We are a family of 10 living in the beautiful, northern part of Lancaster County. Our home is on several acres which we share with Bernese Mountain Dogs and Nigerian Dwarf Milking goats. God has blessed us with 8 children, 4 boys and 4 girls, ages 28-8 years old. Our second child, Jordan, was born with Classic Maple Syrup Disease, a recessive genetic disease, commonly found in the Old Order Mennonite Community and the most severe mutation of this disease. It is an extremely, difficult disease to manage and is controlled by diet and costly prescription formula. As his mother, I needed to become a dietitian overnight to be able to care for my child. Many a day was spent in doctor offices and in the hospital due to elevated blood levels from illnesses, broken bones, and dietary adjustments. Much care had to be given to prevent brain edema and severe damage from elevated levels. Around two years of age, Jordan spent several months in the hospital with health complications and was the first MSD child to survive severe cerebral brain edema. His complications became so severe that our only alternative was to apply for a research medication from NIH. Jordan was the 132nd person in the United States to receive this medication with very good success. Our third child, Wendy, was born with a Cleft lip and Alveolar Cleft requiring multiple surgeries and braces. This required learning a totally new set of doctors, surgeons, and hospital but God was with us each step of the way.
My love for cooking was a plus as Jordan’s dietary needs required only 10 grams of protein a day from food. Starchy vegetables were very limited due to their higher protein count and eggs, milk, nuts, and meat products were strictly off limits. Baked items were made with wheat, potato, and rice starch and requires additions of pyllsium fiber and stabilizers. Costly, specialty low protein food items were used daily to stay under the required protein intake. We, as a family learned to eat many salads and non-starchy vegetables to accommodate Jordan’s special diet. For about 18 years as Food Editor of the MSUD Newsletter, I worked closely with dietitians from Emery University as I learned to calculate food values and make new recipes for this very, difficult diet.
In 2013, I discovered the Trim Healthy Mamma Plan and embarked on that journey for my health, sometimes cooking 3 different types of food for one meal. Our one son had began having reoccurring stomach problems and in desperation I had taken him totally off of gluten, only to have those issues resolved with an appendectomy. One less diet to work with.
My dear, late grandmother had taught me how to make bread as a young girl. I, now, took that knowledge and used it in my transition from yeast bread to sourdough bread baking. I began reworking my original yeast recipes into sourdough, experimenting with many different methods.
In 2015 Jordan received the gift of a liver transplant making it possible for him to completely do away with his diet and prescription formulas. He, now could eat any type of food without his blood levels rising and brain edema occurring. My food prep became much easier and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of creating recipes and feeding my family with more healthy choices. Most of my family are willing tasters and will give very honest opinions on whether the dish passes the test or not. It is much easier to start before your children are born or when they are little with a diet change. But it can be done when they are older, although for some it does require time for taste buds and bodies to adjust.
Is I reflect back on the many experiences our family has gone through; I can testify to the faithfulness of God each step if the way. I have learned many, many things as God has taken us through difficult, lengthy hospital stays, learning to rely on Him through pregnancies knowing that our babies have a 25% of chance of having MSD, the uncertainty of transplant, and the many, many times of answered prayer as we faced difficult decisions.
A little bit more about myself…I grew up in Lancaster county in a home with 3 siblings. As a young 6 year old girl, I did my first sewing before I went to school making a cap for my doll by cutting a piece of fabric how I thought it should be and hand-sewing it. That began my love for sewing and by 11 year of age I was sewing my own dresses. My love for sewing has continued to develop as I have made many quilt tops, pillows, and various craft items working from my home. Ten years ago, I began a new adventure in sewing when I started tailoring lapel suit coats to the plain suit coat for our Conservative men. To me, this has become my mission that I can do from my home to serve others.
My love from cooking started as a young girl helping my dear grandmother and later began blossoming as I was in charge of meal preparations when my mother worked away from home. It is a pleasure to be able to make healthy, tasty food for my family and to share with others.
God has given me a heart for missions and spreading His Gospel through the time we spent in Nicaragua visiting when our daughter served there for two years, the many times spent in the south with Hurricane Katrina clean up, and as we helped to remodel a mission house in the city of Wilkes-Barre. Our family now teaches Sunday School the first Sunday of the month in Wilkes-Barre and it is so rewarding to see the church continue to grow and thrive in the city. My desire is that God will continue to use me for His glory.