Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Journey With Mary

To properly tell this story I must go back a few years first. No not that many years, just almost twenty. The year was 1996, and I had just turned 5. I didn't know it then, but I was sitting in my future Mother-In-Law's Kindergarten class at the little private Christian school I attended.
December came around and we were going to put on a little nativity, just us kindergarteners for that year's Christmas play.

My best friend and I (Who coincidentaly is still one of my dearest friends), had ,had a rivalry going on all year, and this moment was no different. Both of us knew we were contenders for the part of Mary, and the competition was fierce.
This was a year or two later when we got along just a little bit better. lol!

The day came when we were to find out our parts, and written on the chalkboard was easch of our names and the part we had been given.

But there at the top was something that set my little heart to anger, Jessica's name next to the part of Mary, and mine but a lowly angel.

Well I just decided I'd fix that, surely there had been a mistake! Mrs. G. left the room and I promptly pulled a chair over to the blackboard and switched our names in my large, uneven, childish script.
I'll never forget my beloved teacher's reaction, though. Instead of anger, or punnishment, she simply explained to me the importance of the angel Gabriel, and the part that he played in delivering the good news.

I supposed after that, that I could endure the part, for her sake mostly.

Now fast foreward back to 2015. This year our church decided to put on a little nativity for the children's service. A very simple affair with Mary and Joseph, a Manger, and the three wise men. Naturally, being 8 months along myself, I was asked to play the part of Mary. I couldn't help but feel a little thrill of excitement, twenty years later and It would be my name on the black board!
But today I must admit, it was a different feeling all together.

The one silly selfie I got to send to Jessica. (Captioned "Nanny Nanny Boo boo")

There was a flurry of silly costumes, and a sad female baby doll wrapped in a towel, but I couldn't help but be awed by it all.

As this mother, "Great with Child" was escorted down the aisle by my husband, I began to tear up.
I imagined Mary, a much younger girl than myself, being told that she would have a child out of wedlock, in a time when that meant almost certain death. I can imagine being completely overwhelmed by it. Having to tell Joseph, her parent's, her friends.

I can imagine the relief that Joseph believed her, having been told himself, but still having the humiliation of the community looking down on her, shunning her, maybe even hating her.
I imagined that later, just when her time was upon her, ready and scared to death of bearing her first child, being told by a distant monarch that she had to leave everything familiar to her and go to a place she had possibly never seen before.

I thought of how blessed I am to be able to look foreward to giving birth in a clean hospital environment with kind and knowledgable nurses and doctors, ready and waiting if anything goes wrong, and I imagined how frightened she must have been. Feeling the beginnings of her pain and not being able to find a place to stay, and finally being offered a place in a barn, the dirtiest place in the world.

But then as I sat down next to that manger and sad looking baby doll, I watched the "Wise Men" come down the aisle and lay their gifts before it. Though I know they came later, the shepherds still came that night. I can't imagine how awestruck Mary and Josheph must have felt that night. People came to worship this tiny baby that had been hated and shunned since the moment it was conceived, but this child would soon save the world, one heart at a time.

Oh yes, it was a powerful feeling.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

How NOT to Treat Someone With a Food Allergy recently joined up with my local "MOPS" group, here in my new town. It has been such a blessing and I'm so glad I took the plunge to find out more about it!

But that's not why I'm posting. At our bi-weekly meetings one or two of the ladies will bring a few light breakfast items for all to enjoy while we're there. Because of my gluten intolerance, I tend to go into meal gatherings with a grain of salt. I usually eat before hand, and then if I find something I can have, I'll have just a little to keep from seeming rude. At the last meeting my allergy finally came to light as I had to decline to take any of it home with me.

This morning I was amazed to find that the two ladies who brought breakfast this morning not only remembered my allergy, but made sure they had something I could eat! (If you're reading this, Thank you all so much!! I can't tell you what it meant!!)

It took me until I got home to realize why I was so overwhelmingly grateful. For the rest of this post I'm going to explain why. This morning was a rarity, normally I don't get treated like that. So here are some tips for how NOT to treat someone with an allergy.
1. Don't treat it like a fad.
This may not happen with the more dangerous allergies like peanuts or shellfish, but it happens quite often with Gluten. I have a lot of friends that are Celiac, which  is a more intense version than what I have, and most have stated hearing the same reaction. Too many people have heard of a gluten free diet and are following it simply because of the craze. It really won't help you lose weight, that's still going to be carbs and sugar and a gluten free diet won't necessarily keep you away from those two. You may even gain weight.

But that's beside the point, The Fad is making those of us with an allergy look crazy. Walk into a restaurant, ask for the gluten free menu, and watch the waitress sigh. My Celiac friends then have to further inconvenience the staff by asking that special care be taken with their food. Clean utensils, separate preparation space, ect. If even the tiniest amount of gluten gets in their system they could get very sick. So, no, it is not a fad for us.

2. Don't treat it like an inconvenience. one goes along with the one above. I'll Start by saying I am NOT a picky eater. I'll try anything once.... well almost anything. Anyways, before I found out I was intolerant, I prided myself in being able to find something at any restaurant, that way no matter where someone wanted to go, I wasn't a bother. Now I have to be. There are some places that no matter how carefully I choose I get sick. There are other places that I simply cannot make work, there's just nothing that isn't breaded, or slathered in a sauce I can't eat. This has actually cut out a few places that I used to absolutely love, which is no fun I tell you!

So believe me when I say, I know it's an inconvenience when everyone wants to go to the Olive Garden and I have to say no. I would LOVE to be able to go and have Alfredo and bread-sticks with everyone, but I can't. It's also no fun to go and just have coffee... The staff kind of look at you funny when you do that.

So please don't sigh, I really can't help it!

3. Don't treat it like a contagious disease.
Now, here's the other extreme. There are people that are too cautious, at least in my opinion. Unlike the more severe food allergies, my personal symptoms when I eat wheat are not life threatening. I get a severe headache, a runny nose, I sometimes get sick to my stomach, but in the short term, it probably won't kill me. A celiac will have those ten times worse among others, but for the most part, they still won't go into shock and die. You also cannot catch it from me. I may try to convince you to get checked for it, if I see symptoms that are similar to my own, but that doesn't guarantee that I'm right.

You can also eat gluten free food! A baked potato is gluten free, so are all other fruits and vegetables, so you have already eaten gluten free food in your lifetime. As for the items such as pasta and soups that have to be made with a different kind of flour, manufacturers really are getting better at it. You can hardly tell the difference! If I or someone else have put gluten free food on the table, Go for it! I'll be glad to know what you think! It's not some kind of kibble that poor little old me is forced to eat. I also certainly can't eat the entire dish myself, don't be afraid to take a helping.

4. Lastly, DO make the effort. I said above, I can't tell you how much it means to me when you try! You have gone the distance! I don't have to be the outsider at the meal! I don't have to have made it myself from scratch!! You're awesome!! It's a complete and utter luxury, and be sure I will repay you somehow! Grocery stores are making it easier and easier to find things that I can eat. A lot of them will have a little label on the shelf. The back of the package will also have an allergy label beneath the ingredients. The allergens will be listed in bold.  I always say that I can eat anything I like, I just have to go back and make it from scratch. Which sounds complicated, but not so much anymore, there are mixes, and ready made items already on the shelves. Have a recipe you like, but it calls for a tablespoon of flour? Just use a gluten free version, I like "Bob's Red Mill," which I can get at Big Lots for a fraction of the cost of anywhere else.

Anyways, to wrap it up, a gluten free life is really not all that bad. It takes an extra effort sometimes, and others one has to be the odd man out, but in the end, it's not a bad thing. It will teach you patience, and discipline, and... well... how to cook from scratch. To use the old adage, a person with an allergy is no different than anyone else, there are just things we can't eat. We don't mean to be an inconvenience, and we don't mean to sound rude, so please be kind. We really do appreciate it.

Much Love!