Tuesday, March 10, 2009

on the road again

so i've been making granola for my (one) customer and i thought of something i wanted to share with you. it's the story of my health journey.

when i think back on my childhood one of the first things that pops into my head is 'stomach ache'. i was chronically sick to my stomach. really all the way up until my mid-twenties. i was teaching full time and also busy serving the teenagers in my church and community. but it came to a point where the stomach aches began to be debilitating. after work i'd come home and lay on the couch. i was sick, i was tired, and i was sad. i was sad that i couldn't be the kind of wife i wanted to be, the kind of friend i wanted to be, and i wanted to be a mommy. but i didn't want to be a sick mommy. so i began praying about my health. really praying. like prostrate on the floor praying. during this time of asking for wisdom, a random woman at my church came up to me and said 'god's been talking to me about you. i think you need to lay off of the dairy.' umm, excuse me random woman? that's crazy talk! i've read my food pyramid!

well, i continued praying, and obviously, ignoring the answers coming to me. i finally had to go in for testing. after a colonoscopy and blood work i was told that i was normal. there was nothing wrong with me. but based on my complaints they prescribed me meds for IBS. that didn't make sense to me. so i didn't take the meds. i eventually got pregnant, and because of that, tried to eat healthier. i stopped drinking soda. i ate -less- fast food. and i began feeling better. actually, the second and third trimester of my pregnancy i felt better than i ever had. and after moonpie was born she began having digestive problems. my pediatrician advised me to lay off the dairy. hmm...i'd heard that before. but being wiser (after all, i WAS a mom now: ) ) i listened. and within a week of cutting out dairy i felt great! and so did moonpie! it was right around then that god put a new friend in my life. she became my health mentor. i was (and still am) so thankful for this woman. she is wise and lives her convictions. i needed this kind of woman in my life so badly. kicking the dairy was hard for me. but i'm so thick headed that once i choose to do something, there's no turning back! this got me thinking though, could my health REALLY be so linked to my diet? i mean, COME ON!!! how can it be that easy? so i started reading. and reading. and praying. and praying. one very memorable day was when i was sooooo frustrated with all the information and mis-information i was coming across. what was the right way? i went to god in prayer and through my tears and turmoil he showed me this bible passage in daniel, chapter one:

8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, "I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your [c] food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you."
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 "Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see." 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

so at first i thought, 'yes lord! i will be a vegetarian! thank you for your very literal and black and white answer!' but then he told me to look at it again, and again, and again. after a week of praying on this scripture what i felt him telling me was that it wasn't about the food. it was about my motives and the spiritual application. he showed me that yes, i should abstain from the 'rich foods of the king', but for me it was more about the spiritual discipline that needed to be sowed within me. i needed discipline, i needed to learn how to deny myself. the next day (after about a week of praying on this) i went back to him and asked for specifics. now that i understood my motive wasn't my health, it was my relationship with him, he gave them to me. i was to abstain from processed foods, refined foods and dairy (at this time i had never heard of raw dairy...more to come on that). i was only to eat REAL food, and he was very specific that i needed organic produce. but to be honest, we couldn't afford organic produce. again, it wasn't really about the produce, it was about trusting and being obedient. so i prayed about our financial situation and the fact that i couldn't afford to buy organic produce. the very next day (no exaggeration here) the new friend i mentioned before called me up. she told me that she was a part of an organic produce co-op and she felt god was telling her to buy my family organic produce every month! i was beside myself with excitement. i told her about my prayer the day before, and we both were overjoyed! so she was faithful. for 1 1/2 years she bought my family organic produce every 2 weeks. i'll never forget the first shipment. i had never even dreamed of eating that much produce in a 2 week period. i called her and said 'umm...i think you forgot to take your produce out of my box.' she cracked up and told me, no, it was all for me. and i needed to strive to eat it all!

so those were the beginning stages. and at every stage god was faithful to provide the money we needed to afford the food we needed to be eating. sure, it called for some sacrifice on our part. we cut cable, we went down to one cell phone, even one car. we moved out of our house and into our friend's 700 square foot guest house...but what fantastic spiritual truths we obtained! the truths of self-denial, of discipline, of living simply...it was such a rich time in our lives.

after about 4 1/2 years of eating 65-85% raw with very little meat, my health began to plateau. i was tired and shaky feeling. all the time. that started about 1 1/2 years ago. so i've been back on my knees. asking god for guidance here. i feel like i'm back on the road again- looking for direction from my god and he is delivering. of course he is. the information he is leading me to is not in contradiction to what he taught me 6 years ago. see, i really needed to go almost full fledged vegetarian. my body was at so much dis-ease that i needed a true purification time. but right now i feel my body is ready to handle what is described as a 'traditional' diet. one with more fat and protein than i was before eating, but still loaded with fruit and veggies. mainly my beloved green leafies! i know so much more now about enzymes, maintaining a healthy gut flora, and about continuing to stay away from franken-foods and anything processed.

so for me, in my health journey, it really hasn't been about my health at all. i mean, that has been a fantastic benefit! but i've never been out to be skinny or whatever- it's all been about the spiritual truths that could be obtained from this one, seemingly simple, area of my life. those truths have been self-discipline (i'm constantly having to think ahead about food i need to prepare and carry with me if we go out), self-denial (walk past that do-nut table, you can do it!), and obedience. it's about not deceiving myself into thinking that food isn't really a spritual issue.

because really, it's all spiritual.


Crunchy Christian Mom said...

WOW. That is an incredible story, Mandi. I can't say that I've ever prayed quite so hard about what we eat. I do think about it a lot, though, especially since we have friends with so many different priorities when it comes to food -- and they're all Christians.

None of us eat the same kind of menu at home, and my focus has always been creating community and being flexible with other people's needs. But I find myself lately needing to prioritize my own health in some way, but conflicted over which values to place first.

Anyhow, I had never seen that passage about Daniel. I know God's got something there to teach me, too! Thanks for sharing!! I wish we were neighbors, too!!!

Brandi said...

mandi, this was really beautiful. thank you for posting. there is a lot there. you are tapping into some significant truths about God.

Ivy Mae said...

It's so funny how God uses certain facets of our lives to make us more fully dependent on Him! Thanks for sharing your story!

Mandy said...

ummm... that wasn't the post i requested.

But, it Was very good. It's so vital we remember it IS all a spiritual thing. Also, that He takes us through a process of teaching us who He is, who we are, and who He wants us to become, and that means there is not one standard rule we are all supposed to follow. We have to seek Him and ask Him what He wants us to do. Just like what you have been doing - and look how faithful God has been to answer you!

Very good reminder for me! Thanks, my friend! :)

Kellybird said...

i love this post. i've read it about 10 times. thanks so much for sharing.

Amy said...