On how to survive the holidays with a food restriction…

So, you have celiac disease. Welcome to the club. Or a nut allergy? Glad you’re here. Allergic to eggs? Fish? Wheat or soy? Well, I bet you fear the holidays as much as I do.

My name is Stephanie, and last year I was diagnosed with celiac disease. On top of that – I’m allergic to nearly every damn food on this green earth.

I was diagnosed October of 2015. The harsh reality of my food restriction didn’t hit me until I was eating Christmas dinner with my in-laws. While my in-laws were dishing up their food, I came to the harsh realization that I would never be able to enjoy another holiday the same way again.

When you don’t have any food restrictions, all you have to do for most holidays (or parties, or meals, or anything) is just show up. But when you might vomit/have diarrhea/go into shock from consuming the smallest quantity of some food item – you start viewing eating food with a group of people a little differently.

Last year, my holidays were sad because I didn’t know what to do. One year later, I’ve learned. I wanted to share what I’ve learned and recommend how you can prepare for the upcoming holiday feasts/potential reactions season. If you read this and have more tips/recommendations please leave them in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

1) If this is your first holiday with a restriction – it’s ok to cry… for a minute.

My ham brought me to tears. It brought me to tears because in a house full of food, it was the only thing I could eat. If you find yourself in a similar situation, it’s ok to cry for a few minutes. But then (and sorry to be so harsh here) you have to pick your ass up and get over it. No amount of crying is going to feed you. So feel sad, and then go find yourself some amazing food that you can scarf down. Wine is one of my go-to consumables.

2) When you come to someone else’s house – don’t expect to be able to eat anything.

Last year I somehow thought I could just eat the stuff that didn’t contain gluten. But then, I saw my GF cookies nuzzling the gluten-filled cookies. I thought I could just eat the turkey, but then I saw someone graze a plate of turkey with the stuffing spoon. Within seconds all of my plans were destroyed. The worst part was, I didn’t come with a plan B. Honestly – what is fair for me to expect? There are 20+ people at this event. It is unfair and unreasonable for me to think everyone should shift their plans for me. It is my responsibility to make sure my food is safe. I think this has been one of the most difficult things for me to overcome, but it’s gotten better.

3) Bring your own food.

I went to a Thanksgiving party a few days ago with my close friends, and I brought all of my own food. Everyone at the party knows my limitations, so they weren’t freaked out when I was munching on my own numnums while they were scarfing down the food I couldn’t eat. When you can – just bring your own goodies. Cheese and crackers are relatively potable, so are Lara bars. And I mentioned wine, right?

4) Eat ahead of time.

Realistically, you can’t always bring your own food. You’ll either look like a cheapskate or seem crazy. When you can’t bring in your own food, eat ahead of time. And if you don’t want to feel bitter about watching strangers eat the food you can’t enjoy – eat something AMAZING. That way, you won’t feel sad about Timmy eating bonbons because you’ll have had some GF pizza, or nut-free donuts, or whatever.

5) If you can, cook at your own house.

By the grace of God, we are hosting Thanksgiving this year. I won’t have to bring all of my own food. I won’t have to starve. And the best part – I won’t have to worry about when I’ll get sick from cross contamination.

6) If you’re cooking for someone with an allergy – ask them about their preferences.

I trust about three people to cook for me; one is a chef and the other two are super GF. It isn’t personal, it’s just that I can’t afford to get sick. If you want to provide food for someone with an allergy, just shoot them a message and ask them their preferences. And if they say “Don’t do anything,” please don’t be offended.

Happy and safe holidays everyone.

Captain Jack knows what’s up.

On what I’ve learned from my friends…

Last week I was talking to someone about the election. Yeah – my mistake.

Half way through the conversation the person said, “I don’t know how anyone could vote for candidate _____.” The person then went on to say, “Any people I know that support _____, I am no longer friends with. I got rid of those people.

We are all entitled to form with relationships with any people we please. But the idea of quickly throwing someone away over a political disagreement makes me feel sad.

So I wanted to shift the conversation away from differences, and focus on something positive: what the amazing people in my life have taught me. I thought of all of the incredible people I’ve had the privilege of meeting, and then I thought about what I learned from our friendship. To the people in my life – I love you. Thanks for helping me become a better person.

Without further ado, here are the lessons I’ve learned from my friends.

Alex Cash – Think about everything. Question everything. Remain open-minded.

Alexa Zimmerman – By the time she is age five, your niece can easily become a better person than you may be.

Amy Gafjken – While it’s tempting to correct people when they’re wrong, sometimes it’s better to remain silent.

Ashley Woods – Life is full of so much joy, so grab all of that each moment you can.

Barry Schmidt – Read the news, watch the news, and listen to the news. Just be informed.

Ben Klomsten – Don’t break the rules, find ways to make them bend.

Ben Vance – When the chips are down for a friend, be the person that calls to pick that person up.

Brian Goins – The most talented people need not brag, because their confidence comes from what they can do.

Brandy DeLeo – Be kind as long as you can. If being kind doesn’t work – just shrug it off.

Bri Campo – Great friends are sacrificial.

Bri Fox – Advocate for yourself. Speak up for your needs. And never be scared to ask a good friend for help.

Cassi Hodgson – Any moment can become a silly moment.

Chris Cooper – You don’t have to put up with a shitty spouse. A good person will treat you well.

Courtney Kruse – Don’t rush through life. Take moments to do fun and silly things.

 Danielle Dobies – Share your challenges with people – it helps them understand that life can be difficult.

Dan Kruse – Some people were born to give clear, concise directions.

Darrin Matthew Voris – Be the person that brings people together.

Del Belcher IV – Be kind to people. Try new things. Spend money on things you love.

Drew VanTongeren – Find ways to turn negative conversation into something productive.

Frances Gibbs – Don’t be afraid to try something you’ve never done before.

Gary Miles – Energetic children are a thing of joy, and their adventures should be shared on Facebook.

Gloria Klomsten – It doesn’t take anything away from yourself to compliment a stranger.

Guy McHendry – You really can have amazing discourse on Facebook, if the person leading knows what they’re doing.

Haley Mulroney – The first person you love more than yourself will likely be your niece.

Heidi Rhodes – The greatest joy in life comes from being with your friends.

Jack Campo – When you’re at work, give people your best. Help them. Serve them.

Jason Zimmerman – When giving people gifts, go all out.

Jessica Pierce – Children are amazing, and we need to do everything we can to understand them.

Jill Shaffer (I could probably devote a few blogs to how much I learned from Jill) – Before you speak, take a deep breath and think about what you’re going to say.

John Voelz – Be yourself. Always.

Jolene Schatzinger – You really can be kind to everyone.

Julia Belcher – Speak with everyone. Listen to them.

Justen Rhodes – Don’t just talk about helping people. Actually help people.

Karysa Trombley – Be boldly confident in the person that God made you to be.

Kelly Heath – You can be a busy and active mother, and raise outstanding children.

Mary Sterrett – Arrogance doesn’t look good on people. You can simply exist as an amazing person.

Mandy Stutenberg – Women can do anything and everything. And they can do it with unparalleled strength and grace.

Megin Worsham – Just because someone is quiet, doesn’t mean they aren’t the wisest person in the room.

Melissa Rickert – People are attracted to the person that gives them a kind smile.

Nancy Belcher – Diplomacy is learned over time, through interactions with people different than yourself.

Nicholas Quade – You don’t have to agree about everything (or even anything) in order to be friends with someone.

Paul Health – Be kind to your children, and make sure they always help the Sunday school teacher pick up a mess.

Renee Guerrero – Be passionate about what you believe in.

Robert Huschka – A good leader is willing to listen to anyone in the room.

Ryan Rammelt – The average person has more depth than you’ll ever know.

Shane Ebel – There is no problem too great than cannot be improved with one solid hug.

Stephanie Klomsten – A well planned party is a thing of beauty.

Stephanie Wright – Advocate for people that need help.

Steve Klomsten – Try to understand people. Seriously try.

Steve Trosin – Love your community, and try to make it better.

Terri McGarry – When people are talking to you – stop what you’re doing and listen.

Theresa Sieg – When cancer gets you down, tell cancer to go fuck itself.

Tim Maynard – Never doubt the power of well-placed sarcasm.

How about you? Who are the people you’ve learned from in your life? How have they helped you become a better person?

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Can you please stop saying I’m not a Christian…

In the last several months, I’ve heard my brothers and sisters from every side call into question the faith of other Christian brothers and sisters. From every corner of the internet and in public spaces, I’ve heard people question how anyone can call themselves a Christian and…

  •          Vote Trump
  •          Vote for Hilary
  •          Oppose Trump
  •          Oppose Hilary
  •          Be pro-choice
  •          Be anti-abortion
  •          Support Syrian refugees
  •          Not help Syrian refugees
  •          Be a liberal
  •          Be conservative
  •          Support smaller government
  •          Support larger government

The list is endless. There seems to be some person stating they know the “truth” on every corner of the internet. If you want to back up your own point of view, you’re just a google search away. I’m pretty certain I could find some crazy dude with stats on why being racist is a Christian thing to do.

But that isn’t my point.

People enjoy fun ideas. They like hearing about concepts and dreams. But if you want to start a fight, try to hammer out details in a room full of people. The devil lives in the details.

There is one simple truth that spans across Christianity:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Everything else is a detail.

Wine at communion? A detail.

Drums in church! A detail.

Women in leadership. A detail.

International aid versus local? A detail.

Please don’t misunderstand me, details are important. I spend my live digging through details.

But in this – in this fight – what are we really fighting against?

Are we fighting to spread the word of God across all nations? Are we fighting to show people that Jesus has died for them? Or are we just fighting?

I like debates, and I like heavy discussion. But it seems to me like most of these fights aren’t over God’s truth, they’re over whatever we believe personally – with a Wikipedia page to back it up.

The real fight is not against each other, it is against the devil and evil and darkness. And right now, the devil is kicking our asses because we’re so busy fighting over the details. And the details, is where that poop stain likes to live.

For a while, can we stop fighting over these things?

For a while, can we stop calling into question the faith of our brothers and sisters? What purpose is that serving?

Can we take a step back from the details, and look at this big picture. The big picture where Christ died for all so we could be redeemed. The big picture where we are forgiven, if we too forgive. The big picture where we are all children of God, even if we disagree about the details.