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The most helpful Type 1 diabetes care tips we’ve learned so far

By Jesse Jost

Our world was turned upside down last August when our 5 year old son Elijah almost died from undiagnosed Type 1 Diabetes. Diabetes care involves a huge learning curve. At first the emotions are so overwhelming it’s hard to focus on even the basics. But gradually you can think again and try to sort through the mountain of information. This is a list of tips and info that has really been helpful to us in this first part of the journey. We’re only 11 months in so I’m not sharing this because I think we’re experts – diabetes does a good job of making sure that never happens! I only share because our experience might be useful to someone else.

Of course, diabetes is different for everyone, so trust the advice of your endocrinologist.

The Law of Small Numbers

With diabetes you constantly walk between two dangers: the life-threatening low, and the miserably dangerous high. You have one factor that plummets your blood glucose (BG) – Insulin. And one that rockets your BG : Carbs. The goal is keeping them in balance.

The challenge is all the guesswork: Not always knowing how many carbs are in the food, what the body’s current insulin ratio is, how much the carbs will be burned off by exercise or blocked due to illness.

With so many error factors that multiply exponentially as you increase the carbs or dose of insulin, it makes sense to us to try to keep the carbs and insulin numbers as low as possible. The greater the error in calculation the greater the risk of a stubborn low, or a health-threatening high.

Whenever possible we try to keep carbs at minimum without sacrificing good flavour and eating enjoyment. Saying no to sugary treats is difficult sometimes (understatement alert! It tears your heart out to have to say no to your little guy!) But we try to remember that being high or having sugars drop like a rock would be even more unfair to Elijah. Stable BG is true quality of life.

Low carb is not the only way, however. Many families are wizards with insulin, and have figured out how to achieve stable sugars without a change in diet. Find what works for you. Continue reading…

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Guest Review of “Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices”

 

(A Note From Jesse Jost)

I recently read Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices. This book is over 10 years old but has had a large impact in areas of the church, especially with those disgruntled with their church or those seeking more from their church.

The church as a whole is in need of revival (as it always is). Tradition often produces ideas and practices that become accepted and promoted without people stopping to consider if these ideas are supported in scripture. In the 1500s, the visible, institutional church had become so corrupted and the spiritual life was squelched by tradition and human ambition. Martin Luther and many other reformers took a bold stand for truth and left the institutional church, and, in many cases, gave their lives to pursue the rediscovery of church as they believed it was revealed in Scripture.

Five hundred years later the church has taken thousands of different forms, and any given Sunday you will encounter many different expressions of what Christians believe worship and fellowship should be. Many feel that the Protestant church has again strayed from the biblical ideal and has decayed into a spiritually dead institution, with church members merely going through lifeless rituals. Again, thousands are leaving the “institutional church” in search of something “organic” and uncluttered by tradition.

People are forming house churches, or even exploring more radical ideas of how Christ’s body should assemble. I was a part of a house church for eighteen years; the ideas Viola expresses in this book shaped many of our practices. I loved being a part of that group and was an avid apologist for doing church face-to-face in a circle, without paid clergy, bulletins, Sunday school, budgets, or elections.

In the last couple of years, we felt called to serve in a more traditional small town Evangelical Free church that has a paid pastor, beautiful building, Sunday school, budgets and annual meetings. We love our current church as well. Being actively involved in both styles of church has given us a front row seat to the strengths and weakness of both approaches.

I’m still on a journey and forming my own ideas about what Church should look like. I plan to write more, but for now I can say I appreciate many of the authors’ concerns about lack of spiritual life in many modern churches. There are serious problems in the church such as pastor burnout and passivity among members. But I’ve also seen, as many who have left the institutional church have found out, that getting rid of pastor, building, budgets, and bulletins, does not change the sin nature or the people problem.

A change of methods does not change the heart. There is no substitute for spiritual regeneration, humility, kindness, forgiveness, and abiding in the Vine and letting His Word change us. If our Christianity is real from Monday to Saturday, then Sunday can be enriching and Christ-exalting in many different forms, including one that has a paid pastor and building.

My long-time friend Jacob Denhollander (who is married to Rachael Denhollander, one of Times magazine’s 100 most influential people), heard I read this book recently and sent me the review he wrote a couple years ago. I enjoyed it so much and found it so insightful, not just for those who have read the book, but for the church conversation in general. He gave me permission to share it here. Fair warning: Jacob’s a PhD student, so you will find the writing far more intelligent than what you normally read on this blog. Enjoy!

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Pagan Christianity

A Book Review 

by Jacob Jonathan Denhollander

April 10, 2015

Barna, George, and Viola, Frank, Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices. Barna Books, 2008. 295 pp.

Introduction

One of the surprise Christian bestsellers in recent years is a book entitled, Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices. In this revised and expanded version, noted Christian pollster George Barna joins original author Frank Viola as co-author. The authors set out to examine how the practices of modern institutional Christianity developed and compare those practices against the example of first century Christian practices. This review will focus primarily on chapters 4 & 5, which deal with the place of the sermon and the role of the pastor, respectively. More than any others, these two chapters get to the heart of Viola and Barna’s objections to ‘institutional Christianity’. This more focused approach has been chosen because it will allow for a deeper examination of the claims and methodology used in those chapters, rather than lightly touching on the contents of each chapter. The contents of these two chapters will be summarized, and then evaluated. Both positive claims (What church should look like) and negative claims (What church should not look like) will be evaluated. In addition, the methodology of the authors will be briefly discussed. Continue reading…

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The Marvelous Life of the Modern Peasant vs King Louis XIV

By Jesse Jost

We are exposed to thousands of commercials and advertisements daily, each with the subtle and colourful message that we are missing something, that our life isn’t as good as it could be. These ads train us to focus on what we don’t have, and bemoan our lack, rather than live in awe of the wonders of our modern age.

We have so quickly forgotten what life was like for those who came before us. Take, for example, the life of one of the most powerful and wealthy men who lived during the last part of the 1600s: King Louis XIV. As the powerful ruler of the French empire, he had access to quality of life that peasants in his day could barely fathom. Yet, as a modern Canadian rural peasant, I have access to quality of life that would make Louis shake his head in wonder.

Louis could hire world class musicians to occasionally perform a concert, but I, with a few clicks, can bring crystal clear recordings of any type or genre, of the world’s greatest performers from the last seventy years into our house, car, or even on outdoor runs, and switch between songs effortlessly without waiting for musicians to travel or set up.

Louis could hire a drama troupe to perform plays, but I have access thousands of movies that would have dazzled Louis with the quality of musical score, cinematography, acting, and special effects, and I can watch them all in the security and comfort of my heated living room, without worrying about an assassin’s bullet.

The King of France could hire talented chefs who could prepare freshly butchered meats and rare delicacies, and because of his great wealth could occasionally enjoy fruits and vegetables that ordinary people had only heard about. I, on the other hand, can visit a supermarket and on my “below the poverty line” income can purchase any type of meat or fresh fruit year round, and stock up on well-preserved jams, breads, pastas, rice, and an unbelievable array of sauces, spices, and desserts. And I can prepare them on a well-regulated electric stove, and pull prepared meats anytime of the year from our freezer that I can thaw in a few minutes in a microwave, and store the left overs in our fridge that will keep them fresh for days. I have access to recipes and ingredients from all over the world with clear and simple instructions on how to prepare them with all of the conveniences of the modern kitchen. Continue reading…

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In Defense of Stuff

By Heidi Jost

I can’t believe I’m writing this: I, who have painted and stalked the war path against STUFF.

I love, love, love pictures of sparse, white expanses framing single chairs with well-draped blankets. I can feel my soul rise and float peacefully while I meditate on these pictures. My white walls are more a grunge shade with interesting “bumps and dents” texture. My blankets are literally throw blankets… all over the floor. Single chairs are non-options in this house of seven. When we watch a movie or read a story, we need two couches. Golly, my floating soul of peace hates being yanked down by these reality checks.

I salivate over blog posts by other moms about how much more streamlined their lives are after they swept a lot of material possessions out the door. I have armed myself with the argument “less is more,” wielding it like a righteous torch in the cluttered darkness.

Our North American experience of SO. MUCH. STUFF. is unprecedented in history. Which means basically nothing because every era of history has something in it that has, to some degree, never been known or done before. So like everybody else who’s ever lived, we are dealing with new challenges here. Let me ask a couple of questions to wade through the material pileup.

  1. Are things good or bad?

I can answer this the complicated way by pointing out various philosophies that have branded physical, material things as evil or dark, and spiritual things as good or light. I can casually toss some polysyllables your way to help you see that this idea of things being the enemy of the greater good is really not new. (And also, to preen my feathers of knowledge. All two of them.) Manichaeanism, Docetism, Gnosticism, Marcionism. A bunch of people have held these ideas over the years in order to make sense of our messy world. Continue reading…

  • Carl Gray

    Wow, that was just marvelous and so well though out. Thank you, Heidi, for sharing this with us. This discussion is one I have had with so many families and it usually comes down on the side of, “stuff is bad; we have too much; peace comes with having nothing, so we’re getting rid of stuff, even stuff certain children care deeply for, maybe then the attitudes or our children will change.”

    I have pleaded with parents to see past the “stuff” and focus on the attitudes about the stuff. The children may be fighting over toys, so is the solution to get rid of the toy? Perhaps temporarily, to help them think about it for awhile. But what you really need to deal with is the heart attitude. If they have no toys to fight over, that would be good, right? Well, except that then God would have no opportunity to teach them how to deal with their possessions wisely, learning to enjoy the good gifts and use them for good.

    We tend to focus on anything but the person as the source of the problem, when the real problem is right there in those little hearts and the stuff is the perfect object lesson for dealing with that. Then there is the attitude of the parents. Mom feels “crowded” because the living room is filled with stuff, the Lego space ship which keeps losing pieces to step on, books scattered about, play dress-up clothes, homemade swords, etc. Then things finally go over the top when the children all work together to build a fort out of dining room chairs and blankets, which is well outfitted with all the things they can think of to go inside. Dad comes home and can’t even get to his favorite easy chair to read or watch TV and so he gets grumpy. So the parents grumble at the kids to clean up the mess. Now who has the attitude problem?

    I have seen this scenario play out so many times and it hurts me to see the bad attitudes on both sides, simply because the adults have forgotten the joys of being a child, the spontaneous, creative play that is helping to prepare them for when “playing house” will no longer be play, but the real thing. It hurts my heart to see parents who covet minimalism so much that they let it get in the way of a happy home.

    My home was never what you would call tidy. In fact, to this day my childhood home is so filled with enough “stuff” to drive a Shaker into an OCD fit. It looks nothing like the modern homes with tidy white walls with nothing on them but a few choice framed family photos, tastefully decorated with a few items on shelves or end tables so as to not look too sparse. Our home has rows and rows of bookshelves in every room, none too tidy because books are always circulating. It has an eclectic variety of items on the walls from photos to paintings, wood burned scripture plaques made in VBS 40+ years ago, such that barely a square foot of wall space can be seen. We have a wasp’s nest hanging from a corner (ref. Wives and Daughters). We have containers of interesting and pretty rocks collected over 50 years, enough antique glassware covering every horizontal surface to resemble a second-hand shop.

    Although the quantity of “stuff” has increased over the years, this is largely the way it was when we were children and we came to love and cherish our home of stuff because everything in it, though perhaps having no intrinsic practical purpose, had some connection to people, relationships, memorable events (I can remember finding the at pretty quartz crystal or fool’s gold on vacation in British Columbia or rescuing the wasp’s nest from the woods). The books were filled with things to learn or just to enjoy. The antique glassware adorned the room like jewelry and made us feel “rich” compared to our friends whose homes contained only things that served some practical purpose. I am grateful for a very wise mother who, although she too felt “crowded” in our small rooms, recognized that developing relationships, not only with her children but with friends and neighbors who felt free to drop in any time because that’s what our home was about, and through those relationships teaching Christlike character and attitudes.

    As you can tell, this is something very near and dear to my heart. So I very much appreciate your willingness to be honest and recognize this trend toward heartless minimalism that is hurting relationships and covering up for the real problems that we all have when we cling to strongly to our “things.” Sorry to take over your blog with a blog of my own, but this is a topic that I feel very strongly about and couldn’t stop writing about my thoughts once I got going. Hopefully it will provide further food for thought.

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Notes from Crucial Conversations

By Jesse Jost

I just finished reading “Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when the stakes are high” By Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillian, and Al Switzer. The book was a wise and practical read on learning how to have conversations that reflect the love-fuelled dialogue the apostle Paul pleads with the church to have.

I was so impacted, convicted, and inspired by the book, that I unrealistically want everyone to read it. Of course hardly anybody has the time to read or follow up on book suggestions, so I took the time to distil the principles in the book into an article format.

I hope this short piece inspires you to buy the book for yourself, but more importantly, helps transforms your ability to speak the truth in love, with wisdom and compassion. 

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A crucial conversation = when emotions become involved and the outcome of the conversation will have an impact on direction or quality of life. Your ability or inability to handle these types of conversations will have a tremendous effect on the quality of your relationships and success at work or in your organization.

When emotions run high, blood is directed away from our higher brain functions and toward our fight or flight system. As emotions rise, we tend to fall back on to habits of silence or violence, becoming less mentally equipped to handle the complex issues before us.

The goal of healthy dialogue is the free exchange of information, opinions and feelings. This is only achievable when trust is earned through creating a safe environment. Feeling safe is absolutely critical.

Here are 7 conversation skills you can develop to navigate crucial conversations effectively. Continue reading…

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Do You Live to Love or Live to Please?

By Jesse Jost

I love to please other people. I thrive on affirmation and will bend over backward to gain approval. And I wrestle with whether this is a positive or negative trait. Wanting to please other people is a sign of love, is it not? But when I honestly look deeper into my motives, the picture is more murky.

Why do I want to please people? Am I really just putting their desires ahead of my own? Or are there more sinister psychological forces motivating me? Am I trying to find my worth in other people’s approval? Do I have a self-centered need to be admired? Am I looking for acceptance into a group to validate my identity? Maybe my driving force in wanting to please others is not love, but pride and insecurity.

The different motivations of love or desire to please may not change my outward actions, but will have a huge effect on my soul and emotional well-being.

An unhealthy dependence on the approval or acceptance of others can become an idol that drags us around, filling our days with activities we are not called to or created for.

I think we were made with a desire to find our identity in something larger than our self. God wants us to find our sense of worth and purpose in Him and in His body, the church, doing the good works that He created for us to walk in. (Eph 2:10) If our identity is not in Christ and fulfilling our calling from Him, we will seek to find this identity and purpose in man-made social groups or organizations.

I was homeschooled growing up and felt like an outsider of the larger local community, even overhearing other kids being mocked for wanting to play with my siblings and me. Now, as an adult, I hunger for community acceptance, wanting to meet the community’s expectations for what is required to be a recognized insider – whether it be involvement in sports, or putting our kids in the school system. Continue reading…

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My Ten Favourite Reads of 2017

 

By Jesse Jost

I didn’t quite reach my goal of reading 75 books, but I did finish 62 and read large portions of several others. From that list of books, here are my top ten books that I read this year. Ratings include enjoyment factor, life impact, and mental stimulation.

I also list the 10 books that didn’t quite make the top 10 but also receive my hearty recommendation. At the end you’ll find my complete list of books finished in 2017.

It should go without saying, but I don’t endorse everything in these books, and many of these books contain rough language and descriptions of human misery that should upset most readers.

# 10 The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss

by Jason Fung

So I gained a bunch of weight the first year of our marriage and it stuck regardless of what I ate or how I exercised. The number on the scale didn’t move much but my gut circumference, um, expanded. My heartburn was getting way out of hand and keeping me awake at night. Turning 35 made me realize that I really needed to start taking my health more seriously before it is too late. I read several books on diet this year, and have made some serious changes, mainly cutting out refined carbs as much as possible, eating higher fat and low carb, and doing intermittent fasting. I’m finally seeing results, I’ve lost 13 pounds, several inches, and have far less heart burn. It’s a good start and I’m excited. Of all the books I read, I think this one would be the one-stop resource that I would recommend. Continue reading…

  • Amanda Tschetter

    Hi Jesse! I recently read a book by Dean Taylor, titled, “A Change of Allegiance.” I would strongly recommend that you read it. It is a powerful book and is a journey into the historical and biblical teachings of war and peace. Very interesting and life changing! I do pray that you would read it and be challenged by it.
    Keep on striving to become more like Christ!
    -Amanda Tschetter

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Why I Don’t Want to Treat My Kids Fairly

By Jesse Jost

I recently took two of my sons and my youngest brother, Judah, into town to see a movie and do some shopping. While we were in Princess Auto, my astute 10 year-old John-Michael noticed there were complimentary doughnuts by the front door. He and Judah, who have working pancreases, blissfully devoured the treats without an issue. My 5 year-old son, Elijah, whose immune system destroyed his pancreas, and is now a Type 1 diabetic, also wanted a doughnut. His last shot of insulin wasn’t enough to match his breakfast carbs, and his blood sugar was already way too high, so I had to say no. My poor little boy started sobbing on the spot, “I wish I didn’t have diabetes.” Oh, that hurt to hear those words.

We are so grateful Elijah is alive after we almost lost him this summer to complications from his undiagnosed diabetes, but there are times it is hard to watch our sweet boy have to deal with all the insulin shots, finger pokes, and food restrictions.

I told Elijah to go get a doughnut and wrap it up in a napkin and that he could have part of it for dessert after lunch when I could give him extra insulin for it. He cheered up at this prospect and the solution worked fine.

All the unique challenges we face with Elijah have made me think a lot about fairness. It doesn’t seem fair that Elijah has to be so carb conscious at this age, or have to deal with 6 or 7 injections a day just to stay alive. As a parent, self-pity is tempting when I can’t sleep because I am concerned Elijah’s blood sugar will drop and he will slip into a fatal low.

It used to be nice to just pack up and leave the house without having the stress of making sure we have his blood sugar monitoring equipment, insulin, glucagon kit, juice and granola bars for lows, plus making sure it’s all in a well-insulated container so it’s not ruined by too much heat or cold.

It was so easy before to put out a bedtime snack and not worry about the carb count, or let the kids at the cold cereal in the morning, without having to read labels or weigh and measure everything. It’s easy to be just a little jealous of the uncomplicated eating habits of non-T1D families. Continue reading…

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2017 Christmas Letter

(family photos by Hannah-Grace Jost)

By Heidi Jost

Dear people,

It is said that life is full of storms: If you aren’t in the midst of one, you have either just come through one or are headed into one. Mercifully – and frighteningly – we don’t know what clouds lie on our horizons. There are sea charts noting shorelines, shoals, ocean currents, and doldrums. But God offers us something infinitely better than a comprehensive print-out of our life’s hardships. He gives us Himself.

This angers some people, who would rather have explanations for their suffering or a tangible hand of God than be offered the invisible presence of Jesus to accompany them. The thing is: What do we really need more when breakers of pain and fear are washing over us? Clinical answers? Or Someone who has been to the depths of human suffering and promises to deliver better comfort than anyone else can give us?

The reality of our past year held the most terrifying storm we have ever been through, and our five year old Elijah’s life was at the centre of it.

Through the month of July, our middle child – big-eyed, slender Elijah – was increasingly whiny, thirsty, hungry, and unable to keep from wetting his bed at night. Something was off, but we couldn’t put our finger on what. He seemed to be thinner than ever – was he going through a growth spurt? Then after a full week of vacation Bible school at church, Elijah puked and showed flu-like symptoms. We were so frightened by how he had become skin and bones so rapidly, and on August 15, he woke listless, mumbling, and complaining of chest pain. Jesse hurried him to local ER. After multiple tests, consultation with Lethbridge doctors, and being intubated to pump excruciatingly painful built-up air from his stomach, Elijah was rushed by ambulance to Lethbridge. He was severely dehydrated; very constipated; blood sugar, ketones, and heart rate very high; liver stressed: the signs of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). His tiny body was fighting to survive the shutting down of insulin-producing cells in his pancreas, cells we’d never heard of before, but were suddenly the reason our son was teetering between life and death. Elijah was now a Type 1 diabetic, the doctor told us. Unless a cure was found, he would have this autoimmune disease for the rest of his life. A nurse from the Lethbridge diabetic team came the next day to explain insulin injections, glucose readings, etc., and I couldn’t stop crying the whole time. It was so much to process. Continue reading…

  • Carolyn Anderson

    ❤️

  • Anne-Marie

    So loved your family newsletter Heidi!! You shared beautifully how God has shown Himself strong on your behalf with all the storms you have been through this past year. Praise God for the healing that has come, and for what He is doing through it all! Love you! Btw, the pictures are precious of your adorable family! Love cousin Anne-Marie

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When Your Search History is Revealed

by Jesse Jost

There is no such thing as a private moment. One of the great corrosive lies spread through the invention of the internet and hand-held devices is that lust can be indulged privately and anonymously, without consequence and without shame. But there is always a record of the pages you have visited and what you have searched. Jesus warned us: “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” Luke 8:17.

I wish that I could say that I have nothing to hide. That if everything I have put in the search bar was revealed, and everything I have allowed on my screen were put on public display, that I would have nothing to fear. It is to my shame that I have let lust hijack my curiosity and I have foolishly ventured into dangerous territory.

I visit a facebook site and it tells me which of my friends have checked in at this site and I have a moment of panic: are there pages I have peeked at in moments of weakness in the past that are currently tattling on me?

The fear of being found out is a powerful deterrent. But the damage that is done to the soul happens whether another human finds out or not.

I have been so angered and disheartened by the cases of sexual abuse and molestation that have come to the surface lately and I vow to never be one of the perpetrators.

But I also know the seeds of such abuse are planted in secret whenever I am tempted to look at another woman selfishly or indulge in a private fantasy. I am shocked by the secret desires that rise to the surface in such moments.

If I am not diligent to fight these private battles it will only be a matter of time before I am enslaved to them and a host of pain, brokenness, and betrayal will be left in their wake.

I want to be a man of integrity, and I want to lead my sons in the fight against sexual impurity and the degradation of women, but there is an enemy within that constantly lurks and threatens to sabotage my best efforts. Continue reading…

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