Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rosy and Sweet Cranberry Salad (GAPS Stage 5-6 legal)

Looks festive, does it not? The jeweled fuchsia colour is matched by a refreshing sweet tang, perfect to offset your holiday feasting. And, in my opinion, those shades of blue and pink are smashing together! 
The recipe is part innovation, invention, and tradition. My favourite combination. I served this as an accompaniment to our Thanksgiving meal and, since Christmas is fast approaching, this dish won blog status for its celebratory-ness. Now, I have never tried it because I am off fruit for the time being, but it sure smelled and looked lovely, and the grins it received spoke in this sauce’s favour. Hope you like it as much as my family did!
*Remember to buy organic and local whenever possible. It makes for a tastier dish and healthier body!
Rosy and Sweet Cranberry Salad
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, or a 12 ounce bag
  • One pear, washed
  • One apple of desired variety, washed
  • One orange, peeled
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup raw honey. 
  • 2 dashes cinnamon
  • One dash each of nutmeg and ground cloves
Place fruit and spices in a food processor. Have fun with the dashes. Cover food processor (ahem) and run on regular speed. With the processor whirring, add honey in a steady stream until incorporated and fruit looks like a tantalizing smoothie. Taste and adjust flavours as needed. Pour into jars with sweet little lids and enjoy! Can be refrigerated for a week.
* Next time I will try zesting the orange before peeling and add the zest to the mix, too. Please comment if you have any other modifications!

This post is linked to Real Food Wednesdays

Monday, December 5, 2011

Feminism, Revolutions, and Wikipedia

    Recently, my days have been full of the past four hundred years as I study for my Western Civilization II test. Today it falls to me to brush off my French Revolution books and do some memory refreshing. In this studious frame, I googled *gasp* the Wikipedia article *another gasp* on the subject. After all, Wiki is helpful.
    Amidst all the spilling of blood and chopping of limbs, this specific article gave me a few good laughs. About feminism. Obviously, the Most Knowledgable Author had more of a Women's Lib bent. Two sentences in particular made me chuckle:

"A woman’s education often consisted of learning to be a good wife and mother; as a result women were not supposed to be involved in the political sphere, as the limit of their influence was the raising of future citizens."

    Oh, horrors! I only get to raise the next generation of world leaders! Where on earth is my influence??? Dear me, folks, can you not see the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world? What is more, have you ever pondered how much "education" one needs to be a good wife and mother? See, I just had to laugh.
    And then, again, the writer claims a woman is a feminist "by virtue of the fact that she [is] a woman working to influence the world." Is that feminism? Well, then, sign me up! I intend to influence the world for my Saviour by His work through me. What a joy He uses women just as much as men, that He knows how both work best, and values them as His children; not like some people pushing the feminism agenda of double-bondage and stress. You see, both involve servitude, but one is a joyful servitude of new life and purpose, the other is an unnatural slavery to a system which brings Brick Wall to Forehead. Ouch!
    Becoming a Fair Lady is such a freeing thing, don't you think?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Becoming A Fair Lady in Word

    This post could be titled Speak the Truth in Love: What you say and how you say it. Do you not appreciate the way God took care of our most destructive body member, the tongue? He told us what to say and how to say it. In danger of sounding like a broken record, this points beautifully to Scripture. His Word is full of Truth, what we are to say, and His Word works in us a heart which will speak Truth in a loving way. Praise God He did not leave me to develop my own truth, or rely on my own kindness when communicating! It is no wonder Ephesians 4:15 is so often quoted amongst believers, then!
    In these Christian circles, though, I hear a rumor buzzing around about this phrase, "Speak the truth in love." Apparently, some people have no qualms about proclaiming black-and-whites while others more timid master the Love part of Paul's exhortation. Yes, I agree - in part. For example, I could name a few people around here who are really talented at pounding Truth, Truth, Truth! while certain others in my family - I mean, ahem, acquaintance - are really talented in tenderness. And it comes naturally to them! But I do not think the line should be drawn too sharply. Anyone who knows the Truth and dwells on it will consequently be loving. Anyone who truly loves a person will bless them with Truth. Do you see where I am going with this? Truth and Love are not mutually exclusive, but inseparable. They truly love each other...
    Now that we have eschewed any excuses about not speaking the Truth in Love, we may turn our attention to actually doing so. Pop quiz: In what context does this commandment usually appear? Bingo! Confrontation. The scenario is set up like this: You have a dear friend, and he/she is not behaving properly. It is a habit. You notice, but stress over alerting him/her about it. What if he/she never speaks to me again? You ask a wise, old Christian about a "hypothetical" situation and, voila, he answers with, "Speak the truth in love." Thank you so much for that sage advice, but what is Loving Truth? Here is where this post comes in, I hope. 

    Truth can be found only in Scripture, and it is alive to all situations. There is no circumstance on which it is silent. It is replete with principles which should be applied to all practices. You may find principles and practices elsewhere, like "steps to painless and effective dialogue with ingratiates" or "what my mother said about boys" (examples), which is all well and good, but it must be checked with Scripture, it ought to be based on Scripture. Please be leery of any other guidelines, and certainly do not found your speech of Truth in Love on them! Knowing how to apply Biblical principles is obtained solely through reading and meditating on His Word, seeking help from those ahead of us in the Christian walk, and thereby cultivating a garden of truths in your soul. 
    Another thing about Truth is that it is not hard, it is not a blow, it is not heartless. I think many of us who were raised in a Peace, Love, and Save the Seals mentality were taught that any objective which is contrary to the other person is bad, as if Truth were some iron-fisted tyrant set on ruining people's daydream lives. We now distance ourselves from Truth, seeing it as heroic to be mouse-hearted rather than lion-hearted. It is time we were done with that soft ideology, do you not agree? It certainly gets us nowhere. I conclude it is more heroic to be truthful, in love, than apathetic, in selfishness.
    Love, now, Love is Truth's mate. They come from the same place (guess): Scripture! God's Holy Spirit takes Christians' hearts and rips them apart to place God's Love there. This Love flourishes under Scripture's purifying words, it matures under Scripture's tutelage, it strengthens under Scripture's holy bonds. So, Love is best and purest when it is with Truth. In fact, Love without Truth is twisted and misplaced. What is Love, though? That is much too complex and loaded a question for me to answer in full, but I think, in this context, a good working definition goes along these lines, "Love for another person is a true desire for, and good action towards, the best for the other person, without regard to one's own ease. Simply, it is striving for God's glory to shine through that person." That makes it a rather easy question whether we should Biblically confront someone, right? It would be the most loving thing to bring that friend, maybe that spouse for you married folks, to a knowledge of Biblical Truth and offer to aid them towards Biblical behaviour. So, "in love" means speaking Truth in a convincing, firm, tender, caring, compassionate yet not permissive manner. Capisce?

   For a Fair Lady in training, speaking the Truth in Love is a very important art to master. We will need to, as a wife, encourage our husbands and Biblically give our opinion. We will definitely need to, as a mother, drop jewels of Truth to our children every day. And even if we are not wed, we will need to be Titus 2 women, helping other women in the flock with truthful words all the time! If you need more ideas as to where you can speak the Truth in Love, just keep your eyes open. Opportunities always pop up. 
    Speaking of which, confrontation is not the only place to speak the Truth in Love. What if my Mumsie was truly and especially kind yesterday? Would it not be a loving thing to alert her to that truth? Or if your brother truly did take out the trash without being asked? It would be a very Fair Lady/Encourage Hero type of action to cheer him for that. Why speaking the Truth in Love was limited to confrontation is beyond me. Go speak the Truth in Love to someone and compliment them!

   One last random, almost unrelated note. I was not even going to mention it, but....hey, it is my blog and supper can wait. Fair Ladies in Word are becoming increasingly rare. Not just in Truth and Love, either. I am talking about pure and simple English grammar and diction. In Letters to a Daughter on Practical Subjects, William Sprague urges his daughter to write letters and keep up good conversation to improve her language artistry. It is a useful tool for the Kingdom when everyone else is sinking lower and lower into the mire of "I don't care what people think, let me just be who I am and say what I gotta say." Come on, people! Let us set a good example and also save the English language! Okay, so "okay" is not even really a word, and slang can be quite effective. Even the founding fathers used contractions. I know, and I am fine with that. But you do understand my point, right? Maybe we can, from now on, intelligently speak the Truth in Love. 

And that is that.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Why's and What's of the GAPS Diet

    So, I decided to give more background to the GAPS diet. You can skip this post if nutrition and gang wars amidst bacteria are not your interests. The next post will introduce Becoming a Fair Lady in Word, I promise, but the last post kind of left me hanging. And I wrote it! Thus, this explanation of the diet - why it works and how it works and what it means for me and this blog. 

Disclaimer: I do not pretend to be a doctor nor do I strive to council you in your medical and nutritional choices. If you implement anything I say and it backfires on you, too bad. Go sue someone else. Okay, so I should hunt for a better disclaimer. Bear with me.

What are Gut Flora?
    I mentioned critters, remember? And those cute little enterocytes? Yeah, we get to hear more about them. First, I shall give our critters names and set the stage for the saga of the stomach (and intestines, and liver, and, well, you know). 
    Gut Flora, aka critters, live all over your body, not just your gut. They live in the eustachian tubes of your ears, the mouth, and basically any surface tissue. But they mainly live in the gut. Scientists have distinguished three categories of gut flora: 

1) Indigenous - good guys your body uses
2) Opportunistic - bad guys which stick around but do not have a chance to grow due to good guys
3) Transitional - the guys you eat and inhale who pass through your body without bothering it

   Indigenous flora are bacteria, fungi, and various others of that sort which live and lodge in our body. God designed this symbiotic relationship between human and...critter which keeps us healthy and useful. Humans like indigenous flora.
    Opportunistic flora are those which dwell in our bodies, waiting for the opportunity to launch an attack on our little indigenous friends. They want to control the market, if you understand me. Humans dislike opportunistic flora - to a point. They do tend to balance the flora out, so we do not want to eradicate them, just not let them grow.
    Transitional flora are things we may eat or breathe into our bodies. They do not live anywhere, really, but are poor wayfaring strangers which we eliminate as needed. 

What Gut Flora Does:
    But what are these microorganisms doing in our bodies in the first place? They are very busy, actually. I tried to put their functions in five groups.

    First, indigenous gut flora protects our gut lining, and thus body, from opportunistic flora, entering viruses and bacteria, and toxins.
    Second, they attack the opportunistic and transitional flora. Not only do they protect our body from these microorganisms' deleterious effects, but they actively oppose them from spreading. Nice.
    Third, gut flora nourishes our body. It is the perfect example of symbiosis, we feed the flora and they feed us. You see, there are things we consume but cannot digest, like fibre. Fibre is important because it slows the flow of carbohydrates through our gut. But what happens to this fibre when we are done with it? We cannot use it in our structure nor metabolism. That is right, gut flora feed off fibre. Of course, we also eliminate it. This is just one illustration of the symbiosis, though. They absorb and digest certain sugars and proteins, too. That is why GAPS patients cannot handle these foods well; they lack the flora which absorbs and digests them! However, beneficial flora also make, or synthesize, vitamins we either cannot use from food or need during times we are not eating. The absorption of vitamins is a fast process. If we relied solely on our meals to provide these vitamins, there would be times during the day when areas of our body would be deficient. Gut flora, by offering a steady stream of select B vitamins and K vitamins, ensures our bodies always have what they need.
Fourth, indigenous gut flora do what I like to call nannying. I direct you to our buddies, the enterocytes. These cells are imperative for proper digestion and immunity. They live on the villi of our intestines and form its brush border, producing many enzymes necessary for digestion and absorption of food. Without them, we would not be able to use most of what we eat and starve, no matter what we shoved down our throats! Gut flora nanny these helping hands. They govern the enterocytes' mitosis (formation) and maturation, making sure they develop in to healthy, functioning units in the assembly line of our digestive system. 
    Fifth and last, gut flora detoxes our bodies. A host of unwanted substances enter our bodies through the food we eat and the air we breath. Beneficial flora are a first line of defense against those toxins by taking part in the production of lymphocytes and therefore immunoglobulins, like IgA. They also are somehow involved in processes of neutrophils and macrophages, which "eat" viruses and toxins to eliminate them. Plus, beneficial bacteria help produce regulators of immune response, without which our immune system would behave like a mob. All of these substances detox the body, and they would not exist without the help of gut flora.

What Happens during Gut Dysbiosis
    As we have seen, gut flora plays a major role in our normalcy. They do a lot to keep us going as we do. So what happens when our gut flora does not do its job, when the three kinds of gut flora get out of balance? Basically, we can look at all their benefits and turn these gifts on their heads. Just a peek of this reverse will show you the havoc gut dysbiosis can wreak. 

    For one thing, your lining is no longer protected so it is attacked by viruses, toxins, and opportunists, some of which embed themselves in the gut wall, causing it to deteriorate and leak. This leads to a "Leaky Gut" where food passes into the bloodstream partially digested. Yikes! Your body does not recognize these macromolecules of food as at all good for the body, so it starts attacking them. This is a way allergies (really they are intolerances) develop.
     Beneficial bacteria no longer keep the opportunistic flora at bay, so they take their chance to raid the gut, releasing a slew of toxins and poisons and other not so pleasant things. On top of that, when E. coli or Candida albicans or Clostridium dificile, to name a few, grow in number they destroy the gut wall even more. It is not a pretty sight. 
   Then, because good bacteria are no longer producing vitamins you need nor aiding in the absorption of foods and care for enterocytes, you become malnourished no matter how much you eat. You no longer have the resources to fight assailing disease! Invaders are just a smidgen of the problem, though; the overgrowth of bad bacteria and fungi crave foods for themselves (like sugars) rather than what would restore gut balance. It becomes a vicious cycle of cravings and reactions followed by more cravings and more reactions.
   Then our gut develops its own orphan community. As mentioned in passing, instead of happy homemaker bacteria nursing enterocytes, we have bad bacteria attacking these cells so vital for digestion and immunity. 
   The impaired immune system now stages a counterattack. We have two branches in our immune system, but, due to handicapped and dead gut flora not protecting us, they become unbalanced. Th1, the branch which is known as the first line of defense against invaders, gives way to Th2, the branch associated with allergic reactions, inflammation, and autoimmunity. Thus, this latter set of defense mechanisms becomes hyper-active, resulting in the myriad allergies, intolerances, and autoimmune diseases we have today. 

   In short, damaged gut flora leave your body open to invaders, malnourished so it cannot combat the invaders, and results in compromised immunity which tends to maniacally attack its own cells or otherwise normal substances. What is more, the gut is leaky, so toxins and partially digested food leak into the bloodstream, unleashing horrible reactions and toxicity. This results in many of the disorders and intolerances we see today, like autism, celiac, etc. Who knew it could all begin in the gut?

What Causes Gut Dysbiosis:
  But how did it go wrong? What led my body to the dilapidated state in which it now is? There are a few factors leading to the demise of anyone's gut.  Disease, antibiotics, toxic environments, and diet all play a contributing role to Gut Dysbiosis. Usually, the sorry state of things cannot be attributed to any one factor, but to a variety of each. Say you get really sick and weak, and you need to take antibiotics to strip away disease, all the while eating hospital haute cuisine of toast and jam and ten percent apple juice. This would leave you pretty much done in. Or perhaps you returned home from an exhausting day at the mall, full of its cleaners and perfumes and who knows what else, to pop inscrutable microwave dinners into your little microwave oven. And you have a cold. These situations put a lot of strain on your poor gut flora and enterocytes! If you make this a habit, they may well throw a fit and go sit in the naughty corner!
   However, diet is on my mind. It is the hard-to-digest polysaccharides (or large, complicated sugar molecules), the processed foods replete with chemicals, and poor quality fibre that make your gut a play house for bad bacteria. As we saw, they feed off fermenting fibre, settle down in the glue-like abodes so happily produced by processed sugars, and relish a fine snack of polysaccharides which you are too compromised to use. But you do not help. You continue to eat foods your digestive system can no longer handle, and they leak through your gut, invoking all sorts of mayhem and withholding from your gut the chance to heal. 

What Cures Gut Dysbiosis:
    Well, no more! There are three components to restoring your gut flora and thereby curing Gut Dysbiosis. Imagine it as three legs to a stool: take out one and the whole piece crashes. First, there is a need to detox. You must rid yourself of all those poisonous substances accumulating in your body with every bite you eat (no matter how "healthy" that bite may be). But this must be accompanied by a drastic change in diet, one which starves the bad guys, feeds the good guys, and cleans up the crime scene. This diet is full of nourishing animal fats and cartilages, grass-fed or pastured meats, non-starchy vegetables, very ripe fruit, and lots and lots of soups. All starches and grains are eliminated to let the gut heal. The fats, cartilage, and broth restore the gut lining while the meats and vegetables provide much needed building-blocks and energy. To aid these two legs, we have a third: supplementation. This is not permanent. A healthy body should be able to live from food, not pills. However, so many of us have gone astray that we need a little help to get back on track. The main supplementation comes from probiotics. They are just good bacteria we put in our stomachs via fermented foods and encapsulated strains. 

   So, this is what I am doing, and it is fun! With steady perseverance, I hope to be healed soon. Upcoming posts will probably involve recipes and musings. Maybe a few "I can't do this anymore" posts, too. It is hard work. But, all in due time. Now you ought to give your eyes a break. They have been reading blogs much too long!

Post Script
Here are some interesting writings on the whole gut flora idea:





Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Story IV - Still on the Journey: An Introduction to GAPS

  Yes, there have been struggles and triumphs, but it is by no means over yet. I still have much to accomplish for physical healing; and spiritual healing, well, is it not a lifelong work of sanctification which God promises to complete? It is always helpful, though, to know where you are on the journey to have a better idea of what needs to be done and in what direction you are heading. So where am I?
    A picture may be of use. 

    You will remember from this post that I did not look healthy. Well, I think in this picture I look healthier. This is a good thing! Now, there are still problems to solve in my body, like more energy, less intolerances, and a pain-free back. The improvements in these areas abound so I cannot complain. But the road still winds ahead.
There are spiritual trials, too. I still confront control, specifically in the area of time. Head on collision! Yet I know what is right and what is wrong, and earnestly desire the right at any cost. That is half the battle. I could work on my tone when speaking to my dear family. Does it matter they love me unconditionally (as far as a human can)? Should I take advantage of that gift? Of course not. Why is it we are kinder to our waitress than our mother? It does not make sense, and it is certainly not in line with Christ, so making that change is on the top of my to-do list. These are just examples of the hurdles I have yet to leap, the habits I have yet to change. After all, the mountains loom ahead.

But there is hope for my journey, both physically and spiritually.

Let me introduce you to my physical problem-solver: the GAPS programme. GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome or Gut and Physiology Syndrome, depending on what your health difficulty is. I fall under the latter category, if you wondered. What on earth does that mean? Simple, really. The name connects the state of your gut (think stomach, intestines, etc.) to the state of your health, so the idea is to heal your gut which in turn heals your body. Not too hard of a concept to grasp, eh?
Now just how does this work? You see, we have these little critters living inside our guts which help digest food, eliminate toxins, protect the gut lining, and a host of other things. We also have these little cells called enterocytes living on our gut linings. Well, when a person has a GAPS dilemma, the little critters get out of control, turning to gang violence and covert operations, while the helpful enterocytes meet a tragic end, and are not replaced. What grief... Anyway, by repopulating our guts with good critters and eating in a way which perks up those sad, starved enterocytes, your gut dysbiosis will return to its state of gut symbiosis, and your body will thank you for it.
But what does this programme look like? GAPS Programme does sound a bit like a brainwashing squad, but it is actually quite wonderful! You take probiotics, cut out grains and starches, and eat all that scrumptious food you were told would give you a heart attack like burgers, butter, cream, gravy, bacon, and brussel sprouts (okay, okay, this girl really likes brussel sprouts). See, by eating these healing foods, you give your gut a break from breaking down complex carbohydrates, while at the same time, you nourish the gut to restore it to full functioning capacity. 
There is a much more scientific explanation coming soon, but I did not want to bog down uninterested people with alien-sounding terms. :) I know, I just used a smiley. 

Spiritually, also, there is most definitely a game plan. It is called Scripture. How can I become a Fair Lady without pursuing the only One who is fair? How can I pursue Someone I do not know? How can I know the Unknowable if not by His own revelation? Yes, my heart's desire is to make His word not just a light unto my feet, but the light unto my feet. It shall be my aim to listen to His voice amidst all the voices Satan uses to drown His. And God is powerful for this. He is mighty to make Himself heard, and hard hearts respond. I have already seen this in my life, and my Father will continue the work He began to completion. 
For everything, then, He deserves praise. No matter what means He uses to shape me, whether it be a food plan, a strong family, or crazy blogging homeschool mamas, all the glory goes to Him and Him alone. My prayer is that this lady will glorify her King. And that is my story...so far!

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Story III - Triumphs Through the Journey

   This has the potential of being an odd post. After all, I am writing about the victories through my journey of food, control, hearkening to God. For me, talking about victories is difficult because, for so long, I attributed victories to myself! I felt like conversing about my wins in life was a cheap shot at begging for praise. That is changing. With each passing day, I learn that any achievements I enjoy are all a gift from my Maker's hand, and so the glory should go to Him. That truth makes these triumphant moments less of a show-off and more of a praise. It is in this attitude I ramble these thoughts.
   Hmmm, that attitude in itself is a victory. I do not think I could have said that, sincerely, a year ago. All my failures were because of me, so, boy, all my victories were due to my perfection. How that notion seems backward and presumptuous now! That is what happens when you embrace grace. I fail, yes, because of my sin, yes. But God in His merciful and glorious and unashamed love takes us and makes us, well, victorious! A Fair Lady, indeed.
   Some positive effects of this change of heart are rather conspicuous. I hate to say it, but the "living dead" does not apply to me anymore. At least not completely. My hair can actually grow without frizzing, and that auburn streak abdicated its throne for my natural brown to reign. (I still do not know how I feel about that one. Auburn and chestnut are so much more romantic than brown....) So, too, the nails grow without breaking because they now receive enough strengthening nourishment - and have a healthy coral hue instead of the chilly lavender I sported before. Eyes are brighter, cheeks can glow (sometimes), lips are strawberry as opposed to blueberry.... I could name many more such improvements. 
   There have been amazing health benefits from a new heart. I can feel heat. See, before, I did not have enough fats and proteins for my nerves to conduct very well - or something like that. Toxins had attacked my body, too. This led to a total loss of certain feelings, like that of a hot stove. I would not realize the stove was burning my hand until someone alerted me. Well, now I can feel burns in a heartbeat. That does not seem to stop them, though... My hands and toes thank me for the energy I give them by keeping me nice and toasty. Last year, they iced over like the Arctic. The muscle cramps disappeared, so Joshua can sleep in peace without being awoken by blood-curdling screams. The incessant joint and bone pain (yes, bone pain) have also retreated in defeat. I sleep the whole night through now, which has exponentially increased my energy and lessened brain fog. This has led to a sense of having more time. By relaxing about time, I suddenly find more. Neat how giving things over to God works, no?
   The last physical improvement I will mention has to do with touch. Before, I could not stand touch. Get away from me, people! My personal bubble is extensive, okay? Not anymore. I shall never be described as clingy, but now I do not have a heart attack when Mumsie gives me a hug. Odd problem, I know. It probably involved the whole control thing. People entered my space and interrupted my plans to give me a hug. It sounds so silly typing it out, but 'tis true, I assure you! The problem of Touch also touched on my food issue. I was not happy with the way my body looked or felt and touch aggravated my awareness of it. I was very high-strung. This all is different now, praise God!

   Perhaps you observed the overlap between some physical and spiritual hurdles? To be sure, there was major overlap. A broken spirit does indeed dry up the bones. How many times did I repeat that to myself? But, my spirit was refreshed by the Ever Living Water, and you could see the difference in my body. 

   What were some of the spiritual triumphs, then? And, please, remember these are triumphs in my Lord, not of me. First of all, I am learning the art of rest (notice the progressive there; I am not done that one yet). It was mentioned above, but it cannot be emphasized enough. Time and relaxation are so intertwined with my Control lust that any victories along this road are, to me, significant. It has to do with trust and grace, two new concepts for me. 
   In whom do I trust, though? Since I had placed my trust in man for so long, relaxing grew impossible! Anxiety flooded my heart before, when it mattered what other people thought about my performance in work, school, and play. Now peace is making a home there, instead (again, note the progressive).  After all, how can I perform to my God, who now has all my trust? He knows me better than I do, and He knows a far worse person in me than I know in myself. That kind of gives Him the advantage in any popularity contest, does it not? Living solely for Him frees me up to be what He wants, not what friends want or even family wants. That means I can act for Him without shame. He took on all my sins and knows them thoroughly.         In fact, He went through more temptations than I will ever face! In His perfection, He knew sin thoroughly. That means there is no guilt with Him anymore. I can go forward with confidence in His salvation, His sanctification, His Love. It makes a difference. That is what being God-centered instead of man-centered is like. And it is beautiful.
   Oddly enough, not living for others strengthened my relationship with them! I guess it makes sense. I cannot blame them if and when they snipe me. They do not feel forced to praise me, even like me, because I receive my worth from Christ, not them. There is less tension now, and that makes a whole lot of things easier. Rather than taking offense at my family's actions, I see them as brothers and a sister in Christ who love me because of God, not because of me. Their words are meant to lift me up to Christ, not tear me down. It was not their attitude or words that changed, however; it was mine. There are still people who are not too happy about my change. It is like I abandoned them, the worldly thoughts we thought together. You know? Those types of people (in reality, all of us at one point or other) like company to justify what they do. It is not pleasant when that company leaves. I know because I was there. 
   But the best triumph has to be Assurance, an assurance that comes from, and contributes to, a love for my Father and His Word. I know I am His! I know He knows me, good and bad! I know He chose me despite myself, so what can snatch me from Him? There are no more nights of wondering how I stand before Him. It is not Jonathan Edwards's dangling spider that resonates with me, but Edwards's unabashed joy. It is a joy to be loved. Much greater, then, to be loved by the perfect Lover. I cannot even pretend to love Him adequately, but His love for me planted in me a love for Him. It makes His Word really lovely. It is not a fevered thirst to squelch my fear of performance like before, but a calm, sweet longing for a well I know will always spill over. You know? Like Narnia's Repicheep knew the water in the East would be sweet. 

     So those are some triumphs. But I am still on the Journey. There is still news to tell. There is a lot about diet. Really. That is what we will see next time.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Typographical Note

   Have any of you noticed my font keeps changing sizes and shapes? Yeah, I can never remember which setting I like, so it is different every time. But now that I am posting about it, I should never forget. Times, size Normal. Pretty Plain Jane, eh?

My Story II - Struggles on the Journey

  In the last post, I left myself undergoing a major paradigm shift. However, a shift is a step, a step is a process, and a process is hard. 
There were many physical obstacles to overcome. You recall I feared fats like the plague. Protein was a "good" thing, but in my thinking, I did not have enough calorie dollars to spend on meat. Running a cost-benefit analysis on my calorie bank account, veggies were the only food which fit my budget. All that had to change, and fast. 
See Jenn sit down. See Jenn place peanut butter in bowl. See Jenn add coocnut oil to said bowl. See Jenn dump yogurt over described concoction. ... See Jenn gag. Calories! How on earth could any Western girl justify eating fats she was not going to use? See how out of it I was? 
Aside from they very powerful gag reaction, my body had also been damaged enough to create some aversions of its own. Food intolerances, with which I have always struggled (another post for another time), grew powerful and multiplied like rabbits. One day yogurt was fine, the next it had me clutching my stomach. Eggs, dairy aside from a certain brand of yogurt, and anything containing them had long left the scene. Then nuts flew the coop. Then grains. Then tomatoes. And on it went! 
What is more, my body had wasted away. I hurt everywhere. Due to a car accident a few years ago, my neck and back were misaligned. Now the pain reached oppressive levels. You see, without enough fats, nutrients, and proteins, your body cannot repair on a normal basis. That is why seemingly simple issues worsened rather than were resolved. Brain fog clouded my cognitive abilities. Leg cramps inhibited walking. And on it went again!
The biggest physical obstacle, though, was what I call the Skinny Hump. I could not get over the fact that I could not and would not be thin like the media said I should be. The mirror about killed me. If I noticed any "extra" weight, the reaction was at best mixed. Yay! I am doing well in becoming a Fair Lady. Sigh. Why must being a Fair Lady imply not being pretty? (Note: My concept of pretty was still pretty skewed. Remember, healing and sanctifying are processes.)
All these physical obstacles floated atop a mess of spiritual ones. The most obvious issue was that of control. I liked the driver's seat best, thank you very much. However, I knew God's control far surpassed mine. One blessed, the other destroyed. So every day I died to self. Well, maybe not every day. There were instances when Jenn thought she was God and tried to snatch the reigns from her Maker. It is enough to say those times were miserable. Little by little, it became easier, more natural, to live in His paradigm rather than the sinful one I created. It should make sense, considering His Spirit, through His Word, crafted me a new nature with each passing moment. Is not His grace beautiful? But I digress....
There were social problems through which to sort, too. For a while, I had been receiving compliments on my looks from people whose concepts of pretty were just skewed as mine were. Now those folks saw me in a different light. I was being odd, not living according to their perceptions of normal, and it made them uncomfortable. Mayhaps my change pricked their own consciences, but that enters speculation. Whatever the cause, loose friends and acquaintances turned up their noses at a girl who actually wanted to gain weight. For someone used to making a living out of people-pleasing, that was hard. 
The difficulties did not stop there, however. I. still. craved. control. There were morning where I would freak if I did not find a certain spoon with which to eat breakfast. It was a control thing. (Actually, I think certain family members - ahem - hid my OCD spoon. Good for them.) Thankfully, that is over now. Another control example is timing. I had my routine down to the minute - on all our house clocks. If I missed by a minute, it ruined my day. That, too, has eased, thanks to the diligence and patience of my family and faithfulness of my God. 
These freak out sessions, naturally, put more strain on my relationships with father, mother, brother. Sigh. I was a bother, was I not, Josh? Since my family openly fought my idol of control, it was second nature to fight back. I had done so for years, but I knew I had turned the page to a new chapter of working with them instead of against them. Again, this transition seemed awkward to me, even repugnant. At first. 
Quite a few valleys to cross, no? The underlying problem was my refusal of grace because it conflicted with my perfectionistic control. If I ranted because of that lost spoon, I sunk to a depressed state, firstly because I had lost control over that spoon, and secondly because I had lost control of myself. If one does not understand grace, those failures are unacceptable. My family  gently yet firmly walked me through these thought processes, exposing my wickedness and need for grace. It was painful, and there were nights without sleep when I wrestled with assurance. Was I a Christian? Did I love God more than myself? More importantly, did God love me? Once reality struck - that I behaved like a bonehead whenever I cheapened God's holiness by imposing my rules - He softened me and I relinquished. 
Yes, there is a pattern of me shaking my puny fist against the Almighty and He putting me back in my place. It was a bitter, yet so sweet, surrender.
Next post will be a little more happy, doncha worry!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My Story I - Beginning the Journey

Now comes the personal anecdote. It is all well and good to talk about society safe upon my high horse, but to actually be involved??? Battle...weight issues? Oh, yes, my friend. Here is one Fair Lady who struggled for years with this. Thus, I shall try to make this practical, bring it down to a concrete, real-life story, by sharing what I did. Friends who know me well can guess what I am going to say, yet I may as well give my little tale to the World Wide Web while we are on the subject, then I can drop it. I do this just in case someone else is where I was a few years ago: making a decision, whether they know it or not, to either be a tool of Satan by giving in to their own desires or to glorify God by being, well, not perfect (according to the world's standards). So, this may be a bit long, but in the future I hope to mince my words a little more...mincingly.

So, let's travel back about a year to see where I was in life. That would be October of 2010...I wore baggy clothes, mainly because I wanted to hide my shape and needed the extra cushion those sweaters provided. Otherwise, people would comment about how sickly thin I looked (I, to the contrary, avoided mirrors because I could never see myself as skinny) and it hurt to come in contact with anything hard, like a chair. My hair frizzled and limped from my head. My skin wavered between an ethereal yellow, sallow orange, and pale gray. Eyes hollow, fingers and lips blue from cold, hair bronzing from malnutrition. Let's just say that, physically, I was not the greatest thing out there. 

The Waif Last Year
Not the loveliest picture of me, I know, but it gets the point across! 

How about spiritually? I think I felt the same way as I did physically. Limp. Dank. Cold. Now, that was way, deep down. On the outside, I tried to be - and believe myself to be - vivacious, happy, and useful. I convinced myself everything was alright. Perhaps my body was ill, but I was being a "good girl." At home I clawed in a scarily OCD fashion for control, thus becoming snappish, exacting, and plain old obnoxious. Towards friends, I attempted to appear genial and relaxed. On the one hand, all the relationships within my family were edgy, while, on the other, I tried especially hard to be nice to outsiders. When it came to God, I also tricked myself. In the depths of my being, someplace where I had buried the person into whom God was molding me, I knew I had abandoned my Father. I knew, somewhere along the way, I had seized the reins from Him. However, I duped myself in to experiencing "heartfelt" yearnings for all things Spiritual. My devotions went on for hours and a good portion of my time went to counseling friends. At night, though, I couldn't sleep due to sobbing over my hypocrisy. And that is something I need to drive home to you: the two-facedness of living for man's expectations rather than God's expectations. All I was is a facade, and that is all you will be, too, if you decide to live for the approval of yourself and society rather than for the smiling face of God. And we slip in to it so subtly. That is why we have to be tenacious in keeping ourselves away from worldly thoughts. In the last post we saw how difficult that can be. But back to me, you can sum up my position by stating I was genuinely hoodwinked.

But God had gotten a hold of me long ago, and He was not about to go back on His word. 

I cannot really say what gave me a desire to relinquish control and live for God. I think it was a combination of things. First, I was so sick. Obviously, all the nutrition information I found online was a hoax. I followed the directions to a T, if not more severely. I stumbled across some blogging crazy homeschool mamas who touted fat as good for you, who said the "Diet dictocrats" were wrong, and who applauded a life altogether different from the one I had been living or seen encouraged. And they looked content, at peace, even beautiful! So, there was some portion of my Worldview being chipped away. 
Then, my family drew me to sanity, too. They knew what I was really like. Looking back, I see how they knew me better than myself because they saw me clearly, whereas I saw myself through a fog. Daddy stayed up many a night just talking with me, praying with me. My brother helped me get through the ups and downs of it all - you know, the muscle cramps, the mood swings, the insanity. I finally understood Mumsie's pitying looks and encouragements to eat more. It is as if I woke up one day and decided not to be offended at them. 
But it was not an overnight change at all. The main loadstone for this girl was her Heavenly Father. He used the means of my family and others, but above all, He used Himself. And I think that is what it takes to get over something like anorexia - or anxiety, or depression, or anything else we come up with these days. It takes an encounter with God. Not merely a one-time experience where you feel all warm and cuddly, but a true realization of Who God is and What you have been messing with when you try to put yourself in His shoes. Once that humbling takes place, He can mold you. He can make you His. That is what He did for me.

It was a major turnaround. Do you see how, in my case, eating that spoonful of fat is tantamount to surrendering myself to God? It is a relinquishing of all my values, rules, and desires, to His. Maybe putting it that way will better explain why this issue of food is important to me. Right now, it is the most obvious way I can conform to His will for my life. There are many areas which need conforming, to be sure, but this one is huge. Read on to see just how extensive the consequences of Food were, and are, in my life.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Becoming a Fair Lady in Look

  In the last post, I said we would be discussing externals. I know what you are thinking: skirts and make-up and jewelry. That covers the extent of "practical" teaching on Godly, feminine looks, correct? Obviously I came to a different conclusion or I would not have asked. Sadly, Fair Lady externals have been relegated to wearing skirts to your boot tops, keeping your cheeks as pallid as possible, and avoiding bling like the plague - or doing the complete opposite in a “Christian” way. Disclaimer: I can think of few things better than a long, swishy skirt and wear them often; I rarely use makeup and, when I do, keep it natural; and this Fair Lady never liked glitter. Also, it is okay to wear jeans, make-up can be a good thing, and who does not like a pearl necklace? That said, I have met far too many young women who limit themselves to this box of rules: long skirt, no color, no gold. But this neither exhausts the ways a Fair Lady's body can serve her Lord nor does it say anything about the state of her heart. Why limit ourselves to fashion? More importantly, from what spirit does our fashion flow?
  What I want to make unmistakably clear is that one's principles result in one's practice. You cannot have a fair outside without having a fair inside - and not every fair heart will show the same fair body. There may be different ways to evince ideals we hold dear. Far from promoting a "shades of gray" mentality, this smacks of the Biblical concept of “changed heart equals changed demeanor.” Let us go to Scripture and assure ourselves we are not merely putting on an act but putting on a new spirit. We must seek the Word's reasoning behind all of our actions.
Now. If I shan't be touching on clothes, what is this about? Those who know me well can probably guess. It is my waistline.... Yes, that's right.
Are we shrinking or something? It would not be surprising considering all the weight-loss commercials on television and radio, let alone the aisles of low fat everything in the grocery stores. Need I mention low-moisture, part skim mozzarella? 
This might not be the question in vogue but I think it is one worth asking the girls of today, especially those well-beloved daughters of the Reformed church. You know the ones. They have been called the "daughters of Zion," "her father's arrows," and the "Church's secret weapon." Satan spotted a potentially dangerous group of young warrior women and struck a chord near and dear to their hearts: their bodies. He really is a clever one, the Devil. He has used many tactics throughout history to attack this Secret Weapon. Discontentment, physical brutality, the “ornamental” syndrome...the list goes on. But have you ever thought of the complexity of his latest approach? He is attacking our bodies. A day in the life will illustrate my point. 
A girl’s radio alarm wakes her up with the empowering ad for a dinner-replacing smoothie. Perfect to lose those three inches you never wanted. After a quick perusal of her emails - replete with helpful tips to distract yourself from the afternoon snack craving - and a bowl of healthy high fiber, low calorie flakes with nonfat milk, she heads out to run a few errands. At the doctor’s office, she runs through the latest Cooking Light publication and studies the BMI chart hung on the wall. A drive to the grocery store lands her amongst myriad dieting concoctions topped off with the check-out line modeling magazines. Sure, as a Christian she would never thumb through their pages, but the front cover says enough about what the “latest hot body” ought to look like. Exhausted, she goes home, flips on the tube, and is inundated with images and words and products screaming THIN! 
This is a hypothetical *cough* situation, but you get the idea. Satan has her in his grip if she gives in to this stuff. First, there is the basic ME issue. I do not know if you noticed, but that day was pretty self-centered. Caring so much about what you look like takes time! All of it. You no longer see your body as the temple of God, but the temple of You. Then there is the relational aspect of the problem. Look at Susie. She is so pretty and trim! How does she do it? I am sure I work out way more than she does. A bit of jealousy, perhaps? I am going to dwell on a third problem, however, namely, the problem of purpose.
The problem of purpose concerns for whom we live and serve, what drives us in our innermost being. A true Daughter of Zion wants nothing more than to serve her Lord. This is her driving force. She seeks out His desire for her life in His word. What is the purpose of women? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever via a role which, let’s embrace it, is focused on the home. Marriage. Children. Family. Now let us wander through Satan’s preference for a women’s life. To steal the glory from God, diverting us from His plan by making a bony, wispy body appealing in our eyes. Hours at the gym. Fake diet food. Size 00 skinny jeans. Me. Whoa, look at that! Satan’s hopes and God’s plans are at war with each other! We cannot serve both. Did you know fat is good for women? Satan’s current best-kept secret. But the science can be saved for another post; for now, let us return to God’s purpose for women as He outlines it: 
“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed....For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ...” (Titus 2: 3-5, 11- 13).
Not seeing the connection, I know. It will all clear up in a moment. First, see how it is assumed there are children involved in a woman’s life? Well, that requires fat. Second, we find a call to holiness, a set-apartness from the world to become like Christ. Now, you could be set apart from the world by behaving maniacally in public. That is not what I am talking about; rather, a deep seated desire to behave as Christ would flowing from the work of the Holy Spirit. This behaviour, more times than not, is contrary to the world’s latest fad. Right now, the world’s latest fad is skin and bones. Third and last, Paul encourages us to look toward and live in light of “that blessed hope” of the appearance of the glory of Christ, the end - and beginning - of Christ’s sacred romance with His bride (in drier terms, covenantal story). Does being supermodel thin fit with this paradigm. I should say not, considering all the energy invested on ME rather than on Kingdom work, the worries about MY appearance rather than what Christ’s Bride is doing, the time required to live up to MY rules for SELF-esteem rather than time spent on His desires for the Church’s glorifying of Him. 
I hope you are seeing the connection. This is something I have been thinking about lately because of personal experience and people-watching (come on, we all do it, right?). I am not out to bash skinny people. After all, some people are just made slender (and I think that is great!). I am not condoning obesity as it is the opposite side of the same coin. What I am bashing is a mentality focused on self, displayed through obsession about weight. I see a pattern of being obsessed with Thin in our times. Like a lot of good things, these thoughts are counter-cultural and uncomfortable, but somebody needs to say something and why not from an insider on a blog nobody reads? 
There is more to say on this subject, but I do not know yet how to proceed. So who knows what next post will be like? Please leave thoughts about this post. Too awkward? Not relevant? Good? Too long!!!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Dear me. I glanced over the fact we are still in May! I suppose I am not fashionably late after all.

To Start a Series

Well, I promised to post in May and, since it is the first of June, this entry comes fashionably late. It becomes apparent one area in which I need to "become fair" is punctuality. With that tongue in cheek apology, we may proceed to introduce our newest, or I should say first, series: Becoming a Fair Lady in Look, Word and Deed. In that order. After all, it is a phrase in itself and coincides with "You can't judge a book by its cover" and "Actions speak louder than words." Ha! I alluded to three expressions in one title. Jenn is happy (yes, you are still dealing with a nerd and a blog all her own).

Anyway, through this series I hope to show how being a Fair Lady in heart is expressed in action. Remember, though, this comes from a Fair Lady in training who still yells at her mom and grows frustrated with her father, much to her dismay. I am not perfect nor do I pretend to be. These outward failings flow from from failings - sin - in my innermost being and have to be weeded out just like any outward gifts flow from the gift - grace - wrought in my soul by my heavenly Father and must be cultivated. My point is externals flow from internals. It must be kept in mind, especially since this series will be focusing on externals. We all know we are Pharisees at heart. 

Allow me two last thoughts before I close the introduction. First, praise God for He is a merciful God, He is our Father, He is our Provider of all we need to become the Fair Ladies He has chosen us to be, and He is faithful to bring about that end. Second, I pray my posts will always, always, always harken back to God's Word. That is the sole wellspring to a heart which makes us Fair Ladies and our only standard and hope. 

Now all the introducing in my power is introduced, we shall begin!


In another post.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Coming Soon

Good morning! I revisit my blog to let the internet know there will be a steady flow of posts here soon enough! Come May, I will begin a miniseries on, what else?, Becoming a Fair Lady. It is mostly organized, but I will give you the rundown at a future date. Right now life is too busy to be blogging. Sigh. Only a month or so to go!

In the meantime, I leave you with the handy knowledge of a new Sourdough Cookbook. Yes, this blog will contain far more cooking escapades than it did previous to this post, and sourdough is just one of them. Anyway, GNOWFGLINS (if you don't know what it is, google it) released a comprehensive, for-the-sourdough-starter cookbook which, of course, has me excited. If you are interested in those sorts of things, you should look into it further.

Well, so long for now!

Friday, February 18, 2011

To Let You Know I Am Alive

After May, the blog will be up and running. I have a mini-series planned which has me excited! For now, I am abusing my blog to enter a giveaway (yes, my dear readers, I came on just to get something) of a grain mill.

Here is the link:

I will be back for real…at some unknown date.