Our New Normal Family

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The finality of Mason’s death hit me like a train. 

Ollie and I were laying in my bed when I looked over and saw Mason’s baby blanket. I’d been looking at it earlier and had forgotten to put it away. I showed the blanket to Ollie and said, “This blanket was your brother Mason’s. We used to wrap him up in this before we put him to sleep. This was his favorite blanket.” He smiled at the blanket and quickly went back to chattering about a game.

After a minute, he finally looked up at me and asked, “Mommy, Why do the clouds come down? What if the clouds are clouds from Heaven?” I realized he was talking about fog and smiled at him. “Fog?” I asked. “Yeah. Fog. What if they were clouds from Heaven? But… I guess not, because no people came out.” I smiled at him wondering where this was going. “Who would you want to come out of those clouds, buddy?” I whispered. “I don’t know. Everybody that lived in our family.” He looked down at Mason’s baby blanket, “Like that guy, who used to use that blanket. Then you and Daddy would be happier. Wouldn’t you be happier?” 

And that’s when I realized it. Oliver will literally only know Mason as the guy that used this blanket. He’s a complete stranger to him. And while that thought was completely heartbreaking, it also felt amazingly… liberating.

I felt free. Like maybe we’d finally arrived at the actual “new normal”… The part where you realize you’ve actually started to live again. The part where your soul wakes up and you feel a revival. You move from wondering how the Hell you’d survive without them, to being unable to imagine them being IN your life… because you’re used to them being gone. You’ve adjusted to your new normal.

Today as I realized this, I wept. I sobbed, and cried, and yelled at God a little bit more and I felt it in the deepest depths of my soul… I realized that life has indeed moved on. We’ve settled into our new “normal” so much that Mason isn’t a part of normal anymore.

I can’t even describe to you the combination of both heartbreak and joy that this realization brings. 

I remember calling my friend Courtney the day after Mason died and screaming into the phone, “How long does it hurt this bad? I mean, I know it will hurt forever, but how long does it hurt THIS much? How long does it hurt this fucking bad? Because I don’t know how long I can take it.” I can’t remember exactly what she said, but she gave me the hope that one day I would love more than I hurt. But what I’ve learned is that the hurt never goes away. You “heal” because you become more tolerant to the pain. 

Tonight, as I looked into the eyes of my four year old son, I realized that I’d finally reached the other side- and that this is probably as “over it” as I will ever get. It’s not an all consuming sadness unless I chose to let myself go there. It’s not because I’m cold or in denial, it’s just that I’ve learned how to compartmentalize that part of my life in order to continue living. Because I had to.

Gone are the days where I can’t imagine life without him. Newly arrived are the days where I can’t picture him in ours lives at all. I can’t imagine having four children. The completeness of this feeling shocks me and breaks my heart.

This must be what it’s like for a lotus flower waiting to bloom. I imagine it feels heartbroken as it lays buried under mud and trapped in the darkness… and like me, I’m sure it’s unaware that it’s only because of this darkness that it will soon spring into the light, completely unstained, with a beauty and resilience that can’t even be described.  

As long as the sun is shining, I know that the lotus quickly forgets the darkness, enjoying the warmth and joy that the light brings.

And from now on, so will our family.

Our new normal family.

Day after Halloween: I’m THAT Mom

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Yep. I’m THAT Mom. I didn’t start out intending to become this Mom, let me just start there. But years of research into where our food comes from has led me to this point. Led me to becoming THAT Mom. The mom that throws out her kids Halloween candy.

This morning I showed my kids a PETA video of how the cows are treated to make the candy produced by most major chocolate brands in the United States. After watching that video we discussed how artificial preservatives, dyes and filler ingredients make us feel crummy and irritated anyways. (This isn’t the first conversation we’ve had about the subject of artificial ingredients).

And so goes the day after Halloween in the Bundy home. We are eyeballs deep in research and information about our broken food system and where our food is coming from, and what that broken system is actually costing us in terms of our health.

We talked about how it is possible to produce meat and milk without cruelty. (I’m not forcing Veganism or anything yet! I’m not THAT Mom! Not yet anyways.)  We discussed the huge difference between factory farming and small farming, between having cows graze on grass until they are eventually processed vs feed operations that confine cows to boxes smaller than the size of an average cow. We talked about how cruelty is something that we justify out of our desire for convenience.

After I knew both girls were fully informed about the ingredients of the candy, (where it comes from, health side effects that can occur, etc), I laid out an offer for them regarding all of their prized Halloween candy. (And this is exactly the moment that I became THAT Mom.)

I told them I’d take them to the new American Girl store and let them pick out ONE thing if they traded me all of their Halloween candy.

I know that a lot of you think I’m insane. That I take things to the extreme and that my kids are deprived and are missing out on a “normal” childhood. I know my kids aren’t “normal” and I’m certainly not “normal”… and I’m actually completely fine with that. I’m fine with the fact that I’m THAT Mom.

Normal is completely overrated. More and more I’m learning that normal is something I don’t ever want to be. Today being “normal” involves turning the other cheek and ignoring cruelty, corruption and corporate greed. We justify the behavior of these companies as they cut corners, abuse people and animals, damage our health and destroy our food system… all while trying to teach our children not to lie, cheat, steal or take advantage of other people (especially people who are less fortunate than ourselves).

I’m the first to admit that yes- it’s extremely challenging to constantly deviate so far from what our culture and society has taught us to accept is normal. Factory farming, with its growth hormones, antibiotics and cruelty is normal. Cheap, dangerous, toxic ingredients being added as fillers and preservatives to our cosmetics and food products is normal. Medications and vaccines with carcinogenic ingredients and horrible side effects are considered normal.

But I really challenge you to look at the health of the people that grew up in these last few generations of “normal”. Look at the cancer rates. Look at the chronic health conditions. Look at child mortality. Look at the health of our children. Look at the autism rates. Look at the age of the average first cancer diagnosis. Look at the infertility rates. Look at the obesity rates.

Then look back at the generations before factory farming. Take a look back to the days before the Pharmaceutical/Health Care industry became the most profitable industry in the nation. Take a look back to the days where hard work, honor, respect and integrity were the signs of success.   Take a look at the way our food was grown and produced when those were the ideals that companies were founded on. Then take a look at the health of the people then.

I don’t want today’s “normal”.

I love this quote from The Washington Post article Big Agriculture wants to reach millennials, but it started a food fight in the process“We are three or four generations removed from the farm,” said David Fikes, director of consumer affairs for the Food Marketing Institute. “There was a generation of people who said, ‘I don’t care where it comes from, I’m just glad that someone else is doing it.’ That day is over and gone.”

And this gives me hope. This gives me hope that since millennials have the desire to see our food system change, that we might actually change it. We know that turning the other cheek leads to nothing but destruction. We know that even if we refuse to acknowledge problems that they continue to exist. We know that we are going to be the generation responsible for stepping up and trying to clean up this chaos and destruction left behind from the generations before us, or else we will end up worse off than our parents. Our parents who are dying younger and younger every day, mostly from cancer and chronic disease that probably could have been prevented with more concern for the environment around us.

I know that it can seem daunting to start removing chemicals ingredients, or to start researching where food is coming from, or what conditions animals are kept in to produce the products you are consuming. I know that when you start researching it seems like you have to remove everything. I know that at the end of the day, it’s easy to ask, “What’s the point? It’s everywhere?” I know that it’s difficult. I know that it’s easier to say you’ll look into this “later” when you are “ready” to make the commitment to eliminating this plethora of ingredients.

Martin Luther King Jr sums this up better than I ever could–
“I often feel like saying, when I hear the question ‘People aren’t ready,’ that it’s like telling a person who is trying to swim ‘Don’t jump in the water until you learn how to swim.’ When actually you will never learn how to swim until you get in the water.”

Today, my kids made me exceptionally proud. They chose to trade in their candy. They chose to throw it in the trash* and walk away from corporate greed and unjustifiable cruelty. They chose health (and a toy from the American Girl doll store).

I’d like to think that they’d both have chosen to throw the candy away without a trip to the American Girl store, but our 6 year old was really excited about her candy😉 For my 10 year old animal lover, her motivation was that she didn’t want animals to suffer for her candy. And as an adult, I am willing to throw the candy away without eating it myself because I know that my “treat” is my health. Because as I get older, I’m learning that once you lose your health, it’s almost impossible to get it back.

So yeah… I’m definitely THAT Mom. And there’s no one I’d rather be.

*I won’t be donating this candy to the troops because I don’t want them eating this junk either. If the ingredients make me grumpy and unable to focus, then I don’t want to give it to a soldier who is already risking his/her life on little sleep, while missing their family. That soldier doesn’t need neurotoxins in their care packages. For more information on neurotoxins in your food read: http://energyfanatics.com/2010/05/02/ten-neurotoxins-you-should-avoid/

In Response to the Response To The Viral Post about Anna Duggar

I have tried my hardest to keep my mouth shut on this one, but I can’t do it for another second.

Today, this gem of a blog post popped up on my newsfeed, and let me tell you who is breathing fire now.

There have been so many opinions written on the topic of Josh Duggar, and quite frankly, I’m sure we are all getting tired of talking about it and debating it and even hearing it. But for one second, I’d like to address a few of the major flaws I can’t get past when reading the response to a viral blog post about Anna Duggar.

When someone says to me, “If I were in her shoes, I would do _____”.

No. Just stop. You do not have the ability to KNOW how you would feel and what you would do if you were in someone else’s shoes. You do not have that ability, and I do not have that ability. So please, let’s not pretend we are capable of doing and being things that we are not. You have no idea what you would do in her shoes.

Then comes Grace. It’s interesting, because at the beginning of the year we had to pick a word to be our word of focus for the next year…. and my word is Grace. I chose Grace because it’s a word (and a concept) that both intrigues and confuses me.

Grace has got to be the most manipulated concept of the entire bible.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor and Nazi resister who was hanged in 1945 by SS officers, coined the term “cheap Grace.” This cheap Grace seems to be what people are referring to when it comes to justifying Josh Duggar’s actions by stating that we are called to pour out the Grace to him that Jesus pours out to us.

An article written about true Grace caught my eye as I researched the topic, and is the truest explanation I can give to explain the kind of pseudo-Grace most women are instructing us to give to Josh Duggar. Here’s an except:

“Many professing Christians today utterly ignore the biblical truth that grace “instruct[s] us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12). Instead, they live as if grace were a supernatural “Get Out of Jail FREE” ticket-a no-strings-attached, open-ended package of amnesty, beneficence, indulgence, forbearance, charity, leniency, immunity, approval, tolerance, and self-awarded privilege divorced from any moral demands.” (Read this article HERE. It’s truly a must read on the topic of Grace.)

That kind of Grace is not okay.

Neither is it okay to toss out comments like, “I look forward to the day that immediately standing up and stepping out of a marriage isn’t seen as the strongest thing to do” (as our friend Mo did in her response to another blog).

First off, I’ll admit right now that I don’t think that she should have stayed in that marriage after the FIRST incident, when she found out Josh Duggar molested his siblings and the baby sitter. (If you read the police report, you will understand why I feel so strongly about that. I believe that sexual abuse is never a one time offense, and because of this, I don’t personally believe that Anna should have married him to begin with, since she said she knew about his past. I do not believe that sex offenders can be rehabilitated to a point where they no longer constitute a risk to children. But I won’t address that further here.)

But notice I said, “first off”… This isn’t the first incident. No one is immediately saying to stand up and step out, because this is a MOUNTAIN, not a molehill.

I also firmly believe there is a reason that Jesus addressed the sin of cheating on your wife, and that he excused divorce only in that one circumstance. If you haven’t experienced betrayal in your marriage then you don’t know the darkness than can consume you from feeling forced to live your life by standing by your husband regardless of his offense.

If Anna Duggar is staying in a marriage and doing all the right things, saying all the right things, and outwardly acting like she is okay with working through the marriage; but inwardly she is feeling bitterness in her heart and doubt, then she’s not really showing Grace. She’s listening to the voices of PEOPLE, and putting their opinions over the opinion of Jesus, over her own discernment that might be telling her to leave.

Using scripture as a guilt trap induces the peer pressure that can force Anna to feel like she is being ungodly by even thinking about ending her marriage. Even though Jesus clearly stated that in this instance, that would be excusable.

Scripture is the best guiding source, but not when it’s manipulated. 

Galatians 6:1 says “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

Sometimes, it’s impossible to stay in a marriage and help restore the person who hurt you with a spirit of gentleness. It’s hard when you are struggling with the temptation to say ungodly things, behave in ungodly ways, ignore the true (unmanipulated by man) scripture from God’s word because it’s been used as a manipulation tactic to get you to stay, else be shunned by your family and friends.

If you aren’t able to have a relationship with God because your heart is so hurt, and burdened, and broken and shattered that you’ve lost your relationship with God; if you have lost the ability to show true Grace to anyone else because you are so consumed with trying to show Grace to a husband who has repeatedly shown you that you don’t matter, then by ALL MEANS, maybe you should consider kicking that man to the curb.

I loved the original post that mentioned that Josh Duggar should be cowering in a corner. He SHOULD be. Marriage absolutely should not be a place where we keep a record of wrongs. But marriage SHOULD be a place where we cower at God’s word, and after all of the blogs and discussions regarding homosexuality in the past few months, I know most of us can recite THIS bit of scripture in our sleep—

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (KJV) tells us, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

But Mo is right about one thing, it SHOULD be a place where we have overwhelming amounts of mutual respect and forgiveness and grace.

But let’s just stop pretending that pseudo-Grace is true Grace.

Anger Does Not Produce Righteousness

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A little over a month ago I sat down to write a blog about the injustice of a church I’d been disappointed and hurt by. I was tired of people leaving the church in silence and I felt like it wasn’t fair for me to just walk out and not “warn” people.

(I pondered and prayed for more than a week about whether I should share the post, and finally decided to share it. While I was glad it encouraged some people to ask more questions, I was disappointed that instead of being a warning, it became a way for people to attack the church itself and not the issues.)

I was upset because I didn’t feel like my family was given the opportunity to talk about the things we saw happening that weren’t right. I was frustrated that we were discouraged from ever questioning anything. That no one was willing to sit down and actually discuss instead of forcing us to conform or step down from being volunteering altogether. I was worried about the people that would walk in and possibly turn away from church entirely if they experienced the things that we experienced.

But even though I had valid concerns, I don’t think I should have written that post.

As I’ve spent the last five weeks looking for a church that is more of what I’m looking for, and getting lost in Scripture trying to figure out where to go and what to do… I came to the startling conclusion that *I* wasn’t even the kind of person I was looking for to lead me. I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching.

Those in my inner circle definitely deserved to hear what happened, but did the entire world? Maybe not.

I heard from several people that I should have just “left in peace” but that seemed outrageous. I wasn’t feeling at peace with anything and so I didn’t think I should leave and pretend that everything was okay. I never even entertained the idea that maybe my silence would leave room for God to work in that space… that my words may not even be necessary.

As I was writing my blog before, I kept asking myself, “Isn’t this hypocritical too?” But another part of me wondered, “But who else is going to get hurt and maybe turn away from church forever if you don’t say something?”

In my mind, writing it all out in one post and then never talking about it again wasn’t “gossip” and my words wouldn’t be able to get twisted out of context. I chose that avenue because I thought it would be the best way to explain things without everything getting more out of control. But I realize now that this doesn’t really make it better.

I’ve been in an almost constant state of prayer, and I’ve studied scripture more in the last month than I ever have in my life… and I couldn’t get away from all of the scripture that I’m confident God was illuminating on the page for me to read and use to try to understand that what I did was wrong. (Again, my concerns are valid. My method, however, was not appropriate.)

Matthew 5:38-48 was the very first page I landed on when I flipped through my bible to start reading. That irritated me, so I flipped again. James 1: 2-4 (This is one of my very favorite verses anyways… but it was the first moment that I really began to explore and question what I’d just done by writing the post).

How much better was I than them, if I couldn’t follow such simple scripture that clearly showed me over, and over, and over again that what I’d done was completely unbiblical and completely against everything I knew from scripture…

Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.

Psalm 4:4-5 Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things not hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

(And really Hebrews 11:1-40 was perfect to read)

James 4:11-12 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. but who are you to judge your neighbor?

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

1 Peter 2:23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

Colossians 3:13 Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.

Luke 6:31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Ephesians 4:27 And give no opportunity to the devil.

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Colossians 3:8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk from your mouth.

Proverbs 19:11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

There are so many more verses that I have written down and stuck all over my house on post-it notes… but the final one that just really made me feel CONVICTED right then and there was James 1:20

For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

I didn’t understand that being right or having valid concerns doesn’t always mean that I need to share it all with the world. At the end of the day, after writing that post, I wasn’t even the kind of person who I said I wanted to surround myself with.

But do you know what’s so incredible? God’s Grace washing over me. I certainly don’t deserve it, but I’m thankful to serve a God who gives it anyways.

Sure, He would have much preferred that I had been able to figure this out long before now. (But I guess God did know it would take me this long to learn since he knows every step I’m going to take in my life long before I take it).

God already knew I would be stuck in this moment, conflicted about what to say or where to turn. The very moment where I can’t quite figure out how to move past the moments where I actually behaved in unbiblical ways trying to help others be aware of other people that were acting in unbiblical ways. Trying to save people from the hurt. Hurt I may have unintentionally inflicted by writing that post anyways…

Somehow God has softened my heart and worked through me during this time.

What it comes down to is… I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I had to learn this lesson the hard way.

I’m sorry I aired it all out in public.

I’m sorry I hurt peoples feelings that I really care about.

I’m sorry I didn’t act like the Christ I so desperately want to represent.

But I’m not sorry for my beliefs.

I’m not sorry that my concerns are not things I can simply “turn the other cheek” to.

I’m not sorry that I married a gay couple.

I’m not sorry that I disagree with their interpreted meaning of those 6 or 7 pieces of scripture.

And I’m not sorry for choosing not to be involved there anymore.

But I’m very sorry that I didn’t think that blog post through more before posting it.

Because I know that anger does not produce righteousness.

Take What You Like (Leave The Rest)

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Through the years, my mother has taught me more lessons than I could ever count. Lessons about life, love, parenting, obstacles, career choices and topics I can’t even remember right now.

But no lesson has come up more times than her simplest advice…. “Take what you like and leave the rest.”

These words are still shaping my life.

When you go out to eat dinner at a buffet, you walk around and pick and chose all of the foods that look good to you or that you know you like. You wouldn’t ever see a dish that looks completely disgusting and start piling it onto your plate in hopes that it would change into something delicious.

And while you are at this buffet– Do you sit down and discuss all of the disgusting looking options with your dinner company? Do you fill your plate with so much gross food that you have no room left for all of the foods that you DO like?

No… you simply take the foods that you like, and you leave the rest.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could apply this simplicity to every aspect of our lives?

I look around at my life, and at the lives of the people I love, and I see that most of us have this siphon in our hearts that seems to be draining us of all the things that we love. Not only this, but so many of us seem to be letting our hearts refill with all of the things that we don’t like. And so, our focus in many areas of our life isn’t on the positive, instead our focus has shifted (in many areas) to the situations, thought processes, people and ideas that we don’t like. The things that completely empty us of our cheerfulness, our optimism and sometimes even our faith.

Today, I was sitting on my couch talking to my mom about some things going on in my life when she once again repeated those familiar words to me. And it was then that I realized why those words seemed so familiar, as if I’d also heard them somewhere else, not only from her.

I’d read it in the bible.

The Message translation of Philippians 4:8 says, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”

A lot of areas of my life have fallen apart because I’ve spent more time focusing on the negative, instead of on the positive. More time wishing that the bad things would go away, instead of realizing I have so many good things. More time cursing the terrible, instead of counting my blessing for the wonderful. More time asking, less time praising. More time complaining, less time being thankful.

If I went to the buffet and filled my plate with everything I hate, I would leave hungry and frustrated.

But I would never do that. It doesn’t make any sense.

So why do I keep doing this very thing in other areas of my life?

Why do I keep filling my plate with all the things I don’t like?

Why do I focus on the worst instead of the best?

Proverbs 17:22 is what I’ll choose to focus on when I start thinking negative thoughts…. it says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

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I hate Cancer

Lately, I feel like the walls are moving in on me.

Everywhere I look, someone who played a major part in my childhood is being diagnosed with cancer, is fighting cancer, or has already died from cancer… It’s overwhelming.

What’s most overwhelming is how so many of us are just so blindly willing to accept the conventional treatment recommendations and not question what REALLY causes this and what might REALLY help.

I don’t know a single person who has endured years of chemotherapy and radiation that went on to live for another decade with their health mostly intact. (And for all purposes, know that I’m talking about Stage 3 or Stage 4 Cancer here…) But I do see many people who chose not to have chemo or radiation that live for close to a decade doing the things they loved with the people they cared for the most.

I saw this link on Facebook today, and it just got all the wheels turning in my mind:

The TRUTH about CHEMO

From the moment I first met Bryce, he made it very clear to me that he didn’t have a dad because his dad had gotten so sick with Mesothelioma that he underwent chemo and radiation to the point that it FINALLY killed all the cancer…. only for him to die from a YEAST INFECTION. That was the day I learned that Chemo and Radiation kill all the bad, but also all of the good inside of the human body. Bryce went on to tell me that he would never get chemo or radiation if he ever got cancer because he didn’t “believe in it”.

I thought he was insane.

10 years since that first conversation with him, I’m sitting here pondering how he could have had so much insight and so much conviction regarding the topic when he hadn’t really done any research… But a decade later, his viewpoint is one I’ve come to not only accept, but to agree with.

My biggest frustration is that no one wants to really look at what we are doing now with the foods we eat, the products we clean with, the vaccines we inject, the chemicals we use in our yards/on our skin/in our home/at our work…. when all of these things have been shown to be extremely harmful to the human body.

No one wants to miss out on foods they love, on junk, on convenience, on the “best” beauty products, the prettiest yard, the most weed-free garden, on the most affordable products… but the more I look at all the chemo and radiation happening to people that I know and care about, the more that I keep wondering if the “convenience” and “cheaper price” and “better taste” of processed, GMO, non-organic foods is worth this crash ending in our 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Where we die after enduring months or years of torturous amounts of chemotherapy and radiation.

I try to imagine myself laying in a bed, receiving chemotherapy drugs through an IV in my arm, emesis basin in my lap. What will I be thinking? What will be going through my head? Will I be regretting my decision to use any of the following:

(My thoughts below are things that I once used to rationalize by use of the products, and that maybe some of you still use today… I’m thankful that I don’t feel that way about MOST of these anymore. But just so we’re clear… I still drink Starbucks even though I know it’s filled with chemicals, and I REALLY, REALLY need to stop.)

*GMO food – It is easier and cheaper to make, buy, grow and store after all.
*BPA/other toxic plastic containers – Because glass is a PITA and really expensive.
*RoundUp – It takes days to weed my front flower bed and I just want my hard work on my flowers to look good!
*Processed foods – At the end of a long day I don’t have time to cook full meals, from scratch, to feed my entire family every single meal of the day, every day of the week, every week of the year. I need a break and sometimes processed foods are what get me through really hard days.
*Refined foods – I like to follow the 80/20 rule. Eat 80% clean and 20% whatever. I mean… I can’t possibly avoid everything toxic, so I’ll just do my best.
*Make Up – It makes me feel pretty and some days my self esteem just needs that and I want to look nice.
*Skin Care – If it reduces wrinkles, clears acne, eliminates scars and age spots and helps me look better, then maybe it’s worth it.
*Bath Products – The natural stuff just doesn’t smell as good and I can’t keep it for years without it going bad.
*Flouride Toothpaste/Drinking water/Dental treatments – Hello…. My dentist told me it was important to get this so my teeth stay healthy.
*Alcohol – It’s better than prescription pills after a long day…
*Birth Control – I honestly cannot be a Duggar and I don’t have the time to use NFP or use a condom every time when I’m allergic to latex.
*Radiation – Who knows how many times I’m unknowingly exposed to this on top of the dozens of times I’ve had CT scans for kidney stones.
*Tobacco – I smoked for 5 years… At the time, I definitely felt like it was worth it.

And those are just a few of the first things that come to mind when I think about the massive amounts of chemicals we are exposed to every single day.
It’s easy to read about the US cancer statistics. Even a look at a website as basic as medicine net.com reveals commentary that makes my stomach churn:
“Among U.S. residents, 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will develop cancer at some point in their lifetimes. Research shows that environmental factors trigger diseases like cancer, especially when someone has a family history,” said Kenneth Olden, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, which prepared the report for HHS. ( http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=13276&page=2 )

The list of carcinogens is long and growing:

http://scorecard.goodguide.com/health-effects/chemicals.tcl?short_hazard_name=cancer&all_p=t

http://www.disabled-world.com/health/cancer/carcinogen-list.php

When I look at all of the chemical carcinogens, and look at the list of likely carcinogens, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll be the one sitting at the doctor’s office, deciding on my cancer treatment and looking back thinking… The weed free lawn wasn’t worth it, the junky snacks weren’t worth it, the skincare wasn’t worth it, the make up wasn’t worth it, my scars are gone but the those chemicals weren’t worth it either, the cheaper price of GMO groceries wasn’t worth it, the convenience of processed foods wasn’t worth it, the “fun moments” sharing HFCS and chemical filled ice cream from the ice cream truck with my kids wasn’t worth it, the toxic shampoo wasn’t worth it, the delicious smelling commercial bubble bath and bath bombs weren’t worth it, the tan wasn’t worth it, the mixed drinks weren’t worth it, the birth control wasn’t worth it, the plastic tupperware and non-stick cookware wasn’t worth it…

In fact, I bet I’ll be holding someones hand, looking into their eyes and thinking, “I wish I would have really thought about how I’d feel right now, before I continued to expose myself and my family to all of these chemicals…”

And while I know that I will certainly not chose chemotherapy or radiation… I hope that by avoiding as many of the things on those lists as I can, that I might be able to avoid making that decision altogether in my 40’s or 50’s. I want to see my kids graduate from High School and College. I want to meet my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren. (And maybe even my GREAT GREAT grandchildren.)

I want to live (REALLY LIVE) as long as I can.

And in order to do that…. I’ve got to stop making excuses myself.

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Are there things you feel convicted to give up but that you struggle to part with?

Lessons in Goat Farming: Being Fearless

I never could have anticipated all that lay before me when it came to farming. I thought we’d have a few cute little goats, and some chickens, and plant some seeds and watch it grow. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I’ll admit, I had some pretty unrealistic expectations.

Each experience seems to be more hard-hitting than the next. And while some days I feel so all knowing, most days I come to realize that I still have so much to learn. And each day I DO learn a lot… but it never seems to be quite enough for the next day.

We’ve had goats for just over a year. We actually brought home our first two goats a few days after we moved into this house. We never had a single problem or issue with them. So we added SIX more goats about five weeks ago. One of those goats is Mel, our one male adult.

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And this weekend, we hit our first problem.

Saturday was our wedding anniversary, and it was also the launch of our CSA share program here at our farm. We were so excited to finally get food into the hands of the people who wanted it, and to show people what we’ve worked so hard to build. The day was great!

Around 6pm, Bryce and I went to dinner to celebrate our anniversary and spent some time together without kids. We got dinner and walked around downtown Noblesville and were home by 9, just in time for Bryce to go milk Ivy.

When he came in from milking Ivy, one looks into his eyes told me how worried he was, and he showed me a picture of Mel (our male goat) and said, “Something is REALLY wrong with Mel. I think he’s blind, and there’s stuff coming out of his mouth…”

I had no idea what to do, and it felt like I couldn’t get to the barn fast enough to see him. When I did get there, I was horrified at what I saw.

20150613_214505His mouth had drool and mucus pouring out of it, he really was staggering around and running into walls like he was intoxicated. And I had no idea what was happening. The mucus was green and I knew it was pneumonia season so I immediately assumed that must be what it was. But he didn’t really have respiratory symptoms besides green mucus.

I immediately began calling all of the Emergency Veterinary services around us but no one would see Mel. I didn’t even have human antibiotics on hand, and everything I was reading said no to give him Tylenol or Motrin for his fever (which was 106.6).

I felt panicked. I had no idea what to do for him. All I could think about it how I would have treated my kids… high doses of Vitamin C. And since no one would give me any suggestions over the phone, and no one was willing to see him in person either… I pretty much just had to wing it.

Every 2 hours, all night long, Bryce got up and gave him a Vitamin C solution orally. He also placed high powered fans facing directly at him and put some clean hay in his pen. (He never did eat anything).

By morning, Mel looked worse. I’d stayed up most of the night reading Veterinary books on goat health and knew that we were probably looking at either Goat Polio (A Thiamin/B1 deficiency) or Listeriosis. But I didn’t know which. I had no access to the antibiotics that we needed to give him for Listeriosis, so I got the Penicillin that was closest to it and administered that, and I also began tubing him so I could fluids (and medicine, including Thiamin) to his stomach since he was too weak and delirious to drink.

I never imagined I’d be putting tubes down into goat rumens, or administering injections… but if I’ve learned anything about my life, it’s that I have to be FEARLESS at all times. So I just went for it.

We also began noticing another symptom… Mel wanted his head pressed in between things at all times. I thought his head was stuck in his makeshift quarantine pen… I worked like mad to get free from the fencing, but no sooner did I get him out, he scooted right back into the same very awkward position that applied pressure to his skull, particularly to one eye that was bulging.

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But the pressure on his skull, on that one eye, was just so much for him to handle that he was breathing hard and fast just trying to deal with the pain. We couldn’t get him to calm down to be tubed late last night, and even as I tubed him, he was thrashing and bending so much that the liquid tube was kinked and we couldn’t administer more.

It was then that I wondered if he was actually going to make it.

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He was calm only when Bryce applied pressure to his skull. And even then, he was still obviously distressed. So we decided to move him to his pen and make him as comfortable as we could.

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It was heartbreaking to have to put him in pen, surround him by hay, and do nothing but pray that he would get better, because we’d done all we personally knew or could think of to do. With no Vet available to help us, we felt defeated and heartbroken. We said our Goodbyes to him, knowing full well that with his health being so deteriorated that he would probably be gone in the morning.

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Looking into his sad little eyes, I really felt like he was fighting this so hard, and holding on so much because he was meant to be here. Most goats don’t last 3 days with a 106+ fever. I tried everything in my power to help, I did more than I ever thought I would be able to do, and here he was. Still dying. Still sick. Still miserable.

My 6 year old walked over and said a prayer over him that broke my heart but made me proud all at the same time.

I never thought I would be the person to sob over a goat, but I did. I fell to my knees and sobbed and yelled at God to just help him get better or let him die quickly. I cried until my body hurt and my chest was on fire and my eyes were swollen.

And with one last rub of his little head, I had to walk out of the barn with my heart shattering to a million pieces.

I woke up this morning knowing that I would going to have to figure out where to bury him in our backyard. I was dreading choosing the spot… So much so that I had Bryce go check on him first so that I would be completely prepared when I walked into the barn.

And somehow, he had survived the night.

After a million vet calls, and finally showing up in person at a Veterinary Clinic, Bryce found a vet (literally right next to us) to see Mel. He was knowledgeable and so kind. He told us that a respiratory infection and an eye infection were causing Mel’s symptoms and the high fever can cause issues. He said he was surprised Mel had hung on so long, but that with antibiotics (in a megadose) he would probably recover fully.

He said normally he tries treating holistically first, but given how bad Mel was, that wasn’t an option…. I couldn’t get over our luck. Finding a Vet who would provide chiropractic care and holistic treatments to our animals as his first means of treatment from here on out. It’s exactly what we needed, and what we prayed for. So, this time, he gave him injections of antibiotics, a fever reducer, and steroids and told us to call him tomorrow and let them know if Mel is doing better.

He also said that by tubing him we probably saved his life. A procedure I really didn’t want to do because I didn’t know how… but I’m so glad I did it anyways. Showing once again that sometimes you just have to be FEARLESS.

In the midst of writing this, my cell phone buzzed with scripture that I know was sent to me straight from God through my Scripture App:

“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice”