Be Totally Fit for Life!

 For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 NIV

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The posts on this website are for informational purposes only. Please, check with your health care provider before trying any new exercise or weight loss program. You will find articles about health, nutrition, exercise, relationships, Christian wellness, self-image, the Bible, and hazards of the New Age movement prevalent in the general health, fitness, and wellness communities. My hope is to encourage you on your journey to total health as you live out your Christian faith.

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Active Couple Time = Stronger Bond

Posted on June 19, 2020 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)


Image by Everton Vila @evertonvila on Unsplash.


This is an Encore! post from 2017.


I'm not sure if I shared why my hubby decided to ask me out, but here it is: I love to bike- that is, ride a bicycle. You see, after my first husband died, I made a five-year plan for myself. Because my first husband wasn't much for exercise or physical activity, one of the goals I had on my list was to begin riding a bicycle on the bike trails. My first husband was a sweetheart, but I struggled with not doing physical activities together. This time around, I wanted someone who would ride a bike with me. After being single for almost a year, I decided to date again. The local dating scene was overwhelming, which made internet dating appealing. I decided that everyone on a dating website is looking for someone, so I joined a couple. I sat down at my computer to write my profile. I included cycling in my list of activities I enjoyed. After several dates that turned into disappointments, I reluctantly checked the messages in my inbox one evening. Much to my surprise, I found an exuberant message that set me back, "If your profile is true, we've GOT to meet!!!" I found out later that my now-hubby was surprised to see riding on bike trails as one of my hobbies. He liked all of what he saw in my profile, but the cycling was a bonus. This is one of the activities we enjoy doing together today.


 

On a later date in his area, he decided to take me out for a ride to Lexington Harbor near Lake Huron. Please, remember my goal was to BEGIN to ride on the bike trails. I was still getting my "training wheels" going. He had two bicycles: one was a European touring bike meant for long backpack trips, and a lightweight older long-distance bike with a very hard leather-covered seat. Guess what this girl with fibro got to ride. Yep! I was scared to death that I would get left in his dust. It turned out he was left in mine. I pedaled my heart out, thinking he was right on my back fender, yet it turned out he was a long way behind me huffing and puffing to keep up! No, he wasn't out of shape; in fact, he was a runner with high cardio endurance. He was just shocked at my speed. I was shocked that I left him that far behind. My backside hurt so bad from that hard seat.


All in all, we can laugh about it now. We've ridden that same route a few times since. Now, I take my own bike. I keep telling him he makes my heart pitter-patter when he goes cycling with me because he does. Cycling is one of the many activities we love to do as a couple. Doing physical activities you both enjoy will help make the bond between you stronger. It certainly has for us.


 

Be a Dynamic Duo


 

If you both need to manage health conditions or want to be healthy in tandem, do physical activities together you both enjoy. These can be some of your best dates. Yes, work up a sweat together! Here are a few suggestions about physical activities and exercise with dating or marriage relationships:


 

1. Focus on the activities you both like and leave the ones only you like for your own time. We both love cycling and walking together, so we do these regularly. My Boaz hates swimming and working out in the gym. My first husband would walk with me or aqua jog in an aqua belt with me, but that was about it. If you have to drag him or her reluctantly behind, it will only cause frustration, which leads to arguments.


 

2. If you don't know, explore some that sound interesting to both of you. We've talked about taking dance lessons together when my hubby retires. We also discussed canoeing or kayaking, although we haven't done them together yet. Discuss what sounds exciting and give it a try. If you both like it, keep it. If you don't, then drop it. Super simple.


 

3. Make a list of these activities you both like and prioritize your list. Write down what you both want to do, then put a priority order on them beginning with the ones you are willing to do regularly. Stick with the top two or three, or rotate through your playlist.


 

4. Exercise together will help you both enjoy staying healthy and maintain a healthy weight. We both have Fitbits and use the MapMyRun app on my phone to record mileage, time, and calories burned. By looking at the stats together, it gives us accountability to each other, but neither one is each other's "trainer." Exercise is much like play, so consider it your Play Date. Don't be your sweetheart's trainer. Nope.


 

5. Schedule regular activity date times. We try to cycle weekly to bi-weekly depending on weather and other events on our schedule. We also try to walk together a couple of times a week. If you know you will be doing these together regularly, it gives you both a time to anticipate.


 

6. Talk about the highlights of what you did afterward. We discovered a new part of the trail this time, so we explored, then decided we wouldn't do the graveled part again. The dust gets into the gears, which could ruin them. We also didn't like so many traffic intersections because we couldn't get a good pace and keep it. But we did like the scenery like the river with small falls and the wildflowers. Discuss the highs and lows, then plan for the next time.


 

7. Don't spend a lot of money. We already had our bikes separately, and he already had the bike rack. The only money we spend is for the gas to get to the trails and something to drink afterward. If you budget for your activity like any other date (you do still date each other, don't you?), you can avoid arguments over the money. Money is one of the most divisive areas couples argue over. Be lovers, not fighters!


 

Spending fun, active time together will help you build a stronger bond between you. You can also stay healthy for each other for a longer, happier, more active marriage.


 

Discussion starter: What physical activity will you share this week?


 

May God bless you both!


 

New Image 2020: Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

 

 

Walking through a Minefield: Managing Safe Practices with Chronic Illness

Posted on May 22, 2020 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (2)


Photo by Wonderlane on Unsplash


Thank you for continuing with me this month as I’ve focused on specific health conditions. I hope you have been encouraged, or someone you know. with fibromyalgia, autoimmune diseases like Mixed Connective Tissue Disease, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Celiac Disease, and many other chronic pain and fatigue conditions.  I've received some positive responses from a number of people on social media throughout the month. My hope is to create a greater understanding through the blog posts and memes.


The most significant concern on a lot of people’s minds is how to move forward as states begin to slowly open up. Please, consult with your healthcare provider about your concerns because this post is for informational purposes only. I will share what it’s been like for me and what my own plans are.


Yesterday, I went to the grocery store because I was tired of having to schedule my grocery curbside pick up for more than a whole week ahead. Not only that, I only received about one half of my order, since giving the store acceptable substitutes with my allergies was difficult. I only needed a few items, so I shopped in the early afternoon. Much to my dismay, many shoppers in the store didn’t wear masks. Several did. Some employees had masks either around their necks or below their noses as they stood gabbing in the aisles with each other. I found myself feeling a bit paranoid wearing the N-95 mask I use when I have to deal with my dust mite allergy. Thankfully, I could dodge and weave around these brazen individuals. One, in particular, was a 30-something woman who seemed unconcerned about social distancing. I, on the other hand, was determined to maintain it or boldly tell her to back away. I was successful, but it was so disheartening that people like this are more concerned about their freedoms than helping everyone stay safe from COVID-19.


Moving Forward with Caution


Attitudes here in Michigan aren’t favorable with the Stay-at-Home Orders our Governor made. Neither is the progressive opening of our state accepted with open arms. The rebellious self-focus greatly concerns me. I do sympathize with those who have lost incomes, but churches and emergency systems are available for them. How many people have to die before the reality of this virus finally sinks in? Cancer patients with low white cell counts, people with HIV, and those on immunosuppressants are at significant risk. So are people with breathing problems, heart disease, obesity, and more. I suppose it will be a matter of time before it personally affects them. For us, we are already keenly aware of our mortality. I, for one, will proceed with caution because it will be like walking through a minefield.


As a first responder, I can attest that specific masks and gloves protect not only the wearer but also the people around them. We were well-trained to be careful of blood-borne pathogens. Blood can spew into the air with some wounds. We had to assume everyone had HIV, SARS, and other scary diseases. These viruses also spread through saliva. People spit when they talk.Those droplets are small most of the time, but a good mask with filtration reduces the risk of being infected or infecting someone else. Cloth face covers like neck gaiters are not good protection. I will continue wearing a mask in public until the all-clear has sounded by those monitoring the Coronvirus activity. I just saw a Menards ad that has filtration masks in boxes of 50. They limit two boxes per customer. These masks can be effective if the sides don’t gape. If they do, then a cloth, like a large handkerchief or neck gaiter, would help. I’m considering a face shield to prevent getting this awful virus as more people go without masks in public. Paranoid? Maybe, but safe it good when so many people have the illness without showing symptoms.


As far as the gloves go, if you put them on correctly, you don’t share your germs, but the viruses that are already in your surroundings. In the case of the store, if you put them on just before you go in, anything you touch in the store that has germs are the germs that spread. The people without them are sharing their own and what is already there. If COVID-19 is present, you want to leave it in the store. Click here to see how to properly remove gloves https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxfbYvbtH4k. Toss the gloves in the trash outside the store, or put in plastic bag and tie handles together to toss in your trash that goes out to the curb. Sanitize your hands before you touch your door handle or steering wheel. Use sanitizing wipes on your purse, wallet, car door handles and anything else you touched. Sanitize everything you bought, let it sit for a while in the garage or entry way before taking into your home. Be careful with your mail and packages. We wipe everything down with a sanitizing wipe or spritz with rubbing alcohol allowing to dry before opening and bringing it into our home. This is the plan we’ve followed at our house and will continue to follow.


How to Find Peace in Chaos


Even though I know Jesus as my Savior and know I will spend eternity with Him when I die, I don’t feel ready to die. I want to see my grandchildren grow up and start families of their own. I want to see my Boaz enjoy retirement. I don’t want him to lose me early, but grow old together. I want my mother to see Jesus, not another one of her children die before her time to go. I don’t want my adult children to lose another parent too early. Their grief would be unbearable. I want to publish the books I’ve started. There are many more moments with family and friends I want to enjoy before I go. Of course, God has numbered our days (Psalm 39:4-7). He is God. May He calm our fears so we might use wisdom in this Pandemic shining the Light of Jesus in this dark world. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10. Be calm while practicing due diligence. We have hope with no need to fear. Lord Jesus, protect us and calm our hearts that we may walk wisely in this craziness. In Your Name, Amen.

 


Resources for Consideration:


Wearing A Mask To Reduce The Spread Of Coronavirus Will Not Give You Carbon Dioxide Poisoning by Victoria Forster. Forbes.com. May 12, 2020.


 

COVID-19: How much protection do face masks offer? by Mayo Clinic Staff. Mayo Clinic. May 19, 2020.

 

 


Face shields a more effective deterrent to COVID? by E.J. Mundell. WebMD. April 30, 2020.


https://www.consumerreports.org/food-shopping/how-to-protect-yourself-from-coronavirus-when-grocery-shopping/" target="_blank">How to Protect Yourself From Coronavirus When Grocery Shopping by Toby Stanger. Consumer Reports. April 30,2020.

 


Here’s How to Clean Your Groceries During the COVID-19 Outbreak by Written by Shawn Radcliff. Healthline.com. March 30, 2020.

 


 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): What People With Asthma Need to Know, by Allergy and Athma Foundation of America. May21 ,2020.

 

 

Managing Sun Sensitivity in Autoimmune Diseases

Posted on May 15, 2020 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Image by Alicia on Pixabay.

(Also Preventing Melanoma for Skin Cancer Awareness)


 

I’ve been sun sensitive since I was a teenager, before the advent of sunscreen. Remember that baby oil tanning? Whoa! I’m surprised we survived that experience! I used to break out in a terrible red itchy, burny rash wherever my skin was exposed to the sun. They used to call it sun poisoning. At any rate, when sunscreen came out, it helped for short durations. Then UPF 30 was awesome! I could stay out in the sun longer without a rash or burn. Not any more. In fact, I came back into the house yesterday after working in the garden, feeling utter exhaustion before I usually should. Why? I think my jeans and garden gloves didn’t keep out enough of the UVA/UVB rays from the sun, but I know my UV protective shirt, hat, and sunglasses did their job. Sun sensitivity is a huge issue.


As for the “photo” part, I’ve always sneezed when the sun gets in my eyes. Within the past few years, I noticed visual sensitivity to certain types of light and sunlight. Where I am around a lot of fluorescent lighting, an abundance of twinkle lights in Christmas displays, and lengthy exposure to bright sunlight-- even with my Transitions lenses-- I get visual distortion that drains me of energy which causes brain fog. When it’s terrible, I feel an awful sensation around my heart. Sometimes, I have terrible migraines from these. So, I’ve had to take drastic action to prevent additional symptoms from taking up residence damaging my body. This same issue is true for so many people with autoimmune diseases.


The Lowdown on Sun- and Photo-Sensitivity


People with fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases, especially lupus, scleroderma, and mixed connective (collagen vascular) disease, are often sensitive to the sun’s UV rays and some types of light. Certain medications can cause sensitivity, like chemotherapy for cancer and meds for autoimmune conditions. People who have melanoma and other forms of skin cancer must avoid exposure to the sun to prevent the re-occurrence of skin cancer. A lack of certain vitamins can also cause light sensitivity. It is our immune system’s response to these light sources that trigger an adverse reaction.

For people with autoimmune disease, it can often trigger a flare that attacks the skin, eyes, and some organs even long after the sun exposure is passed (Benaroya Research). For someone like me, my body’s response to sun exposure can lead to the development of another autoimmune disease. It could also turn the current symptoms of lupus and scleroderma into a full-blown development of one of these diseases. When my doctor told me to AVOID THE SUN, he wasn’t kidding! 


Coping with Photo-Sensitivity


I’m certainly not a pro yet when it comes to handling sun exposure gracefully. I have learned and implemented several sun survival strategies that may be beneficial to anyone who needs to avoid the damaging effects of the sun’s rays.


1. Cover up. The notion of smearing my whole body in sunscreen after my morning shower isn’t enticing. First, it feels greasy no matter what the sunscreen companies do to prevent it. Second, sunscreen, especially using a good sunscreen SPF 50 and higher year around. So, I discovered UPF (sun protective) clothing. At first, the prices were scary until I found different outlets and discount shopping websites. I found UPF 30-50 clothing, with fabric specially treated, to block out 95%+ of the UVA/UVB rays of the sun. Many are moisture-wicking and cooling. I’ve slowly added to my stock of hats, gloves, neck gaiters, shirts, pants, and a couple of dresses. When I researched the effectiveness of these fabrics against regular clothing fabrics, they are more effective than your basic long sleeve t-shirt (NIH). However, the NIH found that Hanes Beefy t-shirts are just effective at blocking the sun’s rays. Can you imagine wearing one of those with your jeans in July and August? No, thanks! A list of companies is provided with links below. By the way, you will have to wear sunscreen on any areas of your body exposed to the sun.


2. Protect those eyes. Your basic polarized shades are usually adequate, but for someone like me, there isn’t enough coverage. Sunlight gets into your eyes from around the frames. You could buy those ugly sunglasses older adults have to wear when they’ve had cataract surgery, but there are some great alternatives. I found mine at Walmart in the accessories department with larger lenses, wider sides, and stylish. They are full spectrum protective and fit over regular glasses without looking weird. A few brands are listed below with links.


3. Slather up. No. I repeat, No, baby oil!!!! Instead, using a full-spectrum sunscreen of 50+ is imperative for those with sun sensitivity. Chemical-based and light-reflective types abound. Some people love the ones with zinc oxide, while others hate it. You have so many brands available at differing price points. It’s easy to find one. Don’t forget the backs of ears, finger and toenails, lips, and bottoms of feet – if you are lounging by a pool.


4. Portable shade. I was impressed by how many people in Hawaii carried their shade with them—an umbrella. I call them sunbrellas. Do you remember the Victorian parasol? Those ladies were onto something! Now there are umbrellas with UPF 50+. Many of these can be found in your local discount stores, like Walmart, Amazon, and more.


5. Enhance your environment. As much as I love the view of nature from my large kitchen window, it is also a challenge in the afternoon. The sun streams in. Although windows have some UV light filtering capability, they don’t keep out the UVB. Your car windows also don’t have adequate UV light protection. There are many types of shades and curtains available that you can put up for your home windows. A special UV window tinting and clings for your car windows can also help.


As you find ways to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV light, you will also protect yourself from skin cancer, an essential factor for anyone. The founder of UV Skinz shares on the website that she lost her husband to melanoma, so she started a clothing company to help people prevent skin cancer. We could all use precautions against something so preventable.I would love to hear how you protect yourself from the sun and other photosensitive issues vital to you. If you found something valuable here, I would love to hear from you! May God bless you!


UPF Clothing Companies


NOTE: I do not have affiliate links for any of these. Actually, I don’t have any affiliate links at all, so I receive nothing if you choose to buy from them.

Columbia www.columbia.com  To find, simply type UV or Sun protective clothing in the search bar, or you can click on “benefit” and check sun protection. Sign up to become a member and get discounts, rack up points for $ off, etc.

Land’s End www.landsend.com Search for UV protective clothing to find what they offer, which is a reasonable amount

UV Skinz www.uvskinz.com Sign up for their emails to get a discount on your first order.

Vapor Apparel www.vaporapparel.com I’m more acquainted with their products through Amazon and Walmart.com, but it looks like a good, fair-priced company.

Coolibar www.coolibar.com Sign up for their emails and get a discount off your first order.

Solbari www.solbari.com This is one of the more expensive companies, although not the most costly. Sign up for their emails to get a small discount. I ordered their products from Amazon.com.

Duluth Trading Company www.duluthtrading.com I like this company for more durable clothing. You will need to search for UV protective clothing to find what they offer, which is quite a bit. Sign up for their emails to get discounts, sales, and free shipping.

Dick's Sporting Goods www.dickssportinggoods.com They carry UV protective clothing as well. Type UV protective clothing in the search.


Sunglasses with excellent coverage, full-spectrum protection


Check here for more information about what to look for in sun-protective eyewear https://fsastore.com/learn/eligibility/how-to-choose-the-best-sun-protective-sunglasses

Solar Shield www.solarshield.com and Walmart.com I bought my sunglasses from Solar Sheild for around $20 a pair at Walmart.

Coolibar https://www.coolibar.com/accessories/sunglasses.html

Foster Grant www.fostergrant.com

Panama Jack https://panamajack.com/collections/sunglasses


 

As for Windows in your home or car, check with Home Depot, Lowes, Menards, Auto Zone, and Walmart. I haven’t bought any yet, but I am looking for my home windows.


Resources for More Information:


Lupus Foundation of America https://www.lupus.org/search?_limit=10&_page=1&keywords=sun%20sensitivity&_sort=relevance&language=en

Kaleidoscope Fighting Lupus https://kaleidoscopefightinglupus.org/lupus-and-photosensitivity-when-the-sun-is-your-enemy-2/

Scleroderma News https://sclerodermanews.com/blog/2016/07/22/the-magic-of-summer/

Skin Cancer Foundation https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-prevention/sun-protection/sun-protective-clothing/

Benaroya Research https://www.benaroyaresearch.org/blog/post/getting-outside-summer-autoimmune-diseases

 

 


 















Autoimmune Diseases: Sorting Out the Pieces

Posted on May 7, 2020 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash


At the beginning of the Coronavirus Crisis, too much grabbed our time and attention that I found it challenging to focus on any particular health condition in March of April. So, I’ve decided to cover several in May to help you not only understand more about these conditions but share ideas about how to manage them better, if you have any of these. The original article, “Multiple Health Conditions: Sorting the Missing Pieces,” appeared as a Story on The Mighty. In this post, I share my own story to illustrate the difficulty so many people with autoimmune disease and fibromyalgia go through to get the help they need. It is often fraught with frustration, misunderstanding, and begin treated like a hypochondriac. If you are one of those people, there is hope. 


Can you imagine how disturbing it would be to try to put a giant puzzle together only to discover not all the pieces belong to the same puzzle? It was frustrating for me, my family, and my doctors attempting to sort out the symptoms of my various illnesses. Huge frustration. My doctor seemed annoyed with yet another question about an odd symptom. She rolled her eyes. “Look, fibromyalgia is like that. You will find your new normal.” With a quick note on her iPad, she ushered me out to the counter. I felt like my concerns didn’t matter. Mysterious symptoms unrelated to fibromyalgia plagued me: muscle spasms in my heart, purplish-hot, swollen fingers and toes, visual distortions, an odd rash resembling ringworm, and more. Little did I know some of these pieces belonged to different puzzles in my body.


Sorting through the Pieces


We wanted to visit our kids and grandkids a few years ago. My hubby and I decided to fly his single-engine plane from Michigan to New Mexico, then Colorado, to see them. Periodically, I felt the uncontrollable urge to fall asleep for no apparent reason. I was a bit dehydrated, having to watch fluid intake since there isn’t a rest stop at the nearest cloud. On the route between New Mexico and Colorado, more than 11,000 feet above the mountains, it felt like someone reached into my chest and started squeezing my heart as hard as they could. “Honey, I’m having chest pains,” I puffed to get more oxygen while holding my chest, but could not. The air was thin at this altitude.


“I can’t land the plane here. Hold on until we can get to the next airport,” my pilot-hubby replied over the intercom. He squinted at me with concern. We found ourselves in new health territory. Up until now, I had only felt minor muscle spasms in my heart, more like quivers or tiny baby kicks, but not this terrible squeeze. The pain finally went away after several minutes. When we landed, we talked with our physician assistant daughter-in-law about it. She suggested talking with my doctor about the incident when I returned home unless it happens again. Then it would mean a trip to the emergency room. So, I followed her advice. My primary care physician (PCP) at home sent me to the local hospital for a stress test.


Everything looked great. No issues, except a random, skipped beat. It wasn’t until a few months later that I visited a cardiologist. Still, it was mostly for the overwhelming exhaustion I experienced. At first, he was skeptical about whether there was an issue with my heart, at least, until I landed in the hospital with a coronary artery spasm that escalated into a heart attack. It resulted from using my Epipen for what I believed was a severe allergic reaction. Now I inadvertently received the attention I needed to deal with my heart and blood vessel issues. We all wondered where these puzzle pieces belonged.


Several symptoms didn’t fit the original diagnosis of fibromyalgia; it seemed like I was gathering more pieces that didn’t fit this fibro puzzle. I still had new joint damage, migraines, visual distortion, photosensitivity, easy bruising, an odd sensation around my heart, a sudden drop in energy, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, weight loss, and on and on. This frustrating pile of pieces needed serious attention if I was to regain even a portion of my life back.


Connecting the Right Pieces


I felt like one big mess. Some of my doctors treated me like a hypochondriac when they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Mixed Connective Tissue Disease—specifically, Mixed Collagen Vascular Disease—could be a rare disease due to misdiagnosis or dismissal of patients’ persistent concerns. My body was strong and fit in my 50’s. I was able to tackle what many in my age group would wave off, saying, “Nah. Go ahead and have fun. I’ll sit back and watch.” Now it was mush, barely able to handle basic living. I mourn my formerly active lifestyle and have to face the hard, cold fact I must find new activities that work with my limitations. But I still needed to know what I’m dealing with to receive proper treatment for the troublesome symptoms I continued to experience.


Puzzle 1: Allergies, Celiac, and Food Intolerances


Allergy testing helped tremendously, as did going gluten-free while avoiding foods that cause me misery. Instead of mentally “checking out” in the middle of a conversation with people, I began to take a more active role in discussions because I could mentally process what people said. Names and nouns slowly returned to my vocabulary. My head no longer felt like I was slugged in the back with a baseball bat. Some of my migraines disappeared. My belly stopped hurting. Although I have to be careful about what I eat, that puzzle has pulled together.


Puzzle 2: Fibromyalgia


What was initially considered fibromyalgia might have been the precursor to Mixed Collagen Vascular Disease, but who knows. Fibromyalgia is not an autoimmune disease, although it is often mistaken for several. I do have 16 of the 18 tender points, so currently, my medical team keeps that diagnosis in my charts. However, there are so many overlap symptoms; it is hard to tell the difference. The days I sat at the YMCA’s pool edge with my hot, puffy, throbbing hands and feet cooling in the pool, I thought it was fibro. Maybe it wasn’t. I’ve set that part of a puzzle aside for now since it is the least of my concerns.


Puzzle 3: Mixed Collagen Vascular Disease


I got tired of lying on the couch each day. Dizzy and about to pass out, I went for a walk in our neighborhood, hoping to raise my heart rate and blood pressure. I thought that if I passed out on the sidewalk, at least my neighbors who knew me would call 9-1-1. I made it, but it wasn’t easy. When I got home, I trudged up the stairs with burning, heavy legs to take a nap. At least, I got my walk. No one seemed to have answers until I visited a rheumatologist in my area. She did the blood work that showed a positive ANA and RNP Speckled Pattern. This second test was new to me. My ANA had been positive since 2002. My first rheumatologist was the one who came up with the diagnosis of Mixed Collagen Vascular Disease. Still, she was not the one to continue with my care due to a worldview clash and inconsistent messages between her and her PA. Oddly my ANA was negative at my last visit with her. She seemed to have prejudice and looked for problems that didn’t exist. I needed a doctor who could remain professional and consistent with my treatment, even if our beliefs were different. It was time to find a new rheumatologist.


The next one was more professional and compassionate—and my ANA showed positive again just a few months later. We began sorting through the remaining puzzle pieces together. “You have to avoid the sun,” he stated firmly, referring to odd brownish patches on my face and arms. “Those discolorations on your face and arms are signs of photosensitivity. They are common with active autoimmune disease and your medication.” Not only that, but I also discovered much more about this symptom. I had a severe reaction to the sun while visiting my daughter in Colorado. “You have to AVOID THE SUN. Treat yourself as if you have Lupus. You have so many Lupus symptoms without triggering a positive on the defining blood tests,” his physician assistant emphasized. I had shown her a photo I took of odd, red splotches on my thigh that showed up after eating lunch with my daughter outdoors. This incident caused a sudden strange sensation around my heart, accompanied by overwhelming fatigue and distorted vision. It made me wonder if I should go back to the hotel to take a nap or go to the emergency room. Now, I know that I must wear SPF 50+, sun-protective clothing, a hat, and carry a sunbrella outdoors.


We still don’t know why my Achille’s tendon on one foot is so rigid compared to the simple stiffness of the other one. Mid-life causes me stiffness that works out after moving around for a while, but rigidness sticks with me a lot longer. Blood work hasn’t revealed anything new, so that puzzle piece sits at the side.


Puzzle # 4: Lichen Sclerosis


After enduring a series of infections, my primary care physician said, “Your skin has a silvery look to it. I think you have lichen sclerosis.” This condition was never on my radar. It is an autoimmune disease that attacks mucous membranes but can affect the skin on any part of my body. It might be the reason I get odd red circle patches on my arms and chest, which respond to steroid cream, rather than an antifungal cream. She gave me a referral to see a specialist for this condition.


“Yes, I agree with the diagnosis,” she said in her thick Eastern European accent. She gave me a script for a potent steroid cream. This puzzle is solved! Working with my medical team, and eliminating the ineffective members, helped me figure out what I’m dealing with so I can receive the proper treatment. This lengthy process has helped me form a great team effort with my doctors.


 What Now?


I still have a few lingering puzzle pieces that need a home, but I have a better treatment plan and direction for my future health care. I will probably never be symptom-free because autoimmune disease is often like that. Now when I ask my doctors a question about something odd, they don’t roll their eyes and ship me out of the office. Instead, they delve into solving my puzzles with me. My primary care physician has been fantastic about helping me coordinate information shared among my medical team. Putting the puzzle pieces together where they belong has been an 18-year process in my multiple disease journey. Still, my determined quest for effective treatment has been worth the effort.


Questions for discussion: Do you or someone you know struggle to find out what is wrong? Do you or that person get treated like “its all in your head,” or like you are looking for attention? How can you ask questions and make reasonable statements to encourage doctors to take you seriously, and track down the problem for proper treatment? Feel free to comment below or email me at [email protected]


May God bless you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the Desk of Charlaine Spring 2020

Posted on April 29, 2020 at 8:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Photo by Charlaine W. Martin, 2020. All rights reserved.


 

How have the Stay-at-Home orders treated you over the past few weeks? Some people on social media have said they are well. Others are worried because of either health or loss of income. While a few have loved ones battling COVID-19 or succumbed to it. We have fared well here. My Boaz has been working from home. We still have an income, but there has been a temporary pay reduction. Otherwise, we have food to eat, a house, our family members are well, and each other. We’ve called and done Facetime with family and friends. Living in the country has its benefits. Certainly, God has blessed all of us in some way, either big or small.


What’s Happening?


Due to the effects of autoimmune disease on me, I am restructuring Be Totally Fit for Life! God has not given me the signal to end it, but to re-evaluate how I minister through it. Here are some ways you will see this happen:


1. Parent website-- www.charlainemartin.com is now effectively running. You may have seen some blog posts over the past couple of months from this website. Be Totally Fit for Life! has a tab on it. I’ve been blogging from a Christian health, fitness, and wellness perspective since 2013. For the past seven years, I’ve been offering tips and devotions based on the physical, mental, relational, and spiritual perspective. I’ve also worked to dispel New Age health and wellness concepts that are so prevalent, not only in our nation but in our world. It’s time for me to broaden my writing. The theme of my new website is “Life is Always an Adventure with God!”


2. Be Totally Fit for Life webpage— www.betotallyfitforlife.com will soon take you to a newly built webpage with fewer subpages, a blog, and links that will take you to my parent website www.charlainemartin.com that has the Be Totally Fit for Life tab and subpages. You won’t have to do anything different. My daughter and I met remotely a couple of nights ago to put it together. She built the skeletal structure, and I will fill it in with content and appropriate graphics. I hope to roll this webpage out around July 1, 2020, God willing.


3. Refresh and Update Healthy Lifestyles— This 12-week Christian health and weight loss program has been hugely successful! I’ve been so blessed to walk alongside several people on their journeys since its inception in 2016. God has worked amazingly in the lives of the individuals who have been part of these groups and personal coaching relationships. I’ve kept the information and overall design updated, but the format and theme need a “fresh coat of paint.” You will see a new name, theme, and other tweaks in the next couple of months.


4. Group leaders’ and Coaches’ Training— Over this summer, I am writing the training program for Healthy Lifestyles in its updated format. I plan to offer the training classes this Fall. This training will require all leaders- and coaches-in-training to take the first six weeks, along with leadership lessons. Leaders and coaches must take each segment themselves before they can be certified for it. More information to come.


5. Exercise Classes and Personal Training—These are still on hold because I can’t promise to be able to show up ready and able to motivate you yet. I am working on my own health management and exercise to keep autoimmune disease from getting the better of me. My goal, with God's guidance, is to begin teaching ChiRho Flow and Stretchtastic in January 2021. Please, be in prayer for me and these goals.


New! Living the Disciplined Life Study


I am offering a new study for Be Totally Fit for Life! called “Living the Disciplined Life I" in May. n this free focus study, you will discover the ways God already has for us to be able to say, deep within your soul, “It is well with my soul.” Sign-ups begin now. There are two resources I highly recommend having at your disposal through the study. If you are interested, email me. I will put you on my class list. You will receive valuable downloads for this study in your inbox. I will also give you information about optional resources to enhance your learning experience. Class size is limited.


When? Thursday, May 7, 2020, for six weeks at 7:00 pm CDT

and Tuesday, May 12, 2020, at 1 pm CDT


Where? Facebook more info will appear in your email when you register.


How much? FREE!


I look forward to embarking on this tremendous faith-building adventure with you!


Construction Zone


Read: Isaiah 48:5-7


Focus Passage: He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.Revelation 21:5-8 NIV


Orange barrels will soon be popping up everywhere. Why? Because construction season is coming to highways and byways near you. Not because we grow orange barrels, but because our roads need to repair work. Do you realize we also need repair work? I think this Coronavirus Pandemic is one way God uses to remake us more and more into the image of Christ.


God may be the same yesterday, today, and forever, but He is never stagnant. In Isaiah 48:5-7, God calls us to put away worthless idols we have collected in our lives. We first have to admit we have them. Did you pick up a Zen practice from the latest yoga class? Admit it and put it out of your life. Did you get a sense of self-sufficiency, saying, “Look what I did?” when you should say, “Look at what God did”? Admit it and put it out of your life. He often clears out the broken parts of our lives through trials. God has something better, something new for you and me that will draw us closer to Him. We have a new life full of abundant blessings today, and a new eternal home that will never be taken away.


God is at work, and we will never be the same. Most believers I’ve talked with can see the blessings amid job losses, mental stresses, isolation, long work hours, and difficulties finding the food and supplies they need. Instead of complaining, they praise Him for families, homes, provision, and protection. Of course, there are concerns, but praying for God to take care of them is all we need to do. Heavenly construction cones are popping up all over in our lives. He has everything taken care of already, even when we can’t see it yet. Let go of what isn’t from Him to embrace what He has for you.


Questions for discussion: What is God reworking in you right now? What are you holding onto for safety and security that isn’t God? How do you see Him clearing away debris to make you more and more into the image of Jesus Christ?


Feel free to share how God is changing you during this season with the Coronavirus crisis in the comments below or on our https://www.facebook.com/betotallyfitforlife/" target="_blank">Facebook page.


 

May God bless you!

 


Gluten-free Vegan Biscuits

Posted on April 24, 2020 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)


Photo by Charlaine W. Martin, 2020. All rights reserved.


During Stay-at-Home orders, I’ve worked hard to not over-- or comfort-- eat. Unfortunately, I was craving dark chocolate really bad yesterday. Ugh! I tried eating a banana. Nope. Nuts. Nope. I even added collagen protein powder to fruit juice. Nope. Not only that, but I’ve also been extra hungry even though I’ve eaten all of my meals plus a couple of tasty, healthy snacks. Sometimes with autoimmune diseases, my immune system is busier than usual, which means that I burn more calories. It's okay, when I want to lose a few pounds, but not because it means my immune system is attacking something it shouldn’t. Any way you look at it, I could quickly gobble up everything in the house!


I decided today I had to deal with my hunger AND my cravings. I thought biscuits with raw honey sounded awesome. When I scoured Pinterest for the coveted recipe, I found one that was gluten-free and, supposedly, dairy-free. Whipping cream? Dairy-free? Hmmm. The recipe had me intrigued, but I’m not using whipping cream. Instead, I chose to smash/whip ripe avocado. Yes! Avocados can be used in place of butter or margarine in many baking recipes. I happened to have a bag of avocado chunks from our local grocery store in my freezer. You could use plain Greek dairy-free yogurt in place of the avocado and almond milk, if you are turned off by avocado. I also had the rest of the ingredients. It was time to start baking.


These turned out moist and a bit flaky. They were ideal with raw honey. This did hit the spot for my cravings and my hunger. Not only that, but each biscuit also comes out at 67 calories of YUM! Could you imagine a Tex-Mex version with  jalapeños?


You can make these delicious, healthy biscuits yourself with the recipe below. Feel free to share photos of yours on our Facebook page. Enjoy!


Grace

 Thank you, Lord, for taking care of us during the Coronovirus Pandemic. Thank you for providing healthy, nutritious food and a warm home. In Jesus' Name, Amen.


Gluten-free Vegan Biscuits

Blend with a whisk:

1 Cup flour (Gluten-free cup for cup. I used Namaste brand.)

½ tsp. Gluten-free baking powder (I used Clabber Girl)

¼ tsp. salt (you can use 1/8 tsp. if you want to keep the sodium content low)

Mix with a wooden spoon in a separate bowl:

¼ cup mashed or whipped ripe avocado *

¼ + cup Milk alternative (I used 30 calorie unsweetened almond milk, store brand)*


*Plain Greek yogurt option—Use ½ cup to replace avocado and milk alternative. Add to flour mixture and stir well until all is blended. Only add milk alternative if the dough is too stiff. Kite Hill is a great one to use.


Add flour blend to the avocado mixture and mix with a wooden spoon. If the dough is too stiff, add 1 T. milk alternative at a time until the dough is thick and sticky.


 Put down a large cutting board with some flour sprinkled on it and smear it around. Put ¼-1/3 of the dough on it. Flip over the dough and press down, but leave a bit of thickness. Add another ¼-1/3 lightly sprinkle a bit of flour on the first bit of dough and press down, continue until you’ve layered all of the dough. There should be enough thickness to cut into circles with a biscuit cutter, round cookie cutter, or plastic tumbler. Place onto lightly oiled baking sheet. This recipe makes 8 biscuits.


Place in oven preheated at 450 degrees. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until raised and lightly browned.


 

Optional: add jalapeños and a pinch of garlic.

 


Nutrition Content:

Calories: 76 each biscuit, as written. May vary if Greek yogurt is used.

Fats 1.9 grams

Carbs 5.25 grams

Protein .6 grams

Contains iron, calcium, potassium vitamins D, A, and E, fiber.

 


 

 

15 Healthy Food Swaps with Limited Resources

Posted on April 8, 2020 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)


 

Image by Joe from People on Cava.


Our governor announced yesterday that all Michiganders should hold off buying groceries for the next two weeks. *Sigh* This announcement exacerbates the fact many grocery stores have run out of stock regularly since the ridiculous hoarding of toilet paper, Clorox wipes, and hand sanitizer. Now it’s time to batten down the hatches, whatever that means. There is no doubt about it. We have become rather resourceful during the Coronavirus Pandemic.


Our resourcefulness can become stretched, though. While many Americans have learned to cook for themselves, we now face tremendous challenges trying to make reasonable meals from odd ingredients. I read earlier in the Coronavirus uproar, a man went to buy formula for his baby daughter only to find empty shelves, in tears, he went home empty-handed. I immediately thought of the old formula recipe my mother’s generation used to make with evaporated milk, water, and Polyvisol (infant vitamins). People’s selfishness hit an all-time low.


Now, it is a matter of limited employees through the food chain trying to stock shelves for us. When I ordered groceries online, my first order contained only one-third of the items on my list. Yesterday, when I tried to order groceries for pickup, there were no time slots available for the next week. Good thing I always keep a few extra supplies handy in case of a storm, power outage, etc. Now the order by our governor to hold off on groceries. Hmmm. My gear wheels are grinding away in my head. I’ve had to be extremely resourceful as a pastor’s wife with limited funds.


Are you frustrated, trying to figure out how to feed your family with limited food items? Here are 15 swaps you can use to get by in the Coronavirus Pandemonium:

1. If you are out of rice, riced veggies, or quinoa, try using instant mashed potatoes, grated sweet potatoes, carrots, or green beans, or small beans like black beans from a can. If you were going low carb, now is the time to set this aside.


2. Fresh fruits and vegetables run out quickly. Frozen is an excellent sub unless your freezer is small. Otherwise, try these canned options: Freshlike with little water, no salt added varieties, no sugar added, in its own juice, natural applesauce. I prefer buying name brands because the quality is often better than store-brand versions.


3. Meat is often sparse in the store. Try making stir-fries and soups to stretch out your meat. You can add mashed canned soup beans to ground beef or turkey to make a small package work for a family by mixing it in thoroughly. You keep good protein content this way. Also, canned meats can be a good thing to keep in your pantry.


4. Canned tomatoes are a great option to sub for fresh in salsa or to spice up a dish. Drain juice, but keep for a soup or sauce.


5. Use ripe bananas with a touch of baking in pancakes when eggs run out or to keep them for fried or scrambled eggs.


6. Use flax gel instead of eggs in baking by soaking flax seeds in hot water for several minutes. When a gel forms, strain out the flax seeds. Add to baking recipes.


7. When cooking meat, drain off the juice. Allow to cool then place in the fridge. Skim fat off the top after the juice gels. Use in place of or to stretch broth. I will often add a bit of cold water to meat when frying to cook the inside of the meat thoroughly. The juice that forms is a great addition to stir fry or rice with a bit of seasoning.


8. Out of onions? Sub garlic or chives. I grow chives in my garden and dry them for use at any time of year.


9. No butter? Try mayonnaise, avocado, or coconut oil. You can swap with oil, depending on the recipe, but cookies don’t have the right consistency, though. Nut butter might be a better swap for those.


10. If you are out of mayo, try avocado mash with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.


11. No bread? Make lunch meat or lettuce roll-ups served with natural popcorn.


12. Sub vinegar with lemon or lime juice, or vice versa.


13. No Italian Seasoning? Try oregano blended with garlic. No Cilantro? Try parsley with dried garlic or onion.

14. No chocolate chips? Try cocoa powder, butter, coconut oil or mashed bananas, and sugar or honey. This only works if you don’t care to have chips sprinkled throughout your baked creation.


15. Concentrated fruit juices can help in some recipes. Apple is often a sweetener, grape with a touch of cider vinegar can be a sub for red wine, etc.


We can often do well if we know how or what to swap. Some nutritional value may change a bit, but this Stay-at-Home thing isn’t forever. If it were, then I would recommend checking out what my parents did in WWII and plant a garden, even if only in pots on your patio. Below are some other websites with swaps as well.


 

What substitutions worked for you? Feel free to share in the comments below or on social media with @totallyfit63 or @Be Totally Fit for Life. God bless!



 

What Do You Need to Use Up? by Fridge to Table


 

The Simple Life 


 

All Recipes 


Huff Post 

 

Mission Critical: Learning to Read Your Health Status

Posted on April 2, 2020 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (0)


 

Cockpit panel photo by Charlaine Martin, February 2020. All rights reserved.


My hubby is a pilot, so we love to cruise the sky in our single-engine plane on gorgeous days. Since he is teaching me to fly, I had to learn to read the many gauges on the instrument panel. It is easy to stay on course when there is a gentle breeze, but some days I feel like a toy batted around the sky by an invisible kitten. Then there are days the wind speeds could knock the plane out of the air, which certain speeds indicate a ground excursion in our car or on foot would be a better decision for us.


The instrument panel is critical because it shows me where we are in air space on a map. I also can see conditions of the plane itself like carburetor, engine, and oil heat, and fuel levels. One time, we took off, set for a beautiful flight around the edge of the Great Lakes bordering the Thumb of Michigan. No sooner had we taken off, my hubby checked the gauges that gave indications of our plane conditions. Suddenly, he exclaimed, “We have to make an emergency landing!” He radioed the airport, letting the airport personnel know we had to land immediately. No stall horn sounded an alert for the emergency, so I was confused. When we landed, he taxied the plane over to the building. Two elderly pilots sitting at a picnic table in the building’s shade hobbled up to our aircraft when the propeller stopped. I listened in on their conversation to discover we had a runaway prop. What this simply meant is our engine would torque out of the cowling and our propeller soon to fly off without us. This particular hazard has been the source of many crash deaths for pilots. Dying certainly wasn’t in our plans that day. It must not have been in God’s plan either.


Mission Critical: Check All the Indicators


If we only gaze outside of the plane, without checking our instruments, we could miss critical indicators of danger, such as the near-accident my hubby diverted. If we only stare at the instrument panel’s gauges, we miss important information from our environment, like rain, ice, other planes on a collision course with ours, and our destination’s runway lights necessary for a safe landing. We need the whole picture from both the gauges and the environment to pilot our plan safely to our destination.


Our health and faith journey is similar. We have indicators that give us information about our health status. Some of them we use like how our clothes fit and how much we weigh. Some of us use our body composition as an indicator of our health status. Others have health numbers from the doctor’s office like blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar, cholesterol, and others, which might be highly personalized. There are some indicators that we are in danger like the conviction of Scripture passages, input from a family member or friend, and our own emotions. All of these come into play for our total health package.


Mission Critical: Read All the Gauges for Total Health Status


I had indicators that my health was in danger but failed to recognize them for what they were. I barely kept my weight up to 115-120 lbs six years ago. It wasn’t until three almost four years ago I discovered my immune system was working overtime. I could eat an incredible amount for my size yet didn’t gain an ounce, indicating something was wrong. There were other gauges like my heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar, which often plummeted. I spent more time in bed than ever. My doctor chased down a symptom here and another there, but never found exactly what was behind the symptoms. When I had my heart attack, the ball for progress began to move. As my cardiologist began working with me, we came to the conclusion I needed to see a rheumatologist. She did extensive testing that revealed the source of my problems: an autoimmune disease. If I kept chasing down symptoms and never figured out the underlying issue, I might not be here today.


Mission Critical: More than Meets the Eye


The same could hold true for you. Those numbers on your scale and how your clothes fit aren’t the only gauges you need. You have a whole control panel and the environment with which to work. Sometimes, we forget other factors like the health of relationships, faith in God, and emotions are out on the horizon, indicating a potential wreck. One ministry couple came to me for a basic exercise program. Both were considered overweight, which is why they wanted to lose weight and improve their health. When I measured their hip-to-waist ratio, I could see their potential for heart problems, but when I took their blood pressure, I realized I couldn’t safely work with them. I sent them to see their doctor because their blood pressure was dangerously high. When they came back to me after starting blood pressure medication, they thanked me for protecting them from impending danger. What did I do? I looked at two gauges. They didn’t know a health time bomb was quietly ticking away. Once they got their blood pressure down, they began to exercise. Not only that but in our discussions, I shared my previous church ministry experience with them. They began to reduce their stresses with church ministry. Total health takes a comprehensive approach to our health—physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual—to be totally healthy.


Mission Critical: Help from the Control Tower


Sometimes we need someone to help us check all the indicators for total health. Health coaches are a valuable resource, as are personal trainers and doctors. Recently I offered free Healthy Lifestyles for six weeks, “Off to a Great Start” to you. I never heard anything from you or anyone else who reads these blog posts. Why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of a comprehensive Christian approach to health improvement and weight loss? There are no strings attached. I’m not selling anything, but I have dropped one of the groups offered. I’m simply sharing what I can during this stressful time with COVID-19 looming on the horizon if it hasn’t already affected you and your family. Simply email or message me that you want to take advantage of this gift. I would love to see you learn how to use the tools to keep yourself from crashing your total health.


Healthy Lifestyles Group Online

Register by emailing me at [email protected]

Tuesdays at 12:30 pm

Facebook live on Be Totally Fit for Life! Healthy Lifestyles Free


 

May God bless you!

 

Making the Most of Sheltering In Place

Posted on March 25, 2020 at 8:35 AM Comments comments (0)



Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash


I am sitting at my kitchen island right now, writing this blog post while my engineer-hubby is on a web-based conference call with his team. We’ve stocked up our groceries and other necessities while protecting ourselves from potential infection of the Coronavirus. In the meantime, I will be doing online Healthy Lifestyle coaching with my group and getting my garden ready to go. There are indeed pluses to living in the middle of nowhere.


As you know, many states and communities have issued a Sheltering in Place orders. Michigan has Stay at Home orders from our governor. Police can stop people for being out and about for no reason. Why? Because these officials are trying to slow, or halt, the spread of the Coronavirus while protecting our most vulnerable people. Now, how many of you wished you could stay home instead of going to work or school?!?! Your prayers are answered.


If you’ve been overwhelmed by the information circulating on the internet and social media, you’re bound to be confused by what works and what doesn’t. Always go to your national, state, and county websites for information that impacts you and your family. You can check with the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization for more information to help keep yourself and your family safe.


The information I share here is for informational purposes only. I am not a medical professional nor a government worker. I am a personal trainer and exercise instructor who writes. Even though I do my research, always check out what I’ve said with reputable resources and references. I’ve shared links below to help you find what you seek.


Helps and Tips


Trying to stay healthy and meet your health and weight loss goals can be tough right now. I will offer six weeks FREE for Healthy Lifestyles Group Coaching next week on Tuesdays at 7 pm EDT, and Thursdays at 1 pm EDT. These groups last for one hour. Respond by emailing me at [email protected] to tell me that you want to take advantage of this offer. Please, do not sign up at the Web Store! I am not able set it to handle free offers. I will respond by email to let you know if you made it, or I will give you a coupon for the next scheduled Healthy Lifestyles 12 Week Groups. Space is limited, due to limits with the venue, so this is first-come, first-serve. If you find out there are no more seats available, I will give you a discount coupon that is equivalent to the next Healthy Lifestyles Group offered in the future.


Exercise at Home


I am not teaching group exercise classes yet since I cannot guarantee from day to day if I am well enough to lead one. Instead, I will give you some places you can go for online classes. Do be careful with Youtube exercise videos because not everyone teaching online is certified!


If you are going nuts because you can’t go to the gym, working out at home can help. I have some links for home workouts for you with good Christian ministries.


Faithful Fit  From what I understand, there are a variety of workouts that are free. Check it out to learn more.


PraiseMoves  The classes available are PraiseMoves (the Christian Alternative to Yoga), PraiseKicks (kickboxing aerobics), Mira! (Christian alternative to Zumba), and the Bold and Beautiful Workout (I think it might be a much more intense workout like HIIT, maybe?). Several instructors teach online. There might be some Youtube free workouts, too.


Revelation Fitness offers a variety of workouts. Check their website to learn more.


Cleaning and Sanitizing Tips


Soap is an essential part of germ defense along with social distance. Wash 20-30 seconds with good hand soap (CDC). Wash exposed clothing in your washer with a good, not cheap, detergent. I use Persil, but major brands will suffice. The reason I say this is because major brands’ ingredients are consistent. I set my wash a little longer than usual. I’ve heard suggestions about adding a bit of bleach to your laundry, but it could unduly ruin some clothing.


Of course, everyone is concerned about killing this doggone virus. Whatever you do, do NOT mix bleach, ammonia, and alcohol together!!! Think about high school chemistry. You could accidentally put off a deadly gas from any of those combinations. Also, do not drink bleach, ammonia, or any other chemical not approved for human consumption!!!! This concern includes chloroquine used in fish tanks. Doing so could be deadly.


Alcohol-based Cleaners


Hand sanitizers are primarily 90%+ alcohol. Don’t wash it off, but let it dry on its own so it can do its job. If you can’t find any, you can make your own. This article in Newsweek has a video that shows how.


I keep a spray bottle of 91% alcohol to spray items exposed to possible Coronavirus, etc. Allow the item to dry on its own.


I’m not sure about the key ingredient in Lysol, but I bought a bottle and put it in a spray bottle. I sanitize doorknobs, counters, toilet handles, sink faucets, and any hard surface with an old washcloth.  Follow directions on bottle. The washcloth goes to the laundry when I am finished.


Bleach-based Cleaners


You can wash items sick people use with bleach to disinfect. I learned these tips working in a daycare years ago. If washing dishes by hand, first wash dishes with dish soap, then rinse, and place rinsed dishes into a bleach-water solution. Fill one side of the sink with hot water and add ¼ cup bleach and allow the dishes to sit in it for about 10 minutes. Rinse again and allow to air dry. You can also do this with toys. Washcloth toys in your washer whenever possible in hot water with some bleach added. Dry thoroughly before allowing a child to play with them. Dishwashers are best whenever you can wash dishes and dishwasher safe toys because they sanitize. Check labels first. For more, check out WebMD


Fallacies


Multi-level marketing groups have their reps swarming like vultures right now. Don't fall victim to their marketing schemes. Most of these have not been shown effective for a lot of illness, the Coronavirus included. Buyer beward!


Essential oil buffs, I hate to break this to you, but ESSENTIAL OILS HAVE NOT BEEN PROVEN TO KILL THE CORONAVIRUS (CNBC)! I like using them for various reasons, but I know better than to swallow the claims of the companies and representatives who sell them. I don’t care whether you have DoTerra, Young Living, or any other brand, please, do not rely on them to do the job for this virus. If you want to check the reliability of essential oils, please go to NIH and Mayo Clinic to find out what they have been proven to do and what they aren’t proven to do. It is my understanding that some, but not all, offer antimicrobial properties according to NIH, but not necessarily against this virus. Remember, it is pretty resistant to many treatments. Use proven treatments that are recommended by the CDC and WHO.


Healthy Meal Planning with Reduced Food Availability


Recently, I decided to order groceries from a large grocery chain store in our area, and then pick it up curbside. It was easy to order; they sent a confirmation via text and email. Picking it up was easy. The sticky point right now is not all the items were in stock. I only got 1/3 of the groceries I ordered. We went to a small local chain nearby to pick up more of what we needed, but it meant exposing ourselves to more people. Some stores will be better stocked than others, but it certainly is worth a try.


Grocery Pick-up and Delivery Options


You need an app or internet access for their website to order and a credit or debit card. Make a list before you start ordering. Think two to four weeks’ worth of supplies. Some items will be in-store only like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, etc. You can allow substitutes or not and give instructions. They will send you a confirmation of your order, but your card will be charged on the actual total of your groceries. You can pick your day and time for pick-up, but many are two and three days in advance. When you pick up your groceries, there is a designated pick up area. Take your confirmation with you so they can make sure you are the one who ordered the groceries. Use good sanitization practices and social distancing, but check your order against your receipt before you leave. When you get home, have a good plan to sanitize your hands, coat, and bags before taking them into your home.


Online meal services are another option. My daughters use them. One of my daughters gave me the name of one she uses and a link you can use. She said that you and she would each get a free pound of beef for following her link to order at Trifecta fbuy.me/oWidn. They offer keto, Paleo, vegan, and classic clean eating, along with gluten-free and allergy-friendly. Of course, there are many others. My other daughter recommends Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Green Chef, Gobble, and Every Plate. Rachel loves Hello Fresh best, but she said they are all good. Gobble and Every Plate are less expensive. I discovered Purdue Farms has online ordering at Purdue Farms. I don’t have affiliate links here, just from my daughter, Lauren. She is a single parent, so if you order from Trifecta, please help her out by using her link. Thanks!


Meal planning can be a challenge when you are limited on ingredients. How many ways can you use oatmeal, eggs, potatoes, and many other basics? Of course, you may not have something like eggs or yeast, so what works? Try the chart at Allrecipes.com. Email me at [email protected] for my free meal planning sheets.

Are you looking for healthy recipes? Some great links are WebMD, My Fitness Pal, and Spark People. Get family members involved. It can be fun!


Faith Value


When I wrote last week’s blog/devo, it took a different direction than I originally expected. Initially, it looked like the message would be how you can let Jesus shine through you because God put you here now. I always do my research in Bible dictionaries, lexicons, and commentaries. I also use the notes in my study Bible before I write. Please, don’t think I’m an End-timer, but I do believe we are coming closer and closer. to Jesus coming back. Hopefully, you found what God wanted you to glean from it. I would like to leave you with Ephesians 3:14-21. The most important part is to remain rooted and grounded in Christ and to redeem the time. For the Devo on this passage, watch for it over the next week on www.charlainemartin.com.


May God bless you, abundantly!


Note: All resources are linked.

 

 

 

Why am I Here Now Experiencing A Worldwide Crisis?

Posted on March 19, 2020 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (0)


Photo by David Marcu from Freely Photos. 


Read: Esther 4


Focus Verse: Esther 4:14 NIV "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?"

 


I usually avoid dealing with current events plastered everywhere, mostly because people get sick and tired of hearing about it. I felt led, though, to consider the whole Coronavirus pandemic—a worldwide epidemic of an illness we know little about which continues to infect people claiming the lives of a reasonable percentage of those who fall ill. The general population has gone berserk over the need to prepare for quarantine over two to three weeks. I think toilet paper will be the currency of the time for swapping other needed items like bottled water or hand sanitizer. This pandemic is undoubtedly an adventure we are all experiencing together—like it or not.


 

Churches, schools, and businesses closed to protect people in our area. I went to my mom's apartment tucked away in a Catholic charity seniors' community last week. When I arrived, a gentleman who works in the kitchen stopped me to let me know I must check-in at the office due to Coronavirus concerns. I passed their test. Now they are in lockdown. My hubby was supposed to be working from home with me. Instead, he headed to work Monday with mask in hand to oversee the interns' work. Now he has my kitchen island set up as his remote workstation. His company in the automotive industry works with people from many countries who are drastically affected. I stocked up for two weeks-- not a year-- on basics. I made my own hand sanitizer, bought PUR filters for my water pitcher to leave bottled water for others, and have a small stash of masks that I bought before the craziness began. Oh, yes, we have toilet paper. No, I didn't clear out the store's stock. While on social media, an overzealous old-school Christian said that churches who close are not in the will of God. Really? We went to church in our PJs online, as did many others.We did prayer and Bible study with our pastor on Facebook Live with twenty-six others. What an incredible mess! Everyone and their neighbor is asking, "Why am I here now in this worldwide crisis?"


One Woman Saves a Nation


As people argue, clamor, and fingerpoint, let me draw your attention to the book of Esther for the background of our passage today. Esther was a young woman, probably a teenager, orphaned, and raised by her Uncle Mordecai. The Jews exiled in Persia since the reign of Nebuchadnezzar lived among them. King Artaxerxes set up a long, elaborate celebration and asked his favored wife, Queen Vashti, to come before him. He wanted to display her magnificent beauty for all in attendance to see. She refused, so he banished her. Then he sought out another wife by having all the young virgins of his kingdom brought before him that he might replace Vashti. Mordecai instructed Esther not to reveal her Hebrew heritage when she went with the other virgins to the King's palace. These young women underwent lengthy beauty preparations before each one could go to the King for his approval. Esther had a natural beauty of her own, and the preparations must have made her radiant. She followed the eunuch's instructions carefully and was presented to the King. The one who pleased the King the most was Esther. He crowned her as his new Queen.


Esther further endeared herself to the King when she revealed to him that two of his eunuchs plotted to take his life out of anger. They were hanged to death as a result. Haman, an Amalekite descendent, was appointed to a high position of authority after this event. Everyone in Haman's presence must bow down to pay homage to him. The only one who would not was Mordecai, Esther's uncle. Furious, Haman talked the King into making a law that all the Jews in the kingdom should be killed on one specific day. The King sealed the decree with his signet ring. Little did he know this would include Esther, his favorite wife, and Mordecai, who revealed the eunuch's plot to kill the King.


Now let's turn to our passage in Esther 4. At this point, Mordecai put on sackcloth and ashes as a sign of mourning over this announcement. He sent a message through Hathtach, Esther’s eunuch attendant, requesting she plead for the lives of her people before the King. One problem: anyone who comes before the King without his summons would be put to death that is unless he holds out his golden scepter to that person. Mordecai reminded her that this decree would include her life as well if she didn't go before the King to plead for the Jews, her people. He alludes to God's deliverance by someone else from somewhere else if she chose not to do this. So she agreed knowing that either way, she could die. The critical line in this passage is this: "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14 NIV. So she did. The King held out his scepter for her and she placed her hand on it. After a series of events, the Jews' lives were spared, and Haman was hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordecai’s death.


Here are some insights that stand out to me in our passage:


1. Mordecai observed God's Law to have no other gods when he refused to bow down to Haman, causing a death sentence upon all of the Jews.


2. He observed the King's law about not going past the King's gates in sackcloth and ashes. He followed his own faith practices of fasting and mourning while obeying the King's law.


3. He mourned the imminent destruction of the Jews. Remember, the Jews were in exile due to idolatry, so their fate was in the hands of a foreign king. His faithfulness to God's command brought woe upon his people initially.


4. God put Esther in the position of Queen with this gentile King, who held the lives of the Jews in his hands. She was placed in a favorable position when she found out two eunuchs' plotted to kill the King because of what happened to Vashti.


5. Esther knew the King's law but chose to put her life in danger. First, they agreed to fast (and pray) for each other for a set amount of time before she would go before the King.


6. Her life hung in the balance; either way, she chose to go. She placed the lives of the Jews, her people, above her own to save them.


7. God gave Esther favor in the King's eyes and heart. He extended the royal scepter to her, which protected her life and preserved the lives of her people. God blessed her faithfulness.


By the way, did you know that Esther's reign as Queen in Persia overlaps the last portion of Daniel's service to the King of Babylon, part of the ministry of Ezra's rebuilding of the Temple, and the prophet Jeremiah's ministry? Since she was young, she didn't live in the King's palace the entire time as these three men of God, but they all intersect on the biblical timeline at one time. God used each of these godly people in different ways to different Jewish exiles overlapping in time. Incredibly gifted and called to different places of service, God used them for the preservation of His people.


What About Now?


Consider this passage during our times of uncertainty. Although we still live in our homes in our country, we are all in the same boat right now. We all have the potential to become ill with COVID-19. But here are some other considerations as well. We have faced so many disasters all over our planet. Just in the past two years we’ve been affected in various ways carrying ramifications for years to come. The locusts from Africa and the Middle East will affect the food supply, which is already scarce for them. It may affect ours, as well. This plague of locusts spans from Africa to Israel (New Yorker). The Australian fires have a global impact on our climate (South China Morning Post). The culdara my hubby and I walked across in Hawaii in 2017 erupted in 2018, killing people, causing climate changes, and affecting our food supply (New York Times). Our economy across the globe has tanked, causing severe financial insecurities (CNN). Christians are being persecuted globally (Christianity Today). Israel recently called for prayer at the Wailing Wall to petition God located where they believe the Holy of Holies is buried. Atop the Temple is a Muslim shrine, a sign of overtaking Jerusalem in 1,517 AD (History), although Israel has been a country since the '50s. All of these events will affect us in some way. We have yet to see it come full circle. Are we in End Times? Maybe. I don’t know for sure, but we come closer day by day.


Our own country is a sin-filled mess. We allow women to kill their unborn babies to be sold as parts on the altar of personal choice. We embrace the distortion of marriage and family in the name of tolerance. Our young people are in fear of their lives in public schools every day because of school shootings by the spirit of rage. Our churches aren't the safe faith havens they ought to be due to being open-minded allowing false gods of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Self to take over the sheepfold. We place idols on the altar of our hearts rather than God. We practice the religion of St. Mattress rather than gather with other believers in our churches. We love money and power rather than our God. For the very reasons Israel was taken captive by pagan armies, we teeter precariously. We live in perilous times.


The reason the Jews were in exile in Queen Esther's time was a time of God's judgment. They had given themselves over to idolatry, and He judged them through foreign armies. Are we under judgment? Good question, but I can't answer it. Honestly, I don't know. But I do know this: we are called to be set apart for His faithful service at this particular time in history. We live now because God chose us to live now. We are born for this time with God’s purpose. We must turn to God, do what He has called us to do, and point people to Jesus as Savior. Just as Esther was born for such a time as then, we are born for such a time as this.


What Does This Mean for Us Now?


There is a valuable application of this passage for us today. We simply need to understand the "Then" to apply it to our "Now". Here is how we can respond to the Coronavirus Pandemic and other disastrous events:


1. Fast and pray like Esther and her Uncle Mordecai did. It is always wise to confess our sin to God because He is faithful and just forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Acknowledge and praise God for His power and dominion over all things. Turn the whole issue over to Him, let Him take care of it, then do what you can to serve others and God, practicing God's commands, the laws, and policies during the time.

2. Be open to doing something God wants you to do that might make no ordinary sense. Not everything God does follows human wisdom. This is often how we know, when we look back to see the result, that God was in it.

3. Don't do anything foolish. Do follow God and His Word and our current laws regarding the calamity at hand.

4. Set aside your agenda for God's. God will usually interrupt your plans when calling you to follow His plan (Proverbs 19:21).

5. Confirmation usually comes from God's people, circumstances, and the Bible.. Do prayerfully discern before you act. God would never contradict His nature. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

6. Praise God for all that He is and does in your situation. Abide in Him. Apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). See my blog post, Abiding in the Lord.

7. Stay rooted and grounded in Christ (Ephesians 3:17-18 ). If you don't, then you may become prideful in what you do or panic if you can't see any way around or through the difficulty. You are not the only one God is using during this time because He coordinates His people and their service for His purposes. 


Regardless of whether we are under judgement, remain closely connected with God. Clear out any idols in your heart. Ask God's forgiveness for any sins you have committed, both knowingly and unknowingly and turn away from it. Commit your heart to the Lord God and Him alone. Help others during this difficult time as you point people to Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). And know this: You were indeed born for such a time as this.


May God bless you with peace, fully confident in His power, dominion, and omniscience. 


Resources:


Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic, Center for Disease Control. https: //www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html


"Rabbis call for mass Western Wall prayer for coronavirus patients" by TOI Staff and Agency. The Times of Israel.February16,2020.

https: //www.timesofisrael.com/rabbis-call-for-mass-western-wall-prayer-for-coronavirus-patients/

 

"A UN Locust Forecaster Explains the Crisis in East Africa," by Matt Steib. Intelligencer, New Yorker Magazine. March 14, 2020.

https: //nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/a-u-n-locust-forecaster-explains-the-crisis-in-east-africa.html

 

"The Global Impact of the Austrailian Fires" by Pablo Robbles. Climate Crisis, South China Global Post. January 17, 2020.

https: //multimedia.scmp.com/infographics/news/world/article/3046510/australian-fires/index.html

 

"America’s Most Hazardous Volcano Erupted This Year. Then It Erupted and Erupted" by Robin George Andrews. Science, New York Times. December 12, 2018.

https: //www.nytimes.com/2018/12/12/science/kilauea-hawaii-volcano-eruption.html

 

"Is the Epic Stock Market Crash of 2020 Officially Here?" by Harsh Chauhan., Market News, CNN.January 6, 2020.

https: //www.ccn.com/epic-stock-market-crash-2020-officially-here/

 

"Top Christian Persecution Open Doors 2020 World Watch List", Christianity Today.

https/www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/january/top-christian-persecution-open-doors-2020-world-watch-list.html

 

"Why Jews and Muslims both have Relious Claims on Jerusalem", by Becky Little. History Stories, History.com. September 1, 2018.

https:: //www.history.com/news/why-jews-and-muslims-both-have-religious-claims-on-jerusalem


NKJV Study Bible, notes for Esther 4. Copyright ©1997, 2007 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Biblegateway. www.biblegateway.com


The Open Bible, New King James Version. Visual Survey of the Bible, page xvi-xvii. Copyright 1983, 1985, 1990, 1997. Nelson Bibles, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 


Zondervan Bible Commentary (One Volume). Notes on Esther 4. New International Bible Commentary. The International Bible Commentary. Maps by International Mapping. Copyright 2008. www.biblegateway.com.



 


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