You never know when your life is about to change. For good or for ill. We take so much for granted as humans. We think we are in control, that the world is an instrument in our fingers, that we are in control of our own destiny, our own bodies, but we aren’t. I found this truth out the hard way.
In July of 2004, I flew on an airplane to join my family in Los Angeles, California for a Christian conference. I was 18 years old, and had just graduated from college several days prior, and was getting married to the man of my dreams (Mark, 6 years older than me, who had graduated from UC Berkeley the year before) in three short weeks. I could hardly wait! My entire life was before me.
My mom had enrolled me in an independent study program in high school, so I had fast tracked through both high school and college, allowing me to earn a college degree just in the nick of time to get married. I truly couldn’t have been happier! Everything was on track in my life, exactly how I had planned, exactly how I wanted it. I was 18 turning 19 several months after my wedding day, and the sky was the limit.
Looking out the window on the way to Los Angeles, I breathed a sigh of relief. I had just finished my last final exam, and would be getting married in just a minute. I had made it, or so I thought. Little did I know that my life was about to change forever, and that I had absolutely no control over what happened next.
Exactly seven months later I woke up on Valentine’s Day in 2005, now having been married for 6 short months, at 19 years of age. My stomach hurt when I woke up. I thought that was odd, but figured it would go away. It was a Sunday, and my husband and I were visiting his family in San Diego, CA. We went to church with them that morning, and my stomach was still hurting after church. This was strange, and I remember thinking that perhaps I had gotten pregnant. Mark and I weren’t planning to have a baby so soon after getting married, but of course we would have been thrilled to be expecting.
But I wasn’t pregnant. I did felt nauseated, and on the verge of vomiting for several days, but the pregnancy tests showed that the cause was not a little one growing inside. A day of feeling sick turned to two days, two days to a week, and a week to a month, and still, no baby, increasing pain, and no explanation.
Desperate, I went to the doctor looking for answers. It seemed like my life was slipping out of my control quickly, like sand through my fingers. I was losing my health, and I had no idea what was happening to me.
The doctors had no idea either. They did blood tests, ultrasounds, and an endoscopy. I had tubes put up and down both ends, 3-D ultrasounds done, everything you can think of. There was no baby, but no answers either. Meanwhile, my pain had progressed from merely feeling nauseated every day, to being unable to digest food whatsoever without excruciating pain. I constantly felt that I was on the verge of throwing up, and whenever I ate I felt like someone had dropped a brick in my chest that lowered into my stomach slowly, tortuously slowly, and then stayed there, making it impossible to function in social situations, and in everyday life.
I had grown up in a small suburban town 45 minutes from San Francisco, where my father was a Christian pastor. I had two younger sisters and a brother, and we were constantly surrounded by family and friends, who were frequent guests at our home. I loved my family and friends and was very active in our small community. But now, at age 19, I had become an invalid. I could not bear to leave our new small apartment in Berkeley, CA. I would stay in bed all day long, clutching my stomach in pain, while my new husband (who was equally confused) went to work. I couldn’t talk to people. I couldn’t handle standing up and having a conversation. I couldn’t make it to the grocery store or do normal jobs around the house. I couldn’t do anything but stay in bed. And even in bed, I had little relief. I would often dream about my stomach pain when I fell asleep at night. My stomach had become a battlefield, and there was never any peace.
I kept returning to the doctor’s office, to find out answers as to why I was so sick, so suddenly. When I told one doctor that I had not left my bed for weeks, she said, “Why did you do that? There’s nothing wrong with you.” Time after time I heard the same response. Finally a scope revealed a small ulcer on the top of my small intestine. But the gastroenterologist said to me, “Your symptoms are not congruent with the cause of them being an ulcer. This small ulcer could not cause you so much pain and discomfort.”
She wrote me a prescription for an antacid and told me to come back in several months if I wasn’t feeling better.
This went on for six months. The sickness, the laying in bed, the desperation, the searching for answers. I was terrified I had a dread disease that we would eventually discover.
In August of 2005 my husband and I went back to his parent’s house in San Diego, CA for another visit. While there I became so sick and was in so much pain that my husband rushed me straight to the hospital. They ran a lot of tests and poked and prodded and told me that my body was clearly in distress, but that they had no answers for me. They told me to continue seeing doctors when I returned home to Northern California.
Desperate, and sicker than ever, and unable to eat hardly anything, I was truly in despair. I felt my entire life was falling apart, and I didn’t know if I’d ever get it back.
Then my mother in law saw a natural health specialist being interviewed on a Christian television show. She bought his book and handed it to me, saying, “His story sounds so much like yours. Maybe he can help you.”
Desperate for answers, I devoured the health book, which focused on the foods that God had laid out for us in the Bible to eat. I had never before been introduced to the idea that God might have an opinion about the foods that I ate.
You see, I had grown up following the Standard American Diet (aptly named SAD) to a “T.” I ate processed foods nearly exclusively. I ate cinnamon Pop Tarts for breakfast, washed down with 2% milk from Costco, ate Doritos, Gushers, and Famous Amos cookies for lunch, with plenty of Capri Sun juice drinks, Sprite soda, and Nesquik chocolate milk. I also ate frozen microwaved pizzas, burritos, chimichangas, and ate every sugary cereal there was available. I sometimes ate raisins, but I cannot remember eating other fresh fruits or vegetables regularly.
I also suffered from headaches consistently growing up, and since I was a competitive gymnast and worked out 3.5 hours a day for most of my childhood, took a great number of painkillers to keep the headaches away. I never left the house without a large bag of Ibuprofen with me. By the time I was in high school, the headaches were so bad that even extra strength Excedrin couldn’t keep them at bay. They were a constant part of my life. (Along with the Doritos)
So to read that God might care about what I ate for breakfast was an entirely new idea to me. I remember laying in bed reading about the foods that God clearly outlines in the Bible for the Israelites to eat. It certainly didn’t sound like my diet of Pop Tarts and Lucky Charm cereal. Oh and not to mention Snickers bars, my favorite “treat.”
But it made so much sense to me. The Israelite people of biblical times didn’t suffer from all the diseases that the nations surrounding them suffered from. And, it turns out, every civilization since that time that has followed God’s ways of healthy living and eating, have also avoided the common ailments of modern day society- digestive illnesses such as what I was suffering from at so young an age, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, to name only a few.
I felt pierced to the heart, convicted. I had a close relationship with the Lord my entire life, giving my life to Jesus at only 3 years of age. (I remember the moment vividly). But yet, I had never inquired of Him in this area of my life. And yet, here I was, laying in bed, sick for over 6 months now, desperate for answers.
I determined to change my diet right then and there. I told my husband, “I have to do this. I understand if you don’t want to, and I’ll buy and make separate food for you if you don’t want to change. But I have to get better.” Fortunately for me, my husband agreed to also change his diet.
This conversation was on a Friday. On Sunday, I went to a health food store for the first time, which was quite an overwhelming experience for a processed foods junkie like me. I had no idea what to buy, but I was determined to make it work. I left with lots of organic eggs, organic raw butter, organic grass fed meats, organic berries, organic nuts and seeds, organic avocadoes, and strangest of all to me- organic, raw, whole milk. I had never in my life tasted whole milk. I had always had conventional 2% milk, which always tasted sort of….grey.
This milk tasted so creamy, so rich, so delicious, and so….unprocessed. It took me a long time to get used to it!
I also added a handful of supplements to my diet, including a soil based probiotic, and an enzyme supplement. I got them from a local company in San Diego. When I called them and told them my symptoms, the woman said to me, “Just come in. We’re going to get you well.” For the first time in many, many months I felt a twinge of hope.
Nearly immediately after starting the supplements, and especially the digestive enzymes, the feeling that I was always on the verge of vomiting went away. I couldn’t believe it. What relief! Grateful for this inch of progress, I persisted, literally changing every single element of my diet overnight. (Including throwing away the Ibuprofen)
However, my body also began to detox from the long years of eating chemicals. I woke up each morning literally feeling plastered to my bed, as if I’d been hit by a truck. It was an awful, awful feeling. But I knew that something was changing, and I was on the right track.
My journey out of the black hole I had found myself plunged into was a slow one. It was one moment at a time, two steps forward, one step back. I eliminated all processed foods, all grains, all sugar, all non organic foods, and consumed only organic raw dairy, and primarily only fermented dairy. I ate organic berries, organic sunflower seeds, and organic fresh peppers, onions, mushrooms, and other low starch, high fiber organic fruits and vegetables. I was shocked to find out that real food actually tasted delicious! One of our favorite meals to eat was organic chicken sautéed with garlic and organic butter, with bell peppers and homemade organic guacamole. Hope was reappearing.
After 40 days of strict adherence to my new diet, eating only organic and unprocessed foods, I not only lost 20 pounds I did not know I needed to lose, but I was able to get out of bed again, and do basic tasks like go to the grocery store, do the laundry, and go to church. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I still had a long way to go.
One afternoon I took a nap and woke up with my stomach in turmoil. Discouraged, I felt the despair creeping back over me, the fear that things would never ever change for me, that my life was now like this, that pain was a constant companion, forever.
I remember being in turmoil, and walking into my kitchen and grabbing my new bottle of probiotic supplements. I took several of them and said out loud to myself… It has to be, that that if I keep adding the good things into my body, and I keep doing it over and over and over again, that somehow my body will be healed. I clung onto that truth, and that hope, for dear life. Somehow, some way, the good, when done repetitively, will overturn the bad, the imbalance in my body and digestive system, that I knew was the cause of all my sickness.
And so I continued. My friends and family must have thought I was insane, but I was desperate. I never cheated from my new diet, not even in social situations. I was determined to get well. I wanted control over my health again. I didn’t want my stomach to be in charge of what I could and could not do.
I fine tuned my diet even further, following a specific regiment for digestive illnesses which included large amounts of homemade chicken broth. This was before “bone broth” was popular in health food stores, and for someone who had never really cooked before, simmering chicken bones and chicken feet for 24 hours was an entirely new experience!
As the months went by, I regained my strength. I had good days and bad days, but my trend was upwards. I now believe my mysterious illness was a debilitating case of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS. I also believe that if I had not radically changed my diet and lifestyle, that I would have quickly progressed to an even more serious digestive ailment like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, of which I had many of the same symptoms.
Because of my dramatic turnaround, I couldn’t stop talking about the amazing foods God had created that were fueling my recovery. I became a regular at our local Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, and especially at our farmer’s market, seeking out foods that lined up with my new maxim for health- eat the foods that God created, in the form as close as possible to how He created them to be eaten.
It sounds so simple, and, it actually is.
The Bible tells us that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. I believe that taking care of ourselves in adherence to His original design (which includes the way we eat, and every aspect of our lifestyle) is a way of loving the Lord well with all our strength. I learned the excruciating way that if you don’t your health, you truly don’t have everything. When your body is in control of you, it takes over your life. You can’t do anything but focus on getting it well again. You cannot fulfill your destiny if you do not have your health. You simply cannot.
My passion for you is to see you walk in the vibrant, extraordinary health God created you to have. He loves you so much and wants you to thrive. Sickness and disease were the devil’s idea, not God’s. He’s given us everything we need for outstanding health through His creation, if we’re willing to follow His guidelines.
I believe He gives us guidelines and ways to follow because of His great love for us. And I love to see His affection expressed for humanity through His beautiful healing herbs, fruits, vegetables, and body strengthening proteins. He’s good, and His foods reflect that.
Perhaps you are in need of deliverance today. Deliverance from sickness or disease in your own body, like I was, or deliverance for a family member. If so, you’ve come to the right place! Your deliverance is in your hands. Now it’s up to you to do something about it.
“(The Lord) rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.”