On Gluten and Sacrifice and Doing the Hard Work

Lee came to me shortly before Christmas and dropped a bombshell. I didn’t see it coming, and when he shared it with me I didn’t know what to do with the information.

I reeled from the news for a few days before heading into denial. From there, I moved into frustration, and shortly after that I worked my way to acceptance.

He wanted to go gluten free.

I know. I know.

After I got over feeling mildly amused by his nutritional conviction, I began to accept his challenge for a new way of life. I could do this gluten free thing. I mean really – how hard could it be?

Turns out it’s hard.

Not impossible, but really hard. Eating a diet that consists almost solely of unprocessed foods that are free of gluten seems like it should be easy. But let’s not forget that I am not a woman who loves spending time in her kitchen.

Our first hurdle was getting the kids on board and, surprisingly, they’ve rolled with the punches fairly well. Although when I denied one of them McDonald’s the other day, I was met with an emphatic, “YOU’RE JUST GOING TO MAKE ME GO HOME AND EAT STUPID GLUTEN FREE FOOD THAT ISN’T GOOD BECAUSE YOU JUST WANT TO TORTURE ME!”

So, you know...we’ve got some work to do.

mushroom

We have no deep health issue that requires this sort of diet, so I’m offering myself a wide berth of freedom. When we go to restaurants, I won’t even consider trying to avoid gluten. I won’t impose these dietary restrictions upon friends and family when we go visit, because I just don’t have to.

But I admit, I am curious. What will happen if I replace our old, processed foods with wholesome, nutritionally sound foods? How will we each respond if I really put in the effort?

I’m calling this an experiment.

This is hard, though. It requires work, organization, and preparation, and I don’t really love any of those things. But aren’t the hard things worth pursuing? Have you ever noticed that the greatest rewards come from the deepest toil?

My husband meets regularly with a friend where they push and challenge one another to dig deeper into life. What does it look like when we’re willing to live a life of sacrifice?

How do the people around us respond when we’re willing to suspend convenience and comfort, and instead give ourselves fully to serving those around us?

Living in sacrificial obedience requires effort and sacrifice. It begs you stand up and work, to think beyond what’s easy and safe. The convenience of tearing open a box of noodles and fake cheese may taste good temporarily, but it really only fills you up temporarily. Are you seeing the metaphor here? 

There’s no nutritional value in comfort food. And likewise, there’s no substantial comfort in living life on easy street.

If I’m going to make any kind of impact on my family’s overall health, I’m going to have to put in the effort. I’ll need to plan ahead, and shop wisely. I’ll need to spend time in the kitchen preparing meals, and researching recipes. And I will have to accept that this way of eating is going to be harder, and will take more effort.

I have to say “Yes” to the effort in order to see results.

More than that, though, if our family is going to make any kind of impact on others, we’ll need to put in the hard work. We’ll need to be ready to say “Yes” to the challenge, remembering one important fact:

Serving others will be hard. It will require sacrifice.

Bringing a child into your home who needs the love of a family will never be easy. But that doesn’t make it wrong.

Pouring your funds and resources into loving the least of these will require sacrifice. It will require you saying “No” to things that you want, or even need, so that you can say “Yes” to someone else. And make no mistake – it’s hard.

Giving of yourself in a sacrificial way will always and forever be hard. But that doesn’t make it wrong. Discomfort isn’t a sign of a wrong decision.

It may just be a sign that you’re doing something right.

The Slacker’s Guide to Essential Oils

EOS

Right around this time last year, I was suffering from the side effects of the first trimester. I was tired, crabby, nauseous, and I had a terrible cold that I couldn’t medicate because of the pregnancy.

In short, I was miserable.

It was the perfect time to give Essential Oils a try. I signed up tentatively as an Independent Product Consultant, not so much to build a business, but rather to get the oils at a discount. But I’ll be honest – I was a total skeptic.

While I do see the value in treating our bodies holistically as often as possible, I also see the value in taking medication when necessary.

When I started using EO’s, I stuck with the three basics: Lavender, Lemon and Peppermint. Those are like the musical chords G, C, D – they can be combined in any variety of manner to make a song (or make you feel better).

As time went on, I branched out a bit. I got Wild Orange because it just sounded yummy, and On Guard for the health benefits it provided. And from there my collection slowly began to build.

I can now say that I use a variety of oils every single day, but I’m still not what you might call a die hard. I fall more into the moderate camp these days. I do not believe that oils will heal every ailment that afflicts us. Do they help? Yes. Sometimes a little and sometimes a lot.

But I don’t use them for everything.

For example, oils do nothing for my migraines. I’ve tried every combination imaginable, and when my head feels like it’s splitting in two the only cure is a hefty dose of Ibuprofen. It is what it is.

So with that lengthy thorough introduction, I hereby give you my Slacker’s Guide to Essential Oils

1.) Find the oils you like and stick with them

It’s okay if you prefer to use the same oils over and over. When I was pregnant, I used a few different oils than I do now, and I do believe they were effective. Let’s just say that I delivered an 8 pound baby without a single tear, and I’m fully convinced it was because of the oils I used.

I also firmly believe that my liberal use of On Guard after Landon had the stomach flu is the reason that no one else ended up with the bug. And when Annika was sick with a cold, I applied On Guard, Breathe, and Lavender multiple times a day, and she cleared up within two days.

Those instances alone made me a believer.

2.) Be wise with when and how you use the oils

Do your research before you start ingesting or applying oils on yourself or your family members. Make sure you’re using them safely and effectively. They seem harmless enough, but if not used properly they can cause some damage.

Some oils are “hot,” meaning they should be diluted before applying to the skin, especially for young children. Know which oils are safe for kids, and which should be avoided, and if you’re pregnant talk with your doctor or midwife before you begin using oils.

3.) Use good judgement

Essential Oils aren’t good for every single ailment or occasion, despite what some people may try to tell you. Use good judgment to know when you need to take medicine, and let your oils support the medications in those cases.

4.) It’s Okay

If you only want to use EO’s sparingly, that is okay. You don’t have to get caught up in the world of using them at all times for all things. For me, it’s just not possible to keep up with all of that. I use the ones that are the most convenient for me and my family. And I don’t even use them all the time, because I forget.

This is why I’m a slacker.

In the end, I do think that Essential Oils are a worthy investment. The more that we can treat our bodies naturally, the better, and using oils which have been used to treat and heal illnesses for thousands of years makes perfect holistic sense.

In addition to the health benefits, you’ll find that oils have the potential to lift your mood, help you sleep better, improve your complexion, and they make your house smell yummy.

So even a slacker can win with Essential Oils.

(If you want to know how to get Essential Oils at a discount, let me know and I can get you some information!)

 

A List of my Top Ten Essential Oils:

Lavender:

Good for relaxation and mood calming

Melaleuca:

Excellent for the skin – I use it every day. Can also be added to shampoo to prevent lice (kind of a big deal if you have small children.)

Frankincense:

Also great for your skin (although I don’t care for the smell). This oil is known for its cellular renewal properties. Lee drinks a glass of water with a couple of drops of Frank every day.

On Guard:

Excellent for obliterating germs. Has been scientifically proven to kill even the MRSA virus. Can be rubbed on the body, ingest or defused. And it smells delicious!

Peppermint:

Smells good and opens up the sinuses. Can help with headaches, and is an energy booster.

Wild Orange:

Just yum. I put a few drops in my water for flavor, and it’s an energy booster. I love defusing Wild Orange and On Guard together. They make my house smell fabulous. (Tip: Put two drops each of Wild Orange, Frankincense, and Peppermint in your hands and rub them together, then inhale deep. It opens up your sinuses, and gives a huge boost of energy).

Deep Blue:

A necessity if you have athletes in your house. Really helps with muscle soreness.

Breathe:

Excellent for when you’re stuffed up. It’s the purest mentholated rub you can put on your skin, and it helps to defuse in the room of a sick kiddo.

Lemon:

Great health benefits. Helps with weight loss. Can be used in cooking, or in drinks. Refreshing and light.

Slim and Sassy:

This oil is beneficial to weight loss as it helps curb your appetite. And it tastes good! (Like cinnamon!)

When Breast Isn’t Best

I sat in the nurses station and glanced up at the wall. That’s when my heart sank.

Hanging on the wall was a poster that only confirmed, in my already emotional postpartum mind, that I was somehow failing my baby – that I had, in fact, failed all my children. It was my fault. I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t eat enough protein or drink enough water or take enough vitamins.

Or maybe it was just me. I wasn’t enough.

Post pregnancy hormones are no joke. Rationality can slip right past us on any given day as we feel ALL THE FEELINGS all at the same time. So when confronted with posters like this one taken from the website Breastfeeding.com, a mother who is struggling to breast feed her baby is ripe for confusion and worry.

Poster from Breastfeeding.com

Poster from Breastfeeding.com

Before I had my first born, I thought the biggest hurdle I’d have to cross was natural childbirth. Once I got through that process, I assumed I’d be home free.

No one ever told me that breastfeeding was difficult.

While most women get their milk within 3-5 days, mine didn’t come in until day 8, and even then it was very little. In the meantime, my child was starving. He screamed hysterically day and night until I finally called the pediatrician and she had me start him on formula supplements.

I visited the lactation consultants, once again checking all pride and shame at the door as people I didn’t know had their hands in sensitive areas. 

I took all the vitamins they suggested and ate the foods that were supposed to help increase milk supply. I drank gallons of water, laid around with a heating pad on my chest, and fed my baby every three hours, pumping in between feedings in order to stimulate more production.

Nothing worked. Within a month I was exhausted, my baby was still hungry, I was bruised from all the pumping, and I was an emotional wreck. As I sat in my chair cradling my newborn, I sobbed endlessly until my husband sat down beside me and told me to stop.

If only it were that easy.

I have tried and failed to breastfeed all four of my children. I would venture a guess that I’ve tried harder than most people. The work I have to do to produce a small amount of milk is astounding, and it’s unrealistic for me to maintain that type of schedule.

Posters and propaganda like the above do not help women like myself, or any others who either cannot breastfeed their children, or choose not to. So perhaps instead of pumping us full of fearful, and scientifically unsound, statements we could approach the topic of breastfeeding from a more gentle and understanding point of view.

Here is what we know as absolute fact:

– Breastfeeding is the safest, healthiest option for an infant if the mother is able to do it. It is scientifically proven that breastfeeding provides a child with excellent antibodies, and with a nutritionally balanced supply of food.

– Breastfeeding is cheaper. IT IS SO MUCH CHEAPER!

– Breastfeeding allows mother and baby to bond in a special and unique way. (Although feeding a child a bottle allows you to bond in different ways as you look into her eyes while you feed her.)

Here are the incredibly loose, and sometimes incredibly false, arguments presented:

– Breastfed babies are smarter.

Bull.

Brigham Young University released a study recently that gave insight into why breastfed babies score higher on IQ tests. And it has little to do with breastmilk.

Breastfeeding mothers tend to respond to their babies emotional cues, and they often begin reading to their children earlier (at 9 months of age).

“It’s really the parenting that makes the difference,” says lead study author Ben Gibbs.

So maybe instead of telling formula feeding moms that their children will be dumber than their breastfed peers, we could simply encourage ALL parents to adopt these obviously healthy parenting techniques.

– Breasted babies are leaner for life.

Ridiculous.

Once again, there are assumptions being made here that don’t take into account a number of other factors, namely both genetics and environment. The claim that a breastfed baby will learn to regulate his or her own eating habits for life simply because he was given breastmilk is ludicrous.

A child will learn lifelong healthy eating habits from parents who teach them. Parents who model healthy living will raise leaner children. Perhaps more breastfed mothers live their lives this way, but again, this has nothing to do with breastfeeding and everything to do with the parenting mindset. To connect the two is irresponsible.

– Breastfed babies are healthier and have fewer ear infections.

I can count on one hand the number of ear infections that all of my children have had in my eleven and a half years of parenting. Not one of my kids has had tubes put in their ears. Save from the obligatory yearly colds and illnesses that get passed around schools, my children have not been sick.

And they were all formula fed babies.

– Breastfed babies have lower risk of childhood leukemia, MS, allergies, and heart disease.

Once again, there is very little research to support these claims. Yes, a lack of breast milk could contribute to these things. But there are other risk factors that are much more likely including genetics, environment, and prolonged deficiencies in nutrition.

The fact of the matter is that it is simply irresponsible to put that kind of fear into a mother’s head when you have so little science to back up the claims. To make her feel that her choice not to breastfeed, or her inability to sustain it, will result in an obese, sickly child who has a lower IQ and is unable to properly bond to her is fear mongering at its very worst.

Image by Avodah Images.

Image by Avodah Images.

At the end of the day, if a mother is feeding her baby, she is doing something wonderful. Nourishing a newborn will inevitably require some sort of sacrifice. For breastfeeding mothers, it’s the sacrifice of freedom. For formula feeding mothers, it’s the sacrifice of finances.

But we are feeding our children, and what a miracle it is! We have options, and that’s a good thing. I’ve said on more than one occasion that I am so thankful for formula, because were I born in a different time, keeping my children alive could have been devastating.

So let’s stick to sound science, stop pushing fear on one another, and applaud the effort that it takes to sustain our newborns.

You’re doing a good thing in feeding your babies, Mamas. A very hard, good thing.

Healthy Living Blog Tour // Pregnancy Health

I have slowly, and skeptically I might add, tiptoed into the world of Essential Oils this last month. It’s something I wanted to try for a number of reasons, a big one being this has been a difficult pregnancy, and I was looking for some natural, holistic approaches to caring for my body during this season of life. Essential Oils intrigued me, and so I took the plunge.Healthy Living Blog Tour

Today I’ll share some of my experiences.

 Upfront disclaimer: I am not a health care professional. I don’t even play one on TV. The information I share in this post is based on my own personal research, and my experiences alone. It’s important for you to do your own research, and to check with your health care professionals (particularly if you’re pregnant) before you begin using Essential Oils.

The Essential Oil brand that I recommend using is doTERRA. I support this brand for a number of reasons, the main one being that they are Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade. These oils are pure natural aromatic compounds extracted from plants. They do not contain fillers or additives, which allows the user to receive maximum benefit from nature’s natural healers.

CPTG_color_md

When I first began using doTERRA oils, I was extremely skeptical. Quite honestly, I didn’t get it. It made no sense to me that rubbing a little oil on the bottom of my feet, the back of my neck, or across my forehead could possible help with common, every day ailments.

I was willing to try, though, because it had to be better than suffering through constant nausea, heart palpitations, insomnia, and frequent headaches for the duration of my pregnancy without some form of relief.

This is a short list of  what has noticeably worked for me in the last 6 weeks.

LAVENDER

This little gem of an oil has become one of my dearest friends. Carrying girl babies has always been difficult for me (thank you, hormones). With both of my girls, I’ve struggled with insomnia, which leads to headaches. Lavender is helping with both of these issues. It relaxes me at night, which helps me fall asleep faster (though it does not help me sleep through the night. Baby steps…) And rather than popping Tylenol every four hours for headaches, I use Lavender, which has made a noticeable difference in the intensity of the headaches, if it doesn’t fully relieve them.

WILD ORANGE

The smell of this oil is divine. I’ve combined it with the On Guard blend on a daily basis in a diffuser, which fills my house with a beautiful fragrance, while also giving us the benefits of both oils. Wild Orange helps with anxiety, which I need when my heart starts beating irregularly due to anemia. The Wild Orange smells good, and it calms me down. It does not stop the heart palpitations, but it does help me work through them.

ON GUARD

As I mentioned, I’ve used On Guard in a diffuser to help purify our air. Landon came down with a cold last week, and this was my first chance to really test out the effectiveness of the oils. I rubbed (diluted) On Guard on the bottom of his feet. And rubbed lavender and Breathe (a lovely, menthol-y blend) on his chest before bed. Within 24 hours his congestion had cleared, and his cough remained mild. No one else got sick.

 

Lifelong Vitality Pack

This has been the most noticeable benefit I’ve seen since beginning to use doTERRA products. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve struggled with anemia this time around, so increasing my iron intake was key. Since I’ve started taking these vitamin supplements regularly, I’ve had increased energy, fewer symptoms of low iron, and more peace of mind that I’m doing what’s best for me and the baby.

These are only a few of the oils I’ve used that has produced actual results. For more information on all the oils available, visit the doTERRA site and look around.

Family_Physician_Kit-6001

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can utilize doTERRA Essential Oils to boost your family’s overall health in the most natural way possible, please feel free to contact me and ask questions. If you’d like to sign up as a Wellness Advocate to receive the deepest discounts possible on the oils you purchase, I’m happy to walk you through that process.

This post is a part of the HEALTHY LIVING blog tour, put on by The Oily MOB! We are giving away an awesome doTERRA Family Physician Kit {a $166 value} for FREE! Please use the rafflecopter below to enter.

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Subscribe to receive a FREE excerpt from the award winning Like A River From Its Course!

You have Successfully Subscribed!