Salicylate Intolerance Update: 4 months in

asa-toxSo I have been on my low to no salicylate diet since about the middle of January. I’m feeling pretty good. I don’t miss the things I can’t eat too much. I do slip a lot. Sometimes I just forget. Oh, one of the kids left a bag of cheetos on the table, I’ll just snag one. Well, that was a mistake. Oh, it’s been so long since I had a carrots (I have a ridiculous love of carrots), a few won’t hurt, I’ll just have 3 or 4 little slices. Wrong again, totally hurt.

I have started eating wheat again, just to add a little variety to my diet. I am allergic to wheat but it is low in salicylates, so I just lay off when I start to get sniffly or the pollen seems high.

It is so strange to me to really know what my body feels like at “normal.” Without headaches, chest pains, body aches, heart palpitations, dizziness. Don’t get me wrong, on any given day, even if my food is really clean and I eat nothing but rice and meat and oatmeal, I can still be dizzy and fatigued and disoriented by other things, but it is probable that I won’t feel like I’m coming down with the flu at any point during the day or have the shakes. And the chances of my food being completely clean are slim to none, so, there’s that. But there have been whole days, at least a few, where I have gone the whole day without feeling like I am ill. Before January, I think it had been ten years since I had any days when I could say, “I feel great except for allergies. And they’re not bad today.”

In some ways, it’s almost worse. I mean, there’s something to be said for just floating around between 30% and 70%. My system was so flooded with allergens and salicylates that I always felt bad, so I had to really load up on something to feel noticeably worse. So how much I got done had more to do with how much I could force myself to do through fatigue and fog. And I kind of had myself convinced that the biggest factor was my own mental attitude and if I wasn’t functioning as well as I wanted, it was probably – mostly – my own fault.  Now, like I said, 4 slices of carrot put me on my back for three hours with a headache, dizziness, chest pains, chills. And no positive attitude was making me feel good enough to do anything or make me able to focus on more than three written words in a row. So I guess it’s good to have confirmation that I’m not just making it up.

But with that comes the realization that I have a “condition,” something about me that makes my life harder than it otherwise would be, not because of my choices or anything that I do, but just because of my health. I have always had to be more careful than a lot of people about what I eat (though not as careful as some), but I have never had to avoid quite so many things, nor have so many things made me feel SO bad. It never seemed like that big a deal. I certainly never thought of myself as “chronically ill.” And yet, here I am.

And it’s not that I consider being chronically ill or disabled as being less than or a fate worse than death or whatever. But it does mean you have to think about things that other people never think about. I have to read food labels. When we go out, I have to think about if there’s anything I can eat there. The autism makes it so I have to consider my energy levels and plan for crashing days and in home days so that I can manage my activities. And that’s just never something that I thought I would have to do. I don’t think of myself as someone who has to be accommodated, either by myself or others. But here we are. I can’t help but feel like this is another attack on my idol of competence.

I guess everyone needs accommodations of some kind. No man is an island as they say. Some people need more than others, but it’s not a contest. No one should be keeping score.

All that being said, it’s pretty cool having most of the system at “baseline,” excluding my sinuses, which are never right because even in the winter, there is still dust.

I guess, if the question at hand is how I’m feeling about the new diet four months in. The answer is: when I think about it too much and think about certain things I can’t eat, it kind of sucks. But, if I don’t think about that, it’s pretty cool. It’s really awesome to figure out what is causing your issues and be able to do something about it. Even if the workaround is kind of a pain in the butt. =)

Summer Plans

So I have two more class meetings of BSF and then I have, basically, 16 weeks of summer break. Last year, I wanted to get a bunch of stuff done, but just having extra people in our house was so stressful to me that I only managed to do, well, nothing, really. So I think I want to have a goal in each of the three major roles of my life: Christian, wife/mother, person.

I think the best thing we can do to improve our walk with Christ is studying God’s word to know him better. I am not saying that’s the only thing that helps but I like to get right to the foundation of a thing and start from there. And, though there are other things you can do, studying God’s word is never a mistake. So I have two goals in this area: read the Bible and pray for an hour each day and get through a certain number of online Bible study classes over the three months. I don’t know how many yet. I have to figure that out in the next couple weeks before the break starts.

In the area of being a wife and mother, I want to get a routine down for my housework. I already have a routine down for the basics (dishes, laundry and – many days – dinner). I think I can do what I do now and add a household task to it everyday. Or figure out some routine with my BSF where I can get more housework done than I did this year. I think I’m going to treat my online study and Bible reading like BSF over the summer and use that to figure out how to work a housework routine around my BSF schedule.

Finally, as a person, I think my major goal is to get some writing done. I really enjoyed doing NaBloPoMo last fall. So I think I’m going to do that again except for the whole summer. Olga’s Blog Posting Summer. OlBloPoSum.

awesome-possum

Possum?

I am going to post every day for the whole BSF break. A post a day. More than that, I’m going to write every day.

I have a new keyboard to help me with my writing and my house has only the people in it that I am comfortable being in my house. I have two weeks to get prepared and sort of make plans while I finish up the end of BSF. I guess we’ll see how it goes.

November 1, 2012 (Eli)

Note: This was written before Henri came out to us. I asked him if he would prefer that I change it or leave it as it was written. He said he doesn’t care. I decided to leave it in order to more accurately portray where our lives and hearts were at the time. In addition, I think it will make more sense as we get further along in the journal, since I believe there are some things written later about him coming out to us.

Thursday the 27thOctober 27 (+5)

Well, I really am obscenely late writing this, eh?

You’re baking muffins, Mae is “playing” her penny-whistle, and I am hiding out in the bedroom, writing this. Our lives are extra-ordinary these days, by which I mean: just ordinary, but extra-so. Not that I’m at all bored, quite the contrary, but that we’ve settled into a family rhythm, and more importantly that even when complications arise, we’re bouncing back faster than ever.

I’m sure that the situation w/Mom & Dad will worsen, but I’m not all that concerned – I know we have a firm foundation in each other and more fundamentally, on the solid rock of Christ. Onward, and upward – toward our final reward. You and me against the world, and against ourselves in the process. I’m happy about our spiritual journey, and our progress as a family together. Not that we don’t still have a long way to go, but we are moving forward. I can hardly believe that Mae is considering going back to school, and better yet, that she is giving the gospel a fair trial, and is even engaging in apologetics with her dad. Who would have thought?!? She’s come so far since she moved in. It’s amazing. God is amazing! I know that it’s not our doing, but is the work of the Holy Spirit.

And Rosee is practically baptized, too. She’s gone from throwing OJ on me to confessing her sins before they get out of control. Hallelujah, right? Seriously. And Joseph, even. He’s reading Bible stories, and he hasn’t even melted or anything.

And you! I really praise Jesus for you. I hope you hear a choir of angels rejoice every time I talk about how wasted my life and my walk with God was before I took a chance and told you that my faith was the only thing that had seen me through my hard times. (“Be off good cheer!” who talks like that?) You are my dreams come true, if I had ever had the imagination to dream a billion-hojillion times bigger than I even had before. It’s just crazy.

Words fail me. EPIC FAIL, words! Seriously.

But as I said before, I love how far we’ve come already, but we have so much further to go before God is done with us.

I have been thinking lately that I (WE!) will someday be involved in church-planting. You and I will be missionaries or evangelists, or church-workers someday. There, I said it. I think that’s where we’re headed — somewhere poor, and hot. Who knows? We haven’t gotten our walking papers yet. Life is an adventure.

I’m just saying — I feel like the kids, the foster-kids (getting ahead of myself here) are just preparation for the work God will eventually have us accomplish. Don’t know when or where, but remember that I said this now, so it’s not a surprise later on (or in case I chicken out).

Anyway, that’s all just to say — as far as we’ve come, we’re going so much farther. Eventually, we’ll be so close to God and His glorious throne that we won’t even remember a time when we weren’t engrossed in constant amazement, awe, bliss, and PRAISE. Just like I hardly remember not being married to you; how i barely remember Cheli, Mae, Rosee and Joseph as they were two years ago; as I’m forgetting what Michael looks like (okay, that’s SAD). Just as we have forgotten those “momentary afflictions,” so we’ll forget everything one day — and gain everything thereby.

I guess that’s been my theme for a while lately, eh? LOSE TO GAIN. Give up, and in the process, get more than you ever hoped to even imagine to ever have. Count it all as rubbish, and get the Pearl of Great Price in the bargain.

There’s more we can give. We’ll give it all to Him. And hand-in-hand, we’ll walk into the sunset, no more mines, only each of us falling at the feet of Christ in glad adoration.

I can’t wait for that, except that while we’re here on Earth, we get to wait it out together as man and wife. That’s amazing in and of itself. If God never gave me any more than what he’s already given me through you, it would already be more than enough. SO. MUCH. MORE.

I love you.

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward I press on toward the goal of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

All that counts is yet to come. Isn’t that exciting?  !!!=)!!!

I LOVE you. So much. I can’t wait to see what the future holds. Trials and temptations? So what. We have Jesus, and He – only He! – has us. And, in similar fashion, I have you, and you, dearest dearest sweet angel, you always have me,

In love,
Ever, as always,
and right to the end,
-Eli xxoo

September 27, 2012 (Olga)

Finally! You’re going to be home in just a few hours. I’m SO excited. And, while I still don’t think you needed to go, what Bob intended for stupidity, God meant for good. I feel like this trip has allowed/ required us to look at some things. That’s a good thing. If you were here, we might have just watched Doc Martin. =)

I was thinking about the fact that I’ve been living here for 3 years. It’s been 3 big years. And I just go a little farther back than that, to 5 years ago, it boggles my mind. I mean, I was there and now I’m here. And it’s so weird because on the one hand, I feel the same just with different objects of focus, but, sometimes – and these are really good – I really feel different. Like I can really feel that there is something, someone beyond all this and God is really right there. And it’s amazing.

That’s when I realize what an incredible gift God has given us. He has let us know he is there and he lets us feel what that means. He gives us his creation to witness how big and beautiful he can be (and more!). He gives us love and beauty and joy so we can have a glimpse of his heart. He gives us marriage and community so we can begin to comprehend a piece of the Holy Trinity and their community. And, then, on top of it all, some day we get to actually witness it.

And, the awesomeness of it is this: he could have made it what I used to think it was. What we believe only affects us, here, because, in the end, when we’re done, it’s just done. We go nowhere to nothing. I mean, I didn’t say that’s what I believed because it sounded so miserable but when it came down to it, that’s what I believed. That’s how I lived. And now that I know better, I just can’t imagine still living like that.

I think that’s what bothers me about lukewarm people. I used to be like that, in a way. I wasn’t evil, by the world’s standard. I wasn’t trying to hurt people. I was loving and kind and nice. In my heart, I wanted the best for people and I loved everyone. And in my life, I did whatever I wanted. I was only bound by my own sense of right and wrong and what morals and ethics were convenient to me. I wouldn’t have said it that way, but that’s the way it was. And lukewarm Christians wouldn’t say it that way, but it’s true. The fruit looks very different but it’s the same breed of bad tree.

So the idea of being that, is a very scary thought to me. And I know that you are a huge part of God’s plan to keep me from that. You, who are so willing to convict yourself, to sacrifice and pour out yourself, even when it would be so easy to just go the route of comfort and focus on what other people do. I love your openness and your incredible capacity to love in the face of resistance. I love that you really know what love means. I love that you are wiling to lead and do the hardest job and take the brunt of the responsibility. I love that you focus on Jesus and then me and then the family and then everything else. I love that your idea of loving me starts with loving Jesus and helping me love him more and if you have to choose between having me with you or working for the kingdom, you would pick Jesus (though we can hope it never comes to this). =)

Everyday, the 27thFor all this and so incredibly much more, I love you. To a degree and in an amount I never could have imagined possible before I had the source of endless love feeding me. And I am so grateful for another month and for every single minute I get to spend with you.

You are becoming everything I hoped you would and our life is more than I ever could have hoped. As always,
Olga Jean*

September 24, 25 & 26, 2012 (Olga)

Everyday, the 27thWell, last night was not my best effort at taking every thought captive. I did not control my words at all. I didn’t even realize I was doing it until it was already done. I really don’t feel like we have a problem. Not until we start talking about it. I am there most of the time now.  I don’t go off in my head very often at all. I don’t think about terrible things much. Just once in a while when I’m lazy. Mostly, I’m there. I try to focus on you and how we’re there because we love each other. It’s a relationship, not an activity.

And, in the context of every action, every thought, every feeling being something that directly affects how close I am to God, I want what runs through my head, especially when we’re together, to glorify God. And God gives us a new start when we come to him. He promises to make us new creations. I want to claim that promise in full. I want to go into this like I’ve never been anywhere. I know that God has a glorious, wonderful design for intimacy and marriage. I don’t have any idea what it is or what it might be like, but I want to find out and I am praying that God will show it to us.
*****

So we are talking about how different this trip is for you. It is really true that these last few years and, especially the last year, has been really big for us. I can’t even really express the changes I see in you. And us. We are so blessed to be touched by God’s hand. I see it all the time, everywhere. And I want more. And I know you do, too. So I have immense hope for the future. No matter what we do, I know we will be trying to do what God wants as much as possible, as far as we can discern it.
*****

Well, only one more day and you’ll be back. I tried to be mature and generous and loving, thinking of you and serving God with my words. As Jeff would say, I think I might have done a 5 on that. Luckily, God has sufficient grace for all of us. But it’s helping me see how important it is to check our words and our attitudes. When I am bitter, it makes me not want to talk to you or to be mean to you and neither one is good for us. And, contrary to popular belief, “venting your spleen” doesn’t make it go away. Sometimes it makes it worse and worse. Also contrary to popular belief, we don’t have to say everything that comes into our heads. Authentic and real don’t mean thoughtless and flippant.

You can think about things and consider your words and still be who you are. Or, if you can’t, maybe you shouldn’t be “who you really are.” I don’t think that is an idea that is supported by the Bible either: expressing your “real” authentic self. There is being who God made you to be, but that’s not what you were born with. You were born with a fallen sin nature. There’s using the gifts God gave you to do the good works he planned for you, but that’s hardly the same thing. I just don’t think God cares about us being authentic and true to our fleshy selves. I think he wants us to be holy and righteous and outrageously committed to him.

And the wonderful thing is that every crazy thing I come up with, you are right there with me. I still wonder sometimes what your reaction will be when I take all our extra money and send it to the orphans or the Bible planters or some missionary. I should know better but old habits die hard, I guess. Also, a lot of times it seems really crazy to me. I mean, who does that? “We’re getting ahead. We’ve got a bit extra to pay of some bills. Let’s give it away.” Or, worse, “We’re tight this month, we barely made it. Now is a great time to commit to more monthly giving.” But you never disappoint me. You are always supportive and you never (seem to) worry. I am completely awed and humbled that God would allow me to travel this road with you.

September 23, 2012 (Olga)

This entry was written while Eli was on a business trip. He was gone from the 23rd to the 27th of September, so I wrote a little bit every day and then gave the whole thing to him upon his return. To keep from posting a ginormous entry all on one day, I guess I will post a bit each day, now, as well.

Thursday the 27thSo I’m early! I decided that since I am here alone, the next best thing to being with you is writing the longest monthiversary entry EVAR. =) I was sitting in church today trying not to miss you too much. I’ve never been in that church for service without you. So. Weird. But then we sang I Belong and we got to that line, “Not distance, nor dangers, no trouble now or ever,” and I realized that just like God’s love is like that, so is ours. Our marriage is meant to mirror the union of the Trinity, it only falls short because of sin – ours and the world’s. So God’s love is independent of distance or danger or anything. Nothing comes close to touching it. Our marriage and our love is designed by God to be just like that. Nothing can touch it. Not you being gone or me being worried. Not anything but our own brokenness; and my worry is the first symptom of that.

And then I remembered those ten years that we didn’t talk. And I thought about the years before when you were my friend. And I remembered how God kept you in my heart. I remembered how I always felt so comfortable around you even when I hadn’t seen you for 10 years. And I knew that if God would keep his hand on me through all that darkness, if he would make my heart and my soul fit so perfectly together with yours so that all it took was the whisper of a suggestion to put me in your arms, if he would do all this to get me to you so that we could both be closer to him, then I have nothing to worry about and nothing to be mad/upset/worked up about.

In fact, I need to focus on being calm and loving and serving God and you and our family. Getting mad at Bob for making you go or being mad at you for not refusing to go isn’t going to help and it won’t solve the real problem: I miss you. I am sad that you are not here. Period. And it doesn’t need to go beyond that because that’s ALL it is. And the way I use that to serve you is to tell you and be as loving and connective as possible, even when you’re gone. And to not shut down on the girls while you are gone.

And they way I serve God is by submitting to the human authorities he has put over me and doing it with a loving, obedient heart. Not a bitter, resentful complaining one. I need to see this as a struggle (a pretty lame one, really) and deal with it. And I need to deal with it like we try to deal with everything else – with love and mercy and obedience. And that doesn’t really allow for pissy-baby temper fits.

God said take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. I can’t parse the Greek =) but I have to think “every” thought means EVERY THOUGHT. Bob today was talking about how casual we are – society in general and “Pacific NorthUs.” We view it as a virtue and a right. We seem to think that we are most authentically authentic when we are relaxed, informal, thoughtless, dancing with one hand flying free, letting it all hang out. If you are considering the consequences or other people’s feelings or anything besides your own “realness,” then you’re being oppressed. Or whatever. But I don’t think the Bible supports that. I think the Bible calls us to examine and study every single thing: action, motive, thought. We are to examine and control them; pick them apart and discuss them with God. When they are found wanting and unholy, we need to repent and ask God to change them. And really be open to that change.

August 27, 2012

Everyday, the 27thWell! Family meeting went pretty good. We’ll see how the questions are tomorrow. You know, the closer we get to all this foster-child stuff, the more confident I am that we can actually do it. I mean, we’re not perfect parents, or citizens, or homeowners – not by any stretch. But we’re not lousy, either. We’re “fair to middlin’ ” as they would say in the midwest, but – and here’s the point – we’re getting better all the time. If nothing else, I’m confident that getting ready to foster is going to make us better people. Better parents, citizens, and, yes, homeowners. Most importantly, better Christians. That’s the real point, to glorify Christ in EVERY thing we do. I think of a lot of what we’ve been doing and it’s not terrible or anything, but it’s good for us to improve. To – how’s it go? – “strive toward the goal.” I feel like we’re moving in a positive direction, on almost every front. Well, every front that we have any control of. (Exes, parents, and church – there’s not much to be done about that, right?)

…That’s all just to say, that if the last few months have been about anxiety and uncertainty and lacking focus or direction, then this month, it’s more about confidence. We has a plan, and with Jesus on our side, nothing bad can happen – even if the plan turns out to be complete rubbish. Even if it’s all for naught, if all our plans fall through – doesn’t matter. We have Jesus, and more importantly, He has us. I just can’t get over that verse where it says: Don’t be afraid because I am with you. I am with you always. See! I will never leave you, I have inscribed you on my palms.

I’m sure I mangled that, but look – Jesus won’t leave us. We’re inscribed on his palms.

You are inscribed on my heart.
I love you, Husband xxoo