What do you do when your world is ROCKED?

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Bill on top of Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury, NC. This was a milestone moment for him as he is petrified of heights, but yet he loves to hike! He was here in September 2014.

It’s been six months since Bill was given the shocking news he had heart disease and could suffer a massive heart attack anytime! That was what the radiologist told him on December 15, 2016. We will never forget that day – and now we join the club of understanding what it is like when your world is ROCKED with a health diagnosis that wasn’t expected.

We would like to be encouragers to others who also might get a horrific diagnosis, whether heart, cancer or some other life threatening diagnosis. Both of our fathers and my step dad succumbed to cancer – so we have intimately walked the cancer journey and that was really our fear – never heart disease. While on our current journey to better health, and to reverse his heart disease (YES, that is possible), we have stumbled across the fact that our new low sodium Hearth Healthy Diet (whole foods, very few processed foods, lean meat, lots of fresh vegetables, and fruit is now our dessert – and we’ve eliminated man-made sugar) is also a GREAT cancer preventative diet – as well as is what is recommended for cancer patients by the American Cancer Association.

We now understand that it feels like – it is shocking! In fact, he doesn’t remember the two days after he got the news. He was actually numb. The most important lesson we learned is that your doctor is not paid to be your friend, he or she is paid to prescribe you medicine to heal you or slow down the disease or to perform the surgery needed to remove whatever disease that can be surgically removed and/or subscribe other treatments, such as radiation.

Upon being diagnosed, you are then given more information than you can absorb, how will the disease affect your life and what your next steps are. For us, we were blessed that Bill’s brother and wife are both RNs and have dealt with heart disease personally. They became our mentors. And then the new cardiologist the Radiology center found for us was about the best doctor we’ve ever met. No matter what we were told, the most important lesson we learned is that if you are diagnosed, you are your own best advocate, researcher and finder of facts. I will say, most men aren’t very good at this from my experience in our families.

I couldn’t fathom how Bill would handle this. But he took ownership of it! He began to research what it meant, what he needed to do and how he had to take full responsibility for his journey to good health.  Fortunately, his NEW cardiologist stays up on the latest information and set the tone for Bill. He suggested what Bill “should do” and told him to do his research! The burden was then on Bill – he had to drastically change his diet.

The next lesson we learned is that “food is medicine.” From Dr. Axe’s website: 

Hippocrates was to thank for the famous quote, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” — which we translated to “food is medicine” and use as our motto. Still to this day medical doctors and historians consider Hippocrates to be the founder of medicine as a “rational science.” Considered to be one of the most influential figures in the history of medicine and healing, Hippocrates was ahead of his time when, around the year 400 B.C, he advised people to prevent and treat diseases first and foremost by eating a nutrient-dense diet. Why is a calorie not just a calorie when it comes to your health, and how come it matters so much which types of foods you get your calories from? Foods provide us with energy (calories), but they do much more than that. The foods you include in your diet also play a critical role in controlling inflammation levels, balancing blood sugar, regulating cardiovascular health (including blood pressure and cholesterol levels), helping the digestive organs to process and eliminate waste, and much, much more.

Ugh, this sounds boring, doesn’t it? Not if your life depends on it! Neither Bill nor I were very good in biology. Although we both were good students, both graduating with honors from college, much of what we had to learn was above our pay grade. But Bill’s life depended on it – and in time, I realized so did mine!

We had heard about controlling inflammation levels – but that didn’t really hit home until the diagnosis. Bill did feel hypoglycemic from time to time, so balancing blood sugar was a new thing he had to learn about as he learned in addition to heart disease, he was also insulin resistant. And of course, now cardiovascular health is his #1 priority. So let’s look at one other “boring” topic – that is lifesaving! Quoting from the same source:

Perhaps more than anything else in our lives, the foods we regularly eat help determine whether or not we will become ill, or remain healthy into older age. Whether vegetables, fruit, meat, oils or grains, foods contain influential substances including antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, fiber and much more.

Phytonutrients???? What’s that? Let’s click over to another section of Dr. Axe’s website:

Phytonutrients are nutrients found in plants that develop to protect the plant from damaging environments. Plants are exposed to excess ultraviolet radiation, predator pests, toxins and pollution, resulting in the generation of dangerous free radicals within their cells. These free radicals can then bind and damage proteins, cell membranes and DNA of the plant.

Fortunately, phytonutrients simultaneously develop to shield the plant from such damage as well as provide their color, flavor and smell. Why is this important to us? Since we are exposed to radiation and various environmental elements just like plants, we need phytonutrients to protect us.

How do we get phytonutrients? We get them by eating the plants! Each plant contains tens of thousands of different phytonutrients that can act as antioxidants, hence it’s key to eat high-antioxidant foods in order to fight free radical damage.

And guess who else wants to weigh in on our diets?

The American Cancer Society defines phytonutrients or phytochemicals as:

plant compounds like carotenoids, lycopene, resveratrol and phytosterols that are thought to have health-protecting qualities. They are found in plants such as fruits and vegetables, or things made from plants, like tofu or tea. Phytochemicals are best taken in by eating the foods that contain them rather than taking the supplements or pills.

So this is now the foundation for our new way of life. The next thing we learned was how bad two food additives are to ALL of our diets! Granted, with the population explosion, feeding the world is getting more and more difficult. So what to do? Food additives to stretch the food supply. Thus our focus is on eating whole foods and minimizing processed foods. We’ve learned that SOY can play havoc with our hormones (this is another whole blog, but for more, read here) and it is in SO MANY processed foods. Thus, we are eliminating as many as we can. If we must buy something processed, we check the ingredients. The other food additive is SUGAR we now avoid. Even artificial sweeteners as your body doesn’t really know the difference, it processes both the same. Our new sweets are our fruits – natural sugar from fruits and vegetables (yep) are good for you and are part of the “whole” foods mentioned earlier.

Sugar – is it bad or good for you? This is probably the most important thing anyone who wants better health, anyone who has been diagnosed with heart disease or cancer, needs to understand the facts around “added” sugar. We received this information a few months ago from another source. But Dr. Axe sure spells it out nicely, with links to additional information and footnotes:

Most people blame dietary fat for heart disease. And while certain industrial, inflammatory fats like trans fats do cause heart attacks, sugar is the real culprit. In fact, in 2016, researchers unearthed a huge sugar industry scandal, proving that the sugar lobby sponsored phony Harvard research in the 1960s. Turns out the sugar lobby paid Harvard researchers to take the heat off of sugar’s health effects, instead turning the focus on naturally occurring fats’ supposed role in heart disease. (1)

This faulty “research” concluded there was “no doubt” that the only dietary intervention required to prevent coronary heart disease was to eat less cholesterol and to eat polyunsaturated fat instead of saturated fat. (2)

We now know this is not true. In 2014, researchers were able to scientifically show that ingesting too much added sugar could significantly increase your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. In fact, people getting 17 to 21 percent of calories from added sugar face a 38 percent higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who got just 8 percent of their calories from sugar. The relative risk was more than double for those who consumed 21 percent or more of their calories from added sugar. (3)

So how are we doing after six months?  Fantastic! We have both adapted to our new way of eating, which has become second nature to us. We are committed to it and are looking forward to Bill’s next check up in August. Bill was pushing his way out of a size 36 waist and I was pushing myself out of size 12 clothes. To be realistic, we never feel we are on a diet or that we are trying to lose weight – it just happened. We finally had to buy some clothes as ours were literally falling off. Bill has lost 50 pounds and I’ve lost 25. As I wrote in my last post about my heart disease, I was an expert at loosing – and gaining weight. I can say, this is different – it has not been a “diet” it is now a lifestyle.

Is any of this new information for you? What has been your experience? Are we late in getting on this band wagon, or are we on to something?

We want to encourage others to “think outside the box” to not just accept the diagnosis. Ask what more can you do to help your “condition.”  Ask about nutrition. We are convinced there is a correlation between disease and diet….

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. Genesis 1:29 ESV

Memorial Day – May 29, 2017

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From left, Bill, his brother David and wife, Linda, and yours truly.

We were so happy and blessed to be able to attend the third annual Memorial Day event at the Civil War cemetery in Vernon, Illinois. We remember fondly the event from 2015, written about here in case you missed it. We didn’t think that day could be topped but this years event was equally wonderful. This post will be mainly photos of the wonderful displays.

Continue reading

Memorial Day (2015 & 2017)

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On Monday, May 25, 2015, at the re-dedication and the 100th anniversary of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Civil War statute at the entrance of the Civil War cemetery in Vernon, Illinois.

We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. … Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”  -Gen Logan, 1858

This quote was taken from someone I respect and follow, click here for her blogger’s post – which I just read. I’m a bit behind. We’re probably like many Americans. Memorial Day is a day off from work, a day to picnic and be with family and shop a few sales. My dad was a real patriot, but I don’t remember him making a big deal about the holiday – other than we had a family cook out for most of my adult life.

Finally, in 2015, we were able to really understand and participate in a wonderful Memorial Day “celebration.” Which is really strange, to celebrate those who gave their lives so we could live in the land of the free? My blogger friend  also addresses this issue.

Fortunately, we were invited to attend this event by my husband’s brother, David Lees and his wife, Linda. David works with Dr. Mark Murfin. Dr. Murfin recruited David to become a Civil War re-enactor years ago. Dr. Murfin then discovered this cause, the re-dedication and the 100th anniversary of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Civil War statute at the entrance of the Civil War cemetery in Vernon, Illinois. I’m sure he is familiar with the above quote, because that is what drove him to start a wonderful tradition….and it continues. We missed last year (2016), but were so happy to be able to attend this year (2017).

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May 25, 2015 David and Linda

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Dr. Mark Murfin (a general surgeon) opens up the program in 2015.

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We were treated to a wonderful picnic – the meat was provided and we all brought covered dishes to round out the meal. I decided to include this picture instead of all the food and other festivities. My brother-in-law with his colleague, Dr. Mark Murfin, founder of this wonderful new tradition. These two re-enactors have traveled to many events. Now they have one close to their hometowns!

The Vernon G.A.R. Park was established on October 28, 1893 after Elbridge Robinson and his wife, Martha, donated and deeded one acre of ground to the Trustees of James L. Jones, Post #632 Grand Army of the Republic. Regarding the land transfer, Robinson declared:

… the said trustees, on consideration of being deemed said above described plat of ground, agree to hold and care for the same as a Memorial Park and place and keep a flag pole at the center from which the national colors are to be housed on all state and national public days so long as said post remains in existence. When said post ceases to exist, the said plat of ground… to go to the village of Vernon so long as said village uses the same as a Memorial Park, hoisting the national flag on all state and national public holidays, and cared for the grounds and trees as the trustees of the said post did….

At the first Memorial Day event, Monday, May 25, 2015, a speech was given by Pastor David Rogers, First Baptist Church, Vernon, Illinois at the re-dedication and the 100th anniversary of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Civil War statute at the entrance of the Civil War cemetery in Vernon, Illinois. This is not an exact duplication of the speech as this was written after the fact and from his notes:

I come to you today to try and give a perspective from the Bible, why memorials are important according to God’s Word. There are many memorials mentioned in scripture.

In the ark of the covenant were to be kept a sample of manna; Aaron’s rod that budded; and, a stone copy of the 10 commandments.

These three things were important because they represented something the Israelites wanted their children to know, something from each of these important events. So the upcoming generations to come would see:

1) The bread God gave Israel to eat in the desert when they were brought out of Egypt: they wanted to have something in there to remind them about God’s wondrous care for them;

2) God told Moses to get a rod from each of the 12 tribes, to write each leader’s name on them – and Aaron’s name to be written for the tribe of Levi. And God miraculously made one of those rods bud, it produced almonds. That was Aaron’s rod. It was to tell the people God was in charge, that He was going to pick the leaders, they were not to pick them. The story continues in Numbers 17:8-10 – the next day Moses entered the Tent of the Testimony and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the house of Levi, not only sprouted, but it had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. Then Moses brought out all the staffs from the Lord’s presence to the Israelites. They looked at them, and each man took his own staff. The Lord said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the Testimony to be kept as a sign of the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so they will not die.”

3) And finally, the third item kept in the Ark of the Covenant, the tablets of the 10 commandments written by the hand of God, a memorial to God’s concern for our need of laws right and wrong, civility, and morality. I’m wondering how many remember this is where we find the morality that God has designed for mankind.

Why was the container of manna placed in the most Holy Ark of the covenant? As a memorial to God’s care for His people’s physical well-being.

Why was Aaron’s rod that produced almonds placed in the most Holy Ark of the Covenant? As a reminder of God’s judgment upon the rebellious.

And why were the 10 commandments placed in the most Holy Ark of the Covenant? As a reminder of God’s laws.

All three were placed there for future generations to see, to not repeat similar rebellions, and to respect God’s power and resolve.

But there were other memorials in Scripture:

In Joshua 4, we see what happened after the whole nation had finished the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River. Twelve men were chosen from among the people, one from each tribe, to take 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan from where the priests stood and they carried them over to the place where they stayed that next night.

This was to serve as a sign, a memorial. In the future, when your children ask you what do the stones mean? From Joshua 4:7, “tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel for ever.”

Two more biblical memorials as we prepare to close: First, the cross. The tree upon which Jesus died, it hangs around necks, it dangles from ear lobes, on necklaces, and bracelets. It can be seen as far away in Effingham, Illinois or high on the Hill in Bald-Knob, Missouri.

When you look at the cross, do you see the absence of the Savior, risen, alive, sitting at the right-hand of the throne of God? Or are you reminded of Him nailed there, bleeding, suffering, dying for you?

George Bernard wrote a hymn in 1913 and published it in 1915, the same year the GAR memorial was erected (the “memorial” we were re-dedicating on this date) – and some other songs that were more popular that year:

“A little bit of heaven (Sure they call it Ireland)”
“Carry me back to old Virginny”
“It’s a long way to Tipperary”

The hymn George Bernard published in 1915 has stood the test of time,The Old Rugged Cross.

And the last biblical memorial I will mention today is the communion table in most churches. Do you remember what it says? “This do in remembrance of me.” Jesus’ words to his disciples, admonishing them to take part in the communion, the Lord’s supper Service regularly until He returns.

We have many memorials in life: monuments, historical markers, and even wedding rings.

By far and away the most important memorial we have is the cross of Jesus Christ. On this memorial day I urge you to remember these three memorials in the Ark of the covenant:

The Jar of Manna: God’s care for you physically.
Aaron’s rod that budded: God’s care for you mentally.
The 10 commandments: God’s care for you socially.

Today, remember especially the cross: God’s care for you spiritually–eternally. You will die one day and there will be a memorial stone placed where your body lies.

But what you do today with the cross will determine where your spirit resides.


To safely shoot these pieces of artillery, it takes six men to safely fire: the powder monkey, who is in charge of carrying the gun powder and ammunition to the cannon; a gunner who aims the cannon; load crewmen, who packs the ammo and the powder into the barrel; and a man of higher rank who instructs these artillery personnel when and where to shoot the gun.

The day was absolutely wonderful and as we said then and will continue to say, it was the best Memorial Day we’ve ever attended as honor was truly paid to those who gave their lives for the freedom of this country. Let that soak in a bit….

Here is a link to all the pictures from this event. Next write up will be from this year, 2017’s event. It was just as amazing and honoring to our fallen warriors from WWII….

Heart Disease: Debbie

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We’re visiting Bill’s brother, David, and wife, Linda.

“I’ve lost 100 pounds!” Yep, this is Debbie talking. No one ever believes me when I would say this. But I’ve said this many times during my 20s and 30s. No one ever knew me when I was 100 pounds overweight. You see, I’d have to clarify my statement by saying, “I’ve lost 10 pounds 10 times.”

I’ve always said I just have a “slow metabolism.” I started watching what I ate in High School and maintained my weight so I was 110 pounds when I graduated (at 5’4″ tall). Then I went away to college and gained the “freshman 15” but for me it was the Freshman 25! And then it began, gaining and losing. In my 30s I discovered exercise so for 20 years, kept my weight under control. I say all this to say, I was a pro in losing weight. And then I hit the 50s. It got to a point where I just gave up and said, “This is what happens to women in our 50s.”

Now Bill on the other hand, at 6’2″ and large boned, always ate whatever he wanted and was never concerned about his weight. Until his 60s. He thought diets were a waste of time and never saw anyone really succeed in their diets. Actually, he saw me struggle a few times so he knew how unsuccessful dieting is. And then he resolved, “I guess this is what happens in our 60s.” Continue reading

Food Revolution – going live now!

“The first interview with Sanjay Gupta, MD, an award-winning medical correspondent and a practicing neurosurgeon. His medical training and public health policy experience distinguishes his reporting from war zones and natural disasters, as well as on a range of medical and scientific topics, including the Ebola outbreak, brain injury, disaster recovery, health care reform, fitness, military medicine, and HIV/AIDS. You’ll find out about his remarkable research on how we can end heart disease permanently, and hear his extraordinary stories spreading health knowledge worldwide.”

Mimi Guarneri MD – Eating & Living for a Healthy Heart

“Dr. Guarneri is board-certified in cardiovascular disease, nuclear cardiology, and integrative holistic medicine. She is president of the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine and a clinical associate professor at University of California, San Diego. She is also the co-founder and medical director of Guarneri Integrative Health, Inc. at Pacific Pearl La Jolla, where she leads a team of experts in conventional, integrative, and natural medicine. She is the author of The Heart Speaks and 108 Pearls to Awaken Your Healing Potential. You’ll learn about the role of relationships, attitude, and nutrition in optimizing cardiovascular health.”

Kim Williams MDProven Steps to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease

“Dr. Kim Williams is one of the most impeccably credentialed cardiologists in the world today. He is board-certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular diseases, nuclear medicine, nuclear cardiology, and cardiovascular computed tomography. Dr. Williams is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, and served as its president from 2015 to 2016. He has dedicated much of his life to expanding healthcare access to low income and inner city communities, and to his leadership in bringing nutritional awareness into cardiology practice. If you or anyone you love wants to prevent or reverse heart disease, Dr. William’s powerful and deeply informative message is for you.”

We are listening LIVE. It sounds like it will reinforce what we are doing.

Victory in the Valley!

Victory in the Valley!

We have been distracted by our obsession with conquering heart disease! Let’s take a break from that series and see what is really carrying us forward. I can hardly contain my excitement about a dear friend who entered into the Valley of the Shadow of Death years ago. She came out claiming VICTORY!! Actually, she went in declaring VICTORY….

If you have followed our Adventure Travel Blog, you may remember we are now minimalists. To finally adopt our dream lifestyle, Bill sold his dearly beloved motorcycle (click the link to see a picture of it) and I had to get rid of all my books!!! Ouch, it hurt us both. I’ve been a lover of books for as long as I can remember….

A VERY dear friend called me a while ago to let me know she was FINALLY writing the book I had wanted years ago. How sad I had to temper my enthusiasm with the fact, books are practically banned from our motor home as we just don’t have the spare room (Bill knows if you give an inch, I’ll take a dozen books!). Continue reading

Heart Disease: Heart Healthy Eating

Heart Disease: Heart Healthy Eating

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We should learn about our hearts: “The heart is the hardest working muscle in the body.

“What is a heart healthy diet” my doctor asked me on April 12, 2017. That shocked me, she’s a medical doctor, she should know I thought. You see, when I first went to her a year ago for my yearly check up, my only complaint was my weight. And now one year later, I am down over 20 pounds. When she asked what have I been doing, I replied, “I’m eating a heart healthy diet!”

I guess it means different things to different people. I decided to do some more research and decided we might want to share exactly what we are doing, although we mentioned it previously here. Continue reading