Posts tagged #cancer

Does Your Princess or Knight Eat Too Much Sugar?

The holidays are just around the corner.  This means a battle with my will power and the endless sweets available.

My kids are just like me.  They eat too much sugar.  They crave it during the day.  They think about how to get more of it, either by baking themselves or raiding the cupboards when I am not looking.  Funny, I tried to teach them to curb the sweets all their life. The holidays are an excuse to overindulge.

Now battling cancer for so many years, I am not supposed to have any sugar.  I go through months without even fruit.  Then I breakdown and binge on sugar (honey, agave or organic cane sugar) for a weekend or a couple of weeks.  I know I shouldn’t, but honestly, it is really hard.

Sugar is so bad for me – for all of us.  We all know it.  In fact, cancer feeds off sugar.  One reason we love it is because sugar activates the reward centers of our brain.  This releases feel-good neurotransmitters, like dopamine and endorphins.  Sugar also helps shuttle the amino acid tryptophan into our brains that is converted into serotonin – this helps us feel calm.  No wonder when I am stressed with the kids or having an argument with my husband, I reach for a muffin or a scone!

I know I crave sugar when I should really be searching for the Lord in these situations.  I have uncovered a life-long idol in my life.  Food takes the place of God. 

My kids are learning and watching me. So we have an open dialogue about sugar and eating healthy.  You would think because I eat healthy my family does, too.  When I am struggling with my health, sometimes the easiest food is not the healthiest.  However, looking back over the last four years, I can see the changes I have made with our food choices.  I am really in charge of the food they eat, for the most part.  I shop. I cook. I am in charge of their daily food.

My kids all eat a variety of vegetables and fruit each day.  They will drink smoothies, eat seaweed and take their supplements.  But cutting out sugar continues to be a challenge.  I am taking an honest look at the holidays and putting into practice the steps here to help my kids eat less sugar starting with Thanksgiving.

Obviously, we can’t change all the parties and the feasts that happen this time of year, but we, as the moms, can change what we are doing at home.  We can open the lines of communication and help them see how much sugar is “allowable” for our bodies.

Here are a couple of practical tips for this time of year and for the new year to reduce the amount of sugar in your family’s diet.

• Read the nutrition labels

            When buying food, check out the labels.  Try to buy things with 3 grams of sugar or less.  If you have an option, go for the one with the less grams.  Kids should try to stay under 50-70 grams a day.  A big glass of 100% juice can be as much as 28 grams of sugar, so try to just be aware of how much sugar your kids are consuming.  We try to limit the kids’ drinks to one juice drink a day and go for water the rest of the time. Sodas are allowed only once in a while, when we are out.  I never buy them for the house.

• Learn sugar’s aliases

            Sugar can be listed under a variety of names.  High Fructose corn syrup, honey, cane syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, agave and maple syrup are all SUGAR!  Many processed foods will use a couple of these ingredients.  We have to be the detectives. Fake sweeteners are associated with weight gain and feed our desire for sweets.  They are also carcinogenic and do not belong in our kids’ food.  Leave those items with fake sweeteners on the shelf.

• Opt for unsweetened or less sweetened.

            You are in charge of holiday baking.  Buy ingredients that are labeled “no sugar added” or “unsweetened”.  Applesauce, baking chocolate, canned fruit, non-dairy milk (coconut, almond, etc) and nut butters are all available in unsweetened versions.  Also when baking, add less sugar than the recipe calls for.

•Be prepared for the parties

            I try to feed my kids before we head out for a holiday event.  This way they will be less likely to eat a bunch of junk.  Sure, I know they will still have the holiday cookies, but instead of eating 10 for dinner, they will only eat two because they are full.  I also bring snacks to eat in the car when we are running between events for the same reason. If I have to bring something to the party, I bring a healthy, fun option.  If you look on Pinterest or Google, there are plenty of healthy, fun options for the holidays.

•Don’t bring the junk into the house

            I am so nostalgic.  I see snowman shaped cookies and I think how much fun it would be for the kids to eat them.  I have to remind myself that they are going to eat PLENTY of fun food this time of year.  If I can establish a one sweet a day rule, then the kids can decide what they would like to have.  Most of the time, my kids like to wait for dessert after dinner.

As I look over this list, I think it is a good list of guidance for all of us, not just for the kids.  We don’t need to gain weight during the holidays, if we are just a little prepared and if we just exert a little self-control, we too can eat less sugar at the holidays this year.

“He will eat . . . honey at the (right) time.  He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good.  Isaiah 7:15
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~ Jeanna Young

When Jeanna is not writing, speaking, event planning, or homeschooling, she can be found scrapbooking her life, redecorating her home, loving on her husband, planning fun events for her kids or eating healthy to stay cancer-free!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month! 

I know most of you know that.  Pink ribbons are everywhere.  I love the awareness part, but not so much the pink ribbon.  Here is more information why.

Because the statistics say 1 out of 8 women reading this blog will have breast cancer in their lifetime, I feel called to share the things I have learned along the way. 85% of the women diagnosed have no family history of it. Having been a miracle two times now, I'd like to offer some ideas to reduce the risks to our bodies.

Are you at risk?

Are your hormones high?   Have your hormones checked next time you are getting blood work.  I never knew to do this and my hormones were 5 times the acceptable range when I had cancer.

Are you overweight?  I was. Ask yourself if you are more than 60 pounds over the weight you were at 18 years old.  Fatty tissue makes estrogen, so this will put you over your body’s desired amount for estrogen. Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly minimize your risks. 

Do you have dense breast tissue? A routine mammogram will discover what kind of breast tissue you have.  I recommend thermography instead, but either way, discuss your breast tissue with your doctor. 

Do you watch your environment and lifestyle?  How we eat, what we put on our bodies and how we live does largely affect our risk of breast cancer.   These are the biggest areas we can change. Exposure to solvents, plasticizers and other industrial chemicals in the products we use can increase our vulnerability.  Pesticide residue on the foods we eat is included in this.   

So avoid . . .

  • cigarette smoke (even smelling it)
  • processed foods (everything on the inside aisles of the grocery store)
  • hormone replacement therapy (that includes the pill)
  • more than one alcoholic beverage or cup of coffee a day (not my coffee!!!)
  • non-organic produce (eat mostly fruits and veggies!)
  • chemicals like parabens or BPA that mimic estrogen in products (check your shampoo, make-ups, lotions, etc)
  • stress in your life (learn to make margin)

I know it’s a long list, but if only someone had told me! 

God has a plan in all things and I believe, for me, it is my job to help inform you all!  God has given us many resources in this world to combat the evil of breast cancer.  Yes, I think it is evil and reminds me a lot of sin.  He has given us wonderful food to eat – his food that comes from trees and vines.  Not plastic man made food in colorful boxes.  He has given us iodine to rub on our thyroid or iodine pills to help regulate our estrogen.  He has made curcumin, grape seed extract and pomegranate supplements that help to reduce our risks.

I pray you will make the changes you need to so you will not be one of the eight. I believe God has given us everything we need to live this life.  I just wish I had known and changed sooner.  Praying for health for each of you reading this!

2 Peter 1:3 Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

 ~Jeanna Young

When Jeanna is not writing, speaking, event planning, or homeschooling, she can be found scrapbooking her life,  redecorating her home, loving on her husband,  planning fun events for her kids or eating healthy to stay cancer-free!

Finding the Silver Lining

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” James 1:2-4

How easy is it for you to find joy or the “silver lining” in every situation?

What exactly is a silver lining? 

Looking up into the sky right before a storm, I can often see dark clouds passing overhead. As they get into position and do their job of creating rain, they also block the sun. When I look closely at the edges of those ominous clouds, I can see the sun shining around the edges, like a silver lining.

Difficult times come to each of us.  As someone once said, “It is not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’ they will come”.  When the dismal clouds cover over your life, what do you do?

I continue to learn when trials come there is ALWAYS a silver lining.

Every time. 

I can find something to be grateful for.  During this difficult time of finding cancer again, I find it is easier to be less stressed than the first time.  We have done this before and we will do it again.  I find I am less hesitant to let people help me and I am more able to take the rest God is providing in the midst.

Here are a few things that keep me grounded and focusing on the “silver lining” during my times of trial:

  1. I journal gratefulness.  Each day, I make myself find 10 things to be grateful for.  They have to be “new every morning”, and I don’t allow myself to pull points from yesterday.  This God-inspired ritual helps me see the goodness in the midst of the pain.  I have had surgery and am recouping, but the silver lining is more time to spend with friends who visit and to rest with no agenda.  I have to eat a very simple fare - which is a challenge at times - but the silver lining is in eating the food God made for us, I am the weight I should be.  There is always something to be thankful for.
  2. I remember God’s miraculous power.  I was a miracle not once, but twice now.  As I study God’s word and live out the plan He has chosen for me, I find joy in seeing his miraculous power.  He is able to do anything.  I am grateful for the many answered prayers, but even in the unanswered prayers I am confident that He is God, no matter what.  The silver lining is being able remember who God is – His power, His goodness and His love.
  3. I get out in God’s beauty.  Nothing grounds me more than being in nature.  I feel connected to God’s majesty and to the ages past.  Nothing seems as big of a deal when I am sitting on the beach listening to the waves or hiking in the mountains near a waterfall.  Suddenly, my worries slip away, and I am able to focus on who God is and who I am not.  This is the silver lining found in trials.  A truth I often forget is: God never intended for me to take all my burdens on my shoulders.  He has it all under control.
  4. I seek out peace and tranquility.  For me, this is Sabbath rest.  To find a shalom in every day allows me to rest in who God is.  The silver lining of trials is that I seek this.  I crave it!  For me, it looks like a quiet house in the morning before I wake up, scrapbooking my family memories or a stolen coffee shop hour to study or write.  Peaceful times to hear what God is saying and hear my own heart’s worries in the light of His goodness.
  5. I embrace God’s community.  During difficult times, friends abound and rush to your side.  Nothing brings out the best in people like the “C” word.  In the past, I may have acted like I can do all things myself.  Now I allow myself to take the break when people give it.  To really love and embrace those who are wanting to pray for me.  I have a tendency to feel embarrassed that I always need to be prayed for.  It does get old.  But the silver lining in a trial is the blessing of Jesus’s hands and feet here on earth to help in these times.

These are my silver linings in the midst of cancer battle.  I just have to say this is a battle that the Lord is winning, too.  In my heart and mind, I am being transformed into more of who He wants me to be.  My body is healthy and fit.  I have no idea what the future holds, but, my friends, neither do you.  So take those times of difficulty today – a crying child, a health issue or a financial difficulty, and focus on the “silver lining”.  The evil one doesn’t like it when we do this.

What are ways you focus on the “good” in the midst of the “bad”?

5 Moment Makers with Your Kids

Do you ever feel like your day has flown by?  You think over your last 24 hours realizing you didn’t get done everything you need to do?  Then a little voice reminds you of all the bigger priorities you have overlooked.  You sigh and think “tomorrow”.

Over the years, with health issues, busyness of life and ministry opportunities, I am barely making it through the day sometimes.  Let alone, fulfilling all my top priorities and doing what I know God wants me to do.  Life just happens and often I am responding to some “emergency”.  My kids can be one of the priorities that get put on the “back burner”. Yes, I am feeding them, caring for their daily needs.  But my priority as a mom has been to feed their soul and tie their heartstrings to God.

My last months have been filled with doctor appointments, surgery, recovery and “self”.  Having cancer again has been a blessing, but also challenging again.  I find during this time, my kids can drift into the “abyss” of life.  Not only are they worried about me and withdrawing a bit, but their own life weighs heavy on their mind.  Starting high school, a new sport, losing a tooth and turning 13 are all “big” moments in my children’s lives in this season. 

How do I pull away from the stress of my season of life and focus? 

How do I keep my top priorities afloat when all around me is sinking?

As I sit and assess these questions, I realize, while right now is difficult, life has a way of always pulling me away from my top priorities.  I have to go back to the basics and think about how I can create “moments” with my kids.  I don’t want to just “spend time” with them.  I want to “create moments” with them.  Here are five ways I make those moments, steal those minutes and build bonding memories daily.

1.  Seize the Morning

If you house is anything like mine, everyone is going a different direction in the morning hours.  I have children going off to class, a husband leaving for work and others grumpy from a not-so-good sleep.  My first inclination is to attend to everyone’s physical needs – food, lunches, carpool, etc.  While this all needs to happen, I look for opportunities to love on them first thing – to grab a moment.  I climb into bed to gently wake a sleeping giant with hugs and kind words.  I hug them while they brush their teeth letting them know I believe in them.  I gather them early for a devotion at the breakfast table with a special meal. Or I simply walk them to the car with a prayer and a kiss.  Taking time and seizing the morning time sets us on a great course for the day.

2.  Snatch the First Impression

My dad had a habit of always smiling and catching his breath when he first would see me.  Whether I was coming home from school, getting up in the morning or seeing him for the first time that day, he would always have an incredible ability to make me feel like he had been waiting all day to see me.  I felt cherished and loved.  I learned as an adult my dad actually trained himself to do this.  What I saw as a devoted dad was really my dad making an effort to love me.  I can see his face etched in my mind smiling hello to me.  These are the pictures I want my kids to see of me.  So I learned this lesson from my dad - to pass on love to the next generation just remembering to be so excited to see them.

3.  Own the Inconvenient “Minute”

So often my children come to me wanting a minute of my time.  “Mommy, look at me!”  “Mom, can you come play?’  “Mommy, do you have a minute?”  I am busy doing something important on the computer, in the house or on the phone.  I miss the inconvenient minute that would become a “moment” in time.  Most of the time, my kids only really want a minute of my time, especially the little ones.  I can remember a time when my youngest son just wanted me to race a car with him.  It took all of two minutes to do what he wanted and then he was on this way.  Don’t reject these opportunities to create these little moments with your kids – own the inconvenience!

4.  Make Do with What You Have

I always feel like it has to be perfect.  Whatever it is.  This goes for making moments with my kids too.  I have learned during sickness to just grab the opportunity.  It may not look like I want it to, but it doesn’t matter.  I look at Jesus and some of his most profound moments were just doing daily life – eating, getting water, traveling.  Jesus used his opportunities where God put them.  In this season of life, I have been in bed a lot.  I have just invited my kids to join me there – in my recuperation.  Come do school, come read a book and come hang out with me was the message.  They don’t need to know it hurts and I have a headache.  They will just remember the special time together.

5.  Embrace the Nighttime Ritual

I am spent at the end of the day.  I just want them to go to bed at 7:00 like they did when they were 3.  Anyone else with me?  I know this is not what God wants from me.  I learned from Sally Clarkson that my kids will open up more at night than they do any other time of the day.  While it is easier to send the kids up to bed on their own now, I still take the time to put them to bed.  My goal each night is to have a “moment” with at least one of the kids.  I massage and tickle backs.  I crawl into beds and talk.  I sing and pray with them.  They ask questions and they tell me about their day and their dreams.  At this very challenging time of day for me, God blesses me with “moments” we will both remember.  So I encourage you to embrace the nighttime ritual as you seek to create time with your kids.

While I know I cannot do any – or all – of these things on my own accord, it is only through God’s strength and listening to the Holy Spirit that I can create “life-sustaining” moments with my kids.  I am too selfish, but God gives me the super-natural ability to be His hands, His feet and His hug to my kids.  In the midst of the hard times, I can rest in Him knowing He really does have it all under control.

How do you build “moments” with your kids into your life?

All Or Nothing Kind of Girl!

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,     and virtue with knowledge,     and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,     and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 2 Peter 1:5-7

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 2 Peter 1:5-7

I tend to be an all or nothing kind of girl. 

I am either “all in” or “terribly off”!   My whole life, modeled to me by my father, has been an ebb and flow of times completely disciplined to times of complete splurging.  Whether it is exercise, quiet times, eating, having fun, or studying, I can look back over my life and see this “generational” thread.  I can see the blessing and the curse of this way of living.

This summer I have been eating what I call the “Cancer Scare Diet”.  This form of eating is extreme, but has given me fantastic results in the past.  Not only that, but I look healthy, feel good and have lost weight!  There is a silver lining!  I eat most of the loving food God gave us to eat – minus, of course, wonderful fruit (too much sugar).  So I eat loads of veggies, seeds and nuts.  Kind of boring, I know.  But my taste buds have changed and it all does taste good to me.  Recently, I have added back in fish and occasionally white meat because I need amino acids for a treatment I have been doing.  So basically some would say I am eating “The Caveman Diet” or “The Adam and Eve diet”. 

Last Saturday after four months of food boredom and feeling a bit sorry for myself, I broke down and ate whatever sounded good to me.  I had potato chips, Pirate Booty, peanut butter, a health chocolate shake, chicken sandwich meat, and crackers.  A lot of all of this – in one sitting!  No sugar though!  I lacked self-control to the point of making myself physically ill.  I was a glutton, but… just … could … not … eat … another … vegetable!

The very next day, I paid for it – BIG time!  I got food poisoning.  For a full 24 hours, I felt the effects of my eating.  I could barely walk and I could barely make it to the bathroom quick enough – if you get the gist!  I saw the effects first hand of my lack of self-control and eating spree.  I had to miss a couple of fun activities with the kids and stay close to home.

I had been tempted by all the amazing food in my pantry the rest of my family eats!

I lost my will power – my self-control. 

Everything in me knew better, but I didn’t care.  Do you ever feel like that?  About food, money, thoughts, words, etc.?  James 4:17 says “To one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin”.  Yes, I sinned and in a word was a true glutton – one of the seven deadly sins.

Now, some of you, friends, would say to me, I am being a bit over-the-top.  I can have a day off now and then. Here is what the Lord taught me through this.  On this day, I made a choice.  I choose the things not good for my body, His temple.  My choices will not help my current “condition”.  I chose something I know as “wrong” and with the choice came consequences.  God in His infinite wisdom created “natural consequences” as a form of teaching us. 

Natural consequences become the helpful teaching time with my children, as well.  We have been reaping the benefits of this God-given parenting tool.  If you cut your hair with the play scissors, your bangs may take months to grow out.  If you take your iPad out of the case and it drops on the ground, it will break.  If you don’t take a jacket and it rains, you will get wet.  If you forget to study, you will get a failing grade on the test.  And so on . . .

So in my situation, I am the child and God is my Father.  If you eat the foods not designed for your body, they will do harm and you will be sick.

Did I learn my lesson?  Absolutely!  I am back eating veggies again.  I just decided to try to get some variation so I don’t get too bored, and this will help ease my temptations.  But during this time, I also heard God clearly that He wants me to heal.  My body is an amazing creation He made to heal itself.  I am standing on those promises.

I can see why self-control is in the long list of fruit of the Spirit.  Being an all or nothing kind of girl, I know I need all of the fruit to work together.  When I have self-control, I am patient, which makes me kinder and more gentle.  This leads me to be more loving to others (and myself) and helps me focus on goodness.  Bringing about a sense of joy and faith to usher me into the God-given peace I so desperately want.  And it all starts with self-control for me!

So in what ways have you lost your self-control?

What did you do to “bounce” back into the fruit of the Spirit?


Two Lies and One Truth

Do you ever wake up at 3:00 a.m. with restless thoughts??

Recently, I have had some health opportunities . . .

In 2011, I had breast cancer and God allowed me to be a medical miracle.  In the last five months, my cancer tumor markers have been going up.  I have tried everything I know on this earth to bring them back down (detoxes, eating raw, holistic intervention, etc).  They continue to climb . . .

As you can imagine, all of this has taken over my thought life.  I play through the scenarios in my mind and I just can’t let it go.  The What-If game plays nightly on my own special channel.  My nights (even though I know better) are caught up in worrying about the future at 3:00 a.m.

As I seek the Lord, in my worried state, I begin to see TWO LIES the Evil One throws at me:

  1. You show worry and be anxious because somehow that will change the outcome of your days.
  2. You can control the future and this current health challenge by every thing you do.

Lies, I tell you, lies of the enemy!!!  They come screaming in the middle of the night and I believe them in the moment.  “The cancer has spread.” “You won’t be here to see your kids graduate or get married” “You will have to do chemotherapy and get really sick”.  These are the voices I hear at 3:00 a.m.!

Here is THE TRUTH that replaces the lies!

God says: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). God takes care of the birds of the air and grass of the field (Matt. 6:26-30) Why don’t I think He is currently, in this health challenge, taking care of me?  He IS!!! 

God is teaching me so much about trusting Him TODAY!  Right in the midst of these thoughts, He is there.  God knew I would be here.  He knew I would have these opportunities and this given time in history.  Yet, he wrote these verses to encourage ME and YOU, in our moments, just like these.  My job is not to control things, but to rest and trust in God. 

God surrounds me with prayer warriors who lift me up during these difficult times.  They are all true angels here on earth.  I try to express how much it means to be prayed for, but no words can explain the blessing these prayer warriors are to me.  Since they have started praying for me, I have been sleeping through the night – every night.  Find yourself some prayer warriors for the journey.

When I worry at 3:00 a.m., I am sure to start praying – for myself, for others, for my kids, for my marriage, for the school year, for our pastor, for ministries I love, for our country, for friends in need – whatever and whoever the Lord brings to mind.  This combats the TWO LIES!!!

In the morning, I sit during my quiet time and give thanks for all God is doing!  I make lists after lists from big things to little things.  Being grateful and thankful fights the TWO LIES!!!

My current situation has not really changed.  My cancer markers continue to soar and my PET scan show cancerous activity.  I will undergo surgery on September 3rd to find the cancer, but I have an inner calm and peace about it.

We all have a choice to make in this life when we face difficult times.

The TWO LIES yell for our attention, but the ONE TRUTH supplies all our needs. 

What will you serve today – the god of worry and control OR the God who takes away worry and control. 

The choice is ours to make.  Choose wisely, friends!