Saturday, February 25, 2012

What happened to my GOOD food?!

Not long after I began my quest for proper nutrition, I began to ponder the food I was feeding to the other member of my family… my cat, Sweetie.  

Like my husband, Sweetie has had to endure more than one dietary change as part of this nutritional journey.  Up until now, she’s been a sport about it.  But this most recent change has apparently struck a nerve.

But, back to the beginning.  Sweetie has a delicate digestive system.  She barfs.  We’re not talking the traditional hairball barf.  Sweetie’s barfs are full-on food barfs.  When I first inherited her from my daughter (a situation necessitated by severe sibling cat rivalry between her and her step-sister), Sweetie was eating run-of-the-mill cat food—the kind found most cheaply at the local grocery store, though I can’t now recall the brand.  Even after using a heavy-duty spot remover on the carpet, it was impossible to completely remove the stain left over from the barf.  My daughter suggested I look for a “hairball” formula, and so the hunt began – and I started reading labels… on the cat food.  My obsession with food was complete.

It was about then I asked the question:  why is there food color in cat food?  The cat doesn’t care what color it is!  And then I began to wonder what ELSE is in cat food.  Just about every mass-marketed cat food, I discovered, is pretty much the same stuff.  Purina, for example, uses “the finest ingredients.”  From their website, here is a list of ingredients for their “Indoor Formula.”

Corn meal, poultry by-product meal, corn gluten meal, soy flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), powdered cellulose, animal liver flavor, soybean hulls, malt extract, calcium carbonate, phosphoric acid, salt, choline chloride, potassium chloride, taurine, zinc sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, parsley flakes, niacin, added color (Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 2), copper sulfate, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), sodium selenite. I-4500

Corn meal is the first ingredient.  Really?  Does anyone think that cats in their natural environment are going to eat corn meal?  Even if they're starving?  The second ingredient is poultry by-product meal, “an excellent protein source created after poultry is processed for human consumption.”  (Umm, I don’t even want to THINK about it.)  After that, there’s more corn and soybean products, and some flavors (“animal liver” flavor… just wondering what other kind of liver there might be) and vitamins, and (yep) food color.  Who in their right mind thought this concoction would be a good idea for cats?  In their natural habitat, cats eat meat (mice mostly, but don’t expect to see canned mouse anytime soon).  It’s no wonder Sweetie is barfing up her food!

I love my cat.  I know she’s not a person, but I still love her.  So I’m going to try to find her some food that’s healthy.  That’s what we do when we’re in charge of feeding those we love, right? 

The next stop in my healthy cat food quest was the pet store.  They have a much better selection than the grocery store, and even though the price is a bit higher, love demands the sacrifice.   "Veterinarian-recommended" Science Diet was almost a carbon copy of the Purina brand, only without the food color.  It seemed that every brand in the store – even the “natural” brands – had more filler than meat, and every one I looked at had grain in it.  Eventually, I chose something, though I can't remember that one any more either...but at the time it seemed better than Purina.  And then one day about six months ago, while I was shopping at my local natural foods store, lo and behold... I discovered they carried pet food.  Yes!  Natural cat food!  Well, sort of.  After quickly browsing the two brands on the shelf, I decided on Organix.  Even this one had more grain fillers than I thought were necessary (Organic Chicken, Chicken Meal, Organic Peas, Organic Brown Rice, Organic Barley, Potato Protein) but at least it was mostly meat, and organic, and Sweetie actually LIKES it.  
Unfortunately, even the better quality food still hadn’t improved her barfing problem (though it no longer leaves a stain), so during my last trip to the market, I discovered a bag of cat food that was labeled “protein focused nutrition.”   Finally, a cat food that makes sense.   The brand is Wellness Core, a grain-free cat food that focuses on the reality that cats are meat-eaters... and at a price about on par with the Science Diet ilk. Like a good mom, I snatched it up and took it home to make the transition.  The problem is, Sweetie has informed me in no uncertain terms that she is NOT happy with my well-intended food swap.  "Meoww.  I like grains!"  We’ve been working on the transition for a week now, and she has become very skilled at picking out the old star-shaped food and leaving the new little round balls. "Rawrrr!  Where's the tasty stuff?!"

Will the new food solve the barfing problem?  Too soon to tell... got to get her to actually EAT it first.  But if it helps, I’ll be sure to post a follow-up.   In the meantime, at least I know she will be getting a diet closer to what she was created to eat.  And I’m hoping hunger will eventually win out over preference.  (I’m not giving in until I see ribs!)

In closing, I was encouraged to discover during my research for this post that there are actually a few brands out there that boast a no-grain formula.  So if this one doesn't work out, I have options

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A WHAT kind of doctor???

This past week, I went to see an Applied Kinesiologist.  Ever heard of it?  From, “Applied kinesiology (AK) is a form of diagnosis using muscle testing as a primary feedback mechanism to examine how a person’s body is functioning.”  An assessment (first visit) uses “functional biomechanics” to test responses to certain stimuli.  I discovered in my assessment that I don’t get along with stripes.  Stripes are weakening, and I should avoid striped wallpaper particularly.  Muscle tests are used to monitor the physiologic response to a physical, chemical or mental stimulus, like stripes…or food additives, or even foods themselves.   

Applied Kinesiology is a type of holistic (whole body) care and is typically connected to chiropractic care since the two are closely related (both deal with muscle testing and response).  The science is quite new (about 30 years), and still somewhat controversial.  

An excerpt from Wikipedia explains a typical assessment:  “A commonly known and very basic test is the arm-pull-down test, or "Delta test," where the patient resists as the practitioner exerts a downward force on an extended arm.  … Nutrient testing is also done to examine the response of the patient’s muscles to assorted chemicals.”  Whether the arm remains strong or becomes weak determines whether the substance or condition being tested has a weakening affect on the overall body (including sensitivities or allergies).  Using this method my doctor discovered that (in addition to stripes) corn, food colors, fluoride and chlorine disagree with me.  I was quite happy to discover I am NOT allergic to dairy, since I love my yogurt and cheese!  But I was not surprised to find out about the fluoride (see my earlier post on that topic).

Skeptics have called it quackery.  I’m still debating.  When the “Delta test” is done to you, personally, it is quite convincing.  Since this doctor comes with good recommendations from people we know, I’ve decided to give him a chance.  (In fact it was this doctor who identified my husband, Mark's, milk allergy.)  After all, if it doesn't work, I'm no worse off than I was before.  The expense is minimal, especially when compared to M.D. visits and pharmaceuticals.

The starting treatments for my particular complaints include large doses of vitamin D (5,000 IU daily), a supplement made of oregano oil, and at least six weeks of chiropractic treatment for stiffness and pain in my neck, shoulders and lower back.

“Pain,” he said, “is not normal.”  He told me of two patients in their 90s who have no pain at all.  When was the last time your doctor told you pain wasn’t a normal part of getting old?!  While we’re at it, we’re also going to talk about transitioning me OFF the hormone replacement therapy that is currently keeping my hot flashes at bay. 

Now that my husband and I are on a high-deductible insurance plan with a Health Savings Account, we're in a better position to make decisions about what kind of health care providers we wish to use.  Traditional doctors have but one solution:  prescription drugs.  Is it possible to become healthy and live a vibrant life into old age without drugs?  I am on my way to find out.

Spicy Mustard Sauce

Here is an amazingly tasty and easy to make sauce to perk up bland food.  I invented it initially to serve with chicken liver (Yum!) but it is equally yummy on bland vegetables like turnips or cauliflower, or as a dip for carrot sticks and other raw veggies.

  • Full fat Greek yogurt, unsweetened
  • Spicy mustard (made from natural ingredients - organic if possible)
  • Chives (dry or fresh), minced
Start by deciding how much sauce you want... I made about a quarter cup, but if you have a bigger family or are making this for a group, you might want to use the whole yogurt container.  Add mustard until you get the desired spiciness.  For a quarter cup yogurt, I added about two tablespoons of mustard and about a teaspoon of dried chives.

If you have any milk allergies or sensitivities, I found that this concoction works well with coconut yogurt, but the sauce picks up more of the color of the mustard and is less creamy.  The taste, however, is still quite good.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fluoride… Friend or Foe?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring element in mineral-rich water.  Can we be confident, then, that it must be good for us, at least in some measure like other minerals our body uses?  Maybe.  But then the question becomes, how much is good, and how much is too much… and who really knows enough about it to start messing with nature’s balance?

This, I think, is what has happened with the fluoride discovery.   Discovery!  Remember that quote from Jurassic Park where the esteemed John Hammond arrogantly declares, “How can we stand in the light of discovery, and not act?”  And Dr. Ellie Stattler counters with, “Well the question is, how can you know anything about an extinct ecosystem?”  I would go one step further and say, how can we know enough about ANY ecosystem to be able to say with assurance that we know how best to alter it?  This is government interference at its worst – when it decides that something is good for us. 

Scientists are still trying to figure out how the human body works, with its millions of interconnected and interrelated systems.  The deeper they go into the cellular level the more they discover that there's so much more they don’t know!   And yet, at the drop of a hat, our politicians will jump on any scientific bandwagon that suits their fancy at the moment, dump money into a few years of research, and then create a government policy that usually involves a political payback to their favorite lobbyist.  And before you know it… wah lah!  The science is settled!

Once that happens, no amount of research to the contrary will be entertained.  Nobody wants to admit that they spent all those hard-earned tax dollars on a faulty premise, or a policy that turns out to be actually harmful to the public. 

Such is the case with fluoride.  Here is an eye-opening article on fluoride worth reading:  Fluoride:  Deadly Poison?  History & Dangers of Fluoride, which discusses how it came about that this dubious substance should be added to our water supply.  Now approximately 66% of the USA has fluoridated public water and some bottled water is fluoridated as well, compared to 2% in Western Europe.   Fluoride may also be present in bottled or canned drinks, including soft drinks, beers, and energy drinks when those drinks are manufactured in areas where there is fluoride in the public water system.  Fluoride, like other minerals can also be absorbed through the skin while bathing.

However, the question still persists – is it really as bad as the detractors say?  The American Dental Association still insists that fluoride is the dental miracle of the 20th century.   According to WebMD, the most important ingredient to look for when choosing toothpaste is fluoride, calling it a “dental-friendly” mineral.  And, of course, the CDC and other government agencies continue to tout its benefits.

But here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding where you stand on the matter.  From, “Though fluoride is best known as the chemical added to drinking water and toothpaste to prevent dental decay, it can also cause a variety of harmful ailments, including one that puts brown stains on teeth and may make them brittle and crumbly. The amount of fluoride added to drinking water to prevent tooth decay is about the same as the amount that can cause moderate staining.”  

I don’t know about you, but all four of my children’s adult teeth developed that off-colored tea-stained look, though we never knew why.  Too much fluoride?  Could be.  This is a condition called dental fluorosis.  Children are prone to the condition since they tend to swallow the toothpaste when they brush, rather than spit it out.  There is also some research to suggest that the levels of fluoride in toothpaste may be sufficient to cause or contribute to periodontal bone loss.

Quoting again, according to the scientists at the company, Sepracor, from a study done in the 1990s, "We have found that fluoride, in the concentration range in which it is employed for the prevention of dental caries, stimulates the production of prostaglandins and thereby exacerbates the inflammatory response in gingivitis and periodontitis.... Thus, the inclusion of fluoride in toothpastes and mouthwashes for the purpose of inhibiting the development of caries [cavities] may, at the same time, accelerate the process of chronic, destructive periodontitis."

Perhaps this is why, no matter how much we brush our teeth, we still get cavities!

My interest in fluoride developed recently in response to a rash that developed around my mouth over a period of a few months, the cause of which I suspected to be a change in toothpaste.   I had switched from Crest 3D White to Colgate Optic White.  I still don’t know for a fact that the rash has been caused by fluoride (since both brands have about the same amount), but studies have shown that hypersensitive individuals may develop canker sores and skin rashes in and around the mouth from fluoride.  Another problem I’d developed was sensitivity in my teeth to heat and cold.  This can be attributed to an ingredient in tartar-control toothpaste, called sodium pyrophosphate, which controls tartar by removing calcium and magnesium from saliva (not sure that’s a good thing).  It is known to cause teeth to become hypersensitive to temperature extremes – especially cold. 

One of the reasons I was drawn to a whitening toothpaste is my coffee habit -- and those annoying coffee stains.  Colgate Optic White contains hydrogen peroxide, the same hydrogen peroxide you probably have lurking under your sink in that brown bottle you picked up at the drug store for $1.75.  Save yourself some money and bleach your own teeth using a solution of equal parts 3% hydrogen peroxide and water as a mouthwash.  Or you can dilute 3% hydrogen peroxide with water, dip your toothbrush in it and brush your teeth.  Either method will require multiple applications to see a whitening affect, but after all, so does the toothpaste.  (By the way, this should not be done if you have gum disease or other dental problems.) 

More recent studies show that fluoride’s primary benefit is in its topical application rather than in water or toothpastes and rinses.  Do we really need fluoride to have healthy teeth or is it just another toxic chemical we should avoid if we can?  My personal choice was to give up the fluoride toothpaste and go organic.  I found a tasty fluoride-free brand at my natural foods store for about the same price as the Crest and Colgate whitening brands.  If you live in a fluoride water zone, a good reverse osmosis water filter will get rid of the fluoride from your drinking water.  Otherwise, there's always the Culligan Man

For more information about flouride:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Discovering Magnesium

So I just finished up the book THE MAGNESIUM MIRACLE by Dr. Carolyn Dean... at least as much as I intend to read.  The book is loaded with information about the benefits of magnesium and how just about nobody gets enough in their diet.  It's not just that the soil is depleted to the point that the vegetables from which we would normally get this mineral have nothing to absorb.  Much of the magnesium we DO get is either flushed out of our bodies when it binds to the fluoride we ingest through water or toothpaste or is hindered by high levels of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, lactose and iron supplements we consume.  Many medicines we take for our multitudinous ailments also deplete our magnesium stores.  Are you a tea drinker?  The tannin in tea binds and removes all minerals, including magnesium, from the body.  Are you a coffee drinker?  Sorry, caffeine blocks magnesium absorption (iron, too!)  Do you eat that healthy spinach? Oxalic acid found in spinach and chard bind with magnesium (and other minerals) making them insoluble so that the body flushes rather than absorbs it if not cooked first.  What about bread?  Grains and seeds contain phytic acid which does the same thing.  If you're not soaking your grains and nuts, they are pulling the magnesium from your body.  Do you like your sweets?  Sugar uses up magnesium.  Do you smoke?  Take birth control pills?  Insulin? Diuretics for high blood pressure?  All these things deplete magnesium from your body.

Until recently, I had no idea my body even needed magnesium.  However, this little mineral is not only necessary, but indispensable for not only health and disease prevention, but all life processes.  Why don't we hear more about its benefits?  Probably because it can't be patented and sold as a high-cost drug. The good new is, if you give your body the magnesium it needs, you probably won't need any of those high-cost drugs!

As Dr. Dean cites in her book, noted magnesium experts, Drs. Bella and Burton Altura, have been researching magnesium and its uses for over forty years and have been able to show that as many as twenty-one different health conditions are related to magnesium deficiencies.  Among them are
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Migraines
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle pain and spasms
  • High cholesterol
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Tooth decay
  • Kidney stones
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Dementia
Adding back magnesium to the diet is sure to provide a worthwhile health benefit even if you don't suffer from any of the above ailments. According to Dr. Dean, "Magnesium regulates more than 325 enzymes in the body, the most important of which produce, transport, store, and utilize energy.  Many aspects of cell metabolism are regulated by magnesium, such as DNA and RNA synthesis, cell growth, and cell reproduction.  Magnesium also orchestrates the electric current that sparks through the miles of nerves in our body. ... Without magnesium, muscle and nerve functions are compromised and energy is diminished."

Magnesium is an essential mineral, to be sure. 

If you don't think you're getting enough magnesium in your diet, making up the difference with supplements is safe and fairly inexpensive.  Dr. Dean relates a study reported in Metabolism indicating that the body is in no danger of overloading on magnesium supplements by taking too much because any excess will be excreted harmlessly (though you may end up with bit of diarrhea!)  Recommended daily amounts for adults begin at about 400mg, and doses up to 1,000mg per day over a period of time may be necessary in cases of severe magnesium deficiencies.

About a month ago, I started using liquid ionized magnesium to combat severe leg cramps -- brought on, I suspect, by a change in my diet.  I had gone low carbohydrate, increasing the amount of calcium intake (more cheese) while reducing the amount of potassium (less fruit and potatoes).  Those changes combined with what I believe was an existing magnesium deficiency resulting from my previous dietary choices (processed food), leaving me writhing in pain with every evening and morning stretch.  After a week or so of magnesium drops in my orange juice, my muscle cramps began to diminish to the point that I can now stretch my calf out without worrying about any pain.  It occurred to me today that magnesium may help my husband with his insomnia problems -- so we're starting him on supplements this week.

Not all magnesium supplements are created equal, however.  Some products are more easily absorbed than others, so do your research and make sure you choose a suitable product.  The Magnesium Miracle has a section explaining the most suitable forms in detail.  In brieft, magnesium can be absorbed through the skin using products like magnesium oil, which is sprayed on, or Epsom salts, often prescribed as a bath soak for aches and pains (and the bath feels oh so nice).  The most economical supplement is magnesium citrate, which can be purchased in any drug store and taken by mouth or stirred into juice.  A product recommended by Dr. Dean is magnesium packed in the form of a slow-release tablet made by Jigsaw Health, but it's a little pricier.  One thing to keep in mind is that some magnesium supplements can have a bit of a laxative effect, so for this reason alone, you will want to keep your dosage under 1,000mg a day.

And, finally, for those of you who still prefer to get your vitamins and minerals from real food, information is readily available listing magnesium rich foods to include in your diet.  Two other good sources are Celtic Salt, a sea salt with naturally occurring trace minerals (including magnesium), and mineral water.

It shouldn't surprise us that good health can be found in nature.  To me, this is just one more affirmation of an All-Wise Creator.  He put everything we need to be well within our reach.  It never ceases to amaze me how complex life is.  Magnesium!  Who'd a thought?!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pray Always

     "Thank you Lord for keeping me in Your care through the night.  My soul is in Your hands; I have nothing to fear. I pray that You will also have Your hand of protection on my loved ones [each named].
     Give me grace to face a new day and whatever it holds for me, and the strength to perform my daily duties.
     To God be all praise, honor and glory."

I always knew my mother was a woman of prayer, but I didn't know until after she passed away that she kept journals and wrote out her prayers.  The Apostle James told us in chapter 5, verses 13-16 of his letter:
   "Is any one of you in trouble?  He should pray.  Is anyone happy?  Let him sing songs of praise.  Is any one of you sick?  He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.  If he has sinned, he will be forgiven... the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."  

...or a righteous woman!  Mom believed this and lived it.  My mother's prayer journals remind me very much of the Psalms.  She praised the Lord in times of happiness, and to acknowledge answers to prayer; and she poured out her heart to Him in times of difficulty.  In those journals, she left her children a memento of how she lived her life.  It can be neatly summed up like this...

"Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
I Thessalonians 5:16

God calls us to be people of prayer.  The New Testament is full of encouragements to pray.  We are invited to come boldly before the Throne of Grace in our times of weakness and need (Hebrews 4:14-16).  And He has promised to honor those prayers.  God pays attention to our prayers!  That's an awesome concept.  The Creator of the universe longs to have a personal relationship with me... and YOU.  He speaks to us through his Word; and once that connection is made, we communicate back to Him through prayer.  It is a supernatural link that is capable of facilitating miracles, in our own lives and the lives of others!  Does God always answer the way we want or expect?  Heavens, no!  But you can be sure He always answers in our best interests (Luke 11:1-13).

I am thankful to God for my mother's steadfast example of faith; and I am challenged anew to pray consistently -- for my family, for my country, and even for my enemies.  For all things are ultimately in His hands... and He is able!

God bless!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Crepe Paper Collards

My husband, Mark, doesn’t care for greens.  Now when he says he “doesn’t care” for something, it means he doesn’t like it and probably won’t eat it unless he’s starving and there’s nothing else available.  With that in mind, he not only ate this collard greens dish, but said it was “okay” (translation:  really tasty, but not sure I want you to make it again especially soon just in case I’m hallucinating.)

  • 1 bunch collard greens, finely julienned (see instructions below)
  • 1 small leek, sliced very thin
  • 3 oz. bacon, cut into pieces
  • 2 Tblsp butter
  • Salt & pepper to taste (use sea salt to get your trace minerals)

Wash and trim the stems from the collard leaves.  Stack them together and roll them into a tight bunch.  Slice very thinly.  
In a cast iron or stainless steel frying pan or wok, sauté bacon on a medium heat until  browned but not too crispy.  Do not drain off the grease.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir frequently.  Sauté about 15 minutes, being careful not to scorch the greens (reduce heat if necessary).  This recipe makes enough for two people but can easily be adjusted for more.  Vegans can substitute the bacon and butter with ¼ cup olive oil. 

If you “don’t care” for greens because they're usually wilty, soggy, and bitter... you may like this dish.  When prepared this way, the collard greens will feel papery in texture on the fork but firm and a bit chewy to eat.   In addition, they lack the bitter metalicky taste common in spinach and chard.  

A note on the ingredients... I chose leeks over onions because Mark is sensitive to the juice of the onion, and leeks have a milder taste and no onion juice.  Be sure to rinse thoroughly as they tend to hold dirt into the stalk.  Thin-slice only the white to pale green portion for this recipe.  I've always loved bacon and I still cook with it quite a bit, but bacon is a stickler for two reasons -- first, it's typically factory meat unless you get it from a local farmer.  I can't find a local farmer who sells pork of any kind, so I'm stuck with grocery store bacon.  Secondly, bacon is typically loaded with preservatives - namely nitrates and nitrites.  Nitrates and nitrites are used in foods to prevent bacteria from growing and to give the food a longer shelf life.  From an Argonne National Laboratory fact sheet of 2005, "Nitrates themselves are relatively nontoxic. However, when swallowed, they are converted to nitrites that can react with hemoglobin in the blood, oxidizing its divalent iron to the trivalent form and creating methemoglobin. This methemoglobin cannot bind oxygen, which decreases the capacity of the blood to transport oxygen so less oxygen is transported from the lungs to the body tissues, thus causing a condition known as methemoglobinemia."  This condition is a dangerous anemia that deprives the organ tissues of oxygen.  That said, I always buy bacon that is free of nitrates and nitrites, even though it is typically more expensive (this is not a plug for Oscar Mayer, but it's the only brand I've found so far that has a nitrate/nitrite free product).  You'll want to keep it in the freezer until you're ready to use it and then use it up within a week, since there's really nothing keeping the bacteria at bay.  If you're not a bacon eater, you can sub this out with olive or coconut oil.  But don't be dismayed by the bacon grease because of its saturated fat content.  Saturated fats, despite the hue and cry to the contrary, are not -- I repeat NOT -- bad for your health when eaten in moderation.  As a matter of fact, the body requires saturated fat for cell building.  Good sources are grass-fed meat, coconut oil, and butter.    

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Goodbye, Mom

This week I said goodbye to my mother.  She passed away quietly in her sleep after 83 years of living for others.

My earliest memories of my mother were of practical things.  She took care of us – me and my brothers and sisters, eight children altogether.  We were well cared for.  Mom made sure we had three good meals a day, clean clothes, and a clean home.  When we got hurt, she fixed us up.  She got us up for school on time and put us to bed on a regular schedule.  She made sure we did our homework and didn’t watch too much T.V.  When we acted up and misbehaved, she handed out the discipline – usually a thoroughly deserved smack on the butt (or in that general vicinity).

Being in the Army, Dad was gone much of the time—sometimes a year or two at a time—but Mom made sure the important things were taken care of when he wasn’t home.   Sometimes the result of Mom’s practical home management was that we didn’t always feel loved.  But feeling loved and being loved are two very different things.

Though she didn’t say it often while I was a child, Mom showed her love with her actions.  It wasn’t until I became an adult that I understood fully her love for me.  Mom gave herself – the greatest gift one can give – to her children.   Did she have dreams for herself?  If so, I never knew what they were.  But I know what she wanted for ME… to love the Lord, to serve the Lord, to be happy in my life, to have my dreams come true.  These are the things we talked about when we talked.  After I became an adult (married, with children), I had a few conversations with my Mom where she shared in confidence her sorrows and sadness, but those occasions were rare.  Most of the time our conversations were focused on my life, and my problems.  She had good sound counsel for me, full of wisdom and grounded in Biblical principles.

If I could define my mother in one word, it would be “selfless.”  Others have called her “strong,” which she was.  Her strength was an inner strength buttressed by love.  Some have called her a Godly “saint,” which she was.  She wasn’t perfect, but her focus was always on the Lord. 

Mom lived a life that put everyone else’s needs before her own – and that’s how I will always remember her.  

      "She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:  'Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.'"  Proverbs 31:26-29