Captain Jack and Running Kristen: Superheroes for SMA

RunningKristen.jpg

Kristen Resendez made a career out of loving all things healthy and fit.

Her “Running Kristen” social media accounts were sensational – inspirational – motivational – and attainable for people of all shapes and sizes. At only 23 years old, she was changing people’s lives through her personal training and healthy lifestyle encouragement for more people than she could count.

Little did she know, on her 24th birthday, an even greater purpose would be given to her. The beginning of a whole new life – a life that would make an even bigger difference on the world than she ever imagined.

“I found out on my 24th birthday that I was expecting a baby. It was a bit of a surprise.”

KristenPregnant.jpg

Though she would be a single mom, Kristen knew without a doubt that she wanted to go forward with the pregnancy. She knew this baby must be something special. She knew she was chosen to be this baby’s mom for a reason.

“The pregnancy seemed normal as far as the doctors were concerned. I was young, I was healthy. The baby was young, the baby was healthy.”

A baby reveal party with friends and family unveiled that this sweet baby was a boy. A boy Kristen would name Jack Oliver Resendez.

However, Kristen never could have predicted how her happiness and anticipation would so quickly turn into worry and concern.

“When you see friends online, and other viral videos of babies shifting in tummies, I actually never had that. Ever. I could feel Jack moving internally, but it wasn’t ever anything dramatic.”

KristenPregnant2.jpg

“I remember being at my 34-week appointment, and the doctor asked me how frequently I felt the baby move. When he asked me that, I kind of paused, and sat there. I said, “Well, I haven’t really felt anything in a couple days, actually.” I just didn’t know I was supposed to be keeping track – but keep in mind, this was my first pregnancy, and though 24 isn’t too young, I just had never been in this situation before.”

The doctor immediately ordered a sonogram for baby Jack. But confusingly, Jack’s vitals seemed normal. Strong heartbeat, perfect measurements, nothing out of the ordinary. They moved forward with no answers, with the only explanation being that Jack must be just “sleepy.”

“When he was finally born, he was beautiful. Full head of hair. He was moving. He was just perfect.”

BabyJack.jpg

A blonde, blue-eyed, handsome Jack. A thrilled, glowing, happy mom. Still oblivious to the lack of movement that occurred in the womb.

But at 3 weeks old, Jack began to lose mobility in his arms and legs.

“I remember around 4 weeks old, we went to a family birthday party. Two of my cousins work in children’s therapy, and they pointed out to me that he wasn’t trying to hold his head up. They suggested I do more tummy time with him. So the next day, I attempted it, and Jack just kind of laid there – limp – face down on the floor.”

Kristen took Jack to the doctor the following week for what she thought was the onset of a cold. She told the pediatrician about Jack’s lack of movement, that his shoulders were starting to look a little different, more “curled in.”

“The pediatrician picked up Jack’s arm and let go of it, just to see what would happen. Normally, when you pick up a baby’s arm and then let go, the baby will pull back, or resist. But when she let go of Jack’s arm, it fell flat on the floor. So we were referred to a neurologist the next day.”

They spent the next 3 days in the PICU at a McAllen, TX hospital. Blood work, brain scans, EKGs, EEGs, MRIs, every test was run on baby Jack. 

Two weeks later, on October 14th, 2015, they got the call.

“We were told to come in immediately. And when you get that kind of call, you know it’s not good news.”

They sat down in the doctor’s office, and he revealed the news.

"Jack has SMA."

SMA, spinal muscular atrophy, is a neuromuscular disease that causes the wasting away or cellular degeneration of muscles. It robs people of physical strength by affecting the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord, taking away the ability to walk, eat, or breathe.

It is the number one genetic cause of death for infants.

And there is no cure – yet.

“There’s 4 different types of SMA. Type 4 is when you can walk, but with weakness. Type 3 is when you can’t walk. Type 2 is when you are only able to sit unassisted and hold your head. Type 1 is when you’re not able to hold your head or sit unassisted.”

Jack is Type 1.

“With somebody that’s as severe as Jack, it’s life threatening. When we feel a tickle in our throat, we can just cough. Jack doesn’t have that ability. So that explained what the "cold" was that I thought he had a couple weeks earlier. It wasn't a cold. He just didn't have the strength to clear his own throat.”

The doctor told Kristen and her family to simply go home, and try to make Jack as comfortable as possible.

He predicted Jack only had about 5-6 months to live.

KristenJackBaby.jpg

“I was just in shock. But I like to think I’m a problem solver. That’s just how I am. So when the doctor was telling us that, I was just thinking about what I could do, or if there was anything else to do.”

Prior to her pregnancy, Kristen lived in the DFW metroplex, attending the University of North Texas, along with personal training and fitness motivating as “Running Kristen.” Because of that, she had connections with several people in the medical field who were able to give her some direction.

“I didn’t know then that my time in Dallas before Jack was born was going to be so important. Every person in my life has been a miracle, and every person along the way has helped more than they would ever know. That’s how I feel about this whole thing. Everything was just a spiral of butterfly effects. I knew this person, who knew this person, who got us to this hospital, where we met the right doctor.”

Kristen was able to get in touch with a Dallas neurologist who made a special exemption to get Jack admitted into the hospital as quickly as possible.

“Normally, clinics for kids with special needs are extremely hard to get into. They can be booked 6 months in advance. This neurologist told us that he didn’t have any clinic openings, but if we could get to Dallas in the next 24 hours, he would write us admitting orders and see us in the hospital the next morning.”

So that’s what they did. Kristen, Jack, and her parents packed up their van and left, making the 8-hour drive from Harlingen to Dallas that very night.

Once admitted to the hospital, Kristen received all of Jack’s life-saving equipment.

InHospital.jpg

A BiPAP, a cough assist machine, a mucus suction machine, an oxygen level and heart rate monitoring machine – the whole nine yards. They even gave Jack a g-tube to administer food. Medical professionals were able to train Kristen and her parents in how to use all of the equipment on their own at home.

If having the chance to receive all of this equipment wasn’t encouraging enough, Jack was also accepted into a drug trial for SMA children on January 6th of 2016.

And on October 14th, 2016, exactly one year since Jack’s diagnosis, (and living much longer than doctors predicted), Jack started an extension of the trial, where doctors promised the drug to Jack without the option of being in a placebo group.

1stbday.jpg

“He’s showing improvements!” said Kristen. “He’s actually picking up his left leg in the air right now. He doesn’t even know that he’s doing it quite yet. So this is a very exciting time for us and for the families of kids with SMA. Because right now, in this trial opportunity, we could be the ones who are the trailblazers in finding the cure.” 

Though hope surrounds this drug trial for Jack and his family, the life in between injections is still one of immense difficulty. In fact, Kristen says that at times, she has to put her mommy heart aside, put her honorary nurse hat on, and perform interventions that are necessary to save her son’s life.

“Sometimes situations with him happen physically and medically where I have to forget that Jack is my child, and I go into nurse mode."

InHospital2.jpg

"Some of the things I’ve had to do to save his life can be very difficult, things I wish I didn’t have to do, but parents of kids with SMA simply have to do these things, no matter how torturous they seem, if they want their child to survive.”

“I mean, if one of your children was choking on a chicken nugget, or a piece of fruit, would you just sit there and cry? Or would you do something about it? It’s important for any parent to realize that, even though it is your child, and it’s something that’s hard to do, you have to take yourself, the parent, out of the situation, and get done whatever needs to get done. Because what’s the alternative? Them being gone?”

“I don’t regret any life-saving thing I’ve done with Jack. He’s still here. He’s still happy.”

Kristen says she has big hopes and dreams for Jack.

Though SMA is a physically deteriorating disease, there are many people who live with it and thrive, contribute to society, even get married and have kids.

“I have big dreams for Jack. Because you know, even though Jack has physical limitations, his intelligence is not compromised. Jack’s brain is like your son Hugh’s brain, Hannah. It’s a normal, perfect, functioning brain. He can learn just like any other child. It’s just that his point of view is very different.”

“I’ve chatted with kids on Facebook who have severe SMA, who can only communicate with their eyes. There is a software that syncs up a keyboard with their pupils, and they’re able to type that way, which is so cool. For SMA kids to have so many limitations, they’re happy as can be. They appreciate the life that they do have. And that gives me hope, knowing that if Jack’s body ever did go downhill even more, that I will have not made the wrong decision, and that he will want to continue this life, no matter what state he is living it in.”

“My ultimate dream is for him to just have as normal of a life as possible. I’d love for him to grow up and play with friends. To go to school. And this might seem small, but I’d just love for him to be able to give me a hug one day. You know?”

Kristen and Jack have now been an active part of the sma community for over a year. 

She has realized, throughout this time, that her passion has evolved from what once was physical fitness for healthy people, to physical improvements for people with SMA. Her heart has produced a longing to advocate for other families who also have to experience the struggles of this disease.

“I’d love for Jack and I to travel and speak to families. Bring awareness to this disease. I love to help people. I love to talk. I love to public speak. I feel very blessed to know so much about this at such a young age, so advocating for Jack, advocating for other families, advocating for SMA, is something I so passionately want to pursue.”

Throughout our entire conversation, Kristen expressed nothing short of gratitude – especially towards her parents.

“I know this life can be so difficult and I can’t speak for every family who is going through this too, but I just know that I am very blessed to have the parents that I do. They help put food in Jack’s tummy. They help put a roof over Jack’s head. We take him on vacation. We’ve had a lot of fun going to the SMA yearly conferences - last year at Disneyland in California and this year will be at Disneyworld in Florida. It’s the happiest place on earth, and this happy place is also very wheelchair friendly, so he can participate in rides. If it weren’t for my parents, I wouldn’t be able to do those things for him.”

Kristen described her life as an SMA mom with such grace. She never once expressed fear, doubt, self-pity, or defeat.

When I pointed that out to her, her response was profound.

“When we first got diagnosed, I thought to myself that this had to be the worst thing that could have ever happened to my child. But after being in and out of the hospital so much - seeing kids with no legs walking happily with prosthetics, or kids with extreme physical deformities who are happy and thriving - I just can’t help but be grateful and feel blessed. I’m lucky to have Jack. I’m so happy to be his mother. And I’ve come to realize that this isn’t a mistake. I was given Jack because God knew I could take care of Jack. I feel honored to have been chosen for this.”

Jack, Kristen, and her family will be traveling back and forth from Harlingen to Dallas every 4 months for the drug trial for the next couple years.

While insurance doesn’t cover the travel, or the diapers that Jack will wear for many years, or Jack’s pricey g-tube diet, and only partially covers certain medical equipment, Kristen says she is so blessed that the pharmaceutical company facilitating the trial pays for the drug, hotel stay, and hospital bills in full.

“For people or families who are dealing with SMA, I think it’s so important for others to simply remind these families that they’re not alone. That you’re there for them. Because any little thing that anybody does is such a big thing. I know SMA homes can be fragile to be in, but just call ahead of time, bring them a Starbucks or a pizza, and just hang out. Sure, we all get busy, we get caught up in our own independence, but we really just need our friends and family in times like this.”

Kristen and Jack – the world admires your strength. Your hope. Your tenacity to persevere, to have a hand in finding a cure, and to make a difference in the lives of so many others in the process.

I know you've made a big difference in mine.

For now,

GO, JACK, GO!
RUN, KRISTEN, RUN!
Keep kicking SMA’s ass. We’re all cheering for you.

To support this family, click here.

To follow Captain Jack's journey to a cure, click here.

DIY Natural Foaming Hand Soap

Conventional soaps will only leave your hands dirtier.

But not this one that you can make at home! So, read on and bear with me.

"What in the world does she mean?" you may ask. "We've been taught all our lives to clean our hands with soap, how would doing that make our hands dirtier?"

Good question - let me enlighten you.

A common toxic ingredient found in most store bought foaming hand soaps is sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS.

This is a chemical that allows the soap to lather, and come into more direct contact between the product and the desired area.

Common use of store bought foaming hand soaps containing SLS can not only put your current health situation at risk, it can also affect your health situation in the long run. 

This toxic chemical has been studied by the American College of Toxicology, and found that it can cause reactions such as:

-Skin irritation
-Corrosion of the skin
-Hormonal imbalances
-Cellular disturbances

Ummmm.....what? Gross.

And sure, that's all great and wonderful that it's been "studied" that it causes problems like that. But, how exactly does it even work? What's the damaging process that causes such issues?

Well, let me tell you.

Your skin is extremely absorbent, meaning it will soak up every ingredient - both good and bad - from every product you apply topically. 

Those ingredients will then transfer into your blood stream and body systems. And as they fester into your system, the toxic ingredients, like SLS, begin to attack your healthy cells, and negatively impact the way they were meant to function.

Plus, some of these foo-foo-fruity-loopy-ooh-la-la soaps are super expensive. So #sorrynotsorry, but I ain't buyin' anymore.

By simply tossing out your store bought foaming hand soaps and replacing them with something you can make, without the toxins, you will be saving money and protecting your wellness at the same time. NO BRAINER, people!

DIY NATURAL FOAMING HAND SOAP

Ingredients:

Empty Bottle with Foaming Pump

2 Tbsp Unscented Castile Soap

1 Tsp Fractionated Coconut Oil

10 Drops YL Thieves Essential Oil

Distilled Water

I found the castile soap and fractionated coconut oil at my local health food store. And I simply went to my local dollar store and bought a foaming hand soap to dump out and use for this recipe. Super cheap, and super easy.

Directions:

Rinse and clean the bottle that you'll use before adding ingredients. Add in castile soap, fractionated coconut oil, and drops of YL Thieves essential oil into the bottle. Fill the rest of the bottle with distilled water. Mix well. Seal the bottle with the pump applicator and shake well before using.

To give you a little idea of how much money you'd be saving:

  • $5.00 (average) - Conventional Store Bought Foaming Hand Soaps
  • $2.45 - Price of this DIY Natural Foaming Hand Soap
  • $2.55 - SAVINGS!

Though saving a couple bucks might not seem like a lot, saving your body from the harmful toxins is priceless.

To order your own bottle of YL Thieves essential oil, click here to get it for 24% off.

Natural Homemade Baby Powder. Or "The Crotch Duster."

Attention to ALL WHO NEED BABY POWDER in their daily routine!

Moms of Babies.

Dudes. 

Gals.

You name it - someone in your family religiously uses this white, sprinkly, soft, messy stuff - making life so much easier, and less, well, "raw."

While baby powder is one of the best things since sliced bread considering the fact that it conveniently keeps you dry, prevents chafing, and soothes irritated skin - the hidden dangers in store bought baby powders are actually quite frightening.

One of the main ingredients in most conventional products is talcum powder - that, of which, contains a highly toxic ingredient called talc.

Researchers have warned the general population of this toxin, as it has been studied and linked to multiple different types of health problems, including cancer. 

Don't believe me? Look it up.

Grab the baby powder you've been using on your infant son's hiney, the stuff your husband generously dusts into his underwear in the mornings, the stuff your teen girls sprinkle on their greasy hairline for a quick "dry shampoo" fix.

Look at the toxicity of the brand you're using in your home on the "Think Dirty" app for your smart phone. And if seeing the results doesn't scare you enough to toss that crap - I don't know what will.

So, what's the natural solution? I've found it! It's natural, talc-free, and quite easy to make yourself.

We'll simply call this recipe, "Healthier Hannah's Natural Baby Powder."

Or if you're a gal, and that 'supermodel thigh gap' simply isn't a part of the beautiful body shape God perfectly designed just for you, we'll call it "Fairytale Mermaid Sprinkles."

Or if you're a guy, we'll just bluntly call it "The Crotch Duster." 

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp White Kaolin Clay

2 Tbsp Arrowroot Powder

5 Drops YL German Chamomile Essential Oil

5 Drops YL Lavender Essential Oil

Directions:

In a small container, add white kaolin clay and arrowroot powder. Drop in designated amounts of YL essential oils. Mix well with spoon. Apply on desired areas. When finished, cover powder in container or store in a separate shaker bottle.

I was able to find the clay and powder on Amazon with no problem. However, DO NOT purchase the essential oils on Amazon! That can be extremely dangerous, as it is not coming from the company directly. Instead, buy them here with a 24% discount. 

I'll be honest - I'm not much of a DIY person. The convenience of buying something like this pre-made has always been the route I took in the past - UNTIL I EDUCATED MYSELF.

Now, if it means that I have to spend literally two minutes creating a baby powder for my son that will eliminate his exposure to a harmful cancer-causing toxin - YOU BET I'LL TAKE THE TIME MAKE THIS STUFF.

Don't you agree?

Natural Throat Soothing Tea

Naveen_Frog_transparent.png

I woke up this morning, and a frog had moved into my throat.

Or was it a horned toad?

It legitimately packed its bags, settled into the top of my esophagus, and has put in a request to pay rent on the 15th of the month.

Well, guess what, my annoying little metaphorical amphibian friend. You're not welcomed. And you're about to get evicted.

Today is a big day for this momma. Some exciting new ventures that are going to require me to be talking to folks, being on the phone A LOT - on top of taking care of two sweet babies, who require my full attention, to breast feed or to sit and watch their living room interpretive dances to a Maren Morris song. 

Either way - being healthy, strong, and able to tackle today, of all days, is extremely important right now.

Every time I need any sort of immune support, I always take the road less traveled and go down the natural path first.

And when it comes to my throat, I've found my favorite natural combination of herbs and essential oils that allow me to tackle the day.

FullSizeRender (1).jpg

Natural Throat Soothing Tea

Ingredients:

1 Cup Hot Water

1 Bag of Throat Coat Tea

2 Tbsp Honey

2 Drops YL Lemon Vitality Essential Oil

2 Drops YL Thieves Vitality Essential Oil

2 Drops YL Frankincense Vitality Essential Oil

1/4 Tsp Cayenne Pepper

(TOTALLY OPTIONAL AND DON'T FREAK OUT) - 1/2 Shot of Whiskey

Now, again, before you flip a lid and wonder why whiskey is involved - no, it's not because I'm wanting to get a buzz. Whiskey, in very small amounts, is a timeless ingredient used for ages to sooth throats in hot tea. I've used this recipe many times, and always feel a much better difference when I add a small splash of whiskey to the mixture. And hey - if you don't want to do that - totally cool, my friend! It's all personal preference.

The main ingredients that make this tea work the way it does - is the YL essential oils. Those are the only ones I would EVER use to drink in my tea, as they're the only ones I'd ever remotely trust to take internally, because I know all about how they are sourced and created. Thieves, Lemon, and Frankincense are highly powerful in supporting the immune system, and always leave my throat feeling refreshed and renewed when I drink drops in my tea.

Directions:

Steep tea bag into cup of hot water for 1 minute. Add in drops of YL vitality essential oils. Mix in honey and whiskey. Add a dash of cayenne pepper and mix well. Drink and enjoy!

Order your YL essential oils for 24% off here.

God's love stories are way better than a Nicholas Sparks book.

They say there's nothing more romantic than a Nicholas Sparks book.

I beg to differ.

Maybe it's because I'm biased about our love story - or maybe it's because something like this could have never been orchestrated by man. Only God could write a story such as this.

"Before you were formed

in your mother's womb,

I knew you..."

Jeremiah 1:5A

When my mom was a single, 24-year-old baby Christian, she attended a church revival meeting. In this meeting, a woman went to the alter, asking for prayer that the Lord would grant them the ability to have children.

The leader of the meeting prayed over them, and then said out loud to everyone in the room, "together they will have one boy, and will have one girl." Everyone cheered, receiving that word from God as perfect truth even before it came to pass.

Six months later, my mom went to the grocery store, and saw that very same woman in the distance - the woman, too, was shopping for groceries, but with a cute little pregnant belly. Mom never saw her again, but what a testament of faith it was for my mom, who was praying to have her own husband and family one day, too. 

"For I know the Plans

I have for you,

declares the Lord..."

Jeremiah 29:11a

Fast forward to about 16 years later, when I was 12 years old. One of my elderly aunts sat me down in her living room, with a very serious look on her face, to tell me about a dream.

She went to bed one night, and in vivid detail, the Lord showed her who my husband was. She described the way he looked, his height, his talents, and even his demeanor - a description that allowed me to paint a beautiful picture in my mind of who he could be.

Of course, my 12-year-old heart was filled with joy to know what God had in store. But, growing up as a teenager and young adult, it became easy to get blinded by distractions. Though, in the back of my mind, I would always look at any boyfriend I had at the time and think, "is this him? Is this the man my aunt saw in her dream?"

But no. There was always at least one thing that didn't line up with what she saw. So even as badly as I hoped and wished I'd found the one, I never did. 

"...Plans to prosper you,

and not to harm you.

Plans to give you a hope,

and a future."

Jeremiah 29:11B

Seven years later, when I was a 19-year-old college student, this random guy named Blaine sent me a friend request on Facebook. He immediately messaged me, explaining he realized that we were both born and raised in the same hometown, but we had never once seen or met each other before.

I responded back sparingly, probably pretty short and rude to him - but he kept pursuing me on social media for years. He kept trying to talk to me, to reach out to me, and to even meet me - but I never gave him the time of day. 

Finally, one day 4 years later, when I was a 23-year-old TV newscaster, he sent me a direct message on Twitter. And, in typical Blaine fashion, he said "Hey. You should really respond to me. I am around a lot of chicks all the time as a musician but for some reason I'm drawn to you and I don't know why. Just call me once."

Now, normally, I'd consider that a total turn-off, and it'd give me more of a reason to ignore this weirdo - but, I actually found it hilarious, and quite intriguing. 

So, I did. I called him while driving home after doing the 10:00pm newscast at work. And the moment he picked up the phone and said "Hello," something supernatural happened to me.

"...My ways

are higher than your ways,

and my thoughts

are higher than your thoughts."

Isaiah 55:9B

I felt like I got struck by lightning.

My heart felt like it was going to pound out of my chest, my vision got blurry, yet a strange overwhelming sense of peace flowed through my entire body. I had to pull over on the side of the road to finish the phone conversation, because this physical feeling I was experiencing was by far nothing I had ever gone through - it was so different, so foreign, yet I knew it was something spiritual. I was utterly, and completely, mesmerized by Blaine's voice alone - the sound of the voice of a man I'd never met in my entire life. 

The next day, I went to my mom's house (who is in her 50's now, married with 3 children including me), and I told her about Blaine. I told her what happened to me on the road that night - I told her how strange it was for me to feel something so overwhelming, because I had never been so swooned by anyone like that before.

As we went through his Facebook pictures, the second most unbelievable thing happened - this time, it was my mom who experienced it.

"...for God is greater

than our hearts,

and he knows everything."

1 John 3:20B

We suddenly came across a picture of Blaine's family. And the moment the picture appeared on the screen, my mom gasped.

I looked over at her, and she sat there - still, mouth wide open, unable to get words out for a few seconds. She then pointed to the screen at the woman standing next to Blaine. She said, "Hannah, honey, that's the woman I saw at the revival meeting. That's the woman who wanted children! How old is Blaine again?"

When I told her, she said "Hannah, when I saw that woman again at the grocery store a few months later, it was Blaine she was pregnant with! It was him! It's got to be!" 

Mom and I then revisited the dream my aunt Evelyn had about my future husband when I was 12. We went through all of the features and characteristics of what she saw. All of the details, all of the mannerisms, the way he looked and the way he carried himself.

Blaine not only fit every single one of those details, he fit them to a tee. Perfectly. To the point that there was no question - this was him. This was my husband. 

Blaine immediately booked a flight for me to come visit him in Fort Worth. As instantaneous as our connection was during our first phone call, so it was when we met in person at the airport.

He looked at me, and he knew.

I looked at him, and I knew.

This was it. We found each other.

In the most unbelievable way.

The fact that God brought us together after growing up in the same hometown - having the same friends - socializing with the same circle of people - with the same spiritual upbringing. And yet, we never once knew each other - never once saw each other - never once crossed paths, for that many years? If that's not strange, I don't know what is.

We got engaged two months later, married 4 months after that, and surprisingly pregnant 5 months after the wedding.

It's been a whirlwind to say the least - a blessed road, a difficult road, a road of so much love and many struggles, too.

But honestly, I wouldn't expect anything less. If the Lord so beautifully and intricately intertwined our love story in this way, even before we were conceived in our mothers wombs, it's because the plans He has for us are far beyond our own. 

God is in control of every single detail of your lives, friends. His plan for you is just as thought out, just as special, just as important, and just as powerful.

Allow God to write your love story, too. His script is way better than "The Notebook," anyway.

5 Reasons Why Guys are Skeptical of Natural Remedies

10.jpg

Let’s state the obvious here. Guys are so different than girls.

Maybe that’s why opposites attract, why iron (man) sharpens iron (woman), why a husband and wife balance each other out in a marriage.

So take a wild guess. Which one (the guy or the girl) is more likely to try natural remedies for wellness and support?

Yup, it’s the girl. And that’s just the way it is.

Now, why is that? What is it about women that’s more receptive to start using natural remedies for their family’s health, yet it’s commonly difficult to convince the man that this is a good idea? This is a roadblock that most women have faced with their husbands, boyfriends, or significant others, including with me and my family.

I’ve interviewed my husband (Blaine), my brother-in-law (Thomas), and my father-in-law (Neville) concerning this very issue. All are very different in personality and age. However, they had one thing in common: they ALL made fun of us girls during our shift to the natural side.

After speaking with all three of them, here is a list of reasons why they didn’t hop on the “nature train” until it was already chugging at full-speed.

#1: Mainstream Advertising

Neville: “Whenever I got hurt playing sports in my younger years, or if I was ever in pain, I just used whatever everyone talked about. Slapped on whatever balm or pill was given to me. And it was usually the most popular, doctor-recommended and advertised meds. We’ve been pounded with these mainstream medicine advertisements all of our lives to take this pill, take that pill.”

Blaine: “I always just used whatever was around. If I was in pain, I’d ask for your normal over-the-counter pain pill. It’s just ingrained in you.”

Thomas: “Most meds appear and seem more widely accepted and researched since you hear about it more and since you know more about it.”

If it’s on TV, in magazines, on billboards, or on display at the doctor’s office, more people are likely to use it. Just like anything that fights for more attention, it’ll get more attention. After all, that is a marketing/advertising professional’s job, is to make the product look more appealing and better than any other competitor. 

#2: Side Effects? Who Cares, It Works!

Neville: “Most of the time, drugs worked for me. We don’t pay a lot of attention to consequences or side effects to using drugs. As long as it helped my pain, I didn’t care. The consequences and side effects of chemically-filled medications were secondary to the fact that it relieved my pain.”

Blaine: “I think people now are so accustomed to hearing ‘side effects may include’ and the long list that occurs after. Most people don’t know of many who have actually suffered horrible side effects to a drug, so you don’t really think about it. You just take it.”

Thomas: “Yes you’re taking a leap of faith with all of the side effects of many medications. But for me it worked, and didn’t cause problems, so it didn’t really matter.”

We’ve all seen the commercials. The beautiful woman frolicking in a meadow, dancing around flowers, trees, and wildlife, and acting as if her seasonal allergies aren’t bothering her one bit because of a pill she took. Then we hear the narrator talking (very quickly, I might add) about what the side effects may include (nausea, abdominal pain, headaches, increased risk for stroke, and in some cases….death, etc.). Yet, she looks so happy and so beautiful, surely we’ll be just as happy as her if we take that medication! Isn’t it funny how people are more apt to grab a bottle of chemically-filled meds with long lists of side effects, but natural remedies are held at arms length?

#3: Resistance to Change

Neville: “Of course, I’m not the type of person that is real receptive to change, at least that’s just how I am.  I don’t even try new stuff when I go to a restaurant, I order the same thing every time. I think I can speak for a lot of guys who believe that if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. If we find something that works, we’re going to stay with it.”

Blaine: “Most people think the ‘chemicals’ in medication are what helps them. I think it was hard for me to believe that the natural remedies could work the same if not better for my ailments.”

Thomas: “I was always just more comfortable with other over the counter meds. I knew what worked for me, and I just wanted that alone. And if I know it works, why would I change it?”

Anything new is unfamiliar. And when it’s unfamiliar, most of the time guys aren’t interested. They love continuity, they love being comfortable with things that are familiar to them. So is most things in life, but concerning natural remedies, that’s in a whole different category of unusual. That’s why people are most comfortable using their favorite meds and hesitant to try something natural. They’re afraid it won’t work as well, won’t bring the same effect, or that they simply won’t like it as much.

#4: Dude, Quit Being Weird.

Neville: “Guys don’t just sit around together and say ‘Oh, use this plant, man.’ You won’t go into a sports bar and hear a guy say ‘Hey man, did you try that natural remedy out?'”

Blaine: “It just sounded very voodoo-ish to me at first. I mean, I’ve just never heard of using natural remedies for wellness. I’ve seen people use essential oils as fragrances or perfumes, or to be anointed with at church - but using plants for anything beyond that was just odd to me.”

Thomas: “It was definitely outside the box. To me, it pretty much fell in line with the braiding of the armpit hair kind of thing.”

Clearly, natural remedies are out of the comfort zone for some guys. If they are not familiar with the product, it’s not something they are too comfortable talking about with their buddies or trying out themselves. Many who use holistic approaches are commonly viewed with the stigma of being “hippie-like,” overboard, or just flat out weird. But like anything that is not popular or widely accepted, there is going to be hesitance, criticism, and false assumptions.

#5: Lack of Knowledge

Neville: “To be honest, I’ve never even heard of people using natural remedies in this day in age, not until recently. Even once I started reading about them, it didn’t do much for me until my daughter experimented on me.  And that’s what got me.  When the women get us to use it, and if it works, then we’ll become faithful to it. It said something to me when I had my own personal experiences.”

Blaine: “I’ve always been open to alternative stuff, but I started noticing that natural products were becoming more mainstream lately. For me, the lack of understanding, not really knowing that plants were created by God for our personal use to help our bodies, was something I just didn’t get until later.”

Thomas: “Men tend to be more logical buyers. They’re just logical thinkers in general. So to spend money on a product I didn’t really know about was hard for me to agree on.”

The reality of it is, most men have “see-it-to-believe-it” personalities, and it’ll take a little pushing to get them there. More than likely, they have not researched the power of essential oils, making them more hesitant to give them a try.

So what do you do if your man is simply not buying it? Show him the research. And most effectively, USE NATURAL PRODUCTS ON HIM! Let him be your guinea pig, and let him see for himself how nature can help his mind, body, and health.

So. What do our guys think about it now, you may ask? Are they all aboard the nature train?

Oh. They’re not only on board, they’re pulling other guys they know on this train too.

Who’s laughing now, gentlemen?

For more tips, tools, videos, and ideas on how to get your guys to try out nature for a change, connect with Healthier Hannah by clicking on the social media icons below and select "follow."

The Silver Lining: How to Quickly Reach Silver in Young Living

When you think of a “silver lining,” you think of:

Hope.

Promise.

Something that is attainable.

A feeling that pure bliss is just around the corner.

So let’s look on the bright side, my oily friends. What’s one of the most sought after goals for every new Young Living distributor?

You guessed it. Hitting “SILVER.”

Everyone who loves Young Living like I do has only dreamed of getting that Aroma Complete… nearly $2,000 worth of only the finest essential oils in the world. So what am I here to tell you? STOP DREAMING, PEOPLE! It’s not an “if only” or an “I wish,” it’s an “I can, and I will!”

It’s time to make this dream a reality, and I will tell you how. I will also tell you how to not only make this goal in 6 months, but to do so in 1 month. Here’s how we were able to do just that, and how we took advantage of every angle, resource, and avenue possible to accomplish it.

1) Embrace your Leadership

Starting on this Young Living journey was something I could not have done alone. Without our upline support guiding us, coaching us, and encouraging us along the way, we would have never seen the potential that this company had on changing our family’s financial future. And little did I know, they were not only teaching us the ins-and-outs of all things Young Living, but I was also learning to be a leader myself.

We have come to realize why Young Living has chosen the network marketing route to promote their products, because most people need guidance in using essential oils. How many of us would have known exactly what to do, which oil to use, how to use it, where to put it, or to utilize them to their full effectiveness? Unless you’re a super-genius, I think you would be like everyone else – lost.

The information overload is very intimidating at first. So because of this, Young Living has made sure that people buy their starter kits from someone they know, someone they trust, someone they feel free to talk to, ask questions, and share comments and discussions. And whether you like it or not, if you are a Young Living distributor and you get people to buy a starter kit as a wholesale member, you immediately step into that leadership role. So embrace it, and learn how to drive yourself and your team to heights that you never thought possible.

2) Hold Regular Essential Oil Classes

The highest success rate in getting people to sign up with a wholesale membership is during an Introduction to Young Living Essential Oils class. Although our world is slowly (and sadly) shying away from person-to-person, face-to-face contact, these personal group meetings are still the number one way to get people to sign up. And, if you want to hit Silver, you must be willing to hold these meetings regularly.

We also realized that in order for us to hit our goal quickly, we needed to travel. And a LOT. Now, I’m not saying you HAVE to travel from sea to shining sea in order to hit Silver in a month. However, I am saying that it worked that way for us. Between August and September of 2013, we taught or helped host over 10 home meetings in 6 different cities. 5 of them in Texas, 1 of them in Arkansas. And at every one of those classes, there was between a 60% and 100% successful sign-up rate.

How do you get these meetings booked? If you have a new wholesale member that has signed up under you, immediately offer to hold an introduction class for them at their home. Tell them to invite their friends, and for every friend who signs up with a Premium Starter Kit, the host could earn $50 per sign up. If this host lives in a different city, and it means that you’d have to travel a distance to do so, and if you have the capability to do it - then book it.

3) Take Advantage of Social Media

Social media is POWERFUL. So powerful, that another majority of people who I've personally enrolled are friends of mine on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Never underestimate the fact that many people are willing to ask, read information, inquire, and sign up all electronically, without ever having to call them on the phone or meet with them in person.

Posting your love for Young Living via social media on how these products improved your family’s wellness is also very crucial. This way, it reaches a broad spectrum of people; you never know who is willing to give the oils a try.

We first started out by genuinely posting our love for Young Living via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We simply shared with people how we used these oils in our daily lives, expressed our gratefulness, and declared our level of wellness with the world. Almost immediately, it was message, after message, after message, after message of people wanting to know more about the oils and products. As our businesses started to grow, we created a closed Facebook support group solely for our downline members to post their comments and questions. It became a sort of community, where someone in the group would respond to every post almost instantaneously. Having this group built morale, created camaraderie, and formed relationships that we never had before.

In short, don’t discredit Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube in growing your business. You may be surprised who is willing to give the oils a shot.

4) Identify your Business Builders

As you start signing folks up underneath you, you’ll begin to notice when someone starts sharing these oils with others, too. Once someone under you has started to enroll their own members with starter kits, you’ve been officially blessed with a potential business builder. In order to hit Silver, you MUST have at least two really good business builders, sharing their love of YL with others just like you are.

A business builder must also have the drive to understand the business aspect of Young Living, as well as product knowledge. As a leader, you must continue to feed that need by holding business meetings, giving them resources on products and compensation, and keeping in CONSTANT contact with them.

Without feeding the fire, the flame will slowly burn out – so don’t ever let it fade away in your business builders. Without them, you cannot move up in ranks. Encourage them daily to keep up the good work, and recognize their efforts openly with your other Young Living members. The key to building a strong downline is duplication. You must train and encourage your business builders to do the same thing you’re doing in order to see results, and ultimately hit Silver.

5) Strategically Placing

Many people use the term “strategically placing” in network marketing to symbolize the placement one of your new distributors underneath one of your business builders. In this, you would remain the enroller, but one of your business builders would be listed as the sponsor. However, understand that doing this is strategic, critical, and thoughtfully placed.

When it comes to strategically placing, we recommend ONLY doing so under your business builders. That’s it. If you place new members underneath someone who is not working the business, it will more than likely hinder your growth rather than maximize it. As my husband likes to say, you’d be putting them under a “dead leg.” If you notice one of your business builders is working incredibly hard and needs a little bit of encouragement, or is close to hitting a certain level, placing a new member underneath them could be something you can consider. 

In order to hit Silver, you must have an OGV (organization group volume) of 10,000, with two legs underneath you at 4,000, plus another 1,000 outside of those two big legs. So, although it can be highly beneficial to place people underneath one of your big business builders, it’s also important to continue signing people up directly underneath you, creating new potential legs. As you continue to move beyond Silver, you’ll need more business builders on your first level to hit even higher ranks.

6) Give God the Glory

This may not be the most conventional way to end a blog like this, but we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that without God’s help, we could have never hit Silver on our own. He is the One who brought people to us who needed these oils and products. He is the One who blessed us with business builders who have tirelessly persevered in growing their own businesses. And He is the One who deserves all the glory and honor for any and all accomplishments we have made. To us, it’s as simple as that. He gave us the drive, and He gave us the tools to succeed.

If you work to achieve all six of these tips, your chances of hitting Silver in 6 are not only possible, but undeniable. What once looked like a cloud of dreams will turn into a silver lining of hope. So grab a hold of the Son, and work victoriously!

For more tips, tools, videos, and ideas on how to grow your Young Living business, connect with Healthier Hannah by clicking on the social media icons below and select "follow."

Essential Oils for Pregnancy, Childbirth, Babies, and Motherhood

surprise.jpg

“SURPRISE! YOU’RE PREGNANT.”

That’s exactly how I felt as I sat staring at my EPT test in the Walgreen’s bathroom in September of 2013 – in total shock. 

Not the classiest way to find out you’re expecting your first baby, I know. But I was determined to show my teasing husband that the reason I was “late” was because my birth control was playing tricks on me, not because I was pregnant. And of course, I wanted to prove that to him before I got back in the car.

Boy, was I wrong.

As exciting as becoming a new parent can be, Blaine and I were also very scared. We met in October of 2012, got engaged two months after that, and were married four months after the engagement. So, it was safe to say that we wanted to wait a while to have kids - and a “while” for us meant “years” in our vocabulary.

When we found out we were expecting just five months after our wedding, it was definitely a huge moment of realization that our lives were about to change forever, yet again, so soon. But we also knew that to get pregnant despite the birth control, this child must be one very special baby.

Gratefully, we were introduced to Young Living Essential Oils just months before we found out we were expecting. I was able to experience first hand how these oils and products kept me healthy right away, and I was stoked to see how these oils would promote my new journey as an expecting mother.

Blaine and I also decided early on that we were going to do a 100% natural birth at our local birthing center. And so it began – using Young Living Essential Oils for pregnancy and childbirth.

PREGNANCY

You hear about it all – the roller coaster of horrors that can overtake a pregnant woman’s body for 40 weeks. But I have to say, my first pregnancy was one of the easiest and most enjoyable experiences of my life – and I credit Young Living Essential Oils for allowing it to be that way.

Due to the continual and persistent use of the oils, my comfort and wellness levels were through the roof AMAZING.

Here is a list of what Young Living Essential Oils I used while pregnant, and how I used them:

Stomach and Esophagus Support: Young Living Lemon and Peppermint essential oils. Applied Peppermint on my neck and chest. Drank 3 drops of Lemon Vitality and 1 drop of Peppermint Vitality in a large glass of water.

Muscle Support: Young Living Valor, Panaway, and Peppermint essential oils. Applied all three oils topically on desired areas.

Digestive Support: Young Living Citrus Fresh, Lemon, Orange, and Peppermint essential oils, and the Ningxia Red antioxidant drink. Drank 3 drops each of Citrus Fresh Vitality, Lemon Vitality, Orange Vitality, and 1 drop of Peppermint Vitality in a large glass of water. Drank 2-4 oz. of Ningxia Red daily.

Emotional Support: Young Living Joy, Lemon, Valor, Stress Away, and Peace & Calming essential oils. Diffused combination of 3 drops of each oil in the Home Diffuser. Applied oils to wrists, back of neck, and over the heart. Inhaled directly from the bottles.

Energy Boost: Young Living Peppermint, Lemon essential oils and Ningxia Red antioxidant drink. Applied Peppermint on temples and wrists. Drank 1 drop Peppermint Vitality and 3 drops Lemon Vitality in large glass of water. Drank 2-4 oz. of Ningxia Red daily.

Head Tension: Young Living Panaway, Deep Relief, and Frankincense essential oils. Applied on temples, forehead, neck, and big toe. Dropped 1 drop of Frankincense Vitality under the tongue.

Healthy Skin: Young Living Lavender and Frankincense essential oils. Applied directly on affected areas. Bathed with 10-15 drops of oils mixed in epsom salts.

Tummy Support: Young Living Peppermint essential oil. Applied directly under the nose and over abdomen. Inhaled directly from the bottle. Drank 1 drop Peppermint Vitality in large glass of water.

Overall Health: Young Living Ningxia Red antioxidant drink, Life9 probiotic capsules. Drank 2-4 oz. daily. Took 1 Life9 capsule at night. (side note: After the birth, one of my midwives asked if I drank Ningxia Red during my pregnancy – because my placenta was one of the healthiest and most beautifully intact placentas she’d ever seen. Pretty cool!)

Restful Sleep: Young Living Lavender, Peace & Calming, Valor, and Stress Away essential oils. Applied directly on feet, spine, forehead, and temples. Diffused 3 drops of each oil in home diffuser.

Stretching Skin Support: Young Living Gentle Baby and Myrrh essential oils. Applied daily on abdominal area, breasts and thighs.

“Blowing up like a Balloon” Support: Young Living Lemon, Copaiba, and Lemongrass essential oils. Applied directly to affected area.

CHILDBIRTH

When they say there’s no greater pain than childbirth – they’re exactly right. But there’s also no greater reward and no more beautiful, spiritual experience than the miracle of birth itself.

I went through 36 hours of pre-labor and early labor contractions - all of which were bearable, tolerable, and exciting to say the least, because we knew baby was on the way!

After the 34th hour of laboring at home, my midwife came over to check my progress. I was only dilated at a 2 and 40% effaced, and she said it was highly unlikely that I would have my baby within the next 24 hours.

However, two hours after she left, my water broke as I was sitting in the bathtub – and that’s when active labor went into a raging full force.

To make matters more interesting, it was also right in the midst of 5:00pm Fort Worth, Texas traffic, and our birth center was easily 45 minutes away (in a traffic-free drive). Not to mention, we had to stop for gas in the midst of the congested chaos, because we failed to fill up our car beforehand. Smart, huh?

Now this is where my memory starts to become fuzzy – what was 3 more hours until baby was born felt like 15 minutes in my recollection. By the time we got to the birth center, I was dilated at a 4, an within the hour I had dilated all the way to a 10. So you can only imagine the intensity it was as a first time mom with such a fast and furious active labor with no drugs. 

My midwives placed me on oxygen because I was failing to breathe properly during each contraction. They then had me sit in a horse-shoe shaped birthing chair, and told me to start pushing. 

I was exhausted, drained, and have never been so fatigued in my entire life. But it was at the exact moment of sitting in that chair when my every feeling “down there” completely ceased. I never even knew when I was contracting anymore, I just pushed every time I had the slightest ounce of energy.

My husband sat behind me, holding me up and supporting my back. Our entire family looked on as they prayed, recorded video, and encouraged me with their loving words. My midwife, doula, and 3 other midwives were speaking words of wisdom and praise, massaging me, checking baby’s heartbeat and monitoring my vitals. Our photographer was snapping photos of priceless moments that will forever be remembered. Praise and worship music was playing and the entire atmosphere shifted into one of glory to our Lord and Savior.

And just minutes later, our daughter Lace Avery Crews was born. A 6 lb., 14 oz,. 20 inches long, perfectly healthy baby girl, with her daddy’s eyes and her mommy’s nose. And to us, she was the most beautiful thing we had ever seen.

During the entire labor and delivery, my family was applying Young Living Essential Oils on me and diffusing in the room, and we even used oils on baby Lace immediately after she came out of the womb.

Along with the incredible support from all who were present, I also credit the success of my childbirth process to the amazing effects that these oils had on me and my daughter.

Here is a list of which oils were used during labor, delivery, and post partum:

Anointing Baby: Young Living Frankincense essential oil. Applied directly to the top of the head.

Anxious Feelings: Young Living Valor, Peace & Calming, Joy essential oils. Applied on temples, over the heart, back of neck, and wrists. Diffused 3 drops of each oil in home diffuser.

Back Support: Young Living Frankincense, Valor, Panaway, and Deep Relief essential oils. Applied directly on location of discomfort.

Breastfeeding (nipple ointment): Young Living Tender Tush. Applied directly to nipple areas immediately after every feeding.

Contractions (to help move things along): Young Living Clary Sage, Fennel, Ylang Ylang essential Oils. Applied on ankles and wrists.

Tummy Relief (baby): Young Living Dill, Gentle Baby, and TummyGize essential oils. Applied directly on baby’s stomach area, and neat on the bottoms of the feet.

Digestive Support: Young Living Citrus Fresh Vitality, Lemon Vitality, Orange Vitality essential oils, Ningxia Red antioxidant drink, ComforTone dietary supplement. Drank 2-3 drops of each oil in large glass of water. Drank 2-4 oz. of Ningxia Red daily. Took 2 ComforTone capsules daily.

Diaper Ointment: Young Living Tender Tush Diaper Ointment. Applied before every clean diaper.

Equilibrium Support: Young Living Peppermint essential oil. Applied down the neck and behind the ears. Added 5 drops in the bathtub during labor. Diffused 5 drops in the home diffuser.

Emotional Support: Young Living Bergamot, Gentle Baby, and Valor essential oils. Applied on the back of neck, wrists, temples. Diffused 3 drops of each in home diffuser.

Tummy Relief (for Mommy): Young Living Peppermint essential oil. Applied directly under the nose, on the chest, and stomach. Inhaled directly from the bottle.

Perineum Cleansing, Repair, and Support: Young Living Lavender and Frankincense essential oils, Lavaderm and Claraderm sprays. Added 2-3 drops of each oil in peri-bottle of warm water. Used after bathroom visits, and as often as needed. Sprayed Lavaderm and Claraderm after bathroom visits, and as often as needed.

Umbilical Cord: Young Living Myrrh and Frankincense essential oils. Applied directly to the umbilical cord before cutting, until it was done pulsating.

WHY YOUNG LIVING

Even though I used Young Living Essential Oils during a drug-free natural birth, I have many friends who also used Young Living Essential Oils at their hospital births too.

Using these oils and products throughout our entire pregnancy, labor, and delivery processes gave us peace of mind – knowing we were using genuine, 100% pure, therapeutic grade products that were safe and free of toxins for both mommy and baby.

I am beyond grateful to Young Living, the oldest and most researched oil company, who sets the standard of the essential oil community for the entire world. Our journey with these oils is far from over.

To order Young Living Essential Oils for 24% off, click here