What is a Himalayan Salt lamp?

The first time I saw a Himalayan Salt Lamp I was in awe of their beauty. I thought it was a beautiful piece of natural home décor that was simply meant to create a calming ambiance in the home. When I found out that this beautiful lamp had health benefits I knew I had to own a few!

Fortunately for me, my husband and my mom BOTH bought me Himalayan Salt Lamps for my birthday this week.

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So what exactly is a Himalayan Salt Lamp?

It’s pretty simple. It’s just a giant piece of salt that has been carved and hollowed out in the center so that a light bulb can be inserted. But what are the supposed health benefits and how does it work?

We should probably start with a little chemistry lesson, “An ion is an atom or group of atoms in which the number of electrons is different from the number of protons. If the number of electrons is less than the number of protons, the particle is a positive ion. If the number of electrons is greater than the number of protons, the particle is a negative ion,” WhatIs.com explains. Negative ions are produced by nature (think ocean waves, waterfalls, rain, sunlight) and positive ions are produced by electronics (laptops, cell phones, tablets, televisions). When are constantly exposed to this EM radiation we see an increase in stress and fatigue, and it even weakens our immune system…

Enter Himalayan Salt Lamps.

You’re probably thinking that these amazing salt lamps generate negative ions and that this is how they work… But in fact, these lamps don’t produce any ions at all. Salt lamps are “hygroscopic” which means that they absorb any moisture or airborne water molecules in the air. That’s why you can’t just have salt alone, it needs a heat source to cause this moisture to evaporate. It’s this evaporation that creates the negative ions.

And how well do these negative ions work to actually improve our health? Pretty darn well!

In a 1966, a hospital in Jerusalem conducted a study of thirty-eight infants suffering from respiratory issues. They placed half of the infants in a ward without any ion change, and placed the other half in a ward where negative-ion generators were in use. The researchers reported that negative ions without any other treatment (no prescription drugs) seemed to cure attacks of asthma and bronchitis more quickly than drugs (antibiotics included)… and that the children treated with negative ions were less prone to ‘rebound attacks’ (relapses)… The scientific report said that the tests “demonstrated that atmospheric ions have an effect on infants, especially those suffering from asthmatic bronchitis. Less scientifically, they found that the babies didn’t cry as often and as loudly as they did in normal air.” The Ion Effect, by Fred Soyka, p. 57, 1991.

As a mom of a child who once suffered from debilitating, life-threatening asthma this intrigues me more than anything else. I’d heard of Salt Therapy for children with asthma back in 2009 when my daughter was diagnosed with asthma, but I never believed it could help my chronically ill child… Salt rooms to cure something that bottle after bottle of medication couldn’t cure? It seemed impossible… But it was true!

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Himalayan Salt Lamps are also said to:

•Clean the air
•Soothe allergies (as well as reducing asthma)
•Calm coughs and other symptoms of the common cold
•Boost blood flow
•Raise energy levels
•Improve concentration and performance
•Enhance mood
•Reduce stress
•Improve sleep

We love our Himalayan Salt lamps so far – and I’ll keep you posted on how they work for our family!

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?

An Open Letter to iTown Church

To the Pastors and Staff of iTown Church:

When I first started attending your church, I knew I was bound to irritate a lot of people with my newly re-discovered love and passion for Jesus. After being non-religious and not sure of what I believed after the death of my 4-month-old son, I’d begun to believe that the God of the Bible was nothing more than an elaborate fairy tale. It was too painful for me to think that God would allow such a horrible tragedy to happen to my family. Because of this, I’d managed to build close friendships with many people who consider themselves atheists, and at that time my husband was an atheist, too.

As soon as I got the courage to begin posting on social media and openly talking about Jesus, the backlash began. Friends who’d always been so kind and loving began deleting me from their social media accounts in handfuls. I was so excited about your church that I couldn’t stop talking about it… and that irritated so many people. It hurt my soul, but I moved forward as I reminded myself that I can’t save people, only Jesus can. And your church taught me that.

Over the last few years I’ve had many painful conversations with friends that I love deeply who ended up deleting me from Facebook because my posts about iTown were simply too much for them to handle. They’d been too hurt by religious people and churches in the past to believe that I could be talking about something that’s actually different.

(I almost didn’t share this because I didn’t want my friends who are still struggling to believe in God to have more of a reason to turn away from Him. But it’s not God who hurt me, or who hurts anyone… it’s people.)

I often professed that iTown was so different and so accommodating. I began recanting the key phrases I’d heard reiterated on Sundays to all of my friends, “Everyone is welcome. Everyone can be involved. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you’ve done, or where you’ve been. EVERYONE IS WELCOME HERE.”

When I first walked in the doors of iTown, it was enchanting. The music was so great, the production was so awesome…. The SHOW was spectacular. Pastor Dave, you are a gifted public speaker who is able to engage and capture your audience with witty anecdotes and catchy key phrases like “Hurt people hurt people.” I loved how your stories were so relatable, and how your message stuck with me long after I’d left.

And in a few months time, my husband was actually so curious about this new church I’d been investing my time into that HE decided he wanted to attend for Christmas Eve with our kids. I couldn’t believe he wanted to come and I hoped so much that he would raise his hand during the salvation call* so that he could be saved.

I’ll never forget the looks on Bryce’s face, and on the faces of my children as they watched the Christmas Eve service in 2013. It was nothing short of enchantment… much like the looks of children entering Disney World and seeing Cinderella’s Castle for the first time. (Which you’ve actually said is your goal. For your church to be like Disney World.)

It only took two weeks for Bryce to raise his hand during the salvation call, and I was so excited for what lay ahead for our family and iTown. (See my blog post about Bryce’s salvation here: https://karibundy.com/2014/01/01/2-weeks-ago-my-husband-was-an-atheist/ )

We couldn’t wait to jump in and start serving*. Bryce was hesitant as he waited for the ball to drop, and for the church to turn into a hypocritical place, and so he didn’t immediately jump onto a team to serve. But I did. In fact, I was already done with the Grow Plan* by the time Bryce attended service for the first time.

That first winter semester (January 2014), we jumped all in. Bryce and I started the year with the Daniel Fast and we got up at 6am every morning to pray. I joined a small group, a women’s book club (that my mom actually attended with me, even though she had no intention of attending church), and I began serving on the Red Tent team where I greeted new guests, told them about the church, encouraged them to attend the Grow Plan and join a Go Team*. I was so excited about your church that I couldn’t stop excitedly trying to usher people in.

As more and more of my friends started to attend, I was so excited for them to join teams and small groups and be a part of “the great revival of Indianapolis” as you called it. That spring, Bryce and I made the decision to move out of our suburban neighborhood and buy a house on land to start building an organic, non-GMO farm. Although he was hesitant, Bryce went to the White Tent* after church service was over to ask them to pray for him and on an offer he planned to make on a house. This was a HUGE step for Bryce… because he put his trust into your church and began laying out his vulnerabilities.

Bryce also called on a Pastor to help us look at an issue with our house for sale, and he willingly came out with his dad to look at the issue that needed repair. Bryce got some great advice and we marveled at how kind and generous he’d been to come out and take a look. We were so thankful for being lead to iTown.

We made an offer on that house and miraculously, we got it. It was ours. We couldn’t have been more thrilled. We moved our family to our new house and felt like with your church and our new house that we were really living the life that God was calling us to lead. We were so excited to start getting real food to the people of our community, the people in our church family, and to anyone around us who needed quality food for their families.

That summer, Bryce and I both led small groups. Bryce was also in your leadership program, ITLA (ITown Leadership Academy), which required him to serve all weekend services doing whatever was needed, and to attend workouts 4 times per week in addition to a weekly Chapel night. At this point Bryce was breathing, eating and sleeping iTown. He was there over 40 hours a week helping and loved everything about it. And this is where I began to feel very uneasy.

We bought our new house without selling our old house. (Live and learn… it’s a mistake we will certainly NEVER make again). And even though our house had been listed for sale with price drops every few weeks, we didn’t seem to be getting any closer to getting an offer. Bryce was so passionate about ministry, and about discipleship that I didn’t want to ruin this time of enlightenment for him. He was so eager to learn and so joyful for the first time in years, that I just wanted him to be able to pursue that. We had enough in savings to last through the summer, and so he didn’t get a job because he wanted to pour all of his effort into your church and ITLA. Which was wonderful!

Until it wasn’t.

In August, Bryce shattered his collarbone. His right collarbone. Which meant he wouldn’t be able to do any farm work (or any work that required the use of his right arm whatsoever) until Spring. With no equipment, and a garden that Bryce had been hand tilling, this left me with a LOT of responsibility on my shoulders.

Bryce was so passionate about serving your church that I had to drive him from the ER – the night he shattered his collarbone – to the church at 5am, so that he could participate in your 21 Days of Prayer. I stared at him through the entire prayer service… he was so optimistic and full of light and so lost in the worship and prayer. He had a loyalty to your church that you honestly did not deserve.

Bryce had also been so excited to help set up the second location of your church. He was so excited to be a major part of your Castleton team, and he showed up every Sunday morning at 530am eager to help and bring the love and light of Jesus to the lost.

However, once Bryce lost the physical ability to help, he was shoved aside and immediately replaced by others who could do the work– even though he’d poured all of his time, sweat, energy and tears into your church for months; along with continuing tithe off of our savings account regularly. He was burnt out, and so you moved on to the next new willing participant– someone who could memorize your script a little better.

I began to despise what I began to refer as “iTown key phrases” which included comments such as: “It’s just not the season for that”, “Trust the vision”, “Bad company corrupts good character”, “Just jump on a team”. Every time someone spoke those words around me it felt like boiling water was being dumped on my head. As each newly trained Go Team member would begin chanting those same phrases, giving the same responses and sounding uncannily like the other, my discomfort with the way the church was going grew. I can only describe it one way—it seemed like people were literally being brainwashed.

Any questions we had were met with the comment “Trust the vision.” And not only by staff members, but also by those who were idolizing iTown. Those who were idolizing YOU, Pastor Dave. Anytime we would ask a question about a situation or a decision that didn’t quite seem to be right, we were shut down and essentially told not to question your vision. We began to realize that the expectation of us was that we should be silent, conform, follow directions without question and be willing to serve in any way possible.

We were expected not to think for ourselves. And it worked. For a while.

I couldn’t stop asking myself, “Did things change?? Or is this how it’s always been?” I know I wasn’t alone in that sentiment, even then. But I know I’m not alone in these thoughts now.

By the end of August, we’d been hit with property taxes we didn’t realize we had to pay and we were in a REALLY bad spot. It was because of our poor choice to buy a house without selling first, I’m the first to admit that the blame for being in that hardship falls squarely on Bryce’s and my shoulders. We had no money in the bank, literally $0, a spot we’d never been in before. And then our power went out for 12 hours. We lost ALL of our food and had no way to buy more. Grace had a food bank that turned us down because our car was considered an asset. We were so humiliated. And we had nowhere to turn.

But here’s where the biggest hurt comes from… When we got to the point where we didn’t have food… you saw us drowning, and you turned away. You did nothing.

In fact, the one small bit of help we got from the church didn’t come from a pastor (although he is a pastor now). It came from the production team, and various people who each donated a few dollars to get us gift cards for groceries. We were SO THANKFUL for this that I remember sitting in my car sobbing as a friend handed the card to me. I stocked up our fridge with groceries and praised God for those people who were so willing to help.

I didn’t even know what someone being the hands and feet of Jesus looked like until the next day when an 18 year old young woman from church, whom I’d never met, showed up at my house, awkwardly handed me a VISA gift card and left. I told her I couldn’t take this from her. That she was just a kid and that I REALLY appreciated it, but I just couldn’t accept it. She looked me in the eyes and said, “I don’t have kids and I live at home with my parents. What do I need this for? Take it for your kids.” And in that moment, I SAW Jesus. I FELT Jesus. I KNEW Jesus.

Looking back I realize that I never got that feeling from your church. (And when I say “feeling”, I don’t mean an emotion. I mean that I’d never discerned that Christ-like spirit emanating from anyone in your entire church, other than Pastor Kelly, who is no longer there.)

By the time we sold our house in November 2014, we’d been without water for an entire week due a pipeline breaking, and my kids had gone to bed hungry numerous times. We’d only survived because a friend from church had been giving their tithe to us, instead of to you. Because they were perplexed as to how you hadn’t reached out to help us.

By September, we had a Pastor come to our house, sit us down, and let us know that he just didn’t feel like we should lead a small group that fall. He felt like we just needed to focus on our family and on healing and on having others pour into our lives. (Something that was confusing given that the church hadn’t really been interested in helping us with groceries at that time). He also told Bryce that he wanted to pour into him..

He also told us that we shouldn’t feel profound sadness anymore about our deceased son (his birthday was coming the following month), and that we hadn’t truly given that up to God yet if we were still feeling such profound sadness. He told us that God really would take that all away from us if we would just let go. This seemed to insinuate that we lacked true faith, and it felt like we were being punished, by not being able to lead a group, due to our inability to “let go.” He told us that when his wife died that he had a supernatural peace that has allowed him to be free from that pain. And that we would have that too, when we fully gave the pain to Jesus.

Even after that discussion we stayed at iTown. I even wondered if he was RIGHT in assuming that I just wasn’t fully surrendering to God because I did hurt SO badly when I thought about my son Mason’s upcoming birthday. I only told one person about that conversation then, and her immediate response was, “Why would he even think it’s okay to say that to you? You KNOW that’s not right. Right?”

But I didn’t know. By this point I felt so disoriented about everything that I didn’t know which way was up and which way was down, what was right and what was wrong, what was an emotion and what was my discernment. I felt like a fish out of water, trapped in a place where I didn’t speak the language. Where everything I thought I knew, was wrong.

This should have been the moment we left your church. But we still stayed. We still believed that maybe we could work through the indifference. That maybe we could just get through all of this.

That fall, a very close friend of Bryce’s left iTown. A friend who has basically fallen off the grid now. This friend left the church after the abovementioned Pastor married his former girlfriend of four years. An ex-girlfriend that he thought he was about to starting dating again August. Who was engaged to this Pastor in September.

I can’t help but think of how ironic it is that you don’t consider that decision to be an action that “causes others to stumble or Christ to grieve.” One of your lost, who faithfully served and tithed, was so hurt that he walked out the door and never looked back. And he’s just a drop in the bucket of the people that your church has hurt that you haven’t even noticed.

This same Pastor had a very loud verbal altercation with Bryce and I the lobby of the church in December where he ended up walking away after towering over me in an attempt to intimidate me into submission. He also warned us that we were not to talk of the discussion to anyone. But this felt more like a threat than a request.

What should have been the final “be all, end all” moment came in April. Bryce and I led a small group that included a lesbian couple. It was obvious that they were a lesbian couple from the moment they walked in the door. My first thought when I saw them was, “I’m SO LUCKY that I have a church that accepts people for WHO THEY ARE.” It wasn’t about theology or semantics… it was just about loving people and meeting them right where they are. I was so pleasantly surprised by this that I got down on my knees right after group and thanked God for your church. This couple had never tried anywhere else because they could tell they weren’t welcome. I was so glad I was a part of a church that included them, even if they didn’t agree with their life choice.

This couple, who I will refer to as Sally and Jane, went through the Grow Plan. The leader of the Grow Plan happened to be very close friends with Jane’s brother, who also attends iTown, and was aware that Sally and Jane were in a homosexual relationship. They completed the first three Grow Plan meetings and upon arriving at the fourth meeting, Grow Plan 401, they were excited to pick a team to serve on. Upon entering the door, the leader of the Grow Plan excitedly asked the two women, “Which team are you guys thinking about serving on?” They gave him their reply and hurried in for the meeting.

As they sat through the meeting, they already knew which teams they wanted to help with and were getting ready to sign up with the team they chose. This is when they were called to the corner by the Grow Team leader and told that they couldn’t serve because they are gay. This was then compared to alcoholism, and they were told that when alcoholics want to serve they are asked to get help, get better and come back and serve when they’re doing better. The women were told they could do the same, get better and come back and serve on a team.

At this time, Bryce and I were serving next door giving out Easter boxes. I’d worked all weekend to fill these boxes and was having fun giving them away to the families who were excited to host Easter Egg hunts for friends in their neighborhoods to invite them to iTown. In the middle of this, we were pulled aside by the Grow Team leader and ushered quickly into your office, Pastor Dave.

You made us aware of “the situation” with Sally and Jane and let us know that if they continue to come to our small group that we needed to direct all questions and concerns to you or another pastor. (Which we did—we definitely did not want to handle those questions.) I expressed my confusion on why they were allowed to go through the Grow Plan at all if the plan had never been to let them serve. You expressed that you didn’t know they were gay, Pastor Dave, even though they said they walked up to you and introduced themselves, said they came all the way from Greenwood and wanted to make sure it was okay that they were coming to church together.

I find it hard to believe that you didn’t know they were lesbians, but I’ll extend grace and say that you didn’t know. My next question was why you didn’t handle this situation yourself. To date, the biggest hurt they have is that you didn’t talk to them in person. If everyone at the church is following your vision, Why couldn’t you have talked to them directly? It’s something that honestly should have come from you. I don’t recall getting an answer to that question, but I’m sure you did. I’ve just forgotten.

Bryce then asked what the church would say about their relationship if gay marriage became legal. You told him that regardless of law it wasn’t ever going to be right because we aren’t allowed to have an opinion, because God already has an opinion. And it’s in the bible. (There was no other context given.)

What we got out of this conversation was that we needed to reference the position of the church and God’s word (more on that later) and that we don’t have to say anything else and can just direct them to the pastors at the church. I was so confused about how I could possibly continue to love this couple and try to show them Jesus when I felt so very conflicted. But we walked out committed to honoring the churches values and passing those on to the girls.

I wondered what Sally and Jane were feeling and looked down at my phone to see I’d already missed several calls from them. While I was in the meeting with you, the people you entrusted in my care had already reached out to me. And they got no response. In a matter of MINUTES, they were shunned by the entire church, including their small group leader. How alienating that must have felt for them! There aren’t even words for how DEEPLY that hurt them (and Bryce and I.)

We continued our small group for the summer semester. Hoping to be the hands and feet of Jesus, we continued our Homestead small group and I led a college girls small group. I’d led the college group last summer and was excited to see God’s works in the girls’ life from the past year. We picked a book to use as our curriculum called
“Every Young Woman’s Battle: Guarding Your Mind, Heart and Body in a Sex-Saturated World”. I knew how hard it was to address these topics and thought the girls needed to be aware of how to handle the college years when everything, from movies to clothing, seems to be about sex.

I didn’t anticipate being in the middle of this group when the Supreme Court ruled on Gay Marriage. In fact, this ruling came just a few hours before my small group convened. Being that we were a small group about this Sex-Saturated world, I wanted to remind the girls that we are to be the hands and feet of Jesus. That while the Supreme Court decision has the potential to ruin friendships and family relationships, that we are called to love like Christ and simply treat others as we want to be treated.

Several girls wanted to talk about it, but my small group coach* was there and the discomfort in the room was obvious, so I moved on without saying much else.

As the Supreme Court ruled that day, I could just tell that the leaders at the church were being examined with microscope precision by the staff (and those who want to be staff) as to the content of their social media pages. The message didn’t have to be said out loud, but was entirely clear, we shouldn’t post any opinions regarding the Supreme Court decision.

By Monday morning, I had received a phone call from the hub Pastor*. She let me know that my coach had told her that I discussed homosexuality with the girls and that she wasn’t clear on why I brought it up at all, and that she was especially confused about why I didn’t give them scripture to show what the bible says about homosexuality. I told her that the room felt very tense and uncomfortable with the small group coach there and so I decided to drop the conversation and move on. The hub Pastor was very irritated that I didn’t give scripture and began telling me that I should have told the girls that it’s not the right lifestyle choice, and that homosexuality is a choice. She said that you aren’t born homosexual. She went on to say that (and I quote), “Homosexuals are going around saying that they are just born homosexuals, just like now we have Child Molesters walking around saying they are just born attracted to children. And that’s not right.”

This comparison of being born homosexual vs. being born a child molester knocked me off of my feet. I hoped and prayed that this wasn’t the churches position and I managed to stammer out to her, “That is NOT the same thing AT ALL!” She then asked me my personal views on homosexuality. I told her that was none of her business. She continued to say she needed to know because everyone in leadership has to have the same views in order to lead. I told her again that it was none of her business. At this point she told me, “I’ll just have to report this to Pastor Dave and Pastor Kate and let them handle it.” Which is honestly where this conversation should have started once my small group coach had this concern.

I was so glad for the opportunity to talk directly with you, Pastor Dave, because I was tired of having information go up and down this communication ladder that resembled a Pyramid Marketing setup. I’d learned in Elementary School that the telephone game never ends accurately and so I really wanted your insight. When you called I was pleasantly surprised by the tone of the conversation. I was reassured to hear that you did think people were born gay, that it wasn’t a choice, and I was glad that you didn’t agree with the wording the Hub Pastor had used when she compared child molesters to gay people.

I did feel slightly embarrassed for you when you asked me why I even brought the subject up in my college group. You said that you’d have understood if the group was a bible study on sex, but that you didn’t understand its relation to the college small group. When I realized you had no idea that our approved book for our small group was ““Every Young Woman’s Battle: Guarding Your Mind, Heart and Body in a Sex-Saturated World”, and that the approved content WAS about sex, I felt incredibly embarrassed for you and for me.

I was embarrassed because I’ve been wasting my time in a church that doesn’t even know what my group is about. A church where I’m turned in like a child being sent to the Principal’s Office for every grievance someone has against me, and that this happens without fact checking to make sure the information is accurate first.

The conversation ended well and I was glad to hear that you were going to be making it perfectly clear where the church stood when it came to homosexuality. After being scolded by the small group coach leader for not giving out scripture, etc. I was glad that the girls would have your words to guide them in this. I didn’t want to discuss YOUR vision, or put my interpretation of scripture onto the girls.

So when you talked about it at First Wednesday, I was ready.

(Here is iTown’s Official “stance” as given on First Wednesday https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AariMCPRR6Y )

But you didn’t say anything. Where was the scripture? Where was the stance? Where was the opinion? Where was the guidance we were all sitting there WAITING to hear? We had people asking if we understood what your stance was. We felt like a million hungry wolves were surrounding us waiting for answers that you still hadn’t given, and that we knew perfectly well we couldn’t give either.

Why? Because our gut instinct, our “feeling”, our DISCERNMENT tells us that this isn’t the way to handle this. That this isn’t the way Jesus wanted this to be handled. He made his view on divorce CRYSTAL CLEAR and yet the church has no “policy” on that. But there is a “policy” on homosexuality, which wasn’t even made clear. For all we know you could have been talking about the Supreme Court decision regarding Obamacare at First Wednesday. The words “homosexuality”, “gay”, “LGBT” were not even spoken.

The church, as a body, needs to know that you will not allow anyone in a homosexual relationship to serve on any team—whether that be working with kids, handing out worship guides, stuffing worship guides, folding t-shirts, working in the production booth, etc. They also need to know that if a leader QUESTIONS any aspect of this, that they have their small groups immediately taken from them and no real discussion takes place. If we question the history, the theology, even if it’s just to clarify (AND IT IS), we are banned from leading until we conform and agree with every thought of the church.

After First Wednesday we were ready to leave. I’ll admit, it was already planned and already decided that we wouldn’t be calling iTown our home after groups and the kid’s conference were over. But that wouldn’t have affected how I led my last college group, how we lead SERVE Day, or how we lead at Summer Rocks. Homosexuality has nothing to do with any of those things or with our commitment to the groups of people we were leading. It was CRYSTAL CLEAR what we were and were not allowed to talk about and we didn’t plan to discuss anything other than Jesus and Serve Day this week.

But on Sunday, after we prayed for the Summer Rocks Conference, Bryce and I and Terra Barlow turned around to find that the crowd behind us had parted SO MUCH that it looked like Moses had been there, and standing behind us were two of your pastors. We were strategically pulled from the front of the auditorium, separated, and interrogated. I use the word “interrogated” because I was asked the same question no less than 15 times.

Bryce and I were face to face with one Pastor, and Terra had TWO MALE pastors confronting her, asking the same questions and willing her to conform. The Pastor talking to Bryce and I was fishing for a response he wasn’t going to get, saying he was simply trying to “clarify” when in reality he was simply trying to get me to change my answer. He also told me that when I’m working with youth, and he’s in charge of Youth, that we need all of the leaders to be especially clear on the homosexuality views.

This Pastor also went on to say that while people may be born gay, it doesn’t mean they can act on it. He said, “I can tell you that, and this may not be true for you Bryce, but from the moment I hit puberty I have wanted to sleep with every woman that walks by me. Even as a married man that’s something I have to chose not to do.” Personally, we don’t like hearing that from a man in charge of teenagers. It was very disturbing to all of us. It paints all men in this horrible light. These disgusting words were also told, nearly verbatim, to Terra, by another Pastor. It really doesn’t feel genuine when discussions are clearly scripted.

Terra’s story is her own, but suffice to say that there NEVER should have been TWO male pastors alone with her discussing anything. You had a staff of females all around and one of them could have gone with a single male pastor to talk with Terra. Do you understand how unnerving, intimidating and inappropriate it is to have two male Pastors walk up to a 4’9” woman, without her husband present, and begin drilling her with questions? It’s inappropriate. And it wasn’t handled correctly. If someone did that to your wife, Pastor Dave, you would be LIVID.

We realize that this is a LOT of information all at once. But we just wanted to show you that this decision to leave your church is not based on a one time event. It’s not about homosexuality or your stance (or lack of) that has led us to leave… this letter has only been a highlight of the negative moments. There are many more.

But my point isn’t to tear you down.

It’s to enlighten you as to why you need to be prepared to see many more people leave if things don’t change.

People are leaving because iTown isn’t a “Come as you are” church. It’s not a church that “meets you where you are” and includes everyone. There are parameters set up that a lot of people would be shocked to learn about. I don’t think most people know that you won’t allow gay people to serve in any capacity.

This isn’t about theology. It’s not about if homosexuality is sin or not. It’s not about if you’re going to marry homosexual couples. We get that you’re not going to, and that’s fine. Who would want to be married by someone who doesn’t believe in his or her relationship? I don’t think you’ll have people insisting that YOU marry them.

I honestly don’t even think that people want to hear you say that you think homosexuality is okay. That certainly has never been our expectation. The only expectation we’ve ever had is that everyone be welcome to learn and to grow. That everyone be included in helping the church grow to reach more people.

In fact, this week Bryce posted a photo with a cross in front of a rainbow. A huge debate ensued that involved many iTown people. In response to this, Jane (mentioned above), sent me this text: “I never once asked anyone at iTown to accept me as being in love with another woman or believe the same thing I do about everything. I expected to be respected as a person. That I was not. And neither were my friends. But guess what… I walked into another church [Mercy Road] who’s leaders may very well feel that I’m sinning, but they respect me… and they even let me serve with kids!!! Unbelievable, I know. But what’s also unbelievable is seeing people in a Christian Church really loving people like Jesus did. Some of the people commenting [on the post] should check it out sometime… it’s pretty amazing to experience.” And that experience could have been had at iTown if we weren’t so focused on defining everything.

I can’t stop thinking about the story in Luke where Jesus visits with the Samaritan woman at the well. He tells her that he knows she doesn’t have a husband, but that she’s had five husbands, and that the man she’s with now isn’t her husband. And yet that didn’t stop him from using her to fulfill his purpose. She acted like an apostle and spread his word everywhere, and got the Samaritan townspeople to believe in Jesus. He didn’t ever ask her to stop her sinful behavior, he didn’t get trapped in the semantics or rules, and he didn’t condemn her from fulfilling his purpose because of this sinful lifestyle.

Jesus met her right where she was, and used her to fulfill His purpose.

The scripture even tells us “Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.”

Because of her, many people were saved who wouldn’t have been saved otherwise.

What if all these people we aren’t allowing to serve because they are gay, are the ones who hold very important pieces of the ministry puzzle? What if their influence circle reaches in directions that yours or mine will never reach?

It’s not the semantics of the bible that I think we need to focus in on as much as we need to focus on the body of Christ. One of my favorite resources to hand out to people is “Four Teachings Of Jesus That His Followers (Almost) Never Take Seriously”, and to paraphrase:

  1. Jesus, not the Bible, is God’s living and active Word that brings life.

 

“You don’t have His word living in you, because you don’t believe the One He sent. You study the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. And you are not willing to come to Me so that you may have life.”– John 5:39-40 HCSB

 

  1. The only way to enter the Kingdom of Heaven is through DOING the will of God. 

 

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21 ESV

 

“An expert in the law stood up to test Him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”“What is written in the law?” He asked him. “How do you read it?”He answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.“You’ve answered correctly,” He told him. “Do this and you will live.”– Luke 10: 25-28 HCSB

  1. Condemnation isn’t Jesus’ style.

I have not come to condemn the world, but to save it.” John 3:17 ESV

“Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”– John 8:11 ESV

What’s funny is that as one examines the teachings and life of Jesus, we find him not only befriending, loving, and affirming some of his societies most despised and vile people, but chastising the religious leaders who condemned them for their sin.

  1. You’re supposed to sacrifice yourself and speak words of blessings for those you disagree with the most.

“Love Your Enemies and Bless Those Who Persecute You” Matthew 5:44 ESV

Christians are called to a radical position of nonviolence and forgiveness, grace, and even blessing of our enemies. There is no way around it. And when Christians chose to ignore these clear teachings, our hypocrisy is glaringly obvious to the watching world.

We’ve been called to love. Not to judge. And that’s really, really hard sometimes, I know. But we should be striving to lean in relationally and love others. Because we can’t save others if we don’t have a relationship with them, and condemning them from the start makes a relationship impossible.

In the famous words of Mother Teresa,

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

We are praying for your church.

Wishing you the best of luck,

The Bundy’s

*Salvation Call – a call where you can raise your hand and commit (or recommit) your life to Jesus

*Serving- Volunteering in the church in any way

*The Grow Plan- a series of four training meetings (101, 201, 301, 401) where you are trained on how the church works, what the church believes, how the teams work, and then training for a specific team.

*Go Team- Different teams where you can serve after you completely the Grow Plan. These teams include kids, worship, hospitality, prayer, parking, greeting, ushers, etc.
*Small Group Coach – in charge of a group of small group leaders

*hub Pastor- the person who oversees the small group coaches

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”

Why Prescription Drugs Aren’t Saving Us

I’ve been on this journey towards better health for almost four years now. When my son died in the middle of the night “for no reason” after receiving his 4 month vaccines, it opened the door for me to really explore my thoughts about the healthcare system– about the successes, the failures, the struggles, the blessings, and most of all… the unanswered questions. Like, “why does the US rank so far below other countries regarding our health?” especially when we have “the best healthcare that money can buy.”

At one point, Bryce and I spent 35% of our monthly budget on our health insurance premium. Self-employment doesn’t afford the luxury of affordable health insurance, and so we spent an obscene amount of money just on the PREMIUM of our insurance policy, not to mention the cost of co-pays, prescriptions and uncovered expenses. We, like most Americans, believed that Doctors knew best, that medicine was life-saving, and that we couldn’t take care of our own bodies because “we weren’t qualified.”

What I’ve learned over the last few years is that we are more than qualified to research, question, and explore the topic of health if we feel like we should. I’ve also learned that many Primary Care Physicians are working a job they didn’t even understand when they went to medical school, a job where prescriptions are better accepted than simple diet/exercise advise, and where one drug causes a side effect that somersaults into another drug being prescribed. Over and over and over.

When I was a kid, I never had an antibiotic. I can vividly remember the first time I ever had one when I was in High School. My parents weren’t “anti-medicine”, they just didn’t run me to the doctor for every ache and pain. And my mom was always a firm believer that most symptoms were working to resolve a problem in the body. (She’s the one who taught me that fevers shouldn’t be reduced by default just because we notice a child feels warm, because fever is the response to infection that indicates the body is doing it’s job.)

Today kids get an antibiotic for pretty much every ailment. I see it all the time with my friends kids. They take the kid in for a sick visit and are told it’s viral, but are also given an antibiotic. It’s the biggest oxymoron… but it still happens a LOT. We also feel the need to treat every health issue with medication. Allergies? Medicine. Side effect from allergy medicine? Medicine. Trouble concentrating? Medicine. That medicine keep you up all night? Medicine. And the cycle continues on and on and on.

I am a BELIEVER in modern medicine. I believe in it for acute conditions which require short-term treatment. I do not believe in daily medication for the rest of your life. I do not believe that the best answer to someone with high cholesterol is to go on a statin. 1 in 3 adults over the age of 40 in the US is on a statin drug. It’s prescribed to people with high cholesterol, to people with heart disease, to people with history of stroke, etc.

Patients are told that this is the best way to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. But do you know what I think this has done?

It’s taken the consequence away from people who refuse to take care of their bodies. Before you jump all over me telling me stories about your loved ones who didn’t bring health conditions on themselves, let me just say that I know that is a harsh statement. It IS a harsh statement. But it’s the truth.

If people knew they didn’t have prescriptions available to save their lives from their poor diet and sedentary lifestyle, do you think they might be more inclined to exercise more and make better food choices? Because honestly… That would be one HECK of a motivator for me.

And statins are just the start.

It’s estimated that 70% of Americans take at least ONE medication daily. Can you think of anyone in your life that DOESN’T take a prescription medication daily? (This includes birth control, SSRI’s, anxiety medication, allergy medication, asthma medications, etc, etc, etc).

In 2011, there were 4.02 billion prescriptions written in the United States. The population of the United States in 2011 was 311 million– that’s about 13 prescriptions for every single living human being in the United States per year.

In 2008, Americans spent $234 billion dollars on prescription drugs.
In 2012, Americans spent $325.7 billion dollars on prescription drugs. That’s over $90 billion more dollars spent on prescriptions in FOUR YEARS.

You know one major change that happened between 2008 and 2012?
In 2010 the Flu Vaccination Guidelines changes from vaccinating only the at-risk populations and their caretakers, to universal vaccinations (which meant everyone over the age of 6 months old.) This “preventative” health care measure of vaccinating everyone was supposed to make everyone healthier, bring healthcare spending down, and prevent illness which could lead to long-term health problems… and yet we saw our healthcare costs SKYROCKET.

Prescriptions are big money. And I don’t think they are saving very many lives.

In 2009, there were nearly 4.6 million drug-related visits to U.S. emergency rooms nationwide, with more than half due to adverse reactions to prescription medications – most of which were being taken exactly as prescribed. 450,000 deaths each year are caused by prescription medications. That would make it the 4th leading cause of death in the US. And there are actually TEN TIMES more deaths caused by PROPERLY prescribed prescription medications that are used correctly than there are deaths caused by ILLEGAL drugs. (106,000 : 10,000)

Each prescription drug has an average of 70 listed side effects…

Prescription medications just aren’t our answer to health problems. I think Hippocrates put it best when he said simply, “Let food be thy medicine.”

I think Doctors gave up recommending dietary changes and more exercise because Americans were so obsessed with finding an “easy button”. Why do all this work when there are millions of prescriptions available to “treat” these conditions by just swallowing a pill?

The problem is that we aren’t seeing quality of life in people anymore.

We are hiding symptoms, instead of healing illness.

We are seeing Americans being the fattest, sickest, most depressed, most stressed out, most exhausted generation than we’ve EVER seen before with the MOST chronic health conditions being treated by prescription medications.

Which brings me to the point where I can’t help but wonder… Are the drugs REALLY life-saving? And- If people aren’t willing to take care of their bodies, work to stay healthy, make the effort of exercising and eating REAL food instead of the processed, toxic “food” of today…. How can anyone believe that the pharmaceutical companies exist merely because they are trying to save lives of deserving Americans everywhere?

Don’t you think that Big Pharma just knows that we as Americans are way too lazy to just take the few simple steps required to maintaining our help? That we believe that their products are the simple solution to our health problems? (Which could honestly be solved by nutrition in most cases.)

So the more medications they create, the more we will take; the more that we take, the more that we will require; the more we require, the more we think everyone else does too, including our children… and the more customers they will have for life.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Who can afford the cost of Organic? And why that’s not the right question…

This morning I posted about starting a small group for our church. Bryce and I plan to start a group this Spring that teaches people about food- how to grow it, how to plant it, how to pick it, how to cook it and every aspect in between. We want to teach people about the importance of eating REAL whole foods, not genetically modified foods or foods covered in pesticides.

Every time I start talking about the issue with modern convenience foods, and processed, prepackaged, or ready to eat food I am immediately faced with a backlash of angry people telling me that they can’t afford to eat organic. It costs too much. One of the major reasons people cite for not eating organic is that the cost is too high…

They say that the foods with GMO’s are more affordable.

Most people don’t really understand what GMO means. Even if you know that GMO stands for “Genetically Modified Organism”… you still might not be clear on what that means. And that’s okay.. because for a long time I didn’t quite understand what that meant exactly either.
Today, I was sitting at the kitchen table while my kids ate lunch and I noticed that the ONE non-organic apple in the basket had still been ignored. I had ONE non-organic apple in the bin that I bought from Kroger and ten organic apples from Green Bean delivery. Over the last few days, my kids had been ignoring that one apple from Kroger even though I hadn’t mentioned that it was from the store and not organic. Today… I watched as the last two organic apples were plucked for the basket and the last one remained… one of the kids opted out of fruit entirely.

When I asked why no one was eating that apple, I was surprised to hear my 5 year old say, “Because it’s bad for you.” I was floored! I asked her how she knew. She said, “Because that one’s bigger, and shinier, and prettier, and looks fake. So I knew it had GMOs.” (Now, I don’t think there are any GMO apples yet, but she was right that it was grown using conventional farming including pesticides.) Pretty interesting response for a 5 year old. My 9 year old agreed that the apple looked fake and she knew it wasn’t organic so she didn’t want to eat it. But they both continued to ask me more questions about GMO’s. So that’s what we did for our science lesson today….

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Let me share with you the information I taught my children today.

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. The two main types of GMO’s are:

herbicide resistant (BT herbicide)

and

insect resistant (RoundUp)

But what does that mean? What IS a GMO?

Genetically engineered crops, or what we’ve started calling GMOs, typically have genes from other organisms inserted into their DNA. The most popular ones, like Roundup-resistant soybeans and insect-resistant corn, use genes from bacteria. What this means is that the DNA was altered to contain these herbicides/insecticides within the plant as a way to prevent pests or weeds from killing them.

The question I have to ask you is: If the plant is genetically altered to contain one of the most toxic chemicals of our lifetime right inside, a genetic modification so powerful that it can kill pests or weeds without even being sprayed because the chemical is now INSIDE of every seed… Then how in the WORLD do you think the food it grows is SAFE? How could that even be POSSIBLE?

One more time…. Seeds are being MODIFIED with insecticide and herbicide so that when the seed is planted and grows into a plant, insects and weeds that touch that plant are killed. And we are EATING that plant.

Let’s look at this timeline:

In 1935, DNA was discovered.

In 1973, the first recombinant DNA was created.

In 1982, the FDA approved the first GMO product, a drug called Humulin. This is insulin produced by a strain of genetically engineered E.coli bacteria.

In 1994, the first GMO food hit supermarket shelves when the US was introduced to the Flavr Savr tomato. This tomato was engineered to ripen late so that it would stay fresh longer, even after picked off the plant.

In 2003, a Bt-toxin-resistant caterpillar was found eating a bunch of GMO BT cotton crops in the southern US. (**This means that in less than a decade the insects had already become resistant to these toxins!)

Currently, there are 169 MILLION acres of GMO crops in the US. That is HALF of all farmland in the continental US.

These insecticides and herbicides are linked to all kinds of chronic health problems including adverse neurological effects such as FOUR-FOLD increase of Parkinson’s disease, shortened attention span, memory disordered, and reduced coordination. They are also linked to reproductive problems including miscarriage; reduced infant development; birth defect; depression; and more forms of cancer than I can stomach to count.

An even more interesting note? Less than 1% of the world’s insects are considered pests. The other 99% play a pivotal role in our food chain and many are indispensable.

65 countries around the world require GMO labeling, not us. Why do you think that is? If you KNEW the food you were consuming had these toxins inside, would you still chose to buy it? Or would the GMO labeling guide you into buying different products to keep you family away from this perversion of DNA?

When Haiti experience it’s devastating Earthquake in 2010, Monsanto donated 475 TONS of seeds to help the farmers rebuild. Haiti is quite literally one of the poorest countries in the world. And do you know what these farmers thought about Monsanto’s seed? They were so aware of the dangers of a modified seed that they BURNED all 475 tons (60,000 seed sacks) so that it wouldn’t harm them. In Haiti, seeds are sacred. They are, as one Haitian woman stated, “a Gift from God.”

And I think she’s right. In Genesis, if you go to Verses 29-31, you can see that God’s design of everything was intentional, “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground- everything that has breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

God made no mistakes when he created each and every seed-bearing plant. He did not forget to add the pesticide genes or the herbicide genes. He looked at everything he created and said it was very good.

I don’t believe that we should alter DNA. I don’t believe that we should experiment with life that God created. GMO’s are organisms that aren’t produced by nature and have never been seen before. We don’t know the side effects of modifying organisms because we ARE NOT the master creator. What Monsanto has done by creating new organisms that weren’t created by God is that he has created side effects that are punishing us. Punishments like cancer in newborn babies, autoimmune disease in young adults, neurological disorders in children, shorter lifespans for everyone who lives and eats the food produced by commercial farming in the United States.

Currently, the following products are Genetically Engineered (GE) in the United States:

85% of corn

91% of soybeans

88% of cotton

75% of processed foods

So, for those who can’t afford to buy organic… Now I have a question for you…

Can you REALLY afford the cost of GMO’s?

For more information on GMO’s and GE foods, check out the following links:

http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/what-is-gmo/

http://enhs.umn.edu/current/5103/gm/harmful.html

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/10/05/has-any-company-ever-harmed-the-planet-more-than-this.aspx

http://www.naturalnews.com/037249_GMO_study_cancer_tumors_organ_damage.html

Bone Broth– Answering the why, how and how much :)

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I make bone broth– A lot. Some weeks I make a new batch everyday. A lot of people think it’s just so that I can make meals that taste better.. but the real reason is because of all of it’s glorious health benefits. While it’s true that most restaurants have stock simmering in their kitchens all the time so that they can have the best flavor for their plethora of dishes for customers… it’s not just taste that matters.

If you know much about gut health, then you’ve probably already heard a lot about bone broth before finding my post… Bone broth can improve digestion, allergies, immune health, brain health, and much much more. Bone broth is a wonderful source of minerals. It’s high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, glycerin, collagen, and amino acids like proline and glycine.

The Paleo Mom has a great explanation about the importance of proline and glycine:

“In addition, glycine is required for synthesis of DNA, RNA and many proteins in the body.  As such, it plays extensive roles in digestive health, proper functioning of the nervous system and in wound healing.  Glycine aids digestion by helping to regulate the synthesis and of bile salts and secretion of gastric acid.  It is involved in detoxification and is required for production of glutathione, an important antioxidant.  Glycine helps regulate blood sugar levels by controlling gluconeogenesis (the manufacture of glucose from proteins in the liver).  Glycine also enhances muscle repair/growth by increasing levels of creatine and regulating Human Growth Hormone secretion from the pituitary gland.  This wonderful amino acid is also critical for healthy functioning of the central nervous system.  In the brain, it inhibits excitatory neurotransmitters, thus producing a calming effect.  Glycine is also converted into the neurotransmitter serine, which promotes mental alertness, improves memory, boosts mood, and reduces stress.

Proline has an additional role in reversing atherosclerotic deposits.  It enables the blood vessel walls to release cholesterol buildups into your blood stream, decreasing the size of potential blockages in your heart and the surrounding blood vessels.  Proline also helps your body break down proteins for use in creating new, healthy muscle cells.”

Bone broth is also wonderful for preventing illness, and for treating illness. Bone broth is easily digested so that someone who is feeling under the weather doesn’t need to worry about getting all the right nutrition, and can instead focus on healing as the body easily absorbs all of those wonderful nutrients. It is truly a super food and is such a great immune booster. I try to consume as much as possible, with the optimal consumption being 3-4 cups per day.

So, how do you make bone broth? If you’re like me then you probably don’t have a whole lot of extra time on your hands. I turn to my trusty crock pot(s) to make my bone broth 🙂 You can use any kind of bones that you want, but I don’t recommend mixing beef bones with poultry bones, etc. If you are using beef bones you can roast them in the oven first for about 30 minutes on 375– This step isn’t necessary though, and I rarely take the time to do this and I always have excellent broth.

I use an 8 qt crockpot and this is how my recipe works out:

*Chicken/turkey carcass or 1-2 pounds of bones
*3-4 stalks of celery
*3-4 carrots (if buying organic, you don’t need to peel them and you can leave the ends and all)
*1-2 onions (I always use 2… You can chop this up but throw in the peels and ends and everything)
*1 tbsp of peppercorns
*2 bay leaves
*Fresh parsley
*Splash of Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar- I like Bragg’s (this helps pull out the marrow from the bones.. don’t worry! This doesn’t create a sour vinegar taste in the broth)
*4-5 garlic cloves, smashed for the last hour of cooking

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Put all of the above ingredients into your crockpot, and then cover with filtered water so that the bones/veggies are covered 1-2 inches above them. Cook on low for 12-24 hours. Don’t salt while cooking, wait until you use the broth as it condenses as it cooks 🙂

I usually find that with poultry, the bone broth is delicious in 12 hours (although cooking it longer certainly doesn’t hurt anything and brings out more of the flavorful marrow), but the beef bones generally take 24 hours or longer to get a rich tasting broth. When your broth is done cooking, remove all vegetables and bones. Then strain through a sieve. You can strain through cheesecloth if you prefer to get all the herbs out of the broth, but I’ve found that this removes a lot of the gelatin, which contains a lot of the nutritional value we want in our bone broth.

Here’s what your broth ingredients should look like going in and then what it looks like after 12 hours of cooking:

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And I can’t stress this last point enough… Make sure to let your broth COOL before placing it in the fridge (or freezer). Also, I strongly recommend you use glass storage containers/jars instead of plastic.

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I, of course, opt for Mason jars ❤