blog · lyme disease

Turkey Talk: Learning Gratitude During My Chronic Illness Journey


I had lofty ideas of what I wanted to write about today. I suppose I like to think of myself as someone with a sharp wit and a powerful tongue that can whip up the best verbiage in a moment’s notice! After all, my brain did function a lot better before chronic illness took hold. I still have the talent in there somewhere, but accessing it isn’t always easy…especially on a day I am not feeling well.

I don’t know why I am not as sharp as I would like to be today – it could be the weather, over-exertion, or just a typical flare up of my symptoms. Did I overdo it? I don’t know. The only certainty at this moment is that rest is required. And although I have so much I want to express in writing, that’s not going to happen today.

As I sit here, though, I am aware of a simple feeling that can so easily be expressed this Thanksgiving… I am deeply grateful.  I have come so far since this journey started twenty six years ago. Even as I feel uncomfortable and fatigued today, I am filled with gratitude.

The truth is though, I’m not thankful for my struggle. I’m not grateful for the Lyme. I never will be. Illness has robbed me of years of my life, cheated me out of the future I was supposed to have, and destroyed my mind and body in ways I never could have imagined.

“Your illness is a gift.”

“God has a plan for you.”

“Your suffering has a purpose.”

“Everything happens for a reason.”

These are just a few of the very real things people have said to me since I was diagnosed with a chronic illness. I think it was their attempt at comforting me in some way, to reassure me that while I may be going through hell, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, or so they think. Chronic illness sufferers know that isn’t always the case.

“Some people have it worse.”

“There are people starving in Africa so you shouldn’t complain.”

I’ve heard these countless times, too. It’s their way of trying to put things in perspective, trying to convince me that things can’t be possibly that bad. But this doesn’t help either. Because what I hear is, “Even though life stinks you should be thankful you don’t have it worse.” Suffering is not a competition and gratitude for my illness is not something I am required to experience, just because things aren’t as bad as they could be.

However, that doesn’t mean I’m not still grateful for certain aspects of my life. And so while I will never be thankful for my chronic illness, I do think it’s important to find gratitude for the things I do have in my life, both in spite of and because of illness.

There are some days where I cannot find anything to be grateful for except for the fact that I’m still alive, and even then, depending on how bad a day is, sometimes I’m not even thankful for that. But I do think it is important on the days that I can and on a day like Thanksgiving, to stop and appreciate all that I do have. Practicing gratitude doesn’t mean I am accepting my reality or that each day isn’t a struggle, because it is. Rather, it is recognizing that even though I have a chronic illness and the fight to overcome it is hard as heck, my struggle could be even more difficult. And I’m thankful that it’s not.

Chronic illness brings life into perspective. As I continue to walk this healing journey, the rough patches help me to simplify the list of that which will make me “happy.” The result? I feel an almost continuous happiness and contentment even in the midst of struggle. My root of gratitude runs deep. This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the journey.


blog · health

How Your Spiritual Health Affects Your Physical Health


There is no doubt that the body, mind, and spirit are connected. The health of any one of these elements seems to affect the others.

Some research shows a connection between your beliefs and your sense of well being. Positive beliefs, comfort, and strength gained from religion, meditation, and prayer can contribute to well being. It may even promote healing. Improving your spiritual health may not cure an illness, but it may help you feel better. It also may prevent some health problems and help you cope better with illness, stress, or death.

Beating Disease God’s Way

“And not only this, but we also glory in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

—Romans 5:3-5

“And hope does not disappoint…”

Why some people get sick and others don’t, I’ll never know. Be that as it may, I can’t let myself believe that God smites people with disease to teach them a lesson or to prepare them for some great act of service. If this were so, we’d have millions of health crusaders proclaiming their healing and giving God the glory all over the world. Instead, we unfortunately have millions of people who live a life of misery and die never having conquered their disease.

Maybe the reason so many people suffer from disease is because it’s virtually impossible to find pure air, food and water nowadays. Maybe it’s because we live in the most toxic environment the world has ever known, and it’s only by the grace of God that we are all not dead at this point. One thing I am quite certain about is that He has gifted our bodies with the remarkable ability to adapt to their surroundings and to heal themselves under the right conditions, which is why it’s so important that we do our part!

Inspired by Romans 5, my suggestion is that you approach your illness with your spiritual armor on, tightly knitting these words to your chest in the very order that the Bible lays them out:

  • Tribulation
  • Persevere
  • Character
  • Hope
  • Love

We must not confuse Paul’s message about boasting in our sufferings to be a badge of honor. Disease is not a burden to bear. The key is to fight through the tribulation, never giving up until you gain the victory!

You need to be prepared to persevere against all odds and never stop until you find the cure the works for you. This experience will develop in you a proven character that will serve to inspire everyone around you; a character defined by hope in God and in His undying care for you and for the love He has for all people.

Following these five steps is critical.

Faith. The first step is to whole-heartedly believe in God’s promises to be your provider, your healer, and your redeemer. Faith is the foundation in which your entire life is built upon. Make sure your foundation is built on solid rock, not sand!

Prayer. Not to state the obvious, but falling on your knees to seek God’s merciful hand is just what the doctor ordered. You’d be surprised to learn about the number of people who literally don’t think to pray for healing or to ask God for the formula to cure their body. Somehow, it either slips their mind or they don’t think God is concerned about their health condition. In addition to the many proven health benefits of prayer including reducing stress inflammation, trust me, it moves God’s heart. Prayer works.

Seek. The third step is to follow God’s leading and to find the solution. Easier said than done, right? I understand that this can be an arduous task for some people, but don’t despair. The key here is to test, research, study and test again. If something doesn’t settle right in your spirit, don’t do it. Barring rare emergencies, you always have time to make a sound decision so you’ll do well to follow your intuition.

Action. The fourth step is to follow the instructions God is giving you. At this point, you should have a better understanding of how the Spirit is directing you to beat this thing. Remember, “faith without deeds is dead,” so you have got to do your part!

Repeat. Make this your new anthem: Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken. Healing is a journey for many of us so keep repeating Steps 1 – 4 until you get the victory!

To help you along your way, here are some affirmations that I recommend you write out and tape on your bathroom mirror. Read them every day until they take firm root into your spirit, and make them part of your daily meditation!

  1. I serve an awesome God who proclaims that He is my healer! (Exodus 15:26)
  2. I serve a faithful God who promises to never leave me nor forsake me! (Deuteronomy 31:6)
  3. I serve an unconditionally loving God who says He sees what I do and will heal me anyway! (Isaiah 57:18)
  4. I serve a merciful God who commits to taking sickness from among me! (Exodus 23:25)
  5. I serve a gracious God who promises to restore me to health and to heal my wounds! (Jeremiah 30:17)
  6. I am made in God’s image and He has given my body the ability to heal itself! (Genesis 1:27)
  7. I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and a sound mind! (2 Timothy 1:7)
  8. I know that God will perfect that which concerns me to the end! (Psalm 138:8)

Last of all, don’t forget to go to others for prayer. “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.” (James 5:14-15)


blog · health

Healing Autoimmune Disease Naturally


Have you ever asked yourself, “What is autoimmune disease?” If so, you’re in good company because millions of people don’t know what autoimmune disorders are or what their root cause is.

Traditional diet and treatment for autoimmune disease usually centers on symptom relief and never addresses the main issue. If we don’t know what’s triggering the disease, we’ll never find a remedy! Thankfully, not all healthcare providers think this way as more doctors are learning to ask the important questions to find the root causes of our ailments.

The more we try to understand autoimmune disease, the more we find out we don’t know too much about it. For example, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has stated, “The exact cause of autoimmune disorders is unknown,” and, “There is no known prevention for most autoimmune disorders.” Yet, one thing we do know is that natural treatments for autoimmune disease do exist and people need to be aware of them!

What is Autoimmune Disease and How It Works

When your immune system is operating correctly, it only strikes against foreign cells and menacing pathogens. But when an autoimmune reaction happens, your immune system thinks that your own cells are the threat. In addition to viruses, bacteria, toxins and cancer cells that are a regular threat, your white blood cells begin to target healthy, normal cells. If not resolved promptly, the immune system could operate in hyper-drive, which can cause immune fatigue and will ultimately lead to widespread problems.

Various reports claim that 80 – 100 diseases today fall into the what is autoimmune disease or autoimmune-related category. Some of the more common autoimmune diseases are:

  • Alopecia areata (hair loss)
  • Anemia
  • Celiac disease (gluten allergy)
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • GI disorders (inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis)
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome (a nervous system disorder)
  • Hashimotos
  • Lupus
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Narcolepsy
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Skin conditions (psoriasis and scleroderma)
  • Thyroid disorders (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)
  • Type I diabetes

When the immune system is in high gear, medical doctors are trained to address autoimmune conditions by prescribing powerful immune suppressing drugs. Unfortunately, this not only neglects to treat the underlying reason, it puts patients at a greater danger of developing complications from common colds and flu.

Causes Of Autoimmune Disease

Although the answer to “what is autoimmune disease?” still befuddles many doctors, there has been some major advancement in understanding the true nature of this disease.

  • Genetics – Research suggests there is a close genetic relationship among autoimmune disease, which explains why multiple family members oftentimes suffer from the same disorder.
  • Chronic inflammation – According to Mark Hyman, MD, “Autoimmune conditions are connected by one central biochemical process: A runaway immune response also known as systemic inflammation that results in your body attacking its own tissues.” When you think about how our culture’s diet is so rich in processed and inflammatory foods, it’s no wonder why 50 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disorders!
  • Vaccines – The June 15, 2014 report from the Department of Justice clearly shows that the flu vaccine is the most dangerous vaccine in America. Most of the injuries caused by the flu shot were linked to the autoimmune disorder Guillain-Barré syndrome. Of the 78 cases awarded settlements for vaccine injuries, 55 were caused by the influenza vaccine, including one death.

Natural Treatment of Autoimmune Disease

If you or a loved-one have struggled to answer the question “What is autoimmune disease and how can I beat it?” I understand your frustration and please believe me when I say that there is hope. Research and personal testimonies have shown that, YES, autoimmune diseases can be prevented and treated effectively through natural remedies!

If you expect that you have one of the autoimmune disorders that I have listed above, you’ll want to get in touch with your natural healthcare provider immediately. During your visit, don’t forget to ask about getting tested for celiac disease, hidden food allergies and heavy metal toxicity. These are sure-fire signs that something more harmful may be going on and can help give you a clearer picture of what you can and cannot eat.

5 Steps to Stabilizing Your Immune System

You’ll also want to implement these 5 steps right away.

  1. Address hidden infections (bacterial, viral and fungal) with oregano essential oil or other potent natural remedies.
  2. Heal your gut and start taking a live probiotic supplement.
  3. Implement a core nutrition strategy including sufficient doses of fish oil, vitamin C, and vitamin D3.
  4. Engage in natural anti-inflammatory activities like a home fitness program.
  5. Counteract stress with deep relaxation methods such as prayer, deep breathing, yoga, and special essential oils.

At the end of the day, Functional Medicine experts like Mark Hyman, MD have shown time and time again that their patients respond extremely well to these 5 steps. Make it your aim to beat this thing and get your immune system on track today by taking simple steps to improve your lifestyle physically, mentally and emotionally!

blog · health

Tips To Avoid Gluten & Why Wheat Is Bad


On restaurant menus all across the nation and in virtually every grocery store that you walk into, gluten-free foods are readily accessible, but ever since the groundbreaking New England Journal of Medicine review was published in 2002, the dangers of celiac disease and how to avoid gluten have rapidly become household concerns.

According to Mark Hyman, MD, the widespread effects of eating gluten are essentially without end, and most of the following diseases have been linked to eating wheat and gluten-containing foods:

  • Anemia
  • Anxiety
  • Autism
  • Cancer
  • Canker sores
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy
  • Fatigue
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Irritable bowel disease
  • Lupus
  • Migraines
  • Most autoimmune diseases
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neuropathy (nerve damage)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Schizophrenia

It would be difficult to find any medical doctor or naturopath who doesn’t advise limiting gluten consumption, let alone leaving it out altogether from your meal plan. Gluten-awareness has been so successful that even people without gluten sensitivity avoid gluten as a preventative measure.

This is really interesting because humans have existed on wheat and gluten-containing grains since the beginning of recorded history, but these grains have all been but vilified by our nation today! Is gluten really bad for everyone even if you don’t suffer from gluten sensitivity or celiac disease?

Why Wheat Really Is Bad

Desiccating is a common farming technique when wheat farmers literally drench their fields with the chemical Roundup several days before harvesting their crop. The reason this is so effective for wheat farmers is because it causes the wheat to go to seed before it dies, which boosts the crop unnaturally. At the same time this kills the competing rye grass, which takes care of a major weed problem that wheat farmers’ battle.

This practice is not licensed. Consumers eating products made from wheat flour are undoubtedly consuming minute amounts of Roundup. An interesting side note, malt barley which is made into beer, is not acceptable in the marketplace if it has been sprayed with pre-harvest Roundup. Lentils and peas are not accepted in the market place if it was sprayed with pre-harvest Roundup…but wheat is ok. This farming practice greatly concerns me and it should further concern consumers of wheat products.

Contrary to popular belief, wheat and gluten-containing products may not be bad in-and-of themselves. There is actually a growing body of evidence that suggests gluten isn’t unhealthy at all, and the reason people have reactions after consuming it is because of the dangerous chemicals used in conventional farming practices; namely, the use of Roundup. Some doctors believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is the glyphosate (Roundup), not the GMO’s or gluten, that annihilates the gut flora and leads to chronic inflammation that has characterized gluten-related autoimmune diseases and other ailments.

There’s an extremely strong correlation between the use of Roundup on corn and soy over time and the increase in all these different diseases, and celiac disease is one of them. We certainly have seen an explosive appearance of celiac disease almost overnight in the last five to 10 years. Now you have a growing section of gluten-free choices of various food products. Lots of people are intolerant to gluten, of course. But people aren’t thinking, ‘Why is this now true? This didn’t use to be true’.


How To Avoid Gluten

So why avoid gluten? The bottom line is that even if gluten isn’t bad for us, we should stay away from most conventional grains because of the dangerous conventional farming techniques that use Roundup. With that said, it may seem overwhelming to do this because gluten is everywhere. In reality, it’s a lot of work at first, but after a while living gluten-free is quite easy.

1. Break Up With Wheat and All Her Cousins

First and foremost on your list is to stop eating all non-organic flours. This is one of the best steps you can take. When doing so, avoid these gluten-containing products:

  • Barley
  • Bulgar
  • Flour
  • Durum Flour
  • Triticale
  • Kamut
  • Oats (unless labeled as “gluten-free”)
  • Rye
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Triticale
  • Wheat Bran
  • Wheat Germ
  • Wheat Graham
  • White Flour
  • Whole Wheat

2. Stop Eating The Foods That Commonly Use Wheat

Next on your to-do list is to avoid these food items that regularly contain wheat:

  • Beer
  • Bread
  • Cakes
  • Cereal
  • Cookies
  • Couscous
  • Crackers
  • Flour Tortillas
  • Muffins
  • Oats
  • Pasta
  • Pastries

3. Avoid Hidden Sources of Gluten

After you have tackled all obvious signs of wheat and gluten, it’s time to take it one step further and give all the hidden gluten sources the boot!

  • Broth and bouillon cubes
  • Bread crumbs and croutons
  • Candy
  • Fried foods
  • Imitation fish
  • Lunch meats  and hot dogs
  • Malt
  • Matzo
  • Modified food starch
  • Seasoned chips and other seasoned snack foods
  • Salad dressings
  • Self-basting turkey
  • Soy sauce
  • Seasoned rice and pasta mixes

4. Be Cautious When Eating Out

Keeping a gluten-free diet on the road isn’t as challenging as you may think. If you’re traveling or want to give yourself a break from making your meals, you can safely eat at many chain restaurants all across the nation because many have gluten-free menus. These restaurants are some of the best:

Chipotle – Chipotle is #1 because of their commitment to go GMO-free. You can eat in confidence knowing that your food is just as healthy as it is tasty! Simply stay away from the burritos and you can pretty much eat anything at Chipotle.

Panera Bread – It sounds crazy that a bakery has gluten-free options, but Panera has done a fantastic job catering to ALL of their customers. About 5 years ago, Panera was one of the first chain restaurants to offer their “Hidden Menu,” which is mostly gluten-free and includes some tasty options like:

  • Power Breakfast Egg White Bowl with Roasted Turkey
  • Power Breakfast Egg Bowl with Steak
  • Power Mediterranean Chicken Salad
  • Power Mediterranean Roasted Turkey Salad
  • Power Chicken Hummus Bowl
  • Power Steak Lettuce Wraps

Ruby Tuesday – Preparing one of the best, most affordable salad bars in the nation, Ruby Tuesday offers a nice selection of gluten-free options. They have put together the most extensive “Gluten Free Menu” on the market and includes a detailed list of every item on their menu for people allergic to eggs, fish, milk, MSG, peanut/tree nuts, shell fish, soy, and wheat/gluten.

5. Ways To Enjoy Great Gluten-Free Alternatives

At the end of the day, the safest food to eat is the food that YOU make, so include more homemade recipes into your daily health regimen.

On your quest to go gluten-free, the easiest step of all is to enjoy a great variety of tasty, healthy gluten-free recipes that you find on the Internet, and you can make them in the comfort of your own home. A little bit of planning goes a long way towards healthy meals.


6 Tips For A Healthy Autumn


One thing we can always be guaranteed of in life is change. Nature reminds us of this in the ever-changing rhythm of the seasons.

The temperatures are becoming cooler and the days are shorter. The morning air is brisk, and it’s time to start thinking about winter coats and wool hats.

Those long, summer days of bright berries, crisp salads and succulent fresh fruit are almost behind us. While you might be disappointed to see the last of the summer salads, there are a plethora of yummy foods for you to choose from in Autumn.

Here are 6 tips to help you eat healthy and live a vibrant, healthy life this Autumn season.

1. Always buy food in season.

With the arrival of the new season, now is the time to change your diet! Embrace the yummy foods that Autumn offers. Enjoy fresh pumpkins, parsnips, yams, winter squash, sweet potatoes, turnips, apples, pears, figs, elderberries and even cranberries!

Some of my favorite fresh seasonal dishes are creamy pumpkin soups, roasted root vegetables, baked sweet potatoes, caramelized pears and crisp apple pies.


2. Eat your autumn colors!

Autumn is the season of warm, earthy colors; think deep greens, dark yellows and brilliant oranges. The more colorful the fruit or vegetable, the better it is for your health and your immune system.

3. Boost your immune system.

With the changing season, now is the perfect time to boost your immune system.

Whenever you feel the need for a boost to your immune system, first look to nature. Some of my favorite natural immune-boosters are: to drink plenty of fresh water, eat plenty of alive (living) raw foods, garlic, lysine, probiotics, Vitamins B, C and D, reishi mushrooms, zinc, propolis and Manuka honey.

Another powerful way to boost your immune system and keep strong is to use the power of gentle exercise. This brings me to my next point, tip number 4.


4. Embrace gentle movements.

In summertime, it’s so lovely to spend time outside. For many, this sunny weather allows them to move their body naturally, using gentle movements such as walking on the beach.

But, don’t let cooler temperatures stop you from moving your body! Far too many people stop exercising and spend more time doing sedentary activities indoors.

One way you can keep moving during the cooler season is to bring your activity inside: bounce on a rebounder, do yoga at home, or go to the gym or find a dancing class!

Find an enjoyable way to gently move your body, so that this year you keep yourself fit and healthy.


5. Eat more seasonal spices.

Cinnamon, pumpkin spice, vanilla, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves are quintessential scents of fall, and they offer plenty of health benefits to boot. Cinnamon, for example, may help reduce inflammation and lower blood sugar in people with diabetes.

Enjoying fall spices in some of your favorite recipes can even help you shed some fat. One recent study from Penn State University found that people who consumed two tablespoons of spices (like cinnamon and cloves) in their meals had 30 percent lower levels of blood fats than those who skipped the spices. Sprinkle some cinnamon or nutmeg on your coffee or bake some into your favorite dish to make the most of these seasonal spices.


6. Live aligned with the season.

As the season shifts, give yourself permission to make different choices and changes in your lifestyle.

The shorter days and longer nights are the perfect excuse to take the time to really look after yourself. Use this Autumn as an ideal time to hibernate, giving yourself time for you.

Spend time relaxing at home, wrapped up with a hot water bottle, wearing your favorite pajamas and enjoying early nights. Watch movies, drink chai tea, or start writing that book you’ve always dreamt about writing.

Autumn is a nice time to slow down and enjoy some internal reflection. Allow this season to be a chance to nurture yourself by eating fresh seasonal foods and living in alignment with nature. I hope that these tips help you to stay strong and healthy!