If you have been following along on Instagram over the last several months, you have likely heard me mention that we have discovered that we are an allergy family. Elliot was diagnosed a few months ago with several severe allergies, and several minor ones. After having several hive reactions to food at home, we had her tested at two different clinics. First, her pediatrician did a blood test, which revealed that she was allergic to wheat, soy, dairy, dog, eggs, and peanut. We then had a consult at the Children’s Hospital in Chapel Hill. This doctors appointment required a lot on our par: around six hours of childcare for our toddler, Austin and I both taking off a full day of work, and nearly 4 hours of driving round-trip. This doctors appointment revealed that Elliot could re-introduce wheat, but that the other allergens were more severe than we originally suspected.
I share all of this, not because this is a post about food allergies in kids, but to say that very quickly we became a family much more aware of what Elliot could and could not eat. My whole mindset had to change overnight. I was suddenly anxious over contaminants, rags that we would use to wipe Emerson‘s face after she ate scrambled eggs for breakfast that might then be used on Elliot’s face as well, snacks in the church nursery – that sort of thing.
It was around the time that Austin and I were heading on an anniversary trip. Celebrating 10 years! This really is a landmark to celebrate! But, the thing was, we were going to be gone for three nights and four days. We were leaving the girls with a sitter, and my anxiety over Elliot’s food safety with skyrocketing.
Crying in the Kitchen
It was in this time that I decided to label all the food in our kitchen and pantry. I purchased a simple pack of dots stickers, and I put green dots on all the food that was safe for Elliot to eat. The first time I pulled out the pack of stickers, I stood at my kitchen countertop and wept. I didn’t want my child have any limitations, and I didn’t want to fear for her safety. The very presence of these green dot stickers made me feel as though life was so out of control, and I felt deeply the loss of the life I wished Elliot could have.
And so through my tears at that kitchen counter, I prayed a very simple prayer. I prayed that the presence of these green dot stickers in our kitchen would provoke me to thank the Lord for the food that Elliot could eat. I asked that the Lord would give me eyes to see all the things that were safe for her, over and against all of the things that were unsafe for her. I asked him to give me a perspective of abundance, to look throughout the kitchen and see a whole bunch of green dots! And I asked him to minimize (at least in my mind) any container that didn’t have a green dot on it.
This really is an act of perspective shifting. I asked that the Lord would help me see his provision and his abundance, rather than focus on areas where there are restrictions. And you know what happened? Can I tell you what changed?
Ellie’s allergies did not change, but my heart sure did.
As I placed sticker after sticker on food containers and pantry boxes, my joy increased along with my gratitude to God for all the things that were safe for Elliot to eat. I first did a big run-through of the kitchen, putting dots on everything I could think of that were safe for Elliot. This practice made my heart swell with gratitude! But what really cemented this heart change in my own mind and life was that, over the next several days, I would notice items I had forgotten to mark a safe. I would be pulling canned goods out of the pantry and realize that I hadn’t thought to put stickers on those. So I would pull out my green dot stickers again. We would go to the grocery store and purchase packaged cookies, and as I was tucking them away in the cabinet, I would realize that they too were safe for Elliot. Another green dot went on. I would make meals and prep snacks without strategically thinking of making them for Elliot, but I would suddenly look up and realize that I was reaching for another green dot. More and more items in our kitchen were being marked as safe for her, and those a little green dots? They were staring at me from every shelf in our kitchen.
I don’t share of this to tell you that if you are also a family with food, allergies that this is the right method for you. This isn’t even something we do anymore, but just something that we did for while we were out of town and I had to trust a sitter to keep Elliot safe while feeding her for several days. But this is a practice for all of us as Christians. The practice is not found in the stickers, but it is found in asking the Lord to shift our perspective to see his abundance in every day life. Where do you feel that he is restricting you? Where do you feel the limits he has placed on you by his Spirit? Ask him to give you eyes that focus on the abundance of his grace, the plethora of his mercy, the surplus of his generosity in your life. And if your story is anything like mine, you’ll start to see his grace and abundance everywhere.