What Food Is For

Soul. Body. Soul


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Blog Update – Catalytic Reactions and Cascades of Changes

One of my favorite topics during my last semester’s study of digestive physiology was enzymatic action. Really.

Digestive enzymes work to speed up the rate at which needed reactions happen. It’s not that the reaction won’t necessarily happen without them – it’s just that it will take a long time, possibly too long, and then bad things will happen. Case in point –the breakdown of dairy products like milk or cheese. A single enzyme called lactase is responsible for catalyzing the breakdown of the sugar in dairy products into an absorbable form. At a molecular level, the way lactase binds to lactose and wrenches it apart is utterly disruptive, at least from the poor lactose molecule’s perspective! But unless that process happens, your body as a whole will experience far more negative consequences down the digestive line. With lactase, your morning latte is a blessing; without it, it’s an intestinal curse. Some enzymes work somewhat linearly, while others provoke a cascade of all kinds of reactions. In either case, they are a very real force in how our bodies take what we eat and turn it into what we need to live and thrive.

While it was happening, my daughter’s surprise scoliosis diagnosis in late 2013 and journey to surgery last March seemed like nothing more than a giant circumstantial earthquake of the relatively classic Proverbs 3:5&6 and Romans 5:8 kind. But with every month that passed, God continued to work out of that one disruptive season a cascade of changes, so that today I’m doing almost entirely different things than I was this time last year. Sometimes God permits years to go by before you can look back and see all the good He truly was working together out of a tough situation, and sometimes it’s not until Heaven that you see it at all. But in His goodness, He’s already helped me see how what happened just a year ago was precisely what was needed to catalyze a cascade of changes in direction in my life. I’m listing them here because they all have some bearing on how this little fledgling blog may or may not evolve in the coming months.

School

Simply put – I’ve put my graduate studies in nutritional science on hold, perhaps indefinitely. There are few “negative” reasons – amount and intensity of time investment to do well demanding more than I could rightfully give at the moment, our current financial state needing attention now, instead of several years from now, etc. But it was mostly for positive reasons – I was being drawn into other opportunities to serve others out of my gifts and experience in ways that was having a measurable impact in real time. The body of knowledge I’d amassed wasn’t being wasted – it was just being applied in a variety of ways I hadn’t anticipated.

So here’s what I’m doing now:

Working
I’m splitting my work time two different ways:

  1. I’ve just started some paid part time work as a technology sales strategy consultant with a terrific little boutique consulting firm that’s a mere twelve minute commute from my house. I get to keep my professional strategic communication muscles from atrophying into uselessness and build back up a little cushion in our financial status that was sorely needed. Simply put, if I didn’t take this work, we’d be looking at some pretty drastic life changes that we were praying wouldn’t be necessary. The opportunity came very quickly on the heels of those prayers, and seems at this point to be exactly what we’d hoped. I’m praying it continues that way.
  1. I’m dedicating more time each week to social media and other projects related to support and education for families surprised by a scoliosis diagnosis, specifically those investigating VBT as an alternative to spinal fusion. I participate in multiple general scoliosis forums, and am also volunteering time with the Setting Scoliosis Straight Foundation, which is involved in both patient and doctor education, awareness and clinical research. My background in technical and marketing communication and strategy, and now science writing, combined with my own experience as a mom of a daughter with scoliosis and successful VBT surgery, is enabling me to be a positive help to others, and I am tremendously blessed to contribute any way I can. To be honest, if I could to this kind of work in some kind of paid capacity, I’d love it, and I’m praying in that direction. But in the meantime, it’s been a joy and privilege to help raise awareness and understanding about new ways of detecting and managing what can be a pernicious and debilitating condition if left untreated.

Writing and Teaching

I returned to writing more intentionally last summer after going to the TGC Women’s conference and spending three days in what was itself a catalyzing experience with some dear sisters. I had put thoughts of writing aside for a long time and a lot of reasons. One of them is I’m afraid of how my paid skills could kind of bleed into my personal writing in a way that could endanger my own soul. People actually pay me money to help them craft messages that get attention and generate action (most of those actions having something to do with forking over giant quantities of cash.) Do I really have to lay out why those are dangerous skills to possess when it comes to writing on the Christian Internet?? Didn’t think so.

Beyond that, sometimes some of what I’ve read from women on the Internet seems to be more about just having a lot to say, rather than necessarily having something necessary to say. Again, that comes from a gospel-grounded steel-eyed awareness of that all too often, that’s the kind of woman I can be. I’ve got more opinions than any paid political pundit, and the spiritual gift of snark to boot. Those aren’t really skills to just keep in check; those are sins to actively kill. And that’s what I’ve tried to do, over the last couple years. I’ll leave it up to God and my close friends to let me know if there’s been progress with that or not.

But then last year I took one of those “What kind of ….” Are You?” quizzes. Not one of those cheesy, TigerBeat ones that too many of my friends waste too many hours and brain cells taking, er are ubiquitous on social media. This was a learning styles quiz that my anatomy professor had us take before we began his class. The idea of this quiz was that different kinds of people have different instinctive ways of learning a new concept or skill. Some read. Some have to interact physically with models. And some have to talk. His goal was to help us know from the beginning which ways we learned best and factor that into our study strategy. The readers needed to make sure to buy the textbook. The talkers needed to be in a study group.

Guess which one I turned out to be?

The realization that talking out loud (or typing on a keyboard) was the key to getting important ideas into my mind didn’t just help me earn an A in Anatomy that semester, or help me work through the trials of getting my daughter’s scoliosis treated. It was a catalyzing moment in how I viewed my sanctification, and even my gifting. I began to write, and then to teach, not because I felt I had things to say, but because of a compulsion over things I needed to learn. In writing in particular, God began to work into my soul what I worked over in my mind and onto a page. And then He would give me opportunities to teach those same things – to the women at my church, and most critically, to the three emerging women in my own home.

They, really, are the reason why I want to write and teach more broadly this year (even as they also might be reasons sometimes I won’t be able to do as much as I’d like, which will be for my good and God’s glory). My daughters and I are living together in a world that is determined to mold our hearts, minds, and even bodies, into monstrosities. Closing our eyes and ears and living in a spiritual bunker will. not. work. I can testify to that personally from my own adolescent experience, and that was before the era of the Internet. My daughters need to be given eyes to see and love the One in whose image they are made, to understand how He made them to live, and also to know and respond, with neither fear nor shame, to the attacks of the enemy who wants to devour them. I need those eyes too.

And so that’s why the writing here may expand a bit. I started this blog knowing a few of the rules of the blogosphere about having a specific idea and letting that be the center out of which to write. I didn’t just write around food as a gimmick; I did it because I truly do love the food world, I really do see the metaphor of food in Scripture as one of the richest there is, I think the connections are worth exploring, and I don’t plan to stop writing about them any time soon. It’s just that that one idea is no longer all I want or need to write about.

I’m thankful that I’ve been given a few opportunities in other places to broaden the scope of my writing. I’ll keep writing for them as long as they’ll have me. I just wanted to note some of the goings on here, in case somebody somewhere on the Internet was curious. If that was you, you’re welcome. And thanks for reading.