Gluten Free Life…after a discouraging week

This past week has been gluten hell for me. I don’t like to complain about being a Celiac. 1) Because I don’t have an offical diagnosis (health insurance purposes) and 2) because as long as I avoid gluten my disease is not a problem.

I have friends and family members that are dealing with chronic illnesses and diseases that are painful and they have no way of getting away from them. They cannot get away from their pain by simply changing their diet.

That being said, I’m gonna complain now. I’m going complain about this stuff because it has been a difficult week for me because I have been unable to avoid gluten and my disease, despite my best efforts.

The first incident happened this week when I was searching for gluten free makeup. If you’re a part of my real world, you know that my sister is getting married this Saturday. Less than a week away. Since going gluten free I haven’t really had a reason to wear makeup and even when I have I haven’t gone all out. Recently (before this week) I put on the lipstick I had without thinking about it. I wore it and was sick. So I knew that I had made a mistake and needed to find gluten free makeup before the wedding.

I got out my trusty guide to gluten free: The G-Free Diet: A Gluten Free Survival Guide by Elisabeth Hasselbeck. I bought this book as soon as I went gluten free and it really has been a good guide to gluten free living. The best thing about it is that Hasselbeck makes you realize how much of your own research you need to do.

It has my trusty list of ingredients that you should watch out in personal care products (like makeup). It’s an extensive list and if you are just beginning the journey into going gluten free, not for vanity, but for health, it can seem daunting but rest assured once you make a mistake that has you writhing in pain you’ll commit the list to memory or at least have a copy of it in your phone. The list is in the chapter titled, “Gorgeously G-Free” and starts on page 171 and continues on page 172.

The List:

  • Amino peptide complex
  • Amp-isostearoyl hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Avena sativa (oat) flour
  • Avena sativa (oat) flour kernal
  • Barley derived
  • Barley extract
  • Disodium wheatgermamido PEG-2 sulfosuccinate
  • Hordeum vulgare (barley) extract
  • Hydrolyzed wheat gluten
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein PG-propyl silanteriol
  • Hydrolyzed wheat starch
  • Hydroxpropyltrimonium hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Oat extract
  • Oat beta glucan
  • Oat derived
  • Oat extract
  • Oat flour
  • Phytophingosine extract
  • Rye derived
  • Sodium lauroyl oat amino acids
  • Triticum vulgare (wheat) flour lipids
  • Triticum vulgare (wheat) germ extract
  • Triticum vulgare (wheat) germ oil
  • Tocopherol
  • Tocopheryl Acetate
  • Vitamin E
  • Wheat (triticum vulgare) bran extract
  • Wheat amino acids
  • Wheat bran extract
  • Wheat derived
  • Wheat germ extracts
  • What germ glycerides
  • Wheat germ oil
  • Wheat germamidopropyldimonium hydroxpropyl hydrolyzed wheat protein

It’s an extensive list and can seem scary but I always look for “Wheat” first and then look for “tocopherol” or “tocopheryl acetate.” Most beauty products contain tocopherol acetate. I see those two words (that I’m not actually sure I pronounce correctly) and I put the product back on the shelf.

My problem this week came about when I was shopping for makeup. I was lucky on my first trip and PhysicansFormula had foundation and bronzer that were clearly labeled gluten free and after checking the list of ingredients was glad that it was gluten free. I also found some gluten free eye shadow, the problem came when looking for lipstick.

There is not a lipstick out on the market, even those that claim to be gluten free, that do not contain tocopheryl acetate. Not a one. The chapstick I have been using all year, Burt’s Bees, contains it, as does all other lipsticks on the market.

How can a lipstick company claim to be gluten free and list that ingredient on their box? It’s a frustration of mine, but as the consumer I have to keep a look out for myself.

The problem with that is that lipstick containers are tricky, some of them you cannot read the ingredients in the store without purchasing the product, because the ingredient list is hidden behind the packaging. The other issue is that the ingredients are impossible to read. The print is super small, so small that even my young eyes cannot read them. I needed a lipstick so I went with a couple of brands that I was assured were gluten free (through my research) and they were not. I found this out the hard way. I tried out the lipstick and had a migraine as soon as the lipstick touched my lips. Then came the cramping and by 3 am I was spending every few minutes running to the bathroom. Since I was up anyway I searched for the packing and boxes again, got out a magnifying glass and read the horrifying words, “tocopheryl acetate.” Crap! Luckily I was able to return the products but I was sick all night long and part of the next day because of this oversight on my part and horrible packaging on their part.

In the morning I contacted the customer service people of each company and asked them to make a change in their packaging. I was not asking for money but rather safer consumerism. One company (Bare…) sent me an email stating that they were not at fault for my illness. Okay, that’s not what I wanted. Sure as the consumer it’s my job to do my research, I did and was given false information on websites and forums. I also looked on their website for ingredient information and could find none. I’m not seeking money I just want them to help make my shopping experience easier. Since receiving this email I have been upset with the company whereas before I just wanted to help them make a better product. (But my anger at this company is not what this blog is about).

After returning the items, I went to Natural Grocers and got some lip tint and lip gloss that is gluten free. It said it on the packaging and I read the ingredient list 10 times (and every time I use them) before purchasing the products. I am a better consumer every time something like this happens but I’d rather not learn these lessons, I’d rather just steer clear of gluten.

The second incident happened last night. My sister had her bachelorette party and each of us bridesmaids brought a dish to share. I was about to spoon some meatballs onto my plate and asked the host what she put in them and she said what the sauce was made of. I then proceeded to eat 10 or so of those good meatballs.

Until about 2 am I didn’t think to ask how the meatballs themselves were made.  I didn’t think to ask if she made them herself or if she bought them. I didn’t think to ask if the packaging said gluten free. They were good meatballs but they were not worth the horrific migraine, insane cramping, and hours upon hours of running to the bathroom. They were also not worth the muscle soreness today, the trips to the bathroom, the lethargy, and the overall painful, sucky day that this has been.

I could be mad at this bridesmaid but just like with the lipstick company I’m at fault. I’ve lived with this kind of stuff for about a year now and every mistake I make has two sides. My side as the consumer or partygoer and the side of the company or host. I’m at fault because I didn’t think to ask, I didn’t think to triple check and get out the magnifying glass before trying out the product. I didn’t think to question a so called gluten free company.  I didn’t think to ask what the meatball was made of.

I will never again make these mistakes. I have thoroughly learned my lessons. The pain is horrific and I cannot wait until this passes through my system and I can get back to life. After all there is a wedding to put on!

Before I go, I have one more soap box to get on. I learned something horrifying this week, beauty products including lotions, lipsticks, hair dyes and so forth do not have to list all of their ingredients on the packaging. They can hide ingredients. So my Celiac friends if you are suddenly ill for a reason you cannot fathom consider going beauty product free for a few days and see if that solves your problems. Then reintroduce a product at a time to find the culprit.

Being Celiac is easier than some diseases out there but it has it’s hiccups and issues like anything else. There are days when I wish I could just eat a piece of cake or have a thick crust piece of pizza but then stuff like this happens and I remember that eating gluten is like poison to my system and not worth the pain.

Badger Lip Tint (my lipstick alternative)
Badger Lip Tint (my lipstick alternative)
Zuzu Luxe lip gloss
Zuzu Luxe lip gloss

God’s Time

This blog started out as a Facebook status update but when it got to be a paragraph long I realized it needed to be a blog.

My reward for 5 cover letters, resumes, and applications written/filled out this evening: reading a good book. I know God has his plan, and I know in that plan is my job.

I know this in the absence of a job because he continues to care for me. I continue to receive money and I continue to be energized instead of depressed. I continue to feel the drive to write. I also feel the drive to apply for the job I want.

In the beginning of my job search I applied for any and all jobs. I applied for jobs in and out of my field and I felt the drain. Day in and out I was drained by applying to jobs I was hoping I would never get. Once I stopped doing that, once I narrowed in on the jobs I wanted, once I only applied for the jobs I was driven to get, I stopped feeling drained.

I started to fall in love with positions and I started seeing similar positions everywhere.

I’ve started some traveling journals with close friends in my life, people that I hope continue to be close with as lives get more complicated. One of these friends has already sent it back to me. She asked me what kind of positions I’m applying for. I’m applying for positions in nonprofits that work with domestic and sexual violence victims. I apply for jobs that have me interacting with the women and allow for an aspect of teaching.

I love all the jobs I apply for but I’m not depressed. You might ask yourself, “how is this possible? She’s not getting interviews or call backs. It’s been 5 months how can she not be depressed? Especially when she falls in love with all the jobs.”

To be honest I’m surprised myself but the truth of the matter is that I’m at peace. Weird I know but also the truth. Each new job I read about sounds more awesome than the last. I want all the jobs I apply for. I don’t know how many places I’ve applied to, because I’m not keeping track. If I went back in my sent email box I’m sure I could tell you but I like my peace so I don’t think I will.

God is in control and this process has taught me that. I’m just waiting for My Job and I know I won’t get a job until My Job comes. So I’m at peace knowing that its out there. Don’t get me wrong I do ask God when that job will come and if he could speed things up a bit. But I’m at peace actively waiting for his job for me.

So I continue to apply. Tonight I applied for jobs in Washington state, in Maryland, in Kansas and Missouri. Most are for Domestic and Sexual Violence Advocate and Prevention Specialist.

Doesn’t that sound awesome! I’m energized just thinking about it! And that feeling is why I continue my search, that feeling is why I’m not depressed. That feeling is why I’m at peace.

God is in control and I’m excited to find My Job!

Now I’m gonna read my book and have a good night’s sleep because I’m in God’s hands waiting in his time for the right job for me.


Hero: What’s Your Definition?

TNT has a new show that will star THE ROCK called THE HEROFrom the previews I’ve seen of this show it looks a lot like FEAR FACTOR or some other stunt show. In one of the previews I have seen they have linked being a hero to that of being an athlete.

It’s funny, if you read the bios of the contestants you see that some of them are already heroes, like the single mother of the deaf son or the police officer. They are already heroes but are going on this show to prove they are heroes by doing ridiculous stunts. Isn’t it enough to be a hero in real life?

Why does performing several different kinds of stunts make you a hero? They say there will be a moral component to the show but I don’t see how that will factor in.

When you think of heroes who do you think of first?

  • Just this past week in Moore, OK there were many heroes: the teacher who huddled with her kids, the first responders who searched for victims, the people that dug others out of rubble praying that the victim would be alive when they reached them, etc. And there will be many more heroes that come forth as the time goes on. If I were searching for a hero in this case it would be the people that act without thinking, the people that do what they’ve been trained to do and the people that put others needs before their own. How do you possibly measure that on some reality TV show?
  • Memorial Day is coming up, who are the heroes that fought for our freedom? I have plenty of friends and loved ones that have served our country either here in the states or abroad. The people I know gave up their cushy lifestyle not for fame or fortune but because they felt a duty, because they felt called to fight for others. The winners of this reality TV show will get fame and fortune, if they were a real hero wouldn’t they give that up?
  • When we’re little we think of our parents as heroes as they save us from car accidents (you know the whole step on the break and put an arm across your body to hold you in your seat thing). They save us from skinned knees and teach us valuable lessons. What will a bunch of spoiled people on TV teach us about ourselves and life in general? 

The ultimate question in my mind is what does TNT think being a HERO means? It’s pretty obvious to me, every time I see the commercial advertising this new dumb show that they have no idea what it means to be a real hero or what it takes to be a hero.

The dictionary defines a hero as, “a man (obviously they are not very enlightened, substitute person for man) of distinguished courage or ability, admired for brave deeds and noble qualities.” (found on 5/22/2013 @ 6:18pm on It also says that the person who is seen as a hero then becomes the “model or ideal” that we all look up to and want to become.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to become some yahoo who wins some dumb prize on a reality show. I’d rather be someone who risks their life for mine. I’d rather be someone like Mother Teresa who sacrificed herself for others, or the teacher from Moore, OK or a first responder or someone who puts others before themselves.

I know the Sunday school answer is, “I wanna be like Jesus.” After all he was a pretty good hero. He died for our sins and he healed the sick. He traveled with and talked to the outsiders of the world and he worked hard to change people’s opinions.

I don’t want to be like some unknown person who goes on a reality TV show and turns the word HERO into some lame thing. I want to be like Jesus, Mother Teresa, the teacher, the first responders, the armed forces. I aspire to be the person who does things not for recognition or for fortune and fame but rather because it is right and there was never a thought to do anything different.

A short definition of a hero is someone ordinary doing extraordinary things. It’s someone who puts others first, someone who does what’s right not for fame but because it is right.

The picture I’ve attached is a picture of the heroes I want to look up to. It’s ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Ordinary people rescuing other people: HEROES!
Ordinary people rescuing other people: HEROES! (taken from

To see more photos go to:

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe the show will be better than I think it will be, maybe these contestants will prove through stunts and fake challenges what it means to be a hero but either way I’m going to aspire to be the ordinary who steps up to do the extraordinary and leave the reality TV kind of hero to someone else.

Aspire to be a real hero…..not with stunts but in real life when the going gets incredibly tough.

Grief: Annoying or Necessary

Grief is one emotion that seems to never end. It’s quite annoying….or is it?

Grief gives you a chance to weep for the loss but also remember the great times.

During my time at Seminary I lost two/three Grandmothers. Grandma Vi I lost early and I’ve gotten to the place where remembering her doesn’t lead me to tears. There are moments when I cry because she’ll miss out on some important times of my life. For instance, she never knew that I got two Masters: MDIV and Recovery Ministry (which I will receive in a few weeks, I would go to graduation but its 3 hours long and my sister is getting married :)). She also won’t be at my little sister’s wedding in a few weeks.

Grandma Summers I lost late. It’s been a year now without her and my heart aches. Just thinking about her and I’m weeping. She’ll also miss Rebecca’s wedding. It will be a joyful day but also a little sad because she won’t be there. I cannot wait until I can remember her for just a moment and not be weeping.

The third grandma I sort of lost was my Grandma Shirley. She’s gone. No matter what my aunts and uncles say she’s gone. The shell of who she was is still with us and this may be the hardest grief of all. Because I still have to look at pictures of the shell. Pictures that show that’s she not really here anymore. It’s completely sad but I cannot wait for her to be with Jesus. I cannot wait until she is free from the bonds of this world. I don’t know what will happen when she gets to heaven but my hope is that her mind will come back to her and she’ll be partying with all my grandmas and grandpas in heaven. My hope is that the real her will come back and she’ll be preparing a place for me.

My cousins lost a grandfather last week, a grandfather that was ready to be with the Lord and needed to go. But a loss nonetheless. To me Grandpa Ed (he’s not really my grandpa by blood but with Ed and Dorothy blood relation means nothing and they insisted that we call them Grandpa and Grandma) was a funny guy who passed out at inopportune times. He had narcolepsy (I think) and often had attacks when he had extreme emotions. He could be anxious or excited and then he would just pass out.

The family always handled these attacks with grace, they’d catch him and then set him down and laugh it off. As a kid I was never scared when he had these attacks, of course I was never in a car while he was driving as it happened.  Around me they happened in the safety of a home and I thought they were funny. I could see how they could be scary for others but the family made it safe.

When I told Ed and Dorothy of my desire to go to Seminary they were excited for me and Dorothy encouraged me. I was not as close to Grandpa Ed as his vast family but he always made me feel a part of his family and I grieve the loss of a loving man but I am glad he is with Jesus, sitting at his feet, soaking up the words of wisdom and earning his reward.

Grief is both annoying and necessary. It’s annoying when it hits you at inopportune times like the sleeping attacks that hit Grandpa Ed. When remembering my Grandma brings tears to my eyes no matter what I’m doing, when it brings me to my knees it’s absolutely annoying. I’d like to think of my Grandma without wetness filling my eyes. No matter if I’m remembering one of my last conversations with her, calling her a dumb-ass for wanting to go grocery shopping without her oxygen tank, which I think is funny and proves how awesome our relationship was or remembering seeing her in the casket (which I’m hoping to erase from my memory banks soon). I’d like to remember my grandmother without it feeling like I just got kicked in the gut. But that’s the necessary part of grief. Grief is necessary because the process allows you to go on, to move on, and to realize that moving on is exactly what you’re supposed to do.

Let’s move out of grief for a loved one because grief is more than just the loss of a person. Grief is a process that should happen any time you lose something. Of course the grief over a lost job should last shorter than the grief over a lost Grandmother. I’ve grieved several losses in my life. One of the most important places in my life that I had to get through loss was when I was abused. I had to grieve, years later, the loss of innocence, the loss of purity, the loss of feeling safe, the loss of childhood. Even if grief happens years later it has to happen. Since going through the process of grief in this area of my life I was able to let it go. To let go of the things that were taken from me, to let go of the things that never were.

The same could be said for the loss of a loved one. It is important to get through the process of grief and to allow it to happen at whatever pace you need so that you can get beyond it, so that you can see the joy, so that you can see the lost one as they were before you lost them.

Grief can be absolutely annoying but it is also absolutely necessary.


A Year In Review: Laura Knowles Cavanaugh

A Year In Review

by Laura Knowles Cavanaugh

  1. Where were you one year ago from today? And how did you see yourself in a year? A year ago today, I was married just over a year and living in Santa Barbara less than a year. My husband and I were still looking for a church community and I had been unsuccessfully applying for jobs in the area to supplement the part-time work I was already doing from home. I was still recovering from an intense season of burnout and had just undergone a series of medical tests to rule out any medical contribution to my extreme and prolonged fatigue. I would have described myself as tired and isolated but also happy as a newlywed. At that point, I couldn’t summon the energy to project into the future very far and could not imagine what would come a year from then. I knew I would still be married, and I hoped we wold be moving to a different area of the country–preferably one with a lower cost of living and a different community/church environment. The energy I did have I put into building my blog platform and shaping my voice at Holistic Body Theology Blog. I alternated between feeling invested and successful at blogging and feeling drained and like I was wasting my time. Sometimes I felt ready to close it down altogether because I wasn’t getting the return I wanted for all the energy I invested in writing.
  2. Where are you today? What has actually changed from where you saw yourself? Today I am in a very different place. My energy level is at about 80-90%, and I have learned by trial and error how to carefully balance life’s demands so that my energy can sustain me throughout the day. I am still married and loving every minute. We passed the two-year mark and are officially boring married people now and no longer newlyweds. I’m still living in the same tiny studio apartment after a couple of almost-moves out of the area, and it does not look like we will be moving anytime soon. This means I will very likely continue to be without a real community of God that I can invest in as my husband and I have as yet been unsuccessful in finding a good fit. What I certainly could not imagine a year ago was that I would go through a training program to become a spiritual director. That was a whirlwind experience but also very rich and stretching. Now I’m in a place of discerning what effect (if any) this training will have on my blog and online presence and whether I will open up a spiritual direction practice or just use what I’ve learned int he positions I already hold.
  3. Where do you see God’s blessings?  I see that God was giving me the time and opportunity I needed to really rest and recover in a way that I would never have allowed myself if I had stayed single or stayed living in Pasadena where I had more work opportunities. I think I would have probably ended up being hospitalized because I would have literally worked myself to that desperate state. Even though I was discouraged at not having more work or more of a community to be involved in, I see those circumstances now as preparing me to come to the place of pursuing spiritual direction. If i had been busier and more satisfied in my current setting, I would not have begun asking the deep questions and sensing the restlessness that led to going to Arizona for training. I also think if I had given up on my blog sooner, I would have missed out on some connections I’ve made through it that I hadn’t expected. Those connections encouraged me to keep writing and keep stretching myself. I learned that it doesn’t take much to motivate me to try again or not to give up, but I do need confirmation and encouragement from my community to keep giving my all.
  4. What advice or inspirational words can you give to someone in your same position? There are so many directions I could take this question.
  • I would say, listen to your body, to your desires, and to your community.
  • If you need to rest, then rest. If you need to push onward, keep going.
  • If you need to take a different path, have courage! You know more than you think you do.
  • You are more capable than you think you are. There is more in you ready to be realized. Be gentle with yourself.
  • Walk the path where your fear is. Keep walking until you move through the fear into the life that has been waiting for you.
  • Trust others.
  • Invite silence that creates space for God to speak. Be listening.
Laura Knowles Cavanaugh
Laura Knowles Cavanaugh

New Series: A Year in Review

Starting tomorrow I will have a new series that will be popping up from time to time. I have asked various friends from various walks of life to reflect back on the previous year.

I have asked them all the same basic questions:

  1. Where were you one year ago today? How did you see yourself in a year?
  2. Where are you today? What has actually changed from where you saw yourself?
  3. Where do you see God’s blessings?
  4. What advice or inspirational words can you give for someone in your same position?

The first person up is my dear friend Laura Knowles Cavanaugh over at Holistic Body Theology

31 Random Things About Me: 30 and 31

Welcome to the final post in this series. Be sure to check out the first post to find out about how this series got started: 31 Random Things About Me. 

The Final Random Things About Me:

  • 30. I love taking naps. As a kid I’m sure I fought the nap but in my college years and the years thereafter I have loved naps. I can take a 20 minute nap or I can take a 90 minute nap. I love napping. One of my roommates in college, Rene, was the champion of naps and encouraged their use. I wish work had nap times :).
  • 31. Friends and community are really important to me. I chose friends with a lot of forethought. I chose people to be in my life who have proven themselves trustworthy and who have helped me as I in turn have helped them. Friends are meant to stick by you and in turn encourage you. Sometimes I’m the needy person in the relationship and sometimes the other is. We work together to have fun and to help each other through this mess of life. As I turn 32 tomorrow, I’m thinking about all the things I love which includes all the friends I have made and managed to keep over the years.  Thanks friends, you’ve helped me celebrate another year of being alive and I am grateful for your friendship and your love!!! Love you all!!
  • I’ve included some photos of some of the friends I have amassed over the years. I chose to highlight the friends that I made in Pasadena. Simply because I had recent-ish pictures of us together.
  • Katie, Allison and Holly
    Katie, Allison and Holly


  • Jennie and Jenn
    Jennie and Jenn


  • Kelly, Anna and Jennie
    Kelly, Anna and Jennie


  • Betsy and Becky
    Betsy and Becky


  • Jason and Yoko
    Jason and Yoko


  • Presby Gang
    Presby Gang


  • Stacey, Laura, and I. It worries me that this is the only photo I could find of all three of us
    Stacey, Laura, and I. It worries me that this is the only photo I could find of all three of us


31 Random Things About Me: 28 and 29

Check out the first post: 31 Random Things About Me

Today’s Random Things:

  • 28. My favorite flower is the Gerbera Daisy. They’re absolutely beautiful and come in hot pink 🙂
  • Gerbera Daisy
    Gerbera Daisy

  • 29. I also love to bake. Since going gluten free I have had to make a lot of my own meals. Before going gluten free I would just eat any old thing. Now I make my own bread, salads, chicken, and really any meal I want to eat. But I also enjoy it and I enjoy trying out different recipes. It’s fun to try different taste combinations and for the most part it’s usually pretty good.
  • This bread is so good!!! It's mom and dad approved and totally gluten free.
    This bread is so good!!! It’s mom and dad approved and totally gluten free.

31 Random Things About Me: 25, 26, 27

Read the first post in this series: 31 Random Things About Me

Today’s Things:

  • 25. I love being outside. The first year I lived in Pasadena, as long as it wasn’t raining, I was sitting outside. I wanted to soak up as much as the nice weather as possible. I love taking walks, going to zoos and arboretums, and just hanging out in the back yard. I even like hiking, as long as I’m with some awesome people.  I also love having spiritual retreats outside and painting outside. 🙂
  • A Hiking Adventure with Holly and Laura
    A Hiking Adventure with Holly and Laura a few years ago


  • 26. My favorite part of a DVD (TV or movie) is the gag reel. I watch them all the time. It’s just so awesome especially on shows where they have to be serious all the time or where they have lots of technical language. It’s awesome!
  • 27. I love to play games. I love bowling and putt putt and board games. I love nerdy games like Nuns on the Run, and I love not so nerdy games like Smart Ass. I love to play with family and friends. I love love love Games!

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