Seventeen days ago, I had the opportunity to lead my beloved Dad to Christ (In case you missed it, get the whole story here. It's a pretty awesome recount of God's love and power!)
So today, in the words of the late Paul Harvey... Here is the REST of the story.
First, a little background: since October of 2008, my Dad has been struggling with his health. Up until that point, he had been in ok physical condition, minus the extremely random heart attack at age 45 when I was a senior in high school (but again, that is another post.) Anyway, on Halloween night 2008, I got a call from my mom that they were taking my Dad to the ER for "nerve issues." I can't remember all of the symptoms, but we were concerned.
(Sidenote: never try to google the symptoms and come up with a diagnosis before the doctor does... you won't sleep for a month. Yikes.)
Ever since that point, my Dad's health has been all over the place... the nerve issues continued and it has been over three years and they have yet to determine a legit diagnosis. Not long after the nerve stuff showed up, his stomach/digestive system got all out of whack. Needless to say, for the last 3+ years, my dad has essentially felt like crap.
The doctors (from small town to KU med) have pretty much just passed him back and forth because when he goes, he shares ALL of his symptoms (which is what I thought you were supposed to do.) Unfortunately, the neurologists say "I don't do stomach stuff" and the gastroenterologists say "I don't do nerve stuff." "I don't know, I don't know, I don't know." You get the point. It's been over three years of bouncing around with minimal answers and resolution. Until...
He found Jesus in a cow pasture, sitting in the cab of a yellow work truck. (Seriously... link up to the other story and this will make A LOT more sense.)
Dad and I prayed for Jesus to come into his heart that day in the cow pasture late morning/early afternoon. After that, we headed home for lunch, scarfed down some food and headed back to the cattle. As we were bouncing along in the pasture, suddenly I blurted out "I wonder if you have a gluten allergy."
Now, before all you medically inclined people out there start teaching me about the differences between gluten allergy, gluten intolerance, celiac disease, just let me say... I need to know these things. Because I have had ZERO, zippo, nada experience with this and have NO IDEA where this thought came from.
I immediately got on my handy dandy Android and googled "symptoms of gluten intolerance." Good thing I was sitting down in the truck with the door shut or I would have fallen over. People with gluten issues can have extremely random symptoms... Everything from headaches (check), attitude changes (check), stomach stuff (lots of checks,) and nerve issues (holy frickin' check.)
My heart was POUNDING as I read the list of symptoms out loud to my Dad. Now, there is something to you need to know about my Daddy. I love him. Dearly. But he is a red head. He is very stubborn. And he is a straight up pessimist.
After the junk he had been through the last three years of feeling like EWW, he wasn't very optimistic, but at that point willing to try anything, even if it meant giving up beer and "real bread"... which says a lot for that red-headed Missouri Mule.
We got home, I encouraged Dad to share what had happened to his heart that day. It took some coaxing... (Profess it with your mouth!) but he hugged Mom and sobbed out "I accepted Jesus into my heart." It was beautiful. (Pause for Kleenex break.)
THEN, I shared with Mom the idea about the gluten allergy/intolerance whatever it could be. We read through the symptoms again and out of the 40 random ones listed, Dad had 18 of them. Hmmm...
Mom was also desperate for Dad to feel better and we noticed that the research said typically in adults (especially older adults) gluten issues often go undiagnosed. Interesting...
So, with a one day notice, we enacted "Operation-Gluten-Free-Thanksgiving-Please-Jesus-Let-This-Be-From-You!" (GFTPJLTBFY for short :-)
We had a gluten free Thanksgiving, thanks to the surprisingly large selection of gluten-free products at our local small-town Wal-mart. I even created a version of a food diary, complete with the pain ranking scale (the one you see at doctor's offices with the smiley and sad faces.) I said we were going to do this experiment, recording Dad's "pain" ranking throughout the day, along with what he ate (gluten free of course.)
Well, it has now been 17 days. I called Dad yesterday to wish him happy biological birthday (I think it is pretty sweet that he gets TWO birthdays within a 17-day time span.) And guess what? My pessimistic, seemingly hopeless Dad said... He felt better. "ALMOST good."
That says A LOT!! I was so excited and am now celebrating for ANOTHER reason! He is not completely pain free (he has been a farmer for nearly half a century-- I know he has back/nerve issues in general) but the stomach/digestion thing is GREATLY improved... and gluten free.
This isn't a post to say "Yes, I am genius and thought up this gluten theory." It's a God thing. Dad, after struggling and clinging to control for 53 years, gave his life over and submitted to Jesus that day n the cow pasture. He gave up control. His illness and health issues were part of his recovery testimony. God had the loving plan all along to put him through those health trials to bring my stubborn Daddy to his knees before the throne. Within HOURS of saying YES to Jesus, Christ gave us the answer to start the physical healing process. Can I get an AMEN??
From Christ in a Cow pasture to God and a gluten-free lifestyle... What an awesome way to tell the rest of the story.
The Testimony Continues,
"Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!" --Hebrews 12:9
PS-- The giveaway for the free "Leadership and Faith" package is still going on... You don't want to miss out on this great opportunity. To enter comment here or see my celebration post for more information!
PSS-- If anyone out there has any stellar recommendations for living a gluten free lifestyle (specifically: recipes) please comment and let me know!