Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Back to School 2014

James, Joel & Anna are heading back to school and growing up entirely too fast for my taste! Anna is becoming quite the chapter book reader and can't wait to start cursive and multiplication. Joel is honing his writing skills and still loves drawing dragons in his free time. James is learning about organizing several different subjects and teachers into one 3-ring binder.

Joel turned 10 this summer and for a week was as tall as his older brother! His feet are a full size bigger already, but James shot up another inch or two. It won't be easy to pass him! All three enjoyed lots of swimming lessons and pool time this summer, but we are all looking forward to some cooler weather!

They all join Mom for BSF on Monday nights again this year and have grown so much. This year is Life of Moses, which James and I began several years ago before moving mid-year back to Congo. It will be fun to finish the study in one place!

The dust is settling. The moving boxes are all finally gone. The last suitcases are finally unpacked. And we're feeling more and more at home, even if we will never feel like Texans!

Friday, July 18, 2014

GAPS Diet 3-years anniversary

It's hard for me to believe James has been grain-free for three years!

Most of the first two years were in Congo. People here in the US often wonder, "How could you do such a limited diet in rural Africa?" But I found the farmer's market (huge likelihood that produce was organic), local grass-fed beef and help in the kitchen truly a blessing. I think the abundance of options is a bit overwhelming here in our world of Whole Foods, co-ops, online orders, etc. Farmers and butchers are few and far between - at least in cities! When I first entered my trusty old friend of a grocery store to realize there were maybe 3 items edible for James - it almost made me panic. I had been looking forward to clean long aisles full of food options, (pushing a shopping cart!), but this heavenly experience was soiled by the realization that there weren't 'food options' in the average grocery store anymore.

Taking our family on the road also provided challenges. Gas-station snacks? Not really. Fast food? Nope. We found a high end steakhouse for a fancy family meal. I called their chef ahead of time. Do you have any grass-fed beef? Nope. Any pastured or organic chicken? Nope. Wild-caught seafood? Nope. So you don't have any meat whatsoever that has not been fed corn & soy? Nope. What oil do you fry in? Soybean oil. ARGH! To their enormous credit, they were willing to let us bring in a raw grass-fed steak from Whole Foods and prepare it special in 100% butter for the special meal. Food is just way more processed and commercial than I ever imagined. It slightly helps that so many others are dealing with allergies too.

James is doing amazing. He grew an inch last week! His feet are officially bigger than mine. This year I have kept him full GAPS and added more dairy and he has been tolerating it for the first time in 2 years! He now does well on ghee, butter, kefir, yogurt, raw sour cream, parmasean, gruyere, comte. The occasional illegal treat of raw whipped cream or raw whole milk doesn't seem to bother him either! No eczema, no chronic illness, no toileting issues, no emotional meltdowns, and lots of gaining ground! We were able recently to return to that steakhouse and order one of their grain-fed steaks (cooked in butter!) without reaction!

In GAPS, as people heal, they often see retracing patterns. Your body is working backward through the healing it wanted to do in the past. So issues that came up recently were dealt with first and issues that had been under the surface from the start are the last to heal. We saw retracing in four of us. James' regression journey began with a chronic UTI and bad case of giardia. His giardia had been popping up every few months even on GAPS. Initially we would continue to treat with the recommended tinidazole antibiotic. After a while, kefir and garlic seemed to make it go back into remission after a few 'windy' days. And the giardia seemed to resurface less and less often. So when it seemed to come back (around a full moon, which is normal for parasites) in February, we began a regime of diatomaceous earth in water (a very inexpensive and gentle parasite/yeast cleanse) before dinner each day. I figured we all might have a few extra stow-aways after so many years in Africa. Within a week his giardia symptoms were gone and within a month he no longer had the bloated tummy that goes with it. We continued for several months. Initially he would feel something around a full moon, but now, 4 months later, we just had a 'super moon' and noticed nothing! Hooray for DE!

I feel like that was one huge last 'frontier' for James' gut. He had to find a way to kill off the last of the parasites and keep things in balance. Healing that his body wanted to do when he turned three... We'll have to see what time tells us, but we may have fought the 'last battle'!

We had a great conversation last week:

MOM: James, is that eczema on your leg?
James: What's eczema?
MOM: You know, the itchy spots you had when you were little?! (age 6 mos - 8 years)
James: Nope. No idea what you're talking about.

(it turned out to be a few mosquito bites)
I'm so thankful he doesn't even remember nights when he couldn't sleep for the itching.

James is headed for the teens quickly, growing like a weed, and becoming a wonderful young man. He is doing really well in math, still loves architecture and engineering, and Suzuki piano instruction. He still has an amazing capacity for patterns and in 6 months of piano instruction can play about 12 songs in almost any key you name. He has recently discovered a love of clay and molding figurines to order. He has finished Occupational Therapy for gross motor delays and has one reflex still not integrated. He has enjoyed playing baseball and soccer this spring. The biggest thing James accomplished this year was a week away from family at Summer Camp! He had to bring a cooler of food along, but he had a blast intertubing on the lake, ziplining through the forest and diving in the pool! Such a far cry from the 8yo who couldn't make it through an hour with peers on his own...

My guess is that James will benefit from continuing GAPS foods for the majority of his diet, but that he won't be limited strictly for too much longer. The only hesitation from moving on now is that for some kids (like myself) hormone levels and detox can get messy ages 12-14. We'll have to navigate it one day at a time. So thankful for the wisdom of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and GAPS!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Cultural Indications

A year ago this week, we were piling our worldly possessions into a moving truck to cross 5 states and move to Texas. We had no idea what Texas was like, but we knew we were moving there. We didn't know any Texans, but we knew we could meet some.

Joshua 3:17 was our rock of comfort. Israel was nervous. They were crossing into the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering, knowing that strong enemies were likely waiting for them. A new land. It's scary. We were only moving five people. They were moving thousands. God doesn't just send them swimming. He doesn't have them construct boats. He goes before them. He plans ahead and provides before their very eyes. The Ark of the Covenant passed into the middle of the Jordan river "while all Israel crossed on dry ground" as the slimy, rockbed turned into firm, dry ground. With each provision we would cheer, "Dry ground!"

For years we have moved. Migrants. Nomads. Seventeen times in fifteen years. You'd think we would get better at it! Texas is yet another culture for us. We've spent decades on the West Coast. We've spent years in Kenya and Congo and France, Kent even knows China, but Texas? And it's not different just because people say "all y'all" or "fixin to", it's how people drift across freeway lanes like they're ice skating in circles around you. Blinkers? Nope. It's how there is an understood but invisible social network. It's how you have to water a house's foundation and drive 10 over the speed limit. It's how 100 degrees for months on end is normal, and the plants that thrive are all foreign to us. It's all new.

But He goes before us.
And made us to walk across on dry ground!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Advice of an MK (Missionary Kid)

James, Joel & Anna are still traversing the globe emotionally and socially. Physically we have lived in the same United States for over a year now, but only settled for six months and still missing what feels like home: Africa. Some days the red dirt and smiling friends are far from their minds, but other days they wake up and want to sing in Swahili and plan a trip. Anna misses airports. What a strange thing to miss. Their whole lives have included travel, so there is a strange thing missing now.

We had the privilege to get to know another family just as they were heading out. Opposite direction. It was wonderful to be able to share a love of Africa and her gorgeous people with someone who just understood. As part of a writing assignment James decided to give advice to his new friend soon leaving for the motherland. I found some of his advice profound:

From One African MK to Another
by James, the African

Because I am an African missionary kid myself, I'd like to provide you a bit of advice before your upcoming move.

Play in the dirt.
Mold houses, monsters, ornaments, figurines, etc. out of the red African clay. You can have a lot more fun in the dirt.

Play with every kind of bug! Interestingly, they make fun pets, and if you use them right, toys. My brother liked to trap two moths and pretend they would 'fight' with each other. He called it "Moth Wars". It's hilarious.

Learn the language better than I did and have fun playing with African kids, because they know all the funnest games and things to do there. In choosing your friends, money, skin color or houses totally don't matter.

The trees there are awesome to climb.

Watch out for rabid dogs. They can kill you with one bite.

Eat piles of mangoes for me!

I chose a verse for you that helped my family when we first moved to Congo:
"The Lord replied, 'I will personally go with you Moses and I will give you rest - everything will be fine for you.'"
Exodus 33:14 NLT

I hope you take my advice and love being a missionary kid in Africa.