A Lesson In Perspective

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Today I am feeling a bit like Job. Not because I am suffering, (I would have to lose a lot before I was willing to compare my suffering to his), but because in the midst of my circumstances (and my son’s), God took the time to give me a little attitude adjustment.  Not only that, but he had the audacity to use my son, who was in the middle of a major allergic reaction.

Yesterday we were at church, getting ready for (and participating in) our Christmas service.  Things were going really well. Worship was just so incredibly on point. After that I shared a song and really felt the Spirit ministering through it, I was getting really excited for whatever was coming next.

Did I say whatever? Because maybe I should have qualified that whatever a little bit. I sat down, drank the last sip of water I had at my seat, and got up to slip out and get some more.  I have been fighting off the respiratory flu bug that’s going around, and my throat was DRY.

I made it to the back of the sanctuary, where my husband sat. I was alarmed to see that, while I was hearing his “Don’t Panic” voice, I was seeing his, “Now is the time to PANIC!” face. I looked down at Joshua, still thinking about my water for the moment, and noticed his face was a bit red. I looked up to Jeff for more explanation and then my alarm registered enough for me to take a second look. One eye, swollen almost all the way shut. The other eye, decently puffy. Hives on cheek and forehead, groggy looking boy. Jeff informed me that Joshua had an allergic reaction, he wasn’t sure to what, he only knew it was not something he ate, and was pretty sure it was that something had gotten on his skin. Joshua had been struggling to breathe, and Jeff had given him a whopping dose of Benadryl (in hindsight, we are both pretty aware that if there is a reaction this big in the future, it is an appropriate time for the Epi-pen. We’ve never had to use it yet, so that line between Benadryl and Epi-pen has seemed pretty confusing till now).

Anyway, we ushered him to the fellowship hall, I walked and prayed while holding him for a bit, then he only wanted Daddy.  He was getting rather unnerved by the fact that we kept taking very close looks at his face. Joshua has some sensory issues, and I think the whole thing was a little overwhelming for him. Multiply that with Benadryl grogginess and it was a sure recipe for overwhelmed and irritable boy.  Boy who could hardly keep his eyes open.  That last part worried me. The Benadryl doesn’t ususally hit him so hard, but he usually only gets one teaspoon and this time he got 2.  But the swelling was coming down, and he seemed to be having an easier time breathing.  Just couldn’t stay awake and was “sad (his words).”

We decided that we should go home, where there was less going on and it would be easier to keep tabs on him and make sure things continued to progress in the right direction (less swelling, more oxygen). While I got our stuff into the car and Jeff held Joshua, I was praying. Fussing, really. It went something like this.

“God, I don’t even know what to pray right now. We are supposed to be walking out our healing…we’ve been doing this for almost three years and we really haven’t seen any indication that his allergies are reversing or anything.  I’m frustrated, and discouraged. I want to see him healed. I want him to be able to play and not worry if something nearby could make him sick or worse.  I want to know that this is going to be over, at some point.”

Now, it is true, none of Joshua’s allergies have been reversed, yet. But, we have seen improvements in his digestion, in his growth, and he is in pain a lot less frequently. There is definitely healing taking place. But in the drama of the moment and in my panic I conveniently neglected these details and honed in on the fact that we’re not at the END of that healing journey, yet. As we got Joshua into the car he cried out, “No! I need more church.” That made me second guess our decision a bit, so I asked him, “Do you want to stay here at church?” And he said, “I can’t stay.” So we went on home.  He was asleep before we even started the car, and his snoring was nice and even. Nevertheless, we didn’t say much on the drive home, I’m pretty sure we were both listening to him breathe.

He woke up when we got home, and we nestled him into the easy-chair, and I sat with Alliyah for a bit who was needing Mommy (and a nap).  Then, I just felt really strongly that I needed to sing over him. I was remembering a word and some instruction given to me, that I need to be singing over him and speaking life, and this was one of those moments I just began to feel it was really critical.

I began to sing, “There is power in the Name of Jesus, to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.”  As I started to sing the bridge of that song (Break Every Chain), which says, “I hear the chains falling,” Joshua began to cry out. I couldn’t be sure, but I thought I heard him yelling, “Yes,” loud and very long.  I looked over at him, saw that he was not in any physical distress, and kept singing and hearing him cry out five or six times, “YYYYYYYEEEEEEESSSSSSSSS!!!!” I stopped when he did, and just to double check what I was hearing (He was literally 5 feet away from me, I am honestly not sure why I asked) I asked him, “What did you just say?” He answered very matter-of-factly, “Um, I said, ‘yes!'” I said, “oh, ok,” and was about to keep singing the same song, when he piped up, “No, Mommy, don’t SING!”  I thought surely he must be confused because he had just been agreeing with what I was singing a moment before. I asked why not, and he started singing, “Because I’m happy….”

He was done crying out. He was ready to praise it in (I know Pharrell’s “Happy” is not really a praise song, but we have definitely sung portions of it in church, and he LOVES the song).  So then I sang “Happy” over him for awhile. At this point I had moved and AJ danced while I held Joshua curled up on my lap. And we sang happy. He was still my groggy benadryl-boy and he didn’t move much like he usually does, but he knew what he wanted to do in the middle of that moment.

Job’s lesson, at the end of his story, is that — while God will never punish him or be angry with him for asking questions — Job really can’t see behind the scenes to see what God is doing or know the purpose in things. Our view is limited, and God is working things out for our good to His glory. He is the one who knows the end from the beginning, not us. And more than that, through the life Christ lived on earth we know that God is in the midst of all these challenging things with us. And I got a very close-up view of how much I cherish my son’s life and desire for him to be well, whole, and with me.  How much more so did God love and cherish His own son.  We like to think that because He’s God and because He knew He’d have Jesus back in the end it wasn’t a big deal for Him. He just lent Jesus to us for awhile, right? But God created us in His image. If we are emotional beings, we can bet that God is, too. In fact, at one point in His earthly ministry Jesus wept over Jerusalem, and at another over the death of a friend…God is a God who feels things. And this feeling God sent His son to earth to be born in a grimy, stinky barn and live a life where He was rejected and mocked by the very people He came to save, where he would ultimately die on our behalf. This is what Christmas is.  We celebrate that God bruised His own son for us without even getting a glimpse of how that must have felt for God, who identifies Himself as “Father.”  I spent some time today just soaking all that in.

Joshua shifted my own perspective because I had forgotten that, in the midst of my panic, discouragement, and frustration; God was still God. He was right there with me. But Joshua hadn’t forgotten. He cried out to God, too, but then he knew it was time to shift from pleading to praise. God was holding Joshua even when I wasn’t. He deserved the glory before Joshua’s reaction, He deserved it during, and He deserves it now. Yes, God! Heal my son! Break the chains that this illness has on his life! But let’s not forget to praise Him. God, don’t let me forget to praise You. Even while I’m waiting for an answer, I will praise Him.
I know this post is getting rather lengthy but I have to add this update. The day after taking Benadryl, Joshua is generally excessively irritable. Tantrums every five minutes over seemingly nothing. Today he was totally fine. Just another day. He got along with AJ the same as usual (sometimes sharing with her, other times pushing her down, normal big brother stuff). Not only that, but every single allergic reaction he has ever had, the next day his diet has become more restricted.  I think because of the hit to his immune system, those opportunistic gut-bugs gain a better foothold. They like sugar, so the only thing Joshua is willing to eat is bananas. He has restricted his diet down so many times in the past. At the moment we are waiting for our first appointment with a pediatric feeding program…it’s that bad. Recently he’s stopped eating anything but poultry. Before that it was only meat on the bone. He would eat neck bones, chicken legs, any kind of meat on the bone, but no burgers, patties, or meat that had been removed from the bone.  But at least he had variety in the types of meat. Then just a few weeks ago he stopped eating pork and beef. Chicken all the time. The only veggie he would permit was squash fries. Tonight, he ASKED for bugers. And then he ate a whole quarter-pound burger. AND cauliflower. He ate cauliflower even though what he’d asked for was broccoli and I didn’t have any left. So instead of restricting his diet down further…he expanded it for the first time in months. I am sitting here today knowing that God is good…even when I’m throwing a pity party and frantically refusing to trust…God is good.

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Taking Each Day As It Comes

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If you are a parent of a child who has a chronic illness, especially if it is new to you, know this:
There are going to be days when you feel like you and your family are kicking that illness’s proverbial butt. And there are going to be days when you feel defeated. You have to take each day as it comes. The grace and strength God gives you to be there for your kid is the same every single day. Some days we are just more aware of our need to lean on it.

Today my 4yo son is on day 4 of a bout of digestive distress that has me scratching my head for ways to curb it. He’s refusing to eat one of the two sources of carbs/vegetation that he is normally willing to eat; and honestly, up until now, I have been feeling defeated. It’s not that I don’t know what to do, it’s that the best options that are left aren’t easy. So as I started to feel that familiar self-pity creep up and say, “Why are we even going through this???” I took a moment to recognize it. Yes, this is hard. It is painful to watch your child struggle with something they never asked for. It is hard to try and tailor your life around something as unpredictable as an autoimmune condition like Celiac, or the myriad of other chronic conditions that affect so many kids. It is agonizing to have to constantly say “no” to things that could seriously harm your kid, but that they want so desperately to experience (Yes, even a 4 year old knows that there is something innately delicious about a cookie he has never tasted).

Feel it. Recognize the difficulty that your child faces, that you face. Don’t try to pretend it isn’t there. But then…

Make a choice. You can choose to stay defeated, or you can choose to actually LEAN on the grace that’s there and do what needs to be done.

I kind of hate when other people laud the choices that we make every day as “special needs moms.” Many of you will empathize, I’m sure, with the fact that — while there are other choices — the other choices don’t really feel like choices because they mean sub-par results for your child and for your family. Of course I learned a new way to cook. The old way was killing him, literally. But, beyond that, let’s be completely honest. I don’t LOVE that we had to change our lives. I don’t love that we’ve had to make the choices we make. Some of them are definitely good choices, even if our kid wasn’t sick. And I have extra reason to stick to them (my child’s life kind of depends on it); so hooray for healthy choices, right? It can be really easy when very (very) well-intentioned individuals (who love us and want to encourage us) say such things, to dwell on the fact that we’d rather not be making those choices. But that just leads to more self pity, doesn’t it?

So you make a choice. Today, I made a choice. I decided that, by the grace of God, I am going to do what it takes for my kid. I know, I’ve made this choice before, but I am taking each day as it comes. Today, I am deciding that Celiac Disease will not defeat my child or our family, and does not define my child or our family. And I’m making a choice to pray, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference (The Serenity Prayer, as written by Reinhold Niebuhr, see the full text here.)”  There are things I can’t change in our lives, and there are areas in which I need to take action whether I “feel like” I can or not.  I need to choose today that I will rely on grace and God-given wisdom to fight the right battles.

The hard days can sneak up on you, especially if you’ve had a very nice run of good days. We like to think that, if we’re having a good stretch of easier moments, that must mean it will only get better from here on out.  That first bad day can really smack you down. And when that first bad day turns into four days…it is easy to get discouraged. But don’t feel defeated by the hard days.  You have to choose to overcome them. I know that I don’t have what it takes to be everything the ones I love need ALL the time. But I know Who does, and I know that I can run to Him freely, and get what I need for that day.

FAQ Post: What on Earth is a Health Coach?? (and other questions)

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As the crowdfunding campaign and other fundraisers roll forward, I wanted to dedicate a few posts to questions that have come up either since it began or in the last few weeks while I was in the planning stages.

Just What Is a Health Coach, Anyway?

A health coach, first of all, is not a registered dietitian or a nutritionist, but doesn’t compete with them either. In fact, in many cases they can and do work together.  Also called a wellness coach, a health coach is someone who comes alongside you and helps you figure out what works best for you and your personal health.  A health coaching relationship helps people learn how to take their health and wellness into their own hands, and how to implement change in bite-sized increments over a certain period of time.  When I hear and read these things, I think it boils down to two words: Being Intentional.  There are hundreds of nutritional theories out there, and when you make a decision to get healthy, it can be tricky to know where to start.  This is one time when a health coach can play a pivotal role.  As a health coach, I will take the time to listen to clients, and then teach them how to listen to their own bodies as they respond to different foods, of course, but also different aspects of their environment.

When Jeff and I first began to realize that certain changes needed to be made for our health (I’ll be honest, at that point I thought it was for his health), the flood of possible “right ways” of eating and drastic changes was overwhelming.  I ran across a few bloggers who all insisted, “You cannot change your family’s eating habits overnight.  You need to pick one aspect of your health at a time, and go from there.”  But what “one aspect” do you choose?  Do we switch to raw milk? Cut dairy out completely? Eat more meat? Less meat? No meat?  Do we soak or sprout our grains, or toss them out altogether? IIN focuses on a principle called bio-individuality, that basically means, “everyone is different, so what works for one person may not work for another.”  This is an important key, but if what works for one does not transfer to all, how do you know what works? You have to learn how to approach nutrition with critical thinking and how to listen to the tiny signals your body sends after you consume certain foods or spend time in certain environments.  For instance, during a web summit I went to a little while back, I learned about a method of testing for food allergies that involves just holding the food in your mouth, and taking your pulse before, during, and after.  This is an example of “listening to your body.”  I know sometimes when people use that phrase it can sound a little mystical, and perhaps too much so for your average individual, so I wanted to break that down. A person may have several easy-to-miss responses to things, and ONE purpose of a health coach is to teach you how not to miss them.

Another function of a health coach is accountability and moral support.  Let’s face it, even a change you desperately want to make can be hard.  Life may always be changing, but change can be hard to adapt to.  You can desire a change, but lack the tools to break it down into a stick-to-able process.  The job of a health coach is to be “in your corner;” cheering you on, giving you ideas on strategy, and helping you focus. Especially for those whose personal circle does not include people who are supportive of their changes, this can be a vital necessity to making your new nutritional path and/or lifestyle work for you.

That’s the one-on-one work of a health coach, although coaches also lead workshops, seminars, and classes in communities, places of employment, and the like.

For more information on health coaching, you may find this wikipedia article helpful.

So, for those of you who still were not entirely sure what it is I mean when I say I am going to be a Health Coach, I hope that answers your questions!

Why the Institute for Integrative Nutrition?

I first encountered IIN when I was looking at the sponsors of a web summit I attended.  Honestly, it looked too good to be true, so I let it lie for a little while.  But curiosity did get the better of me, and I took some time to check them out.  When I did, I found out that their experts weren’t just “world famous” because they said they were (We’ve all encountered companies and institutions that boast “world famous” people we’ve never heard of, right?), but because they really were the renowned experts I already knew of.  Sally Fallon Morell, David Wolfe, Mark Hyman, Andrew Weil, and Chris Kresser, just to name a few.  “Okay,” I thought, “so they at least have some well-respected professionals, that’s good.”  So I began to look into it a little more.  I found out that they have affiliations with colleges and universities (including SUNY campuses) so that if you want to continue your education, the work you’ve done there will count for something.  That said a lot, even though at this point in time I have no need to go beyond the health coaching program.  For me, it spoke volumes about the credibility.  Additionally, I learned that they do a lot to make sure the students have what they need to succeed, including hosting a professional website for as long as you keep it active.  Beyond that, the cost of tuition covers all the books and materials, and several other resources (including my own health coach to help model for me what I’ll be doing and experiment with some of what I’m learning).  So instructors, materials, affiliations…everything checked out.  And then on top of that, the format of their schooling is particularly appropriate to my crazy-busy-mama lifestyle.  When all was said and done and I had all my questions answered, I knew this was the program I wanted! I am not saying it is the perfect program for everyone, but I am saying this looks like an ideal program for me, in order to be equipped to do this well!

If you want to support my gofundme campaign, you can do that in two different ways:

1.  SHARE or Tweet this post, or my gofundme site itself.

2. Click this link and donate!

Other Options:

Love skin care and wellness products? Join my Virtual Arbonne Party! Enter code 1169542

You can also shop through shop.com and the commission off of Market America products will go to my fundraising efforts when you include my email address in the “referral” field (melody . joy . buller (a) gmail . com without the spaces).  To shop the Market America lines click on the “All Stores” tab and select Market America from the “M” list.

There will be another FAQ-styled post coming soon!  Until then, thank you for your support!

Not Exactly Out of the Blue

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Hello Everyone! I am so excited about getting this campaign going, and very hopeful about the opportunity to work in something I am so passionate about. I wanted to take the time to thank you all in advance for your support. Without it, I would still be racking my brain, trying to figure out what the next step should be.

For those of you with whom I’ve been out of touch for a while, this may seem like quite a departure. Music and writing have pretty much been my main goals for my whole life. So I wanted to share a bit with you about how this decision came about:

When we began walking out our family’s healing, we had no idea that it was anything more than they physical needs which needed to be addressed. And yet, just making such drastic changes to one aspect of your life (diet, in this case) shifts things so drastically in some of the other spheres that everything gets turned on its head.

In my case, I have lived a good part of my life controlled by fear: fear of what others thought, fear of falling on my face, fear of succeeding and then having to keep it up, fear of letting down the ones I love. I had been allowing fear to sabotage the better part of my efforts, especially those involving music, but to my own eyes it really just seemed like things “hadn’t quite lined up the way I’d hoped.” I had no idea all the ways that fear had been paralyzing me until Jeff and I first decided it was time to start our family.

Our first pregnancy ended very early in miscarriage, and I did not realize how many lies about myself that miscarriage seemed to carve into stone (“you’ll never be a mother, you can’t follow through on anything,” etc.). When we became pregnant again, this time with our son, Joshua, I was literally plagued by fear. It did not seem to matter how many times I heard his (very strong) heartbeat or how many times I felt him kick, I was terribly afraid that I was going to lose him. When, in his infancy, he started to develop symptoms of food allergies, I could have been paralyzed all over again. I really believe it was only the grace of God that enabled me to be anything other. Instead, it was like a switch finally got flipped, and I sprang into action.

I uncovered every stone I could think of. We were going to “figure this out,” once and for all. I really had no idea how much striving was still involved in all my decision making, but I was honestly trying to will Joshua into good health. The GAPS diet was a last resort, and I still laid out a fleece. While I was praying about it, I told God that if this was what He wanted for us, He’d have to convince Jeff, as I was sure he wouldn’t want to make such drastic changes.

I continued to pray about it, and do research, and look into any other options, and finally, I presented the GAPS diet to Jeff. The whole time we were discussing it, I was practically telling him all the reasons we shouldn’t do it, and still, he signed on. Enthusiastically. We gave ourselves three months to prepare, and we dove in. And our world turned upside down.

Food is so central to American Society. Just about every kind of social event will have food, food is given as gifts, and people want to meet over food just for casual conversation. There is no way, in our society today, that you can change every facet of the way you eat (such as removing all grains, certain starches, most legumes, and double sugars the way that GAPS does), and have it do anything other than totally upend life as you know it. But it turns out that what is waiting just outside of your “comfort zone” is usually…freedom.

One little section of my heart at a time, every “crisis of healing” we reached, individually and as a family, brought with it an opportunity to apply what we were learning about our physiology to a deeper level. The ripple effects of little every-day choices, for example; or even simple things like the way harboring stress and fear eat away at your health. I began to write again, the way I hadn’t in awhile.

In fact, I still need to take the time to sit down and organize and edit the things I have been writing during this time, as well as to start to record the song snippets I have been singing to my family and myself over the last couple years. But Journals, notebooks, scraps of paper in my Bible, and then word docs on my computer are all overflowing with the things I have been learning. There is a serious tie between this journey of ours and my ability to honestly write the things God has been laying on my heart. And there is also a very significant connection between our physical health and our mental and emotional stresses and strongholds.

To tie it all in, I don’t see myself Health Coaching “instead of” singing or writing. For me, they are all different sides of the same desire: to encourage people to approach their well-being from every angle: Their faith/spirituality, emotional and mental health, and of course the foods with which they are fueling their bodies. I am not, however, trying to pursue all three vocations at the same time, and I have been thoughtfully and prayerfully deliberating as to what the next step should be. When I began to look into the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, pieces began to fall into place, and I can say with confidence that I feel quite sure this is that logical next step. This is an opportunity to do what I have already been doing for some others, but now for many more, even those who are following different health/dietary protocols from my own. Being able to be the resource and encouragement that I needed when I was going through would be an immense joy for me.

How can you help? I am so glad you asked! First of all, you can like and share this blog post. Secondly, if you pray, you could pray for me (for the fundraising, for my studies, for my family’s continued wellness journey).

As for fundraising, I currently have three options available. First of all, I am running a crowdfunding campaign through GoFundMe, which you can find here.

Next, my parents and my best friend have each offered up their own fundraising vehicles.

Presently, my parents are brokers through shop.com, and if you do any shopping online at all, you probably want to see if you can’t get the same things you buy elsewhere at shop.com (for cheaper!). Yes, this even includes Amazon shoppers. And right now, if you purchase any of the Market America line of products through this link, the commission off of those items will go to my tuition fundraising efforts. When you place your order, please use my email address (melody . joy . buller (a) gmail . com minus the spaces) in the “referral” bar so that those orders are earmarked for my fundraiser.  If you want to be able to search only Market America products (since some of their lines have different names), you can go to the tab which says “all stores,” and select “Market America” from the M section.

My dear friend, Monique, also represents an incredible brand name: Arbonne. She is hosting an Arbonne “Party with a Purpose” toward my tuition fundraising, as well. You can join the party by placing orders here and entering the code 1169542. If you’d like to join the party on Facebook, send me a message and I’ll send you an invite!

Moving Forward: What the Future Holds

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So many of you you know our journey over the last few years: Searching for over a year to figure out what Joshua’s health issues were,  and finally finding out that he had Celiac (as well as more than a dozen food allergies). You know how, because of that, we learned that Celiac was also the culprit in Jeff’s host of food allergies and frequent illness, and that it was even a problem for his mother!  Through all of this, I was also able to help another family member on my side uncover a Celiac diagnosis. It has been so clear to me that God has used this trying situation to shed light on the need for healing and to allow for healing in so many others.

Since we began delving into this wide, wide world of health and nutrition; learning how to nourish our bodies best, and learning how to reduce other stresses and try to live more simply, so many people have crossed my path. Some of them had insight or wisdom to offer that helped us, and some of them were just starting out and looking for insight from us. Especially in our region, resources for some of these diet and lifestyle changes are fairly limited. For instance, the nearest support group for allergy moms is over an hour and a half away by car, which is where the vast majority of functional medicine offices, naturopaths, and the only GAPS practitioner in the state are all located as well. For some time, I have wanted to be able to be a resource in our area in a more official capacity, but I was really unsure of what course of action was the best. I have prayed about it, thought about it, and puzzled over it. How could I get the “expertise” in a way that is affordable but also  provided valid credentials (let’s face it, in the field of nutrition and in a time when so many misrepresent themselves, the credentials are important!)?

Even still, I have been wary of going “back to school” because, while I LOVE listening to lectures and reading the books, I don’t have time for a lot of research papers and hours upon hours of homework. I’m a special needs mom who has to spend a big chunk of her day in the kitchen because of our dietary limitations. Becoming a nutritionist or dietitian was out of the picture, because it would require years of schooling even going full time, and part time would take even longer.

Enter the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. All the experts whose resources I have spent time searching to find the right answers for us, the folks who have spoken at the web summits I have been signing up for? Several of them are course instructors through this online program. Better yet, it is a one-year program that specializes in a myriad of nutritional theories and ALSO teaches you the business tools to make sure that your health coaching business is a success. They have great success rates, and they take care of a lot of the details for you (for instance, as long as I keep it active, they will host and maintain my professional website, and all the costs of materials are included in tuition). They support and partner with charities that I have an immense amount of respect for, such as Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, and Food for the Poor. All my lectures are available on my mobile device, so I can listen and learn while I work in the kitchen, like I do now with sermon podcasts, kitchen tutorials, and the like. Basically, the folks behind IIN want to make sure that their students succeed, and that they and their students have every opportunity to make a positive impact on the world around them.

The more I read, the more I wanted in on this great thing. The only catch was….tuition. Money is not easy to come by for so many these days, and that includes me.  None of the (very flexible) payment plans are really an option for us, either.  So, after giving it a lot of thought and prayer, I decided to run a crowdfunding campaign to raise what I need for tuition and some start up business expenses.

The cost of tuition is $5995, and of course there are the fees through gofundme.com  as well. On top of that, I am going to need some help with the kiddos (childcare budget) for some of my study time, and I would like to be able to be sure that I have basics covered for starting my health coaching business when I am finished my classes (including  funds to secure an inexpensive office space). All told I am going to be raising about $12,000 (with as much as $1,000 of that possibly going to gofundme.com, depending on transaction fees).

This is where you come in. You, my family and friends, can help me out even if you cannot give so much as one dollar. You cannot “crowdfund” without a crowd. I would like each of you to Tweet, “Like & Share,” or Email this post (as well as my gofundme.com page, once it launches), so that my campaign reaches as many potential donors as possible. I cannot do this without you!

Part of the unique and creative atmosphere of many crowdfunding sites is to offer non-monetary incentives to backers; and mine will include personal Thank You emails & newsletters at the lower tiers, as well as 1 free coaching session, and a package of 3 free coaching sessions (by web, phone, or in-person) at the higher tiers. I will actually be able to begin taking clients after successfully completing 6 months of classes, so you do not even have to wait for me to graduate before you can begin receiving those incentives.

The biggest reason I want to do all of this, however, is to make an impact on my community, which is where “stretch goals” come into play. If I am able to raise MORE than I initially need, I have plans in place for extra monies that come in. For example, a good car is on the list, so that I can get to clients who cannot get to me; as well as a specific budget to enable to me to take some clients who cannot afford such services. Extra monies that come in will cover consultation costs as well as supplements and such for these clients who need help navigating nutrition but cannot afford it. I have been so grateful for some of the practitioners along the way who gave us needed help and never even sent a bill, as our finances have been incredibly tight, as well as farmers who have given us more than we’ve paid for and helped us to be able to feed our family in ways that would make us well, instead of relegating us to foods that would make us sick. People have given so much to us, and I want the primary goal of my coaching business-to-come to be giving back to my community in a vital way.

The comments are open, tell me what you think! But more than that, please like & share. I really want to get this training, so that I can have this positive impact in my community! And who doesn’t want to be able to make a living doing something that they love?! But, I cannot do this without each and every one of you! So let’s get started!

 

Update: Visit My GoFundMe Page Here: http://www.gofundme.com/bi9d34

My First Post at Made 4 This Moment!

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Hello everyone! Today I’m posting at the Made 4 This Moment blog, and my post is When Your Heart is Standing Water.  Before I give you a glimpse of the post, though, let me tell you about Made 4 This Moment!

In April of 2011, some friends and I started regularly conference calling to pray with each other.  It started out as monthly, and quickly moved to weekly.  You see, we had all gone to college together, and to be quite frank, we were all wondering why on earth our lives looked nothing like we thought they would a decade prior.  Detours had come into our lives in a number of forms; some of them very obvious (marriage, family), and some of them more subtle (I thought this was the way…but is it?). We began to pray together, encourage each other, and speak LIFE into each other’s lives.  It was so refreshing…so needed!

Out of that prayer time, a ministry was born.  It started as a worship workshop we led together at my home church here in GA (New Life Anointed Ministries, International), called Deeper Still.  And that was an incredible experience…but we were hungry for more.  That was two and a half years ago, and a lot of the journey in these last couple years has just been learning to be available.  Listening for direction as God guided us through our daily lives and also downloaded bits and pieces of His heart for this ministry.

One of these ladies with which I am ministering is my friend Monique, and the two of us have felt a very strong leading to encourage, challenge, and uplift those dealing with a very specific kind of “detour,” Special Needs parenting. At present, that is the main thrust of the blog over at M4TM, though we anticipate that the scope will be broadening quite a bit in the future, as well.  Our first two posts, however, are just a couple of lessons God has been working in our hearts recently.  I don’t say that to diminish them, they are pretty key for anyone who finds themselves on any sort of detour right now.  You need to know that you are where you are for a reason.  Things may look messy, and nothing like you thought they would, but there is a design in the detour, and that is what we really want to drive home to your hearts today.  We make all kinds of plans, and of course God has a long-range goal for each of our lives, but in trying to focus just on the end results, we miss so much, because we are Made 4 This Moment.

And now, here’s a sneak peek of my post over at M4TM today:

Lately, God has been speaking to me through my home appliances.  True story.

Now, before you make the call to have me committed, let me explain.  I do notmean that the appliances have been the ones doing the talking.  I do mean that before each and every breakdown (and there have been many, of late), I have had a dream.  Two incidents with the washing machine (one of which was really the well), a dream for each.  The dishwasher, the same.  But the dreams were not really “predictive,” instead, the machine was just one minor part of a total picture that was dealing with me, spiritually.

I am a recovering people-pleaser (aka performance orientation).  I have worked very hard to make sure I have it all together, because enough other people have “real” problems that I never believed I really had a right to mine, and one of my  key selling points was that I was not a trouble maker or a boat-rocker. In other words, I have always been really good at striving in the flesh.  I have never been very good on relying on God’s grace, and allowing the move of the Holy Spirit to be what fueled my efforts.  Always faith-full, in terms of my beliefs, but not very good at just letting go and letting God live through me.

Read the rest here: When Your Heart is Standing Water

Wilderness, Trials, Struggle, and Blessing

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Almost 3 years ago, my husband and I first moved down to Middle GA to start our little homestead.  It was a joint venture with family that imploded and exploded and, all in all, left us wondering what our next move could possibly be.  [Incidentally, it is possible to be “unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6)” even when dealing with other Christians.  When you are aligning yourself with folks who believe differently, such as cessationist versus not cessationist, or who have different priorities than you and different goals for your joint endeavor, messes can ensue in more ways than you can possibly imagine.  Especially when one of those groups is dependent on the other and Proverbs 23 comes into play.  Communication breaks down, unspoken or even verbally-denied-but-still-present expectations go unmet.  Accusations were thrown around and every defensive bone in my body — anyone who knows me knows I have quite a few — wanted to scream our defense from the rooftop, but I kept hearing in my spirit, “As a sheep before His shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.”  We were not completely innocent, as much as both parties ultimately wanted to glorify God, there were sinful, selfish hearts winning out over those motives from time to time on both sides.  Boundaries were taken for granted, for our part, and that was disastrous.  All of that to say, when you are placing all your eggs in one big basket, make sure that it is God’s basket and that you are partnered in the right way with the right people].

January of 2013 found us starting over, in the same physical location, knowing that any success was going to have to come through God’s hands.  We had no (or at least extremely limited) resources and still high hopes for what we might see.  Right away, we saw struggle.  We had carefully crafted a chicken CSA through our meat birds that we hoped would sustain us, and in one fell swoop most of our flock was destroyed by predators, on the same day that we were hosting a “House blessing” party where we invited members of our church worship team to our house to consecrate that space anew.  At every turn over the course of the last year, there were preachers and speakers all prophesying blessing over our lives, and it seemed as though every word of blessing was followed by loss of livestock, broken down vehicles, and broken appliances.  Jeff miraculously got a job, and even though we were not spending extravagantly, the mere fact of needing gas for him to get to work meant that somehow we felt like we had less money than when he was not working.  Where was the provision? Where was the blessing? On top of that, Jeff’s job was an overnight shift, and his health, which we had worked ridiculously hard to improve over the last year and a half leading up to his employment, started to decline.  Back to a constant rotation of sinus infections, digestive issues, and exhaustion. The straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak, came when our well stopped working.  First the pressure tank, and then the overworked pump.

After a little more than a month of this, I went on a trip with a good friend to attend the New England Prophetic Conference at New Dimension Church in Providence, Rhode Island.  Another good friend (and future co-author and co-blogger) knew I needed to be there, and that something pivotal was going to take place there regarding the future of our own ministry, Made 4 This Moment. Every single thing that could possibly go wrong leading up to leaving for the conference did go wrong, which really only seemed to confirm the necessity of my attendance.  Finally we got underway. The conference was amazing, I learned a lot about operating in the prophetic and stewarding my spiritual gifts, but this post is not about that (sorry, more later?).  On the last day, Sunday, as a visitor attending my first Sunday service at NDC, I went forward to the visitors area to receive ministry from the prophetic team, and I was blown away and challenged by everything that transpired.

For those unaware of what moments like this are made up of, my name was called and I was brought to a woman I’ve never met before.  She asked no questions about me, she simply prayed with me for the Holy Spirit to be present and to minister through her.  She proceeded to tell me that even through I have been through so much that has made it hard to believe, I needed to not give up.  I needed to believe, because my double was coming (double portion, double recompense instead of your former shame).  God IS going to come through, I needed to hold on, and I needed to believe.  I was weeping.  We have been through a lot, and it seemed like every time someone told us good WOULD come out of it, we went through even more.  You get to a point where you’re sitting there in the congregation pleading silently, “Please don’t have a word for me, I don’t think I can take it if one more thing breaks.”  And the last thing to break was me.  Weeping ensued, as I previously mentioned, and in the midst of the flood I did find encouragement.  I just had to hang on to God and to His promises.

There have been a lot of needs on our prayer list, some of them actually forgotten by me in the wake of more pressing needs, but none of them forgotten by God.  There is a dear woman in our congregation with a spiritual gift of giving.  I am pretty sure God has used her to clothe at least half of the church.  You just see a certain ensemble and know, “I am pretty sure Sister Phyllis picked that out.”  She has a very distinctive eye for  what will look good on a person, so I guess that God has gifted her not only with generosity, but with a keen fashion sense, as well.  I knew to be expecting a package, and I had just assumed it was probably clothing.  I got home from the conference at 4:30 in the morning on Tuesday, and saw on our table a twelve piece stainless steel cookware set.  two years ago, when we started the GAPS diet, I learned that metal cookware can “trap” gluten when gluten bearing foods are being cooked in the pans.  This gluten can remain hidden in the metal for years, despite rigorous washing. I could not afford new cookware, so we used what we had before we went grain/gluten free and just prayed that God would protect us from cross contamination.  Onto the mental prayer/wishlist went “new cookware,” but I certainly didn’t expect to see it happen before we saved up enough to take care of the more emergent needs we were dealing with.  I’d been back in my house less than 30 seconds when I saw first-hand that God does delight in meeting our needs, and He has no concern for what other prayer concerns we think are prerequisites.  He can meet any need at any time, I do not need to have running water in my house before I can have my old cookware replaced with something brand new and uncontaminated.

This was a huge blessing, and yet I still found it easy to be discouraged.  I woke up the next day to find that everyone in our household who had been sick (Jeff, Joshua, me) and seemed to be getting better was now newly sick, and that the kids may have been glad to be back home, but they certainly were not thrilled to now have to readjust to the routines they were missing so much.  Life was not looking like I thought it should, money for the basic needs for that week was tighter than I hoped it would be, and I was discouraged.  Looking back, all I can think is, “Ye of little faith. God just answered a 2 year old prayer through a wonderful sister in Christ, and you’re still reacting with the old fear and worry mentality.  The icing on the cake was finding out that our food stamp benefits were again reduced, and feeling like I’d been punched in the gut the moment we got the news.  Instantly (after the gut-check), I felt convicted.  “God has said He will supply all our needs, and here I am worrying about the first need that comes up.  I should just look at this and know that if the situation is getting worse, that means that God wants an even bigger display of His provision for an even greater harvest of glory for Himself.”  And so I encouraged my heart to believe.  I walked around for days repeating Scriptures to myself.  “Why are you downcast, O my soul, put Your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him.”

 

A few days ago I was coming  home from my weekly farmers market trip and I saw a man in our driveway. He knew my husband through the Celebrate Recovery group he (Jeff) leads, and wanted to take a look at our well.  I showed him, then went in and woke Jeff, who returned with the news that this man wanted to fix our well.  The next day he took Jeff out to get the necessary parts, and then today they fixed it.  Two months without running water, and I am still in shock at the wash being done in the other room and the ability to just wash my hands right away while making the burgers we ate for dinner tonight.  And today I learned that there will be even more cookware added to my set.  And a referral from our son’s pediatrician that she said we wouldn’t hear back on for some time, they called to start us in the appointment-making process LONG before we expected them to.  The past four days, it has felt like a parade of miracles, a parade of blessings.  And I know God is not done yet.  There are still other needs on our list, and still other words we are waiting to see come to pass.  I know He isn’t done.  But now, instead of feeling daunted by the as-of-yet-unmet needs on my list, I am encouraged by them.  God is going to provide.  Not because I am particularly deserving.  Not because I said any special magic words when I prayed.  Not because I put money in the offering plate(although we do tithe regularly and outside of our tithe if God says to put something in the plate, we do.  He does say He blesses giving and we do follow those principles of sowing and reaping), none of these things are reasons why God is going to come through.  God is going to come through because it is WHO HE IS. He is Jehovah Jireh, The Lord who provides), Jehovah Rafah (The Lord Who Heals You), Jehovah Nisei (The Lord Our Banner).  It is who God is, and God does not deny Himself.  We have been through a lot.  Just when we thought we couldn’t take any more, more was dished out.  And the wilderness we have been walking through was dark, and did indeed make it hard to believe.  But the day is breaking.  We area walking in the Light of Day, and though we are not totally “out of the woods” yet, we know that God is walking right beside us, meeting our needs, holding our hands, showering us with His incomparable love and His provision.  Now, in the light of all that has transpired, it is much easier to see obstacles as opportunities for God to work miracles.