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Still The God Of Miracles…

In honor of the current trend of “throw-back thursday,” I thought I’d repost one of my blog posts from 2010. I tear up when I read these old posts from years ago. Praise God, He has brought me SO far! But I’m thankful for this record of where I’ve been. And I’m thankful that my God continues to work His miracles in my life! I hope this post will encourage you. And I’d love to hear about the miracles God has done in your life too! =) 
December 7, 2010
Miracles
Yes, God still does miracles. Just not always in the way we expect Him to. 
Sometimes when I’m watching Christian programs on TV, I have a hard time listening to people’s testimonies of being instantly healed from various health problems. I mean, I’m happy for them, and I praise God for healing them. But somehow it makes me feel bad that I’m still stuck in my situation, that God hasn’t given me an instant healing. 
Yet even though God has chosen not to heal me instantly, He has done many miracles in my life! They weren’t the ones I expected. Sometimes they weren’t even the ones I asked for. 
But miracles aren’t about us…they’re about God! He does them for His glory! And He always knows which ones we need, and which ones someone else needs. 
Over the last several years, these are a few of the miracles God has done for me:
*God has kept me alive “in famine.” 
Psalm 33:18-19 says, the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.
On the surface, that doesn’t sound like a good thing. Why wouldn’t God deliver them from the famine? In this case the miracle was not removing the famine, but keeping them alive in it. 
That’s how I feel about the last 6 years. We know now that there were SOOO many things wrong with my body…but somehow God kept me alive through them. 
Here’s a partial list:
Lymes disease
Ehrylichiosis
Bartonella 
Intestinal parasites
Microscopic parasites in my adrenal gland
Parasites in my blood
Mercury toxicity
Overload of about 60 other individual toxins
Systemic Candida infection
Numerous viral and bacterial infections throughout my body. (Yes, they can “hide” in various organs and wreak havoc for years.)
These are just a few of the root causes we’ve identified and treated over the recent months. Looking back I’m in awe that God kept my body going somehow in spite of everything that was attacking it. It truly is miraculous! And I am very grateful! 
*God has kept me walking in faith.
There have been so many times when I wanted to give up, when I was angry, when I didn’t even care anymore…and every time, somehow, God restored me to faith and trust in Him. 
It’s a terrible thing to lose your health. But I think it’s even worse to lose heart and let go of faith in God. By God’s miraculous power and overflowing grace, He didn’t let that happen to me. He never let me go! 
    
If the LORD had not been on our side…the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away. Praise be to the LORD…Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. -Psalm 124:2,4-6,8
I will forever be grateful to everyone who has prayed me through this trial. God answered those prayers by sustaining not just my body, but my soul as well. 
*God delivered me from the tyranny of a drug!
It’s hard to put into words what an awful thing it is to be on a medication that you absolutely HAVE to take in order to stay alive. I pray you never have to experience that kind of bondage.
After 5 years of struggling to wean myself off this medication, we asked God for a miracle…and He did it! In only 9 weeks I went from taking 12.5 mg of Cortef a day, to being completely Cortef-free!!! And I’m still functioning at the same level…maybe even a little better. Praise the Lord!
In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and He answered by setting me free. The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. -Psalm 118:5-6
So, yes, God still does miracles, but not always in the way we expect or the timing we ask for. 
Remember, not every miracle looks the same. But it’s the same God who works each miracle – graciously intervening in our lives with His power and love. 
I pray we will all see more of His miraculous hand at work around us. 
Blessings,
-Joanna
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Water For Life

I think it’s interesting that God created our bodies with the need for 4 basic things:
*air
*food
*sleep
*water
The human body can endure incredibly difficult circumstances, but without these four things it cannot survive.
Yet these things are under attack in our world today: 
*The air is filled with pollutants, and we don’t breathe deeply enough.
*People no longer eat real food, but man-made, chemical products that starve and toxify the body. 
*Sleep is considered a necessary evil, the less you can get by on, the better. 
*With the abundance of other beverages, most people forgo water and end up living with chronic dehydration.
I’ve written previous blog posts about air purifiers, deep breathing, and healthy eating habits.
Today let’s consider our need for water. 
The human body consists of about 2/3 water. (This article explains the detailed percentages for various parts of the body.)
Water is necessary for every cell, for basic functions such as regulating cholesterol, circulation, digestion, detoxification, and much more. Water is necessary for life. (You can read more details about the essential roles of water in the body here.) 
You’ve probably heard that you should drink 8 glasses of water a day. But have you ever done it? Consistently? 
Actually, the general guideline given by most experts is to drink half of your body weight in ounces. So if you weigh 120 lbs, you should drink 60 oz of water per day. Of course, this can vary depending on your situation, exercise routine, etc. 
For a while my doctor told me I was actually drinking too much water! (At that time I was drinking about a gallon a day.) She said it was depleting my electrolytes and minerals. But there have been other times, when I was detoxing excessively, that I drank about 120 oz a day. My body needed lots of water to flush the toxins out. Right now I’m pretty close to the guideline, drinking slightly more than the recommended amount. 
If you drink other beverages besides water, then consider that in your total amount of water needed. Many beverages actually contribute to dehydration (sodas, commercial fruit juices, etc.) There are a few select beverages that can be good for your health (such as kefir, kombucha, etc.). Generally speaking, it’s best to stick with only water. 
Drinking enough water is one of the simplest things you can do to improve your health. It does require planning and discipline, but the rewards are definitely worth it! So consider how much water you need each day, set a goal, and start to improve your health! =)
As far as which kind of water to drink, the opinions are many on this subject…. I’ll share my thoughts, but feel free to disagree or to share any research you’ve found to be helpful in the comments.  
*I think that pure spring water or well water is the best. 
*Definitely don’t drink straight tap water. At least filter it with something. (Tap water is full of chlorine, chemicals, in some places flouride, etc.)
*Generally, don’t buy “purified” bottled water because it’s essentially the same as tap water. 
*Distilled water can be helpful for short periods of time, but I don’t think it’s healthy for ongoing use.
*I’ve heard about alkaline water…some people say it’s really helpful, others say it’s bad for you. From my limited experience with it, I’m not in favor of it. But again, I know people who say it’s great for them.
*If you buy bottled water, choose a reputable brand of spring water.
*Personally, I drink Evian, since that was the only water I didn’t react to during the worst years of illness.
Experts agree we all need to drink enough water. But there’s much debate about what kind of water is best. I hope my thoughts are helpful in some way, and I invite you to share your insights on this topic as well. 
Finally, I just want to mention that millions of people around the world don’t have any clean water to drink. Many are dying every day from dehydration and diseases caused by contaminated water. 
Life Outreach International has set a goal of drilling 500 water wells around the world this year. I think this is a wonderful ministry! Please join me in praying for them to reach this goal and be able to give people water that will truly save their lives. Thank you!


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Some Encouragement

Today I want to just share something that I hope will be a blessing and encouragement to you. 
We all go through storms in life – hard times, trials, challenges. And we often wonder, if God knows, then does He care? 
My brother, Joshua Harris, spoke about this last week in his message, and I really appreciated his perspective on it. For me personally, I was reminded that more than having our storms “calmed,” what we need is to embrace Jesus’ presence with us in the storm. 
Jesus does know, and He does care. And He is right there with us in it. 
I hope Josh’s words will encourage you in your storm today.
http://www.thriveyouth.org/sermons/jesus-calms-the-storm/
I also just released my new book “Seeing God Through The Storm: Empowering Truths from the Book of Job” – which is about this same theme of how to handle those challenging times when storms come. I praise God for bringing this book to completion after more than three and a half years! I can testify that not only does God give us strength to make it through the storm, but He is also faithful to bring good out of our storm. Hallelujah! =)
You can read more about the book on my website:
https://heroichealth.org/news/
In your storm today, may God’s presence be more real and sweeter to you than ever before!


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I Can Move Forward

I’ve really enjoyed writing these “I Can” posts every Monday. Thanks for rejoicing with me in my restoration process! 
I can do SO many more things now than I could for years. I praise God for His grace that sustained me through years of illness and His power that continues to work healing in my body.
I still have some goals to reach before I declare myself completely “well.” But I’m so thankful for how far I’ve already come!
I’m excited about the future and rejoicing that I Can move forward! 
This will be the last “I Can” post for a while. I’ll be going back to my regular blog schedule of only posting on Thursdays.
What I’d like though, is to hear from you! 
What kind of posts are most meaningful for you?
Is there any particular topic you’d like me to write about? 
What can I do to make this blog more helpful and effective? 
I began this blog in 2009, and it’s been a wonderful way for me to share my experiences and to provide health information for people. I plan to continue blogging as long as I know it’s still blessing people. So please share your thoughts and let me know what direction I should take as I “move forward” with this blog. =) 
Thanks! And have a hope-filled Monday!


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Traveling With An E.I. Person

Guest Post today by the wonderful Non-Toxic Woman – who bravely did a two-week road trip with me, in spite of all the necessary adjustments. =) 
Taking a road trip with Super E.I. Girl is always an adventure.
The packing list: 
– air purifier, 
– hot plate (in case our hosts cook with gas), 
– toaster oven (ditto), 
– clear glass plates and cereal bowls that can be used in the toaster oven,
– stainless steel pan and lid,
– sheets and barrier cloths, all we own,
– cushions and pillows for sleeping in the car if needed, 
– an ice chest filled with organic food,  
– a large laundry basket also filled with organic food,
– enough clothes to change twice daily (because you never know what smells you’ll meet on the way to Texas), 
– two large bags of baking soda for washing hands and for putting on paper plates to combat smells (see previous point),
– one gallon of white vinegar,
– enough bottled water for the entire trip, in case we can’t find Joanna’s brand….
Fortunately we have a mini-van, so there was a little room left for my clothes. =)
Suitcases: 
These are on the banned list because—have you ever sniffed a suitcase? 
Joanna loves laundry baskets for traveling. First we line them with towels, then stack in the shirts and shorts, etc, then cover them with another towel. Very E.I. friendly. 
I just take a hint from the old hobos and stuff my clothes in pillow cases. One pillow case for each stop works great.
Time to gas up:
First, we have to find a gas station that’s near a fast-food restaurant where I can drop Joanna off.
Second, after I park by the gas pump, I have to dress for the occasion—a large t-shirt to go over my clothes, a hat to cover my head, and a plastic bag for my right hand.
Third, after I pump the gas, I toss the bag, pull off the shirt and hat, tuck them in a different plastic bag, and bury them in the back of the car.
I sometimes wonder what the people at the gas pumps think of my “pumping ritual.” 
Then I pick up Joanna and we’re on the road again.
Where to sleep:
It’s true that there are a few motels/hotels that have a some rooms that are E.I. friendly. But even those have state regulations about disinfecting that can cause problems. We prefer to impose on our friends. If Joanna has to sleep in the van, it’s much safer in a friend’s driveway than in a motel parking lot. 
Probably most E.I. people have experienced sleeping in a car. It’s much easier if you’re short—or have a large car. And be careful not to allow any mosquitoes to sneak in before you close the door!
Back home:
Praise the Lord, traveling with Joanna is much easier than it was a few years ago. It’s still a lot of work, but her joy in the Bible conference and seeing friends and family made it all worth it!

Thanks for a great trip mom! =)
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I Can Eat Snacks!

As I prepared for our road trip last month, I decided to search the health food store for some snack foods that I could take with me. Basically everything I normally eat is either fresh or frozen, which doesn’t keep well when traveling.
Well, I was very happy to discover a few products that I felt were still healthy but would also travel well. =)
1) organic applesauce cups
2) “Late July” plain wheat crackers 
3) “Nature’s Path” Honey Oat Crunch granola bars
As you probably know, just because a snack product is labeled as “natural” or “healthy” doesn’t mean it really is. You still have to read every label and watch for unhealthy ingredients. 
I was very glad to find that the three snacks above were all organic, with no yeast, soy, dairy, eggs, etc. Hooray!!! =) 
Now that I’m home and back to my normal diet, it’s still nice to have these snacks on hand. It’s also great that I can keep a granola bar in my purse for times when I’m out and about and have a snack attack. =) 
Even though I’m almost back to “normal” health these days, I still want to eat as healthy as possible. I’m glad there are some good products out there so that I Can eat snacks! 
What healthy snacks do you enjoy?
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How To Express Love & Support To Those With Chronic Illness (Part 2)

I want to say thank you to all of you who desire to encourage others with chronic illness! Living with EI, or any illness, is a continual battle against discouragement. Your show of love and support enables us to keep going. Thank you!
Last week I shared the “Don’ts” of how to express love and support. (If you missed last week’s post, you can read Part 1 here.) Now here’s a list of some helpful “Do’s.”
Do’s –
1) Do give GRACE. 
Regardless of your opinions or understanding of their situation, show grace by accepting the person exactly where they are. Forgive quickly. See the best in them. Love unconditionally. Listen, even if you don’t understand. 
A simple definition for grace is undeserved kindness. Most people living with chronic illness struggle with feelings of condemnation, inadequacy, or guilt. When you demonstrate grace, it helps them see more of God’s grace toward them. You can be a powerful instrument in God’s hands to help them experience God’s grace more and more! 
2) Do communicate with them in a way that works for them. 
This could be through texting, emailing, calling, FB, letters, etc. 
Some of my EI friends don’t even own computers because of the EMF’s. But they can handle short phone calls. Or with others, I write a letter on plain paper, using pencil, and then wrap it in aluminum foil to mail (to shield it from smells in transit). Other friends prefer to text or use FB. 
Ask the person what works best for them, then use that mode of communication. Honor them by respecting their needs and limits.
3) Do be sensitive, ask them what they need from you, and pray for wisdom in how to best encourage them.
Sometimes when a friend would call me, I didn’t want to talk about my life. Instead I wanted to hear about all their adventures and the good things in their life. Other days I really needed someone to listen as I poured out all the craziness and hardship I was going through. 
It’s ok to ask the person, “Do you want to talk about your situation? Or do you want me to just tell you funny stories about my kids?”
Also, when trying to encourage, you need a balance of being a good listener with also not letting them go on and on about negative symptoms. 
There’s a time to let the person unburden their heart. In those moments you can simply listen and say “I love you, and I’ll keep praying for you.”  
Then there are times when it’s better to redirect the conversation away from negative thoughts to God’s faithfulness or a positive topic. With chronic illness it’s easy to continually rehearse physical symptoms or general complaints. Sometimes we need a friend to gently direct us to thanksgiving, trust, and praise. 
Only God can guide you in how to be sensitive and what to say in each situation. But hopefully being aware of these needs will help you as you converse with others.
4) Do be thoughtful about gift-giving.
With chronic illness comes feelings of isolation, being forgotten, missing out, etc. Receiving a thoughtful gift from someone can make a huge difference!
However, especially for those with EI, gift-giving can be tricky. For a few years basically the only gifts I could receive were CD’s or DVD’s. I couldn’t even read books for a while because of being sensitive to paper. And any product made in China caused serious reactions for me. 
If you don’t know what products the person can tolerate, then just ask. It’s better to ask what they like and can use, than to try to send a “surprise” gift and cause them to have a reaction. 
Also, gift cards are a wonderful option. To an EI person, a gift card is not “impersonal” – it’s a treasure! Most of us have limited finances, so a gift card to Wal-mart, Amazon.com, NEEDS.com, or some other practical store is always appreciated. 
For those not having EI, think about what they like and what kind of gifts will uplift them – perhaps a Christian fiction book, a funny movie, a beautiful journal they can write in, etc. It doesn’t need to be expensive or elaborate. Small gifts are wonderful if there is thoughtfulness behind them.
Ask God what gift would be best for the person. He will guide you in finding ways to encourage and bless them through thoughtful gifts (especially on holidays or birthdays as they are rough times for those who are ill). And I can tell you from experience how meaningful it is to receive a thoughtful gift in the midst of the daily struggles! 
5) Do recognize that God can still use the person for His glory.
Chronic illness does not mean useless. 
One of my EI friends is a talented artist. When she has a little energy, she often makes cards for people out of her drawings. Another EI friend is a faithful prayer warrior for many people. Another one likes to write songs. 
Even with drastic limitations, God can still empower people to do good things. Obviously productivity doesn’t equal value. And even a thankful heart glorifies God. But if you see God at work in a specific way through the person, praise Him for it! And encourage them about what God can do through their life, even in their illness. (Many people encouraged me to keep writing during my illness, and God has brought much fruit from it.) 
6) Do pray for them.
Yes, keep praying for their healing! God is able and we can continually ask Him to heal.
But also pray for the person to develop greater intimacy with Jesus through suffering. 
Pray for inner strength, courage, peace, and joy in the midst of their trial. 
Pray that God’s Word will come alive to them like never before.
Pray that their faith will grow and that God will empower them to praise Him in the storm.
Pray for God to bring eternal fruit from their pain.  
When I consider all the blessings God has given me through my health trial, I know it’s because so many people were praying for me. And they didn’t only pray for my healing – they prayed for so much more! I have received incredible answers to those prayers in spiritual growth, a closer relationship with Jesus, greater love for God’s Word, fruitfulness in ministry, and much more! 
Through prayer we have the opportunity to invest in the lives of others and be part of God’s divine work in this world. Even though praying for those who are ill may not seem like a world-changing effort, you never know what God will do in each life! Everything we do matters, and prayer matters most of all. 
Well, I hope these tips are helpful for you. As you can see, showing love and support to those with chronic illness requires effort, getting to know the person and their needs, and relying on God’s strength. But it’s also a wonderful opportunity to be an expression of the love and grace of Jesus Himself. May we be His tangible presence in this hurting world.