Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to help others in your life understand how real food has brought you to good health and how it might help them.
This mission is in the spirit of Lent, inspired by my pondering on almsgiving. Most of us can give of our money somewhat easily – the dollar value before the pain threshold varies widely, but it’s not usually much of a sacrifice to give something extra to the poor during Lent. What is really a sacrifice, a true giving of alms in our day and age can be the gift of time.
My time feels stretched to and beyond its max on a daily basis. I’m asked (or feel compelled) to do so many things, from answering questions on Facebook to volunteering as a referee for soccer, from substituting for a religious ed teacher to being a room mom at school.
And then there’s the day-to-day responsibilities: helping kids with homework, playing outside, making dinner (and all those other meals too!), cleaning the house, keeping up with Mt. Laundry and Mt. Dishes before they set Guinness World Records, daily prayer, and generally finding some quality time to just be with the family without doing anything necessarily productive.
For years I’ve known that I need to practice saying “no” more often, but it’s a hard lesson to learn. I’m getting better at it lately (out of self-preservation, I think) but much of the time I end up with a sense of dread and foreboding when anyone asks me to do anything, because I know I probably don’t have the time but will feel some obligation to that person. I’m guessing that’s not the best thing for my overall stress load!
During Lent, I’ve tried to look for opportunities to stretch myself – to do something for God, joyfully, that takes the time I didn’t think I had. I’m trusting Him that if I help His children, He’ll help me find the fluff that I can cut out so I have time to serve. (And no, I’m not a soccer ref…)
I have taken a few moments, usually on Sundays, to get outside myself and my schedule to serve God with my time: to prep to sub for that religious ed class (without feeling stressed about it, amazingly!), to print out 40+ pages about St. Augustine for a young man in prison who is curious about the saint (something I never would have offered to do – “too busy!” – had I not been thinking about almsgiving), and to type some encouraging emails and notes to friends.
Taking Time to Share Health Resources
Recently I saw awful news on Facebook that a young mom, an acquaintance of mine from a previous neighborhood, was in the hospital for an infection gone septic. My heart just dropped. Prayer, of course, is the best way to help anyone in need, but I felt the urge to do something more tangible. With my knowledge of natural health and the power of healing foods, I knew that she would need to rebuild her gut flora after the three rounds of IV antibiotics she had already been given.
I messaged the family and shared some information from a blog colleague, a story of horrible ill health and healing that reminded me uncannily of what I know this entire family is going through. I also offered two things: to share some strong probiotics with them and to visit and demonstrate some healthy recipes (I was thinking of homemade chicken stock in particular for her gut) if she wanted. I didn’t know where I’d find the time – I really don’t have it to give! – but I had to follow my heart. I know my husband will help me clear a weekend afternoon if we can help bring some relief to this family.
I do think that it’s part of my mission as a Christian to help others embrace the natural world and the health it can bring – it’s what I do here at Kitchen Stewardship, a strange mix of ministry and business, yet I know when I answer personal reader questions in email, it’s part of my own almsgiving.
What do You Spread Around as you Go?
This isn’t the first time I’ve offered probiotics to friends in a health crisis.
Since I had the experience of (finally) eradicating my candida rash with some real food probiotics (and watching them improve my husband’s Crohn’s symptoms at the same time), and because I read a lot and understand the vital role of balanced gut flora in our overall health, there are a number of health issues that immediately make me think, “That person should get on a good probiotic.”
I realized recently that I’m becoming a bit of a Johnny Appleseed of probiotics, leaving a trail wherever I go.
At first it was with a few local friends, just a little bit in a jar for a new mama who always seems to get horrible infections after childbirth, and another sample jar for a toddler who had to endure multiple rounds of antibiotics for a skin rash that just wouldn’t let up.
At that time I was just dipping out of my own tub of powdered probiotic. We were ordering from Miessence, and I had signed up as a representative because I knew I’d want to share the products with you all and figured I might as well try to earn my own products for free. In order to get the kickback, I have to make a monthly order of a certain size, which turned out to be a little bit more than one tub of powdered probiotics or one bottle of the liquid form.
I quickly learned that, although one of each would meet the requirements, our family of five couldn’t get through them that quickly. One tub every two months for the adults and one bottle every two months for the kids would be just about right.
For a number of months, I began filling in with token items – we tried the Miessence toothpaste (eh, not my favorite), the blemish fighter, the hand cream, the conditioner and a few more. They were all fine products and very well-sourced, but still, once we had one it would last over a year.
Life became more fun when I started filling in the blanks with friends’ needs instead of frivolous beauty products.
The 3-pack of probiotic powder is a much better deal and fulfills the minimum order requirement, so I sent that whole kit-and-kaboodle up to my octogenarian uncle who had such a severe ear infection that he had many, many rounds of IV antibiotics over nearly six months. I can’t imagine he had much gut flora left at all and was only too happy to bless him with this gift, which was covered, including shipping, by my portions of the orders received through KS that month.
When a dear old friend had to stop nursing her twins after a diagnosis of colitis (an intestinal bowel disease in the same family as the Crohn’s Disease my husband struggles with), she called for some advice. I am, of course, an overflowing well of THAT!
My next monthly order had to be sent in later that week, and it felt serendipitous – not only did our family have plenty on hand already, but I had already spoken to this friend a few months earlier about her young son’s possible placement on the autism spectrum and how probiotics or the GAPS Diet might help. Three tubs went to her porch as well.
(Would people be interested in seeing the list of resources and baby steps I sent her? That might make a good post later this week; let me know in the comments if it’s a good idea to share here…)
I made sure my dad had a tub last month as additional ammo (or armor?) as he embarks on his battle against bladder cancer, both for the greens boost and the probiotics. (Ahem, Mom, are you getting it in smoothies at least every other day? If not, I’m sure Dad could handle swishing some down in juice daily…)
And finally, I mailed some to a friend for his little guy who had an absolutely terrifying experience that was sure to leave his gut in need of rebuilding – but you’ll have to come back tomorrow for that story, the horror, the wise Mama-intuition, and the happy ending. It deserves its own post so mamas can share it quickly, as it’s something everyone with young children must be aware of and only needs about a 60-second reminder.
Does it Help?
The funny thing about giving a gift is that it’s not really your place to make sure the person uses it. I don’t want to feel like I’m pressuring anyone (except my parents, see above!) to use the gift, although at the same time I want to support them and make sure they (a) know how to take the powder and (b) understand how much it could improve their gut health. But I hate to be pushy!
So while I can point to a few specific instances it has helped our family, I don’t really know the “rest of the story” for most of my sharing opportunities.
- I’m assuming that my 80-something-year-old uncle is taking his, just because folks at that age are going to be conscientious.
- I have no idea if my first local friend, an overwhelmed new mama of 5, managed to take even one dose. I didn’t ask.
- The second local friend used it a few times with her little one with the infection, but she confirmed that it’s tricky to “hide” in applesauce and hard to start a new habit of actually doing it. (Here’s how I take mine.) Luckily the infection finally went away, but whether the probiotic helped or not, who can say? Natural living can be tricky with new routines and pinpointing “what works” is my least favorite part of tackling natural health – there are almost always too many factors to say anything definitively.
- I emailed my friend with colitis twice to check in, but I still don’t know if they ever tried it or managed to take it regularly. Regardless, I’m still happy I was able to share. Hopefully it’s sitting in the freezer, and someday they’ll try it before the live bacteria go inactive… Think I should email (again) to see how it’s going or will I sound annoying? My gift has no less meaning to me if it doesn’t get used…but I’d sure love to see her family achieve a greater level of health, especially if it’s right there in her fridge already.
Now I’m really hoping to hear from the acquaintance who just left the hospital after over a week – I may ping them again, no pressure, but letting them know that I’m here and willing to drop by with some gifts. I just can’t imagine the havoc wreaked by IV antibiotics on a system, and what nasty bacteria are just waiting to pounce on that freshly tilled ground in her gut, so to speak, planting their roots firmly so as to further harm her system.
What Can You do This Month?
I write this not to brag or lift myself up as an example – I’m very grateful that the ministry/business mix of Kitchen Stewardship enables me to be a magic probiotics fairy instead of a probiotics pusher, begging everyone to buy from me…
I know it can be very difficult to talk about natural health or real food with those who are close to you – there’s often a lot of baggage and sometimes bad blood already, if people see how you live and don’t agree. This mission isn’t for everyone or every situation. I don’t want you to offend people you love!
But if you see someone near you in crisis – if you know that you have knowledge to help them – sharing knowledge in gentle, story-driven ways can be a powerful tool.
Send a few links to stories that remind you of what they’re going through.
Tell them about a great turnaround in your family’s health.
Try not to tell them what to do, but show them what others have done and if you get a little interest, give a little more information. If someone shuts you down, pray for them and stop sharing for a while.
Do you have anyone in your life who needs you to accept this mission? What real food tales are you going to share?
More on Miessence
More on Antibiotics
Some of this post may have sounded Greek to you. Freshly tilled ground in the gut? Harmful antibiotics? Probiotics helping a child’s behavior?
If you need a little more background, these posts will help fill in the blanks for you:
- What antibiotics do to your gut (it’s like a grenade)
- Other antibiotics risks
- Why we don’t want to take antibiotics if we don’t really need them: Where do Superbugs come From? (an awesome guest post from a microbiologist)
- More on stocking your natural remedies medicine cabinet
- A tale from our family of fighting illness naturally, and then not quite
- More info on why I chose THIS probiotic (scroll down to the bottom for a bulleted list)