Posted in camino de santiago, Christian living, health and wellness, Life, Night shade Allergies, Uncategorized

Swollen joints, legs and ankles.

This blog is so exciting for me to write. The last few years of swollen joints, legs and ankles is over…I continue to dance for joy..or rather walk for joy!!

I remember the days when as a young girl I was called “lucky legs”: Lucky they didn’t snap off as they were so skinny. My knees were bony (I love the fact I am starting to find them again!). My calves were so tight from playing sports every day of the week: As I got older my calves got to the stage where they just wobbled each time I walked and spread when I sat!

As a teenager I used to lay down on my back, my stomach would sink inwards and ribs were exposed..Ribs I still have ribs?

What wasn’t tied down was heading south! Can your underarms be so big that your arms can’t sit down comfortably?  Don’t even start me on my tuck-shop lady arms..sorry to all you wonderful ladies out there who do a fantastic job…You get the picture!

We can joke about the look of being overweight but the trouble is our health suffers. Enough was enough.

My ankles were painful and debilitating. My knees were swelling and for no apparent reason. This put pressure on my back as I shuffled around lopsided. As well my heart would beat out of control whenever I maneuvered steps or our back yard. Walking brought pain, swelling and tears.

The beginning of my healing was finding out I had an allergy to nightshade plants.

With the swelling and pain going I started walking: small distances at first but increasing all the time. I received prayer at our church when Pastor Craig Sparrow called for people who had ankle issues to come for prayer. I believe through the name of Jesus we can be healed. I was able to start walking almost immediately without pain. The next week he asked for those with knee issues. I hobbled out  the front again. My knees had almost folded on me that morning, were swollen to almost double the size and I could barely walk down to the front of the church for prayer. I accepted the healing and was able to maneuver the steps more easily on the way back.

I believe in miracle healing and I also believe in the process of healing. I also believe in being responsible with our health as well. I believe I have a very practical God who gives us wisdom when we ask Him – for any situation. During a time of prayer and fasting I read a scripture:

Hebrews 12:12-13 So then, brace up and reinvigorate and set right your slackened and weakened and drooping hands and strengthen your feeble and palsied and tottering knees, Cut through and make firm, and plain and smooth, straight paths for your feet (yes make them safe and upright and happy paths that go in the right direction), so that the lame and halting limbs may not be put out of joint, but rather may be cured.

I loved how it said make happy paths and strengthen the knees so the limbs may not be put out of joint and will be cured.

I figured there might be specific exercises for knees that would strengthen and invigorate feeble tottering knees. was the beginning.

I did them each morning before getting out of bed and a couple more times during the day. I modified exercises, particularly ones lying on your stomach and bringing the leg towards your back. I found supporting the legs together and gently as I brought them toward my back meant there was no pain.

I was careful to ensure there was little or no pain. I needed to experience positive feelings while exercising. For so long my mind associated exercise with pain.

Below are some of the steps I took in increasing my strength and health.

(This is where I put up a disclaimer. I am not a qualified health professional. I am just someone who has suffered with long term illness and issues and am sharing what has worked for me. I have also been under various health professionals and checked with them. I encourage you to do the same. However, I also found that I am the one responsible for my health. They don’t care nearly as much as I do about my health. So find what works for you and do it, sensibly.)

  1. Waited on God

 Isaiah 40: 29 -31

He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength (causing it to multiply and making it to abound) Even youths shall faint and be weary, and (selected) young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; But those who wait for the Lord (who expect, look for, and hope in Him) shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up (close to God) as eagles (mount up to the sun); they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.

This became my “mantra” or confession.

  1. Kept my goal in mind

During the really hard times I found a goal – to walk the Camino Santiago De Compostella – The Way, an 800 km walk through France and Spain. Many said choose another goal but this kept me going. Your goals should be enough to stretch and motivate you. What is your goal? It should be bigger than just losing a few kilos. We are talking about healthy living here.

  1. Started on the knee strengthening exercises.

 I found them at  Taking them slowly and carefully, understanding my limitations.

  1. Started to loose kilos.

 Those extra kilos meant heavy lifting and unwanted pressure on the knee joints and ankles. Next time you are at the hardware store try to lift a bag of cement. That is 20 kilos or approx. 40lbs. That is nearly how much I lost last year. It was a slow tedious process. Find what works for you to enable that to happen. I used Isagenix to finally kick-start and still maintain the weight loss 3 years later!

  1. Used comfrey to aid in healing.

I had seen healing and was getting better but still had swelling in the ankle for no apparent reason.  One morning while praying about it I remembered Paul’s mum, Doris’s remedy for rapid healing of bones. She practiced a lot of homeopath remedies and spoke highly of Comfrey. I had it growing profusely in my garden. I had twisted my ankle many years before and it was the start of my down fall releasing a clot into my leg. Since that time I kept having significant pain and swelling in that ankle and leg. There was an extremely tender spot on the inside of my ankle that continued to be a trouble spot. X-rays failed to show any hairline fractures but it was definitely sore to touch. After researching and consulting with my naturopath I started to drink a tea of one comfrey leaf only over a period of 3 days and then stopped. I repeated that for a few weeks. I also applied a poultice regularly over the tender spot and around the ankle and knees. The results were rapid and amazing. I could now drill the spot on the foot with my finger without pain. I recommend this page for more information and consulting with a naturopath regarding taking it but I cannot recommend this little herb enough for anti-inflammatory and healing properties. . There is a warning here though about ingesting the tea. So proceed with caution. However, do remember that any drug, herbal or pharmaceutical in overdose amount can be detrimental to your health. 

  1. Found what exercises I loved and worked for me.

I don’t know how many dollars I wasted on gym membership. I was happy for a while stuck inside 4 walls with 20 other women going around in circles but it really didn’t motivate me for long. Paul and I bought matching bikes and I had other equipment at home that had been idle for a while. I have found a menu of different exercise routines work best for me.

Find a menu of exercises that work for you and keep you interested. This is my menu.

 I make use of what is around me.

I use the toilet. You may laugh but this was one of the exercises I did to strengthen my knees. Squatting up and down building up to 40 times each time you use the toilet. Exercise doesn’t have to be expensive but has to be enough to keep you interested and time convenient.  Oh and a well-working bowel is also a great way to stay healthy…just saying.

I walk.  I went to my local council and found maps of local tracks around my area. I couldn’t believe there were so many. It opened up a new dimension to the area where I lived – they were my happy paths! I was able to bring my family, grandchildren, husband, dog and even my elderly adopted grandmother on tracks I never knew existed.

I rode. Some days while my knees were still strengthening I rode my bike especially on longer distances. I took g’baies with me on their bikes and Paul added the cart to take the younger ones who loved the outing.

I swim. Here in the Philippines I do some swimming and water resistance training when I can. I can spend 2 hours in the water just working out as it is very easy on the legs.

I stretch. You certainly discover areas of your body that you didn’t realize you had and it works to strengthen those core muscles.

  1. Bought the correct, comfortable clothing.

 My biggest problem has always been footwear. I have always had ill-fitting or uncomfortable shoes. I nearly cried last year when I decided I wouldn’t settle for anything except completely pain free comfort. I went to a great shop  Pure Performance for those in Newcastle and they helped me choose. Find shoe shop owners who care!

They let me wear the shoes for 15-20 mins until I found a pair that fit like a glove and didn’t hurt anywhere. I have only had one blister in all the time I have worn them – a lot of kilometres – and that was due to having soft wet feet from being wet for days.

I wear comfortable clothes not necessarily expensive gym clothing.

  1. Kept enlarging myself.

Keep building into your exercise challenges: Increase distances, weights, times, duration etc. You will be amazed as I am at how much further, faster, longer you can go.

  1. Measured – sensibly.

My app measures many things on my walks including steps, calories etc. I weigh myself pretty regularly. However, I don’t allow myself to be discouraged or euphoric with my results. It is nice to see the times go up and weight come down but that is not always the best indicator. There are days when I just don’t do well; I am tired; overeaten; haven’t had any significant walk times –  But I keep going!

  1. Didn’t give up. I stuck to the plan.

There were challenging days but I refused to fall backwards. I wasn’t hard on myself if I faltered in lack of exercise or diet slips, I just refocused and stayed determined not to give up. It’s easy sometimes when we make a plan to get distracted by life and other things. I know what I want I have set my heart and mind toward it!

I hope this has encourages you and I guess the precursor to all of these exercises, tips etc is to START. You will not achieve anything unless you start. For me it has been a little bit challenging walking here in the Philippines..two typhoons in as many months, and two major tropical storms in the last few weeks. But I will keep surging on..The Camino awaits!

This was fun although long read remembering the many happy paths. I am still walking finding new paths. Not as often as I want but I am still using a menu to maintain a healthy life style – just adjusted to current places and situations..I am in the States now just coming out of winter..

Have fun!

Until Next time

Blessing Narelle


Posted in camino de santiago, Christian living, health and wellness, Life, Night shade Allergies, travel, Uncategorized

Night shade allergies!

Just sitting in one of my favourite writing places chatting to a guy sailing up the east coast of the US. He was amazed as I recounted my healing in 2014. I just found this old blog which recounts some of this story. Talking about it always makes me feel like skipping…with joy. 

2014 was an amazing year for me. I know so many people were glad to see the end of it and there were definitely some tragic times of grief and loss but for me personally it was a year of breakthrough. Yesterday I read about a John Mellor healing crusade in Scotland that saw a woman healed of chronic fatigue and long term unexplained issues who have since gone on to run marathons etc. I so feel their joy and excitement and feel the same.

For nearly 6 years my body has been going through major health challenges. I had so many challenging health experiences, mini stroke, thyroid issues, head trauma, shingles, not to mention chronic fatigue. Weight kept piling on due to inactivity and the thyroid issues. This created issues for my legs with swelling, pain in joints and incredible feet pain from plantifasitis. I felt like a broken down machine. Nothing seemed to work. Doctors, naturopath, massage, osteopaths, chiropractors all had moderate success for periods of times but then my body would fail me again. I refused to go down the path of anti-inflammatory pills. I had seen the effect of long term use of anti-inflammatory on my mother and didn’t want to even begin that path.

There were a couple of scary periods where I literally felt so down that permanent sleep seemed a good option. They were scary times for Paul as well because I just couldn’t seem to get myself up out of that place and it was such a foreign place for me. There were “normal” periods but then the depression would hit again as my body let me down again. Prayer was hard, reading harder.

Then 2013 after desperately seeking help from doctors I demanded tests which came back with many markers out of normal range but not enough to “cause concern”. No concern for the doctor maybe, but I hurt. I seemed to have a constant low grade fever and the fatigue was debilitating. It was concerning me. And then..I visited my naturopath with the same results and in the course of conversation she came back with, “Maybe you are intolerant to “nightshade” plants.”

What are they you may ask as did I? Potatoes, capsicum, tomatoes, eggplant, chilies all belong to that family. Well wouldn’t you know it? All of the above were my favourites except potato and I ate them nearly every meal! Sweet potato doesn’t seem to have the same affect. I thought the loss of the others would be hard. However, the benefits to my body were almost instantaneous. Within days I started to feel better. I began to notice that when I did introduce them back in to my diet I felt the effects, especially potato, literally within minutes. It seems to be more of an allergy than just intolerance. It has become such an issue that when I forgot and added chilies to a homemade cracker mix my lips swelled to “Jolie” proportions within a few hours. After two days of tomato paste included in meals I was eating, I could barely walk up three steps without help.

So now I avoid them all together. I hope that as my body comes back into alignment the allergy will normalize but I will wait to test that for a while yet. I am enjoying the feeling of health.

There is a lot of controversy over nightshades but elimination is really a great way to test the results. Night shade intolerance is controversial among mainstream health professionals, but really in the grand scheme of things you are the one who is most interested in your own health and need to take responsibility for it. To eliminate is really not going to cost you anything and might in fact reveal a lot. This may not be your issue for chronic fatigue and joint pain but it might just be a good place to start.

I now walk at least every other day anywhere from 6-12 km and even do the odd “jalk” (jog walk) in there. This was only the beginning though of my return to health. There was a long way to go. It was an amazing healing process.

As 2015 begins I start this year in amazing health and wellness and love the feeling and freedom it brings. I pray the same for you.

Health and wellness to you in 2015!

Love that now two years later I have walked thousands of kilometers!!!  (add skip right here)

God is sooooo Good..!! 

Blessings until next time. 


Camino De Santiago Walk of 543 miles 820 Kilometers! 


Posted in Life, travel

My Life is too Short for Flounces

I don’t know if you remember them but in the 70’s and 80’s there were “things” called flounces that you put around the bottom of your bed. I do not think they had any significant use other than to cover an ugly base to the bed. However, in the late 80’s and 90’s enter the water bed. I loved my water bed for two main reasons. One the old bed was lumpy and extremely uncomfortable and the water bed wasn’t, but the other thing was our water bed was timber based and I could ditch the flounces forever!!! I thought!

Currently we are in the United States living with our daughter. She has a bed with a base and she asked me to put on the “flounce” to cover the ugly base. Yes, they are back!! Now the things with flounces apart from their incredible lack of relevant use are they are extremely problematic when it comes to making said bed. They inevitably become entangled with the top sheet and you have to pull either out from under the mattress –very annoying if you don’t like the crinkled look of your bed. (Stop Press – I have found if I hold the flounce with my toes, I can stop the flounce from flouncing while I tuck the sheets in! Boom! Small victory!) However, this takes a few extra minutes of my life every day trying to control something that really makes no sense at all.

I was cursing the “flounces” the other day and commented to Paul just how flounces represent the useless things in life!

Last October we walked 800 plus kilometres across France and Spain on the Camino De Compestella. It was an incredible experience and one which I will begin to blog about shortly….I was too exhausted on the trail each night to do much other than fall face first in to bed, to write anything significant along the Way! One of the things that both Paul and I noted was just how much stuff we all think we need in our lives to survive.

We each carried our back packs for around 8 weeks with everything we needed along the Way. We ditched quite a bit the first few days out as did many others, after a huge trek through the Pyrenees helped you decide what was really necessary for the rest of the 800 plus kilometre walk. I think many of us need to ditch those things that are weighing us down or keep us entrapped in this cycle of life – physical and emotional!

Here is my somewhat cynical portrayal of life especially after having packed up my parent’s houses and seen others die leaving behind all their worldly possessions. Mind you this is from a totally western perspective, yet having lived cross culturally I do see that there is an innate desire in mankind to accumulate, despite poverty and cultural variants.

We are born.

We have lots of toys and keepsakes as children.

We move out of home taking a few of those keepsakes with us – perhaps leaving the rest behind with Mum and Dad.

We may eventually get married or not but either way we accumulate what it takes to set up one house after another. As our income increases, so does our desire to increase our belongings.

Children may come..need I say more. Pets…can be just as consuming.

Children leave home, usually, but not always, taking with them those precious keepsakes.

We may decide it is time to downsize. So we sell off, give away or just store.

Sometimes we decide that we can’t live without all our “stuff” so start collecting again.

In only a matter of years much time and money has been spent re-accumulating.

Then time catches up and we find ourselves not able to really look after all the stuff any longer so start to sell off give away or dump by this stage.

Then if we are blessed with longer life than many others we might find ourselves in the proverbial 3 meter x 4 meter room and be lucky enough not to have to share with some other older person. We are allocated one cupboard and bit of wall space to hang our cherished pictures of family or a treasured art piece.

At the end of our vapour life we finally die and our few last possessions are either fought over by family or dumped at the nearest thrift shop.

Other scenarios are those who continue all their lives to accumulate, house after house, storage shed after storage shed to contain it all. Some leaving significant investments, jewellery, art etc all ending in the same scenario with family either fighting over it or dumped somewhere on to the next  accumulating person.

I know it sounds cynical but my question is, “Why do we pursue these ‘things’ with such passion, fervency, desire, time and money?”

Other questions are:

Why do we train our children to become consumers?

Why do we feel we need so much?

Why are we afraid to let go of those ‘things’ that we think are everything to us.

I remember when we were in the Philippines a couple of years ago and I was walking with some friends listening to their stories of how they lost every single thing they owned when one of the world’s worst typhoons and tidal surge thereafter, killed so many, and wiped out entire townships and cities.

I asked if anyone in their area had committed suicide after the storm.

“Why would they?” my friend asked incredulously.

I explained the number of suicides occurring in the outback of Australia due to farmers losing their farms and their livelihoods etc due to extremely prolonged droughts and economic issues. ‘

“Why? Are they not used to being poor?” was her reply.

Therein is the kicker. We have so many expectations from media to family, to culture. To have is to be…be someone, be important, be happy, be content, be successful, be..If I have then I am. If I have then I was.

We are much more than stuff. I for one want my life to measure far more than through what I have or don’t have. I want to be..the person God has called me to be. I want to be there for the significant people in my life and the not so significant. I want to be available to go where and when God calls me, not encumbered by the constraints of this world. I want my wealth and health to be measured in the eternal weights and balances. It doesn’t mean I want to live on the streets etc but I just don’t want to be consumed by the acquisition of things to try and satisfy something only God can fill in my life and living for His purposes can bring value to my existence. Maybe I am the aged hippy my eldest daughter said I was!

Maybe I try to embrace a saying credited to Mother Theresa, “Live simply so that others might simply live!”

I will continue to make my bed with the flounce in respect of my daughters wishes but I can’t wait to ditch anything that doesn’t have significant use or value to my life………Its too short for flounces.


Blessings Narelle

Until next time.

Enjoying the simple pleasures of life.
Posted in travel, Uncategorized

Change our Perspective

A few years ago I had an old SLR camera, in the days when you actually used film.   It was a wonderful time where I discovered I might have an eye for a good photo and really became obsessed looking for the great shot. I wouldn’t think of photography as a profession but as a hobby. I love it!

The truth was we bought a camera for me as Paul and I were continually fighting over the one camera. He has to have the shot exactly centered and his little ducks all in a row. However, most times the ducks have flown before he gets the shot! Me I am a lazy photographer and just aim and shoot. Thank God for a camera that adjusts automatically and takes quality shots now – on a phone!  The age of the digital photo is wonderful. You can fail and not have to pay for the failure! This gives me an amazing sense of freedom.

So recently when we went on our walk through France and Spain along the Camino Way to Santiago de Compestalla, I only took my little Samsung 5 whose camera is amazing for such a small item.  I do see things differently to the average person and love taking the unusual or different angles. I love close ups and would really like a lens that takes micro and macro shots but for now my little camera will do. I had so many lovely photos to choose from when I made Paul a photo journal book of our trip as a keepsake for us, it was hard not to make a 100 page book!  Much to the dismay of my youngest daughter who tried to insist I only use the “best of the best, sir”!

I also love visiting new places and love landscapes or “things” rather than taking shots of people – except for my grandbabies who are great subjects to shoot and love to do crazy things for the camera, even the babies! But one thing I remember learning when I first got my camera is about perspective.

When you are looking through a narrow lens it is easy to be like Paul and want to have everything centered and perfect, focusing on only what is in front of your lens and you become distanced from other things around you. It’s not a bad thing by the way but somewhat limited.

One of the surprises I found was if sometimes I looked up or around or moved position, the different angle could produce such a better photograph or a completely different appreciation of the subject being photographed. It never ceases to amaze me that simply changing your perspective can produce such different results.

Even a slight cropping can do away with the superfluous and can bring an awareness of something maybe not noticed before.

In life I don’t know how many times this lesson could be applied. As a counsellor this was a great learning curve for me with my administrative, prophetic giftings. My moto was and to some degree still is- Tell it like it is. Build a bridge and get over it. The balance of truth and grace tipped heavily towards the truth side of the sea-saw. I had mercy for those who needed mercy but if you were making dumb decisions or needed to hear the truth, I could be very tough, although I tried to never be mean or demeaning to people! I have mellowed somewhat over the years and definitely a balance is pending on the sea-saw.

One of the lessons I have learned and continue to learn is that I may need to shift position on some things or at the least see things from the perspective of someone else. The lesson has taught me to listen, to appreciate the other person’s feelings. I really try to look through their lens and try to see what they see. In trying to see a different perspective though, the Truth is still my lens and I go to the Word of God to ensure my perspective is staying on track and not straying so far off, to become out of focus and blurry. I may not agree with someone but I can appreciate their argument, their thoughts and their position in a matter.

I feel it may have made me a better mother, wife, and friend. Am I still learning? Of course! Do I fail to shift my perspective in the heat of a moment?  Sure I do! But it is an ongoing lesson and effort to ensure I continually look at a situation with eyes that aren’t mono focused but constantly looking to see if there is an enhanced position or superior outlook that can produce an improved product. What areas of your life might need a perspective adjustment or refocus?

Blessings until next time


Our lovely chocolatier in Santo Domingo, in Spain, famous for it’s chickens in the church! 



Everything chicken! Chocolate chickens and ducks.