Thursday, May 24, 2012

Reasons why I'm glad I failed my raw food diet

1. As someone who struggled with anorexia during college and who now abstains from all things with gluten (basically all traditional bread, cookies, crackers, cake), I learned that I did not need to restrict cooked food from my diet. Physically, I felt fine. But emotionally and mentally, restricting my diet took me to a bad place. I felt my stomach roll with hunger and instead of looking towards the foods I could eat, I thought of all the foods I not could not eat and felt all those old, familiar negative feelings towards food.

2. I eat a well balanced diet without restricting cooked food. We have been on major diet overhaul lately. Since late last summer, I have been learning so much about how society's view of food has been radically changed these past few decades. We now see food in the grocery stores as the prepackaged stuff in bright colorful wrappings and forgo the food that God has made by his loving hands.

Chris and I have stopped buying pre-cooked/preserved foods and eat almost all whole foods or homemade foods. I won't lie (partly because you wouldn't believe me!) and say that we never eat packaged foods or enjoy a Five Guys burger every now and then. But for the majority of our diet (not a restrictive regimen to lose weight but our way of life) is the food that God made for us to eat. We have fallen in love with beets, quinoa, kale and herbs (oh, the joy of fresh herbs!! Did you know you can buy a bunch of herbs for $2 at the grocery store? And I mean a BUNCH!).

3. I have been struggling with some health issues for the past year, and to my shame I had become desperate to the point where raw food was my savior. I believed that raw food could keep away what I fear.

But friends, while the types of food we eat and exercise and taking care of ourselves is vital... if we are doing these things out of fear of sickness or death, then we have sadly lost sight of our Father's love for us.

Unfortunately, that's where I found myself Tuesday afternoon. After one, yes ONE, day on our raw food diet. I walked into the kitchen craving leftover rice pasta with tomatoes, capers and parsley and I just felt so defeated.
Questions bubbled up inside of me and I asked Chris-
What if raw food doesn't work? What if I struggle with the things I fear even on a raw food diet? Why am I cutting out foods that aren't bad for me? I have already completely changed my way of life by removing gluten and now I have to cut out everything cooked???.... why?
Why am I really doing this?

Fear was the answer that I didn't want to hear.
I don't want to live in fear. I don't want to do things because I am afraid. Fear shouldn't rule me.
Love should.

Love should guide me to look at the way I am treating my body. Love should tell me that I am hurting myself with high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors. Love should whisper that we are dust, but oh, how God cares for us. When we are mothers and fathers, we care for our children and though we know that one day they will die, we still desire that they care for themselves, and we lovingly care for them, for their bodies. We mend their boo boos and pray for health during illness. I would not allow my children to run headfirst into the wall or jump from the roof though I know that they are dust.
We are God's precious children. He is our Heavenly Father and oh, how he loves us.

When Jesus tells us in Matthew not to be anxious about our lives- what we will eat or drink or wear, he is lovingly whispering how he loves us. God knows what we need, and he will provide. These were not days where genetically modified food or artificial colors lurked quietly in food. These were days where famine and starvation lay at each families doorstep.
We need to remember that our bodies are temples of God, and they are important to Him. God dwells within us by His Holy Spirit. He cares about our bodies and what we do with them. 

I hesitate to publish this because I know that these things are hard; that it is not easy to hear that we need to change. I do not sit in judgement or condemnation of anyone. Please hear me saying these things in love.
But I know that it is not easy to be confronted with something that is so different than what we've done our whole lives. The way we view food is so entrenched in tradition and nostalgia, and changing is hard. I have missed the familiar, comforting feeling of popping open a can of ice cold cherry coke, but I do not miss the sugary haze and nausea that it brings once the glass is empty.

I have been brought to my knees by the knowledge the Lord has provided this past year. We have been changed. But it is not fear that drives us in these changes. It is love. God's love.

These past few months have been hard. But I am even more convinced that I have a powerful, merciful Savior.. and it is not food. His name is Jesus. 

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children's children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the LORD, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Psalm 103:1-22

Matthew 6:25-34

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Brokenness II

The wind blows in gently. The birds playfully sing outside the open window. And my heart swells with love for God's green Earth. 

We have had our windows opened wide since the first inkling of Spring. I love the sweet smell of blooming trees. I love the cool breeze that wanders in, so welcome. I love the feeling of bringing the outside in. Maybe that's why I have upwards of twenty indoor plants living among us. 

The air is growing warmer though, and soon our windows will be shut tight for the duration of Summer. The summer months were always my favorite as a child. Now they are the months I try to endure as I wait impatiently for Fall and cooler weather and open windows.

I have been struggling fiercely for the past couple of weeks. Doubt, fear, anxiety, and a reckless mind have plagued my waking hours. Deep, unsettling questions have left me exhausted and fighting for rest. 

What are we to do with all this brokenness? 

I have read countless blogs retelling the stories of babies born too soon, so silent and still, children dying from cancer, accidents and illness. In doctor's waiting rooms, I have overheard angry words of 'why?' and silent screams of sadness and frustration.

I have read the words of mothers who have brokenness etched into their hearts. Words that will break your heart wide open. My heart feels the heaviness of their brokenness today. It is my brokenness too.

What are we supposed to do with all this brokenness?
I can't sweep it under a rug. If brokenness was a shameful book, I couldn't hide it behind the other books and pretend that it's not there. It's too big and loud. Some days, it screams at me. I won't lie to myself or to the broken woman crying in the hospital... it is real. And it sucks.

What are we supposed to do with all this brokenness?

About three years ago, I heard a sermon about joy. In the introduction, our pastor asked if we were joyful people. I remember laughing bitterly to myself and scoffing, "No. No, I am not a joyful person. How could I be with all the death, the sickness, the brokenness around me?" I'm so thankful that grace pulled me out of my own thoughts and into the sermon that day. I answered his question very differently at the end of his sermon.

His point was not to condemn us into happiness. Contrary to popular belief, joy is not a feeling.

One of the major points in his sermon was that joyful people are people who understand that there is bigger picture; and an Artist who paints with colors we've never seen before, with brushstrokes so perfectly and carefully applied that if we could see it, we would weep with joy.

The bigger picture of a God who loves us. A God who weeps with us and who cares so much that He is coming again to set everything right... to make it the way it should be, the way it was made to be.

To a quote a good friend, "I guess all I'm trying to say is that you are not alone.  It's scary (and HARD) as crap, but you are not alone.  And the one who if He had not died for us never would have died is there for us too."

There is a bigger picture, a bigger story. There is an ending more grand than we could ever dream. And it does not end with brokenness. 

For now, the brokenness is here and it will not be ignored. We must keep waiting, knowing that our stories... that the bigger story does not end with brokenness. And lo, there is joy.

The wind carries in the sweetness of Spring, and a red bird calls my name beckoning me to listen. He loves us.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Grief Olympics

So often since Owen died, I've felt like I entered into the grief olympics with people almost daily. Not willingly, mind you. I actually have a story that re-breaks my heart just thinking about it. Let me start at the beginning.

When Owen died, I had some very close friends who stood beside me. They came to his funeral. They made brownies and thai food runs. They cried with me, listened to my struggles and questions, and all the while they never said anything that made me feel like I had to move on or change.
Until one day, they weren't there anymore. The phone calls stopped. No emails, no visits. It all just stopped. They disappeared.

It was a month before Owen's first birthday when I got the first inclination that I had tapped these friends dry. I had used the grief card too many times and they were fresh out of grace for me. At least, that's what I thought. For three years.

For the past three years, I just assumed that they had gotten tired of my grief, of me. I assumed that I wasn't making enough progress and that they had expected me to be further on once a year hit. I wasn't handling my grief the way they thought I should and so we grew apart. But it felt more like another death. Abrupt and unwanted.

These friends were some of the ones I just knew would always be there. I grieved the loss of their friendships. I felt like such a failure. Failing in grief and in friendship.

I found out through (I guess, gossip) a mutual friend that these friends stepped away because they thought that I put my grief above theirs. You see, the reason they knew how to love me (in the beginning at least) was because they also knew loss and grief.
I sobbed that night. I cried and cried imagining how and why they felt this way. I never said words even close to 'my grief is worse'.

I can only guess that the ways in which I coped that first year indicated to them that I thought that what I was going through was worse. The way I refused to joke about my loss. The way I cried every day. The way I stayed in my PJs most days and quit my job so I could grieve. They way I wanted to talk about him all the time.

After hearing the reason for the end of the friendship, I felt betrayed and judged. I thought that these friends would have been honest with their feelings. I had expected maturity and help from two friends that had walked grief's long road before me. I had assumed that their experiences would help them love and care for me in that fragile first year. I was disappointed and hurt all over again. And angry.

Per my husband's advice, I wrote them a letter. A letter that I never intended to send to them or even see the light of day. It helped, some.

I've had a few months to think and process all my feelings over this situation. And I just feel sad now. Sad that my friends didn't feel free to tell me how they were feeling. Sad that we couldn't have real conversations with each other, validating and comforting one another because though our tragedies are different, we all have deep hurt and grief to carry for the rest of our lives. I'm sad that our friendships are long gone now. I'm sad that so many friendships end this way; that so many friendships don't stand a chance because of the damn grief olympics.

Grief isn't a game and there is no first place. (Who would want that anyways?) I have had many women tell me their heartbreaking stories of babies lost to miscarriage. And my heart breaks with you, especially as you downplay your grief, telling me that you don't have it as bad as me. Yes, yes you do. You are separated from your child and though the means of loss is different, you have still lost something, someone and no one can reconcile your separation, save Jesus.

Now that I have this adorable, mischievous little girl running around my house, I see how the olympics aren't just for grief. We all play the game, and we all alienate and abandon and discourage with each turn at the bat. 

Ultimately, I don't care if you work outside the home or homeschool or cloth diaper or eat at McDonald's or pose on the cover of Time magazine breastfeeding your three-year-old. And if you have five kids who cause daily destruction in your house- you don't win a gold medal while the woman with one kid at home gets ninth place. (And please, please don't tell the exhausted mother of a newborn to 'just wait until they are a toddler or a preschooler or a teenager or until you have three more at home.' Who does this help? And why make an already stressed out and vulnerable person feel worse??)

When we look at our neighbor and examine the differences, compare our struggles, and compete for first place (first place in hardships or best parenting or the 'who has it worst' game), no one is going to be a winner. We're all going to be losers. Alienating, abandoning and discouraging ourselves into loneliness.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Thank you that you will make all things new, and we will have reconciled relationships exactly as they were meant to be. Please give us grace, grace, grace for each day until that blessed day.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


*Hannah Mae sitting in time-out very quietly. Too quietly. Discovered she was playing in her poop. Little toddler feet ran after me into the kitchen as I try not to freak out, leaving a poop trail behind her. She then proceeded to put her hands in her mouth- crying after she realized that doing that was not a good idea. I love that she looked at me like it was all my fault as she wailed with her hands held out in disgust.
The baby I keep during the week crawled right into said poop trail. Both baby girls had a bath and a good talking to about never ever playing in poop.

*All cuddled up in her hooded towel after a bath, she looks just like the newborn I brought home from the hospital.

*Nursing a toddler. Challenging; we are busy busy busy. It would be easier not to nurse her, but my days wouldn't be as sweet. Taking the time to stop the busyness of toddlerhood, and sit and cuddle my girl is such a priceless gift.

*Mornings watching Sesame Street snuggling on the couch, warm cinnamon coffee in hand.

*Staying up late into the night; the house sits quiet, toys put away, a clean kitchen and an important project that cannot wait.

*Learning anew each day what a Savior I have.

*A busy end to a busy semester of school, work and studying. We have made it. Two years down, one to go.

*Looking forward to a restful and fun summer. A new adventure awaits!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Thoughts on 2

Celebrating two!

Birthday week started with a chilly trip to the zoo! 

Elmo party! (psst... gluten free vanilla cupcakes... seriously goooood)

Our teeny tiny apartment decked out and ready for fun.

She was completely obsessed with her cupcake, particularly the frosting. She had never had frosting before and she loved it! I made the biggest mommy mistake by taking it from her so we could open presents, but promising to give it back afterwards. She would have none of that and had a huge meltdown. Precious little 2 year old meltdown. 

Games! We had three little stations of games. So fun!

Little friends... hard to capture a picture of all the kiddos, but finally got one!
I would have invited about 20 more people, but our little apartment was filled to capacity. 

Look at all those little girl hands helping to unwrap! (Anyone notice the cupcake I'm holding? Yep, that was my compromise. Ha!)

Post party fun!

It's hard to believe that Hannah Mae turned two years old last week.

She had a blast on her birthday. We played all morning, went to Target to pick out a present from great-grandmama, ate lunch at a mexican restaurant, and had a party! Her favorite little guy is Elmo, so we Elmo-ed it up at her party. I made an Elmo face out of fruit (I stole this idea from a friend), and had three stations of Elmo games. The cupcakes were a hit, and the Elmo face was gone in 20 minutes! She's been talking about her berfday ever since!

Two years ago today, we were just home from the hospital with our little baby girl in our arms. I clearly remember all the intense emotions of those early days. But the ones that stand out most in my mind are joy and disbelief.
Joy that our baby girl was finally in our arms, joy that we all came home together safe and sound. I expected this joy. I daydreamed about this joy during those long scary pregnant days. This joy was welcome.
What I didn't expect is how disbelief would numb the joy that radiated those sweet newborn days. Disbelief that she was born alive and healthy, disbelief that she came home from hospital in my arms, disbelief that pregnancy ends in living babies that cry and coo and grow up.

Two years later joy and disbelief still linger in my heart, but the disbelief has evolved into more wonder than disbelief. Wonder that we have her in our arms, wonder that our life is nothing like it was when our only children were the ones we couldn't hold in our arms. Some days, I can't believe that I have a little girl who calls me mommy and follows me around copying my every move. It is wonder that magnifies the joy.

Monday morning, we had a mommy-daughter date to run errands. It was one of the most fun mornings we've had. Now that she's two, we have her forward facing in her car-seat. She loves to talk to us and hand us things from the back seat. I glanced back at her in the mirror and couldn't believe my eyes. Here is this precious little two-year-old wearing pink sunglasses, eating a waffle and talking to me about our errands and her 'eyes' (sunglasses). She's ours and she's here with us.


Two years later, I still thank God for bringing us all safely through pregnancy and for His gracious care in helping us navigate those early newborn days, for mercy that is new every morning for this pair of imperfect and needy parents.

This joy and disbelief reminds me of the even greater joy and disbelief that come from an even greater Love.

I have been a Christian for almost 10 years. And I clearly remember those early days of immense joy and disbelief. Joy that I have a Father who loves and pursues me, who cares so deeply for me. Disbelief that it could really be true- this wonderful, incredible, awesome grace that has been bought for me. Disbelief that there is nothing that I can do to gain His favor because I already have it. Joy and wonder... wonder magnifying and highlighting the joy in my heart.

I pray we don't lose this joy and wonder. We have a Father who loves us, more than we can imagine. And his grace and mercy are abundant and priceless.

And on her second birthday and every day she's here with us, we pray that our precious Hannah Mae grows to know this Father in Heaven.

Our Father who art in Heaven
hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done
on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil
For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever.