I've been wanting to capture all of this in writing for a long time but never got around to it. Recent events have given me pause and affirmed that I needed to get this down once and for all.
So here we go!
Our journey to healthy living started back in the fall of 2000. We'd recently moved to the Pittsburgh area to pastor a church. Our son had completed kindergarten and was just a sweet little active (very active) boy. His kindergarten teacher was sad to see him leave because she'd adored him.
We moved in late August. Too late to get him enrolled in the school closest to us but able to get him into the district. The school down the road (literally 1/2 mile down the road) filled up fast and he had to be bussed instead to a school that kept him on the bus for forty-five minutes one way.
We sent our little active guy out with hugs and prayers. Our happiness was short lived when we went for a parent's night meeting and the teacher looked me in the eye and told me, "Your son is the worst child in my class."
Oh my heart.
I'd not had any interaction with this woman before. No notes home, no calls from the school, nothing. I was taken completely by surprise and, well, me being me I had no words to reply with. My only consolation was that her name was Bernice and she was the same age as me.
That weekend I went to a pastor's wives retreat and offered up a prayer request. I wanted to get him out of that school immediately and into a Christian school as I didn't see any other options. I was new to the area though and didn't know what was available.
In conversation another pastor's wife said, "We have an opening in first grade in our school." And that cemented it. I went home from the retreat, pulled him out of Berniceville and got him into the Christian school where he thrived.
In the meantime, a lady from our new church mentioned to me that her son had a reaction to red dye in foods. When he consumed it he went a little wild. I pondered this and decided to test my own child. Took him off of red dye and he was instantly calm.
So calm in fact that we completely eliminated it from his diet over Christmas vacation and when he went back to school in January his teacher noticed a difference and asked us what we had done to change this kid. He was still the silly and fun seven year old, but was now able to sit still.
We soon learned that red dye is in everything from lunch meat to candy to chips to beverages. Reading labels became a habit. And then I began noticing all of the other ingredients in things. Strange ingredients. Things I couldn't even pronounce.
The more I learned the more I was shocked to discover what was actually in the food I was feeding my family.
We went so far as to become vegetarians for an entire year.
But I missed chicken...and steak.
So we started up again, but always reading the labels and learning what to avoid.
Avoiding: MSG, nitrates, corn syrup, aspartame, and many other things that our bodies weren't created to consume.
In time I began to realize that my allergies were going away and that we weren't as sick as we used to be.
I had asthma as a child and was allergic to almost everything. Now I am free of most of that. Haven't had an asthma problem since the late 90s and my allergies are all but non-existant. I attribute this to eliminating dairy from my diet. I'm not 100% strict in this area, I will have cheese on a salad if I'm at a restaurant, but I don't buy milk or cheese and have it in the house. Butter is another story altogether, because some things are just better in butter and you don't need much of it to get that buttery goodness.
This is just the beginning of what has been a life of change for us.
Research what you're eating. There really is truth in "you are what you eat".
And that pastor's wife who so long ago rescued my sweet little boy and got him into their Christian school? My now grown-up son has been hired to work for her husband at the church they currently pastor. My little "worst behaved child in the class" has grown into a strong man of God and starts his first youth pastor job in the next few weeks.
Life has a way of repeating itself. I'm so thankful for her and for this new opportunity for him.