Devotional, God's word

I Testify

IMG-20180714-WA0005.jpegGrowing up as a first-generation “Yankee” in a West-Indian family in the 1980’s was not always nice.  There were some customs that still endure in Caribbean culture that we really need to do away with.  The elders still do it a lot.  I think these days, those of us still living in America have assimilated into the cultural shift that happened sometime in the 1990’s.

I’m referring to the one where we are so careful not to body shame our girls.

But that didn’t happen until I was in my teens.  As a tween, body shaming was very normal.

The perpetrators: mothers, aunties and grannies who thought they were being helpful by blatantly pointing out what was wrong with your body and making sure you felt bad enough about it to want to change it.

The victim in question: 8-year-old Rashida, a cute, chubby third grader who’s kinky hair wouldn’t grow long, with a complexion a shade too dark to be “pretty”.  (Light skinned girls with “good hair” were in style at the time.)

Mom and my aunt, both of whom were overweight and obese themselves respectively (with all due respect) would pinch an inch of my side fat and say “if you would just lose a little weight you would be so pretty!” and other such uplifting statements.  There I was, having a secret crush on Kirk Cameron, knowing I was too fat and ugly for him to ever feel the same about me.

“if you would just lose a little weight you would be so pretty!” and other such uplifting statements.

Fast forward 10 years.  Cocoa skin was finally in, and fat became PHAT.  I was still a size 14 in my jeans, but that was no longer chubby – it was thick, curvaceous, sexy!  During that time frame, I got my first tastes of favorable attention from boys and men. It was just the medication I needed.  By age 18, I was hooked and always looking for that fix.

I was an addict for another 17 years. Like a crack head, I did things that I’m not at all proud of for my drug.  If a man didn’t seem to notice me, I made certain he did.  That validation was all I had to convince myself of my own value.

Sadly, my stock was declining in the process…

Then I met Nicholas.  One day, we were talking, and he was giving me a kind ear while I explained a problem I was having.  He put me on hold to check his church notes – I was astonished and intrigued by the very idea of taking notes in church – because what I was saying triggered a memory of the message he had gotten that morning.  I don’t remember the details of that conversation at all, but I do remember that his notes, God’s word, helped me in some way that evening.

It would be a few more months before I went to church again for the first time in many years, but on a chilly Wednesday night in November, I met Nicholas and we went together to his church in Brooklyn.  The messages, not just that night but also in the few weeks prior, that God was sending me were about the validation He wants to give me.

Rashida is the apple of God’s eye.

Rashida is wonderfully made. (I didn’t understand the “fearfully” part until later)

Rashida is His workmanship, His handiwork, His masterpiece!

Me?

At that moment, I suddenly stopped feeling that need for validation from men of this world.  All I needed was Jesus Christ.

I answered altar call, that is, the pastor invited anyone who did not have Jesus in their life to the altar and I stepped up.  I was raised Catholic, with all the childhood sacraments under my belt, but I had never appropriated the gift of eternal life before that night.

The messages, not just that night but also in the few weeks prior, that God was sending me were about the validation He wants to give me.

Since that night, my life has changed dramatically.  Not only do I no longer seek validation from men, but I encourage other women around me also.  My heart is moved by girls and young women who remind me of how I was.  God draws them near to me and I do all I can to fill them up so they never feel as empty as I once did.

God is using me in so many wonderful ways as I get deeper in my relationship with Him and give my life over to Him more and more.  I’m honored that He entrusts me with this ministry and the many lives that it touches. I’m humbled by the trust He puts in me!

The best part is knowing that I have eternal life.  With that kind of certainty, even the prospect of possibly dying during an organ donation surgery couldn’t phase me.  I was able to bless someone I love dearly without fear or hesitation because my trust is in Jesus Christ!

Now let me ask you these two questions:

  1. Have you come to a place in your spiritual life that, if you were to die today, you would go to heaven?  Or is that something you’d say you’re still working on?
  2. If you were to die today, and God was to ask you “Why should I let you into My heaven?”, how would you answer?

Please allow me to share my faith with you now:

If you have accepted The Gift, please connect with me so we can fellowship.  Whatsapp me at 868-792-5408 right now.

Welcome to the family of God!

 

food, God's word, vegan, Water

A Biblical Case for Veganism Part 3: Troubled Waters

In continuation of a biblical case for veganism, I choose now to focus on water, which is a birthright given by God that shows up in scripture in several contexts:
1. A vital component of God’s consistent provision in our lives
2. A metaphoric reference to His power and His reliability and, at times, His power as it abides in us
3. His way of cleansing us and nourishing us to flourish
We will look at how veganism is an indirect way of exercising better stewardship over this vital resource. Before we do that, let us first examine some scriptures that illustrate what I’ve stated above:
Water is YOUR God Given Birthright

Before we continue with A Biblical Case for Veganism Part 3, please accept our invitation to join the growing movement for Food Sovereignty. Sign up right here!

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Now, as I was saying:

In Genesis 2:5-6, even before God created man and made him Commissioner of Eden Gardens, He watered the land in preparation for the garden and Adam.

God Consistently Provides Water

Even after the Fall of Man, although we are subjected to several consequences for our disobedience, we were never expected to live without water.  When the Children of Israel are wandering through the desert, He responded to their complaints of thirst by turning brackish water into clean, refreshing water for them to drink.

Water as a Reference to God’s Power

He caused it to rain for 40 days and 40 nights straight in Genesis 7 – this is also a reference to cleansing, His main intent for the Great Flood. The waters remained for 150 days and didn’t recede until God decided the time was right.

Water as a Reference to God’s Power as it Abides in us

The Prophet Elijah – 1 Kings 17:1 (NKJV) And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”

Elijah gave that word later in 1 Kings 18:41

Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.”  (NKJV)

We know from James 5:17 that on Elijah’s word, through his prayer, there was no rain for 3 1/2 years.

Water as a Reference to God’s Reliability

Isaiah 55:10-11

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Water as His vehicle for cleansing us and causing us to flourish

In the first verses of the first poem in the book of Psalms, the psalmist lays out the characteristics of those who would be “blessed”, or happy.  In verse 3, happiness is likened to being a tree planted by rivers of water that bears fruit in abundance and whose leaf never withers.

Indeed, Jesus gives the living water, as offered to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4.

So here’s the Million Dollar Question:  Exactly what does your consumption of animal-based foods have to do with water?
Answer: It’s another case of poor stewardship over an extremely precious God-given resource.

In Chapter 2 of Securing Our Birthright (entitled “Menu Expansion: When God Condoned Carnivory, Man Went H.A.M. – Hard as a Moabite), we examine this issue. With the permission of the producers of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, I list an alarming set of data regarding the impacts of modern livestock agriculture on Air, Water, Land and Mankind.

(The facts are listed here with references:  http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/)

Here are the water-related statistics:

  • Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually.
  • Animal Agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of all drinkable water consumption in the world today.
  • Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US.
  • It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound (16 oz, two normal 8oz steaks) of beef.
  • 477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs (that’s between 8 and a dozen, depending on the size of the eggs); almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese.
  • It takes 1,000 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of milk.

According to Charity: Water, 63 million people live without clean water.

They suffer from a wide range of preventable diseases because the only water they have access to for cooking for and bathing themselves and their children and washing the family’s clothes is dirty. Also, often their water source, as poor as the quality is, is a long walk from where they live.

Really Nourish 2018 Charity: Water Campaign
Click the Image to learn more

Women and girls are responsible for carrying water in some societies. To do this time-consuming, heavy work for their families, some girls cannot even go to school on a consistent basis.

Just to be clear, Big Ag does not just exist in the United States. There are large CAFO livestock farms all over the world and some of the countries they are in have the biggest water problems.

Also, to be clear, the people in the demographic who live without clean water are highly likely to be people who are too poor to be consumers of animal-based foods. It’s only the wealthiest 30% of the world population who eats flesh, eggs and cheese and drinks milk. The rest are vegan by default.

(Which begs the question: Why do people think it’s more expensive to go vegan, when meat is the most expensive item in the grocery store? But I digress…)

I like math. Let’s do some, shall we?

The World Health Organization estimates that in a crisis, where water supplies that previously existed are compromised, people would need a minimum of 7.5 liters of water a day to meet basic needs. Figuring we are supposed to be drinking around 2 liters a day (that’s a bit more than the 8 x 8oz glasses we probably don’t all drink like we should) that means the other 5.5 liters are for cooking and washing. On the other hand, in the developed world where water is available 24 hours a day, everylittledrop.co.au says that we use an average of around 100 liters a day. This includes flushing toilets and less conservative cleaning and washing.
Figuring 100 liters a day = around 40 gallons, that means that:

  • Your steak dinner could have supplied 31 people with clean, reliable water they could confidently drink and use for cooking, bathing, washing dishes and clothes and flushing toilets.
  • Your dozen eggs could have supplied almost 11 people.
  • Your gallon of milk could have supplied 25 people.

But instead, it supplied ONE person. ONE household. Indeed, it supplied them with “food” that causes them more harm to their health than nutrition. It did so at the expense of many other members of the human family who live in deprivation.

In a world where 63 million are living without clean water, and millions of others have it but inconsistently, and still others, even in the great United States of America, have to choose between drinking contaminated water from their taps or spending money they could use for food to buy clean, bottled water, this is an abuse of God’s provision.

How Much Less water do Vegans Consume?

In contrast, how much water does it take to grow plants? According to a Huffington Post article from 2014 (updated in 2017):
(all of the following are expressed as gallons of water per pound of the food item)

  • Tofu (Soybean Curd) 302 (feeds 3-4 people)
  • Lentils 704 (makes 3-4 meals for a family of 4)
  • Rice 299 (3-4 meals for a family of 4)
  • Potatoes 34
  • Oats 290 (3-4 breakfasts for a family of 4)
  • Oranges 67
  • Grapefruits 61
  • Lemons 77
  • Avocados 141
  • Broccoli 34
  • Garlic 71
  • Tomatoes 26
  • Eggplant 43

The real value of the exchange here is a lot less water for a lot more nutrition. These are the foods that keep the temple in the best condition. This, in addition to the low impact they have on the world’s water supply allow for, once again, better stewardship of the temple and the planet.

Here are a couple of other quotes from the Cowspiracy website pertaining to water:

“Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.”

“The widespread use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers used in the production of feed crops often interferes with the reproductive systems of animals and poisons waterways.”
Again, 1 Corinthians 10:31 says whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do all for the glory of God. Again, I ask you, does being a consumer in this system glorify God? Does using the increase the God blessed you with to reward the industry that is robbing your fellow man of his birthright?

Where do you stand on this issue?  Drop a comment below while you’re here.

Also, please click here to learn more about how Really Nourish is helping those in need of clean water.

Thank you for reading and sharing this!  God bless you!

eating, food, God's word, scripture, vegan

A Biblical Case for Veganism Part 2

My post on this topic from January 16, 2016 has been my most viewed blog post – indeed, my highest traffic web page since the start of Really Nourish.  It has been so much so that I expound on the topic in my forthcoming book, Securing Our Birthright, and felt compelled to take a couple of aspects of this topic and give them a deeper treatment in these next couple of posts A Biblical Case for Veganism Part 2, and later this week, Part 3 (see link below).

A Biblical Case for Veganism Part 2: Why Should You Abstain from Animal-Based Foods?

This excerpt from Chapter 6 of the book takes on a scripture that some have been known to use to dispute the idea of abstaining from consuming animal flesh:

Everything God created is good, reject no flesh

(1 Timothy 4:4)

Here is another context discussion where the question one needs to ask is this:

What subject matter was the Apostle Paul addressing in this body of scripture?  

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The context from verse 1 is regarding a prophecy about what will happen in end times.  Some will depart from the faith, because they’ll start listening to the “doctrines of demons” that will tell them that they should reject the food that God set apart for us to receive with thanksgiving.  The context here is the REASONING for your abstention from food that was ordained by God.  

In other words, if you abstain from eating even “clean” animals because you want to play your part in reducing the harmful impacts of animal agriculture on the environment in 2017, this is not the same as if you joined some cult whose doctrine required that you stop eating what the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ordained in Genesis 1, Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.  This is why veganism cannot be characterized as an act of obedience to God in and of itself, but indeed it can be characterized as an act of self-sacrificial, dutiful stewardship of the Temple and this planet.  Here, then, is a biblical case for veganism you can make to this end.

Animal Flesh IS Good, BUT…

There is another point to this end: what God created IS good.  Animal flesh the way God created it is fine to eat.  But there are limits to how much of it we should eat it that we have far exceeded in modern food culture.  We now know that what is considered a normal level of consumption is, compared to old and even new testament times, excessive.  God speaks about gluttony directly related to eating animal flesh in Proverbs 23:20-21. We are paying the price in the form of a health pandemic that just some restraint could bring to an end. 

Also, the animal flesh that we have today is defiled, just as Ezekiel prophesied at the end of Chapter 4 in his eponymous book. 

Livestock – that includes cows for beef and dairy, pigs for pork and chickens for meat and eggs – is kept in concentrated animal feeding operations where they reside shoulder to shoulder with other animals that may be sick and deceased animals are not removed right away.  They are fed unnatural, genetically modified feed that is laced with unregulated amounts of antibiotics and dosed with synthetic hormones.  Even the diary cows, although they are not slaughtered for meat, are forcibly inseminated relentlessly (the actual term for the machine used is a “rape rack”) so they are constantly making calves and, consequently, milk.  Their babies are taken from them and tethered so they don’t move a lot to keep their muscles weak – the appeal of veal is tender flesh. 

The fish is either coming out of aquatic farms where they too are packed way too close together and also fed GMO, antibiotic laced feed and residing in close contact with sick or dead fish or they are pulled out of polluted waters in drag nets that catch and kill more unintended catch than targeted fish.  The animals are horribly mistreated.   

The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

Proverbs 12:10

In 1 Corinthians 10:31, scripture says whether we eat or drink, whatever we do, do it all for the glory of God.  Does participating as a consumer in this system glorify God?  

A Biblical Case for Veganism

Pre-order Securing Our Birthright today.  We are donating 50% of all pre-orders to Charity: Water.  Please help us reach our donation goal of $350.00 by March 31, 2018.  100% of your donation to Charity: Water goes to providing clean water to those who have been deprived.  Thank you in advance for your support!
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A Biblical Case for Veganism Part 3: Troubled Waters

Really Nourish 2018 Charity: Water Campaign
activism, food, God's word, Water

Really Nourish 2018 Charity: Water Campaign

The Really Nourish Movement’s mission is to end the global food regime, the crisis it has created and the lifestyle disease pandemic it has spawned.  Because clean drinking water is under that regime, we’re launching the Really Nourish 2018 Charity: Water Campaign.  Water is commoditized by powerful corporations the same way food has been, so we are now launching our first effort to contribute to the provision of this basic human right to every man, woman and child on earth.

By the way, this is our 100th blog post since we joined WordPress back in June 2015!  What a great way to celebrate!  Let’s make an impact together!

Please watch this video:

Really Nourish 2018 Charity: Water Campaign
Forthcoming Book: Securing Our Birthright: Clean, Nourishing Food for All People as Ordained by God

Place your $14.99 pre-order for the Securing Our Birthright today and make your donation towards the Really Nourish 2018 Charity: Water Campaign fundraising goal.  Our deadline is March 31, 2018.

Buy Now

The work Scott Harrison and his Charity: Water team is doing is so important!  Clean water is your God given birthright, just as clean, nourishing food is.  The government leaders that have been entrusted with upholding these popular rights have failed to do so.  It is up to the people, organized into Non Governmental Organizations to take a unified stand against the status quo and secure our birthright organically.  We can do this just by organizing into very simple efforts like gardening, seed saving, digging wells and making each dollar we spend count as a vote for a better future.

Are you on board?

 

Meet Scott Harrison

Here’s the video that inspired the Really Nourish 2018 Charity: Water Campaign.  Hope you have tissues handy!

We are change makers.  Let’s grow The Really Nourish Movement together so our change making can have a greater impact on mankind.  Let Really Nourish be a part of the legacy you leave when you pass from this life.

activism, food, God's word, Organ Donation, scripture, Weight Loss

Securing Our Birthright: Webinar

In case you missed the Webinar:

Securing Our Birthright – 8 Steps to Revolutionize Your Food Life and Change The World

Here it is.  You can pause as you go and take notes, and please feel free to post questions in the comments section below as you wish.  Also, I’d love your feedback.  Thanks for watching!

 

Click This Link to Pre-Order The Book and get your great free offers while you wait!

Join the Mailing List so you don’t miss the next webinar!

Securing Our Birthright: Webinar
Forthcoming Book: Securing Our Birthright: Clean, Healthy Food for All People as Ordained by God

 

 

 

food, Healthy, non-gmo, Organic, Prayer, shopping, Weight Loss

My Really Nourish Journey with Thrive Market

More than 2 years into my journey from the brink of statistical-status to becoming more than a conqueror over the one of the enemy’s most virile attacks on mankind, I now share with you my Really Nourish Journey with Thrive Market.

Kidney Failure

In November 2014, my father was diagnosed with renal failure.  At his first dialysis appointment in Brooklyn, NY, I sat with the center’s kind social worker, Lisa.  I was clueless.  She explained the basics.  How the kidney functions in the body.  How the dialysis would substitute the lost function by cleaning the blood.  It was a crash course in Biology, a subject I struggled to complete in high school with a barely passing grade.

My first question to her was how long he would have to do the dialysis treatments.  Her face gave me the answer: for the rest of his life.  My dad was already inside getting set up for his first dialysis session.  I was saddened by the thought that this could be his life – in New York, far away from his beautiful island home in the dead of winter, sitting in a clinic hooked up to a machine for 4 hours three times a week.

Your’re from… Where Now?

My family is from the Commonwealth of Dominica.  It’s the bucolic island nation that was destroyed during Hurricane Maria.  Before Maria, most people had not heard of this country.  As a child growing up in Brooklyn, I constantly had to offer the following kinds of explanations about where my family came from: “It’s in the Eastern Caribbean between Martinique and Guadeloupe.”  “No, not the Dominican Republic, that’s a different country.”  “No, we don’t speak Spanish, we speak English and Patois.” In third grade at PS 119, I was so excited to do a presentation about what my family had taught me about Christmas in Dominica.  As I resumed my seat, I remember my teacher adding “In America, we call it the Dominican Republic.”  I still remember the feeling of my heart sinking.

After my mother died of cancer at age 56 in 1999, my dad moved back there and built the house they were supposed to retire together in.  They had bought a great piece of land in the village of Pointe Michel the early 90’s, and I remember my dad sketching the first and subsequent drafts of the house he would build.  We sat on Saturday mornings looking at his sketch and he talked at length about this house.  Sometimes my mom would roll her eyes.  I was a teen in those days.  I enjoyed the time we spent together.  Indeed, he built the very house he drew.  Although my mother never lived to see it, she is the one who made it possible because it was the pension and life insurance money that financed it’s construction.  Remarkable, the house is the among the 5% of homes that survived Maria.

My dad, who had minimal education, singlehandedly built one of Dominica’s first Climate Change resilient houses.  We didn’t know this at the time of the conversation we were having.  Dominica hadn’t even been through Tropical Storm Erica as yet.  All I knew was that I wanted him to go home, because I knew that if he couldn’t, it would be a sad, ironic tragedy that might send him to an early grave.

Becoming a Living Donor

“Unless,” Lisa the social worker said, “someone were willing to give him a kidney, then he could come off the dialysis.”

The Spirit prompted me immediately. “Maybe I could give him one,” I replied, without a moment of hesitation.  Her face lit up in response.  She excused herself and disappeared to her office, reappearing with brochures for two transplant centers.  Now the conversation was a little more upbeat, as she explained this process which in retrospect I knew she wished was an option for all her patients at the center.  I would only learn later how inexplicably rare living family donor volunteers are for those needing transplants.

I called my husband in Trinidad to get his consent, and when my dad came out, we got in the Zipcar and drove home.  Tears came to his eyes when I told him about what Lisa and I had discussed.  Again, I still didn’t think it was a big deal.  For me the bottom line was this: if I was able, then I was willing.

We haven’t gotten to Really Nourish yet.  We are going to fast forward through the next few months now that you know how it all started.

My Really Nourish Journey with Thrive Market Begins

On a cold day in January 2015, Dad and I traveled by train together to the Recanati-Miller Transplantation Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.  My presumption walking in the door was that the only obstacle might be that we don’t match for a transplant.  The thing is, Dad is my stepfather, so we are not blood relatives.  Nonetheless, I was prayed up and encouraged by faith.  People donate kidneys all the time to recipients who are not blood relatives.  In fact, sometimes people get kidneys from living or diseased donors who they don’t even know.

We arrived late and were sent to separate rooms.  Dad went to one room to be introduced to and briefed by a kidney transplant recipient team.  I went into the room where donors get a similar briefing.  My briefing included a rude awakening that blindsided me.  It started with a questionnaire and a physical.  They took my height and weight.  They took my blood pressure in both arms.  One arm was higher than I’ve ever seen my blood pressure read before.  It was borderline hypertensive, I was told.  The donor team nurse was a hard-faced, bespectacled white woman who had probably been doing this for years and was unimpressed by my enthusiasm to “Donate Life”.   About my weight and the implications – in a nutshell I was a 39-year-old obese black woman – the nurse tersely explained that I may not be in good enough health to be the donor.

Diabetes?? Me???

“You know that African Americans are more prone to diabetes, and that being overweight is a precursor,” she explained.  “And your blood pressure…” She wheeled on her rolling stool over to a desk drawer and took out a sheet to hand me.  She ordered me to get three more blood pressure readings on three different days.  I could do this for free at any Duane Reade, she explained.  (See my video on this topic)

Also, on the questionnaire, I was asked if I had ever been diagnosed with Diabetes in the last 10 years.  I wanted to be honest, so I indicated that I remember having been told something about potentially having gestational diabetes with my then 21-month-old son.  “If this was a true diagnosis,” she said, “you won’t be able to donate.”  I remember I had developed a daily candy bar habit during that pregnancy.  I remember a discussion with my midwife at the Brooklyn Birthing Center about my blood sugar. There was a mention of gestational diabetes while I was in labor.  I just couldn’t remember if was a diagnosis or a caution.  So I now had to get my medical records from the birthing center.

More members of the donor team came in the room and spoke with me.  Then, I was allowed to join Dad in his briefing room.  When I arrived, the nutritionist was just finishing up, and a transplant surgeon came in after her to explain the surgery.  Another Biology lesson.  Unlike in high school more than 20 years earlier, I was finding science suddenly fascinating!

Nonetheless, the talk with the donor team nurse weighed heavy on my mind.  I couldn’t imagine that I could possibly be in poor health.  Up until that point, I had never had any cause to be concerned about high blood pressure.  The only talk of diabetes I had ever had during my life was during that pregnancy. On the way home, I shared some of the talk with my dad.  I was mad at the whole “African Americans are more prone” thing.  I later researched that and discovered why that is, and it isn’t because God made us inferior, that’s for sure!  For the moment, while I was in a little bit of denial, I was also prompted to really start thinking long and hard about what direction my health was going in.

I Thought I Was Doing All the Right Things!

There are people who know they are obese, have already developed the related diseases and have an addiction to food that they are aware of.  Then there are people like me.  I thought I was doing things the right way.  My then 6-year-old daughter knew never to ask me to take her to a Mc Donald’s.  We didn’t frequent that or any other similar fast food places, other than Subway occasionally.   At least at subway, we could get lots of fresh veggies on the sandwiches with the meat and cheese, and only juice.  No soda!  Also at home, we drank 100% juices.  I didn’t buy soda or “juice drinks” for my family.  We had started to buy more organic foods, also.

Did I still eat candy bars?  Yes I did, but not daily like that phase I went through in the third trimester with Judah.  How many?  I didn’t keep track.  Did I still order pizza?  In retrospect, I did this pretty frequently, and we liked pepperoni on ours.  But it was from a local mom-and-pop place, not a chain, so I perceived this to be a better option.  Also, I did still eat burgers and fries, but again, from local places, so again, I thought it was better.

Homemade: Not Always “Better”

In general, I made a lot of things from scratch and did a lot of home cooking.  A healthy daily breakfast almost invariably included two eggs, and if I made them at home, I thought it was better than getting them on the street or in a fast food place.  I was buying organic, free range eggs now.  It was better.  We drank skim milk.  We ate whole wheat bread.  My blood pressure readings were still fine and other than that encounter during the last pregnancy, my blood sugar was normal.  I thought I was doing the right things.

Looking back now, it all seems absurd.  Even when my Dad first saw me while he was in the hospital in December 2014, he remarked at how big I had gotten.  I waved that off.  I was getting older, and I was from a family of women who tended to be “thicker”.  My mom was thick, too.  Two children, 39 years old, what did he expect?  My husband thought I was sexy.  That’s not the absurd part.  I was beautiful in those days too.

The absurd part was how ignorant I was about the path that I was on.  Suddenly coming face to face with the possibility that my health was not what I thought it was shocked me.  I remembered that my daughter had come home one day from school last year with some results of some school program health screenings.  This paper she handed me said that she was overweight according to something called BMI.  That memory prompted me

IMG_0337
Me, April 2015, over 200lbs, size 12 jeans

to research this concept.  I found a Body Mass Index calculator online and entered my height and weight.  That’s the day I discovered that I was…

OBESE!

The next visit at Mount Sinai was no better.  My weight had gone up 2 lbs since the previous visit, and some bloodwork indicated that I could be prediabetic.  I quickly leapt out of denial and into acceptance.  My acceptance was not to say I was going to live like that.  It was my impetus to nip this thing in the bud.  The end goal was to donate the kidney, and I couldn’t let anything, not even my ignorance about my health, stop me.  I went straight to The Great Physician for a follow up.

The Great Physician’s Prescription

In prayer, I remember saying these words to Jehovah Rapha, our God who heals: “You say all the answers I need in life are in Your word.  Please show me.”  I told Him that I just wanted, if it is His will, to make sure that my health was going to be good enough to be a donor if we match.  At least, I said, if we don’t match, I would like to sow a kidney by donating to someone I do match so maybe I could reap one for him.  They explained to me that there is a program for that.  It works like a swap. I could match someone else, and that person’s donor that didn’t match them might match Dad, then we all go in and swap kidneys.  I was open to that.

The thing is I had not ever been careless about my health.  Misguided, certainly, but not careless!  I know there are many people out there like that, and when they develop the health problems regardless of how careful they are, they just think they couldn’t avoid it.  They are selective about their food, but by the wrong criteria.  They are bamboozled by Big Food’s propaganda because they trusted the untrustworthy.  I should say we, because I was right there with them.  Like I said, I thought I was making good choices for myself and my children.  My choices were corroborated by those who I thought would never want to mislead people.  It’s food, for crying out loud.  Would our government allow this?

In June 2015, I was able to return the sheet to the donor team nurse with three normal level blood pressure checks.  She was mildly satisfied.  She still wanted to see my birthing center medical records, and I weighed heavier than before once again.  I was now 212 lbs and swelling.  On the bright side, the blood work for the match test had come back.  My dad and I matched perfectly for a transplant!  As I rejoiced, Holy Spirit prompted me to read some scriptures.  He started me off with Proverbs 23:1-3.  Then I saw the documentary Fed-Up.  I started to understand what I had been doing wrong, why I had been doing the wrong things and what I was headed for if I didn’t make huge changes.

Thrive Market, My Oasis in the Food Desert: My Shopping Checklist

This was the birth of Really Nourish.  Very soon, I learned about Thrive Market.  Living in a food desert on the north shore of Staten Island, New York, I suddenly found it difficult to get the new kinds of foods I wanted to be stocking my household with.  Up until I found Thrive, I would take a 30-minute bus ride to a nicer neighborhood in Staten Island to shop.  I paid them $5.00 to deliver my groceries home and then got back on the bus.  Anytime I had a Zipcar, I fit in a shopping stop before heading back to my little food desert neighborhood.  Eventually, I started taking the Staten Island Ferry into lower Manhattan to go to Whole Foods, because even that Staten Island supermarket’s selection of organic produce and packaged food was lean.  Whole Foods had things like sprouted bread, inexpensive, organic dry goods by the pound, and lots of organic, in season, well priced local produce. Unfortunately, I couldn’t buy as much as I wanted on each trip because I had to carry it all home – no home delivery to Staten Island available.  Thrive became my oasis in a food desert!

Really Nourish Journey with Thrive Market
Thrive Market Really Nourish Shopping Checklist

 

My new approach was:

  1. Whole Foods and my local weekly farmer’s market (only operating on Saturday mornings in warmer months). This is how I would stock up on in-season, largely organic fruits and vegetables and fresh breads.  I also bought, before I gave it up, organic, grass fed, locally reared animal products.
  2. In the colder months, I started shopping Fresh Direct for those items.
  3. Then I would hop onto ThriveMarket.com and order the other stuff I used to have to lug – flour and rice and pasta, healthy snacks for the children and they would send it right to my door!

Because the prices were so low, I was now able to try out health products like spirulina and essential oils that were out of my range before.  I never paid for delivery, because my orders were always more than $49.00.  I always got a cool freebee and my kids loved to play in the boxes for days after stuff arrived.  The packaging was even thoughtful.  I was impressed that everything glass wasn’t in plastic bubble wrap.  They used something biodegradable, either some corrugated cardboard or some cool kind of cardboard webbing that my children also liked to play with.  Let me show you the kind of shopping I did with Thrive.

Really Nourish Journey with Thrive Market: The Changes

In the first month, I dropped 20 lbs by reducing my overall free sugar consumption to under 25 grams a day.  I had to actually throw some stuff out in my kitchen and pour some juice down the drain.  During that summer, I did lots of yoga with my kids, but not much additional exercise.  The 20 stayed off but I couldn’t get below 192 for anything man!  Then, after a couple of books, lots more scripture, several more documentaries including Cowspiracy, I made my choice to go vegan.  That’s when my journey took me from obese-land, through the overweight mountains to the border lands of normal weight country.

New Nurse 🙂

Along the journey, the donor team at Mount Sinai swapped the hard-faced gate keeper donor team nurse to the lovely, kind faced one, Montgomery Roach.  Every visit to Mount Sinai was full of smiles now.  Montgomery was excited and encouraged to prepare me for the transplant.  My nutritionist was excited about the changes I had made, and everything was full steam ahead for the surgery.

The Big Day!

In March 2016, on a cool early morning, Dad and I shared an Access-a-Ride to Mount Sinai for surgery.  It was the culmination of a 17 month journey.  It was a relatively short wait, but there was a lifetime of change in both of us during that time.  The surgery was a flawless success.  While in the surprisingly comfortable and pretty recovery suite (donated by a past donor who wanted future donors to have at least the reward of a nice place to stay after donating an organ), one of the surgeons came in to see me.  He told me that the kidney was “beautiful”.   How great it was to know that

IMG_3737
Me on Emancipation Day August 1, 2016, under 170 lbs, size 8 skinny jeans.  Currently, in December 2017, I am 7 months pregnant with my 3rd child and still under 170, blood pressure 99/59, blood sugar 83 mg/dL. My pre-pregnancy weight was 155.

not only could I give my Dad an organ that would allow him to go home and live a normal life in his beloved Dominica, but that the quality of the gift was good enough that a surgeon who had done this 400 times before in his career was impressed!   I moved to Trinidad a bit later that year, but still maintain my Thrive membership.  Just recently, I joined Thrive as an affiliate, so I could accompany my story with a resource that my American members can use to actually achieve their goals no matter where they live.  Here’s more about Thrive’s commitment to making high quality food available to everyone.

The Future

God gets all the glory, but I believe part of His plan was that Thrive Market relieve me of the problem of food desert life by giving me affordable, easy access to the kind of food He wanted me to use to care for His temple.  Thrive Market can be a vital partner in your journey too.  My next goal is to help bring this kind of thing here to Trinidad and the rest of the Caribbean Islands.  If the American way of life is going to be exported here along with it’s lifestyle disease health pandemic, and this is happening rapidly around the world, then why can’t we also export the groundswell movement towards more affordable access to healthier options with free delivery in cool, environmental friendly packaging?

Wouldn’t that be a more responsible thing to share with the rest of the world?

Click Here for an 8 Day Devotional to help you start your own journey!