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Monthly Archives: June 2010

Mexico, June 21

On Monday we flew in to Puerto Vallarta for our mission trip/vacation.  My whole family is very excited for this trip, but none more than my husband and myself.  We have traveled to Mexico before together, and have fallen in love with the culture and the people each and every time.  We have found the Mexican people down here to be full of life, passion, and love for their family.  Finally, we are able to bring our kids, and we know it is going to be an amazing experience.

 When we arrived at the airport it was a shock, for a moment, to see the people all clamoring for our attention.  I remember walking the streets of Tijuana and the endless people trying to catch your eye, but that was years ago and I had forgotten how incessant the noise can be.  I had also forgotten about the heat.  As we step off the plane and make our way to the outside, I can feel the heaviness and dampness in the air pulling at me, trying to slow me down.  It is probably only 80 degrees outside, but there is a good 80-plus percent of humidity.  When we vacation with family in the dessert, it can be 100 degrees or more, but it’s a hot, dry heat.  This is much different, and yet, I don’t mind it.  Even though I grew up in the Pacific Northwest with the endless wet and grey skies, this feels like home, deep inside of me.  It only takes me a few minutes to get used to the heat, and then I am fine.

There are 16 people total in our group, and it is a good mixed bag.  We have a few recent high school graduates, 3 kids ages 6-7, some people in their 20’s and 30’s, a family with a 14 and 17 year old, and one older gentleman.  I can’t catch names yet, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.  When we arrive at our resort, I am amazed.  We have never stayed at a resort in Mexico before.  We’ve either been our own tourists finding our own place to stay, or stayed at mission camps where you must wear shoes in the shower, put the toilet paper in the garbage, and not leave food on the floor for the cockroaches to eat at night.  This is much different, but it’s just what we need.  I love the fact that it is right on the ocean, and that you can hear the waves crash from almost any location.

In terms of my Crohn’s, I made some bacon-wrapped salmon skewers the night before and took those on the plane.  They served as breakfast, lunch, and a partial dinner for me.  🙂  Otherwise, I had Cinnamon Crunch Cookies and Lara Bars to eat while traveling.  I am being very careful because the last thing I want is to be taken out of this trip by having my Crohn’s flare up.

In the resort, the food at the buffet seemed fine.  Mark (my husband) said that the resort wouldn’t have such good reviews from the United States and all over the world if people kept getting sick!  Still, when we went for our first dinner, I had a moment of panic as I looked around at all the food.  My mind went blank, and I couldn’t remember what might be safe and what might not be safe.  I was lost.  Finally I remembered the “peeled fruit only” rule, and went with that.  Since I had had other foods for dinner, I simply stayed with pineapple, watermelon, and cantaloupe this first meal to see how it would do for me.  I’m very glad to see the fresh fruit here, and ultra-glad that I can still eat it! 

I did have a moment of sadness when we first got to the resort, and a few seconds of grieving that which I have lost.  I LOVE authentic Mexican food….the kind you can’t really find in the US.  I remember the last time we were here, and the freedom we had then:  the fresh sweet breads every morning, the coffee, the candy, the authentic tamales, tacos, and enchiladas…all of which were amazing, and real.  This time, I don’t have the ability to eat these things.  I don’t like this disease right now for all the foods I cannot eat while here.  But….I just have to shrug my shoulders and move on.  There really is no reason for me to cry over foods that probably will make me sick, but rather it’s just best that I enjoy what I can have.

Pretty soon it was time to put the kids to bed.  They were a little undone that they didn’t have any of their stuffed animals to sleep with, so I told them to snuggle up with their “pillow babies,” just extra pillows we had in the room.  It worked like a charm, and pretty soon they were fast asleep.  Mark and I wanted to touch base with each other, and so we quietly crept out to the deck to talk.

As soon as I stepped outside my heart did a happy sigh.  The night air was of course heavy and damp, but with a cool breeze blowing in from the ocean it felt like heaven.  The heavy rain clouds hovered above us and over the not-too-distant mountains, threatening us with a downpour.  Thankfully, it did not come.  The lights of the city played off the clouds, and the sounds of Mexican city-life filled our ears from all around us.  On top of all of that, the ocean was crashing on the beach just down the sidewalk from us, creating the perfect “white-noise” for us as we talked.  It was a magical moment in this magical land, sharing it with the one I love.

We talked for most of an hour.  Our conversation first centered upon how good it felt to be back.  The heat is nothing for us to deal with, and the rewards of the people and the culture far outweigh any comfort we might have lost.  After a while our conversation turned to something he had talked about with one of the men of our group, Pastor Bill.  Apparently, this man has a charge of healing on his life.  For some reason that he doesn’t even really understand, when he prays, people get healed.  Mark sat next to him on one of the flights down, and they talked a lot about this.  My husband and I both are not new to the faith, but in many areas we feel like we are just babes, scratching the surface of the knowledge God’s word holds for us.  It is our desire to learn more, and Bill was an open teacher. 

My husband and I talked about healing in terms of his diabetes.  Mark got his diabetes when he was 16 years old, and has lived with it for so long it is now just a part of his everyday existence.  His is Type 1, which means his pancreas makes NO insulin, and he must inject this into himself 4 or more times a day.  It is something that he can never escape because it hovers over his life each and every second of every day.  And yet, here he was, telling me about his talk with Bill and actually wondering what it would be like for him to NOT have this chain around him.  We talked about how sometimes God lets us have a “thorn” in our life, for a long time or just a short time, to bring about his plans.  They might be plans that we see in our own life, or in those around us.  Sometimes we might not see the fruition of his plan at all because it happens after we are gone.  But regardless, Mark knows that he was given diabetes for a reason, and one of those reasons was for him to be miraculously healed someday, and for his family to see that shocking event and finally realize the power that our God holds.  He doesn’t know the time for this healing, but he believes it to the innermost part of his being that God will bring this about.  I don’t know if it is to happen on this trip, but I agree with him in faith that it will happen at some point in time.

It got me to thinking….this whole healing thing.  I wondered out loud to my husband about my Crohn’s.  If someone walked up to me right now and asked if I wanted to get this disease gone, I am not really sure that my answer would be “yes.”  Of course I don’t want to live with this disease….who would want to have so much food withheld from them!  Yet at the same time, I believe God let me have this disease for a reason, and it feels in my spirit too soon for me to be healed of it.  He has a purpose in this, and I am still discovering that purpose.

I don’t know if that means I’m going to be healed or not, someday.  It just means that God is not done with this part of my life, yet.  He wants me to learn something through this, and I believe he has a ministry for me in this as well.  I’m just a babe starting out, and to take away this in an instant would cheapen, in my mind, what God wants to do in my life at this time.  I believe in His ultimate ability to take any disease away, but I also believe in God’s timing always being spot-on

So, yes I want healing, but no, I don’t feel the time is right.  I will wait, and I will dig further.  I believe that where I am right now with this disease is where God wants me.  Yet I feel that I can go deeper, and that’s what I took out of the conversation with my husband.  What else does God wish to do with my Crohn’s?  How else does He want to use it?  And how can I best pursue Him and his design through this? 

I don’t doubt the power of my God.  I’m going to be fine, both here in Mexico, and when we get home.

I look forward to seeing what He has next!

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Posted by on June 30, 2010 in Crohn's Journal, Travel

 

Mexico

We recently took a vacation/mission trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  My initial intention was to write a simple journal about traveling with Crohn’s.  After the first day that we went out to serve, I realized that there was so much more going on that I wanted to write about, and the Crohn’s took a backseat.  I still have included what traveling with this disease was like, but in a very small way.  In the following pages I’ve written the story of this trip, and how my heart and eyes viewed this place for the very first time.

 When talking about this mission field, there is a powerful history that needs to be included.  I only knew the barest parts of this history before I left, and as the days passed in Mexico, I slowly learned the rest.  Instead of going back and correcting what I may have misunderstood in the early days, I’m leaving it as it is.  Captured within the words are the emotions I felt as I learned the magnitude of the story. 

 My hope in writing this is not that you, the reader, will want to sell everything to help the poor, and I don’t want to guilt you into doing something you don’t want to do.

 I simply think this is an amazing story of how one person changed the lives of thousands, and I hope it inspires you to do what you can, when you can, to help those around you.

 It may just be a smile to someone having a bad day.

 A little extra tip to the server who looks tired.

 Choosing to be happy instead of cranky when the line is too long.

 A gallon of milk bought for the mom behind you at the supermarket.

 Or any other small thing that comes to your mind.

 Life is tough for most of us these days.

 But in the small things done for others, we can find the joy we are meant to have.

 That’s my challenge.

 You are only one person.

 But what is it that YOU can do to change the world around you?

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2010 in Crohn's Journal, Travel

 

Reality hits

No, this isn’t in terms of the Crohn’s.  We got back from Mexico yesterday, and actually the Crohn’s did just fine.  I ate a lot of eggs with tomatoes, ham, and peppers, chicken stir-fry, TONS of pineapple, and bunches of Lara bars.  It wasn’t very exciting, but it kept me safe, and the Crohn’s did not act up while I was there.  As an added bonus, I lost 3 pounds!  I’m at the weight that I’ve wanted to be at for years.  🙂

No, the reality is in terms of life, and financial struggles.  My husband and I know without a shadow of a doubt we were to go to Mexico on this missions trip.  But before we even got home, we got word from an investor that he’s backing out of a key deal.  Where does that leave us?  Out of money, again.  We’ve been here so many times over the past 22 months.  How we’ve made it this far is a miracle of God.  The money we spent to go to Mexico would have paid for a month plus of mortgage.  We can pay this months mortgage and stave off foreclosure for another month, but after that….there is nothing left.  Back to the food bank I go, and I wonder how I’m going to pay for the meds I need for the Crohn’s.

That’s just the reality of the business of our life right now.

But on the personal side of life, we still trust God, and I remember Chabba.  I met him in the dump of Puerto Vallarta.  I’ve written about him in my Mexico journal, which I’ll start posting in a day or two.  When things get tough, I just need to think of Chabba, and the lessons he taught me. 

Watch for his story in my journal.  It’s an amazing one, and one that gives me hope.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2010 in Crohn's Journal

 

Garden update!

Oh, my garden is so…..green!  I love seeing all the fresh veggies coming up.  I haven’t been successful at everything I planted.  For some reason the broccoli crowns were very small, so I didn’t even bother picking them.  I had hoped to get a lot of broccoli so that I could freeze some for winter, but…oh well!  I’ll just learn from my mistakes and hope to get more next year.

I do have some cauliflower coming up, and TONS of sugar snap peas.  The carrots look good, and the tomatoes in my two “Topsy-Turvey” planters are coming along nicely.  I have some strawberries, but not as many as I had hoped.  But my herb garden is great!  I still don’t know what to do with all those herbs, but I’m sure I’ll learn.  I haven’t picked much lettuce, and need to get on that.  That is one thing that worked very well!  🙂

All together, I’m very pleased with how things are coming along.  I put in the time and money so I could have organic produce this summer, and that’s exactly what I’ll get.  It might not be the bountiful harvest I had imagined, but I’m sure it will be gooooooooood eatin” nonetheless!

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2010 in Crohn's Journal

 

Waiting for the shoe to drop

Sometimes with Crohn’s, it feels like you go through life just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  You never know if some food or drink is going to upset your system, and send you to the bathroom for so long that your family thinks of sending out search and rescue.  You try to keep worry and stress away knowing that these can exacerbate your symptoms, but in this world it seems hard to do sometimes.  That’s when prayer, music, or Valerian Root come in handy.  🙂

All joking aside…..it does feel at times like I’m just waiting for things to get worse.  I am blessed in that Crohn’s has not hobbled me in life like so many others who deal with such pain and discomfort all day long.  I’m still in the infancy of this disease, and am just over half-way through my year trial with my Naturopath to see what good a natural route can do for this disease.  I know that my symptoms are almost non-existant, but that doesn’t mean the disease is not inside of me, working it’s harm.  I can only go by the blood tests and how I feel to tell me that things are going okay. 

But I won’t lie to you.

There are times where it feels like I’m walking around holding my breath, praying that whatever I just ate or did is not going to cause pain inside of me.  With this disease, you simply don’t know.  There is no predictability.  You cannot always say, “well, if I eat this I know that I’ll be in trouble.”  You cannot say that tomorrow is going to be good simply because the last two days were good.

I guess it’s that unpredictability that sometimes gets me, and makes me wonder what’s coming next.  It doesn’t govern my life on a daily basis, but it just creeps in every now and then, like an annoying bug.

When that happens, I just need to remember that I’m okay, that God is still in control, and that this disease does not rule my life.

And if the other shoe does drop?

Well, I have confidence and faith that if that happens, God and I can deal with it at that time.  No use worrying about spilled milk until it’s actually on the floor.

🙂

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2010 in Crohn's Journal

 

Bacon-wrapped salmon skewers

Well, the other night I had a hankering’ for bacon, and salmon, so decided to see what I could make up.  I looked up some stuff online, and this is what I ended up doing:

  • 1 package bacon (I use Hempler’s Uncured….it is SCD legal)
  • 1+ lb salmon fillet, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • juice of one lemon

First, combine the olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice in a bowl.  Toss in the salmon chunks until they are all well coated.  Set it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, tossing one or two times more. 

While the salmon is marinating, blanche the bacon in water for 3 minutes.  This is supposed to help pre-cook the bacon so it doesn’t get overdone on the BBQ.  Once blanched, take the bacon out and pat it dry.

Take one piece of salmon and wrap it in one piece of bacon.  You can cut the bacon pieces in half if they are long.  Once the salmon is wrapped, place it on a skewer in a way that will hold it together.  Once all the salmon is on the skewers, baste with the olive oil mixture, and then spray well with PAM.

Preheat the BBQ to around 350-400 degrees.  Either spray it with high-heat PAM, or wipe the BBQ well with olive oil on a cloth.  Place the skewers on the BBQ and let cook about 4 minutes per side.  Watch carefully as the fat from the bacon can make the BBQ flare, thus burning your bacon.  I like my bacon done, so I turned mine often so all sides of the bacon were cooked.  You can baste the skewers throughout the cooking process to help.

That’s it!  These were simply amazing!  They had that smoky flavor of both the bacon and the BBQ, plus the tang of the lemon juice.  I had some salmon left-over after all the bacon was used, so I just stuck those on a skewer and cooked them up.  They were fantastic as well!  In fact, I would use this recipe minus the bacon anytime.  This would make a great appetizer and certainly would impress anyone you serve it to.  🙂

 
 

Waiting for Mexico

In a shot time my family and I will be going to Mexico for a missions trip with our church.  If you were to ask me how I was feeling about the trip, I would place any concerns about having Crohn’s way low on the list.  It almost feels a bit odd….to not be worrying.  I guess some people believe I must be crazy, to go to a foreign country where diarrhea is common-place in tourists, with a disease inside me whose main complaint often is copious amounts of the big D all day long (though that is not how my Crohn’s acts inside of me, thankfully!).  Maybe I should ask it of myself…..”self, are you crazy???”

Nah, not in the least.  🙂

Here’s why:

I live my life based on and in the belief that I have a God in heaven who loves me beyond measure.  A God who would and HAS given me everything, including his own son.  I have seen His hand in my life and the life of my family.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that His hand will be on us the entire time, and that no matter what happens, He will be there.  That doesn’t mean that everything will be all peaches and roses on this trip or in life.  It simply means that I have a faith in My God that will not be shaken because I believe in Him and his ultimate ability to take care of anything that may come into my life.  Amen.  🙂

That said, I’m not afraid to go.  I will be taking some foods with me (mainly Lara Bars) because I do believe that we have to do our part and not be stupid.  I’ll be careful while I’m there, and the rest….I’ll just trust in God.  🙂

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2010 in Crohn's Journal