Thursday, December 27, 2018

Finding Non-toxic Laundry Detergent

Over the years as I've been around different people who use different laundry detergents, I've noticed that some detergents are much worse than others. Some detergents have caused severe symptoms for me, such as trouble breathing, sinus infections, headaches, rashes, etc. Other detergents may have a strong smell, but not bother me severely. And then there are a few that don't have much smell and don't bother me.

I know which brands are the worst for me. However, for people who don't have allergic reactions, sometimes it's hard for them to believe that their laundry soap is highly toxic.

So here is a good resource that has an objective scoring system for laundry detergents, based on the known ingredients in them (not all products disclose all of their ingredients, which is also concerning). The scores are on an A - F scale (A being the best and F being the worst).

I wasn't surprised that many Tide products had an F score. And I was thankful to see that the Charlie's Soap (available on Amazon*) had an A score. (That's the brand I've used for several years now.) I was surprised that there are so many laundry products and brands (hundreds).

Here is the link to the list of general laundry detergents. You can search for a specific brand, or view the products listed for each grade.

I hope this resource will be helpful for your own shopping choices, as well as for when you want to share facts with others about certain ingredients and the known dangers of toxins.

Laundry products are potentially so harmful because they get in and stay in our clothes that we wear 24/7, in our sheets, towels, etc. That's why it's very important to use products that are as non-toxic as possible.

By the way, out of 180 fabric softener products reviewed, only 13 had an A or B score. Here's the link to see the information about those: 

Let's keep up the good work of making healthy choices and encouraging others to as well. =)

(*FYI - For some products that I recommend, I use my affiliate link to Amazon. If you purchase through those links, I will receive a small percentage in affiliate income. My goal is to recommend quality products. Wherever you choose to purchase them, I hope you will find them helpful.) =)

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Support Your Health

I apologize for missing a post earlier this month. I've been dealing with a lot of changes and challenges, but I'm so thankful that God continues to provide, to heal, and to work out His plans for me. I hope you're encouraged by His faithfulness in your life as well.

As I was talking with a friend recently, I realized something about a lot of health programs or health professionals. Sometimes they have an attitude of "no pain, no gain." And so they end up pushing the body or causing stress.

But our bodies are intricately designed and an amazing creation. God equipped our bodies with the ability to heal and repair themselves through many different processes.

When we face health challenges, instead of "pushing" the body to try to get better faster, what we need to do is "support" the body so it can heal in the best way.

Pushing vs supporting may seem like a small distinction, but it's actually very important.

When we do therapies or programs that push the body, it causes stress. Stress causes a negative response in the body, which actually can lead to more harm than good. You may have noticed in certain exercise programs, that if you push your body too hard, it will "push back" at you, because it's trying to send you a message.

In contrast, when we support the body, we are giving it what it needs to do its job. We are working with the body, not causing stress.

When it comes to various health regimes or remedies that you are considering trying, it might be helpful to start asking yourself this question:

Will doing this ___ push my body, or support my body?

If something seems like it would push instead of support, it might be better to look for a different program or therapy.*

There are many ways you can support your body to help it do what it's created to do. Some basic things you can do are -
- deep breathing
- gentle stretching
- good nutrition
- adequate rest
- healthy water
- laughter

Sometimes supplements, probiotics, herbs, essential oils, etc. can also be helpful in supporting your body. As long as you're paying attention and not letting it become something that pushes the body.

What do you think? Can you identify things you've tried before that were actually pushing your body instead of supporting it?

What things can you do this week to help support your body?

*Yes, there is a time for physical therapy, which can feel uncomfortable or even painful. But a good therapist knows what the body needs to help it heal vs what would push it too far and cause more damage. So in essence, even PT is designed to support the body's healing process, not to push it.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Thankful For Thanksgiving

Next week is Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays. I like the simplicity of it - a day to think about all we have to be thankful for.

Yet, I know life can be so tough sometimes. Many of my friends are going through difficult situations, grief, struggles, or suffering. I don't pretend life is always great and we should just be happy.

At the same time, I can testify that even in the hardest times of my life, I had much to be thankful for. I had my mom who reminded me to smile and shared what she was thankful for. I had people praying for me. I had God's Word always available for me. I had my heavenly Father who is sovereign over my life and everything I go through.

Every day I have unchanging truths, eternal hope, and an ever-present Savior.

I don't always stop to remember and appreciate these gifts, but they are always there.

So, I could use this post to quote statistics about how giving thanks is good for your brain, good for reducing stress levels, good for relationships, etc. But I don't think you need statistics to tell you that.

I think what we all need is a gentle nudge...

Have you given thanks today?
Is there someone you're thankful for who you can express appreciation to today?
What gifts from God can you remember and thank Him for today?

I believe thanksgiving itself is a gift from God. It really does change our attitude, refresh our perspective, and benefit our health.

So, I'm thankful for the technology which allows me to have this blog. =)
I'm thankful for every time God uses my life to encourage someone else.
I'm thankful for the many wonderful people I'm blessed to know.
I'm thankful that God loves me every day, no matter what.
And I'm thankful for Thanksgiving.

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Some veggies with your chemicals?

You probably heard sayings like this when you were a kid...
Like when you put so much syrup on your pancakes that your sister asked you, "Do you want some pancakes with your syrup?"
Or when you lathered the butter on your potatoes until your parent said, "Do you want some potatoes with your butter?"
It was their way of putting things in perspective. What are you actually eating more of?

So, would you like some veggies with your chemicals?

The sad reality is that today most conventional produce is overwhelmed with chemicals - pesticides, insecticides, etc.

Each year the Environmental Working Group puts out a report about which produce has the most pesticide and the least. You can read the full report on their website. It has a lot of information to help you understand the current situation of produce in America, including information about GMO's, studies that have been done on the effects of pesticide in children, etc.
Just to give some perspective, here are some quotes from the report:

"The USDA tests found a total of 230 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products on the thousands of produce samples analyzed."

"A single sample of strawberries showed 20 different pesticides."

"People who eat organic produce eat fewer pesticides. A 2015 study...found that people who report they often or always buy organic produce had significantly lower quantities of organophosphate insecticides in their urine samples."

This problem is for real. And while not eating any fruits or veggies might seem like the easiest path, thankfully there is information to help us make good decisions about what we put in our bodies.

So to help us shop smarter, EWG uses the research and data to make two lists:
1) The "Dirty Dozen" - the fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides.
2) The "Clean 15" - the produce with the least amount of pesticides.

They suggest, and I agree, to buy organic produce whenever possible. However, if you can't, then you can use these lists to help you know which produce is vital to buy organic or to just avoid, and which produce has fewer chemicals, if you choose to not buy it organic.

"Dirty Dozen"
1. Strawberries
2. Spinach
3. Nectarines
4. Apples
5. Grapes
6. Peaches
7. Cherries
8. Pears
9. Tomatoes
10. Celery
11. Potatoes
12. Sweet bell peppers
+Hot peppers (tested positive for insecticides)
If you aren't already buying organic for these fruits and veggies, you might want to consider it. Or check your local farmer's market, as sometimes they sell organic for less or they may use fewer chemicals in their farming.

"Clean 15"
1. Avocados
2. Sweet corn*
3. Pineapples
4. Cabbage
5. Onions
6. Sweet peas frozen
7. Papayas*
8. Asparagus
9. Mangoes
10. Eggplant
11. Honeydew
12. Kiwi
13. Cantaloupe
14. Cauliflower
15. Brocoli

*Some sweet corn, papayas, and summer squash come from genetically modified seeds, so to avoid GMO's, you might want to buy these organic.

Obviously, it's vital to wash your produce and to peel it before consuming it. And try to be mindful of this reality when shopping or eating out. Eating a salad at a restaurant might actually be putting more chemicals in your body than doing it good from eating the salad.... I know it's not fun to have to deal with this challenge. But your body will thank you for being aware and thoughtful about what you put into it.

I hope this information will help you find good produce to enjoy and that will contribute to good health!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Foods To Avoid

Last week I wrote about some food products that I've found that have been helpful for me. This week I thought I'd share an article from Dr. Axe. It's about some foods that you may have heard described as "healthy," but they really aren't. Here are just a few foods from his list of 21:

- fruit juice
- soy
- tilapia
- table salt
- canola oil

Here's his article: "21 'Health' Foods You Should Never Eat." 

I hope you'll take a few minutes and read through the rest of the list. What we put in our bodies really is important. Since the food industry continues to sell unhealthy food products, it's up to us to be informed and make healthy decisions.

On a positive note - what's your favorite healthy food this week? Please share with us in the comments. =)

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Some Helpful Products

I’ve been trying to eat really healthy again lately (after a few months of not being able to for various reasons). As I’ve shopped and read labels and explored, I’ve found a few products that have been helpful for me. So I thought I’d share them in case you’ve also been looking for such things. =)

Protein bars:
RX Bars – I was so happy to find these because they don’t have preservatives and junk in them! They come in several different flavors, including blueberry, chocolate mint, etc. They are pretty chewy, so if you have teeth problems they might not work for you. They also have egg whites, so might not work for those with egg allergies. I like that they have very few ingredients and taste good. They are great to carry with you if you need quick protein, or to have as a snack throughout the day.
*Most grocery stores now carry these. Walmart and Target also sell them by the box instead of as individual bars.

I found a brand of water kefir called Kevita that I really like. It’s carbonated, and it’s sweetened with stevia, so that might not work for some people. The taste is good, though it’s got a bit of a zing to it. There are various flavors, and each one contains different ingredients, so be sure to read the label and make sure you’re ok with the specific ingredients. Some of them have acai or coconut, apple cider vinegar, etc. I don’t usually drink the whole bottle, and so far I’m not drinking one every day. But even with that, it seems to be helpful for me.
*Many grocery stores carry this brand, as well as Whole Foods and some Target stores. It’s usually with the other fermented drinks such as kombucha, etc. (Watch the expiration dates though, as some may have sat on the shelf too long.)

I’ve had a hard time finding healthy yogurt. One brand that I liked was discontinued. Another kind became very hard to find. So recently I’ve been eating the Stoneyfield organic yogurt for babies, called Yo Baby. It comes in a 6-pack of small servings and has various flavor options, such as peach/pear or apple/blueberry, as well as plain. It has very few ingredients and not too much sugar, so it's been a good option for me lately. 
*Many grocery stores and some Walmart stores carry it.

Garden of Life brand has a children’s chewable probiotic called Organic Kids+ that I’ve been using lately. Especially if you don’t like to swallow pills, these are easy to take. They do have several ingredients in addition to probiotics, so read the whole label and make sure you’re ok with all of the ingredients. I’m not taking these every day, but I rotate them with another probiotic, and that seems to work well for me. They do need to be refrigerated.
*You can find these at Whole Foods or online (or maybe at your local health food store).

Bark Thins snacking chocolate has become a favorite this year. These dark chocolate snacks come in different options – chocolate covered almond, coconut, pumpkin seed, etc. The different options have varying sugar content, so be sure it's not too much sugar for you. Also, some of them contain rice ingredients. But in general they seem to be a pretty healthy chocolate snacking option, definitely better than candy bars, etc.
*Most grocery stores, Walmart, and Target now stock these.

If you’re not gluten-free, but you want to avoid yeast, Mission tortilla brand now has organic options. They have organic white flour and organic whole wheat flour tortillas. They aren’t completely free of preservatives, but short of making my own, they’ve been a good option for me.   
*These are a little harder to find, but some grocery stores and some Target stores carry them.

I hope this is helpful. I'm thankful for these options that are helping me eat healthier and still enjoy what I eat! =) 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Treatment For Lyme Disease

I wrote a post about this back in 2014, and since then I've met even more people struggling with lyme, or wondering if they have lyme. So I wanted to share this information again. I hope it will help someone in need today.

Help For Lyme Disease

It seems like almost every week I hear of another person with serious health problems where lyme disease is either diagnosed or suspected. I also have friends whose lyme disease went undiagnosed or untreated for many years and they are still suffering with it. 

The good news is that I know a doctor who is successfully treating lyme disease naturally - without months of antibiotics, drugs, IV's or other stressful methods. I've mentioned Dr. Smith several times because he's one of the doctors who helped me significantly in 2009 (and since then as well). He successfully treated me for various infections (viruses, bacteria, parasites, etc.), as well as allergies. Several years ago he also developed a method for treating lyme. 

Here's a testimony from a friend of mine about Dr. Smith:

"Hi Joanna! Several of my friends that have lymes have also used him (Dr. Smith) and have had HUGE success. I'm also waaaay improved so I'd love to recommend him to your friends. He also has a good website called if they want more info about the treatment and about contacting him and stuff." -A.

Dr. Smith's website is very well done. I encourage you to read all through it. You'll find testimonies, a symptom sheet to see if it's likely you have lymes, an explanation of the treatment, Dr. Smith's story of how he developed this method, his podcast interview about it, and more.

I know Dr. Smith personally, and I believe that the treatment methods he's developed are an amazing gift from God for this time when so many people desperately need them. They truly saved my life. My mom and I still use his CBT method when needed to treat for allergies, infections, etc. Since I saw him in 2009, he has improved and refined his treatment for lyme. I'm very impressed with all his research and how he is able to treat the various problems - the lyme, any co-infections, parasites, allergies, etc. - all at the same time...all without drugs or antibiotics. It's truly amazing!

(His treatment method works by activating the body's own immune system and ability to heal. You can read more details on his website.)

The lyme treatment takes a few days and has a flat fee around $3,000 I think. This covers all the appointments and treatments needed (for lyme, parasites, viruses, allergies, etc.), as well as a three-month supply of whatever supplements you need to take after the treatment. Comparatively speaking, this cost is very reasonable and definitely worth it for better health. (Some people spend more than $20,000 on lyme treatments, which often aren't successful.)

I can tell you about two people I know personally who have been treated for lyme by Dr. Smith. One of them is almost back to 100% normal function! The other person's health is much improved, though still dealing with some other chronic issues that needed to be addressed. 

Dr. Smith's office schedules apptoinments for lyme treatment several months in advance (because it takes 3 days to complete the treatment, and because so many people are coming for it). The office staff are very kind and helpful, so feel free to call with any questions. They aren't in the office every day, but they will return messages as soon as they can. 

If you know someone with lyme, please feel free to share this information with them. I hope and pray that many more people will find help and healing sooner rather than later. 

If you or someone you know has lyme, please don't put off making decisions about it. Please prayerfully consider this option. It's the only treatment I'm aware of where people are actually improving and recovering long-term. (Some lyme treatments seem to help in the short-term, but often symptoms return as bad or worse than before.) 

And please keep praying for anyone you know who has lyme. It's a serious problem today. May God continue to sustain, strengthen, and give help and healing. 


P.S. I'm sorry I wasn't able to do a post last week. I thought I'd post this one today, then I'll try to get back to my regular schedule next Thursday. =)

Saturday, August 25, 2018

How Are You Thinking?

I think a more common question we ask is probably - "What are you thinking?" But there is an additional aspect to what we are thinking, and that's how we think. Do we think with a negative perspective or a positive one? Do we think intentionally, patiently, or chaotically?

These are some questions addressed by Dr. Caroline Leaf in the video below: "How to Train Your Mind to Avoid Burnout."

After the severe stress I experienced in May-July, I felt like there was a level of burnout. Praise God that He is healing me day by day. I'm thankful He walks with me in the stressful times and in the healing process. And He knows exactly what I need each step of the way.

The body and the mind are connected - stress to one affects the other. And when there is stress on both, it's even harder.  

Sometimes it can feel like there are no easy answers. Your life may seem like a 3000-piece jigsaw puzzle...believe me, I understand. But don't let that stop you from continuing to put in one more piece at a time. =)

So for myself this week, I found Dr. Leaf's video informative and encouraging. We can recover from burnout, and we can learn tips to help us prevent it as well.

I hope you'll take a few minutes to watch this. (It's about 18 minutes.) Then feel free to share in the comments anything you found helpful or quotes from the video that stood out to you.

Here are some quotes that I wrote down to think about further:

"A toxic thought life will make you feel drained and exhausted."

"You can't change anything until you're aware of it."

"You're brilliant."

"You control your brain with your mind."

"How to Train Your Mind to Avoid Burnout"

I know that changing our thought patterns won't necessarily change our circumstances or "fix" the problems we face...please don't think I'm saying, "Just think better and your life will be great!" We know life is hard and much of what happens is outside our control.

At the same time, I think we can all agree that healthier thoughts are certainly a wise and long-term investment in our health and our lives.

May God continue to give us grace and strength for the challenges, and may He help us change how we are thinking, perhaps even starting today.


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Brief Update

Hello friends. I'm sorry that I haven't posted in a while. I was extremely ill, as some of you know. Thank you so much to all of you who have been praying for me! I'm slowly recovering. I lost a lot of weight, and I'm still trying to work back to eating a normal diet again. I'm able to eat turkey once a day now, and I ate some organic crackers today, which tasted really good. =) I'm also still resting a lot and catching up on sleep.

God is faithful and He is answering prayers. He is giving progress day by day. It's slower than I hoped it would be, but today I had to pause and remember that my body has actually been through a lot of stress and problems since early May. So it's understandable that it will probably take time to recover from the whole thing, not only the last couple of weeks. I'm very thankful that I've been breathing well the last few weeks, praise God! So I'm taking one day at a time and trying to allow myself the time I need to heal and trust God to restore health and strength according to His timetable.

I didn't think I'd ever go through something like this again...I thought the past health problems were the end of that particular trial. But the truth is that God is with me through every situation, and He always has my best interests at heart. I know He will be faithful to bring good from this very difficult time. Thank you again for your prayers!

Today if you find yourself still in a difficult situation, or once again facing challenges that you thought were behind you, I pray God will encourage your heart.

He created you. He loves you. He knows you. He is with you. He thinks of you. He holds your life and your days in His hands.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well...all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand--when I awake, I am still with you." -Psalm 139:13-14, 16-18

Friday, July 13, 2018

Some Resources

Once again, I apologize for being late with this blog post. I'm still dealing with a lot of health challenges, and doing what I can one day at a time.

I know I've mentioned some of the following things before, but I thought today it would be good to share some health resources again.

*Doctor -
I highly recommend my doctor in Idaho. I've been to him for treatment 3 times in the last 9 years, and every time he has been very helpful.

He is the only doctor I know of who has successfully treated lyme disease. His natural methods are also helpful for other infections, allergies, and more.

He is only in the office 3 days a week, so when you call, please be patient and the staff will return your call as soon as they can. There is also a lot of information on his website.
     Dr. Anthony Smith

*Products & Info -
Nature's Sunshine is a really good company that has many different herbs - in both capsules and liquid forms - other supplements, essential oils, and more.

Two of the probiotics they sell have been very helpful for me: "Nutribiome Bacillus Coagulans" and "Probiotic Eleven." Here's a link to those products:

Nature's Sunshine also has a lot of information on their blog about supplements, how the body works, health, etc. This post about the nervous system was helpful for me lately:

*Air Purifiers -
Having an air purifier is very important, especially when the air quality isn't good. Here are two kinds that we use that have been very helpful.

     1) Honeywell air purifier is reasonably priced, and mostly sold online. You can usually find it on or on Amazon.*

     2) E.L. Faust room air purifier costs a little more, but it was designed for those who are chemically sensitive.

I hope some of this information is helpful.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

(*FYI - For some products that I recommend, I use my affiliate link to Amazon. If you purchase through those links, I will receive a small percentage in affiliate income. My goal is to recommend quality products. Wherever you choose to purchase them, I hope you will find them helpful.) =)

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Breath, Hope, and Dreams

Hello! I apologize again for being late with this post. I'm currently seeing my doctor in ID. I'm so thankful that he has been helpful once again with the challenges I've been having, especially with the difficulty breathing. It's been two months now that I've struggled to breathe, almost every day. Praise God that the air here in ID is better, and overall I've been breathing much better. I'm still having some difficulty at times though.

When you aren't breathing well, everything else seems unimportant compared to taking the next breath. It's been hard for me to think about much else besides breathing. And at times I didn't know if I would make it through the day. Thankfully, my mom kept telling me that God isn't done with me yet, and I will live through this. She was the voice of hope that kept telling me not to give up.

I don't know what challenges you're experiencing today, but I hope you'll be encouraged that if you are breathing, you have life. You have hope. And I hope you will be able to dream again. Because God isn't done with you yet either. Let's take one breath at a time, hold on to hope, and ask God what dreams He still has for us.

Blessings friends,

(This is something I posted a couple of years ago. I hope it encourages you.)

The Gift of Dreams

Today I'm celebrating the gift of dreams. 

When I was a kid there were various things I imagined would be fun or fulfilling to do in my life, but I had one big dream - to be a missionary. God let me live that dream for two amazing years! And then my health collapsed. As year followed year, all my dreams died. 

If you haven't been in a place like that, I can't explain to you in words what it's like. If you've been there, you understand. I will say that living with no dreams isn't really living. 

Looking back, I can see that God had to take me through that valley. He was doing a necessary and mighty work in me. In His eternal ways, often things have to "die" before they can live again. 

How I praise God that the day finally came when He said, "My child, it's time to dream again!" 

At first my heart was afraid to dream again. Every time another dream had died, it was so painful. I didn't know if I could face that again. But God gave me courage to take one baby step at a time. He restored hope deep in my soul. I began once again to imagine possibilities and think about the future with anticipation.

In the process, God took my "little" dreams from long ago and transformed them into bigger dreams than I ever could have imagined! And He added new dreams on top of those! 

At this point I feel like I'm overflowing with God-given, God-sized dreams! And I can't wait to see how He is going to bring them all to pass!

Whatever happens, I've learned that the best dream of all is that of drawing closer to my Savior each day. No matter what circumstances I go through, enjoying Jesus is the sweetest dream that I want to live every day. 

God created us with the ability and the longing to dream big dreams. If life has trampled on your dreams, please take heart! Please don't give up on dreaming. You may go through a dark season, but hold on to hope my friend. God really does have greater dreams for you than anything you've imagined! Let Him be your first dream through it all, and trust Him with each step. One day you'll stand in awe of the awesome dreams He gives you and then fulfills in your life! 

Today will you do something with me? Will you take a few minutes by yourself to do this?

Take a big, deep breath. Exhale slowly. Close your eyes, and dream again.... Little or big dreams, it doesn't matter. Tell yourself to imagine again. Let yourself smile. Let yourself hope. Let your heart dream again. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Thank You!

I'm sorry this post is a day late...I'm still dealing with serious health challenges and trouble breathing. Thank you for your continued prayers!!

Today I just want to say a big "Thank you!" to all the caregivers out there. Thank you for being courageous, faithful, and selfless. Thank you for persevering, praying, and holding on to hope. There are many people I know who couldn't make it without your amazing support. So thank you!!! 

And to all of the family and friends of people with chronic illness or serious health challenges - thank you for your continued prayers, your encouragement, and your love. It means more than you will probably ever realize. 

Thank you!!! 

God bless, 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Air Quality Issues

If you've noticed an increase in asthma or allergy symptoms lately, you're not alone. Almost everyone I've talked to has had more problems recently. I think the reason is because of really bad air quality.

About three weeks ago I started having serious trouble breathing almost all the time. I assumed it was because of local issues - record heat, construction, etc. However, I soon found out that air quality around the country is currently bad.

Last week I drove from TX to FL and the air was bad the whole way. I've never experienced air quality this bad in the US before. (I have in foreign countries.)

There are several factors related to air quality. Heat, pollution, and ozone levels are some of the factors. Right now many places are having record temperatures. And in many cities there is a lot of new construction going on.

As far as ozone, here's an article that explains about the dangers of ozone near the ground.

There are websites that rate and forecast the air quality each day based on various factors. Here's a site for the state of Texas. I'm sure there are similar sites for other states.

It's important to check the air quality index and heed any warnings that are given. 

For now, until the air quality improves, it's probably better to keep doors and windows closed and run air purifiers if you have them. And be aware that people may experience more symptoms than normal - respiratory, allergy, headaches, etc. 

 Sometimes we forget how important air is, after all you can't see it or touch it. But it's necessary for life. Please join me in praying that God will heal whatever is causing this terrible air quality, so that we can breathe clean air again. Thank you! 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

What Are You Asking For?

Hello, I'm so sorry this post is a few days late. There's been really toxic air quality for the last week, causing me to have a lot of trouble breathing. I really appreciate your prayers. 

Thankfully, I have the privilege of sharing a guest post from my mom. I hope her words of wisdom are encouraging and helpful. =) 

From Jan Harris - 

I lived with Super E.I. girl for years, and I've watched her overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles—by God’s grace. In this guest post, I want to encourage you with some things that you can ask God to do for you in the midst of challenges and trials.

1. Ask God to keep you aware that He will never leave you nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5b) This is God's firm promise to all who believe in Him. No matter how rotten you may feel physically, God is still with you to comfort, encourage, and strengthen.

2. Ask God to make you a person who reaches out to help and comfort others. When you’re ill most of the time, it’s easy to forget that other people are facing difficulties too. Their difficulties may be different than yours, but they're still real and hard and painful for that person.

3. Ask God to remind you that He is sovereign. In our family we often say, “This thing that happened didn’t take God by surprise.” When you go to church and are overwhelmed by perfume, when there’s something wrong with the food in the restaurant though it seems perfectly fine to the waiter, when you feel like all your organic food and supplements are costing far too much—go back to God. Ask Him again to show you His sovereignty - that He is still in control of everything. 

4. Ask God to never let you forget that He is good. “So Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.’" (Mark 10:18) Pray that God will make you aware of His goodness in your life.

5. Ask God to strengthen you to claim His promises. The Bible is full of promises God has made to His children. One of my favorites is Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Here is a link to a site with more of God's promises:

6. Of course, ask God to heal you. I can’t remember how many times I asked God to heal my daughter. God welcomes our prayers for healing. I believe He always heals, but not always as we expect. Perhaps in one moment, He will touch you and restore your health. Or maybe He will heal you inch by inch through a number of years. Or maybe He will only heal you when you meet Him in heaven. But He will be faithful. God cannot be anything else. (1 Corinthians 1:9)

On your worst day, remember—God loves you, He wants you to give all your worries and cares to Him. (1 Peter 5:7) And He is working out His perfect plan for your life.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Kefir - Quick Facts and How To Make Your Own

Have you heard of kefir? If not, here's an explanation from one of Dr. Mercola's articles:

"Kefir is a fermented milk beverage that contains beneficial probiotics that may help give your immune system a boost, among other health benefits. One of the best and least expensive ways to get healthy bacteria through your diet is actually to obtain raw milk and convert it to kefir yourself. All you need is one-half packet of kefir starter granules in a quart of raw milk, which you leave at room temperature overnight. By the time you wake up in the morning you will likely have kefir. If it hasn't obtained the consistency of yogurt you might want to set it out a bit longer and then store it in the fridge.

A quart of kefir has far more active bacteria than you can possibly purchase in any probiotic supplement, and it is very economical as you can reuse the kefir from the original quart of milk about 10 times before you need to start a new culture pack. Just one starter package of kefir granules can convert about 50 gallons of milk to kefir. This is also a far healthier, and far more economical, way to nourish your body with probiotics than buying any of the commercial probiotic beverages on the market, as these typically contain added sugars and are made using pasteurized milk, which I don't recommend drinking."


There's more information on Dr. Mercola's site about kefir, recipes, etc.

I have friends who make their own kefir regularly, and they will tell you what a difference it has made for their health! It has been especially beneficial for their children who have a lot of health challenges.

If you want/need a non-dairy option, you can also make kefir using water. Here's a simple video on how to make your own water kefir.

Here's an article about different kinds of kefir grains and where you can find them. You can order kefir grains online or sometimes you can find them locally, from a friend or a farm nearby.

I realize that not everyone is able to tolerate fermented foods. (I'm finally able to eat yogurt again, but I haven't managed kefir yet.) But if you can, then kefir and other fermented foods can be a great addition to a healthy diet and a valuable tool for improving health.

I hope this information is helpful. Please share any great tips or resources about kefir that you have in the comments. Thanks!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Apple Cider Vinegar - Have you tried it?

You've probably heard of apple cider vinegar. You may have heard people claim it can do all kinds of wonderful things.... Well, I'd have to agree! =)

While apple cider vinegar is not a magic pill, it is a good tool to have in your health toolbox.

You can use ACV for various things, including detoxing, an an anti-fungal, as a cleaner, etc.

Dr. Axe has a very good article that lists 6 benefits of ACV and 20 different uses for it. I hope you'll check it out; it's an easy read, and you may find some helpful tips for how you can use apple cider vinegar for your health.

Personally, I have used the Bragg's brand, but there are probably other good brands as well. Read the label to make sure it's a quality product. Also, check the expiration date on the bottle, since some stores don't always keep a recent stock.

A few cautions when using ACV -

 *Be careful when using it on the skin if you have sensitive skin. I don't apply it topically on my skin, but for some people it seems to be fine.

 *Start slowly when using it, and see how your body responds. Or try using it for a short period of time and then taking a break. Pay attention to your body, and do what's best for you.

 *Don't start another health supplement at the same time you start using ACV. Do one thing at a time, so you can pay attention to how your body responds. (By the way, this is a good principle to apply with any health supplement, program, etc.)

 *Remember that improving your health takes time. When you see small improvements, celebrate! And keep persevering with what you know is good for your health.

I hope you'll check out this information and find something helpful. If you already use apple cider vinegar, feel free to share with us in the comments how it's been helpful for you. =)

Friday, April 6, 2018

Words That Benefit

Yesterday's Bible verse of the day was Proverbs 17:28:
"Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues."

Learning to think before we speak is important in life and relationships. But it's also important for our health. The words we speak actually affect our physical state.

Today I wanted to share something I wrote several years ago, but it's a timely reminder for me today, and I hope these words will benefit you as well. =)

Toxic Words

Unfortunately chemicals aren't the only things in life that are toxic. Words can also be toxic.

Recognizing toxic words that others speak to us is usually not too hard. We can often tell whether someone's words are healthy or unhealthy. 

I think it can be harder for us to recognize the toxic words we speak to ourselves. 

It's true that our brains listen to the words our mouths speak. How often do you say things like,

- I'm so tired.
- I'm no good at this.
- I'm such a wimp.

These words are actually toxic to your mind, body and spirit. 

I know what it's like to live with these kinds of words frequently on my tongue. They can easily become a habit. Thankfully, it is possible to retrain our tongues to speak healthy, life-giving words.

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. -Proverbs 16:24

The best way to get rid of toxic words is to consciously replace them with healthy, life-giving words. 

I remember when someone first recommended I use daily positive affirmations. I wasn't interested. It seemed insincere, even silly to me. But gradually I've realized what an amazing tool this can be! 

Sometimes even we know something is true in our mind and heart, we may have a hard time really believing it, because it hasn't quite penetrated through our brain patterns yet. As we speak that truth out loud to ourselves every day, it changes the physical pathways in our brain. This in turn brings changes in the physiology of our bodies. It's incredible! 

So if you struggle with saying toxic things to yourself, try this exercise:

1) Write down at least 3 true, positive, affirming statements about yourself that are meaningful to you right now. 
 Ex: My body has the ability to heal and repair itself.
      I am loved, valued and uniquely designed by God.
      I can do everything through Jesus who gives me strength. (I especially love to use statements of what God's Word says about me.) 

2) Write out your statements every day - in a journal, on a poster, or wherever you'll enjoy writing them. 

3) Say or sing these statements to yourself every day (more than once a day if you can). 

4) Anytime you realize you're saying something toxic, immediately stop and then repeat your true and affirming statements instead.

I think you'll be surprised at how beneficial this is! True and life-giving words really can bring "healing to the bones." 

And as we learn to speak healing words to ourselves, hopefully we will speak healing words to others as well, bringing benefit to many people. =) 

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
-Ephesians 4:29
You are loved. You are unique. You have purpose. (Just wanted to speak some true and beneficial words to you today.) =)

Friday, March 23, 2018

Showing That We Care

I know several people facing difficult health challenges right now - in the hospital, on total bedrest, or going from doctor to doctor looking for answers.... It's hard to watch those we care about suffer.

This week, I thought I'd share something I wrote several years ago that I hope will be helpful. There are many ways we can show that we care. I'm so grateful for all the people who expressed love and support to me during all the years of illness. May we continue to reach out and encourage one another.

How to Express Love and Support to Those with Chronic Illness (Part 2) 

I want to say thank you to all of you who desire to encourage others with chronic illness! Living with EI (environmental illness), or any chronic illness, is a continual battle against discouragement. Your show of love and support enables us to keep going. Thank you!

Last week I shared the "Don'ts" of how to express love and support. (If you missed last week's post, you can read Part 1 here.) Now here's a list of some helpful "Do's."

Do's -

1) Do give GRACE. 
Regardless of your opinions or understanding of their situation, show grace by accepting the person exactly where they are. Forgive quickly. See the best in them. Love unconditionally. Listen, even if you don't understand. 

A simple definition for grace is undeserved kindness. Most people living with chronic illness struggle with feelings of condemnation, inadequacy, or guilt. When you demonstrate grace, it helps them see more of God's grace toward them. You can be a powerful instrument in God's hands to help them experience God's grace more and more! 

2) Do communicate with them in a way that works for them. 
This could be through texting, emailing, calling, FB, letters, etc. 

Some of my friends with chronic illness don't even own computers because of the EMF's. But they can handle short phone calls. Or with others, I write a letter on plain paper, using pencil, and then wrap it in aluminum foil to mail (to shield it from smells in transit). Other friends prefer to text or use FB. 

Ask the person what works best for them, then use that mode of communication. Honor them by respecting their needs and limits.

3) Do be sensitive, ask them what they need from you, and pray for wisdom in how to best encourage them.
Sometimes when a friend would call me, I didn't want to talk about my life. Instead I wanted to hear about all their adventures and the good things in their life. Other days I really needed someone to listen as I poured out all the craziness and hardship I was going through. 

It's ok to ask the person, "Do you want to talk about your situation? Or do you want me to just tell you funny stories about my kids?"

Also, when trying to encourage, balance being a good listener with also not letting them go on and on about negative symptoms. 

There's a time to let the person unburden their heart. In those moments, simply listen and say "I love you, and I'll keep praying for you."  

Then there are times when it's better to redirect the conversation away from negative thoughts to God's faithfulness or a positive topic. With chronic illness, it's easy to continually rehearse physical symptoms or complaints. Sometimes we need a friend to gently direct us to thanksgiving, trust, and praise. 

Only God can guide you in how to be sensitive and what to say in each situation. But hopefully being aware of these needs will help you as you converse with others.

4) Do be thoughtful about gift-giving.
With chronic illness comes feelings of isolation, being forgotten, missing out, etc. Receiving a thoughtful gift from someone can make a huge difference!

However, especially for those with chronic illness gift-giving can be tricky. For a few years basically the only gifts I could receive were CD's or DVD's. I couldn't even read books for a while because of being allergic to paper. 

If you don't know what products are good for the person, then just ask. It's better to ask what they like and can use, than to try to send a "surprise" gift and cause them to have a reaction.

For those without allergies, think about what they like and what kind of gifts will uplift them - perhaps a Christian fiction book, a funny movie, a beautiful journal they can write in, etc. It doesn't need to be expensive or elaborate. Small gifts are wonderful if there is thoughtfulness behind them.

Also, gift cards are a wonderful option. To an EI person, a gift card is not "impersonal" - it's a treasure! Most of us have limited finances, so a gift card to Wal-mart,, etc., is always appreciated. 

Ask God what gift would be best for the person. He will guide you in finding ways to encourage and bless them through thoughtful gifts (especially on holidays or birthdays as they are rough times for those who are ill). And I can tell you from experience how meaningful it is to receive a thoughtful gift in the midst of the daily struggles! 

5) Do recognize that God can still use the person for His glory.
Chronic illness does not mean useless. 

One of my EI friends is a talented artist. When she has a little energy, she often makes cards for people out of her drawings. Another friend is a faithful prayer warrior for many people. Another one likes to write songs. 

Even when people live with drastic limitations, God can still empower them to do good things. Obviously productivity doesn't equal value. And even a thankful heart glorifies God. If you see God at work in a specific way through the person, praise Him for it! And encourage them about what God can do through their life, even in their illness. (Many people encouraged me to keep writing during my illness, and God has brought much fruit from it.) 

6) Do pray for them.
Yes, keep praying for their healing! God is able and we can continually ask Him to heal.

But also pray for the person to develop greater intimacy with Jesus through suffering. 
Pray for inner strength, courage, peace, and joy in the midst of their trial. 
Pray that God's Word will come alive to them like never before.
Pray that their faith will grow and that God will empower them to praise Him in the storm.
Pray for God to bring eternal fruit from their pain.  

When I consider all the blessings God has given me through my health trial, I know it's because so many people were praying for me. And they didn't only pray for my healing - they prayed for so much more! I have received incredible answers to those prayers in spiritual growth, a closer relationship with Jesus, greater love for God's Word, fruitfulness in ministry, and much more! 

Through prayer we have the opportunity to invest in the lives of others and be part of God's divine work in this world. Even though praying for those who are ill may not seem like a world-changing effort, you never know what God will do in each life! Everything we do matters, and prayer matters most of all. 

Well, I hope these tips are helpful for you. Showing love and support to those with chronic illness requires effort, getting to know the person and their needs, and relying on God's strength. But it's a wonderful opportunity to be an expression of the love and grace of Jesus Himself. May we be His tangible presence in this hurting world.