Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Candida Cleanse - Week 2

I recently watched a documentary called "Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead".   The movie follows a 310 pound man, Joe Cross, as he commits to only drink fresh fruit and vegetable juice for 60 days.  His goal was to lose 100 pounds, heal his body of a debilitating autoimmune disease, and to wean off a long list of steroids & medication prescriptions.  Joe had been to countless doctors yet found no true help or healing and so he took matters into his own hands.  What he did to take back his health and his life was definitely extreme, but very inspiring!

I have said it before and I will say it again...if you are facing any health issues you need to #1-Pray that God would lead and guide you along and give you wisdom.  #2 - Find a doctor/holistic practitioner that is a right fit and who is doing more than just throwing a prescription your way.  #3-You must be proactive and take responsibility/ownership for your lifestyle, diet, and choices that impact your health.

Making changes, especially to your diet, can drastically improve your health and well-being.  However, it can certainly feel overwhelming.  So I want to challenge you by making one very simple change.... start drinking more water and less sugary sodas, lattes, energy drinks, sweet tea, alcohol, or whatever else you might be drinking.  When you wake up in the morning, drink a glass of water with 1/2 squeezed lemon juice.  Then have a goal to drink at least half your body weight in water each day.  My goal is 75-80 ounces of water each day, which is more like 65% of my body weight.  You want the purest water possible.  We purchased a Berkey water filter and I absolutely love it and can taste a huge difference.  Actually it's not what I taste...it's the absence of any taste. 

I have just finished up the 2nd week of the Candida Cleanse.  Last week I shared how my blood sugar felt low and I felt "off".  I was questioning whether or not I should move forward with this cleanse.
I evaluated things and knew I was eating plenty, well, and regularly so I made the decision to persevere through the challenges (as there will be struggles, adjusting, and detoxing in any cleanse or diet change).  One addition I made was to add in sweet potatoes, something I hadn't eaten the week prior.  They are one of nature's "perfect foods" and have double the amount of fiber as white potatoes.  They cut sugar cravings and help with that afternoon "crash".  To learn more about sweet potatoes health benefits, check out this page
I would say this second week has been much better than the first in some ways.  I'm not having that  feeling like my blood sugar is low.  So glad for that!  I am feeling tired/fatigue and taking a short afternoon nap most days.  That is one area I am really hoping to see change in....more all around energy.  Also prior to the cleanse I was having 2-3 normal bowel movements every day (which is exactly what we should be having) and lately I am only having 1 each day.  Part of the cleanse regimen is drinking a class of water first thing in the morning with 1tsp food grade diotmacous earth and 1 tsp bentonite clay (I use Zeolite from Health Force), followed by lots and lots of water.  This can definitely cause a person to experience constipation.  You need to make sure you are staying regular so you can flush out the candida & toxins. 
I am pressing on and entering my 3rd week of this cleanse.  Looking forward to sharing with you again next week!
Here are some great videos to check out: 48 second test for candida, Blog talk Radio or The Whole Journey.
Here are the links if you missed my previous posts for the Candida Cleanse series: Intro and Week 1.
I have added a new feature to my blog: Healthy Shopping!   You will find it as a tab along the top of my page.  There you can find products I use and/or recommend for healthy eating, healthy kitchen, healthy reading, healthy supplements, healthy skin, healthy bathroom, and homeschooling!
*I am an affiliate for some of the links included in this blog series, which means, if you click on them and make a purchase, I will receive a commission.



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Friday, July 11, 2014

Candida Cleanse - Week 1

Last week I ended my post by stating how important it is that we seek the Lord, for His wisdom & guidance, as we strive to figure out the root cause of health issues we are experiencing.  The reality is for any one ailment there are going to be countless different suggestions and protocols on what you should do, take, eat, etc... Many times those messages can be contradictive.  That is where wisdom is so important, because it can be a confusing and overwhelming task trying to know which steps to take, and navigate your way to better health. 

I think one of the areas we need the most wisdom is in choosing the right practitioner.  This can make all the difference in the world.  I can't tell you how many times I have left a doctors visit feeling so discouraged, upset, or in tears.  I didn't feel heard, I didn't sense compassion, and I didn't receive any beneficial help or guidance.  But I did receive a lovely bill in the mail afterwards!  I am now so blessed to have such a kind and caring doctor, who has not only made a difference in my health, but in my oldest daughters as well. 

If you are trying to get to the root problems going on and your doctor just wants to write you a prescription, run for the hills and never return to them! LOL.  There is a time and place for prescription drugs, however, there are so many other things that need to be addressed to treat the root problems going on in your body.  Medications typically just treat the symptoms, come with a long list of side effects, and often the problem is reoccurring.  Look for a holistic/naturopathic doctor, which means they "integrate conventional and alternative therapies to treat a patient on all levels. By treating body, mind and spirit, the physician heals all aspects of the disease, not just the symptoms." (source here)  I know too from experience, that even among holistic doctors, there are some whacks out there.  You have to "interview" them in a sense and make sure they are going to be a right fit for you and your family and that you feel very comfortable with them!! 

Now onto the cleanse....

I have just completed (or should I say survived) my first week on the Candida Cleanse that I chose to do.  This cleanse is not for the wimpy.  It's not a quick fix, packaged in a nice little box, with a small price tag.  It's a huge commitment, time consuming, and costs several hundred dollars.  If you are not use to spending time in the kitchen prepping and preparing meals, you better get use to this new way of life, as you and the kitchen are going to become quite close!!
There are many candida cleanses available, so here is why I chose this particular cleanse: Christa Orecchio, founder of The Whole Journey Candida cleanse, suffered herself from candida for many years.  She was raised on antibiotics and was a sugar/caffeine addict as an adult.  It took her 3 tries to rid her body of candida.  The protocol she followed on her 3rd attempt finally worked and rid her body of the yeast overgrowth.  She has used this same protocol over the past 8 years to help hundreds of her clients.  Candida, is a nasty booger, and you have to attack it on 3 different levels: diet, anti-fungals, and probiotics.  You have to starve the candida (through diet, since it feeds on sugar) and then you have to kill it and get it out of your body (anti-fungals and probiotics).  This particular cleanse addresses all 3 of these areas.  She provides you with a wealth of information including: 5 hours of webinars/powerpoint presentations, menu plans, lots of recipes, remedies for candida cleanse symptoms/issues, frequently asked questions & answers, information on testing your PH levels,  resources for adrenal fatigue, thyroid health, and much more!  Christa literally takes your hand and walks you through the process step by step.  Although you do not get live, face to face support, it's the next best thing!  In my opinion, thus far, it has been worth every penny. 
4 Anti-Fungals I am using.  Olive Leaf, Oil of OreganoGrapefruit Seed Extract, and Pau d'Arco tea.
 It's a 100% commitment for the entire 6-8 weeks of the cleanse.  There is absolutely no room for cheating or caving in to temptation.  If you do, that is 1 step forward and 5 steps backwards...and you DO NOT want that! 
My diet consist of eating 40% organic greens and vegetables and 40% organic meats, fish, and eggs.  Another 10% is for a few low sugar fruits and nuts, which equals 1 green apple or 1 cup berries for example and 1/4 cup nuts or 1 Tbl nut butter.  The last 10% is reserved for complex carbs such as brown rice, quinoa, beans, sweet potatoes.  I'm allowed 3 servings per day, and 1 serving would be 1/2 cup cooked brown rice or 1 medium sweet potato for example.  

The 5 most challenging things so far are: 1) Feeling so limited on what to eat for snacks.  I don't think I realized how much snacking I did throughout the day...until many of those options are taken away.  2) Sometimes I'm having to make one meal for myself and a completely separate meal for my family.  Although I try to combine the two or use a lot of the same ingredients but tweak mine as needed.  3) There are so many details to remember with this cleanse-what you can and can't eat, supplements at different times of the day, drinking enough water, etc...  Thankfully I am a very detailed person and this isn't too big of an issue for me, however, this might feel way too difficult/overwhelming for someone who works full-time outside of the home or doesn't have the personality to do the daily checklist of requirements.  4) Going out to eat...options are pretty limited.  I've turned into that very annoying customer who asks all the questions and has to have foods tailored for my needs (No gluten, no dairy, no sugar, no yeast, no fermented foods, no caffeine, nothing fried, no vinegar, no alcohol, no refined carbs, no high glycemic fruits, shall I go on??? LOL) 5) The biggest challenge I am facing is that my blood sugar feels "off" and I am losing weight.  I am eating every few hours but I am feeling weak and that my body is lacking something it needs to function properly.  I'm also losing weight, which is a great bonus in doing a cleanse like this IF you need to lose weight.  I was at a very ideal and healthy weight and people are beginning to take notice and make comments and I don't like that.  I want to look healthy not sickly.
I keep telling myself this is only a brief moment in time compared to my whole life and it is worth the sacrifice right now!  But I need to make sure that I am staying healthy through all of this and not overdoing it.  Praying about what I need to do.  I need wisdom right now.  Stay tuned next week as I give a recap of how week 2 went! 
If you missed my Intro blog post to the Candida Cleanse you can go here.
*I am an affiliate for some of the links included in this blog series, which means, if you click on them and make a purchase, I will receive a commission.


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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Candida Cleanse - Intro

On Monday of this week (July 7th), I began my first day of a 6-8 week Candida Cleanse.  I will be writing a weekly update on how things are going.  Hopefully I can provide encouragement for anyone else who is considering doing something like this or simply wanting to make some changes to better your health!

"Candida albicans is a specific strain of yeast that lives in the intestinal tract, which can become problematic when it gets out of balance and overgrows. Candida is opportunistic, meaning that it will grow out of balance if your health or constitution has been weakened, typically by using antibiotics. Because non-organic meat contains antibiotics, many of us are consuming them, unwittingly, on a daily or at least weekly basis.  Antibiotics kill bacteria – both the good and the bad. So whenever antibiotics are used, we need to repopulate the intestinal flora with good bacteria (probiotics). The good bacteria should outweigh the bad so it doesn’t take over and cause problems.  Antibiotics can also thin our mucosal lining, leaving us ill-equipped to wrap up pathogens like parasites and transport them out of the body. This can make us vulnerable to all kinds of foreign invaders, and yeast overgrowth.  Other contributing factors include excessive sugar, coffee, or alcohol consumption, parasitic infections, and chronic stress." (The Whole Journey)


But let me start with a little of my story.....
While in college, in my early twenties, I contracted a horrible parasite known as giardia.  I was absolutely miserable for months and months.  When it was finally diagnosed through a stool sample that I had a parasite, I was put on an antibiotic.  By the end of the week I was a mess, laying on my bathroom floor unable to crawl into bed after massive diarrhea and throwing up.  I did not finish taking the antibiotics after this.  Then in my late twenties/early thirties I got strep throat and again was given antibiotics.  In addition, most of my life I have followed the SAD diet (Standard American Diet).  My diet consisted of top ramen, Doritos, soda pop, Rice-a-Roni, Oreo cookies, pizza, macaroni and cheese, doughnuts, ice cream, sour patch kids, bagels, nachos....I think you get the point!  (P.S. I'm referring to a lot of my own food choices I made as a teen/young adult...my mom read this and thought everyone was going to think she fed me horribly as a child! LOL)


All that to say, I don't think my health issues I've been dealing with over the past few years are just accidental or part of getting older.  I have experienced things like severe fatigue, adult acne, night sweats, anxiety, digestion issues/constipation, and at times feeling stressed/overwhelmed with every day life.  There is a saying that has become one of my motto's, "Pay now or pay later".  If we do not make the effort NOW for our health and well being, we will be paying for it later.

 I have come to the realization that one of the greatest contributors to most every ailment, sickness, or disease, stems from an unhealthy gut.  What we put into our bodies truly does matter....you ARE what you eat (this also applies to what you put ON your body).  We must view food differently, because it has the potential to bring harm or healing.  Unfortunately over the past 60 years there has been a huge change in our food system from an agricultural system to an industrialized system.  We are eating foods grown in soil depleted of the vital nutrients and minerals our bodies need because they are heavily sprayed with nasty chemicals.  There are so many additives/toxins, we can't even pronounce, listed with the ingredients.  And of course one of the greatest horrors of our time...GMO's (genetically modified foods).  This is why purchasing organic, when possible, is so important! 

Then there is the issue of antibiotics being handed out left and right, consuming antibiotics through non-organic meat, processed foods, fast food, and another major factor....artificial and refined sugar (which is in EVERYTHING).  Being apart of a fast paced society has impacted how we eat.  Gone are the days, for so many Americans, of homemade healthy meals.  We want fast, quick, convenient, no prep, and of course CHEAP.  Here is a great 20 minute video to watch regarding the evolution of food, click here.


My main focus, initially, was on healing my skin.  This was the most noticeable of my problems and something I was extremely self-conscious about.  But it didn't take long for me to realize my focus needed to shift, from the external, to healing my body from the inside out.  I began to understand that my acne was my bodies way of telling me there were other things off internally.  I began, with the help of a wonderful and caring naturopathic doctor, to address things like adrenal fatigue, detoxing my liver, healing my gut, balancing my hormones, and cleaning up my diet even more...all of which have made a big improvement in my health & my skin. 

About a year ago, my doctor had me do a stool sample, which overall looked good but did show a low level of candida.  So based on those results and the fact that I'm not experiencing major health issue, I do not believe my body is over burdened by candida.  But I also don't want to go down that road either.  We must be proactive with our health. 

I performed an at home spit test, based on the recommendation of clinical and holistic nutritionist, Christa Orecchio, over at The Whole Journey.  I did this first thing every morning for 6 consecutive days and each time my saliva sunk to the bottom in a cloudy/milky form.  It was after this that I knew, what the next step was in my journey to health.

As I look back over the past year and a half of my life, I can see how the Lord has guided me along, given me wisdom, directed me to the right resources and to those with more knowledge than myself, and shown me the steps I've needed to take.  Most recently the Lord has led me to the place I am now with taking on candida.  Many of the things required for the cleanse have already been in place in my life for sometime now and I give the Lord all the credit for that.  Otherwise this cleanse would be incredibly intense. 
Are you struggling with one or more health issues/symptoms such as: headaches, stomach pain, anxiety, acne, a mental fog, constipation/diarrhea, heartburn, digestive discomfort, or chronic sinus infections?  I know what it's like to want answers, to want to feel normal again, to want your energy back, to want the fogginess to lift, and to want the pain to disappear.  I am not a doctor and don't pretend to be, so obviously the first bit of advice is to be seen by a doctor (holistic or naturopathic is best in my personal opinion).  But the greatest thing you can do is take the time to seek the Lord and ask for Him to impart His wisdom and to direct your steps. 
If you need a fresh start with your health, want to figure out the root cause of your symptoms, learn how to use food as the basis for healing, and have an expert walking you through the process than check out: The Whole Journey 6 week eCourse.  You will receive a wealth of information provided by Clinical & Holistic Nutritionist, Christa Orecchio (Whom I absolutely love!!).  This is a pretty expensive investment, but if you are serious about making drastic changes to better your health, you won't regret it!  It's one of those "Pay Now or Pay Later" decisions.

Stay tuned next Monday as I share more details about the cleanse and how things are going!!  Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions!  Click here for week 1.
Here are some great videos to check out: 48 second test for candida, Blog talk Radio or The Whole Journey.
*I am an affiliate for some of the links included in this blog post, which means, if you click on them and make a purchase, I will receive a commission.


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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Constant and Unchanging

A few weekends ago my family went on a mini road trip to go visit my dear Grandma who lives about 4 hours away.  The moment we pulled up and I started walking into the house from the garage, there was that very familiar smell.  I can't really describe it but it's just the same smell I have recalled since I was little. 

Everything about my grandparents home is exactly the same every time I come for a visit.  The same pictures hanging on the side of the fridge, the same little stuffed animals sitting up on a little toy rocking chair, the same couch, the same TV, the same grandfather clock that chimes all through the night, the same pictures on the walls, the same dishes, and the same joyful Grandma to greet me with a hug and a kiss.  The only thing not the same is that my Grandpa has passed away and his presence is certainly missed.

There is such comfort in the familiar, the unchanging, the constant.  I thrive on those three things.  I love routine, a schedule, things planned out on the calendar, and daily rituals.  But we all know life doesn't always work this way.  Sometimes there are unexpected things that come up, strains in relationships, health issues that arise, a child suddenly feverish, a planned event that gets cancelled, a death in the family, a marriage that feels like it's unraveling at the seams, a child that is leaving for college, oh the list could go on and on.  The ground can feel shaky underneath us and we don't quite know what to hold on to.  We feel like we are losing our bearings.  Or losing sight of what truly matters. 

But just like my sweet Grandma's home being an unchanging place of such comfort...that is our God.  He is unchanging, He is constant, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  We can always count on Him.  He will never fail us.  His love endures forever.  His grace is always there.  His forgiveness is always available. 

We can find the same peace, joy, hope, strength, truth, forgiveness, healing, love, and comfort every time we open the door to the Lord's house.  I don't know about you but I am so incredibly thankful for one thing in my life that I KNOW won't ever change!   He is who we can hold onto when life gets shaky and He is who we must keep our eyes fixed on, ALWAYS!!



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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Along the way....

I had a very sweet gal message me on my Homeschool FB page.  She shared with me how much she enjoys reading my blog and that it has been such a source of encouragement to her.  She noticed I had not posted over the winter and just wanted to see how things were going.  She said, "I was hopeful that you were not going to go MIA."

I've really missed writing on my blog, but so many things have taken precedence, and I have had to set it on the shelf for a while.  But after reading the words from one of my blog followers I decided I needed to post something and to let anyone who reads my blog know that I am not M.I.A!  I'm here!!  I'm living life, being a mom, homeschooling my girls, and learning lots and lots these days.

So I thought I would share some things I am learning along the way of life....

  • I am learning...that when your kids are begging for more of something (that involves learning) to run with it!!  Over the past few months, during lunch time, I started reading a chapter a day from the YWAM "Christian Heroes: Then and Now" books.  So far we have read about missionaries such as: Amy Carmichael, Gladys Alward, Corrie Ten Boom, Eric Liddel, and Nate Saint.  This wasn't part of our curriculum for the year, nor was I reading them during our "school" time.  It was just for fun!  But as I began to open these books and read to my girls I found a wealth of information on history, geography, governments, wars, world events, various cultures, customs, religions, and lives devoted to serving Jesus in whatever capacity He called them to.  My girls would beg me to read, and when I finished a chapter, they would beg me to read another!  Isn't that how learning should be?  I just ordered a ton more of the YWAM books to incorporate in our history for next year.  It's stories like these that really bring people, places, and events to life!  More than being able to recite their multiplication facts in 10.5 seconds flat or be a spelling whiz....I want my children to have such a heart for reaching the lost...to have boldness, courage, trust, perseverance, a love for others, a servants heart, and a heart of obedience to whatever the Lord might call them to!

  • I'm learning to be comfortable in my own skin.  My whole entire life I have been fortunate to have a wonderful complexion, with only a few breakouts here and there during my monthly cycle.  However, all that began to change at the age of 36, and my skin began to get worse and worse.  I found myself so embarrassed and humiliated by my skin.  I was in constant tears and felt so devastated.  Yet every time I would say something to a friend they would reply with something like, "Andrea, I think you are beautiful and I don't even notice your breakouts until you start bringing it up."  Even my husband was still complimenting me and acting as though nothing was different with my face.  I began to realize that I needed to let go of my insecurities, focus on loving myself, and be comfortable in my own skin (flaws and all).  I even stopped wearing make-up...that was hard but I haven't worn make up (except eye make-up) for the past few months.  My skin is making remarkable progress and I will be sharing in another blog post the changes I have made and the things I have been doing both internally and externally that I feel has helped!  I hope it will be an encouragement to any other moms out there struggling with adult acne.

  • I'm learning that God's timing is always perfect.  A few years ago the Lord put a vision on my heart for a way to minister more to the moms at the homeschool co-op I attend.  My vision was for ladies to gather during their hour off (there are 3-1 hour long classes at the co-op and every parent helps or teaches 2 out of the 3 class hours and then has 1 hour off).  The Lord put it on my heart to call it REFUEL time (a time to be Refreshed, Encouraged, Friendships made/strengthened, Unity, Equipped, and Laughter).  And I also wanted to give different ladies opportunities to share something from their life, perhaps a trial or hardship they walked through, a way the Lord provided in their life, a blessing they experienced, or a way they have grown in their faith.  To make a long story short, this idea was not made a reality until this last session of our co-op.  The main leader of the co-op contacted me and asked me if I would want to oversee the hour off time.  When I shared my vision with her, she had goose bumps, and told me this is what the Lord had put on her heart as well!  We just finished up the 10 week session and the REFUEL time was amazing!! 

  • I'm learning to let go, even to some really good things.  My husband started a new job last May.  After 17 years with the same company, he was laid off, and they were going to be closing down the office/warehouse he had worked out of all those years (He was the only US employee for this Canadian company).  His new job came within days of being laid off and he was able to stay in the same office/warehouse and was paid quite a bit more than his previous job.  However, this job requires a lot more travelling.  So when your "partner in crime" isn't home as often, it changes day to day life a lot.  Things that I could normally be apart of, became harder to do.  I had signed up for a half marathon race and quickly realized I couldn't put in the time to train, so I had to drop out of that race.  I love to plan monthly "Mom's Night Out" events and had to let go of this as well.  I love to run outdoors and have had to revert to using my treadmill in the garage.  And of course I've had to let go of blogging regularly.  I am so tired after an entire day taking care of kids, that I tend to go to bed immediately after tucking them in (Yes I know I am turning into an old lady!).  But in the midst of letting go, I've also learned to cling more to God.  I love spending time with friends, running, and blogging...but  He is the true source of joy and hope in my life!!

  • I am learning...God wants to use me, imperfections and all, to impact the lives of others.  I still have moments when I feel like a failure as a mom or a human being.  I fall short with my words.  I struggle to be that example I desperately want to be to my kids.  I get impatient.  I feed my kids hot dogs or frozen pizza sometimes...I mean literally just that with no side serving of fruits of veggies. LOL  Sometimes my joking or sarcasm goes too far and I feel regretful.  I get upset with my husband and handle my hurts with anger.  But even in the midst of my flaws, God chooses to use me, ME!  I am blessed with the opportunity to sit on the couch, most mornings, and read from a children's Bible with my girls and pray for our day.  I am able to tell my girls everyday about how loved they are by God and that He has wonderful plans for their lives.  I can text a Bible verse to my sister on her way to work when she is bogged down and consumed with hard things.  I pray for friends and strive to encourage them whenever they are struggling.  I can give out a smile or a hug to someone who really needs it.  You see, we'll never have it all figured out, sin & our flesh will have the upper hand at times.  We are going to fail but we are not failures.  We will fall but we don't have to stay down.  You don't have to  wait to get your life all sorted out before God can use you.  God simply wants a willing heart that says, "Here I am Lord, use me!" 

    What is God teaching/showing you along the way?


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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Run with Perseverance!

The evening of October 26th I laid out my very important outfit for the next morning...my black & pink ensemble for my very first marathon! 

My alarm woke me up at 6:00 am on the morning of the 27th.  Ok not really I was awake way before my alarm went off, laying there thinking about the day ahead.  I had 3 hours before my race began... a race of 26.2 miles to complete with over 2200 feet of elevation.  Not necessarily the best choice for a first marathon but getting to experience this race with my dear friend Rachel (and the breathtaking scenery) was worth it!!  I had quinoa with bananas, blueberries, almond milk, and brown sugar for breakfast!  Then another banana and a bar in the time leading up to the race.  I drank coconut water too!! 

at the starting line!
As we gathered at the starting line I had this moment of fear..."can I really do this?"  I reminded myself of how hard I had trained and prepared for this moment and that everything was going to be fine.  So much about getting to the finish line is being mentally strong.  I had a strategy to go out at a 12 min/mile pace for the first 5 miles, then increase to 11:30 pace up to mile 13, 11:00 pace to mile 20, and then 10:30 pace for the last 6.2 miles.  This would give me an overall average pace of around 11:00 minutes per mile and a finish time of around 4 hours and 48 minutes.

Waving to my husband!

My supportive friends cheering me on and holding up signs!

A photo at the turnaround point (mile 11.8)

I was so blessed to have several friends, my parents, my girls, and my husband all there to cheer me on.  It was so beautiful out but after the turn around the wind started to pick up, the sun disappeared behind the clouds and it started to rain.  I just kept pressing on and on but as I approached the 18 mile marker I was beginning to feel tired.  I also knew once I passed the 18 mile marker I would be going further than I had in my training.  I passed my group of friends cheering me on and asked them to pray.  It was an uphill climb for several miles and I knew it was going to be tough.  Later they shared with me that they gathered and prayed immediately, then looked up and saw me running up towards the top of that portion of the hill. 

Between miles 18 and 23.5 I was on a paved trail with no through traffic, so I was without any support from my family or friends.  It was raining rather hard at this point, I was running uphill, and my phone died so I had no music to help motivate me.  I had forgotten to grab more fuel/food from my friends the last time I had seen them and was out of my electrolyte drink.  Basically everything I relied on to help sustain me, motivate me, encourage me and keep me going was taken away from me. 

I remember calling out to the Lord, "You are the only one I have to sustain me and get me through this Lord.  Help me to stay strong and keep moving forward.  Give me the endurance, perseverance, and right mindset to make it to the finish line." As I continued running I was feeling like I needed to get some carbs in me quickly and suddenly I saw a wrapper on the ground that caught my attention.  I picked it up and discovered it was an unopened packet of gummies.  I couldn't help but smile..."Manna from heaven" is what I thought of in that moment.

I prayed for someone to be up at the top of the hill (mile 23.5) so that I could get more food/electrolytes.  Sure enough my husband and girls were there to greet me and give me what I needed.  Now it was the downhill and final miles to the finish line!!  As I came down the winding road around mile 24.5 I suddenly heard clapping, cheering, shouting...and saw my entire group of supporters cheering me on.  I was filled with such emotion and began to cry.  It really gave me that boost to keep going and finish the race.

My biggest fans!!

What an amazing feeling it was to cross that finish line!!  Victory!!  Success!!  Perseverance!!  Relief!!  Joy!!  I was overwhelmed by so many emotions and so so so thankful to be done!  I crossed the finish at 5 hours, 13 minutes, and 27 seconds.  A little slower than I had hoped but taking into consideration all the hills I was very proud of my accomplishment!

And Rachel did amazing...finishing in 3 hours and 51 minutes!  I am so very proud of her and how well she did!! 

A few photos after crossing the finish line!

My amazing husband

Every gal in this photo is a homeschooling mom!! 
I am so thankful to have had this experience.  It. Was. Hard....but so worth it!  Running has so many comparisons to our Christian walk.  I didn't just go out and run a marathon.  I had to train & prepare my body, mind, and spirit.  I had to be disciplined.  I had to push through even when it was hard.  As a Christian, it's a growing process and requires discipline.  We train ourselves to trust God, to lean on Him, to walk in our spirit and not in the flesh, to be humble, to forgive, and so much more.  In our life we experience hills, obstacles, rainy seasons, fatigue, and hard times.  But there is purpose in every step we take.  We can not give up...we must keep moving forward...we must press on and run with perseverance the race set out before us!
I am so thankful for everyone who has supported me, encouraged me, and prayed for me during the past few months of training and on race day!  A very special thanks to Rachel, Sarah, Anna, Sandi, Mary, Bob, Gracie, Sam, and my girls!!


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