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

 

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.

Who’s Your Boss?

MRI registration form

Saturday, I woke up dreading the MRI I would be having later in the day. I’ve noticed that every time I have a problem lately, doctors want an MRI. I don’t like closed in places, so going into that MRI tube is one of my least favorite things. I have to take something to relax, put a washcloth over my eyes, and have Christian music playing in the earphones they put on you. And pray a lot and have many people praying.

So hubby and I showed up for my appointment at what was a new hospital to us. I’d usually had tests done through the other hospital in town. I walked up to the registration desk and the receptionist said, “Oh yes here is your paper work right here. We just need you to fill in where highlighted and sign the form.”

Expecting to have to fill out all the usual questions, I was delighted to see most things already typed in, and I just needed to put in a cell phone number and verify my address. And then  . . . I saw it . . . I can only say I took in a deep breath and for a moment just stared at the form.

Next to “Patient’s Employer” these words were typed in caps on the form “AUTHOR/SPEAKER FOR GOD.” I hadn’t previously filled out any paperwork for this facility online, over the phone, or in person; but there it was staring back at me on the hospital form!

Several things quickly crossed my mind as I had an instant flashback of my new book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, and all the ways I talk about recognizing, remembering, and celebrating our amazing God. The thoughts came in this order, along with a quote from Forsaken God?

  1. I need to take a picture of this form. I never want to forget this!

“Pictures are a great way to remember the attributes of God and his goodness in performing miracles and blessed experiences.”

  1. This was a witness to whoever filled out this form! Where had they got this information? They could have so easily just put Author/Speaker, but they added “For God” and put it all in caps! How did this happen? I need to share this with everyone who asks how the MRI went.

“The God of past miracles is the same God of today’s miracles. His wondrous ways should still command our awe-inspiring respect. Look for miracles in your life and in the world around you. Remember them and tell the spectacular, miraculous stories of God’s goodness over and over!”

  1. Never think something like this is just a coincidence.

God is perpetually at work in a believer’s life, whether or not we recognize him. I firmly believe there are no coincidences, only God-incidences and divine appointments. When I hear people speak of serendipity, I kindly reply that was God, not karma or chance.”

  1. God is making me aware of His presence. He wants me to know He will be with me and comfort me in that MRI tube.

“God shows his presence in memorable ways to us too, but how well do we recognize him? We’re always in his presence, “The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you” (2 Chron. 15:2).”

  1. You can be a bold witness for God in everything you do and say, even on a medical form!

“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).”

Who would do that? Who did that? Only God knows. I always fill out forms, or when asked, my occupation: “Christian author/speaker.” When asked the name of my business: “About His Work Ministries.” And when asked who is my employer I write, “The Lord” or “God.” Somewhere in the Boise medical system, I had used these terms on previous forms and this facility arrived at SPEAKER/AUTHOR FOR GOD. I’ve never phrased it that way, but I think I will now!

The receptionist told me to carry the form with me everywhere I went that day! You can be sure I did.

A Similar Experience

In Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer, I tell a similar story that happened when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. The Breast Care Center sent forms to fill out, and for occupation, I had started to write “self-employed,” but I heard the Lord nudge, “Janet, you aren’t actually self-employed. I AM your employer and Boss. After all, your ministry name is About His Work Ministries.” So I did put my employer was “The Lord.”

That form went with me everywhere during my surgery and treatment, and I had so many people letting me know they had the same “Boss” I did. It opened up so many doors of comfort and conversation, and I became best friends with the patient advocate, Grace, who said, “Interesting Employer.” I said, “Yes, is He yours too?” Grace said, “Absolutely,” and we became co-workers for Christ and breast cancer awareness.

Where Does God Want You to Acknowledge Him?

We believers who have given our lives to Christ, should recognize that being a Christian is our identity that surpasses all other life roles.

What do I hope you will take away from this blog post?

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.—2 Timothy 2:15

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.—Romans 1:16

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.—Philippians 1:20

On a Side Note

If you have read Forsaken God?, I would love to hear how God is using it in your life. Two women from different generations, one a young brand new believer and one a seasoned elderly Christian approached me at church this morning. I share this with you for you to know that wherever you are in your faith, I think you will find this book relevant. Also, as we read more and more about the moral chaos in our culture, you can find peace and conviction in remember the God of the past is also the God of the future.

Here is a post from Facebook today, Sunday May 15:

God truly blessed me this morning. Before church started, a young new believer who is getting baptized this month, came up to me holding Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten and told me, “I can’t put it down!” Then she stood up and told the entire church what a good book it is. I had never met her before today.
After church, a sweet elderly, seasoned Christian woman gave me a hand-written note a portion of which reads: “I have appreciated so much your book “Forsaken God?”. It is full of truth and honor for our God…it is such a sweet savor….”
Thank you Lord that the message of Forsaken God? reaches all generations and for giving me the encouragement I needed today to press on writing the next book.
Forsaken God? speaks to Christians in today’s culture … I hope you will not only read it, but apply what you read…God had me write it for such a time as this! Here’s the link to check it out if God leads you to do so…

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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.

If you receive this blog by email, leave a comment here.

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

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

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

Love Your Body–How Cancer Changed My Diet

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Wow, it’s already the last Monday of the month and that means it’s Love Your Body Monday! Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I reviewed what I wrote in Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer regarding the dietary changes we made after my breast cancer diagnosis, surgery, and radiation:

My husband and I joke that my recovery entailed revamping our entire kitchen! I took great delight in learning about juicing and eating raw and organic, which meant I researched and bought a juicer, smoothie maker, high-speed blender, food processor, toaster oven that dehydrates, special containers for ripening and keeping raw fruits and veggies—just for starters. We no longer used the microwave, so I also bought stainless steel pots and pans, and two sets of dishes that were oven proof for heating up leftovers in the toaster oven. Our kids say, “Mom, every time we come you have a new set of dishes!” I thought to myself, Why not? Who knows how many more sets of dishes I will enjoy in my lifetime?

Next, I had fun researching and comparative shopping in health food stores that carried organic foods. This was quite a project as I did comparative shopping, read labels, and learned my way around. Now instead of dreading shopping, it is exciting and fun. I can hardly wait to try a new healthy recipe or a different way of food preparation.

Breast cancer book

*I emphasized in bold the points I am going to talk about here.

So let’s look at some of the changes I made and why I made them.

I’ve already talked quite a bit about eating organic and reading labels, so I’ll refer you to the previous Love Your Body blogs I wrote for more information. Just type in a topic or Love Your Body into “search this blog” or go to the blog archives and the last Monday of each month features a Love Your Body blog post.

Juicing

Currently the focus seems to be on green smoothies, and they’re great as long as you’re not using high fat/high calorie ingredients. Debbie Alsdorf had a recipe for her Morning Green Smoothie in her 90 Days to Physical Renewal blog.

Here’s a simple explanation of the benefits of juicing:

Most people don’t eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables to provide a substantial amount of vitamins and minerals, but you can obtain the maximum benefits by juicing them. Much of their nutrients are in the fiber, which the body expels. When we juice fruits and vegetables, these nutrients release from the fiber and we are able to drink highly concentrated nutrients, which enter our bloodstream quickly.

Fiber and other foods added to smoothies offer a different kind of nutrition because fiber is essential to health, so be sure to continue eating raw fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains in conjunction with fresh juices to gain the maximum amount of nutritional value from what you eat.

Very few people eat sufficient quantities of raw fruits and vegetables. Juicing provides a quick and easy way to increase your consumption of these foods. I have an Omega juicer which allows me to juice wheat grass. Hope I didn’t lose you there…but wheat grass is an amazing source of nutrients and is delicious juiced with an apple and lemon. Even hubby likes it!

I also drink a “green juice” every morning made of greens like wheat grass, Spirulina, barley grass, and chlorella. You can find organic green juice powders that you mix with water or fruit juice in health food stores. I order mine from Purium Health Products. Drink green juice first thing in the morning on an empty stomach for maximum benefit.

Bountiful Basket Organic

Eating Raw

Cooking fruits and vegetables destroys some of the nutrients and we throw most of the nutrients down the sink when we boil foods. The closer you can eat your food to its natural state, the better. So we eat lots of organic raw fruits and vegetables in salads. I put everything into green salads including all kinds of fruit right along with the tomatoes, mushrooms, and cucumbers! I always get compliments on my salads, which I take to potlucks in case I can’t eat anything else.

If you can’t afford organic, buy a natural veggie wash and wash ALL produce before eating. If you had to pick one item to eat organic, make it strawberries. They are heavily treated with pesticides and absorb it all!

The more plant-based food you eat the better!

We No Longer Use the Microwave

I have not used a microwave for cooking for fourteen years. It’s not because I’m worried about leaking radiation, but just as I mentioned above, heat destroys nutrients and the microwave cooks things at a very high temperature. Also most food products made for the microwave are processed with preservatives.

This was a huge shock to us at first since I actually had two microwaves when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. But my husband unplugged the portable one and put it in the trash and we ignored the built in one. So that meant I had to learn how to cook on top of the stove again. I don’t trust any of the nonstick or Teflon pans, so I use stainless steel pots and pans and a toaster oven for broiling, reheating, and making toast.

I also try not to use plastic storage containers, but switched to glass or Pyrex. These can be sanitized and don’t absorb food or odors and go nicely into the toaster oven or conventional oven. Check out some of your plastic containers—they often are stained or melted from being in the microwave or dishwasher. Toss them and replace with glass.

Snacks and Water

I make my own “trail mix” with a variety of organic raw unsalted nuts. I always start with almonds, cashews, and walnuts, and then I might add pistachios, shelled sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, macadamias, 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!

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 deg for 9-12 minutes to roast without damaging the good oils and nutrients. Remember that raw nuts have not been processed so keep any extras in the refrigerator or freezer.

I also always have a stainless steel water bottle with me filled with fresh filtered water. I don’t ever remember in my younger days drinking as much water as I do now, but once you start, you’ll find your body craves it. I have a “Contigo” brand water bottle that keeps ice solid and water cold in the heat of summer. Be sure to clean the tubing and mouthpiece on your bottle regularly because mold accumulates in those areas. I found small bottle brushes to get into those little areas in the infant section of Wall-Mart.

I once had someone at church ask me: What’s in your bottle you always have with you?” She looked a little surprised when I said, “Water.”

You’ll need lots of water when you exercise too. Exercise is so important to any healthy eating regime.

Exercise saying

I hope you’ve all had your annual mammogram this year, and if not, make the appointment. Mammograms have saved my life three times and I do believe that the changes we’ve made in our diet have helped me maintain a healthy active quality of life.

How about you? Are you intrigued by any of the changes we made?

Could you live without your microwave?

Willing to try juicing or green juice?

To read any of the past “Love Your Body” blog posts, just type in Love Your Body in the search bar on the right side of the website or go to the last Monday of each month in the archives.

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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.

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90 Days to a Physical Renewal

 

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

It’s the last Monday of the month so today is another article in our Love Your Body Sereis. Our guest blogger today is Debbie Alsdorf, a dear friend, and fellow author, speaker, and breast cancer survivor. When I saw on Facebook that Debbie had been diagnosed with breast cancer, I sent her my book Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey. Debbie used my book as a devotional every morning and she said it was as if I was walking through her journey with her, which was my vision for this book.

Then I started to reading about Debbie’s amazing diet changes that she’s been sharing with all her Facebook followers. All her changes were the things I’ve been writing about in the Love Your Body series and try to get women and men to embrace in their daily lives. I thought you would be doubly inspired to hear from a woman who has put healthy eating and exercise into practice by tossing out all the old excuses and surrendering her body to God—loving her body like God loves it. Enjoy and please leave a comment and let Debbie and me know how her sharing has helped and inspired you to also Love Your Body.

 My Wake-up Call

By Debbie Alsdorf

Let the weak say “ I am strong.” Joel 3:10 AMP

Three months ago, my cupboard shelves were filled with the latest diet products—nutrition bars, snack packs, and 90-calorie “this-and-that.” Despite having a pantry filled with diet foods, I’ve been a consistent 40 pounds overweight for many years. As I’ve gotten older, the weight has clung to me. Nothing I did seemed to budge the pudge, as my appetite for sweets, comfort, and junk foods kept growing stronger. Each day brought fatigue and frustration. I saw no end in sight.

Then in the middle of yet another “diet plan,” I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a wake-up call. The shock was enough to make me lose my appetite for a few weeks, but after the shock wore off, discouragement set in. Though my instruction was to exercise and lose any excess weight for optimal health and to reduce the chance of a reoccurrence, I couldn’t bring myself to do either. After surgery and six weeks of daily radiation treatments, I began to take a cancer-preventive drug that had side effects: hot flashes, bone pain, fatigue, nausea and weight gain. Ugh! Worse yet, I was to take this drug for five years. Discouragement seems to call for comfort foods, and in the blink-of-an-eye, I added ten pounds to my already overweight frame.

When the symptoms began to get ridiculous, my oncologist had me stop the drug. I apparently was not a candidate for this normal protocol. My only hope would be to take care of my body through nutrition, proper rest, and physical exercise. Easier said than done! I had never been able to do it in the past, so what made me think I could now?

The 90 Day Challenge

A doctor suggested I try a strict protocol of no sugar, no dairy, and no grain for 90 days. These foods cause inflammation—fuel for any disease. This strict protocol also would help insulin resistance and the liver problems I had been plagued with for years.

 

My initial thought was no way! I didn’t want to be that weird girl who couldn’t eat what everyone else could eat, and I didn’t want to make others uncomfortable. I travel a lot for speaking and often eat whatever the venue is serving. I am in airports, long car rides . . . I kept thinking of all the excuses that would keep me from taking care of me.

 

Truth was, I just didn’t want to change because I had little faith that I really could change. I didn’t want to give up anything I liked, even if it was hurting me. But, I knew without a doubt, it was time to take care of myself. Thus began the journey of 90 days to freedom from the bondage of all my comfort foods. I have to be honest, the first two weeks were terrible. I experienced withdrawals and that was a wake-up call in itself. What drug was I withdrawing from? Sugars and grains.

From the Inside Out

            He satisfies my mouth with good things, so my youth is renewed...” Psalm 103:5 NKJV

A week ago, I completed the 90 day protocol. I have no desire to add back into my diet the desserts and snacks that were my old best friends. Not only do I feel better, but after 90 days, my blood work returned to normal. All levels have improved dramatically, and I am no longer fatigued or frustrated. Instead, I am sleeping well, waking up energized, no longer napping every day, lost 6 inches off my waistline, and am now 28 pounds lighter!

What Plan Did I Follow?

I didn’t follow a “plan.” No gimmicks, no diet foods, and no anxiety over weight loss. Instead, I concentrated on eating nutritious, whole foods. Some call this “eating clean” or paleo; but I’ve tweaked it to make it my own personal way of eating that I believe God helped me discover. Rather than thinking of all I couldn’t eat, I chose to focus on what I could eat. I began filling up my plate with lean proteins, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and a few fruits.

 

You may have noticed that processed foods were not on my list. What I never knew is that my love for sugars, carbs, and processed foods aided the development of a fatty liver, which caused me all kinds of problems. Besides cancer, I was on a slippery slope as fatty liver can develop into cirrhosis, and cirrhosis can lead to liver cancer. With the change in diet, my liver went back to normal!

My New Normal

My first mother’s day after cancer brought the joy of being alive. My children bought me a NutriBullet, and that is when things went into high gear. Now I was juicing delicious veggie and fruit smoothies every day. Spinach, kale, chard, chia seeds, almond milk, and half a frozen banana. I was also advised to give up all artificial sweeteners, so I added a little stevia to taste and said good-bye to diet soft drinks. I can’t explain what these vegetables have done for me . . . there are no words. Suffice it to say, I have not felt this good for at least twenty years!

This new eating journey takes a little more work up front. I prepare and plan a bit more than I did before. I read restaurant menus a little longer and choose what is good for me ,not what I feel like having in the moment. I carry healthy snacks and water and find it a small inconvenience in comparison with how great I feel.

Walking My Way to Wellness

Once I started getting used to no sugar, grain or dairy, I knew it was time to start getting physical. I put my Fitbit on one day just to get a baseline of my normal daily steps. Pathetically, 1078 steps by 5 pm! 10,000 is the suggested steps we all should strive for each day. I had my work cut out for me. I was lazy from being so inactive. I had zero motivation and never even went to the health club where I had a membership. Every cancer support group touted exercise as the magic bullet to renewed health, so I realized I had to make more changes.

Things have changed. No longer lazy and inactive, I now look for ways to move my body and schedule exercise into my schedule six days a week. This morning, I was up walking with my friend at 6:30 am. We walk about 4 miles or 8,000 steps. At dinnertime, I was at 17,000 steps! Quite a change. I must say that at first, it felt like someone was coming over and putting a leash on me to drag me out for a walk. I went along with it—I didn’t like it— but I knew I had to do something. Just like the first few weeks of no sugar was hard, the first few weeks of exercise were just as hard. Over time, I have come to look forward to walking every bit as much as I look forward to my morning shake.

 You Can Change

Did you know that you can change? Our habits and comforts don’t have to rule us any longer. When we yield our bodies and our food issues to God, He begins the work in us. Yielding doesn’t mean we do nothing. Once I knew I needed to change, I began to ask Jesus for the grace to succeed. Every day I thanked Him that I would get to my goal weight. I didn’t have a date in mind; I just knew it had to happen. I took 90 days, one day at a time. Some days I went to bed pretty hungry and other days I forgot to eat when I should have eaten. Food was slowly losing its power over me. I am still not at my goal weight. I have about 15 pounds to go, but I am now living this new lifestyle one day at a time.

 

Since the 90 days are over, I am carefully adding in foods one at a time. I have no plans to add back in the junk, just good wholesome things. Each day, I still pray the same thing,

“Dear Lord give me the grace and strength to make it to my health goals. Guide me today into what is right for my individual body. Thank you that I will reach my goal because I have prayed to you for the grace to make it and the strength to see the new path before me”

Recommendations for Cancer Prevention

I received the following guidelines after my breast cancer diagnosis:

  •   Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight
  •   Be physically active for at least 30 minutes daily
  •   Avoid sugary drinks and foods
  •   Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits
  •   Avoid processed foods and meats
  •   Use meat as a condiment and focus on vegetables
  •  After cancer treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention. Following these recommendations could help prevent at least 1/3 of all cancers.

Physical and Spiritual Renewal

I’m on a path of discovering that walking with God is a sacred journey that encompasses every area of our lives. I no longer dread the scale and I am not looking for the latest and greatest diet. I am eating when I am hungry and filling up with good things. It is wonderful to begin taking care of me after years of neglect. I love God, am a Christian author and Bible study teacher, but the one area I previously refused to look at was the discipline of surrendering my body to its Maker. I am grateful for the gift I found in the middle of a cancer diagnosis. It was a wake-up call that awakened my soul to fresh surrender and my body to renewed health.

 

My Morning Green Shake

green shake

4 ice cubes

1 Cup Almond Milk

4-5 frozen Mango Chunks

½ banana

2 handfuls (2 cups) of power greens (spinach, kale, chard)

1 T. Chia Seed

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (sweetened with Stevia)

(This is Janet speaking, if you’ve had breast cancer be sure to check the label of any protein powders to be sure they don’t contain soy. Most do.)

Stevia to taste              You can use other fruits, this is my favorite.

After 30 pound loss in 90 days

After 30 pound loss in 90 days

 

Debbie Alsdorf before 30 pound weight loss

Debbie Alsdorf before 30 pound weight loss

Debbie Alsdorf has been a women’s ministry leader for over 25 years. She is an Amazon bestselling author, international speaker, and the founder of Design4Living Ministries. Affectionately known as a cheerleader of hope, Debbie holds out God’s Word to women with compassion and application. Her messages are real and a mix of wit, humor, and biblical truth. Her life’s work is to encourage women to embrace God’s love for them and learn to live in the life changing realities of God’s Word in the practical places of everyday life.

She is the author of twelve books, A Woman Who Trusts God, A Different Kind of WildDeeper, The Faith Dare (Revell) and The Design 4 Living Bible Study Series (David C. Cook).

Help Your Friend With Breast Cancer Make It Through the Bad Days and Enjoy The Good Days

writingIMG_3857Signing at ExpressionsEagle-Walk1-300x225Grace Grace and me at signing

In loving memory of my “Grace Abounds”

October ushers in fall with thoughts of pumpkin pie and harvest colors, but for many women like myself, it’s also a reminder that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2002, with recurrences in 2008 and 2011. So for me, and my breast cancer sisters, we’re also thinking pink. BTW pink and brown are great color combinations.

I found purpose in the pain of my first diagnosis by writing the book I wished I had going through my own journey, Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey The hardest chapter to write was “It Could Come Back.” But come back it did come, twice! Any fears I had that my friends and family couldn’t, or wouldn’t, go through this ordeal with me again, were unfounded as they rallied around me each time with love, caring, support and most importantly, prayer.

In the following post, I have suggestions for how you can do the same for the breast cancer friend or family member or neighbor, or fellow employee, or acquaintance you barely know. Because with 1 in 8 women being diagnosed with breast cancer . . . you know a woman who has cried out in anguish, “Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer!”

_____________

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

Those shocking words crackling through my cell phone rocked my world eleven 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.

Helping Her with the Bad Days

 

Don’t Just Offer to Help—Do Something Tangible

Most of us find it difficult to receive help; we are 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.

My first surgery and treatment extended over the Christmas holidays, and we had six grandchildren at that time. I had bought their presents already but couldn’t imagine wrapping them. So my friend took all the presents home and wrapped them, as well as organizing other friends to deliver meals for three months. During my recuperation, she sat on my bed with my laptop, read my emails to me, and then sent my dictated answers. Later, she accompanied me to radiation, fixed my hair when I had a frozen shoulder, and stuck beside me through the entire cancer ordeal, even though she admits that her first reaction to my phone call on that dreaded diagnosis day was, “Lord, I don’t want to do this.” God assured her that she could do it, and she did.

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 Her 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.”

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.

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

Breast Cancer Support

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

In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we have further reduced the price of Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer at our website shop for the month of October. I will sign and personalize each book.

 Breast cancer book