Saturday, May 13

The Lord's Prayer- Aphesis Style

These words are paraphrases and sentences from material printed by Aphesis Group in the Untying the Knots of Your Heart class, which may be available in  your area.  This follows how Jesus taught his disciples to pray, with a thorough expansion on the depth of each statement. It's in first person, and my hope is you will use these words as a guide to your own daily prayer.

Our Father, who art in heaven.  I acknowledge that you are my true Father.  I picture myself as your child.  You are my kind, generous, emotionally involved, compassionate, loyal and affectionate Father, and you want the best for me, you delight in my company, you want me to be in heaven with you forever. You are intimately involved with my life.  You are the ultimate source of my reality, the definer of all my relationships.  Only you have the position to help me sort through reality and you are my source of rich emotional strength.  I smile as I imagine you as a Father.  (Picture in your mind a dad running to meet his child, a dad lifting his child in his arms, or another healthy image of the father-child relationship).  That's what you are like, Father.  and...
Hallowed be Your name. Your name, your character, works, and reputation are very special to me, above all other names.  I hold onto you, God, and your truth about who I am and what life is about, in higher regard than the family I grew up with or my current family relationships.  You have the exclusive right to tell me who I am and what I am worth.  Father, I value you above everyone else.  I trust you, massively respect you, and hold you in the highest regard.
Your Kingdom come.  Let your kingly authority be a reality for me in my daily living.  Let your kingly authority reign over me.  Let your authority as Ruler in heaven also be expressed in my daily experience on earth, therefore...
Your will be done. You are a good Father and King, and I am willing to accept your desires for my life.  I deeply trust you.  May your desire for my life, and for the people around me, and for your church, come to be.  As your desires are fulfilled in heaven, let them be fulfilled in my life here.  I am your daughter (or son) and I know you are a consistent, trustworthy, loving, affectionate, and caring Father.  Your yoke is easy and your burden is light.  You gave your only Son on my behalf.  You have my ultimate best in mind.  You will bring healing, character, and joy.  I know that your will for my life is not just about "to-do's". Your will deals with who I am, my character, and what is true of me, more than what I do.
Give us this day our daily bread.  You already know my needs before I ask, so I ask, Father, that you help me sort out what my needs really are.  My anxieties are often wrapped up in my view of what I have or don't have.  I know you care about my anxiousness, and I pray for peace as I sort out my needs with you.  Father, I'm worried about ______________. I have a specific request about ___________.  I thank you that you are bigger than my problems, and I genuinely trust you and allow your peace to settle into my heart.  I know you delight in the opportunity to reveal your presence through our prayers.  I know that as you answer these prayers, I won't see it as chance or coincidence, but I will see it as you at work in my life through prayer.
Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors.  I pray you will enable me to sort out my daily relationships in light of how you have dealt with me.  I thank you for the forgiveness you have given me through the cross of Christ.  As your child, I am breathing in the air of forgiveness.  I specifically ask forgiveness for _______________.  I know that forgiveness is one of your highest values, and I pray that the truth of this would integrate into my own life.   I know you will enable me to deal with the chip on my shoulder due to unmet obligations in relationships. Help me forgive ____________ as you have forgiven me.   Help me sort through this issue and bring peace to my soul.  Help me actively extend to others the love and grace I have found in you.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  I ask, Father, to be rescued from Satan and his scheming.  I pray you would make me aware of where he is trying to convince me to doubt your desires and will for my life.  I know he will try to convince me you have no interest in my needs, try to cause divisions in relationships and in the church, and convince me that others are not worth forgiving.  He tries to tell me I am worthless and reminds me of my wrongdoing, trying to render me powerless spiritually.  He is directly battling me in the area of _________ and I ask to be strong in you and in the strength of your might. I pray that with other believers surrounding me, we would put on the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  I pray for righteous- to do what you say is right.  I pray for mental attentiveness on the Gospel- the good news of your love.  I immerse myself in your truth, the Word of God, and salvation- I know I am saved.  Give me alertness and perseverance to pray at all times in the Spirit,
For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. You are sovereign! You are in charge! You rule with all power and authority! These truths are good news.  I trust in you and your ability to deal with my life issues.  You are more than capable to take care of those who want to bring me harm, including enemies of the darkness.  You are in a position to give me good counsel.  I need to sort out ______________ with you, and need you to help me deal with ______________.  I now pause, and listen for you to direct me as you will. __________________________________  I trust you, I love you.  I pray that as I trust you, I will have every variety of joy, peace, and hope.  I fully trust and fully realize that I am not alone.  With great joy, I know that you are very present and watching over me, caring about what I feel, think, and do.  You are a good Father and you are constantly here to help me sort through life's problems and share in my daily joys and burdens. Thank you.  Amen.

Sunday, May 7

What is "Leaky Gut," 11 Signs You Have It, and How PIE Can Help!

Leaky Gut has been a "hippy" conspiracy for a long time, but I get so excited when I find "breakthrough" research where the scientific community has come along and confirmed what hippies have said for a long time. Over 2000 years ago, the original hippy, Hippocrates, said, "All disease beings in the gut." But instead of using "Leaky Gut" in your Google searches (where many good, but less research-based articles are found), use words like "gut permeability" and "microbiome" and the results get VERY scientific, with clinical studies and proven lab experiments on mice, etc. and just plain PROOF that what we are talking about here is not a myth or for those just in the "crunchy" world.
So what is leaky gut? (or "gut permeability" if you want to sound really smart) Imagine your digestive track is like a long skinny balloon that carries and digests your food, and takes the good nutrients from your food and gets them to the rest of your organs for processing and distributing.
 Now imagine that instead of a balloon, your digestive track is more like one side of a pair of pantyhose.  While it still does its job OK, there are microscopic holes in the walls that leach out what is in your food into the rest of your body before it has been properly digested; bacteria, toxins, and heavy metals can leak out as well.  Your gut wall is designed to prevent these harmful microbes from entering your bloodstream.  When they do, it can wreak havoc on your body.

Here are some signs your health is being affected by Leaky Gut:
1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Constipation, diarrhea, or other digestion problems
2. Seasonal allergies
3. Food sensitivities- dairy, gluten, etc.
4. Skin issues- eczema, dermatitis, etc.
5. Mental or hormonal imbalances- clinical anxiety, depression, ADHD/ADD, Chronic fatigue
6. Autoimmune Disease- Hashimoto's thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
7. Spectrum-like behaviors- Autism is complex, and is a genetic disorder, but leaky gut can promote the development of autism.
8. Chronic pain- back pain, joint pain, migraines, etc.
9. Weak immune system
10. Overweight/Obese
11. Cardiovascular Disease- This can also have genetic components, but treating the gut can help in so many way. Also this relates to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc.

WHY? Each link embedded above goes into detail from people who are doctors (not me!).

WHAT can you do about it?  I suggest a PIE approach.  Imagine your overall health is a pie with several slices. Healthy eating is one slice of the pie, the most obvious piece, but that alone won't heal your gut.  Even with perfect food choices, you are still dealing with GMO food that your body just doesn't know what to do with, depleted soil conditions that rob even our good food of nutrients it normally gives, pollution and pesticides and antibiotic-ridden meat/dairy.  You can't control all these factors- it's impossible.

Now, warning, here's where I talk about Plexus Triplex. I hate hype, but I hate leaky gut more.  I now have a huge piece of pie label "Plexus" because this information has CHANGED MY LIFE.  So hear me out.  We NEED to fill in the gaps of healthy eating with pre/probiotics, enzymes, and nutrients/minerals we just aren't getting from food as much as we used to or need to.  Our guts need help. THIS is help you need.  You can message me about the three products in the Triplex regimen, and I will give you the detailed ingredient list so you can do you own research. The three products in the Triplex are: 1- Slim (the pink drink)- contains a prebiotic, helps your gut work efficiently by balancing blood sugar (and avoid cravings for sugary foods to help yourself meet your goals for the "eat healthy foods" piece of the pie), has an anti-inflammatory ingredient, and more. 2- ProBio 5- a powerful probiotic with enzymes and an anti-fungal to restore your healthy bacteria and break down bad organisms like yeast. 3- BioCleanse- this helps detox and eliminate the bad organisms that the ProBio5 has broken down and oxygenate your gut to create an environment that is more resistant to disease. Empower yourself and your gut with information and then buy it risk free, with a 60 day money back guarantee.  You will NOT regret adding this slice to your pie.   I am an official Plexus Ambassador now, and I'm not ashamed to sell these products, even though it is a Multi-Level-Marketing company (this hippy cringes at most MLMs).  I don't want to be another MLM salesman on Facebook, but I do want to spread the word about how to help heal the root cause of all these symptoms.

We all may vary a little with our PIES, but here's mine.

What's up with the Untying the Knots/Counseling piece? Thanks for asking.
You can make changes, take the best supplements, exercise, etc, but without God, you will not have the inner peace and health you desire.  You may run to food or even exercise to cope with pain, discomfort, or bitterness.  You may make food choices based on your family background and what is normal for you is not healthy.  You may have spiritual warfare going on.  We all need help untangling the WHY behind our food choices and without a clear-eyed, whole-hearted counselor, mentor, or a class like Untying the Knots of Your Heart, a huge piece of your pie is missing. Basically, God holds my whole pie.  He's the pan and crust you cannot see, but without Him, there would be no pie at all.

The "Imperfection" and "Stuff I don't know about" slices are because this is a HUMBLE pie.  I don't know everything, and my diet and healthy choices are far from perfect.  I'm not aiming for perfection, so a slice of my pie is imperfection.  We will never have perfect health, and I've had to get over the illusion of control that my perfect pie will lead to perfect health and happiness.

So there you have it, Leaky Gut and how PIE can help.

Sunday, April 23

Sabbath Readings (Part 3)

Island of Stillness
There are 24 hours in each day and 7 days a week.  We live day in and day out in time.  All this time seems so crazy and frantic with doing work, but every week we get to have Sabbath time.  It’s like this: Pretend you are in a crazy storm in a boat out at sea, with the waves crashing over you and the wind blowing your boat in all directions.  But then you see an island with a harbor, where you can anchor your boat for awhile and come in from being out in the crazy sea.  You sail into the harbor and your boat rests.  You rest.  That is what the Sabbath is like for you.
The seventh day, the Sabbath day, is a day different from the rest of the days of the week.  The stormy sea is like the rest of the week, and Sabbath is like that island with a harbor.  It’s a place in time, where we can let go of things and stuff we normally think about during the week.  We can let go of homework and all the things on our to-do list.  We can let go of cooking, cleaning, and fixing.  Instead, we grab onto God and attach ourselves to His Spirit.

Architecture in Time (Building Meaningful bits of Time)
We want to think about how important it is to remember Sabbath, as well as other special times in our weeks and years.  When the sun rises and sets, think of it as a reminder from God to pray.  When the Passover comes each year, think about the Exodus from Egypt.  Remember God’s faithfulness, and Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  One day, there will be no time.  Jesus will come again, and it will be the end of days, weeks, and years.  Use the time you have now well to build your faith stronger.

Holiness in Time
The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time instead of things.  We decorate our houses and try to keep them clean.  We give and receive presents, buy new things, make new things, and spend a lot of time thinking about all the stuff we have.  All these things try to keep us from thinking about God.  On the Sabbath, we say “no” to thinking about all the stuff we have and instead, we focus our thoughts on God.  We think about how the Sabbath is set apart from other days of the week, and how just as God rested on the seventh day, we get too as well.  We use our toys, cars, phones, and other stuff all week long, so one day a week we stop and think about Who made it possible to have all this stuff in the first place.  We think about how God made the whole world, and what a wonderful thing that is.

For Part 1, click here
For Part 2, click here

Tuesday, April 11

My TMI Gut Health Story

OK so let's talk about poop.
 My mom has a story of giving me castor oil when I was three years old because I desperately needed a bowel movement. In fact the doctor was ready to clean me out if I didn't have one soon. Needless to say, I can't remember a time where I've ever been a regular crapper.  That was just my life. I can think of many specific, painful times where I endured constipation beyond what was normal. But I didn't know it wasn't normal until I was about 22. 
 I was on the verge of hippiedom, little did I know. I browsed the isles of Mama Jean's natural food store, gathering bits of information about food, supplements, herbs, but not really sure what to do with all that information. I  I had my blood tested and the Tester was crass, blunt, and very intimidating to a new hippie. She looked at my blood and sized me up in about five minutes: "Candida overgrowth. Are you constipated? You have a wheat intolerance."

 So I can't eat wheat? What is candida? You mean it's not normal to poop once every four or five days?

I immediately went to the store and bought WHITE bread. White bread, ya'll. That's where I started. That's how little I knew. If you don't catch the irony, white bread is still made from the wheat plant.  Needless to say I had a lot to learn.

Over the next two or three years, I did learn, I learned a lot. I learned about Candida overgrowth in the gut, and how it affects our bodies and minds when your gut is leaking all these toxins into your body. My food intolerance was just a mild form of autoimmune issues, but more serious autoimmune conditions are prevalent these days that all begin in the gut. I began to detox my body with a Candida diet, and strict gluten-free eating. I did figure out that I couldn't buy wheat or white bread and unfortunately gluten-free products were still a few years away from being convenient. I felt a lot better and my bowel movements were not painful, and I was pooping every 2 or 3 days. Still not idea, but progress. Let's fast-forward.

 I noticed when June was a baby, so about five years ago, gluten free craze began sweeping America. I felt duped, I felt like I had just been ahead of the hype. I hated that feeling. So I began to test the amounts of gluten I could handle.  I didn't want to be a consumer sucker duped into buying expensive gluten-free products when it was all just in my head.

Enter: probiotic foods.  While I had previosuly started a regimen of probiotic supplements , my research led me to discover the benefits of fermented foods in providing probiotics. I started with Kiefer and would drink it daily and this was great. Well I love kiefer, but I soon discovered Kombucha. And if you know me, you know I love making Kombucha. I made it at home faithfully for about the last two years. My friend Sharla also gave me some of her precious home made sauerkraut, which I loathed!! But it was very effective in combating any stomachaches associated with gluten. As I began to test my gluten limit, I knew it wasn't in my head- if I ate wheat more than once per day, I had a stomach ache and I would also not poop for several days. If I ate my fermented food/drink I could have a little more freedom with my food- about one serving of wheat a day.

 This whole time I figured out how to avoid stomachaches, how to feel better, but I have never really pooped every day. I could go on rabbit trails about experimenting with taking out dairy too, drinking Smooth Move tea A LOT, peppermint essential oil, natural laxatives, making sure I exercised, yoga moves for constipation, but let me tell you, it has been mentally exhausting to constantly analyze food and my own life choices to try to get to the point where I will poop everyday. (If you are still reading, I told you TMI!!)

Enter: Plexus Triplex. I began this regimen of three products to improve gut health ONLY because there was a money back guarantee. I thought it couldn't hurt to try- literally it hurts to NOT try because I wasn't pooping everyday! If you asked me in the first few weeks "How's it going?" I would say "Well, the jury is still out. We will see!" I was waiting to see if I could have regular bowel movements everyday AND eat gluten- that was the full test for me. And now, it took the jury two months to decide, and the verdict is in: I am pooping everyday, I can eat gluten, and all the little things that go along with healthy gut are falling into place. I cannot tell you the mental freedom I have found in my new regimen. For example, my sweet mother-in-law made spaghetti one night when Kenny was gone. Pre-Plexus thought process: "Oh man, I can't eat that. But she made it for me, it would be rude to refuse. If I eat it I'll get a terrible stomach ache. And I know I won't poop till next week!" Now: "Oh this looks wonderful! Thank you!" Sit down and eat. No stomach aches. Two bowel movements the next day.  True story.

This is my poop story. My gut story. Plexus worked for me. I don't like that it's a MLM (multi level marketing company) I don't like the hype on social media about this "weight loss" company (it's much more than just a few weight loss products),  but I don't like constipation more. I like the products I'm taking and I like pooping everyday. The end! 

Saturday, April 8

Sabbath Readings (Part 2)

We set apart one day a week for freedom.  We are free from our jobs, chores, homework, or any other work that makes us tired.  We are free to do whatever makes us feel free.  We are free from bad words and thoughts, and the only thing on our to-do list is “nothing.” We are free from phones, TV’s and other technology that seem to rule our lives the rest of the week.  For one day, we stop trying to fix our problems with money, relationships, or anything else in this world.  Is there any other tradition that gives us more hope and helps us become our best self other than the Sabbath?

The seventh day is a way to pause our lives from feeling so hard, even when nothing has really changed.  When the seventh day comes, it is like a little bit a break from any conflicts, fighting, or tension.   Sometimes we are mad or frustrated with each other, the world, or with ourselves, and the Sabbath brings peace to all areas of our lives.  We don’t have to worry about money at all; it’s best if you don’t even talk about money on this day.  Money is the most important thing to everyone else in the world, so on the Sabbath, we don’t let it have any of our attention.  Only God gets our worship on the Sabbath.
The seventh day is telling sadness and worry to go away all day long.  Even if you’ve been in big trouble all week long, you can let it go on the Sabbath.  God has set up the Sabbath for us, and we can’t speed it up, slow it down, or skip it when it comes each week.

For Part 1, click here

Sunday, April 2

Sabbath Readings (Part 1)

We read these every Saturday night to begin our time of Sabbath. (As best we can, Kenny is in Lebanon right now! Last night I texted him "The Great Cathedral" from below. That's all you can do sometimes!) These are "kid friendly" wordings based on a few paragraphs in Abraham Heschel's book I Asked for Wonder.  The language of his book is poetic and beautiful, but I reworded them because it is hard for little ones to understand. We just pick one of the passages to read. Here are two of the 7 passages.

The Seed of Eternity

If you want to start the Sabbath off right, like a day that is really special, the first thing you must do is stop all the things that make you busy.  Our work is not really that important and it never seems to end anyway, so one day a week we stop all the things that make us tired and busy.  If our days go on and on with no rest, it is like a bad sounding song with high screeching notes and our bodies and minds start to feel really tired.  We start to want more and more things and stuff we don’t need starts to fill up our life.  We think all this work to get more stuff will make us happy, but it ends up making us sad.  On the Sabbath, we say bye-bye to our jobs and chores and we learn that God created everything around us and He doesn’t need our help to keep the world spinning.
Six days a week we try to get everything done that needs to be done.  On the Sabbath, we are taking special care of our soul that is inside us.  God has put a little bit of heaven in our souls- it’s like a little seed that grows into a big tree.   We know we can see and touch the world around us, but we also know that our souls are connected to Someone Else that we cannot see.  
Six days a week we are always trying to get a lot of things done, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath day, we try to stop ourselves from doing any work.

The Great Cathedral

Some religions have special places, we have special times. We have the Sabbath each week as a time that is set apart- holy. We celebrate other special days each year too, where we learn more about God and realize how much we need Him. We don't need a special building to get to know God- we need time.  And when we follow the routine and rhythm of Sabbath and God's holy days each year, we find the time we need. We become so attached to these special times, we wonder how we ever lived without it.

Thursday, January 19


I was so excited there was another snow day I couldn't sleep.  I knew I would have no regrets if I made it to my Tuesday/Thursday gym class at 6 AM, so I got up and thought I would brave the weather to walk the 3 blocks to the gym.  As I opened the door, I grabbed the umbrella- it was raining a little.  I knew it would be slick, so I put on my best traction snow boots and stepped outside- and almost fell.  There was nowhere I could put my feet that wasn't a solid sheet of ice.

That should have been my first clue to stay home.  But I'm stubborn, so on I went.

The second step was the same at the first.  Thank goodness for a handrail.  At this point I could go for the snow, so I took a little leap and could finally stand in the shin-deep snow.  Have you ever been grateful to walk in shin-deep now?  I was. After walking across the snow-yard, I make it to the sidewalk.  I'm not sure what was a better situation, parts of the sidewalk had been shoveled, and now had a nice flat ice surface to skate on, or the parts of the sidewalk that had not been shoveled and had a bumpy ice surface you might be able to find a little traction on.  I used my umbrella like a skier's pole and walked on the sidewalk about 100 feet.  I didn't fall, but I did have the thought, "Maybe I should turn around..." but then I kept walking.  "Let's see how the next block is..."

My adventure on the ice at 5:30 AM in the dark was underway.

What is adventure? Was it going to Costa Rica and zip lining in the rain? Was it birthing children? Getting married? Or that time I stood up to a bully in junior high - albeit I know I was a bully to many- ? Was it playing "Don't let the parents see us" as me and my sister sneak through the living room and up the stairs to Gaga's bedroom? Was it a snow day, building an igloo in a forgotten Missouri winter?

Yes, yes and yes.  Adventure is when you are staring at something and think, "Let's do this." That feeling in your heart and stomach that feels excitement and fear at the same time.  And it calls to all of us.    It beckons like Sean Penn in the movie Walter Mitty. It called to me two years ago when I wanted to go back to teaching. To go to Sweden.  To say yes to joy.  To blog my thoughts.  To ice skate to the gym. To quit teaching.

You see, I never made it to the gym.  I tried walking on the road and got splashed by 6+ inch deep puddles when the cars drove by (it was also still dark- not a good idea).  The sidewalks-to-roads were impassable pathways, either because of over-the-boots standing water, shoveled-snow-ice-mountains, or slick-as-snot-sidewalks.  I gave up.  I walked in the shin-deep snow where I could, used my makeshift walking stick when needed, and made it home.  I sacrificed my Morton's course sea salt from my kitchen cupboard to make sure my family doesn't fall on those first few steps (Every store is out of ice melt of course).  I made some Chai tea and rested.  My children will be up in a hour, and insanity will ensue until breakfast is served. We will play, dance, scooter, cry, change diapers, eat, bake, and watch TV.

It will be my adventure today.

I'm not teaching again when the school year is over.  I'm staying home, and I'm excited and fearful at the same time.  Teaching was exciting, stressful, fun, and gave me more growing pains than I need for a decade (Note the subtle symbolism from the above paragraphs as needed).  But I'm looking at things differently now.  A longing to stay home.  I keep thinking, "Let's do this." You win Sean Penn.  (That should be on t-shirt)

What's your next adventure? Is is a crazy road trip to meet up with college friends next fall? Is it potty training a 3 year old? Is it going to Africa?

For me, it's yes, yes, and yes.  (No immediate plans for Africa, but it will happen one day...)
Say yes.  Another friend named Sean would say, "Say yes AND..."
I don't know what the AND is, but I'm excited to find out.