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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Epigenetics: Our Children, Grandchildren and Our Choices

After spending about four years researching nutrition, regenerative health and physical degeneration in my spare time as a mom, I have come across a curiously fascinating branch of the science world: epigenetics. It correlates and supports a lot of what I have already learned but the digestion and presentation of research I am currently reading takes it to another level. The subject is incredible, one of the unfolding mysteries of scientific study.

Having often read of Francis Pottenger's cats studies, his name in the title of my current read is what initially caught my eye. He found that cats fed poor diets would pass down genetic defects until the fourth generation. The bad effects did not disappear at the fourth generation, rather the cats did. They simply died off. There were none left to reproduce, in every test group at that generation. And up until that point, feline fertility was weakened, bone structure was off, labor was difficult- and there were a host of other health problems for these poor creatures. However, the cats eating their natural diet thrived, labored and birthed easily, and were free from the diseases and malfunction the other group experienced.

So what do cats have to do with moms? Well, it sounds an awful lot like human problems industrialized people have been experiencing in the last one hundred years or so. Weston A. Price, another unsuspecting discoverer of some causes of regeneration and degeneration predicted our current fertility epidemic, among that of heart disease and a plethora of illnesses that are now strangely normal for a society eating modern foods. He was no scientist, he was a dentist. However, his note taking records and photographs were very well kept as he studied people groups all over the world, both industrialized and traditional real foods consumers. His book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration sits on my bookshelf and it too is fascinating. It used to be studied at Harvard but our nation doesn't exactly have a history of letting truth to help the people just get promoted. The money and agendas behind that are another topic entirely.

So back to epigenetics. Science is finally catching up with those old timer's observations, though they didn't quite have the detail, knowledge or education at the time to study and explain the issues in the depth and breadth they are currently being studied with modern advances and technology. The name of the book I am reading is "Pottenger's Prophecy, How Food Resets Genes For Illness or Wellness" by Gray Graham, N.T.P., Deborah Kesten, M.P.H. and Larry Scherwitz, P.H.D. Essentially they are saying, as you might guess from the title, Pottenger was right. Now we know DNA doesn't write everything, there are changing, environmental  factors that create people a certain way, and microRNA that shape over 1/3 rd of the human genome's expression! Outside factors like stress, nutrition and the environment of not only parents, but get this!- grandparents- are writing our children's and grandchildren's pre-set tendency to illness or wellness. Even much of those pre-set tendencies can be adjusted through choices of food, environment or activity such as an in depth study with many sets of twins showed.

Here is one of my favorite quotes yet, to bring it a little closer to home for you moms:

"Perspective: A Transgenerational View

Doctors have known for decades that a mother's nutrition, especially when she's pregnant, is a powerful determinant of her baby's health. Given this, the landmark study in Overkalix, by Drs. Lars Olov Bygren and Marcus Pembrey, is especially remarkable, because it reveals a previously unknown epigenetic phenomeonom called transgenerational response (TGR). According to Bygren and Pembrey, this means that "a mother's nutrition during her childhood can influence her child's risk as an adult for cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and hypertension."1 But the transgenerational response is even more far-reaching, because both a grandmother's and grandfather's nutrition during their pre-puberty years can, through epigenetic chnages in the germ line, influence their adult grandchildren's risk for heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure; even their lifespan.2 When are grandparent's most susceptible to nutrition that can affect the health of their grandchildren? Called a slow growth period (SGP), the vulnerable, pre-puberty time for girls is 8-11 years; 9-12 years for boys." Page 41; Paragraph 4

What this book is conveying loosely to me (in much technical language) is that the studies and observations of people like Weston A. Price and Francis Pottenger got it right, though they didn't write in all the specific terms scientists are using today. What they observed in their respective studies produced some of the same conclusions that epigenetics is revealing to us today in extreme, minute detail.

I always pray over all of our children in the womb. God is my first line of defense! But the more I learn about nutrition and regeneration or degeneration the more that makes me want to keep providing real food for my family, and finding ways to get those traditional foods in me for my baby in my belly.

The Life in Sharing in His Sufferings

Phillipians 3:10-11 "I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." I want to know God!

God has something for us where we know him intimately, totally beyond how we each know him now. He wants us to understand the way his heart breaks, how his heart suffers. To quote a Jason Upton song, " the midst of suffering, there's a God worth worshiping."  Though he walks with us in our own pain, he wants us walking this journey clothed in the love, life and peace of God. There is beauty in rest, beauty in peace in the midst of turbulence that can only be found in Christ. To share in his sufferings is to go beyond the borders of our own pain. It is to touch the pain of the broken people around us as their pain is his.

In scripture God taught us about sharing burdens. Once, when I comforted a stranger who had just lost her tiny nephew, I felt so empty. I had to face my lack in that moment. How do I comfort a stranger? Is such an attempt an intrusion into her private pain? Those were my questions. After holding her for an hour I realized that this was part of the gospel of Jesus Christ: sharing in each other's burdens. I did not know her language. I had no words. All I had was the tangible love of a weeping God. I learned that as I was choosing to enter into her burden, just for that hour, I was helping her to carry it. I discovered I was easing God's burden. He feels every pain, every wound and grief known to any individual. Previously I had always thought that to share in his sufferings I must be persecuted, injured or martyred. However, comforting that woman I was transformed with the knowledge that to share in his sufferings is also to enter into the suffering in the world, the suffering in the person we are next to.

The good news is that sharing in God's sufferings is not just about us and him. It is about those who are wounded around us. In Southern California where I live, it can be a real challenge to be intentional with people, especially those who are strangers. The area moves at a ridiculous pace with little left over to even glance at a stranger, not to mention stop. In the words of one of my favorite missionaries, God is saying to, "Stop for the one." God is reminding me of this.

As moms we can be so busy and consumed in the day to day with our family dynamics that it can be hard to remember Phillipians 3:10-11 is for us. If we are not compelled to love those around us, to pursue God's heart and what is wounding it, we can start by spending more time in prayer, for prayer is simply talking to God. In the place of communion with Christ we will be transformed by his love. It is not a question. He gives good gifts to those who seek him. He is love. In nurturing his heart we will be strengthened to nurture the ones in our family and the others we encounter.

If we truly want to enter into his suffering we must open our hearts and eyes to what it is that makes him suffer. Sometimes it is our own sin. Sometimes it is the loneliness of a neighbor. My encouragement to myself and to you is to nurture our communion with God. During dishes, driving or even working at times, moments when you are awake in bed and no one is speaking to you, connect. As we engage with God's giant heart and embrace the cross he has for us each day, we will pass through the gateway into resurrection strength and life for that day. And we will posses it in order that we can give it away.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Needing a Break in The Lauren Spierer Case!

Regardless that this is a new blog, with few followers, I am still inclined to put out an urgent appeal for prayer for Lauren Spierer, the Indiana college student who has now been missing for weeks. The last person who claimed to have seen her has left the country and hired a great lawyer. Whatever precipitated those actions can only be speculation, but what is fact is that if Lauren is alive, she needs to be found; if she was killed she needs to be found. No dad or mom wants to have a missing child at all, and definitely not forever. You can help spread the word using facebook, blogs or other means to keep Lauren Spierer in the hearts, minds and prayers of the praying church, and anyone else who wants to help.

Lauren Spierer does not deserve to be another young woman whose case is not solved ever, or for decades. Someone knows what happened to her. I am asking that you would continue praying or begin to pray that the secret things spoken in darkness would be brought to light, that truth would rise and that justice would be fully enabled to function in the ways it needs to for Lauren and her family. Pray for the break in this case, where all the facts would be known, especially where she is. And as you pray for justice, please pray that God would comfort the brokenhearted, as Lauren's family and loves ones must be right now.

Lastly, please also pray that the heart of our culture would be dramatically shifted to Jesus Christ, who is love, who is the only way and only hope. It is his life and light alone that will change a would-be predator's heart to love and mercy before he commits an act of violence. He can keep people from turning to violence. We have way too many headlines in our culture that no parent should have to read. Please pray as never before that the heart of this nation turns to Jesus Christ. He is the only hope, and he is an amazing hope.

Genetically Modified Foods: Are They Harmful?

Is there a link between food allergies and Genetically Modified Foods (GMO)? "Since the introduction of genetically engineered foods in the mid 1990s, there has been a 265 percent increase in the rates of hospitalizations due to food-related allergic reactions." Check out Jennifer Grayson's article in the HuffPost Green for more information. 

To learn about disastrous results on animals after eating GMO feed, reactions in humans and possible changes to your gut flora AND how to avoid eating GMO's, read this article by the Weston A. Price Foundation. "Memos made public from a lawsuit reveal that the consensus among FDA scientists in the early 1990s was that GMOs were inherently unsafe and could lead to toxins, allergens, new diseases and nutritional problems. They urged their superiors to require long-term safety studies before any GM foods were allowed on the market. But the political appointee in charge of FDA policy was the former attorney of the biotech giant Monsanto and later the company’s vice president. The scientists’ warnings were ignored and today the FDA does not require a single safety study on GM foods."

Click here to sign a petition asking the senate to require the labeling of Genetically Modified Foods.


As I have thought about blogging for a long time, I finally decided to start one at the encouragement of my friends over the last couple of years. Part of me struggled with the idea of adding to the blog surplus out there and I wondered if my voice in the mix was really needed. I have decided yes, it is, because every voice is unique. Some of the things I will write on have been very difficult for me to find information on. Some things are a result of soul searching and countless hours spent researching, trying to understand what our past and present history is. In choosing to have my eyes wide open I can, as a mom and a follower of Jesus, live my life not making those same mistakes, not just going along with the culture with my eyes shut, but live my life intentionally and purposefully aware of how my every day decisions structures the culture of my family and those around me, to varying degrees, for better or for worse.I love helping other moms do the same!

While the amount of influence we will posses in our lives is not ours to know, but God's to create as he sees fit, whatever it is tiny or small I think most of us want to use it well and purposefully. No amount of influence is insignificant. Each of us affect someone. Each of you are affecting someone today. This blog is to share my journey of how we as moms can run our homes, love our husbands, nurture and direct our family for the absolute glory and pleasure of God, every day and in every way.

As a mom of young ones with my newest joy growing inside me, I will be writing a lot about the beauties and adjustments that come with raising children. I have learned so much from so many and simply want to pass along the most helpful things I have learned for those who are interested. In terms of resources, I will be sharing those in abundance! I love spreading fantastic resources. A lot of what I share will be nutrition related, which is the single most topic I continually have questions about. I have spent so many hours, happily writing answers to frequently asked questions. However, I simply can not keep up that pace of time with my responsibilities so I will be writing blog posts I can easily direct my friends to with a link and a click.

I will also be commenting on news stories because I am strongly aware that the culture and decisions around us to affect our homes to different degrees. There probably are few topics I won't hit on, but almost every thing I write will be with the goal of educating, empowering and informing interested moms to go the way of Jesus, the way of the cross, every time and in every area of our daily lives. I have sought some resources and information for years. This blog is my place to compile everything that took me so long to find, in order that it might help you. It won't be for everyone, but for those who will appreciate it, my time is worth it to bless your lives.

If you are a mom who loves Jesus, family and scripture, this blog could be for you. I pray that you are blessed and encouraged as you read!