O Candida…(this ain’t the song or the country)

So, since I wrote about my research into my health issues, I have talked to several people about suspicions that they may be struggling with Candida.  Whenever I learn something in life, I like to share it.  So, I am going to try to compile some helpful resources and things I have learned to help with Candida.  Want to know if Candida might be what you are struggling with?  Here is a questionnaire to assess your symptoms.  If this might be you, here are some suggestions…

***Know that I am not a professional, just a sufferer.  You are responsible for your journey and your healing.  I am just trying to point you to places that I read and found helpful.

1.  First things first–Take a good probiotic (this is one a friend recommended to me).  Actually, ANYONE should be taking a probiotic–your babies, your mommas, your cousins, your neighbors–e’rbody!  Why?  Our body, specifically our guts, need good bacteria.  When you have a bacterial infection, your doctor has given you antibiotics.  Antibiotics can save our lives–they are not bad.  Too many antibiotics can wreak havoc by killing the good bacteria that helps us function in a healthy way in our body.      There is a book called the GAPS diet that has a great explanation as to how many of our issues like ADHD, depression, Autism, autoimmune disorders etc are exacerbated by our diets and the leaky guts we have due to the imbalance of bacteria there.  I began taking a probiotic when I had mono over a year ago, and I have seen it transform our family and others.  This is not just something you take when you are on antibiotics!!!  Take it all the time!

2.   Your Diet drives this ship.  You cannot fight Candida without changing your diet.  If you are miserable enough, you WILL change your diet.  The interwebs:) have all kinds of information, and sometimes that can be completely overwhelming especially when you are feeling poorly!  There are several websites that helped me in compiling a plan for how my diet should change.  You have to plan for this–you CANNOT wing it.  I used this site and this site to come up with a plan.

Basically, you will need to cut sugar (of all kinds–even naturally occuring in fruits and veggies), gluten (and no not even “gluten free” items that are processed), and dairy.  You can do the reading of all the “whys” in the GAPS diet and on those websites above.  Candida yeast feeds on sugar, even the stress hormone cortisol that is released in fight or flight turns to sugar and the yeast rejoices.  You will start with a cleanse–homemade veggie broth, and raw or roasted legal veggies, lots of water, for several days.  You will experience die-off.  This can be significant–I was in bed for 3 days sicker than I have been in a long time.  This occurs once, and it IS WORTH IT.  The yeast has wreaked havoc on your body, and it will not leave quietly.  All I could think was, “if this is what it is doing to my body in die-off, what in the world was it doing to all the systems of my body when I was feeding a happy monster????”

3.  Look into Anti-fungals.  You fight with dietary and supplemental anti-fungals.  I chose to use some essential oils from my research–lemongrass, oregano, cinnamon bark, clove, ocotea.   I basically have used them in a variety of different ways.  You can also talk to your doc about a prescription anti-fungal.  Do your research.

4.  Realize that your symptoms show you the train wreck that has been going on in your body.  Your body might need help in figuring out how to function properly again.  Along with probiotic and anti-fungals, there might be food and supplemental help.  We have been through a stressful season where our adrenals are a joke.  Here are some that I have chosen to take–do your research.  Just want to point you in a direction.

Candida support supplement, Vitamin D, Omega 3, Evening Primrose, Licorice Root, Magnesium and Potassium support, Vitamin C, Vitamin B-12, Multi-vitamin, Milk Thistle, (and I am probably forgetting some).

5.  Some practical things I like in my diet-Most Kombucha and Probiotic Drinks I would avoid–because of the sugar and fermentation.  I have found this drink to be 1)refreshing 2)aiding detox with lemon and cayenne 3)legal since it has 1 gram of sugar.  Whole foods has it for the cheapest price and then Target and Kroger carry it.


Another thing that I do weekly is cook a whole organic chicken and then make bone broth.  ADD homemade bone broth to your diet.  I drink it and freeze it to use in all my cooking.  Whole Foods and Earth Fare are places to get bones from other animals to make beef broth.


Use the heck out of Apple Cider Vinegar–add it here and there to recipes (just a smidge).  Drink it, research ways to use it.  It is invaluable.


Only buy and cook grass fed meat, free range chicken, etc.  Why?  To avoid any antibiotics that have been added to them–remember the whole gut balance thing?


I hope some of these things encourage you.  I did this with A LOT of help from the LORD.  His strength and discipline–I am not self-disciplined, but I was desperate.  If you think, “I could never,” ask Him for help.  I have dropped 20 lbs and feel so much better–and I have a long way to go to health.  This is NOT an overnight process to healing, but it is a process to healing.

Anemic faith in the hands of the All-Powerful God

Here’s the deal–I stay tired these days.  I remain in a state of need, scratching my head for how to live.  This parenting thing is way out of my league, and I am just in the pee-wee leagues!  I look around at the painful, scary places I see people wading through around me, and I am broken and at a loss for how to wade in with them.

If I could share the prayer list I just put together for people around me this week (it’s not the “bless me with a good day and a car” kind of list), you would see a theme.  There are lives hanging in the balance–babies, 30 somethings, elementary students, teenagers, older adults.  A list of people fighting for physical life and spiritual life and grieving like they never knew possible is written neatly on the side of my planner.  This list puts things in perspective, and most of the time, it is the easiest to ignore that perspective.

I am a feeler–God created me with mercy in my bones.  The weight of need in my family and friends is crushing me.  It is a picture that in EVERY area of my existence I NEED GOD.  My flesh says, “You cannot deal with this–put it out of your head and find a way to cope and numb–run after things you can control (ha!).”  God calls to my heart, “Call to me–you are meant to need Me.”  Truthfully, I teeter between these two realities.  I can forget who I am.  I can forget Who has called me and loved me from before the foundation of the world.  I can forget Who has lavished His grace upon me and sealed me with the Spirit.  I forget that He is doing me good by putting me in places of need–stretching me, growing me, teaching me, loving me, parenting me.

My greatest place of need right now is wisdom and endurance in parenting.  Greg and I try to keep the long road to adulthood always on the horizon as we make parenting decisions, but we also know that TODAY’s actions and decisions make up that horizon.  This morning, through Ephesians 1, I was reminded that I am His.  I don’t have a grand plan, but He does.  I don’t have wisdom, but He does.  I don’t have the endurance and love to follow through, but He does. He has given me everything I need for life and godliness–Himself.  So, what does this mean for today?  I need to stop wringing my hands and scratching my head on my own and ask for help from the ONE who is the Maker of the Heavens and the Earth.  I need to do what I know He has set before me for today and entrust the outcome to Him.  This entrusting of my heart and circumstances is the greatest gift I could give to my sons for it is the path to Life.

Those of you who are on my prayer list, I am entrusting you to Him.  We are in this together–messy, nearsighted, fumbling.  However, our hope is in our Adopted Father who is doing so much more than we can ask or imagine.


Balance in life is tricky, is it not?  I find that true especially with littles.  If I feel like I have “conquered” one thing, I have “failed” or completely ignored another.  The “you can have it all” life is not true no matter how much we fight to prove it is.  Our hearts, minds, and physical bodies are only able to handle so much–and yet we attempt to be god everyday.

We were created to need our Creator with everything in us.  That need is good even though our flesh cries against it most times.  I am reminded of this as my boys will pitch fits and recoil from me when I am trying to help them.  They scream “No, I do it myself–go away!!!!”  All the while I am thinking “let me know how that goes for you–I am simply trying to help you!”  Boy, do I see a mirror of myself and God in my children.  I see the ridiculousness of my tantrums and behaviors, and I gulp.

And yet, He is much more gracious and patient than I am.  When I look back over the trials and struggles of the last ten years, I see patterns and themes.  God uses different circumstances to continue to deal with the same rebellion and weakness in me.  I think I “get” the point, and yet I see how deep rooted my unbelief is.  I see such good parenting in His approach with me.  I see the beautiful tapestry He is weaving that is bringing me the greatest good–His presence.

Past experience tells me He can be trusted, but I want to buck and run every time the pain of life rears its ugly head.  What this tells me is that I do not want to go deep.  I do not want to be bothered.  This tells me where my treasure is.  Jesus told us “where our treasure is, there our heart is also.”  He was speaking of storing up treasures on earth verses treasures in Heaven.  He tells us that no one can serve two masters.  He wants all of me, and in Him, all of me is filled.  I try to fill myself with little treasures here and there that are like Happy Meal trinkets compared to the deep riches of knowing Him.  I create more pain by trading Him for these temporal treasures.  (see Matthew 6 for further study) Then, I get angry at the consequences.

Bad parenting lets the child have his whims.  Good parenting thinks of the child’s end–maturity.  Therefore, it is a consistent purpose-filled leading of the heart of that child teaching them truth and showing them how to live in it.  Sometimes I just want God to leave me alone, but He cannot.  He is a good Father which has promised to share with me His Holiness–his greatest gift.  (see Hebrews 12 for deeper study of this)

Most of the time that I blog, it is simply a time to work out on paper what God is crafting in me.  As I write, I learn and discover.  This is one of those reminders from Him.  I choose today to trust Him.  I choose to look at all the Ebenezers  (monuments in my life where I remember where He has helped and established me–in hebrew “stone of help) and remember His hand and heart of faithfulness.  As an exercise, I list these.  Every time I see that I know Him and experience Him more deeply than I ever would if I had gotten what I wanted in the moment–whether children, marital ease, success in my timing, lack of loss, healing in my timing, lack of diagnoses.  The list could go on and on–and there will be further challenges.  The common denominator is always my heart and His goodness in shaping it.  No matter how much I fight against it, I want my Good Loving Father to do me His good.  I want Him to do that good in my children’s lives even though I know that will bring pain to my heart, as well.  Treasures in Heaven, dear Lord, help my heart be focused there.

Come Thou Fount of every blessing

Tune my heart to sing Thy grace

Streams of mercy never ending

Call for songs of loudest praise

Teach me some melodious sonnet

Sung by flaming tongues above

Praise thy name I’m fixed upon it

Name of thy redeeming love.


O to grace how great a debtor

Daily I’m constrained to be!

Let Thy goodness like a fetter

Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Prone to wonder Lord I feel it

Prone to leave the God I love;

Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it,

Seal it for thy courts above.


Here I raise mine Ebenezer, Here by Thy great help I’m come.

And I hope by Thy good pleasure safely to arrive at Home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger wandering from the fold of God;

He to rescue me from danger; interposed His precious blood.


Wake Up

Do you remember those moments when your parents got your attention as a child?  They asked for your eyes and took your chin in their hands to direct your gaze, and you knew they meant business.  There was a sense of heightened awareness of their authority but also awareness of their deep love and care.  That has been a picture of me and the Lord in these last few months.  He has taken my chin in His hands and literally turned my neck in a different direction awakening parts of my heart that have been dormant.

I had NO clue the lostness you can feel as a mom of young littles–especially if they have any heightened needs.  Every moment (even in sleep) is dedicated to tending to the physical and emotional needs of another, and it is a learn-as-you-go gig.

Most of these last 4 years, I feel like I have been in survival mode–especially the last 3 (pregnancy and 2 years with 2).  This past year has included one event after another of physical sickness or emotional needs for our family.  Several people we know have made jokes about our lives–“can one more thing happen to the Pinkners?”   I am tired, and I have not taken good care of myself.  It was the “do anything to survive and not fall apart” plan.   You take one thing at a time, and you keep on going because you have to be there for your children (the mantra of parents throughout the ages!).

Since last Winter, I had been experiencing hot flashes where I sweat profusely about 4 times a day.  These were “get out of my face, I’m going to die, I don’t care who you are…” hot flashes.  I was also extremely fatigued and dealing with depression.  (This was most likely due to the fact I did not sleep between 1 and 5 am most days–good ole insomnia).  I also began having aches and pains in my body, hands and feet that I blamed on 40–the age I USED to think was ancient!  Did I mention that I developed a high temper and a continual bad mood?  I was carrying more weight than ever before and could not budge the scales when I tried to improve.  Blood work did not show anything, but my gut knew there was something really funky going on within my body.  I dealt with it limping through until God took my chin and directed me to research on “Dr. Google.”

I landed on Candida yeast overgrowth.  What I found was that people who have had a lot of antibiotics (hello ear infections, tonsillitis, urinary infections galore in the last 35 years!) and who have been under extreme stress with cortisol released can tend to have systems that are way out of whack.  The good bacteria has been killed in the gut and then yeast (that is there in everyone) begins to grow more AND it feeds on sugar.  Sugar is in so many things (and in that cortisol released from stress).  Even the “well-meaning” things I was eating turned into sugar in digestion.  This Candida overgrowth then begins multiplying and will affect different systems of the body.

What’s the cure?  Diet.  No sugar, no dairy, no gluten (not even fruit).  This is meant to starve the feeding Candida.  What have I found?   Sugar is not our friend–especially not my friend.  I thought that the way I was feeling was just “how it was going to be the older I get.”  Cloudy mind, depression, anxiety, fatigue, aches and pains began to wane after I had the “break-up with sugar” headache for a couple of weeks.  I actually looked forward to the day.  I can literally look back over the last year of my life and see a darkness over me–it was affecting my outlook and my thinking. I was not sleeping, so I was not waking to spend time with God.  I literally just crawled through the day almost in a stupor.  I remember telling my dear friend that I kind of hated life–that is not me at all.

I am still fighting this demon of Candida, and I thank God for literally rescuing me from myself.  I was walking toward self-destruction, and He loves me and is faithful to me even when I do not pursue Him.  See, this is not about food–it’s about so much more than that.  I did not change my diet because I am disciplined.  I did not change my diet to lose weight.  I did not change my diet as a resolution.  The Lord showed me that I have no other choice if I wanted to live as He had made me to.  He is the One who has given me the strength each step–through Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I literally cannot go back to the way things were.  He has shown me the lesser things that I trusted in to get me through the moment.  Now, I am able to see with greater hope and plan with greater hope.  I can think on truth again; I want to think on truth again.

I share this to encourage those who have weird health things going on–or even fatigue or headaches, etc.  Food can be a healer–look beyond the box.  We are our only advocate and our children’s only advocates…a lot of times you have to research on your own and listen to your gut if you think something is not right.  I could go on and on, but I will leave it here for now.



Grief is so powerful.  It’s such a force that crashes on our shore even when we do not consciously think on that which we are mourning.  The world moves at its same pace, and we are spun into a different orbit with sorrow in our hearts as we grieve.

Ten years ago the week of Thanksgiving my family’s world flipped upside down.  My Daddy had come to some terrible and terrifying days with his Parkinson’s disease.  We had to rush to the emergency room in Knoxville and felt helpless and directionless.   Three days later we got the news that he was dying.  He would never leave Baptist hospital again.  We were there for 2 weeks with him as we saw him slip away, and then, it was done.  He died early in the morning December 6, 2005.

I was a different person after that–a transition from 30 year old girl to 30 year old woman.

There’s something about this decade mark of him being gone that calls to a deeper grief in my soul.  There’s a heaviness to this season that reminds me of the heaviness when he went to be with Jesus.  I think about the things he has missed experiencing–especially my children.  How he would get a kick out of them.  How he would horse laugh and think they were crazy boys.  How his tender heart would ache for challenges they are facing.  And, Oh the joy Jack and Luke would have knowing “Pops!”  I cannot adequately describe him to them.  I cannot get them to see the depth of his importance, his legacy.

What a legacy he left.  What a gift he was.  What a Daddy.  The longer I live, the more clearly I see that, and I would like to hug him and tell him that one more time.  I have peace knowing where He is and the joy he is experiencing, but the grief is still there.

As a celebration of Herbert and a way to turn that grief into gratitude, I want people to share what he meant to them.  It may even be a story that no one has ever heard.  I want grief to be turned to gratitude and praise to God!


It makes sense to follow the lessons we learn, huh?  Well, my life is a poor example of this, at times.  Old habits die hard, and new habits easily fizzle.  I really am attempting to carve more time to draw near to God purposefully, and sometimes my attempts are a big fat joke in the land of littles.

However, I know without spending time with Jesus, I will wither away.  I will reproduce rotting fruit in the lives of my children.  I will breathe resentment into my husband’s ear.  Friendships will lack life–actually withdrawal will be my theme song.  When I fight to spend time with the Lord and make it a point, I am fighting for my children and my husband and my heart.

In the last few weeks, the Holy Spirit has whispered “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you, as well.”  That does not seem like the truth until we actually practice it.

Our brains and adrenaline are on full steam to our lists 1. breakfast, 2. carpool, 3. laundry, 4. job pressures and success, 5.kid’s activities, 6.church activities, 7.friendships, 8. marriage (oh, I am supposed to work at that?), 9. tv time (I deserve it, right?), 10. cooking, 11. cleaning, 12. answering texts, 13. surfing facebook and instagram, etc, etc, etc.   When I jump to that list first, the battle is already lost.  My heart responds in anxiety and production mode, and the very reason I have been redeemed is forgotten.  I tend to think in practicality and what people can do for me, how things are inconveniencing me instead of thinking with the mind of Christ.  I defer to worship of my idols–comfort and ease instead of the One True Magnificent Glorious God.  I make a pitiful trade when I do not trust that whisper of “seeking Him first.”  That pitiful trade shapes my heart.

I chose to forgo a list of pretty important things first thing this morning to listen to His word and to still by heart before Him.  I say this not in pride, but I share it in humility.  I have made the pitiful trade all too often, and I know this is not the path of Life.

The enemy wants to whisper the lie “avoid that time–you know you don’t know where to start.  All you will feel is guilt and condemnation.  You are too far gone.  I would question if you were a believer in the first place.”

Yet, The God of all Universes brought me to a chapter in Psalms that shouted the Good News into the depths of my toes.


When I look at a passage like this in the Psalms, I make notes.  I list the descriptions of who God is and what He does as well as another list that pertains to my character and actions.  This passage is a biography of the Israelites from Egypt until the captivity and return.  Knowing the historic background is important.  So, the actions of the people-were Israel’s choices and beliefs, but every single one nails my heart.

I am going to briefly overview this, but I encourage you to spend some time with the Lord in this.  Examine it yourself.

Israel’s character/actions (aka Nailed Jen on these): gave no thought to His miracles, do not remember His kindness, Rebels, forgot all His past works, gave into their craving in the desert, grew envious, forgot the God who saved them, despised Him, did not believe His promise, yoked themselves to Baal (a foreign god), ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods, rebelled against the Spirit of God, did not obey the LORD, mingled and adopted the customs of those not of God (they were strictly forbidden to intermarry, etc in order to preserve the teachings, holiness of God), worshipped idols WHICH BECAME A SNARE TO THEM, sacrificed their sons and daughters to demons, shed innocent blood of sons and daughers, defiled themselves in their deeds, prostituted themselves by their deeds

God’s character/actions:

He saved me for His namesake to make His mighty power known.  Psalm 106:8 (jen paraphrase)

Many times He delivered them, but they were bent on their rebellion and wasted away in their sin.   Psalm 106:43

But He took note of their distress when He heard their cry; for their sake, He remembered His covenant and out of His great love He relented.   Psalm 106:44-45

Lovely list–Autobiographical list for me.  Obviously I am not killing my children, but our culture surely celebrates this–getting rid of that which is inconvenient.  And, how many times do I treat my own children in that vein?  Or how many times do I not trust the Lord and his ways over cultural norms for kids?   This shows the state of the hearts of mankind apart from Him, BUT GOD…Just those three verses above speak of His character, His goodness, His unmerited favor toward those who trust in Christ’s sacrifice.  Thanks be to God for this INDESCRIBABLE GIFT.

THIS, my friends, is why we need time with Him daily–time in His truth.  We are pulled up out of our own temporal thoughts and reminded of glorious truth, and then, we, in turn, think more in His hope and His mindset.  There is no condemnation for those who are IN Christ Jesus, and there is much joy walking with Him.  I know it is a battle, but I am reminded that it is ALL that is Hope and Life and Light and Truth for us.  Love to you.

What now? (AKA I spilled it and now what do I do with it?)

Every time I get to write, wow, the catharsis.  I am a sharer, so if my sharing helps you, that blesses me.  I have had many conversations in the past week from those of you who show me that I am not alone in feeling withered and wilty* in this season of life.  We admit it, we know we need Jesus–so what are we going to do about it?

My dear friend Laura sent me a facebook message that challenged me to follow through on what I learned with that time with the Lord, recall it, and not just leave it at that day that I wrote the last blog. She said “what is one small action you can take today to nourish what is withering?”  and the challenge “I want you to see you find growth and life in those weary, withering places.”   WHAT. A. GIFT to receive that message.

1)  I am so grateful I have people who will speak that challenge to me  2) I hope you have someone (several) in your life to do that for you.  But, here I am encouraging you in the same.

Our culture values authenticity, but sometimes we leave it at that.  We spill our stuff and leave it there still withering.  There is value in coming together as we struggle, but let’s spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  We are not encouraging toward a pinterest worthy perfection or masking the hurts and weariness there.  2 Corinthians 10:5 challenges us to “take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

What have I gained from time with the Lord this past week?  (floundering not perfect time)

1)  Each time I have spent, I am encouraged all the more and reminded more of His presence and His power.  It is building on each other.  He is so gracious.  I feel less far away, and I am reminded more in daily life of His heart.  That has translated some in me remembering to be gracious and kind and step back when I want to lash out and lose it.  I said SOME.  Though, that time makes me remember to hunger for more.

2)  He has graciously pointed to some places in me that do not line up with a healthy life.  It is not a burden to look at them like it would be if this came out of guilt or shoulds.  I have felt loved by Him, and, in that, I know that it is time for some changes.  Most of those right now actually involve what I am putting into my body.  Good bye to my beloved Diet Cokes (I have actually been on that journey for awhile–but I realize even more so that I depend on them).  Gluten and excess sugar–goodbye.  I have used things I consume to help me cope rather than the Lord, and now I am reminded of His sufficiency.  I am not doing this perfectly, and I am not declaring this is for you.  Just sharing about the journey he is walking me through.  I am limiting caffeine intake because I can tell it is making a huge difference in aches and pains and sluggishness later in the day.  I actually feel much better the days I do not have it.  It is a journey–and it is so interesting that He is connecting the physical, emotional and the spiritual with me in teaching me about my overall health.

3)  This season is still wearying, but I am not drowning quite as much because I am reaching for my Anchor.  I just want to encourage you to reach for your Anchor, too.  There is nothing or no one that can be a Savior to you other than Jesus.  We turn to less than Messiahs all too often only to be bitter.

What one step do you need to take today to connect with Him?

*Props to my friend Courtney who shared the word wilted with me–perfect.