Friday, May 4, 2018

Kefir - Quick Facts and How To Make Your Own

Have you heard of kefir? If not, here's an explanation from one of Dr. Mercola's articles:

"Kefir is a fermented milk beverage that contains beneficial probiotics that may help give your immune system a boost, among other health benefits. One of the best and least expensive ways to get healthy bacteria through your diet is actually to obtain raw milk and convert it to kefir yourself. All you need is one-half packet of kefir starter granules in a quart of raw milk, which you leave at room temperature overnight. By the time you wake up in the morning you will likely have kefir. If it hasn't obtained the consistency of yogurt you might want to set it out a bit longer and then store it in the fridge.

A quart of kefir has far more active bacteria than you can possibly purchase in any probiotic supplement, and it is very economical as you can reuse the kefir from the original quart of milk about 10 times before you need to start a new culture pack. Just one starter package of kefir granules can convert about 50 gallons of milk to kefir. This is also a far healthier, and far more economical, way to nourish your body with probiotics than buying any of the commercial probiotic beverages on the market, as these typically contain added sugars and are made using pasteurized milk, which I don't recommend drinking."


There's more information on Dr. Mercola's site about kefir, recipes, etc.

I have friends who make their own kefir regularly, and they will tell you what a difference it has made for their health! It has been especially beneficial for their children who have a lot of health challenges.

If you want/need a non-dairy option, you can also make kefir using water. Here's a simple video on how to make your own water kefir.

Here's an article about different kinds of kefir grains and where you can find them. You can order kefir grains online or sometimes you can find them locally, from a friend or a farm nearby.

I realize that not everyone is able to tolerate fermented foods. (I'm finally able to eat yogurt again, but I haven't managed kefir yet.) But if you can, then kefir and other fermented foods can be a great addition to a healthy diet and a valuable tool for improving health.

I hope this information is helpful. Please share any great tips or resources about kefir that you have in the comments. Thanks!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Apple Cider Vinegar - Have you tried it?

You've probably heard of apple cider vinegar. You may have heard people claim it can do all kinds of wonderful things.... Well, I'd have to agree! =)

While apple cider vinegar is not a magic pill, it is a good tool to have in your health toolbox.

You can use ACV for various things, including detoxing, an an anti-fungal, as a cleaner, etc.

Dr. Axe has a very good article that lists 6 benefits of ACV and 20 different uses for it. I hope you'll check it out; it's an easy read, and you may find some helpful tips for how you can use apple cider vinegar for your health.

Personally, I have used the Bragg's brand, but there are probably other good brands as well. Read the label to make sure it's a quality product. Also, check the expiration date on the bottle, since some stores don't always keep a recent stock.

A few cautions when using ACV -

 *Be careful when using it on the skin if you have sensitive skin. I don't apply it topically on my skin, but for some people it seems to be fine.

 *Start slowly when using it, and see how your body responds. Or try using it for a short period of time and then taking a break. Pay attention to your body, and do what's best for you.

 *Don't start another health supplement at the same time you start using ACV. Do one thing at a time, so you can pay attention to how your body responds. (By the way, this is a good principle to apply with any health supplement, program, etc.)

 *Remember that improving your health takes time. When you see small improvements, celebrate! And keep persevering with what you know is good for your health.

I hope you'll check out this information and find something helpful. If you already use apple cider vinegar, feel free to share with us in the comments how it's been helpful for you. =)

Friday, April 6, 2018

Words That Benefit

Yesterday's Bible verse of the day was Proverbs 17:28:
"Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues."

Learning to think before we speak is important in life and relationships. But it's also important for our health. The words we speak actually affect our physical state.

Today I wanted to share something I wrote several years ago, but it's a timely reminder for me today, and I hope these words will benefit you as well. =)

Toxic Words

Unfortunately chemicals aren't the only things in life that are toxic. Words can also be toxic.

Recognizing toxic words that others speak to us is usually not too hard. We can often tell whether someone's words are healthy or unhealthy. 

I think it can be harder for us to recognize the toxic words we speak to ourselves. 

It's true that our brains listen to the words our mouths speak. How often do you say things like,

- I'm so tired.
- I'm no good at this.
- I'm such a wimp.

These words are actually toxic to your mind, body and spirit. 

I know what it's like to live with these kinds of words frequently on my tongue. They can easily become a habit. Thankfully, it is possible to retrain our tongues to speak healthy, life-giving words.

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. -Proverbs 16:24

The best way to get rid of toxic words is to consciously replace them with healthy, life-giving words. 

I remember when someone first recommended I use daily positive affirmations. I wasn't interested. It seemed insincere, even silly to me. But gradually I've realized what an amazing tool this can be! 

Sometimes even we know something is true in our mind and heart, we may have a hard time really believing it, because it hasn't quite penetrated through our brain patterns yet. As we speak that truth out loud to ourselves every day, it changes the physical pathways in our brain. This in turn brings changes in the physiology of our bodies. It's incredible! 

So if you struggle with saying toxic things to yourself, try this exercise:

1) Write down at least 3 true, positive, affirming statements about yourself that are meaningful to you right now. 
 Ex: My body has the ability to heal and repair itself.
      I am loved, valued and uniquely designed by God.
      I can do everything through Jesus who gives me strength. (I especially love to use statements of what God's Word says about me.) 

2) Write out your statements every day - in a journal, on a poster, or wherever you'll enjoy writing them. 

3) Say or sing these statements to yourself every day (more than once a day if you can). 

4) Anytime you realize you're saying something toxic, immediately stop and then repeat your true and affirming statements instead.

I think you'll be surprised at how beneficial this is! True and life-giving words really can bring "healing to the bones." 

And as we learn to speak healing words to ourselves, hopefully we will speak healing words to others as well, bringing benefit to many people. =) 

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
-Ephesians 4:29
You are loved. You are unique. You have purpose. (Just wanted to speak some true and beneficial words to you today.) =)

Friday, March 23, 2018

Showing That We Care

I know several people facing difficult health challenges right now - in the hospital, on total bedrest, or going from doctor to doctor looking for answers.... It's hard to watch those we care about suffer.

This week, I thought I'd share something I wrote several years ago that I hope will be helpful. There are many ways we can show that we care. I'm so grateful for all the people who expressed love and support to me during all the years of illness. May we continue to reach out and encourage one another.

How to Express Love and Support to Those with Chronic Illness (Part 2) 

I want to say thank you to all of you who desire to encourage others with chronic illness! Living with EI (environmental illness), or any chronic illness, is a continual battle against discouragement. Your show of love and support enables us to keep going. Thank you!

Last week I shared the "Don'ts" of how to express love and support. (If you missed last week's post, you can read Part 1 here.) Now here's a list of some helpful "Do's."

Do's -

1) Do give GRACE. 
Regardless of your opinions or understanding of their situation, show grace by accepting the person exactly where they are. Forgive quickly. See the best in them. Love unconditionally. Listen, even if you don't understand. 

A simple definition for grace is undeserved kindness. Most people living with chronic illness struggle with feelings of condemnation, inadequacy, or guilt. When you demonstrate grace, it helps them see more of God's grace toward them. You can be a powerful instrument in God's hands to help them experience God's grace more and more! 

2) Do communicate with them in a way that works for them. 
This could be through texting, emailing, calling, FB, letters, etc. 

Some of my friends with chronic illness don't even own computers because of the EMF's. But they can handle short phone calls. Or with others, I write a letter on plain paper, using pencil, and then wrap it in aluminum foil to mail (to shield it from smells in transit). Other friends prefer to text or use FB. 

Ask the person what works best for them, then use that mode of communication. Honor them by respecting their needs and limits.

3) Do be sensitive, ask them what they need from you, and pray for wisdom in how to best encourage them.
Sometimes when a friend would call me, I didn't want to talk about my life. Instead I wanted to hear about all their adventures and the good things in their life. Other days I really needed someone to listen as I poured out all the craziness and hardship I was going through. 

It's ok to ask the person, "Do you want to talk about your situation? Or do you want me to just tell you funny stories about my kids?"

Also, when trying to encourage, balance being a good listener with also not letting them go on and on about negative symptoms. 

There's a time to let the person unburden their heart. In those moments, simply listen and say "I love you, and I'll keep praying for you."  

Then there are times when it's better to redirect the conversation away from negative thoughts to God's faithfulness or a positive topic. With chronic illness, it's easy to continually rehearse physical symptoms or complaints. Sometimes we need a friend to gently direct us to thanksgiving, trust, and praise. 

Only God can guide you in how to be sensitive and what to say in each situation. But hopefully being aware of these needs will help you as you converse with others.

4) Do be thoughtful about gift-giving.
With chronic illness comes feelings of isolation, being forgotten, missing out, etc. Receiving a thoughtful gift from someone can make a huge difference!

However, especially for those with chronic illness gift-giving can be tricky. For a few years basically the only gifts I could receive were CD's or DVD's. I couldn't even read books for a while because of being allergic to paper. 

If you don't know what products are good for the person, then just ask. It's better to ask what they like and can use, than to try to send a "surprise" gift and cause them to have a reaction.

For those without allergies, think about what they like and what kind of gifts will uplift them - perhaps a Christian fiction book, a funny movie, a beautiful journal they can write in, etc. It doesn't need to be expensive or elaborate. Small gifts are wonderful if there is thoughtfulness behind them.

Also, gift cards are a wonderful option. To an EI person, a gift card is not "impersonal" - it's a treasure! Most of us have limited finances, so a gift card to Wal-mart,, etc., is always appreciated. 

Ask God what gift would be best for the person. He will guide you in finding ways to encourage and bless them through thoughtful gifts (especially on holidays or birthdays as they are rough times for those who are ill). And I can tell you from experience how meaningful it is to receive a thoughtful gift in the midst of the daily struggles! 

5) Do recognize that God can still use the person for His glory.
Chronic illness does not mean useless. 

One of my EI friends is a talented artist. When she has a little energy, she often makes cards for people out of her drawings. Another friend is a faithful prayer warrior for many people. Another one likes to write songs. 

Even when people live with drastic limitations, God can still empower them to do good things. Obviously productivity doesn't equal value. And even a thankful heart glorifies God. If you see God at work in a specific way through the person, praise Him for it! And encourage them about what God can do through their life, even in their illness. (Many people encouraged me to keep writing during my illness, and God has brought much fruit from it.) 

6) Do pray for them.
Yes, keep praying for their healing! God is able and we can continually ask Him to heal.

But also pray for the person to develop greater intimacy with Jesus through suffering. 
Pray for inner strength, courage, peace, and joy in the midst of their trial. 
Pray that God's Word will come alive to them like never before.
Pray that their faith will grow and that God will empower them to praise Him in the storm.
Pray for God to bring eternal fruit from their pain.  

When I consider all the blessings God has given me through my health trial, I know it's because so many people were praying for me. And they didn't only pray for my healing - they prayed for so much more! I have received incredible answers to those prayers in spiritual growth, a closer relationship with Jesus, greater love for God's Word, fruitfulness in ministry, and much more! 

Through prayer we have the opportunity to invest in the lives of others and be part of God's divine work in this world. Even though praying for those who are ill may not seem like a world-changing effort, you never know what God will do in each life! Everything we do matters, and prayer matters most of all. 

Well, I hope these tips are helpful for you. Showing love and support to those with chronic illness requires effort, getting to know the person and their needs, and relying on God's strength. But it's a wonderful opportunity to be an expression of the love and grace of Jesus Himself. May we be His tangible presence in this hurting world. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Healthy Uses For Onions

A quick online search will list many different health benefits of onions, including things like regulating blood sugar, boosting immunity, and reducing inflammation. Clearly they are a wonderfully healthy food.

However, did you know there are healthy uses for onions besides eating them? In the last few years I've learned about various ways to use onions that have now become part of my routine. I'll list a few things here. I hope you'll find something helpful.

1) Fighting infections - Onions are anti-bacterial, so anytime I feel like my body is fighting an infection, I cut an onion in half and hold it in my right hand for anywhere from 7-12 minutes. (Be sure to throw it away after holding it.) If it's a tough infection, I sometimes do this twice a day. Obviously there are other natural things you can do to help your immune system when fighting an infection, but this has become one of my preferred tools to use.   

2) Absorbing smells - One time when some food had burned badly and the house was filled with smoke, a friend told me how to use onions to get rid of the smoke smell. You can cut some onions in half and place them in a bowl of water, cut side up. (They'll usually just float.) Set the bowls of water around the room with the smoke smell for about 15-20 minutes. Then throw away the onions. If there's still some smoke smell lingering, you can repeat this until the air smells clear again.

3) Absorbing toxins - Similarly to setting out onions in bowls of water, you can also just set them around by themselves in order to absorb various toxins. Cut the onions in half and set them on plates or on paper towels (so the onion juice doesn't drip on anything, because it will stain). Leave the onions out for about 10-15 minutes, then throw them away. I've used onions this way to help absorb toxins such as:
- cigarette smoke (for example: if you've bought used furniture or a used car that smells like cigarette smoke)
- certain cleaning products (like if a workspace is cleaned with strong chemicals, take your onion and set it out to help detoxify the space)
- chemicals from air freshener plug-ins (such as some homes or workspaces have)
- some (not all) mold-related toxins (for example: if you're staying overnight somewhere where there was a mold exposure, you can set out the onions to help reduce the toxicity)
...and more. 

4) Cleaning the air inside - Depending on where you live, if you're not able to open your house and air it out frequently, then you can set the cut onions around your living space periodically to help improve the air quality. Again, leave them for about 15-20 minutes.

A few notes about using onions:

1) After you remove the onions you've set out, you might want to set out a few plates of baking soda to absorb any lingering onion smell. Unless you don't mind the onion smell. =)

2) Generally speaking, do not leave onions sitting out for more than 20 minutes. If you read on the internet to leave onions sitting out all night, just know that's not really a good idea. Once the onions have absorbed all they can, they need to be thrown out. Otherwise those germs or toxins in the onions will be sitting there affecting the environment.

3) When throwing the used onions out, it's good to put them in a ziploc bag, and then put them in an outside trash can (because they will stink).

4) I try to always buy organic onions. If you can't find organic ones or can't afford them, then at least you can know that onions are low on the pesticide level list. (See for a list of the most toxic and least toxic non-organic produce.) I prefer to use yellow onions, though I have occasionally used red ones for these things.

Well, I hope these tips are helpful! Let us know if you have any other healthy uses for onions, by posting in the comments. =)

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Simple Things

It's a cold, rainy day in February. I'm thinking about the little things and the simple things that can make life better.

Here are a few things I thought of that make life better for me.

*Clean air.
For years I've used the Foust air purifiers ( Then a friend told me about Honeywell air purifiers, and I've been using one of those that I really like. It works differently than the Foust ones (those are great for filtering chemicals). The Honeywell one seems to be better at filtering dust, pet dander, etc. They are both good air purifiers, just different.  You can find Honeywell air purifiers online at Walmart, Amazon or other places. Here's a link to the one I use now:

*Healthy food.
When I eat healthy food, I feel better - it's that simple. Most stores now have good options for finding healthy food, but it can still be a struggle to shop, read labels, and keep healthy food on hand. If you're trying to eat healthier this year and avoid junk food, this blog post might have some helpful tips.

So many times laughter is just the "medicine" I need. If you haven't laughed yet today, maybe this video will help with that. =)

These are three simple things in life that can make a big difference. =)

If there's a simple thing you appreciate that might be helpful for others too, please add to this list by sharing it with us in the comments. Thanks!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Some Prayer Requests

I realized it's been a while since I've shared prayer requests about some of my EI friends. Would you take a few minutes today to pray for one or more of these precious people? Thank you so much!

S, N, K - These two brothers and their mom are still enduring chronic fatigue, severe chemical sensitivity, etc. They are amazing examples of living by God's grace and persevering in suffering. It's been a long road for them (over 20 years). Please pray for continued strength and faith for each of them, and for answers and tools that will bring progress in healing.

E, D, A, Z - This amazing family has been dealing with multiple and extreme health challenges for over two years. God has brought much miraculous healing, praise Him! However, there's still a long way to go. Right now the priority is for better sleep for the youngest child, so that everyone can sleep better. Please pray God will bring healing for Z in the area of sleep, and that everyone will soon have improved sleep.

J - He has been struggling with mold illness for the last few years. Praise God that he was approved for disability! However, he's currently homeless because there are no houses he can tolerate. He's been sleeping in a relative's car, but with the freezing temperatures, it's hard to stay warm. Unless you've lived through something like this, it's hard to imagine. So I'll just say that life is very difficult for him. Please pray his disability payment will come through quickly so he can buy a vehicle, and that he can find a car that is healthy for him. Also, please pray God will keep J close to His heart through this fiery trial.

A - My dear missionary friend has been dealing with health challenges after many years in other countries. Fatigue, allergies, poor sleep, etc. are some of what she's working to overcome. She's praying for restored good health soon so she can continue in the ministry God has given her. Please pray for clear direction and wisdom about treatment options, supplements, diet, etc. Also please pray for encouragement and joy in the midst of this difficult season.

E - She has been dealing with chemical sensitivity for over ten years. Though she's improved a lot and is able to do many things now, she needs to find new housing soon. This is a huge challenge for anyone with EI. Please pray God will lead her and will provide a safe and healthy place for her to live. Also for daily encouragement and continued healing for her.

Thank you so much for your prayers! These are just a few of the people I know who are facing difficult health challenges. There are many others. It's hard to see people in pain, but I can also see God at work in their lives through the suffering. As Psalm 91 says, God is our refuge and He is with us in trouble.

I hope you are experiencing God's comfort and strength in your life today. And if you have a prayer request, feel free to post it in the comments, so we can be praying for you as well.

God bless you!