Love Your Body: Let’s Mentor Each Other On the Ketogenic Diet

Love Your Body: Let's Mentor Each Other on the Ketogneic Diet.

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

If you’ve followed my Love Your Body posts on the last Monday of the month, you know I’m not a fan of “diets,” especially those that limit or reduce a particular food group. I’ve heard of the Ketogenic Diet, as probably many of you have too, but always dismissed it since it goes against everything we’ve ever learned about eating large amounts of fat. I’ve always eaten healthy fat, but only in moderation and have enjoyed good heart-healthy blood tests over the years.

Now I’m suffering from a neurological disorder and on the sixth medication trying to control it. Many of you were following me earlier this year when the fourth medication led to numerous kidney stones and horrendous surgery. Since going off that med, I’ve tried two more and we’re running out of options if this one doesn’t work.

So I did what many of us do and started researching more to see if there was anything else I could try. Mind you, I had read and read about this condition and felt like I was doing everything the doctors and I could do, but still the symptoms or adverse reactions to a medication continue.

Then suddenly last week, while back on the internet, I saw this: Sometimes going on a Ketogenic diet can help. Whoa, why hadn’t that appeared in any of my previous research? I contacted my neurologist to see if they had any success with this diet and they hesitantly said, “Some, but you would need to be followed by a Pediatric Dietitian and it will not replace medication.” I was surprised about the “pediatric” part, but it could be because they’ve only used it with children, which my research showed was easier for kids to follow this diet than adults. I thought that was interesting.

Since many of you know my first career out of college was a Registered Dietitian, I felt confident I could figure this diet out on my own.

I mentioned the diet to my endocrinologist and he said, “Oh it’s just the Atkins diet, but it could really help your LDL levels” (which had suddenly started rising). He encouraged me to try it.

This diet is also supposed to help reduce causes of cancer, and since I’m a three-time breast cancer survivor, this peaked my attention too.

When I started checking out the diet on different websites, I became more and more confused. It’s not the old Atkins diet. Then a dear friend loaned me a big book by a doctor, and I’m trying to wade through it. I have so many questions, and I’m hoping some of you who have successfully been on this diet could mentor me and others thinking about also trying it.

Here are some of my questions. Please write in the comments at the end of this blog, if you have answers:

  1. Did you gradually go on the diet, how did if feel when you started, and how long did it take to go on it completely?
  2. What did you follow to know foods to eat and foods to avoid?
  3. How do you know if you’re in Ketosis? What do you use to test?
  4. Any websites or books you suggest reading to learn more and find recipes?
  5. Did you see any changes in your cholesterol or LDL levels?
  6. How do you feel after being on it for a while?
  7. I’m not trying to lose weight, but did you lose weight?
  8. Did your family go on this with you, and if not, how did you make it easy to cook this way just for yourself? Because if your family eats high fats and doesn’t reduce carbs, that can be bad for their health. I did figure that out, and I don’t think hubby is going to do this with me.
  9. How long did it take you to see results?
  10. Did you go on this diet for health reasons?
  11. What tricks do you have for eating out and staying faithful, especially with the holidays approaching?
  12. How do you prepare kale?

I could go on and on with questions, but I know your answers to these questions will help me get started, and maybe help others who have been considering going on it too.

Don’t feel you have to answer all these questions to respond, but I would love to hear from you in a comment below, so we could all learn about your experience on this Ketogenic Diet.

Also, feel free to ask more questions in your comments, because I’m sure someone is going to have the same question and/or know the answer.

This is Mentoring!

I hope you’ve had an opportunity to pick up a copy of my new book Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Mentoring is just what I’m asking us to do in this post . . . share our experiences with those who are in a new season of life. You may be younger or older than me, but you can help me learn more about the Ketogenic Diet. Then I can pass on to others the knowledge and help you’ve given to me and everyone reading this post.

Always exciting to see your new book Mentoring for All Seasons at LifeWay bookstore

I had fun last week stopping by our new LifeWay Bookstore in Boise to take pictures of Mentoring for All Seasons with the manager of the store. It never gets old seeing your “baby” on the shelf, and it was right in the front on the “New Release” shelf. If you have a LifeWay Bookstore near you, why not stop by, pick up a copy, and support your local Christian bookstore.

I didn’t hear from any of you last week, but the publisher is offering an incredible discount on 5 or more copies of Mentoring for All Seasons through the end of December. You can use it yourself, share with your church, your women’s ministry, small group, or whoever would benefit from the book. Contact me and I’ll send you the information.

You can also purchase on all the online bookstores, Amazon, or I’ll sign and personalize it from our website store.

Ok, remember two are better than one, and I need your help figuring out this Ketogenic Diet. I hope many of you will leave comments and give me some advice.

Two are Better thank one because if one falls down the other can pick them up!

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Three Things I’ve Learned in 24 Years of Marriage!

wedding-picture

Yes, as you read today’s Monday Morning Blog, December 19, 2016, hubby and I are celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary! Several of you have mentioned you enjoy learning a little about my life lessons in these Monday mornings blogs, so as I pondered what to share with you so close to Christmas, I thought what better words of wisdom than what God has taught me about loss, life, and love in our marriage. I hope you’ll keep reading, even if you’re not married, because the principles God has taught me can apply to any relationship.

Loss of Expectations

Our wedding, just six days before Christmas, was a second marriage for both of us. Dave had three children and I had one daughter. I was single for seventeen years and Dave only a few years. The kids ranged in age from fifteen to nineteen, so I didn’t anticipate any problems in everyone living happily ever after.

Well, if you’ve blended a family or been around one, you’re probably laughing hysterically about now. Blending didn’t come without its challenges, and we all brought baggage and different ways of doing things from our original families. I learned right away that I was going to have to lower, and in many cases lose, my expectations: we would never be a nuclear family. Christmas or holidays or special occasions would always be a compromise of negotiating between two families, which would only become more complicated as the kids married and added extended families with their own traditions.

I couldn’t control who would be with us on what day or at what time . . . or even at all. There has only been one time since all our grandchildren were born that all four children, their spouses, and the eleven grandchildren were together, and that was at Thanksgiving six years ago at our son’s house—it wasn’t even at our home. For Dave’s 70th birthday last year, I had a dream . . . still hadn’t let go of all those expectations . . . of the whole family celebrating together for a reunion at our home in Idaho, where some had yet to visit. But one family couldn’t join us.

Dave and I have learned to pray about each event, and then enjoy who comes and not worry over who doesn’t. That hasn’t been an easy lesson for me to learn, but it has been necessary to maintain sanity and family relations. It relieves stress, worry, and disappointment when I let go of my expectations and let God fulfill His.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

What Divorced Christians Want You To Know

Life Is Ever Evolving

When we were first married, Dave had a wonderful job with great benefits. I was so happy that I would have some relief from the pressures of supporting a family after seventeen years of being a single mom. So after three years, we decided when the last child left home, I could quit my job and go into full-time lay ministry starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church. If you’re not familiar with the term “lay ministry,” it means no pay. I was never on staff at Saddleback. Three months after I quit my job, Dave was laid off from his corporate career and that was the end of a corporate job with benefits and great income . . . forever!

Read more of that story at About His Work Ministries.

Dave eventually found various labor-intensive jobs, until the last one resulted in him having to have reconstructive foot surgery and medically retire, which is how we ended up moving to Idaho. I tell that story, along with his multiple layoffs, in Dear God, He’s Home!: A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-At-Home Man.

Right before Dave’s second layoff, I had my first battle with Breast Cancer and started radiation two days before our 10th wedding anniversary. Little did we know then that I would go on to have breast cancer two more times, and 6 ft. 4 in. Dave would take a job that had him in a uniform crawling on his belly under houses and in attics. But through it all, God has kept me About His Work, and used us in a mighty way. Dave supports me as I write and speak for the Lord. Dave is my helpmate with his techie abilities, helping with the website, and for those of you who receive our newsletter, I write the articles but he puts it together.

Dave now travels with me when I speak, and the women really appreciate how we work as a team with him “manning” the book table. I used to pray that God would send me an assistant . . . I just never expected it to be Dave. Our personalities and gifts are polar opposite, but God has taught us, as life has evolved over these twenty-four years, how to combine our differences into a united effort working together for the Lord. What Satan tries to pull apart and use to separate us, we’ve learned to identify and let God make us stronger and better together.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Love Jesus First

pastor-pete-marrying-us

If you’ve read Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter or Dear God, He’s Home! I talk about a Marriage Builders course taught at the time by Pastor Pete McKenzie who married us [picture above]. On a whiteboard, Pastor Pete would draw a triangle with God at the pinnacle, a stick figure man in one lower triangle corner, and a stick figure woman in the opposite corner. Then he would draw an arrow across the bottom of the triangle explaining that when we have our eyes on each other, we’re the farthest apart. Next he would draw arrows up each side of the triangle, explaining that as we each move closer to God, we move closer together.

triangle-charm

On one of our early anniversaries, Dave had a charm made for me (picture above) symbolizing that triangle with the pearl of God at the top and our birthstones on each corner. Yes, my birthstone is a diamond! As long as Dave and I remember to keep Jesus first in our lives, everything runs smoothly in our marriage, no matter how our expectations are dashed, or how our life is evolving for good or bad. But if we take our eyes off Jesus, even for a moment, chaos can reign in our home.

All relationships have challenges, and so often those magnify at Christmas and holidays. I hope the three lessons I’ve learned in my marriage, will help you maintain peace, joy, and Jesus’s love no matter what your circumstances or challenges this year or in the New Year. They’re definitely not the only three lessons I’ve learned, but they’re definitely at the foundation of all the others.

“Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.” Ephesians 6:24

Merry Holy and Blessed Christmas to all my dear friends and family.

wedding-on-boat

 

Who Will Stand in the Gap?

“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.” Ezekiel 22:30

It was greeting time at church, a friend hugged me and said, “Thank you for standing in the gap!” She was leading the Women’s Bible study reading my book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten. I wanted to say back, and also say to everyone who has left similar comments on my Facebook timeline when I’ve taken a stand for God on difficult or controversial issues—“Join me.” God calls all Christians to be His hands and feet on earth. That’s why we’re here. Why aren’t we ALL standing in the gap? Why are some silent or taking a noncommittal position at a time in history like our parents and we have never seen before— choosing between two radically different Americas!

Morals versus Politics

A few, not just the liberal progressives, have accused me of being “political” and even “hypocritical.” I have never been a political person, but for the first time since I could vote, I see this election as so much more than politics. America, the only country founded on the freedom of religion, now has a platform called “progressive liberals” who are trying to remove God from our country. The only thing progressive about the Democratic agenda is they’re progressively moving our great country towards Satan and away from God. Towards hell . . . away from heaven. Towards evil . . . away from good. We are becoming a country where immorality reigns and is legalized, and those believing in morality and the Bible are penalized and punished.

The church watched government gradually and successfully infringe on our religious and moral rights…and did nothing. The Supreme Court legalized abortion. The Supreme Court took prayer and God out of schools. The Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. These are not political issues…these are moral issues. How have we let what God deemed wrong be deemed right? Why didn’t we put up a bigger fight?

As Donald Trump, who wants to build a wall (Ezekiel. 22:30), said to the group of evangelical leaders he met with when he decided to run for president: “If you don’t mind me saying so, YOU GUYS HAVE GONE SOFT.” He’s right. Dr. Lance Wallnau in his book God’s Chaos Candidate:Donald J. Trump and the American Unraveling, which I encourage you to order and read quickly BEFORE November 8, wrote, “Trump gave nervous evangelicals a gift that many of them lacked—the gift of boldness.”

Trump is the first political candidate I’ve ever heard say boldly without hesitation, as he did in the third debate, that he is against abortion, late-term abortion is horrific, and he would appoint conservative Supreme Court judges who would try to overturn Roe vs Wade. Every other candidate, even the evangelicals, have always danced around the topic of abortion wanting to get everyone’s votes.

“But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. The field is the world, and the good see stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one. ” (Matthew 13:25, 38)

Be Bold for Christ While We Still Can

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” Acts 4:29

In Forsaken God?, I wrote about the need for Christians to be bold for Christ, long before there was an election or any indication of who the candidates would be:

“Can you imagine the revival if Christians actively influenced the culture to remember God? My challenge to you is together let’s start a bold and brave movement to create a God-centered culture that remembers the magnificent goodness of our great God in our homes, communities, and churches.

Being Bold About Your Faith

We live in a culture where vocal minority factions lobby to remove God from every public place, ceremony, and conversation. They reject God’s ways, which can only mean accepting Satan’s ways. There is no in-between—support God’s ways or Satan’s ways … the secular world’s ways. The two will never meet or overlap—no straddling the fence between two polar opposites.

Christians, the silent majority for years in America, are watching our majority-ranking decline due to passive apathy. Letting a lost world lose God! Read the Gospels, Jesus wasn’t silent or passive and he confronted sin and Satan! It’s long past time for Christians to get noisy about the only right way—God’s way. People say I’m bold about my faith and it surprises me that’s considered an unusual trait … because shouldn’t every Christian be bold? Our faith isn’t a secret to hide; it’s the answer to the world’s woes. Unfortunately, Christians often worry more about offending the world than offending God.

Bold doesn’t mean obnoxious. It simply means not being afraid to speak the truth, even in the face of adversity: “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Cor. 3:12). Today’s culture calls it unloving to confront untruths or lies, but that’s a ploy of the enemy. The Bible says, Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth (1 Cor. 13:6). Nothing could be more loving than helping someone find eternal life and freedom from the bondage of sin. Love without truth is cowardly. Truth without love is powerless.

Who do you know who is trying to straddle the fence between the world’s ways and God’s ways, or walk too close to the edge of temptation? Where has God been nudging you to be brave and bold about your faith? It will require getting out of your comfort zone, but comfortable isn’t God’s way. You won’t be “politically correct,” but that wasn’t Jesus’ way.”*

Who Will Stand in the Gap?

“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” Acts 4:31

I am boldly supporting the conservative platform! Not for political reasons, but because we stand on the brink of the annihilation of conservatism and religious freedom in or country. Franklin Graham went to all 50 state Capitols to pray for our country and this election because he has 10 grandchildren directly impacted by the results, and he said if he died next year, he will know he tried to make a difference. I have 11 grandchildren and echo his heart. If you’re even considering voting for the progressive liberal platform, I have two thoughts for you to consider:

  1. You are siding with a group that has written on my Facebook timeline, the worse filthy, hateful, and vulgar language I have EVER seen or heard! Even as I’m writing this sentence, a “progressive” began posting terrible, vulgar, evil, awful things on a post about Mike Pence. I couldn’t delete the vulgarity fast enough, and had to block the person. This comes from both progressive men and women. If you don’t believe me…here’s one mild comment, the rest are far too vulgar… but it’s a window into what a vote for Hillary stands for and the progressive thinking. I simply asked, “What do you have in common with Hillary?”

“I am a progressive. I believe in a universal health care, I don’t believe in discrimination or segregation of any kind. I believe that all US citizens should be able to vote regardless if they are imprisoned or don’t have a Drivers License. I believe in Science and I believe that humans are destroying the planet, and it’s our duty to protect it. I believe that woman have a choice but after birth you need to protect society from deadly diseases. I believe that the top 1% have been given a free ride since Regan silently paved the road to destroy middle class. I believe the education is more important than anyone’s right to own assault weapons. I believe that Obama will arguably be one the best Presidents in history and I do believe that if you feel differently, then you’re a person that hates Gays, Color, or any nonwhite religious person. And that Hillary represents more of what the last 8 years, which is the only choice.”

  1. Hugh Hewitt who has taught Conservative Law for 20 years, says in God’s Chaos Candidate:

“If Hillary Clinton wins, the Left gavels in a solid, lasting almost certainly permanent majority on the Supreme Court. Every political issue has a theoretical path to SCOTUS, and only self-imposed judicial restraint has checked the Supreme Court’s appetite and reach for two centuries.

That restraint will be gone when Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first appointee is sworn in. Finished. This is not hyperbole…I know what a very liberal Supreme Court means: Conservatism is done. It cannot survive a strong –willed liberal majority on the Supreme Court. Every issue—EVERY—issue—will end up there, and the legislature’s judgments will matter not a bit.”

Your Children Need to Hear the Truth Boldly from You

“Living counter-cultural isn’t easy and many children succumb to believing a fake gospel that seems easier and less confrontational. No one likes being the brunt of harassing name-calling: intolerant, homophobic, old-fashioned, legalistic, or rigid. Even conservative is spewed with disdain. These kids are afraid to offend someone by talking about God or worry they won’t have an answer when challenged as to why they’re Christians.

It’s no wonder they’re confused and apprehensive. Satan is hijacking high-profile liberal pastors and several mainline denominations who expound that: the Bible isn’t inerrant or relevant, God is a myth, Jesus is a legend, and the church needs to catch up with the culture. Essentially, they’re atheists trying to mask themselves as “progressive Christians,” as if they’ve discovered the true, open-minded Christianity that doesn’t need the Bible. Wolves in sheep’s clothing—straight out of Titus 1:15-16. Culture never trumps Scripture. Even if you’ve been a member for years of one of these denominations or churches that now succumbs to this unbiblical, satanical teaching—run—leave immediately, and take your family with you.

The “liberals” defiantly ignore Jesus’ warning that Christians are in the world, but not of the world. And Jesus didn’t come to conform to the culture; he came to reform the culture. Jesus loves all people, but he hates sin—that’s why he went to the cross. Not so we could keep on sinning, but because, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Whoever doesn’t believe these truths cannot claim the cherished name of Christian.”*

Depending on the results November 8, and the choices we make as a country, we could have a massive revival, or we could reap what we’ve let Satan sew in our country while we slept and let our walls fall as a nation. We could admit, “Yes, we’ve forsaken God, but we’ll stand in the gap and turn our country back to God.” Or God could say, you had your chance and “There will be no more delay!” (Rev. 10:6).

*Excerpts from Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten available from Amazon or signed on our website.

I highly recommend quickly ordering God’s Chaos Candidate: Donald J. Trump and The American Unraveling by Dr. Lance Wallnau. You can read the first chapter for free at www.GODSCHAOSCANDIDATE.com

gods-chaos-candidate

We are still offering a special price until the end of October for Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey.

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Life Without A Bucket List

October Ushers in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

This month marks fourteen years since I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, October 2002. I’d like to say that I had surgery, radiation, took Tamoxifen for five years, and that was the end of it. But that’s not how my story goes. I was diagnosed with a recurrence in October 2008, and again in June 2011 right after we moved to Idaho, and this summer I had a MRI-driven needle biopsy–praise God it was benign. I don’t know why. I only know that God is not through with me yet, and that is why I write, and that is why I speak, and that is why I evangelize and try to mobilize the Christian community to take a stand for Christ and give purpose and meaning to the years the Lord has spared me.

breast-cancer-cover3-252x300

I wrote, Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey after my first diagnosis. It was the book I wished I had going through the battle myself and many women tell me it’s as if the Lord and I are walking right beside them.

Gloria Gaddy, who shares her story in the book, recently wrote to me:

10 Years ago I purchased this book, read it like my Bible, slept with it and prayed every day that God would heal me, He DID !  Now I am breast cancer free no more chemo meds and doing very well.  I might have to pick my book up just to remember how it brought me over.  Every time  someone is attacked with cancer it’s another opportunity for God to show up.

As a gift to my breast cancer sisters, and to any of you who have friends or family with breast cancer, we’re offering a special price for the month of October for Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer at our website shop, and I personalize and sign each book.

You might also find this excerpt from the book helpful for knowing what to say and what not to say to a woman fighting the breast cancer battle. The Top Thirteen Things to Do or Say and NOT to Do or Say to Someone with Breast Cancer

Life Without a Bucket List

Kara Tippetts was a young mother who lost the breast cancer battle, but starting with her diagnosis she wrote openly about her journey in a blog. Now, a year after her passing in March 2015, And It Was Beautiful: Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye brings a collection of Tippetts’ insights, taken mostly from her popular blog. Great care has been taken by David C Cook’s editorial team to present her thoughts with as few changes as possible in order to capture her distinct voice and unique way of arranging words.
      I thought it would be too hard for me to read And It Was Beautiful, but I couldn’t put it down and got permission from David C Cook to share her chapter on “Choosing a Mentor” in my new book Mentoring for All Seasons.
      In this post, I’m sharing with you the excerpt, “Life Without a Bucket List.” Like Kara, I consider every day of life a fulfilled bucket list, and as I lay my head on the pillow each night my husband Dave prays, “Thank you Lord for another day of life. We don’t take that for granted.”

An excerpt from And It Was Beautiful by Kara Tippetts

© 2016 Kara Tippetts. And It Was Beautiful is published by David C Cook. All rights reserved.

Kara Tippetts 1_Jen Lints Photography

I can confidently say that I don’t live with a long list of things I want to do, see, or complete before I’m done in this place. I carried a dream for years of having a farm. I was in love with all things Wendell Berry. I could picture it, the life of routine created by the land and its rhythms. But beyond that I’ve never longed for having a list and checking things off. I’m happy with my old cars, my simple wardrobe, my lack of fancy things and vacations. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a good concert, but I also love an organic dance party in my kitchen. I love great food, but I also love a hot dog over the fire pit in my backyard. I love a hike in the mountains, but I also love a walk around the block with my people.

Last week, when I heard I may have another long road to travel on this journey, I turned to Jason and cried. I told him how day after day this place is losing its grip on me. Driving down the street this place sometimes feels so slutty, so wanting my money without a care for my heart. Billboards blare at me what to buy, what to think, how to vote. But the tie that binds me here is relationships. Sickness makes those bonds more real, more important. It’s people who grip my heart.

Suffering has a way of exposing our theology, certainly our practical theology, where what we believe about God collides with where we live. My heart always hurts a little when someone hears my story and begins to question God’s goodness. I have found that suffering makes my faith more childlike, more simple. Our ideas of God are not necessarily made bigger or more grandiose through suffering, but they are simplified as we wade through the unknown of what comes next. Last week, in that unknown, I was smooching on Lake and the thought hit me that I won’t be around to help him navigate his first heartbreak. I was in a public place and I nearly lost my footing because of the fear that gripped me in that moment. I looked up and saw my growing girls and was almost suffocated by the thought of who will help them during the awkward years of puberty. Shouldn’t it be me? That’s the way it’s supposed to be, right? Can’t I stay and be here for them when they need me?

The truth is none of us know the length of our lives. So we pray for daily bread and say thank you when it comes. For today I have a little boy who will cross the room to give me a hug. I have a baby girl who gives me ten kisses when I ask for five. I have a preteen who still holds my hand in public, in front of her friends even. I have a second born who loves to tell me every tiny detail of her day. I have a guy who makes coffee just like I like it. A bucket list? No, I don’t need one. I’m so rich. It’s relationships that matter. And for me, paying attention to the precious gift of today is the only thing on my list.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kara Tippetts’ life was dramatically changed in 2012 when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She shared her journey on her popular blog, www.mundanefaithfulness.com. She was the author of The Hardest Peace and the co-author of Just Show Up. Since her death in March 2015, her husband, Jason, is parenting their four children and leading the church they founded in Colorado Springs, CO.

And it was Beautiful

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Remember the special October price for Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide For Women on the Breast Cancer Journey.

Choosing a Mentor

Kara Tippetts 1_Jen Lints Photography

I was asked to review Kara Tippett’s book, And It Was Beautiful. I knew a little of Kara’s story that she was a young Christian mom of four and author who had lost her battle to breast cancer, but during her valiant fight she blogged her thoughts. Not just about the cancer but what was happening in her life, her thoughts, her struggles, her joys. Being a three-time breast cancer survivor myself, I wondered if it would be too painful for me to read Kara’s book, but it was just the opposite . . . I couldn’t put it down. Yes, it was sad, but her writing seldom made me sad. Instead, I got a chance to meet a very special woman who loved the Lord, her family, her church, and her friends and she left them and us a treasure in her blogs, which were more like having a chat with her.

When I came to the chapter titled “Choosing a Mentor,” I knew I had to share it with you. I received permission to share her words in this blog and in my new book releasing next year: Mentoring for All Seasons: Women Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Enjoy!

Choosing a Mentor

By Kara Tippett

Apart from the Holy Spirit, it has been the mentors in my life who have made the longest-lasting, deepest impact on who I am as a person. Some mentors were women I specifically asked to mentor me. Some were women who opened their lives wide open for me to watch. But both nurtured new strength in me. Here are a few things that have served me well in finding a mentor.

First, do they love their family well and speak with love and admiration of their husbands? Can these be areas of tension and struggle in a family? Yes, but I look to see if their overall desire is to move toward a spouse and children, and not away.

Second, do they speak vulnerably about weakness, or are they more concerned about appearances? I have found this area to be critical. I struggle to share openly with someone who wants to appear they have it all figured out. I look to see if they are willing to speak openly about where God is challenging them, and are open about themselves without bashing others.

Third, and most important, do they seek Jesus in their moments throughout the day, especially the mundane? Do they see their neediness and weakness, and are they able to be wrong and be corrected by Scripture?

When Jason [her husband] was a youth director, we had the privilege of seeing kids who truly loved Jesus. From that observation, we often sought out their parents. We wanted to sit at their feet, eat at their table, and watch how they did it. I love to watch someone discipline with kindness. I love to watch someone including their children in the events of the home. I love watching someone loving their spouse creatively. And I really love to see women involved in community building. You can receive a lot of mentoring just by watching.

Common interests help as well. I have had mamas show me a craft, women who love to write as well as read, ladies who love to garden, build a fire, and cook, and women who just cannot get enough of their Bibles. I often try to enter the life of a person who might be a good fit as a mentor in a place of common joy. I want my mentors to be my friends, as I want to befriend the women I mentor.

Things to be wary of? Be careful of people who like to gossip. Be willing to be flexible. Mentoring relationships take on so many different looks. Sitting down across from one another with Bibles open every week? That’s an awesome model, but it’s certainly not the only one. Look for someone who will promote freedom in Christ, not tie you up in a load of legalism.

Finally, as you search for a safe place, be a safe place in return. God loves seeing us seeking Him together.

An excerpt from And It Was Beautiful by Kara Tippetts bolding added.

© 2016 Kara Tippetts. And It Was Beautiful is published by David C Cook. All rights reserved. Shared with permission.

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kara Tippetts’ life was dramatically changed in 2012 when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She shared her journey on her popular blog, www.mundanefaithfulness.com. She was the author of The Hardest Peace and the co-author of Just Show Up. Since her death in March 2015, her husband, Jason, is parenting their four children and leading the church they founded in Colorado Springs, CO.

And it was Beautiful

Love Your Body—Go Nuts for Nuts

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

“My mom always has her bag of nuts with her!”

My daughter, Kim, made that comment when my daughter-in-law asked her what she should prepare for my hubby and me when we were coming to visit since she knew we try to eat healthy, raw, and organic. Kim was saying: don’t worry about it. If my mom can’t find enough to eat, she’ll snack on her nut concoction.

cracked walnuts

I’ve always enjoyed a variety of nuts since I was a kid. I remember sitting with my mom shelling walnuts for hours from big bags we would fill from the walnut orchards that used to be so prevalent in Southern California. After their harvest, they let the public come through and glean walnuts. Great memories and great walnuts! My heart breaks as I watch so many of these walnut orchards destroyed to build new houses. I want to scream: “Don’t you know how good those walnuts are for you and how long it took for those trees to grow?” But I don’t think anyone would listen to me.

We always had walnuts. We baked with walnuts and loved just snacking on them. I can remember eating as many as I shelled!

Then as I grew older and was always watching my weight, I started hearing how high in calories nuts were and I treated them like a delicacy…only adding to banana nut bread or an occasional crumb topping or Waldorf salad (apples, celery, and walnuts). But then there was a trend to put nuts in salads and I was all over that. How had we missed all those years how delicious walnuts or pecans are in a salad with strawberries or pears or any array of fruit? Oh and that was something new too. Salads didn’t just need to be veggies and tomatoes—fresh fruit of all kinds is fabulous in a green salad and topped with nuts and raspberry salad dressing, a real treat.

salad

Cancer Changed Everything

So over the years, I enjoyed nuts sparingly and guiltily. But all that changed when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and began researching the best foods for fighting cancer. At the top of the list were nuts! Not just any kind of nuts though: organic and raw were the best because the high roasting temperatures used in roasting nuts can destroy many of the good nutrients and the pesticides sprayed on nonorganic nuts negate much of their nutritional value.

Nuts are little gifts from God, packed with powerful nutrients for not only fighting cancer, but heart disease, high cholesterol, endocrine and inflammatory problemsthe list is endless. Yes, they have calories, but they are such a concentrated source of nutrition, that you don’t have to eat many to gain the benefits. Nuts are good calories. Calories you want to include in your diet while you eliminate wasted calories.

So I make my own “trail mix” with a variety of organic, raw, unsalted, and if possible, sprouted, nuts. I always start with almonds, cashews, and walnuts, and then I might add pistachios, shelled sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, macadamias, Brazil nuts, or pecans. Sometimes I add dried unsulphured fruit, but usually, it’s just a mixture of nuts, which I take with me everywhere and keep on my desk in my office while I’m writing!

Remember that raw nuts are unprocessed so keep any extras in the refrigerator or freezer. I like to buy raw, organic nuts in bulk and then freeze them. Then I’ll defrost some and make a big batch of my “trail mix” combining a variety of nuts and portion into smaller bags that I keep in the refrigerator and take out one bag at a time to enjoy.

Yes, if you walked into my office today, you would see my bag of nuts . . . in fact I just had a handful while I was writing this. If you looked in my travel bag, yep there would be a bag of nuts. When hubby and I go to town for the day, you guessed it, I have my bag of nuts if I want a snack while we’re shopping or watching soccer games or hanging out with the family.

It doesn’t take many of these powerhouse gifts from God, so a handful or two will do you nicely and probably quench your appetite so you don’t eat so much at the next meal. Think how much better this is for you than a bag of chips or candy bar or even popcorn. Popcorn does not have the nutrients of nuts, but you can add nuts to your popcorn and that’s yummy too.

Check out These Websites

So I’ve researched a couple of websites that I think you will enjoy. The first one, Why You Should Go Nuts for Nuts is one I really like. On the first page, after you read the introduction, hit on “View All” and it will take you to pictures of different nuts. When you hit on the picture, you’ll get a summary of all the health benefits of that particular nut.

And here’s a great article about walnuts, 10 Surprising Facts About Walnuts.

Tips for Going Nuts

  • If you find nuts hard to chew, try grinding them and adding to your recipes or chopping them.
  • Add nuts to your salads, cereal, oatmeal, granola, cereal, vegetables, cookies, cobblers . . . the list is endless.
  • If you can’t go raw nuts, Dr. Oz says in his book, You On a Diet, that it’s OK to cook them at 275 degrees for 9-12 minutes to roast without damaging the good oils and nutrients.
  • If raw organic are too expensive, I would opt for at least raw because roasting at high temperatures damages most of the nutrients. You might wash them off and then do a light roasting, as I mentioned above.
  • If you don’t like a particular nut, no problem. There are so many to choose from.
  • Substitute almond milk for regular milk. Some people like to make their own almond milk and I just discovered how to make walnut milk. Yummy!

What are some ways you’ve found to use nuts?

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*Pictures are from the websites listed in the article.

Why Don’t We Ask for Prayer?

I'm not lucky                                            And How Many People Have Prayed For Me!

The day before my mammogram last week, I realized I hadn’t asked anyone to pray for a good result. This wasn’t just a routine mammogram. I’ve had breast cancer three times in 13 years, so I have a MRI or mammogram every six months, and there have been times when it was every three months. It’s been four years since a mammogram showed cancer, so why was I feeling apprehensive?

What Stops Us Asking for Prayer?

Maybe it was because I have a new book releasing in February that I know Satan is not happy about—Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten. We were under such spiritual attack while I was writing it, what would Satan do next to try and stop me from sharing the message of this timely book?

Maybe after so many mammograms and MRI’s over the past thirteen years, I thought surely, people had tired of praying for these tests. After all, I had been cancer-free for four years. How could I ask . . . again . . . when there was no reason to expect the test not to turn out fine?

Maybe I feared that no one would pray.

Maybe I knew so many people who needed prayer more than I did.

Maybe I didn’t want to draw attention to a health weakness.

Maybe I dreaded the question of why I chose the type of treatment I did. That question plants doubts, instead of comfort.

It’s a Privilege to Pray for Each Other

But in the back of my mind was the nagging thought: I was cancer-free for six years before the second recurrence, and only two years between the second and third round with this dreaded disease. So time passing isn’t reassuring to me.

I wrestled all day with whether or not to ask for prayer. I kept dismissing the thought and then the Holy Spirit would prompt me again. That made me wonder, even more, why was the Holy Spirit so persistent that I ask for prayer? What did He know, that I didn’t know?

Finally, at 10:00 that night, I put this prayer request on Facebook and got ready for bed:

I’m having my 6 mo. diagnostic mammogram tomorrow. I’ve wrestled with the Holy Spirit all day about His prompting me to ask my peeps for prayer for a continued “all clear.” So here I am again….asking you to pray with me that it’s the Lord’s will that I will remain cancer-free. Thank you dear ones who see this. Appointment at 10:30 am MT.

By the time I turned out the light, thirteen night owl Facebook friends had posted that they were praying. Wow! I slept peacefully.

The next morning, 180 “likes” on my prayer request post and over 70 friends had left a message that they were praying for me. Here were some of the comments:

Praying for you, Janet. Never be afraid of asking for prayer from others.

God will bring you reinforcements when you need them.

Don’t wrestle! Just ask! Praying!

God never tires of our repeated requests. May you sense His presence with you.

Don’t know why you wrestled so much, that’s why you have friends in the Body of Christ for support and encouragement. Of course, I will pray NOW!

Thank you for sharing because I would love to ask the Lord for “the all clear”

That’s the reason I’m on Facebook . . . to pray for others.

Yes, people actually thanked me for asking for prayer and giving them the privilege of praying for me! I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of love, caring, concern, and prayer flooding the Holy of Holies on my behalf.

Some FB friends were praying who I don’t know personally, be we’re brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

Looking back, I realize I wasn’t only wrestling with the Holy Spirit. There was a spiritual warfare going on. Yes, the Holy Spirit was prompting me to ask for prayer, but Satan was provoking me with all the reasons I shouldn’t ask for prayer. That battle went on in my head and heart all day long, but praise God, the Holy Spirit prevailed.

I knew that I had done the Lord’s bidding when I was scrolling down Facebook “home” on my phone as we headed the hour and a half to town for the test during a terrible rain and windstorm. I came across a friend who hadn’t read my prayer request, but her post that day was simply Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

I kept that verse on my phone screen all the way to the mammogram, and I knew it was the Holy Spirit’s way of confirming I had won the spiritual battle. The prayers kept pouring in on my phone and I was at peace. I don’t know how the test would have turned out had my friends not flooded the heavens. Did that change the outcome of the test? I won’t know that until I get to heaven, but what I do know is that I will never hesitate to ask for prayers again, and I hope you won’t either.

When the test turned out “all clear,” I posted this message to all my praying faithful’s:

A BIG cyber hug of gratefulness for the many many many peeps who prayed last night and today for my 6 mo. mammogram and ultrasound. If you didn’t see my message on the post…ALL CLEAR and I didn’t have to have the ultrasound.

As many of you know, I’m a 3x breast cancer survivor, the latest 4 yrs ago, so I have of a mammo or MRI every 6 months for the past 13 yrs, and usually it’s no big deal, but this one did seem big. So I can’t stop thanking God and all of you for petitioning Him for me.

You are all amazing and I pray I’m half the friend to you that you are to me. Please let me pray for you sometime too!

PS I celebrated by going wild at my hair appt!!! I have lots of fun red highlights:) Merry Christmas dear friends.

The praises and “likes” for that message started pouring in and filled my heart with gladness and joy!

When I call on JesusSpiritual Inspirations

Asking for Prayer is a Testimony and a Witness

Someone needed to see the body of Christ respond to my public prayer request. It wasn’t just me who needed confirmation that prayer warriors never tire of praying.

Maybe it was you with an “unspoken” prayer request you need to share with someone.

Maybe it was the many who read my Facebook posts and saw the outpouring of prayers.

Maybe it’s someone reading this article.

Only God knows for sure, but often we have not because we ask not. We’re so sure that things are forgone conclusions, that we don’t bother God with prayer…or “bother” our friends.

My dear friends, many of you have prayer requests, right now! Especially at this time of year. Won’t you share them here so I can pray with you and anyone who is reading this blog can lift your request to the most High.

Three times in thirteen years, we prayed the tests would not reveal breast cancer, but three times, they did. But 35+ times we’ve prayed for those same tests, and it was an “all clear.” I’ll take those odds to my knees any day . . . how about you?

Side Note:

I wrote Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey, while recovering from my first occurrence, I had to write a difficult chapter: “It Could Come Back.” Here’s some of what I wrote when I had no idea that, indeed, cancer would return two more times:

Dear God,

Would everybody be there for me again or be burned out on breast cancer and not able to deal with it anymore? Oh Lord, I cannot imagine how lonely that would be. It was so hard the first time; it must be devastating to relive it. In many ways, cancer is like living with a time bomb. You don’t know if it is defused or if it’s ticking away, ready to catch you off guard and blow your life apart again . . . maybe this time actually taking you to a place of no return. I have to admit these thoughts go through my mind at random times.

Lord, I must put my complete faith and trust in You. I will do everything the doctors tell me to do when they tell me to do it . . . no playing games with this . . . and I pray You continue to protect me and restore me to complete health. However, if there should be a recurrence, I also pray my family and friends would rally back around me, and You would give the doctors the same wisdom and insight You did the first time. Let them catch it early again—breast cancer will not win the battle for my life. Confidently Yours, Janet*

God has answered that prayer through two recurrences, and so I encourage you to ask for prayer and keep on praying for those you know in need of prayer.

*Excerpt from Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer

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Breast cancer book

Someone You Know Has Breast Cancer

Blanket made for me by my daughter-in-law and grandkids for first recurrence.

Blanket made for me by my daughter-in-law and grandkids for first recurrence.

“I’m sorry…but you do have breast cancer.”

Those shocking words crackling through my cell phone rocked my world thirteen years ago. I was running errands…trying to outrun suspected bad news. After the doctor’s parting words, “You’ll be fine,” I fired up the car engine and started driving and dialing. The first person I called, after I told my husband, was my best friend, but she couldn’t comprehend the diagnosis. “A positive biopsy doesn’t mean it’s malignant, does it?” she asked.

It’s hard to know what to say or do when a friend or relative drops the bombshell news that she has breast cancer. Often our natural response is to recoil and retreat. Maybe it’s the fear of facing our own mortality or the time and emotion required if we do get involved. We ease our conscience by thinking: she would rather be alone right now anyway. Or she needs her family at a time like this. Or she has so many friends; I know someone will help her.

We may send a card or make a call offering to help, closing with “I’ll be praying for you,” then on we go about our life while her life crumbles. Yet the Bible clearly tells us to, “Help each other in troubles and problems. This is the kind of law Christ asks us to obey” (Galatians 6:2 NLV).

How can we put that verse into practical terms? What does it truly mean to help each other in troubles and problems? Perhaps you can glean some ideas from the ways my friends and family came along side me during my initial breast cancer journey and two recurrences.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I pray that God will make you aware of the women around you with breast cancer and that you’re getting regular exams yourself!

Helping with the Bad Days

Don’t Just Offer to Help—Do Something Tangible

Most of us find it difficult to receive help; we’re hesitant to impose on others. When asked the generic question, “How can I help you?” our common response is, “I’m fine, but thank you for asking.” Truthfully, we need everything, but we don’t know if the person is offering to mop our floors or pick up our kids from school—both of which we need, but are afraid to ask.

Another well-meaning comment I received was, “Just call me if you need anything.” Now how many women are going to pick up the phone and ask for help, especially if they are not feeling well? Again, we don’t know what the person is willing to do for us, and we don’t want to be a burden.

So instead of offering to help—just jump in and do something. If you know your friend well, you know where she needs help; and even if you don’t know her well, you know where all women need help. If she is in the midst of cancer treatment, she is going to need assistance with every area of her life, especially if she is single. Here are some practical ideas:

  1. Schedule her friends, family, and church to bring meals. Use your lunch break to take her lunch and eat with her.
  2. Offer to drive her to doctor’s appointments or treatments and take notes for her.
  3. Shuttle her kids to and from school or find someone who can.
  4. Sit with her during chemo treatments or accompany her to radiation. Talk, read a book to her, or just hold her hand.
  5. Take her children on a play date or to your house.
  6. Do her laundry.
  7. Do her grocery shopping. If she is too sick to dictate a list, take an inventory of her refrigerator and cupboards and make your own list.
  8. Answer her email.
  9. Bring her a gift that makes her feel feminine.
  10. If she feels like talking, sit and chat with her. When she doesn’t feel like talking, just be a presence in her home so she doesn’t feel alone.
  11. Babysit her kids so she and her husband can have some private time.
  12. Clean her house or pay someone to do it.
  13. Go with her to pick out a wig or prosthesis.
  14. Pick up prescriptions.
  15. Run errands.

Don’t Say, “I’ll Pray For You,” Unless You Mean It

At church a couple came up to greet my husband and me and asked if they could pray for us. That meant so much to me as we wrapped our arms around each other, and there on the church patio, this precious couple prayed for my recovery and Dave’s strength for the journey. When we finished, the wife asked where we needed help. I hesitated because I knew this woman didn’t like to cook, but Dave quickly interjected, “We could use a meal.” She didn’t flinch. She said they would be over the next night with dinner, and they were…and they prayed for us again.

“I’ll pray for you” is said too often with the casualness of “Have a nice day.” But a promise to pray isn’t just a feel good phrase. We are telling someone that we will petition God on her behalf, and we are living falsely if we don’t. I find it’s best to stop in the moment and pray right then. It keeps me honest and blesses the other person.

Helping to Enjoy the Good Days

Be Happy with Her When She’s Happy

Cancer is a grim word. Overnight life becomes serious, tense, and laden with fear. There is very little laughter during those first shocking days following the “dreaded diagnosis.” But life continues and there are going to be good days interspersed with the bad. An insightful friend will capitalize on the moments of reprieve when there is an opportunity to laugh or smile. Be ready, because it may only last a moment, but the break from pain and fear is immeasurable.

If your friend is having an especially good day, avoid topics that you know will bring her down. You aren’t minimizing or making light of the seriousness of the situation, but you are giving her a recess from the intensity. Don’t fake happiness, but take advantage of humorous or lighter moments. Smile. Laugh. Be happy. Don’t let the serious eclipse the humorous.

I remember laughing at myself one day in the shower when I realized that I was so carefully not shaving under my left arm because of the lymph node surgery, that I also wasn’t shaving my left leg. I frequently retold that story so people could laugh with me.

Nurture the Little Girl Inside Her

When I was in the hospital, the nurse in charge of the breast-care unit gave me a white stuffed toy sheep named “Fleece.” Taking Fleece with me everywhere, I held him as a shield in front of my sore breast, tucked him under my arm as an armrest, and snuggled next to him in bed. For six months, I indulged my childish need for security and no one chastised me for it. In fact, they acted like it was normal. And I discovered when I was writing my book, Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer, that it was normal! One woman who shared her story in the book had a black stuffed sheep named “Lamby” that she cuddled in her hospital bed. Another received a baby-sized pillow, and she recalls, “That pillow became a part of my wardrobe for eighteen months.”

stuffed sheet

Comfort and Security Gifts

  • A stuffed animal, pillow, or quilt.
  • A favorite food.
  • A game she loves to play and play it with her.
  • A movie she loved as a kid and watch it with her.
  • A surprise reunion with childhood friends.
  • A tea party.
  • A fun hat—even if she hasn’t lost her hair, she might not feel like fixing her hair.
  • A new nightgown that buttons down the front.
  • An ice cream cone.
  • A nightlight
  • A copy of  Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer a Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey signed by me to her. Many women tell me it’s as if I’m walking right beside them.

Shower Her with Love

Kay Warren shared with me about her breast cancer experience, “I don’t know how we would have gotten through this difficult time without the outpouring of love and support from so many. I have not felt alone at all…which is such an amazing gift!” And that it is…love is the best gift you can give to your friend suffering with breast cancer. Don’t desert her when she needs you most. Right now, she requires extravagant love, and God will help you when your heart is breaking or it just seems too sad or too hard. John 13:34 tells us to love one another just as God has loved us. God is the author of love and He knows just what your friend needs, and He will show you how to love her when she is feeling unlovable.

Surprise her. What woman doesn’t love an unexpected gift or demonstration of how valuable she is to us? We were in the midst of a messy kitchen remodel when breast cancer assaulted me. Everything in my life seemed out of control. But I felt so loved the day I returned home after the painful needle biopsy and spotted amongst the rubble—gift bags full of treats with balloons attached and a card from two girlfriends assuring me they had been praying during the ordeal.

Ideas For Showering Your Breast Cancer Friend With Love

  • A Spa day at a salon, which treats women with breast cancer.
  • If she wears a hat or scarf, wear one too.
  • Tell her how much you love her and what a great friend she is.
  • Stick with her even when the treatment lingers on. Her biggest fear is that others will not endure the journey.
  • Include her in as many activities as she feels up to.
  • Go to a breast-cancer support group with her.
  • Plan a girls’ day or night out, when she feels up to it.
  • Sit and watch old movies with her—even if she falls asleep.
  • Do her makeup.
  • Pray for and with her.

The Bible assures us in Proverbs 17:17 that “A friend loves at all times.” What a privilege it is to put that verse into practice for your precious friend with breast cancer. You probably won’t be able to do everything I suggest and I hope you have ideas of your own, but as a three-time breast cancer survivor, I assure you there are three things that will endure through the good and the bad times—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

The Top Thirteen Things to Do or Say and NOT to Do or Say to Someone with Breast Cancer

Article includes excerpts from Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey.

Breast cancer book If you received this blog by email, leave a comment here.

Love Your Body–Read Labels

Love your BodyIn February, I announced that the last Monday Morning Blog of the month would be Love Your Body the Way God Loves Your Body. If you haven’t read that post, stop and read it now, or review it before reading further. In that blog, I explained that my first career was as a Registered Dietitian and it saddened me that some people pay more attention to what they put in their cars then what they put in their own precious bodies—God’s temple.

It’s Not All about Genes!

Some of you know that I’m a three-time breast cancer survivor, but otherwise, I’m extremely healthy—as is my husband. Even though both sides of my family struggled with heart disease and diabetes, my annual lab results in all areas are so pristine that my doctor said at my last physical that he could probably stop ordering the blood tests! I said no, I love to see the results of our healthy-lifestyle.

My husband’s father had quadruple bypass heart surgery and died from heart disease too early, and Dave’s mother had numerous health issues related to obesity. However, at 68 my husband’s doctor told him that he was healthier than 98% of the men he saw in his practice. Neither of us take medications, except I take thyroid for hypothyroidism—low thyroid.

I don’t tell you this to brag, but simply to point out that I often hear: “It’s hereditary; I can’t do anything about my condition, so I might as well eat what I want.” That’s a fallacy—Dave and I are healthy proof. Yes, genes do play a role, but knowing what you’re dealing with gives you a head’s up on being proactive rather than feeding into a generational cycle.

How the Thompsons Eat

I have always fed my family healthy foods, but when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I stepped it up a notch. I believe my breast cancer and recurrences are the result of cell damage from X-rays I had during puberty when I wore a body cast for debilitating scoliosis. I had X-rays to my chest throughout puberty and they weren’t as sophisticated as today’s are. After my first breast cancer surgery and radiation in November 2002, I wanted to do everything I could to recover quickly and get back About His Work. So we converted to eating organic and raw.

I’m not obsessive about eating organic, but I buy organic and raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and some meats. We don’t eat pork or red meat, except for lamb occasionally, but we do eat chicken, turkey, and wild fish. The only oils are organic: olive, grapeseed, and coconut.

On our Love Your Body Mondays, I’ll share more specifics, recipes, cooking ideas, and frugal shopping tips, but I’m going to start with helping you know what you put in your body.

Read Labels

I read every label; if I don’t recognize an ingredient, I don’t buy the item. I avoid soy because of my breast cancer and some soy mimics estrogen in the body. The FDA has allowed the food industry to add soy indiscriminately to much of our food. “Soy lecithin” is one of the most ubiquitous additives in our food supply. It’s used primarily as an emulsifier and you find it in everything from salad dressings to vitamins. The soy portion comes from soybean oil extracted from soybeans. You can avoid the brunt of soy lecithin by eliminating most processed foods, but read the labels.

Sadly, most labels are ambiguous. The FDA is supposedly making labels more user-friendly, but the food industry is marketing against the higher cost of making new labels, and it will be easier for us to see what’s in our food. It might take a while before we see a change, so here are some tips to get you started now:

Front of Package

1. Don’t be fooled by words like “healthy,” “all natural,” “fat free,” “wholesome”, “sugar-free.” For a detailed list read “16 Most Misleading Food Labels” (they actually give 19!).

“Natural foods” and “all natural foods” are widely used terms in food labeling and marketing with a variety of definitions, most of which are vague. The term is assumed to imply foods that are minimally processed and do not contain manufactured ingredients, but the lack of standards in most jurisdictions means that the term assures nothing. The term “organic,” however, has an established legal definition in many countries, including the United States, as well as an agreed upon international standard. Therefore all natural and organic products are not the same. In some countries, the term “natural” is defined and enforced. In others, such as the United States, it has no meaning.—From Wikipedia

2. Don’t trust “Organic” labeling unless it has a certified insignia:

certified organicorganic labelsorganic

 

If the box states “organic ingredients,” read the label to be sure all the ingredients are organic. Also all “organic” foods are not necessarily good for you—organic sugar is better than nonorganic sugar, but sugar is still sugar and just because it’s organic doesn’t give it a free pass. It still has “wasted calories” with no nutritional value.

Label on Back of Package

1. Check the serving size. Often it’s only ½ cup. Who only eats a half cup of ice cream or cereal? If you eat 2 cups, you need to multiply the nutritional breakdown, including calories, by four!

2. Listed ingredients go from highest content to lowest. So if water is the first ingredient, the product is mostly water. For example, a lemon drink that touts “made with lemon” may list lemon juice as the last ingredient. Or it could even be lemon flavoring.

3. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, don’t buy it. You don’t want to put an unknown into your body…do you? Write down the ingredient and look it up when you get home. Chances are it’s a preservative, which you want to avoid.

4. Natural food sugar isn’t listed separately from added sugar in the nutritional breakdown. Reading the ingredients shows added sugar and its position in the list of ingredients. Even if it’s organic sugar or maple syrup, it’s still sugar with no nutritional value…just calories.

Avoid anything with high glucose corn syrup. Especially check children’s snacks.

I sent my husband on a mission of finding a barbeque sauce that didn’t contain high fructose corn syrup. He read every label on the grocery store shelf, and there was only one.

5. Check the sodium level, and again, that’s per the label’s serving size.

6. Avoid everything with saturated and Trans fats.

7. Look for added soy, which could be in the form of soybean oil or soy lecithin. No one needs the amount of soy added to our food.

8. Choose wild fish, not farmed.

Buy Fresh, Be Healthy

When possible by fresh and avoid packaged, processed foods, then you don’t have to worry about labels unless you’re looking for organic. Then you do need to look for the certified organic emblem. Beware at farmer’s market, because they may tell you they don’t use pesticides, but you’re only taking their word for it.

It may take you longer to shop at first, and it’s probably not a good idea to have the kids around; but soon you’ll know what to look for and which foods to avoid. You may think that buying organic is more expensive, but when you see all the products you aren’t buying, you’ll actually reduce your food bill and increase your health.

Happy shopping! Tell me how the experience goes and what you found on labels.

Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy? Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best, fill yourself with only the finest. Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words. I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you, the same that I made with David: sure, solid, enduring love. — Isaiah 55:2-5

Lessons From A Life Well Lived

Jan Holsclaws celebration sunriseSunrise from Jan and Jim’s backyard the day we celebrated Jan’s commencement to her Heavenly home!

I met Jan Holsclaw when she and husband Jim were speaking at Idyllwild Bible Church. Dave and I have a cabin in Idyllwild and were at IBC the same weekend the Holsclaws were visiting. At that time, Jim and Jan worked for Wycliffe Bible Translators and they were giving a report to IBC who helped support their ministry.

Jan spoke of her battle with ovarian cancer that was in remission. After the service, I introduced myself to Jan as a fellow cancer survivor and gave her a copy of my book Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer. Jan and Jim live in Florida, so an email friendship developed over the miles. Jan often referred to our “chance” meeting as a divine appointment.

A Team of Rope Holders

Sadly, it wasn’t long after we met that Jan’s cancer returned and she was in for the battle of her life . . . for her life. Jan and Jim started email updates to a team of friends and family they called their “rope holders” from the story in Mark 2:3-5 and Luke 5:18-20 where friends tied ropes to a mat and lowered a paralytic man through the roof of the house where Jesus was preaching. Loving friends displaying their faith in Jesus—that’s what Jan’s rope holders were to her too.

So over the next few years, Jan and Jim sent the rope holders email updates of Jan’s journey through extensive and ongoing chemo and treatments, and we lifted Jan and Jim before the Lord. We prayed for their specific requests and rejoiced in their good days and praises.

The doctors told them to do all the things they wanted to do and see family as much as possible. Use the time they had wisely, and that’s just what they did. Jim retired from Wycliffe, and during Jan’s good times or breaks in treatment, they traveled to see their children and grandchildren spread throughout the United States and China.

Lesson: We need each other. Learn how to “receive” well. Life is precious. Live like you’re dying.

 

A Praise Journal in the Midst of Crisis

Jan started a “Thankful List” which she often shared with her rope holders. When I asked her about it, she said:

How does it encourage me? When I’m down or discouraged or sad or ‘tired of the cancer/chemo routine,’ if I start adding to my “thankful list” it doesn’t take long before my focus is no longer on “poor me,” but on the Lord and on how incredibly blessed I am. I can literally sense my spirit being lifted into His presence. It’s sort of like a 180 degree turn around. Absolutely amazing. Even when I think to myself… “I can’t think of ONE thing for which I’m thankful” . . . all I have to do is START WRITING, and then my mind is filled with TONS of things for which I’m thankful.

“I Will Trust You” was the subject line of a rope holders’ email on February 6, 2014, as Jan’s health was rapidly deteriorating. She continued to tell us how much our prayers and emails meant to her and Jim:

Again, thank you SO MUCH for your precious words that touch us so deeply, and often bring tears. You simply can’t know how much they mean, and how they minister to us…over and over and over again! We’re trying to keep our hearts focused on Him, reminding ourselves that whatever we find out, He is with us, He’s holding us close, we need not fear and we can trust Him. A song that has been SO meaningful to us in the last few days is Sovereign by Chris Tomlin.

Lesson: If your faith is a little shaky today, listen to praise music. Jan and Jim found comfort in the YOU TUBE version of Sovereign.

 

On February 7, 2014, Jan wrote to her rope holders—

The sobering part of it all, is that when I now return to a chemo that has worked in the past, there’s generally only a 20-30% chance that it will now be effective against the cancer.

Still Jan finds things to be thankful for—

I am SO THANKFUL for:

A good appetite. (And I don’t want to EVER take that for granted!)

Restful sleep at night.

My wonderful, godly doctor.

My amazing husband who cares for me 24/7.

Our precious kids, their spouses, and our grandkids.

God’s Sovereignty and His tender, loving care.

Our incredible team of rope holders (YOU) and your touching words of encouragement.

Lesson: If you’re going through a tough time, start a Thankful List. It’s hard to stay down when you’re looking up.

Jan with her therapy dog Wally Jon

February 24, 2014 Jan with her “therapy dog” Wally Jon

How to Live Well for Jesus and Die Well in Jesus

March 4, 2014 the rope holders received an email from son Jon, “Finally Free!” Saturday March 8, thanks to the technology of “Streamline,” I watched the Celebration of Jan’s Life. Jan didn’t want a sermon; she wanted casual dress, her favorite music, and a chance for everyone who wanted to share their memories at an open microphone.

We heard from friends, neighbors, hospital staff, fellow ministry servants, and her doctors. All had the same message: Jan showed us how to live well for Jesus and how to die well in Jesus. Here was some of her legacy shared at the celebration:

  • She showed us how to behave in suffering. Not to be inward focused but to reach out and let her rope holders know how much she needed them.
  • There was a width and breadth of ministry during her last seven years. Her mission: May God get the glory and win the day, every day.
  • She taught us how to be a gracious “receiver.” When she was well she gave, but when she was ill, she could receive our help.
  • Jan loved life and fought it through to the very end.
  • She loved her family so much and taught us how to be better wives, moms, and grandmothers.
  • Jan had faith and trust and gave thanks in all circumstances.
  • Jan and Jim didn’t just talk about the Lord, they lived out their faith.
  • From a hospital staff member: they were always encouraging to the hospital staff—even the lady cleaning the floors. They left their mark on the staff.
  • A neighbor who saw Jan and Jim walking hand in hand while she did her morning run soon was getting hugs and friendship from Jan.
  • Her doctors considered it a privilege to be in the presence of patients like Jim and Jan. They ministered to their doctors during the doctors’ tough times and struggles.
  • Jan taught us how to die.
Lesson: How we live our life in good times and hard times is a ministry—it’s our legacy.

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:54-56 (NLT)

Jan and Jim 48 year anniversary

Jan and Jim on their 48th Anniversary August 2013