This kitchen of mine that sucked me in does occasionally spit me out throughout the day...long enough for me to ricochet back-n-forth between homeschooling, being a room-mom for Lillie Anna's preschool class, managing the security desk at church and getting the kids to their extra-curricular activities (dance, piano, CBS, and our current sport of choice: soccer....soon to be followed up with football, volleyball and my all-time fave, swim team). My house is a wreck most of the time. End of story.
Chad is still running our business full-time and is seeing it continue to expand...he's a very busy guy but somehow manages to coach and/or assistant coach nearly every sport our kids play. I'm honestly not sure how he does it??...but boy am I grateful!! His presence at practice allows me much needed time at home to...lol...you guessed it...cook.
Our family had a small window of opportunity to travel to Disney a few weeks ago and grabbed it. We're not a crazy spontaneous family...at. all. We can't be! It usually takes me days to pack and prep for a trip due to having to shop, prepare safe snacks and meals for Lils and research safe restaurants along the way that we can stop at if need be. But I knew Disney/Orlando would have plenty of options, plus we're very familiar with the Whole Foods there,...so we packed up our car and headed out. The trip was lovely...we made sweet memories curled up on the couch laughing, and had such a fun time at Magic Kingdom...probably the best Disney trip we've ever made (and I say that with a heart FULL of gratitude!!). Amidst all the fun though, gluten still managed to rear it's ugly head...despite our careful planning and precautions. We ordered a pizza from a local restaurant we had eaten at before that had a delicious gluten-free menu. The last time we ate there, their gluten-free pizza only contained rice flour, so without asking questions, we ordered it and served it to her. Within 20 minutes, she became so violently ill that she couldn't even make it to the toilet. We were cleaning her up for several hours while she clutched her stomach groaning. We contacted the restaurant immediately and were told that their gluten-free menu had changed and that they now use corn starch, whereas before, they did not. It was OUR fault...not theirs...as her parents, it is OUR job to be those "
It's moments like that where I want to cry, but I don't. Good grief, someone has to be strong for this kid! Someone has to put a smile on her face and tell her it's going to be ok!...someone has to rub her back and look on her with compassion when she can't eat the cupcake her friends are eating...or the birthday cake at the party...or the Easter candy hidden inside each egg...or the snacks at church... This girl is stoic and strong, but I've seen her silently processing her sadness at not being able to eat the treats at school and recently witnessed her push her chair back from a table to crawl in my lap and lay her head on my chest when her peers were chowin' down on yummy b-day cake that she couldn't eat. All I can do is look her in the eyes and tell her it's ok...that I understand and love her more than life itself.
It could be worse, but I tearfully vented to Chad last night that this thing called gluten has consumed every single part of our lives and I hate it. The stress has affected our marriage and caused fights between the two of us that I never thought possible...it's exhausted us and drained us and caused us to worry over things we never in a million years would've imagined we'd worry about. The past few years we've found ourselves snapping at each other over unimportant things, slamming doors and turning our backs on issues that we just didn't have the energy to address. Honestly, we can only handle so much and isn't it in our human nature to try to do it in our own strength?!?! So many times I forget to cry out to God and hand my cares and concerns of this world to Him. I can just imagine Him waiting patiently with his hand outstretched...so ready for us to lift our head and recognize that He is the only One capable of giving us peace that surpasses our understanding. It's like I get sucked in to this vortex and round and round I go...a crazy train that I forget I can get off...all I have to do is drop to my knees and whisper "Jesus...TAKE this.". After 7 years of King Nebuchadnezzar living like an animal in the wilderness, all it took was Him lifting his eyes to the Heavens and acknowledging/understanding who God was, for his crazy train (literally) to come to an abrupt ending and to find restoration in his life and in his kingdom. Thank you God that our crazy train didn't last 7 years!!! Chad and I are out of the vortex...and let me just say -gosh I love this man and his unwillingness to give up...he loves me through and through and has proven that in more ways than I could or would ever share on such a public forum. God heard my soft quiet whispers for grace and instantly...I mean - INSTANTLY He began fortifying our marriage with His strength.
All that to say, gluten has tested us and tried us in so many ways...this goes far beyond a mere allergy. It's affected us all mentally and spiritually and emotionally...it's not just a physical "thing". But God in His continual goodness has not left us stranded or alone. He's given us this online community of families through whom I find encouragement. Fellow grain-free families who candidly share their lives via their blogs...they don't worry over people finding their random "ventings" melo-dramatic or ridiculous...they don't care if people not walking in their shoes simply can't relate or lack compassion. These blogs IMO are like a ministry...they encourage and motivate and build me up. When I read these random ramblings, I'm no longer standing outside a window holding my daughters hand wishing to be included...but rather, I feel I'm sitting at the table of a woman who first of all, has a plethora of food my daughter can eat ;-), and who "gets it"...and I told Chad when and if I get a chance to meet one of these blessings, I'm gonna kiss her right smack on the cheek! ;-)
So this is my life now...my beautiful, crazy, chaotic and...did I mention crazy?...life. I'm overwhelmed on a regular basis but I've learned an invaluable lesson that all I have to do is lift my eyes to God and He will take it....whatever "it" may be. Doesn't mean the allergy disappears...but the guilt and the stress and the angst...poof...be gone. :-) I love my husband, I love my children and I'm continually accepting and learning to love our new way of life. For those of you who are tired of hearing about gluten, I get it...I am too! lol! But in accepting our life, I am finding the courage to speak out on what it looks like. The good, the bad and the ugly. This is me...take it or leave it. :)
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”