Archive | May 2013

Interview, Part Three: “A Purpose Worth Fighting For”

564[1]Here’s the completion of my revealing interview with Connie, my new friend and fellow blogger at  http://ibeatovca.wordpress.com.  Previously we’ve discussed her strong faith and changing lifestyle. Today we discuss how she views her future.

 Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

How did this experience change you vision of food?  Have you changed your diet?

I have always been a “health nut”.  Exercise and good food were always a part of my life.  Too much sugar at times?  You bet, but I have tried to curb that.  I focus on whole foods:  fresh fruits and veggies (locally grown if possible), whole grains, nuts, green tea, lots of water, and last, but not least, dark chocolate. I make meals from scratch and we don’t eat out very often.  I simply feel better when I eat good food.  My body throws a tantrum when I try to “indulge”.

So after that statement, someone out there must be asking, “Wow! If she ate so right, how in the world did cancer happen to grab her?”

To say a cancer diagnosis came as a shock is an understatement.  Cancer didn’t run in my family, although sadly, two first cousins had cancer.  Therein lies the rub.  One cousin died of OVARIAN CANCER when she was 25 after the birth of her second child.  Her sister died of BREAST CANCER when she was 59.  I couldn’t get the thought out of my head that there was a link.  After I completed chemo, I was tested for BRCA 1 and BRCA 2.  Both came back negative:  no mutation detected.  Since I have a daughter and four granddaughters, that was extremely good news.Connie's support system

Did your doctor give you as any reason?

My oncologist called my cancer “sporadic” and said it was much like being struck by lightning.  It just happened.

How did your faith get tested by this?

Because of my faith, I don’t believe in random events.  I feel God has a plan for my life, and He allowed cancer to be a part of the plan.  Would I do as I had when my father died and doubt God?  Would I walk away again?  Or would I finally TOTALLY surrender to God’s will for my life?  I chose the latter, and I have never been sorry.  I have the peace that passes understanding.  I have a joy that is not dependent on events in my life.  God simply wanted all of me.

Cancer knocked me flat but God was waiting with open arms to pick me up.  He has made me a new creature in Him, and I wouldn’t go back for anything.  Do I want a recurrence?  No.  Will I fall apart if the cancer returns?  Maybe for a little while, but I will remember Who has a plan, Who loves me and Who saw me through the first time.

. . . and now?  How do you face obstacles?

I will continue to eat well and exercise.  I won’t obsess about an occasional fall off the wagon, but I will eat right most days.  Should everyone be concerned that they will get cancer, even if they do all the right things? No.  Absolutely not!  If you live your life in fear, cancer wins!  Never let something as terrible as cancer take control of your life!  Live!  Laugh!  Smile!  Cherish every healthy, happy minute.  Leave the rest to God.

As you can see, Connie is indeed a remarkable survivor and inspiration to all who are facing any battle in life!  One of the secrets to overcoming adversity is to never give the devil a foothold to despair!  I praise God for Connie’s candor and am so blessed to call her a friend! I pray her heartfelt words will touch those who need encouragement today.

Interview with A Spiritual Champion, Part Two, Lifestyle Changes

Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

As a Counselor, I have listened to those embittered at God over unfair circumstances in life. So what makes someone do just the opposite, find peace in the midst of the storm? I believe it is the unshakable faith that all things work together for Connie Doubtgood, even the challenges!  Nothing really matters except one purpose in life: to glorify God and make Him known. Knowing this . . . what can life ultimately do to us?

Below is the second part of my interview with a remarkable cancer survivor, Connie.  Her purpose in revealing her story is to encourage others who are enduring hardships to find strength and faith in spite of the circumstances.

Ellie: Could we discuss lifestyle changes?  Knowing that stress leads to acute illness, what steps have you taken to de-stress your life?

Connie: I have removed a few stressful relationships from my life.  There were situations I couldn’t change so I simply walked away.

Sounds like a personal Serenity Prayer.

Yes, I don’t regret moving on and it helped me heal.  I also rely on prayer, music, walks in the woods, humor and quiet time with God.

What did you eventually discover about yourself?

I discovered that perfection is nothing I need from me or anyone else.  I do my best, but I no longer strive to be “perfect”.  I learned that when other people want to help out, I should step aside and let them. That wasn’t easy, however. But if it helps them . . .  it helps me.

What part has exercise played in your recovery? 

I was very weak when I finished chemo.  It was very depressing to still feel so sick when the doctor said “we’re done”.  I started with water therapy two months after treatment.  The pool was warm, and the water felt so good.  It was a gentle way to move without risk of injury.  After 6-8 months, I got serious about exercise.  I went to a local rehab facility and worked out for an hour, three times a week.  I regained strength and muscle mass.  At the end of a year, I walked in a 5K and placed 3rd in my age group.  I did two additional 5K’s after that and continue to exercise.  For my mind and body, exercise is a must!  It relieves stress and keeps my body functioning well.

As you look back on this experience, what was the most important aspect you took away from it?

I learned to savor the good days and just endure the bad days.  The good days were like a warm bath, soothing, comforting, sustaining.  The bad days were a challenge, something to overcome, but I knew they wouldn’t last.  A good day would come along soon.

My emotions were all over the place, and I learned to just “feel” whatever was happening that day.  It seemed important to acknowledge my emotions, give them a name and then file them away.  I learned from my emotions.  Some were not pretty and I didn’t want to return to them.  The happy times filled me with so much joy, and that joy splashed over onto the bad days.  For me, my grandchildren took me out of reality and into their world of joy and laughter.  I could relive those moments later and experience that joy all over again. My family was amazing!  There was laughter amidst the storm.

They do say that laughter is the best medicine. What would you say to encourage others who might be faced with similar health challenges?

There isn’t a right or wrong way to feel and everyone handles adversity in their own way.  I didn’t expect anyone else to make me happy. I didn’t want to burden a loved one or a friend with trying to make me happy.  What if they failed? Then we would both suffer.  I took whatever emotion I had on a particular day and tried to make the best of it. God sustains.

Connie’s interview will continue tomorrow as we discuss dietary changes, revealing some interesting facts about her life.

Interview with a Spiritual Champion

1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

How one approaches adversity states so much about one’s character. It’s a fact that a positive attitude, prayer and laughter can overcome illness.  My new friend, fellow blogger Connie, is a testament to this. She’s a remarkable woman who not Connie Doubt  tooonly faced cancer, but shook her fist in its face and refused to give in to despair.  Her genuine warmth and authentic, godly spirituality comes through her wonderful posts:  http://www.ibeatovca.wordpress.com – I urge you to discover for it yourselves.

Below is Part One of our interview regarding Faith.  I pray her words will be an inspiration when you face any trial in your own life.

Ellie: God has given you incredible strength in the face of adversity Connie, did you always exhibit those characteristics? 

 Connie: I was raised in a Christian family surrounded by many examples of strong Christians.  However, my mother and grandmother were the main women in my life who exhibited the traits I sought.  My mother was very strong.  I watched her live through many hard times.  She always got up, wiped away the tears and faced life head-on.  She encouraged me to be strong, but I never thought I had her strength until cancer knocked me down.  I learned then that I am my mother’s daughter.  I am a fighter.

A strong support system really makes a difference; knowing you’re not alone. Would you discuss in what ways that strengthened you?

When I came home from the hospital after cancer surgery, a quilt was waiting for me.  A friend and several ladies I didn’t even know had made it for me.  It is one of my most treasured possessions.  In the middle of the quilt it says:

“The light of God surrounds me

The love of God enfolds me

The power of God protects me

The presence of God watches over me

Whenever I am, God is.”

 The quilt came to symbolize my faith and served as a reminder that God was in control.

Your positive attitude has been an inspiration to so many.  So when times got rough, what self-talk did you give yourself to bolster your spirits?  

I had a few “pity parties” and I always invited my husband to attend.  It made both of us sad, and I decided they were useless.  Instead, I sat in my recliner and counted my blessings.  I wrote almost every day in my journal: how I was feeling physically and emotionally.  It was a great outlet of expression; an invaluable tool. In a tangible way, I saw that even on the worst days, my blessings far outweighed my woes. My family was amazing! One Christmas they all wore hats to support me. (So sorry, photo wouldn’t attach, please check it out on her blog though)

Can you share how your strong Christian faith sustained you?

It definitely helped to pray for others. I didn’t have to look very far when I went for treatment to see someone worse off than I was.  I focused on them and others who were struggling with pain or strife.  There were many Bible verses that sustained me, such as Psalm 91.

I also drew strength from Hebrews 13:6 “So say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.’” and Philippians 4:13 “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength”,  2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” as well as Psalm 57:1, “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge.  I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until this violent storm is past.”

The fact is, you’re never alone when God’s your anchor and you are surrounded by friends –  however, were there times when you simply felt like Job?

I never felt like Job and I never asked “why me.”  I knew God had a plan.  I didn’t like the plan at times, but I simply trusted Him.  No one deserted me.  In fact, just the opposite was true.  Friendships deepened, new ones blossomed and I benefited.  It was very humbling to see all the love that was poured out on my behalf.

God was my strength but I was gifted with so many wonderful prayer warriors.  Prayers were said for me all over the country.  I was lifted up by family, dear friends and complete strangers.  At times I was unable to voice a prayer, but at those times my warriors interceded.  God heard and answered prayers.

Amen!  I pray others find courage in Connie’s testimony. There’s a quiet peace knowing that God is always there in the midst of life’s storms. 

Stay tuned for Part Two when Connie discusses the lifestyle changes she makes as she conquers cancer.

Affirmations: beginning of a positive life

Accepting yourself for who you are is one of the first positive steps you must take in order to become focused on recovery! Don’t believe the negative, worldly hype that Satan sends out, whispering in your ear that you’re not worth it!  I can As a man thinkethassure you; God doesn’t make junk! He made you – so you’re not junk!

I once presented my dejected new patient, Inez, with a pad of paper. It contained two columns. I asked her to write all her good qualities down one side and those she thought needed improvement on the other.  She began writing diligently.  Then I noticed she abruptly stopped writing. Looking over, I asked her why had she stopped? She said, “I’m finished, I can’t think of anything else.”  I smiled and took the pad from her. One side was almost totally filled with negativity. The other column only stated, “I have good hair.”  She couldn’t think of anything else valuable in her personality or looks.

Why do we sometimes judge ourselves so adversely? Has life beaten us down so much, we believe we deserve nothing better? God states that He only wants what’s best for us!

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Who would you rather believe: Satan who wants to discourage us from positive actions, or God who wants us to abundantly thrive?  Well over time, I’m happy to say that Inez rediscovered her kindness, helpfulness, generosity toward others and her smile. She learned she was more than an outside shell attempting to become thinner. She developed a total mind, body, spirit view of health!

Below are  a ‘List of Affirmations‘. If you are one who feels beaten down by life, I ask you to copy some of the these and post them on your refrigerator, pantry, computer, car dashboard, pocketbook, closet, dresser or bathroom mirror.  Anywhere you’ll see them throughout the day.  For what a person believes about himself, he tends to live. 

  1. God does not make junk!
  2. Today I’m taking steps to improve my life!
  3. I am special because God created me. Psalm 139: 13,14
  4. Feeling good about myself is more important that ANY food!
  5. I’ll make someone laugh today, including myself!
  6. It’s not selfish to treat myself well.
  7. I forgive my mistakes because I realize I can’t be perfect.
  8. I desire to honor my body’s temple of the Holy Spirit.
  9. I am a kind person and others appreciate that!
  10. HEALTH feels WONDERFUL!
  11. I’m developing more self-discipline each day!
  12. It’s okay to let others know the real me.
  13. I’m making the tough choices that must be made!
  14. I expect my body to be submissive to God’s Will, because He gives me willpower.
  15. I have friends who love me as I am, regardless of my size.
  16. I don’t have to be a size two in order to have worth!
  17. I am a loving person.
  18. I am strong, honest and helpful.
  19. Being outside in the fresh air makes me feel closer to God!
  20. I deserve to be treated with respect because God respects me.
  21. Any change always has drawbacks but I’ll overcome!
  22. I’ll pray as I walk today!
  23. Success is a continuous journey, not a one-time destination.
  24. I will prepare my mind for success because I KNOW I can do this!
  25. Happiness is a choice and I choose it!

Proverbs 23: 7 “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” 

When All Else Fails . . . Eat Healthy?

Proverbs 3:21, “My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them,”

How many times have we heard the expression, “When all else fails . . . Read the Manual!”  ”When all else fails . . . PRAY.”   or  ”When all else fails . . . Eat Right!“ Actually we should read the Bible, pray and keep our bodily spiritual temple Holy FIRST, don’t you agree?  

My friend Samantha posted these amazing thoughts the other day on her blog, http://manfonhealth.wordpress.com . Routinely I find many correlations between nutrition and spirituality, it’s why I began New Creations Ministries.  Samantha confirms this manifest so beautifully! I wanted to share it with you today.

The One Thing We Haven’t Tried

A wise man once said:

“Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.” -Hippocrates

Hippocrates is commonly known as the FATHER OF MEDICINE. He believed that the human body had an innate ability to heal itself. I cannot help but ponder why it is we have ventured so far away from this ideal of Hippocrates…Let FOOD be thy MEDICINE!  What a concept right!? Using the terms FOOD andMEDICINE interchangeably (Who would’ve thought)?!  As a society, we have veered so far off this path that it has become almost impossible to remind ourselves of the importance of food.

I think back to my old (pre-nutrition enriched) self and am reminded of some of my old thoughts. I use to think  eating healthy was just a way to lose weight.  I never really believed “You are what you eat.” I would go from one extreme diet to another. I even remember back to a time when I would eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast, an apple for lunch, and a Lean Cuisine for dinner. At that time, I considered this menu to be a healthy one! After a few weeks of eating like that and obsessively exercising I was sick for a solid week or two. Yet still, it neverfully registered with me that what I was doing was bad for me. ” I’m appalled by my “old self” ways, but really I was just IGNORANT!

Nutrition has been put on the back burner in today’s society; we are not taught the importance of nutrition.  We go from hearing about one fad diet to the next, or about the next quick fix for weight loss which never seems to work long term.   A lifestyle change of eating right and exercising has the power to prevent degenerative diseases, cancer, obesity, aging, autoimmune diseases, psychosis, colds, flus…the list is endless!

Today, our society tends to laugh at holistic/natural medicine and write it off as quackery.  A “Pill for every Ill” has been the adopted motto of today. Headache, stomach ache, depression, can’t focus…No worries, there’s a drug for that! Does anyone ever stop to think, “What is in this drug that I’m taking?” or “WOW, this drug has over 20 dangerous side effects?” Each year, there are an average of 106,000 deaths due to adverse drug reactions. 106,000 deaths! And by no means am I hating on doctors, because they work wonders and save lives each and every day! But what I am saying is, first and foremost, you control what you are putting into your body.  Less than 6% of today’s graduating physicians receive any training in nutrition.  We need nutrition education instead of all of this medication. We have to be the change we wish to see in the world!

HEALTH IS A CHOICE!! Only you can take responsibility for your health which is why it can be a struggle sometimes. You have to make the choice to change your life!

Fruits and vegetables have crazy amounts of vitamins and minerals which equal healing power! YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. Think about it, if you were to plant a tree tomorrow and never gave it water or nutrient rich soil, it would NOT live for 100 years like you would hope and the same thing goes with our bodies! We have to start putting nutrients in and it is up to you to do just that!

I was amazed once I started researching fruits, vegetables, herbs, vitamins, minerals, etc when I found that for almost every pharmaceutical drug, there is a product of nature that has the exact same healing benefits, without the chemicals and those 20 odd side effects! Vitamins and nutrients enable our bodies to heal itself.

Since I’ve adopted eating healthy as a LIFESTYLE and not as a “quick fix,” I have felt better than ever! In the past year alone, I have not been sick one time. I have not taken one pharmaceutical drug or over the counter drug (Yep, no Tylenol! Who would’ve thought that was possible?! haha)

Imagine the money you can save just by eating right and getting yourself healthy. No more/minimal doctor bills and paying for drug prescriptions.

We are living amidst a SICK nation where annually there are:

650,000 Heart disease deaths

550,000 Cancer deaths

106,000 adverse drug deaths

Cancer and disease statistics have not drastically changed over the past five decades, therefore we need to try something NEW!  The statistics for the healing powers of nutrition are out there, they have just been chosen to be ignored. While good health has been proven to work, it does not make a lot of money for the corporate world.

I’m going to leave you with this thought by Orthomolecular expert Andrew Saul,

“We need a new paradigm..a whole new way of looking at things. We need to BOOST health with NUTRITION. It’s really the one thing we haven’t tried.”

Eating Structurally in an Unstructured Lifestyle

What do you do when your nutritional willpower doesn’t coincide with the demands of your chosen profession?

Proverbs 19:20, “Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life.”

eating in the carSome of the toughest eating challenges I encountered was when I was employed in the public relations field. There were times when I’d sit down for lunch and an unexpected phone call or guest took precedence. Or I was driving to meetings and ran into traffic delays.  I was leading an unstructured work schedule. No normal 9-5 lifestyle! I enjoyed the diversity but it was tough to remain healthy, eat right and stay disciplined.  Sometimes circumstances intruded and I found myself wolfing down a fast food burger on the run or became susceptible to tempting foods such as donuts or cookies in an office lobby.

I’m not discussing a willfully, undisciplined life.  I’m speaking of employees whose jobs are modified each day. Those which might have you eating on the run if you’re lucky – skipping meals if  you’re not!  Major examples of these positions are; Realtors, police officers, firemen, medical doctors, nurses, repairmen or delivery positions which might find one running behind schedule due to an emergency or traffic. In other words I’m speaking of any position which doesn’t run on a typical time clock.  Any emergency, phone call or unexpected surprise means disruption in routine.

Do you catch yourself skipping meals for the sake of the business?  Don’t!  No one is indispensable – don’t allow a job to destroy your health!  Eating in the car? Just too dangerous!  Grabbing a candy bar to get you through?  Empty calories = cranky employee.  All of these  situations are normal and could happen. So what do you do if that’s typically your way of life?  You can’t quit your job, that’s not an option in this economy.

The secret to overcoming the challenge of an unstructured eating lifestyle is to anticipate that it could happen. Be prepared: Always carry a small snack for unexpected interruptions, such as:

  • a thermos for hot soups or cold drinks
  • a small cooler which can be filled with ice and used in emergencies
  • a box of raisins or dried fruit for quick energy
  • homemade trail mix
  • peanut butter in a small container to spread on whole wheat crackers or celery sticks
  • a bag of pretzels
  • good quality protein bar
  • walnuts or low-sodium nuts
  • pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • an apple, banana, berries or other fresh fruit
  • If you’re near a fridge, stock it with grapes, carrot sticks, Laughing Cow cheese or an extra yogurt you can grab on the run.

Develop your own ideas!  You’re not powerless simply due to circumstances!  Check out the many wonderful WordPress food blogs with great snack and lunch recipe suggestions. I urge those who would like to add a link to do so.  Don’t become a victim, overpower challenging obstacles!

Proverbs 8:14, “Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have insight, I have power”