World's Best

Okay, maybe I'm a little biased, only a little... We are blessed with some of the best men (and women) in our family. Two of the amazing men are my dad and husband. There seriously needs to be more people like them in this world. They are always willing to help others for nothing in return. Hearts of gold.
There's a ton more to say about all their wonderful qualities but I better not turn this post into a book. :)

My dad was away over the actual Father's day (being awarded national champ in a different state) so he received his gift a little late...
 Kaelyn had fun helping make/finish the shirt. Yes, I'm a design nerd and did the tag too. 
The little things are too fun!

Father's day around home was pretty quiet, but it was a good day with some family time.
I'm sure they get sick of me taking pictures, but I can't resist moments like this. ♥


Locks of Love

For the longest time Kaelyn was all against going to a hair salon and having her hair cut. She didn't want to sit still for me to do it either... so I've only actually cut her long hair length once! I guess it's a good thing she didn't grow hair until she was three. :)

Then there was a change of heart. I won't forget the day she came home from kindergarten and said she wanted to donate her hair to Locks of Love and she was ready to go to the hair salon at any time, the sooner the better. I had not mentioned Locks of Love before. She heard about it at school and knew it was something she really wanted to do. ♥
 After the craziness of our school and bible schools' schedule, we got it done. Thanks to Reflections Hair Salon in Brookings for working us in! Ten inches was donated. She's already talking about donating again.

This little girl has such a big, giving heart. I pray she will always stay this way.
So proud of her! ♥


Inspirational Horse Block

Last month I completed my horse drawing and made an art block out of it for a special graduate.
In a very subtle text I put this quote: 
"God made the horse from the breath of the wind, the beauty of the earth and the soul of an angel.
May they forever run with our hearts." ~Bonnie Piper

You can read the words easier in person; my quickly taken photos give you the idea.
These two photos show the protective clear finish I put on. I like giving blocks a fun painted texture. 
It adds another dimension.

Here's another look at the drawing when it was in progress...
I always think its fun to see drawings come alive.

Eventually I will get more of the horse blocks created. It's a fun project!


Going Against Doctors' Advice {Thyroid & Gut Health}

I've learned that it is often better to go with your own gut feeling rather than an "expert's" advice. In the health department, we know our own body better than anyone else. Here is my story in hopes that my journey will help someone dealing with similar health issues.

It has been four and a half years since dealing with secondary infertility and exactly four years since being diagnosed with Graves Disease and having my thyroid killed by radioactive iodine. I wish I would have gone with my gut feeling of following a natural, healthy diet alternative back then. (I actually blogged a little about this HERE.) I believe my journey would have been a lot smoother if I had.

Things started with a doctor visit for a sore throat. I ended up talking to her about fertility issues at that appointment and feeling that something was wrong. She quickly pushed that off and said I just needed to be patient. Before leaving the room I had a tremor which then made her decide to do a blood test to check my thyroid levels. Turned out I was significantly hyperthyroid and was rushed to a thyroid specialist where I was then diagnosed with Graves Disease. The specialist told me that the best and easiest solution was to kill the thyroid with radioactive iodine. When I asked if foods could help my situation he pretty much laughed at me and said no, it wouldn't make a difference. (RUN if any doctor says diet doesn't make a difference in any health situation!!!!) He proceeded to say killing the thyroid would be the best option for having more kids and that 6 months after the procedure he believed I would conceive easily. I didn't have much time at all to think about different options; my health was quickly declining. I hadn't even heard of thyroid issues before being diagnosed with hyperthyroid. When the specialist's nurse called me and said I needed to hurry and make a decision on treatment or I would become infertile for good it scared me. I ended up going with what my doctor suggested because he was the specialist who I thought knew what was best and I really wanted to grow our family. I'll never forget the day of the treatment. There was a nudging on my heart not to go through with it but I pushed the feeling aside. What a HUGE MISTAKE! After treatment you go hypothyroid which involves more issues. Not only have I not been able to have more kids but my health became much worse after treatment! The specialist was quick to push me on to a fertility specialist... as if that was going to fix all my problems. I was still hopeful at that time. But immediately after my husband and I visited the fertility specialist I hit rock bottom emotionally. The doctor should not have said some things he had that day... I pretty much felt like a squished ant! Turning Point... Thankful for God's grace, even after not listening to His nudging on my heart before the thyroid treatment, He still came through to pick me up. Finally I started to let Him lead me. He was all I had to turn to to lift me up. Looking back at the situation I believe God allowed me to make the mistake I did, to draw me closer to Him, to learn more about Him and trust Him and not someone else. This time when I felt the nudging not to go back to the fertility clinic I listened. I didn't go back to the thyroid specialist either. I had most of the health issues from before the thyroid treatment plus more and I needed help. My heart wasn't racing as bad but I still had body tremors, was losing weight no matter how much I ate, body aches, brain fog, stomach pains, weakness, hard to even climb a few stairs, fatigue, felt extremely cold, lumps, hormone imbalance... I went through a couple more doctors and a lot more tests... brain scans, countless blood tests, SIBO, cancer, the list goes on. All I wanted was to feel good, "normal", again. The doctor I ended up with did believe in natural alternative medicine plus western medicine. Since being with her she has diagnosed me with Celiac Disease, Leaky Gut, Candida, and hypochlorhydria. We are still working on the right thyroid prescription due to my many food intolerances. But better than any prescription I have ever been given, FOOD HAS BEEN THE BEST MEDICINE! (I've turned down more doctors recommendations like having lumps cut out and biopsied because I really believe food can heal me... and it is working!) It has been a ton of work on my part to eliminate foods, entirely change my diet and learn to cook good, organic food. I was never one to spend much time in the kitchen and now a big part of my day is spent there. It has been a rough road both emotionally and physically; one I would never want to repeat and one I wouldn't wish upon another.

The biggest lessons I have learned is:
* Find the root cause for your health issue. Don't let a doctor simply treat the surface problem or you may have bigger health issues coming your way.
* Most if not all health issues start with the gut. Keep in mind what you are feeding it. Eat healthy, organic food. Food is the best medicine!
* With food being the best medicine you have to know what foods are toxic to your body. Sugar is poison for everyone. I had been a sugar lover so know how hard it is to give up. It is addicting! Be sure to limit your amounts if you don't cut it out completely.
* Find out if you have food intolerances. Take out a food group for a minimum of 2 weeks then bring it back in and see if you feel any different. (dairy, gluten/wheat, eggs, corn, fructose, nightshades, nuts and seeds)
* Don't have your thyroid killed without researching the risks of it. Many people who have had their thyroid out are struggling with several health issues. Whether it is trying to find the right dosage of medication or the brand (synthetic or natural) that will work the best with their body, they have to take at least one prescription for the rest of their life and be dependent on a doctor and pharmacy for this. You don't even know what fillers are being put into your medications! You will also be having lots of blood tests for the rest of your life to make sure thyroid levels are normal. Tons of fun I tell you.
* Secondary infertility can be a blessing in disguise. It can be your body telling you it isn't healthy enough to create another child. You don't want health issues passed on to your child. It would break my heart to see my child suffer.
* Prayer and time with God and His Word can be very uplifting. You can find hope with Him and allow Him to guide your heart. I often have to remind myself, "With God all things are possible." Mathew 19:26 This message keeps me going.

Currently I am still working on regaining my health. I believe I am doing more healing now than struggling which is exciting and gives me hope for good things to come! I'm working on getting my stomach acid up so my body can really use the good nutrients I'm giving it. I'm also trying a natural thyroid medication rather than a synthetic prescription. (Most doctors give patients the cheaper synthetic drug that has more fillers so you may want to look into other options if you are having issues.)

I want to say a special thank you to the blog reader who sent me a thoughtful email sharing some of her similar health struggles. You pushed me to finally get my story posted and you gave me even more determination on fighting my illness and overcoming it. I don't want others to struggle the way we have!

If you have suffered with any of the health issues above and know things that have helped you, 
please share in a comment. You may help and inspire someone else!

More health and foods posts will be coming!


Catching my Breath

It has been a bit exhausting around here, but I guess that is good. That means I'm feeling well enough to get a lot done. Finally today I have a little time to catch my breath.

I have so many blog post ideas and things I want to share but just haven't had the time. Hopefully I can eventually get to sharing more health and art posts with all of you.

This is just a little bit of what I've been up to...

busy in the art room. Lots of projects going on and many hours spent on these bags.
Had to test one out. Worked good. :)

While I was working, K went fishing with the boys. (Her grandpa and dad.)
She caught 2 huge northern!

She thought it was pretty cool to catch dinner and feed her family for free. Yes, it was all free, she even got her own bait... dead minnows from the lake. Worked like a charm. Tasted great and she never felt bad for eating the monsters. :)
Other than working on design projects and work orders, I've been busing co-leading close to 60 VBS kids in crafts, hosting a church/bible study class weekly at our house, getting our vegetable garden in, cleaning out our strawberry patch, painting group, several kids are always stopping by, K's been going to her second Bible school event and of course there is still a lot of time spent cooking healthy meals. So that is just a bit of our craziness lately and why I haven't been a better blogger.
Hope your summer has been off to a good start. We are sure enjoying the warmer weather!