Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Stuff I Love - Natural Edition

I'm a junkie, in case you didn't know.  Okay, maybe not as bad as some people, but I am a supplement/natural remedy/natural product junkie.  I finally put a name on it when I received my last shipment from Vitacost.  Josh laughed.

When other people go to the doctor, I go to the Internet.  I go on a search for something, anything that will keep us from going to the doctor's office. Not because we don't have insurance. We do. And it's really good insurance.  But I guess I just have a lot of faith in natural medecine and, well, less faith in modern medecine. Unless I suspect we need antibiotics, we don't go for any reason but regular check ups.  Granted, we've been really healthy.  But maybe it's all those supplements and natural remedies (?).

I'm not bashing the doctor's office. It's just not my preferred method of getting better.

There are some stellar, amazing products out there that I just love and this post is all about them- some Stuff I Love, Naturally.

First and foremost, my favorite toothpaste in the world:

Desert Essence Tea  Tree Oil toothpaste is amazing and when purchased from one of my favorite online retailers, it costs about as much as a fancy tube of whitening Crest but is far better for your teeth and gums and overall oral health.  Even my hygienist noticed a remarkable difference when I started using it, and that was before I had my braces and my teeth were harder to care for due to crowding.  My oral health is so much better since chucking the big name stuff.  Popular toothpastes are full of bad, bad stuff that dries your mouth out and creates an even worse environment.  Bacteria breed happily and profusely in dry mouths.

Another product I love, also by Desert Essence, is their Tea Tree Balm, sold in a little 1 oz pot.  I've had this pot for quite a while. A little dab will do ya with this amazing balm.  I put it on cuts and scrapes, bug bites, itches, almost anything skin related. It is a potent and natural alternative to typical antibacterial lotions. You can even put a tiny bit on facial blemishes.  This stuff is worth so much more than it sells for, in my opinion.

Everything I have tried by Desert Essence I love (except their dental tape- a bit too thick to be comfy for most people's mouths). Their lotions are paraben and SLS free and rich and creamy. They cost less than the lotion from Bath and Body Works and is far more natural and safer to slather on.   I also love their mouthwash- it's not sweet or harsh on the mouth.

With all this talk of tea tree oil products, I should mention that a bottle of tea tree oil itself is a must have. It's inexpensive and you can mix up your own toothpaste, mouthwash, and balms with it.  You can dab a little on a cotton swab or ball and apply it to bug bites. I even swab some directly on my gums once a week or so and then rinse with water or mouthwash.  It is a fantastic, all  purpose, healthy oil to have on hand.

I've never had any luck losing weight by drinking shakes, but since I'm not a breakfast eater, a good healthy shake is a great way to get some food into me when I'd rather not eat.  The best shake I've found at the most reasonable cost is Alive Pea Protein shakes, sold in both vanilla and chocolate. I love that they are soy-free and relatively low in sugar. Plus they are loaded with vitamins,minerals, and other great things like a veggie blend, orchard blend, and green blend.  Best of all, it leaves me satisfied for a long time.  I know Shakeology is all the rage now and I've heard great things about it. I just can't justify the cost when the Alive shake is such a great product at a third of the cost.  Also, I try to avoid soy, which is Shakeology's main protein component. Not knocking it, but the Alive shake is my preference.

One of the recent things I've grown to love is powdered peanut butter! I had heard of it, but couldn't imagine why you'd use it. I assumed it had as much fat and calories as regular peanut butter. Boy was I wrong!  Two tablespoons of powdered peanut butter has only 45 calories and 1.5 grams of fat... but tastes just like two big scoops of peanut butter in my morning shake. My local Walmart is now carrying it right alongside regular peanut butter, at about $4.50 a jar for 15 servings. Not too shabby and what a great way to save substantial fat and calories (though I have very few bad things to say about fat.)

I've long hated using commercially made deodorants due to the aluminum, among other nasty ingredients.  But frankly, none of the natural, aluminum free deodorants I've purchased have worked. At all.  They just make me feel wet and stinky.  The closest I've come to making my own deodorant is putting some rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and swabbing my underarms. This does work pretty well because it kills bacteria, but I find I need a little more protection as the day progresses.  In my search for something that could work, and be better for me, I heard about Nature de France deodorants. The reviews were the best I've ever seen for aluminum free deodorant so I decided to give it a shot.  I have to say, this is a fantastic natural deodorant. I still swab with alcohol first, then apply it.  No, it is still not quite as good as popular brands, but it is far better than anything else I've tried.  And even if I start feeling a little wet under the arms, I don't get stinky.

The last product I'll share may be a little controversial, as it involves hormones, but it's been a miracle for me.  I had a miscarriage several years ago at about 12 weeks gestation and it left my hormones totally out of control. Night sweats and hot flashes were the main symptoms.  I waited a while, assuming they would go away, but they didn't.  I did talk to my nurse/midwife about it and I asked if going on the Pill would help. I  was very leery to do this, but desperate to regain balance.  In the end, I took it for a month, then never again.  I did lots of research on what particular hormone imbalance I had and got lots of different answers.  So, perhaps this is bad, but I began some trial and error "research". I began with a progesterone cream, which is often touted as the "cure-all", but it didn't help me at all.  Then I stumbled upon Life-Flo Estriol-Care cream.  It got fairly high reviews and the information about the type of natural estrogen it employs deemed it very safe.  Again, I was desperate, so I ordered it.

And all I can say is, my night sweats are gone completely.  It worked instantly.  I still have a few hot flashes now and then, but typically only when I haven't used the cream.  I do not in any way want to diagnose someone else's problem, and I want to say, for the record, that I'm having a full physical and blood panel done soon, but this product has been amazing for me.  And I think it is little known.  However, I do find it interesting that I've seen it popping up more and more in recent information I've been reading on hormones. I'm extremely thankful for this product and it's is worth every penny!

So there you have it, a few of the things I LOVE!  All of these are available from Vitacost at great prices and some on Amazon too.  And I don't receive a penny for saying that.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Debate

I didn't watch the debate last night between Ken Ham (The Answers Man) and Bill Nye (The Science Guy). If you don't know what I'm talking about, it was a creation vs. evolution debate. Okay, I caught the last minute because in my search for some information via Google, I clinked on a link from the Answers in Genesis site and it rerouted me to the debate. Anyway, that's all I saw. The last minute, Bill Nye giving his closing statement.

Only a few of my facebook friends seemed to be watching, or making commentary on it anyway. None of my non-Christian friends made comments so I assume none of them were watching.  So here's what I think: we need to be careful how we come across when we talk about this debate. Because I fear this creation vs. evolution issue is one that hinders people from entering the kingdom of God- and not in the way you might think.

To be a born again Christian, you do not have to be a creationist.  You do not have to be young Earth.  You don't have to take Genesis literally.  In fact, all you must do is be born again. Believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins, repent of your sins, and make Him Lord of your life.

That is the gospel. That is salvation.  Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

After that, the Lord will deal with you as He wills, and your primary calling in life is to listen to Him.  If he wants to change you from an evolutionist, He will and He is more than able.

But first things first. You must be born again.

I feel, sometimes, that these debates put the cart before the horse. As a person who always took the creation of the world in six literal days by faith, sure, I have an easy time believing it's true.  And since then, I've learned a lot about science that, in my opinion, proves it is true.  It's fascinating how it all makes sense scientifically.  And yet, it takes faith. To believe in a Creator God, in Intelligent  Design, there will always have to be an element of faith.  Not blind faith, but faith none-the-less.

My fear is that our assurance of these things, either by faith, fact or a mixture of the two, leads us to arrogance.  Arrogance that we have all the answers and these evolutionists are idiots who refuse to believe.  We hear the same debate and are blown away that anyone could side with Bill Nye. In our opinion, he lost.  He failed. He's an idiot.  And we send that message all over social media and do you know what it does to lead anyone to Christ through the blood of the Lamb?

Nothing.  In fact, it seems to have the opposite effect. We are not wooing people with clever arguments and our assurance of truth... we are preventing them from entering the kingdom by our lack of love.  By our arrogance. By our failure to recognize that this all takes an element of faith, regardless of all the fact, and that the only way to faith is through Jesus Christ.  And the people we're trying to win with these creation vs. evolution arguments most likely do not have faith in Jesus Christ.  And we're sneering at them. Jeering at them.

I'd rather say, You know what, you don't have to believe in this to become a Christian. You can be an evolutionist and be a Christian.  Don't let this keep you out of the kingdom of God.

In closing, let me say this:

I owe a debt of gratitude to Ken Ham.  My science-smitten, engineer husband was an evolutionist in college.  He was persuaded to go to an Answers in Genesis conference on campus and what he heard astounded him and when he left and when he researched it, the science of creationism made sense to him. And that did lead him to the Creator, to a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.  He is personally passionate and extremely knowledgeable about Intelligent Design, having read scholarly works far more complicated than Ken Ham has ever written.  Because of this, I see a place for ministries like Ken Ham's. Because people do have questions and it's good to have intelligent answers.  The Lord can use these questions to draw people to Himself.

My concern is that our lack of love, grace, and compassion for those who lack faith is keeping them from the more important matter- their relationship with Christ. I realize it may take more faith to believe in evolution than creation for some of us, but there is a world out there dying without Christ.... I'm sorry, I think the issue is irrelevant when it comes to that. Let it be a path to Christ, but not the door.

"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;  But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."
1 Peter 1: 18,19