Growth: A Health Update

Growth is gradual.

Real, organic growth can only be measured over time. The mixed greens Dad planted in the Autumn were young, tender sprouts the first time I went out to the small patch. The next time they were a little taller, fuller, darker. The next time a little more so. If I had gone out every day, the changes may have escaped me entirely. Even when I am very observant, I cannot see my children grow. I only realize they have grown when Micah's pants are suddenly too short or when I fail to snap the buttons of Sara's onesie.

Invisible types of growth are even more difficult to spot.

A friend gave me a copy of a delightful little book entitled Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic. Rachel is the mother of five children, and experience along with her love of the Lord have granted her much wisdom concerning little ones. In the chapter, "Fruit of the Spirit Speed Quiz," she discusses the importance of observing and commenting upon the personal growth in our children. She writes--

"It is very easy for us to forget about the progress they make and to ignore the problems that they no longer wrestle with. If you have been faithfully disciplining your children, I guarantee you that there are many, many problems that they no longer struggle with....As a parent it is very easy to demean their progress by demeaning the struggle. Instead of praising them and pointing to their progress to encourage them, we ignore it.....Try to notice these little mile markers on the path of sanctification."

Commence domino effect in the brain.

The first thing I realized is, "Wow. I seriously fail at this." I'm pretty good about telling Micah that I'm proud of him, but I'm very general in my praise. For example, I may say something like, "Micah, I am proud of you because you are kind" or "Micah, you are so smart! I am proud of you!" Rachel encourages her readers to be more specific. So during bath time the other night, I told my son, "Micah, I am so proud of you! You used to cry every time I washed your hair, but you hardly ever cry about that anymore. You are such a big boy!" I wish you could have seen the smile of pleasure on his sweet little freckle-nosed face. He was delighted that I had acknowledged his progress!

Our little moment gave birth to other productive thoughts such as "Wow. Look at how far Brandon and I have come! We used to fret over the smallest things. Now we live under a ton of pressure and are granted just enough resources for daily bread, and we are doing really well. Praise God!" and "Wow. Sara may still have fussy moments, but look at how far we've come in a year. We've come from 6 hours or more a day of weeping and wailing to an occasional temper tantrum. Praise God!"

Finally, I directed my course of thinking inward and pondered my own progress. "Just a couple of months ago, I was having daily meltdowns. I can't remember the last time I lost control of myself. WOW! Praise God!" With that thought, I stumbled upon a realization that may be obvious to onlookers, but it's one I have missed almost entirely until that moment because I am constantly caught up in day to day survival mode--"Oh my gosh, I'm better! I'm much better."

And there it is--growth.

My meltdowns were a symptom I never got around to blogging much about. Mostly because it was my most embarrassing one, which is saying something as many of my symptoms have to do with poop. I have a condition called "pyroluria" which is caused by a group of chemicals called "kryptopyrroles." Pyroluria causes "irritability, anger, poor memory, impaired intellectual function, poor immunity and inability to deal with stress" (Gut and Psychology Syndrome, p. 44). I didn't exactly want to broadcast to the entire world that I was yelling at the kids every night and literally pulling my hair out when Sara would cry (girlfriend is LOUD) and occasionally daydreaming about tossing the screaming infant, the rambunctious boy, and the annoying dog out the window all at once and letting them fend for themselves while I cooked dinner. But I am unable to remember the last time I felt this way.

 It's not that I've become more patient or that I'm suddenly a better mother. No. I still feel very stressed when I'm chopping vegetables with a sharp knife that has been known to fly out of my hands due to my clumsiness and trying to check the food in the oven without burning the crying baby clinging to my pants leg so tightly that the pants actually fall off and simultaneously trying to ignore the redheaded boy literally bouncing off the walls of the living room who for all the world looks like a bizarre pinball in a machine while the dog barks loudly and annoyingly at the wind or the birds or the grass or at her own shadow. I still feel the stress that pandemonium brings and I often feel anger. I just no longer lose myself in it. I am now well enough to stop, breathe, pray and move on.

Other little mile markers on the road to restored health:

--I am reading again. I have always loved to read, but for awhile, my brain was so cloudy that I could not read. It was too much work and the words wouldn't stick anyway. The only book worth putting that much effort into was the Bible. I am now reading five books in addition to the Bible. Wow! Praise God!

--I am able to enjoy my kids! A few months ago, I was in a place where I could barely put one foot in front of the other. Taking care of children felt impossible all the time. It feels like I've suddenly woken from an 8 month long coma, and I'm getting to know two amazing little strangers. It's absolutely blissful. Wow! Praise God!

--Getting the kids ready to go outside doesn't leave me breathless or exhausted anymore. Wow! Praise God!

--My kitchen is beginning to look like a science lab with all the weird concoctions I've been making in the name of health. A few months ago, I was doing well to provide enough food for everyone. There was no time for experiments! Wow! Praise God!

--I am now able to take walks. It may not seem like much to you, but it's a pretty big deal to me. And not only am I taking walks, I am carrying Sara in the ErgoBaby, walking uphill and through the woods, lasting for 20 minutes at a time. Walking used to deplete my stores of energy, but now it often replenishes them. Oh, how I have enjoyed these walks! They are always a good time for the kids and me, and I love being outside and feeling strength in my body, a strength I didn't have a couple of months ago. Wow! Praise God!

--While I continue to suffer from dyspraxia, I am having fewer accidents.  Wow! Praise God!

--Getting out of the house no longer feels impossible. It's still hard, but not impossible. And I want to get out! Wow! Praise God!

--My smallest blue jeans are finally beginning to fit again. My smallest pair of pants are snug! I'm absorbing nutrition! Wow! Praise God!

--I have as much trouble remembering my last life-threatening allergic reaction as I do remembering my last emotional blow-up. I continue to react to all kinds of things, but I haven't felt like I was dying in months. Wow! Praise God!

--I no longer feel like I'm suffering. There are still many foods that I cannot eat, but I can eat so many more than I could last summer. I enjoy eating again! I have favorite foods! I'm not hungry all the time anymore. I continue to have pain, but I usually don't notice it. From time to time, I still run into a wall of fatigue (exhaustion you just can't push through), but it's a rare occurrence these days. I have lots of little complaints, but compared to how I was feeling in September, I just can't say that I'm suffering anymore. Wow! Praise God!

 I have a long road to hoe yet.

But God (don't you love those two words when put together side by side?) began peeling away my sick rags last week, and He began with the ones that were covering my eyes. Suddenly, I can see the growth! I can measure the progress!

It would be easy to attribute my improvement to my diet and lifestyle changes, but God removed that possibility a couple of weeks ago when I read this sentence from The Imitation of Christ--

"Neither canst thou be delivered or eased by any remedy or comfort, but as long as it shall please God thou must bear it."

When I read that, I felt the Lord speaking to me as clearly as I hear the hundreds of questions Micah asks me on any given day--"It will not be your diet that heals you. Forget your two year timeline. I AM going to heal you, and I alone will determine the time frame."

Those words were humbling, encouraging, frightening and freeing all at the same time.

Humbling because I am always humbled when the Lord of the Universe speaks to my heart, revealing His watchcare over my tiny existence.
Encouraging because I know healing is coming! It is already happening!
Frightening because God may extend my illness longer than my estimated two years. It could go on indefinitely, and I don't particularly like being ill.
And freeing because I now know that my healing doesn't depend on me following the GAPS diet to the letter. It is simply a tool in the hand of God. I cannot mess this up! That's freedom!

I think I hear the echoes of a trumpet blast of liberty!

Thank you for your prayers! They are being answered! Thank you for continuing to bear witness to my adventure. It hasn't always been fun, but it has most definitely been good. And God's just getting warmed up!

 Up, up, up the hill. One of the hills we climb on our walks.
 Micah likes to say, "Momma, I beat you!"
 Me and my girl on one of our walks.
 Playing in the creek that flows through our farm.

 Sara likes to cook. She's made me a pumpkin soup in this picture.
She also likes to feed me. Good to know she has some nurturing characteristics.
 Her disinterest in baby dolls had me thinking she was all tomboy.
 Being silly!
Beet kvass, a blood and liver detox drink
My Master Tonic to fight flu, colds, viruses and bacterial infections.
 Here it is before "brewing" for two weeks.
Here is the Master Tonic post brewing and bottling. I got over half a gallon of medicine and several baggies of prepped veggies for soups, stews, etc.

A true word about growth: "So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase."--1 Corinthians 3:7