Warning: this is a bit long!
It's been awhile, a little over a month to be exact, since I have posted. Ironically, I think about posting often. I think of things that I want to write about, things that I need to talk about but I still struggle with allowing others read about them.
The last couple of months have not been easy for me in many ways. I have a new group of girls in youth group, the freshman. I am again reminded of the awkward time in my life as I seek to find myself and understand the changes within myself and the world around me. I am learning to listen to the Holy Spirit's leading in what and how to minster not only to my small group but also to the other girls as well. God has taught me many lessons on love, ministry, letting go of my desire for control and to focus on the most important things first (which may mean that my floor is not scrubbed every week, haha!) I am learning to sit and listen to God and not always be in a rush and wanting to check off the hundred things on my never ending to-do list!
Work has been really busy as there have been many changes going on there. I am thankful for the job. I am also thankful for the opportunities to learn more about health and nutrition and be challenged in what I do each day. Although the hours are still long and exhausting, starting January they will be split up a bit, so hopefully I will be more energetic with time to "recover" in between the long days!
I am still adjusting to the major life change of being gluten free and all that it requires and entails, which is not easy. I think that this "grieving" period began during or right after my missions trip to South America in July. Coming home with the realization that my desire to "do" missions, particularly overseas seemed to be falling through my fingers. I was seemingly feeling this for a variety of reasons, two in particular. Being gluten free in a third world country is more difficult than I ever thought it would be and I feel that I will never get my medical bills paid off. Baby step forward, giant leap back would be a phrase that feels appropriate for my life.
I say that I am "grieving" over being gluten free not because I want to feel sorry for myself or want others to feel bad for myself. I say it because I am still discovering how it has deeply affected my life and will always affect my life.
The panic that I experienced a few weeks ago after signing up to be a chaperon to a weekend youth event before I remembered what a hard time I had last year finding meals or a place to make a meal(ended up using the trunk of my car as a cooler-good thing that it was freezing out that weekend and that the hotel had a microwave!) I panicked over having to do the same again. I panicked over the fear of the weather not being cold enough to keep my food in the car, or that the hotel situation would not allow for easy access to a microwave(they are often used nonstop during this youth event) or that I would take up to much room in the van/hotel room with my food and cooler. I panicked over being a inconvenience to the group as a whole during meal time. I panicked about others feeling bad or awkward around me as they ate the "normal" food and I was not. I panicked at the thought of eating granola bars and bananas the whole weekend. I panicked about having to somehow coordinate a whole weekend of meals that would be easy, convenient and healthy that could also be quick and only needed a microwave to cook/warm up. For a moment I thought about recanting my commitment of ministering to the teens. Was I up for this food challenge once again? And, I am not even going to begin on my panic over the opportunity to go on a retreat this winter (of which I would love to go to and feel that I need to go on for a time of refreshing and renewal, but again.... the panic and stress of the whole situation)
When I returned from South America I emphatically thought to myself that I did not know if I could ever do the gluten free and ministry/travel thing again. While this thought was emphasized by exhaustion, the underlying feeling was the same as today.
I am exhausted from this whole gluten free thing. I am tired of having to explain it, plan ahead, work around it, miss out on amazing meals cooked with love and care, I am tired of the expense that it requires despite my daily attempts to cut the costs of food expense (there is no way around the cost of eating healthy when one does not have a garden).
The challenge of being gluten free has hit every aspect of my life. Friends, I am attempting to not complain, but simply express my thoughts here. I love food (pretty obvious!) and I LOVE cooking and eating with others. I enjoy eating out, maybe not as much as I used to, but I love the invitation to eat out even more than the food. I am a home-body by nature, I believe, but I have found myself become a recluse lately because of the challenges that I face in social settings. To borrow that term "I just want to be normal", I just want to be normal. But, even as I write this, I know that I am normal. I am the person God created me to be. I have this challenge to used of God. I do not want this thorn to affect my life as much as it has. I am frustrated and disappointed that it does affect my life as it does. Anyone gluten free reading this have any suggestions?
Despite the last several paragraphs of raw openness that is difficult for me to express I am still humbled my the knowledge that there are so many other more life threatening conditions, that people are daily fighting for their lives, that cannot enjoy the taste of food and must rely on machine and tubes to feed them. I am well aware of how blessed I am to be where I am today, that God brought the right doctors(and job!) into my life to give me the answers that I and my parents sought for so many years.I am thankful that despite my discouragement and frustration with my disease, God has opened up doors for me to encourage others with the same frustrations.
I know that as time goes by I will (hopefully) become more confident in traveling, larger events and social situations. In this new round of learning to be gluten free I am branching out and trying new recipes, accepting the difference in taste and texture and finding new foods that are healthy that I probably would not have tried otherwise. I am thankful for the friends and family who have accepted this change in my life, who have been supportive and understanding of this new journey I am on, for those who send me links to resources, recipes or articles of interest, I am encouraged and grateful to those who become my advocate in explaining to others my situation in new social settings(sometimes I do not have the energy or desire to do so myself) and to those who are not offended when I cannot eat what they have lovingly made for everyone. It means so much to me when you slip me a magazine article of recipes or make sure there is even one item on the menu which is "safe" for me. I appreciate when I do go out with you when you ask where I can eat.
Thank you, Lord for the people you have put in my path to encourage me and those that I can encourage. Please give me wisdom in how to navigate this new chapter in my life and how I can still best serve you in this and through this.
Okay, if you are still reading this, you are a marathon blog reader, congrats! I promise that my future posts will be more interesting and not as long (I guess this was a vent session, haha!) :)
Until next time!