Gosh! I am so sick of trying to deal with and plan every single thing our family eats or does around food allergies. We have food allergies here and food allergies there. They’re everywhere. It’s so difficult not to have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches so the kid with severe peanut allergies doesn’t die. It’s hard. It’s inconvenient. It makes my life harder not to have easy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
When Spencer was a little girl, I used to buy the premade ones so it would be even easier. They had frozen white bread peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the freezer section, and she ate those—until one day when my youngest daughter was two years old and with a babysitter, who ripped open one of those sandwiches and put it on her tray. The babysitter tried to get her to eat it. My two-year-old rejected it. “No way, I’m not eating that.” She held her lips up. She was not going to do it. All the babysitter did was put the peanut butter and jelly sandwich on her lips. She refused to eat it. She didn’t take a single bite.
Within a matter of minutes, my daughter swelled up like an elephant man. Her head was deformed. It was unbelievable. I had just come home, thankfully. I threw Benadryl into her, threw her in the car, and drove to the physician’s office. I parked in the front circle drive and ran into the building, straight back to my pediatrician. I didn’t call. I didn’t wait. I didn’t check in. Nothing. It started a series of tests that found out my daughter was allergic to peanut butter.
It was one of my favorite food staples. I would eat peanut butter by the spoonful. When I was pregnant with a couple of my kids, I had peanut butter crackers to sustain me throughout the day. How in the world would I live without peanut butter?
Once the doctor talked to me about the severity of a peanut allergy, we began warring over it. We have sought help. We have prayed over it. But here is the deal: faith is the substance of things hoped for and certainty of things unseen.
It’s interesting when you have a life-threatening food allergy, there is this thing that creeps into your mind. It’s mental. It’s called fear. You begin to have a fear of this food. It’s the truth. It’s a fact that fear wants to creep in and try to steal your peace from you and cause you to alter the way you do life. That is exactly what my family has done.
After she was first diagnosed, my husband and I didn’t eat peanut butter in the house anymore. We became a peanut-free home. But sometimes when we went on a date, we would grab peanut butter no-bake cookies from our favorite bakery. We’d have Reese’s. We’d have these different things on dates or when we spent the nights somewhere.
One day, we were truly convicted. The pediatrician talked to us about the peanut allergy, and he said you cannot wash what your child is allergic to off of her hands or your face. If you have eaten peanut butter and you kiss your child, you can actually cause her to have a life-threatening reaction. That day made my husband and I decide we would never eat peanut butter again. Even if we are away for a week, or if we are away for a month, the peanut trace can get on our clothes. It can be in our fingernails. It could be on our breath.
In 2014, Kennedi was in a co-op. Her writing class was open for lunch one day because the weather was severe outside. Families pulled out picnic blankets and ate lunch. She and I weren’t there yet. We skipped lunch. When we came in, I could smell peanut butter permeating down the hallway, as if every family was running late that day and grabbed the easiest thing.
In the middle of class, Kennedi began coughing. She coughed for seven days after the exposure to those peanut fumes. I had to take her to the doctor and obtain a steroid to open her throat back up. That tiny bit of exposure to peanut fumes caused her throat to swell and try to cut off her airway.
What does the thief do? The thief comes trying to steal, kill, and destroy people, relationships, love, God, our faithfulness, et cetera. That is what the thief does. The thief was trying to use this simple food families use to make their life easier to try to take away my daughter’s airway. This girl is anointed. She has a radical calling on her life. The truth she speaks and the revelation she walks in exceed that of most adults I know. Her heartfelt relationship with God explodes every day. She is tender to the spirit. She is discerning. She is called to speak the truth to nations. She knows it, and she has known it since she was so tiny.
Yes, I realize it’s inconvenient not to have peanuts, peanut butter, or peanut butter protein bars because everything is made out of peanuts. It’s hard. It was a hard adjustment for my family. It’s important to me because my daughter is impacted by it.
Until it was important to me, it was not important. I continued to eat it. It was an intrusion on me having an easier life, easier lunches, and easier mothering when I had to adapt my food for other children with severe peanut allergies. What if we loved others’ children the way we love our own? Wouldn’t I provide gluten-free cookies at a birthday party? Although gluten isn’t life-threatening, it does cause other children stomachaches. Children don’t necessarily have the self-control not to eat a regular cookie at a birthday party. When you offer it, they want it. But if you offer a gluten-free cookie, then a child isn’t going to go home to their parents with a sick tummy. My question to you is: Do you want a sick child coming home to you? Do you want a child who has a peanut allergy to die because another family brings peanut butter into your car or your home?
I realize we cannot get rid of peanuts altogether. I don’t know what is wrong with them—what is causing so many children today to be allergic to peanuts. It’s sad. Our family has converted to almond butter and cashew butter. It’s amazing. I realize it’s a bit more expensive. I cannot tell you how many events I have offered to bring almonds instead of peanuts or almond butter instead of peanut butter. “Can we put the peanut butter away?” I will go spend four times that much to have almond butter. I measured the cost-benefit of an easy dinner. We can have peanut butter—it’s cheap, and it’s easy to feed to masses—or we can have almond butter, which is safe, so no one will die today. I choose to spend a bit extra. I choose it. I choose it not only for my own daughter but also for other people with the same allergy. I know there are people who are deathly allergic to pistachios. If only we would pay attention and be a bit more considerate of people who might have an allergy to the food.
Our food is genetically modified. It has been changed from the way God created it. Our bodies cannot tolerate wheat and regular dairy like we used to because they’re not the same product. They’re like poison in our bodies.
I want to encourage you to put yourself in the shoes of a mother like me today and think, “What if it were my child? What would I do differently? How would I love them differently? How would I encourage them differently? Can I drop peanuts from my life?”
Kennedi had a friend for a while whose family removed peanut butter from their house altogether so she could have a safe place to go. They have since put it back—which is discouraging—and she will not eat at their home. But when they took peanut butter out, she felt like, “I am safe here. I can come into your home, and I can eat. I am not going to be afraid of what you make because I believe there isn’t any peanut butter from this mixing bowl or in this Vitamix blender. I know it’s a safe home because you have been intentional about making it safe for me.” I cannot tell you how, as a mother, I treasure that my daughter could have another safe place to go.
I want to encourage you to put on someone else’s shoes today.
What are you struggling with? I want to hear from you. It’s hard, and it feels sometimes like everything is stacked up against you, but we need to be warring in the spirit that they could eat poison and surely not die, that this is not their ticket to the end of their life. A life-threatening allergy is defeatable by the name of Jesus.
I pray for all of you today with any allergies that you would be safe and secure in the truth, you would keep up with your faith, and fear would be demolished in Jesus’ name.