Plenty of room on the enclosed front porch will accommodate that change. The roof is brand new & foundation was worked on last year.  It’s built on a hill backing up to the railroad tracks meaning it’s low in the front & very high in the back. Also that the nearest back door neighbor is in the Alta Vista neighborhood across the tracks.  She’s lived there 14 years; has always felt safe; knew all her neighbors & has moved a street over. That’s really what you want to hear. The City just upgraded the corner portion of the yard installing nice, textured, raised sidewalk entry points.  

Here’s a kicker… the dryer was outside under the house & of course I had to see the back yard too!  We walked down the outside stairs & underneath the bonus room where she opened a door that I thought was a utility room. She turned on a light & it was a regular storage type room & then the entire underneath of the house. I kinda freaked & froze in my tracks. It’s the same reaction I have to dark water in swimming pools. A stop-breathing kinda thing!! I explained the reason for my sudden halting; regained control of my emotions; took my phone; turned on my flashlight & it was very cool. Most of the beams/piers of the house were literally cedar trees cut to fit. Seriously original to the house & they’re still good!  The actual enclosed room area was large & tall enough to finish out as a legitimate room. I immediately thought it’d be great storage for ferms! The rest of the underneath space was fair for quite a bit of distance & a workspace would be awesome. And….. it was the perfect dog space for fosters. They would be in their own condo protected from the elements! When we began walking back out, the dryer was situated under the back stairs, but there’s plenty of room to create a real laundry room upstairs.

You can already imagine that my creative senses were off the chart!! In my mind, I’ve already knocked down walls; uncovered the kitchen fireplace if for no other reason than to have a gorgeous textured wall; created a laundry room & pantry; repainted every room neutral colors; installed new ceilings; trimmed bamboo; put up Sven escape-proof privacy fencing & automatic opening entry gate…….. 

It’s technically a few minutes closer to work & definitely closer to the Pearl. But….. I wanted a property with income potential! 

I definitely need to pray for God to show me His wisdom, guidance & direction. I’ll keep you updated!  

Blessings, 

g

My AIP journey – Week 5

​Just a little background before I begin. Every year I participate in the Daniel Fast for the first twenty one days of the year as a first fruit offering to God for my new year. It’s been my practice for 13 years & I look forward to it. Not only does it give me clarity for important decisions & direction about things God wants for my life,  but it forces me to exercise healthy eating discipline. This year I also participated in a weight loss challenge at work. I’ve purposely resisted the last three challenges, but decided it was time. Once my twenty one days of DF were completed,  I chose to attempt the Autoimmune Protocol diet, or commonly known as AIP. This discipline was more toward eliminating constant neuromuscular pain rather than weight loss, but if that was a side effect,  hey…. I wouldn’t mind. I determined two weeks would be enough & began the journey. The biggest hurdle was not to focus on what I couldn’t eat, but rather the lonnnnnng list of things I could have. I realize some foods trigger intestinal problems & that clearly wasn’t my problem, but nevertheless….. I was all in. Once I got past the first week, I decided two weeks wouldn’t nearly do my body justice.  It’s like the book, Slight Edge says about the one donut not causing long term problems, but a donut a day over time would. I didn’t eat a donut a day or per week or month for that matter, but the foods I was ingesting, over time, led to the current problems I was having. Some, I felt, weren’t relative, but I was so wrong. Two weeks couldn’t begin to help in the measure I needed. 

Yesterday I was talking with a coworker about how much better my body feels since being on AIP. I’ve just completed week five & will continue toward the suggested three month cycle. 

How does this make me feel better?? Primarily I was in constant & continual neuromuscular or fibromyalgia type pain completely unrelieved by up to 2500 mg. of Naproxen Sodium daily. I say ”type pain” because I’ve never been clinically diagnosed,  but as a nurse, I’ve treated hundreds of patients exhibiting fibro symptoms,  so…. I know. The pain was so debilitating, I was to the point of asking my doctor to run tests & put me on meds. Those who know me know this was obviously affecting more than my muscles. It had affected my brain & thought processes because I’m the antichrist of Big Pharma & prefer natural alternative medicine.  

My daily activities, primarily on weekends, were geared around how much walking or standing I would have to do. Shopping was virtually out of the question.  My visits with my family were so anticipated because I miss them dearly, yet I had to psychologically prepare myself to endure the pain. How horrible!  This constant pain began limiting my desire to do anything but stay at home, binge watch TV & that only made things worse. Inactivity only accentuated stiffness & pain, so it was a freaking vicious cycle.  Yet…. my recliner won. Those who know me know I’m not a sloth!  

Also…. I had developed this wheeze that only occurred when I reclined or went to bed. Again….being a nurse…..I was in the process of diagnosing this.  I simply blamed it on being morbidly obese. That’s how the BMI chart defined my weight category. Well… last night I actually noticed it was completely gone. The only pain I have is caused from osteoarthritis, specifically in bilateral knees. The neuromuscular pain has been eliminated.  I won the weight loss challenge in the most pounds lost category & am never hungry. Seriously I am satisfied by sticking to the allowed foods. I must confess I never gave up coffee & the only dairy product I allow is a reduced amount of half & half used in my coffee. I’ve mixed coconut cream with that, so technically I’m not ingesting the normal amounts I typically did. Trust me when I say my psyche had a fit with that adjustment because my coffee had to be a certain cream to coffee color, so…. it’s an ever bigger sacrifice than I expected.  So worth it!  

I am 56. I am even more consciously aware of the natural deterioration of the human body.  I am also more consciously aware of mortality. Constant pain robs me of my zeal for life. I had to overcome the root cause. Even though I ate relatively healthy, some of those foods were greatly exacerbating my pain. I used to love the saying, ”nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” Today I can say that’s only half true. Nothing tastes as good as feeling good feels. I can’t wait to see how I feel after completing the third month. 

If you’re struggling with any type of ailment,  I strongly recommend AIP. Three months of my life to identify & eliminate triggers that cause me to feel absolutely horrible has been the greatest gift I’ve given myself.  It’s totally not giving up anything,  but gaining control & feeling better! 

Blessings, 

g

To die is gain…

​Today is a bittersweet day. 

Today a very sweet, funny, caring, loving friend is dancing with the angels. 

Today my friend of 38+ yrs, Linda Marrie Cheveallier, has looked in the eyes of her Savior. 

Oh the memories!!  Raising our daughters together; sharing joint custody of a friend’s 2 small kids while she attended boot camp; attending a kazillion church services; hours of prayer and small group meetings in my home; cooking; having parties; family get togethers; struggles and much more. Through our friendship,  I became even closer to one of her sisters, Kayline.  I can’t even begin to say how beyond thankful I am of that. 

Linda was big hearted and would do whatever she could to help anyone. Nothing was too small or large for her to contribute to.  She didn’t let too much bother her and was often referred to as ”Scarlett O’Hara ” from Gone with the Wind, because everything could wait and be done tomorrow!  Many, many years ago her next door neighbor had a garage sale. She knew I loved vintage leather suitcases and purchased one for me. Not only was it vintage,  but her neighbor was the librarian from my elementary through junior high school days.  Through the years and what seems like a thousand moves, the suitcase was always moved with me. She was tremendously thoughtful. 

Pearle Slatten 

Years ago, during one of our girlie get togethers at our fav Mexican restaurant, El Reparo, we discussed peri-menopausal symptoms she was having. I begged her to have a thorough checkup and a hysterectomy if necessary.  I know this is a controversial subject for some, but it changed my life, so I speak from experience. I can still remember the details like it was yesterday.  Over time I’d inquire about how her symptoms were and what treatment she had chosen. I’m not certain if a pap smear had been done, but I know a hysterectomy was never an option.

Years later she was diagnosed with advanced ovarian /abdominal cancer. Would a thorough checkup have discovered this? Would a hysterectomy performed years before have prevented this? We can never know for sure. Only God knows the length of our days. 

She fought valiantly through multiple surgeries, chemo, complications from diabetes, and more. Finally the doctors could do no more. Did we pray? Absolutely.  Accepting that death is indeed an answer to prayer is a hard pill to swallow, but we have to believe His infinite mercy is compassion in the finest measure. 

Anytime I thought of her poor prognosis it caused me to just cry without seconds notice. This was completely out of character for me. During my nursing career I’ve experienced hundreds of deaths. I’ve prayed with family members and over patients for God to show His mercy. Many times, death was an answer to prayer as death was kind by ending earthly suffering and misery. Out of character because Heaven is always in my view. Often I’d prayed prayers of salvation with my patients sometimes moments before death. Once I joined forces with a friend praying for a man in ICU who had such a debilitating stroke that all he could do was blink his eyes in agreement to prayer. His daughters literally broke down in tears when I shared the news. They had been concerned for many, many years over the state of his salvation. Again, out of character because coping with death is second nature to me. 

These crying spells continued for several, several weeks and one morning, while getting ready for work, I received a beautiful attitude adjustment.  Through the tears and prayers, the precious Holy Spirit enlightened my eyes and heart to see Linda would be accomplishing everything we believed in. I know that seems very simplistic for someone who claims to keep Heaven in their sights. All those years of praying, believing that Heaven is our reward and greatest accomplishment was going to happen for Linda. I immediately repented for being selfish. Yes selfish.  Selfish about losing a friend and even though we hadn’t seen each other for a few years, she was one of my dearest friends. Selfish about feeling forlorn that she’s the first of my ”sisters” that was leaving. Selfish and maybe even a gut-wrenching, fearful, reality check because we’re so close in age, my own death was iminent.  I became thankful. Thankful that we had amazing times through the good, bad & nightmarishly ugly. Yea, some events require inventing a new word!!! Thankful that through all the years, one constant remained…. seeing our Savior face to face was an ultimate desire. Thankful that my joyful friend was now laughing and finally enjoying immeasurable love, peace and eternal life.  

I pray grace, peace and comfort over Linda’s children, who recently lost their dad to cancer and sadly, a day or so after Linda’s death, also lost their step-mother. Praying for her husband; her family and most of all her sisters, Mary and Kayline. Our pack has lost a member, but I am convinced we will be together again. 

For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. –Philippians 1:21

Blessings,

g

Now serves as my end table!

Fermented foods

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.- Martin Luther King

As a part of Dream Week San Antonio, one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants, Alchemy, hosted Fermentation Evolution featuring Jason Gourlas, PA-C, with the San Antonio Weston Price Chapter. I’m not ignorant to the benefits fermented foods offer, but after this meeting I am convinced I have to drastically change my diet. Fermented foods have been around for centuries & each culture have their own versions. Americans consume chocolate, coffee, cheese, sauerkraut, wine, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, kimchi, miso, kombucha, Yakult, sour cream, tempeh, and other foods considered to be fermented or a result of a particular fermentation process. My personal favorite is Tabasco sauce! Who knew?  I should’ve because it’s produced in my home state & I’ve visited the factory when my son was in 4th grade!  In 2008 I began a journey of eliminating many things from my diet.  These included artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, processed foods, fast foods, powdered coffee creamers, overly processed meats, any Monsanto related foods, and more.  This change came about after watching the documentary, Food, Inc.  Using the terms eye opening or life changing are mere understatements.  Reading the book, The New Wellness Revolution by Paul Zane Pilzer, was another excellent convincing tool.  In times past I have practiced the Raw Food Diet.   I loved this philosophy & my body responded extremely well to it.  After 6 months I began adding certain foods back in.   In the recent several months I began juicing & absolutely loved it.  Again, my body responded very well to this.  Losing weight, not having kankles due to excess salt & having more energy were just a few affects I enjoyed.  I moved out of town & the juicer wasn’t able to make the trip, so I found myself following a healthy lifestyle eating regular foods.  In doing so, I’ve noticed I actually crave smoothies or juicing. I’d like to think my body recognizes the nutritional benefits & prefers this over regular meal choices. I’m fortunate that Central Market juices several amazing blends, so I have access without having the juicer! And I don’t have the guilt of throwing away all that pulp! Actually that’s great for composting. For 13 years I’ve chosen to do the 21 day Daniel Fast.  This is primarily for spiritual reasons setting time aside allowing God to direct me for the upcoming year & praying specifically for certain people.  I so respect this fast as it has been the single most important time in my life to hear clear, precise direction.  Sometimes when I need to make an impactful decision, I will do this type fast for 7-10 days.  I can’t imagine making serious type decisions without it.  Daniel Fast is basically a vegan diet.  I have to confess, I do not follow this 100%, but have realized, through experience, God is more pleased with the fact I’ve chosen to commit some level of self-sacrifice putting His will first rather than chastise me for eating honey or real butter. I always feel better during this time & often hesitate adding normal foods back in.

Before my recent move, I discovered kombucha thanks to a friend who makes her own. I respect her natural food choices, like making her own almond milk, so it caused me to research the benefits of drinking kombucha.  My daughter began buying it & after my move, I did the same.  I have to admit it was pretty cool talking to Kevin, one of the owners of Alchemy, listening as he explained their choices & driving home with a growler of milk oolong kombucha.  The best part is that I’m now addicted to it!  Other than adult beverages, kombucha is primarily the only fermented food I eat.  During my season of juicing, I stopped eating yogurt or kefir.  Now I feel like a total idiot!

Jason titled his presentation, Counter Culture.  One of my favorite quotes was mentioned,

“Let food be your medicine & medicine be your food-Hippocrates.

He explained how epigenetic traits are heritable (can be passed on to your children), are affected by food, sleep, exercise, beliefs, stress, & environment.  He stated every bite of food you take sends a message of health or sickness to your body. The comparison between Traditional vs Standard American Diet (SAD) was beyond enlightening.  I was proud on many levels to have already made significant changes from the SAD toward Traditional.  This almost evened out being an idiot for stopping kefir & yogurt!  Almost!
Learning how fermentation changes food substrates, makes food more nutritious, removes toxins, were just a few of the facts worth learning more about.

“All disease begins in the gut – Hippocrates” has been believed for generations.  I vividly remember my mother forcing a tablespoon of castor oil down our throats should we ever miss school.  This was torture.  Years after I became a nurse & I would almost puke when having to administer a certain bowel prep containing castor oil.  There was no way to mask that smell or memory!  Dysbiosis – overgrowth of bad bugs & not enough good is believed to be the primary cause of most problems.  Small intestine bacteria overgrowth is the primary cause of most problems. A great reference –The Second Brain, Michael Gershon, MD– is going to be one of my reads.  Here is an excerpt from one of his studies on autism. This reference, in itself, was mind boggling.  To think how parallel our gut is to our brain in the context of being able to create, not only messages, but other cellular level products is unbelievable.  Another quote & thought was how the gut relates to mental clarity, depression, mental illness & beyond.

“The primary seat of insanity generally is in the region of the stomach and intestines.- Phillipe Pinel, Father of modern psychiatry, 1807” 

Think about it.  Horrible bacteria forms in the gut releasing toxins which cross over the blood brain barrier………. the cycle is never ending.  Then patients are given meds to reduce the awkward symptoms never addressing the gut issues.  When I took care of patients with the diagnosis of sepsis, 9 out of 10 times, they experienced an altered mental status. This was the first indicator something had to be wrong. Then caretakers noticed the patient had fever. With some patients, fever induces an altered mental status. Fever is our first line defense for fighting infectious processes.   Cellular. Level. Imbalance.  After hearing the symbiotic breakdown of what happens in the gut, it all began making crystal clear sense.

I think one of my favorite research studies Jason shared related to diabetes.  Subjects ingested Kefir, fermented milk products, which resulted in a decrease in Hemoglobin A1c levels.  Fermented milk.  Another discovery was that while Miso in itself is salty, instead of having the effect regular salt does, it is proven to actually reduce liver damage & lower blood pressure. I use Pink Himalayan Sea Salt for this very reason & because it creates an alkaline balance.
I couldn’t help reflect on the age old adage, “You are what you eat.” I know my level of dedication when it comes to “growing” things at home & other than houseplants or pets, I’m non-committal!  I did, however, realize I could make my own kefir.  I’m already in love with this product & knowing I can use it in my daily smoothies made me even happier.  Generally one thinks they have to use raw milk, which is optimal, but because the bacteria makes everything better, I can purchase organic milk to use until I find raw milk.

So…..my ever changing, evolving, lifestyle of eating healthy is now going to include as many natural probiotics as possible.  Jason mentioned while probiotic supplements contain upwards of billions of units of healthy bacteria, fermented foods provide trillions.  To protect my immune system, I take Beta Glucan daily.  When I asked about this particular supplement, he suggested Saccharomyces boulardii, which is obviously many, many, times better.  I can order it from the same place I order my Turmeric Caps & that’s awesome!  In beginning probiotics, it is wise to introduce them into your diet slowly.  After hearing how autism, immune deficiency disorders, psychological disorders, and more can be affected by our diet, I’m convinced the references they provided will be downloaded on my Kindle immediately.  Here are a few:
Nourishing Traditions-by Sally Fallon = recipes
Wild Fermentation  -Sandor Katz
Mother Culture – local San Antonio vendor at Pearl Brewery Market best known for her phenomenal yogurt
Cultures For Health – Starters for Kefir, kombucha, etc.  (use powder for kefir to make it thicker)
Mommypotamus Blog – kid friendly suggestions & recipes using fermented food for children.
Brain Maker – The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal & Protect
Your Brain for Life- book by David Perlmutter
Nutrition & Physical Degeneration – book by Weston A. Price, DDS
Gaps Diet for Autism, Auto Immune Deficiency, etc.

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To change things in your life, you have to change things in your life!  What I ingest is something I can control & choose to change.  In fact, I refuse to refer to it as a diet.  It is my lifestyle. I’ve ordered both kefir & kombucha starter kits. I can’t wait to brew my own & save money in the process!
Blessings on your endeavors in becoming a better YOU!
g

Cast the first stone………

My heart is always in tune to single parents or people striving toward improving their current situation.  Having faced some pretty desperate situations, I completely empathize.  I am careful to observe actions, reactions, choices & habits of others as to determine if the current state is indeed a cyclic behavior pattern or a true emergency.  It thrills me to see changes occur from assisting others with a hand up, not necessarily hand outs.  There is a definite difference & I learned to discern it long ago. While I am sensitive to needs, I am not a bleeding heart.  Compassionate, yet cautious!

Recently an incidence occurred that stirred me to assist.  While discussing it with a friend, I could hear this phrase going over & over in my mind.

Purple ripples

Instead of casting the first stone of judgement, guilt or condemnation,  perhaps we could cast the stone that creates the ripple effect.  

Why not re-frame our thoughts? Instead of thinking, “I can’t believe they’re doing this. I would never……..”  How about asking, “How can I help that person achieve their next goal?”  I understand we live in an instant gratification, self entitlement society.  Everywhere we look, compassion is demanded & repetitively taken for granted.  What if we stop stereotyping everyone into certain categories & truly attempt to ask simple questions?  It’s easier to judge!

Except for the grace of God, I would be in dire straights.  At an early age I chose to get an education in a field that had been my passion since the tender age of 4 years old.  Nursing.  I was the greatest nurse to all our farm animals & they knew I would take very good care of them. So what if it meant getting a “shot” from my moms straight pins!!!  I experienced divorce almost immediately after graduation & that career provided for my family for 26 years.  One choice.  One act of courage.  I refused to let circumstances define me.  Once I moved from LA to TX, I made the decision to leave the nursing field.  I can explain why in hopes you can understand.  The same career that provided for my children also became my crutch when it came to trusting God.  I needed Him in every area of my life except this.  Yes I trusted Him to provide agency, float pool, travel & nursing strike assignments.  I daily prayed for these.  However…….I knew I had a job anywhere. My prayer for others needing employment even began with how grateful I was to have this ability, but……deep down I knew I could make things happen on my own. When God instructed me to move to Texas, I had to know He was my all in all.  I felt like Esther…….if I perish, I perish, but…….I would not resort to putting my hand in the area of nursing for provision.  Many could argue that God did provide that for me through a nursing degree.  I understand that part, but again……I could make things happen.

So…..after moving to Texas & bouncing around a few dead end jobs, I enrolled in a computer course to gain required skills for practically every job I was interested in.  That one act of courage landed a job specifically designed for me during the FEMA Katrina Aid Today Recovery Program as a Corporate Tech Trainer.  Once that program ended, my position was absorbed by the same department & 10 yrs later, I’m still at the same organization. Funny thing…….prior to becoming a Corporate Trainer, I decided to enroll in a local Community College for Grant Writing classes. Instead I was hired & when my Trainer position ended, my new title became Divisional Grants & Program Analyst.  I was trained & currently process grants/contracts in every phase from a statewide position.  I also assist locations submit internal proposals for new programs.  One act of courage to take a computer course, that led to a job, that trained & prepared me for what my initial area of interest was. I must admit the in-between time was a little scary.  Well, a lot scary to be honest!!  Embracing uncertainty is not one of my strengths.  In doing so, I learned fortitude, courage, faith, trust, faith, hope, faith, tenacity & faith!  LOL!   I feel empowered that from here, I could go anywhere.

I give that example because there are many people, like myself, wandering through the valley of decision.  Maybe they’ve decided & their fate is temporarily hanging in the balance of preparation time. It’s not pretty. I learned long ago that regardless of how it appears, preparation time is never wasted time. Remember……we will reap if we faint not!

Many years ago someone believed in me.  Rapides Parish developed a program granting me to be paid minimum wage while attending nursing school.  My computer & career development course was offered through a local organizational grant.  My OJT (on the job training) provided more wisdom & experience than any college course could ever begin to provide. Out of desperation, I acted on every hand up I received. My personal task now is to see how I can pay it forward for others. Before we judge,  I encourage everyone to see how a simple stone in the form of an act of random kindness, creating a ripple effect, could change the course of a family for generations to come.  I love this quote:

natural mother teresa ripples

Except for grace…….

Blessings,

g

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

– 2 Corinthians 1:3-4