Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lord, change my life-- but make it familiar and easy ...

The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.
Prov. 12:15

I want to try new things … but I want them to come with all the knowledge and experience of someone who’s been doing it all their lives, so I don’t look like an idiot. Isn’t that what we all want? A change that feels completely comfortable and familiar? That would be fantastic, but sadly, it’s not the world we live in.

I have been upheld by some as a gluten-free magician who touches rice flour and it turns to ambrosia. First of all, there are a lot of failures that continue to take place in my kitchen. (One of the perks of having dogs and chickens is disposing of the evidence without guilt!) While I can rattle all my allergens off my tongue with the greatest of ease (and cook accordingly) now, there was a time when the grocery store was the most frightening place on earth …

Even in the health food stores, I was terrified to shop alone. I simply could not avoid all of the allergens on my list without an extra pair of eyes. Besides, I needed emotional support for the frequent letdowns I experienced. I’d find a cereal that looked safe, when suddenly; I would see one of THOSE words in teensy letters on the ingredient list: cornstarch, nonfat milk powder, soy, coconut flour, quinoa… There I was, in the “gluten-free” aisle, and I still couldn’t find a thing to eat. I have literally cried in every local grocery store within a fifteen mile radius—in fact, I actually threw a full-blown tantrum in Fred Meyer!

No, I don’t mean I read the manager the riot act, stormed off in a huff or shouted that I’d never shop there again, I mean I stomped my feet, put my head in my hands and let out a primal scream in the natural foods section! I had been going up and down every aisle of the store for an hour, and I had almonds, lettuce and raspberries in my cart. That was it. I was so hungry, so exhausted and so afraid to embark on changing every recipe that I knew and loved, that I desperately wanted to find something in a box, bag or frozen container to eat. I couldn’t bake from scratch; I didn’t know how to bake! That required measuring, and I always lost count of how many cups of flour I’d dumped into a bowl. Now, I had been told that I had to use all these combined flours, which were expensive, confusing and hard to pronounce! No gluten. No peanuts. No dairy. No soy. No corn. No cranberries! It just wasn’t fair! And I decided in that moment, that Fred. G. Meyer (May he rest in peace) was to blame.

I called my husband and told him that I just couldn’t shop that day. He understood, and told me to come home. I fell apart into his arms the moment I walked in the door, and all over groceries! This was insanity!

That night, I decided that I was done attempting to live out of a box, bag or frozen container for the rest of my life. There had to be food that would be good for me, not too complicated, and maybe—just maybe, the whole family could eat, so I wouldn’t have to make multiple meals every night. The more I googled, the more I found hope for a delicious future! I called all my gluten-free friends and asked them what they ate, where they got it and how much it cost. Because my friends are amazing, my friend Karyl invited me to her house, virtually emptied an entire shelf of her pantry and urged me to take it all home. Knowledgeable staff at Nature’s Market looked at my loooooong list of allergies (unphased) and showed me where “safe” brands were on their shelves. I bonded with strangers in the frozen food aisle, as we marveled at gluten-free bagels and Hemp ice cream.
Through this adventure, my family really stood by me. My children cheered when I found cereal that was “mommy friendly.” When my husband and I saw a commercial for food that I could eat, we instantly high-fived one another. I continued to grumble about corn starch and hydrogenated soybean oil (we may or may not use them as faux-curse words in our home) under my breath, but the toddleresque display of shopping visits past no longer haunted me.

Over a year and a half later, I LOVE to grocery shop! I thoroughly enjoy baking (by weight—something I never would have learned, had it not been for my new life!) and I now look for people in PCC with that “deer in the headlights” look and a piece of paper with allergen levels on it. I tell them it’s going to be okay—not because I’ve always been a GF rock star, but because I have gone through the struggles of family gatherings, parties and restaurants with no gluten-free menu, and learned from them. If I had skated through this ordeal, what would I have to offer them? How would I know which cookies to feed my son—whom we discovered also has food allergies?

It’s truly amazing what we learn when we realize how little we know …

Father, thank you for the moments of uncertainty, frailty and yes, even insanity! Though I’d love to bury my past at times, allow me to remember it, that I might help others and not forget from whence I came and who brought me here!

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About Me

I'm not your average housewife; but then, neither is any other housewife I've met! My life is a constant blur of kids, animals, hunting down and testing allergy-friendly recipes, shopping, LOTS of coffee, yarn crafting, nannying, singing and writing. I married my highschool sweetheart (the introvert who is a type-A, shy, organized, loves hunting, hiking and mountain climbing. He lives for pizza, burgers and cookies and doesn't like coffee). We are polar opposites, but Love, grace and a whole lotta Jesus can overcome anything! :) We have two boys who fill this house with lots of excitement, love, laughter and lunacy! Alan (9) is a happy-go-lucky, inventive, dramatic, eager-to-please kid who loves being dad's shadow and mom's shopping companion. He's the snuggliest kid I've ever met! Wyatt is extremely bright, inquisitive, entertaining and endearing. He lives for routine, Wii games, pixar films and writing stories. Alan is typically-developing, Wyatt has high-functioning autism. We live on an acre in the Pacific Northwest with our two aussies and 5 chickens. It's not the Waltons, but it works! :)