We know healing can come through prayer – but hunting? Dr. Jennifer Hoyt Lalli, a chemist and bow hunter, says God healed her body and soul through hunting, prayer, lean meat and whole grains.
In her book, Hunt & Gather: The Healing Powers of Whole Grains, Lean Meat, and Prayer, Jennifer recounts how doctors told her she would never have children and need surgery, to now, living a full and healthy life.
'My Tree Stand Is My Chapel'
On this chilly winter morning, Jennifer Lalli climbs in her tree stand before dawn with bow and arrow ready – patiently waiting. With no deer in sight, Jennifer pulls out her Bible – although she loves going to church with her husband Chris, she sees this tree stand as her chapel.
"It's a place where I can go and be alone and really talk to God and not just talk to God, but look out among the beauty and enjoy the peacefulness," Lalli said. "And once I started to really pray for others in the tree stand, that's when things started changing in our lives."
Jennifer, a nano-technologist and lover of high heels, says for years, her husband tried to get her to go hunting with him but she had no interest – then he bought her a bow.
The 'Aha' Moment
"We were trying to have children and for years we were having problems and it was a trying time for us," Lalli recalled. "And my husband kept trying to encourage me, 'come out and hunt!' And then finally, one year he brought me a pink bow, and I will tell you, I shot that bow and it was the most amazing feeling. So then he wanted me to hunt and I said, I have no interest again. And I asked myself, what would I do up there? I can't talk to anybody, I can't wear heels, you know, it's lonely. And so he said, just come with me, try it, you'll see. So he took me out for the first time, got me my hunting gear and I got up into the tree stand and it was an aha moment for me. It was life-changing. It was the first time that I had really slowed down."
Around this same time, doctors hit Jennifer with some bad news. She would need surgery to fix what's described as a paralyzed colon. Plus, she got another heartbreaking diagnosis – It was "official," she and Chris could not have children.
"We went to see specialists and it finally got to a point where they had said, you know, if things don't change, we would have to remove part of my colon," she recalled.
But Jennifer didn't give up. Through extensive testing, she discovered she was not getting enough fiber and even gluten. She radically changed her diet, from mostly meat (her favorite food since childhood) to lots of whole grains including brown and wild rice.
"So I have kind of the opposite problem of celiac disease, but it made me want to learn more about what things could change my health because I started to feel better as I ate the grains, especially brown rice," she said.
In just a matter of months, Jennifer's health dramatically improved and she no longer needed surgery. The difference was so dramatic that she felt compelled to share what she'd learned in a book, Hunt & Gather: The Healing Powers of Whole Grains, Lean Meat, and Prayer.
"I was finally at peace with not having children and I thought, I'm just going to keep writing this book and have fun with it. I wanted to focus on the first two foods that were in the Bible – venison, and grains – and then bring everybody together around the dinner table," she said.
A Miracle Happened
But then, a miracle happened. After ten years of infertility, Jennifer and Chris conceived. Today they have two beautiful children.
"As I learned more about nutrition, it really healed my gut and healed my soul to the point that, you know, in addition to prayer, it cured 10 years of infertility, and that's huge! I mean, that's more than a miracle," Lalli said.
A self-proclaimed carnivore, Jennifer says she's still a big fan of wild game, especially venison, which she and her family enjoy on a regular basis.
"To be honest, it tastes great if you cook it right, if you keep it cold, keep it clean and you age it right, there is no gamey taste and there's no fat," she said. "It's just a beautiful, clean meat – I mean, this is as natural as it gets, this is from field to freezer," Lalli said.
While in Saskatchewan, Canada with her husband in 2013, Jennifer actually killed a black bear with a bow and donated the meat to the local community.
"I like to think of myself as a woman who killed a bear with a bow while I was pregnant with my daughter. I'm a woman, Ph.D. chemist who killed a bear with a bow. That's important to me, and I think it's important that I get this message to my children and to everyone because every one of those statements that I just made to you were things that either I was told weren't possible or that I thought I didn't want," she said.
Hunting Brings Healing
Jennifer says God used hunting to heal her soul.
"Because sitting there in the tree stand and praying and knowing what He's done for us, I now feel at peace. I feel that, you know, my soul is taken care of. I feel like if I can trust God with small things in my life, you know if I can trust him with my soul, I can trust him with anything," Lalli said.
Jennifer says her book, Hunt & Gather, part cookbook, part testimony, is her thank you letter to God and includes delicious recipes from her popular butternut squash soup to numerous ways to cook venison and whole grains. But Jennifer cautions that while yes, God healed her, she had to make the necessary changes to her diet.
"You have to make a commitment to yourself, to be good to yourself and I think that it can be difficult, I mean, now that I'm a mom, I know how busy people are and it's important to spend time with your family and your friends," she said. "But you've got to make time for yourself because you're worth it. You know, he (God) wants you to have a great and healthy life," Lalli said.
Jennifer's Book, Hunt & Gather, The Healing Powers of Whole Grains, Lean Meat, and Prayer, 2nd Edition is available here. You can also follow Jennifer on Instagram @Huntandgathercookbook and on her website here.