Monthly Archives: May 2012

GAPS Intro. Round Two

We are quickly approaching our One-year mark for beginning the GAPS diet. More details of that history are above on the ‘Our Diet’ tab. For months we have felt healthy, strong and stable. There have been minor skin things here and there (we DO live in Congo), but no illness per say.

I have mapped out our next steps or the ‘GAPS Exit Strategy’ as I call it. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride suggests maintaining the diet until you have been feeling good, normal, strong, etc. for at least 6 months. I feel we hit that mark about 6 mos. ago and are nearly at the end of the benefits we can get from GAPS. We worked our way up to high doses of probiotics. And have already worked our way to a normal maintenance dose recently.

So, per her recommendations, we will begin slowly re-incorporating into our menus boiled new potatoes. Then soaked, sprouted, sourdoughs of gluten-free grains. Typically quinoa, buckwheat and millet are good places to start. Sadly, millet is the least tasty and the only one locally available. No buckwheat-farmers in East Africa…

We already eat all vegetables and fruits, meats, nuts and eggs without trouble. James tolerates butter and homemade yogurt well. We have not ventured as far as cheese quite yet. His progress may be different than the rest of us, but I hope our paths don’t need to diverge too much.

I have had some mild tree nut reactions (tingling – no longer the anaphylaxis/run-to-the-hospital) with cashews, but no issues with peanuts or almonds. Cashews and hazelnuts remain on my allergy list, but 5-6 others are OFF! James has had a strange tingling with avocado, so it looks like that one will remain a ‘very occasional’ food. This is more complicated here in Congo where we have 5 trees dropping huge, luscious avocados twice a year. In the US, avoiding avocado will not be difficult for him. Last year he tested positive to some 30 foods. We have yet to challenge all of those, especially the three biggest: wheat, corn, soy.

So the rest of the family is moving forward full speed ahead toward gluten-free sprouted sourdough and potatoes, while James and I still have a few residual things that could use healing. For this reason, I decided it would be beneficial to have the two of us go through GAPS Intro again. There aren’t any major symptoms to clear, we just want a deeper cleanse of our system. So last week I boiled up and froze gallons of bone broth. Monday we hit it hard with soup, soup, soup and tea, tea, tea. We also had wonderful steamed pumpkin. Did I really eat half a small pumpkin?

I am hypothyroid, and have been concerned this time through Intro. that we not go anywhere near ketosis and super low-carb. I have had raw honey in my tea whenever I feel like it and plenty of pumpkin. After only 3 days I’m feeling great! So we’re continuing pretty quickly through the Intro. stages and not really obeying all the rules (like instead of 1 nut butter pancake today, we ate as many as we wanted topped with ghee and raw honey). Maybe I will just declare a soup fast one day of every month. It feels good!

By the end of the week, we will likely be through the Intro. stages and then join the others in trying out potatoes. James will need to try cheese first. Though a couple spots of eczema showed up when we added yogurt. I can’t tell if that is because the yogurt we can make is from nasty dried milk powder or because he really does have issues with dairy. That decision will have to wait until we are back in the US in 6 mos.

James has always had HORRIBLE eczema in Africa. The allergist in the US tested him for all sorts of tropical grasses and the scores were off the charts. Unfortunately, grass in the tropical sun all day pollenates all year round and is airborne. No matter what I plant in the backyard, he would still be constantly reacting. As soon as we return to the US it disappears. The only thing doctors have to look at is all the scar tissue (from the skin on his arms and legs, you’d think he had the chicken pox about 20 times over). But GAPS completely removed his eczema – In. Africa. It just left around Month 3. He got those couple spots back again, but they are now gone too! No amount of cream, aloe, gel, bath salt or anything could solve that itching skin. But changing how he eats did. It allowed his body room to process the airborne allergies without being overloaded by un-digestible foods.

We are keeping the supplements that we’ve seen working, which for James is: magnesium citrate, ProOmega EFAs, 5HTP, fermented cod liver oil (FLCO) and Primal Defense probiotics. If any of those are missed for more than a few days, he feels (and we see) the difference! The rest of us take FCLO and Probiotics – it has made a huge difference in our immune system and overall health. After we get back to the US, we will transition from Probiotics to eating lots of fermented foods. We plan to continue the FLCO and add elderberry for cold/flu season.

There’s where we are for now. Very happy with our progress and hoping the Exit Strategy works out well for everyone. Gonna go make some yummy applesauce!

Why? becomes What?

A wise friend advised me that when Anna turned 3, she would begin the ‘Why?’ stage. Why do you cut carrots? Why do we use forks? Why do I have to wear that? Why do we eat vegetables? Why? Why? Why?! I really tried not to resort to ‘Because I said so.’ Thankfully the ‘Why?’ stage was scattered with cute hilarious toddler quotes that kept us laughing, as they tried to conceptualize a complex world.

It occured to me this week that we have switched gears. We are no longer asked ‘Why?’ about everything (and sadly most of the mixed up kid quotes are past as well). We are in the ‘What does it mean?’ stage now…
This past week I can remember:

What does ‘outrageous‘ mean?

Mom, what does ‘sacrifice‘ mean?

What does ‘defraud‘ mean?

What does ‘monopoly‘ mean?

At this rate, we won’t have to do much cramming for SAT words! 

On second thought, James recently said, “Do I know lots of words?”

Yes, son. You know lots of words.

J:  Do you know more words than me?

Yes, son.

J:  Really? Like what?

Do you know ‘copious’? ‘luminous’? or ‘amiable’?

J:  [with hunger to learn]: What do those mean?!

I rest my case.
The ‘What does it mean’ stage.

smiles and milestones

Everyone together after church

Now you’ve had all the best ones from Sunday. I’ll need to dig out some other good ones! In other news, today Anna officially finishes preschool, Joel finishes Second Grade, and James finishes Third Grade.

Part of me feels next year with a 4th grader will be the beginning of ‘real academics’. It will also be the first year James has a long-distance ‘real teacher’ and ‘real transcript’. Bring it on! We’re ready. That is, if we can keep our brains from melting over the summer…

Rats & Bats & ZZZs

Okay, according to wikipedia bats aren’t rodents. But rats and bats sure seem to be in the same family to me. We’ll climb the family tree and call them all mammals.

Bats live in our attic, correction, bats live in almost every attic here. They scamper about the midnight skies eating delicious mosquitoes all night. This would work well if it weren’t for two facts:

1) The mosquitoes ate us first at dusk.
2) They can be clumsy getting out of bed (and therefore flop all over my ceilings).

There have only been 2-3 times where they got into the house, (WALKED ACROSS THE FLOOR! – I really didn’t want to know they could walk in a sneaky little rodentia way), and other than noise we have coexisted quite happily for over 3 years.

Then there’s rats.
Rats are worse because they don’t eat bugs, they eat your food.
And the labels on your canned goods.
And the tinfoil you were saving for art projects.
And the dog food.
And your clean clothes.
And the Diet Coke.
And the fruit juice you thought was in fool proof containers.
And the wire screens covering your windows.
And the bars of laundry soap for next week.
And the Tupperware you thought was rat-proof.
Insert just about anything….
Those big little teeth?
They can chew it!

We have been trying to evict Famille Rat from our back porch this week. My bed is next door. Did you know that rats can screech? I didn’t. Well they can. I imagine the rats from Ratatouille whistling the signal to their 200 cousins to rush to a new food source. Maybe it’s code.

In the middle of the night the mosquitoes hum in my ear (after sneaking under the net somehow), while the bats flap on the ceiling overhead, while the rat screeches out directions to the best snack on the porch. Add a mosque next door, overnight worship service down the street, and the occasional thunder and lightning, and you have  yourself a hellish midnight orchestra. All these noises align every 50 nights or so to prevent rest of any kind.

No ZZZs for me!
Thankfully, the other 49 nights keep me going.

Nostalgia & Pain – Part II

After finishing this last week with tears, and after further reflection, I realized there was something more.

More to say.

More to chew on.

When my Maasai friend hadn’t seen someone in months, he ‘greets’ for a LONG time. He ‘chews the news’. So join me in chewing on some thoughts…

Yes, I dread moving again. Ironic for a missionary. I lost track after 15 moves… It’s pure selfishness. Moving takes so much work. Not just physical lifting of boxes. It’s the months of goodbyes and hellos, the emotional work of moving that exhausts me.

I used to think it would get easier.

But it doesn’t.
Talk to any veteran missionary who has lived in tens of countries.
They will confirm that moving doesn’t get easier.
That’s not part of the deal.
Stability and familiarity are sacrificed.

Amy Charmichael often writes on themes of sacrifice. [Check out her life if you haven’t already.] Her poem ‘Hast Thou No Scar?’ hit me like a ton of bricks, especially this line:

 “pierced are the feet that follow Me.”

Last week as I ‘chewed’ on sacrifice, this post came to my mailbox. Impeccable timing really. Hard things are good. Good for us like medicine.

Ann writes:
The surrendered accept that pain is always but growing pains.
And growth is always a gift —  even when trials are the tutor.

Wait! Doesn’t that mean that pain is essentially a gift?
I could spend a decade trying to wrap my mind around James 1:2

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you
face trials of many kinds…”

Pure joy? Trials?!
It’s the paradoxes, the puzzles, in Scripture that make me fascinated, curiously digging for how that WORKS. Then falling on my face in awe, because I will never fully uncover the whole of it. God’s ways are so much higher than I can grasp.

During a dark season in my life this song was produced by Indelible Grace, using the words of John Newton from 1779. It is not fast, but the words require reflection. Note: The end is the best, but it won’t make much sense if you don’t go through each verse in order.

Those were dark days for me, but God used them greatly and I wouldn’t trade them to go back to where I started out. I needed to go through them to get to today, and I am truly thankful for the difficult things (at least in retrospect).

So how are trials a cause for pure joy? Knowing they grow us should be cause for joy. But even when I can’t see or even imagine ahead to the good, I can remember that I follow in the footsteps of wounded feet.

The scars and sacrifices are gifts of devotion. When something hurts. When my kids bear the wounds of moving away from friend after friend. When my wedding momentos are lost by the airline. When we get tropical illnesses that may never heal. When we can’t attend a family funeral. Life hurts.

I imagine boxing up all this pain. The pain of what is missing. I box it up carefully tucking it in, put a pretty ribbon on top, and lay it at my Savior’s feet. Lord this hurts, but I have given it up for You. Please accept this gift. Gifts worth giving have to cost you something, right?

Honestly, I recognize the grief and grit of moving across the world over and over are not among the most painful things on earth. It’s not cancer or violence. My gift looks small compared to others.

But you don’t have to have the biggest gift at the party to give one. 

Whatever little sacrifices you are making?

They are beautiful gifts too.

Nostalgia & Pain – Part I

That old familiar friend stopped by this afternoon.

Nostalgia visits often, but particularly around landmark events.

Next week is the end of this school year. Ah, how much we have all learned.

The end of this school year marks the end of me teaching a preschooler (I always dreaded the preschool years – I so enjoy the thinking of ages 8, 9 and 10. So after more than 6 years of preschoolers around, what will I miss ?) Ah, these years were so much more fun than I feared.

It also marks the end of our last full school year in one place for a while. Next year is another ‘on the road’ year. Ah, this peace has been good.

So many milestones. The inches gained. The words written, rehearsed and practiced again. And sometimes still misspelled. Oh how it’s hard to watch them struggle. Oh, what a joy when they succeed.

As the home manager, it will take me months to emotionally and physically move out of this house by the end of this year. We will have lived here almost 4 consecutive years! This is the longest we have ever lived anywhere. And it feels more our home than any place we have ever lived. And I don’t mean ‘our home’ only because we did all the ceilings, wiring, plumbing and tiling ourselves. . .

Our home rich in memories. Our home with tropical bugs flying through, dust piling up everywhere, visitors chatting on the porch, a gorgeous garden, swing in the tree, socks lost under the couch and children growing up. Their height scrawled on the hallway corner: Mom, how tall am I now? Their favorite nooks and crannies for curling up with a book. These things don’t pack well.

But Time, he doesn’t wait around. There is always some end or beginning around the corner. And I don’t want to spend today on tomorrow.

Anyway, Nostalgia and I aren’t quite ready to treasure up all these fabulous memories and move on. The pain is fresh.

But then we don’t have to.

Not just yet.

— shared on Velvet Ashes link up —

Trauma Healing

Click here if the youtube window doesn’t load.
{DISCLAIMER: This video does involve graphic content not suitable
for young children.}

Much of this footage is from our hometown here – if you want a peek. Our group is involved in translating, checking, publishing and training local church leaders with tools they can use to address the severe wounds of trauma. It is a privilege to play a tiny part in equipping others to work toward healing.