What a Small World!

I met Amy and her family through a mutual friend when she signed up for a mini session, but I’d actually “known” Amy long before that!  After our session, our mutual friend asked me if I’d ever read her blog, and though I’m usually horrible with names “Amy Scott” DID ring a bell.  “Wait a minute, she’s not Amy Scott from Amy’s Humble Musings, is she???!”  Sure enough, that’s exactly who she was!  Funny thing is, many years ago I’d actually emailed Amy about getting together some time, because I knew she lived in Kentucky.  Who knew it would take several more years before we would meet in person, and then I’d meet her without actually knowing who she was!!!

Amy’s family is just as beautiful, sweet and kind as they appear on her blog, and I wish we’d had more time to get to know each other!  Amy, thank you so much for allowing me to photograph your beautiful family!  I hope we can get together again some time in the future!


Once again, I want to express a HUGE “thank-you” to everyone who has already signed up for a mini session, and if you haven’t signed up for one but would like to, there is still time!!!  We’re trying to raise money for some things we desperately need to take care of (like the drain in our basement, which has collapsed and will cost an estimated $1500 to fix, among many other things!)  We could still use all the help we can get, so we’re extending the time period for mini sessions!  They can now be booked for ANY TIME within the next 24 months, if they are paid for between July and August of this year. The price is $100 for a 1 hour session in either Smiths Grove or Brownsville and includes a high resolution CD and full printing rights.  If you would like to schedule a mini session as a gift, we have beautiful gift cards you can present to friends and family members that make great birthday and Christmas presents and they can schedule a session at their convenience. Please pass this information along, and share with your friends!


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The Sewell Family

I met this beautiful family through a mutual friend when they signed up for one of our mini sessions (more info on that, below.)  Their kindness and generosity was evident right from the start of our session and the children were a pleasure to work with!  We took these pictures at The Garden Patch, in Smiths Grove, which is becoming one of my favorite places for pictures!   If you’ve never been there, you really ought to check it out, it’s a really great family-friendly place to take kids and there is always something fun to see and do there!

Thank you, Sewell family, for your kindness and generosity and for allowing me to photograph your beautiful family!  More to come, soon!



I want to express a HUGE “thank-you” to everyone who has already signed up for a mini session, and if you haven’t signed up for one but would like to, there is still time!!!  We’re trying to raise money for some things we desperately need to take care of (like the drain in our basement, which has collapsed and will cost an estimated $1500 to fix, among many other things!)  We could still use all the help we can get, so we’re extending the time period for mini sessions!  They can now be booked for ANY TIME within the next 24 months, if they are paid for between July and August of this year. The price is $100 for a 1 hour session in either Smiths Grove or Brownsville and includes a high resolution CD and full printing rights.  If you would like to schedule a mini session as a gift, we have beautiful gift cards you can present to friends and family members that make great birthday and Christmas presents and they can schedule a session at their convenience. Please pass this information along, and share with your friends!



Posted in - PHOTOGRAPHY -, Adults, Children, Family, Portfolio | Leave a comment

What’s cuter than a baby goat?

EIGHT baby goats!!!

Three of our goats had babies within six days of each other, the first giving birth to quadruplets and the last two had triplets (unfortunately, we lost two of them.)  Here are the stories….

Suduko’s Birth

LR 20130630-DSC_9751Suduko’s was my favorite birth so far!  Three of the kids ended up needed assistance and it was me and the kids, working together to get them out and get them breathing.  It was the first birth we’ve had that was a real team effort and it was really nice to work with the kids that way.

Suduko lost her ligaments on May 20th, so we set her up in a birthing pen with another goat (we always hate to leave them by themselves unless they’re really making it clear that they don’t want anyone around,) and kept a close eye on her, but by the end of the day it became obvious that nothing was going to happen, so we turned the baby monitor on to listen for her through the night.

The next morning, the boys came running into the house shouting that there was a kid on the ground!  We never heard a THING!  We all ran to the pen, saw a little girl standing up and looking perfectly normal, so we stayed close and waited to see if there would be any more kids.  Sure enough, within a few minutes we saw two little hoofs – back hoofs!  It was a little girl and she was born backwards, in the caul.  I took the caul off of her quickly, wiped her mouth and nose and since she still wasn’t breathing on her own, handed her to Bunchkin to start swinging her (this helps get the mucus out of her mouth and nose.)  She did, and then gave her to Bundle for drying off, because another little guy started making his way into the world – upside down!  I had NO idea what to do, so I did what I normally do in these kinds of situations… panic!  Bunchkin reached inside of her to see if she could flip him around (she couldn’t) and so we tried to assist Suduko by pulling on him during each contraction.  He eventually came out with no major complications and was also born in the caul so Bunchkin again swung him and then went to work getting him dry.  To our amazement, Suduko settled in and started pushing again!  This one, thankfully, was born head first with two little feet tucked under her exactly as they should have been and also came out in the caul.  The three girls worked on drying them off and then we worked to get them nursing.  One little boy continued to show no interest and on checking his mouth, we realized that he was still cold (if they’re body temperature is low, their mouths will be cold to the touch and they won’t even try to nurse.)  We worked on getting his body temperature back up and in the end, we got them all nursing and ended up with two healthy does and two bucklings!

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Mini Colors

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I was gone when Mini Colors gave birth the day after Suduko… none of us suspected she’d go into labor so soon!  Unfortunately, a fluke kept us from checking her ligaments that morning and although  Jon and the kids were home and had been outside almost the entire day, they happened to be inside when she went into labor and it wasn’t until Jon went back outside that he heard the bleating of a newborn.  He ran into the pen to find one live buckling and two dead babies (one girl and one boy.)  We’re still not sure exactly what happened, but if I’ve learned anything from this and from experiences I’ve read about online and heard from other breeders of Nigerians, it is VITALLY important that we be here for every birth.  It’s another tough lesson learned and one we’ll be keeping close in mind as we continue the kidding season.  Thankfully, the little boy is healthy and we already have a home lined up for him!

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I’m pretty sure Scotch’s birth was Bunchkin’s favorite, so far, for reasons you’ll understand once you’ve read the story!  Scotch is the goat we’ve been most concerned about this season.  At her past home, she has consistently given birth to quadruplets, and they have all been dead upon delivery.  Neither the vet or her breeder had any idea why, and that’s actually how we ended up with such an excellent goat – her breeder didn’t feel comfortable selling her, and asked if we’d be interested in taking her (for free!) since she’s an excellent milker.  We’d been praying about her birth since we got her, but if God hadn’t intervened with a set of seemingly random circumstances, we might have missed it!

Not knowing exactly when Scotch would give birth, we were randomly checking her ligaments and monitoring her udder, but she didn’t seem very close to birth at all so we weren’t keeping a very close eye on her.  A few days before she gave birth, I “happened” to notice that the goats needed their nails trimmed, so I worked on a few of them and left the others for the next day, but never got to them.  Finally on Tuesday I got back around to it, and Scotch was the last goat on the list.  When I had her on the milk stand, Bitty noticed that her udder was full so I halfheartedly felt for her ligaments as I was doing other things.  And then checked them again.  And then had Bunchkin check them.  Were they gone?!  Bunchkin verified that they were gone and so we immediately took her to the birthing pen.  Since she wasn’t having visible contractions, we kept an eye on her and worked to get our nightly chores done so that if she did go into labor, everything would be caught up.  Around 6 or 7 that night, we noticed that she was finally starting to have contractions so we got out our birthing kit and sat with her.

About an hour later, I called her breeder, Kathy Sullivan, to ask if there was anything in particular we should be doing.  She suggested that I check her cervix and that was, without a doubt, one of the most horrible things I’ve ever had to do with an animal on our farm.  Here I was, with my hand inside of her, up to my forearm, feeling for who-even-knows-what, who-even-knows-where.  She’s screaming and I’m freaking out, when water started gushing out of her!  I got my hand out of there in a hurry, let me tell you!  Thankfully, she started to really push after that and shortly after, we had our first baby – and he was perfectly healthy!!!  I handed him over to Bunchkin because immediately after, she started pushing again and we saw another little nose and a little pink tongue!  Without any problems, she delivered her second buckling and a few minutes later, delivered a third!  They all needed some help breathing, but once we got them going they were perfectly fine!  The girls set to work drying them off and we continued to wait to see if any others would be born.  After a while, Scotch was still not getting up (typically a sign that there is another kid) and Kathy suggested I check inside to see if there was another baby.  So I reluctantly got my glove on, lubed up and started to put my hand in and then stopped.

“You know what, Kathy?” I told her.  “I’m going to put my daughter on the phone and let her do this, because she’s a lot more level-headed than I am, and she’ll do a better job!”

With that, I handed Bunchkin the phone, the lubricant, and another glove and sat praying while her hand, and then her arm, disappeared inside of our doe!  She followed Kathy’s instructions perfectly with a perfectly clear head (I had no idea until later that she was even nervous!) and couldn’t feel any more kids.  Almost an hour later, Scotch delivered the afterbirth and the kids were nursing perfectly!

So our little Bunchkin got to play goat midwife, and Scotch gets to raise kids for the very first time!  What an awesome ending to a crazy birthing marathon!  Three down, five to go!

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The 2013 Measles “Epidemic”

In light of my last post, I thought it might be timely to republish this article from September of last year…

A friend of mine recently sent me a link to a CNN article entitled: U.S. measles cases in 2013 may be most in 17 years.  To anyone sitting on the fence, wondering if they should vaccinate their child, there’s a lot of scary-sounding information in that article:

This year is on track to be the worst for measles in more than a decade, according to new numbers released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

There were 159 cases of measles in the United States from January 1 through August 24

This is very bad. This is horrible,” said Dr. Buddy Creech, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University who was on a telephone briefing with the CDC Thursday morning. “The complications of measles are not to be toyed with, and they’re not altogether rare.”

“According to the CDC, one to three out of every 1,000 children in the United States who get measles will die from the disease, even with the best of care.”

“Even if complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis aren’t deadly, they can make children very sick; in 2011, nearly 40% of children under the age of 5 who got measles had to be treated in the hospital.”

STOP RIGHT THERE!  I’m calling my doctor… we’re getting the kids vaccinated RIGHT NOW!

Or not.  Lets take a closer look at those statistics, shall we?

According to the article: “one to three out of every 1,000 children in the United States who get measles will die from the disease, even with the best of care.” Okay… and how many children in the US get the measles? Again, to quote the article “159 cases of measles in the United States from January 1 through August 24.”

So in an EIGHT MONTH period 159 out of the roughly 74 MILLION children in the US got measles. Lets give that a visual:

This map comes from the CDC website published August 24, 2013

Number of measles cases (N = 159), by state — United States, 2013:

The figure shows the number of measles cases, by state in the United States during 2013. During January 1-August 24, 2013, a total of 159 cases were reported to CDC from 16 states and New York City. The largest numbers of cases were reported from New York state (65), Texas (25), North Carolina (22), and California (15).

Pretty scary stuff.  Especially for those of us living in Kentucky.

But what about all these bad, horrible, “not to be toyed with” complications?  What about the deaths?!

If, according to the article, 1-3 (we’ll estimate high and go with the number 3) out of every 1,000 children who get measles will die from measles and only 159 children got the measles in an 8 month period, that means roughly ONE child will die of measles every FOUR years.(Actually, there hasn’t been a measles death since 2003, despite years and years of “outbreaks.”)

And all those scary side effects that land so many kids in the hospital every year?

“Nearly 40% of children under the age of 5 who got measles had to be treated in the hospital”

For the sake of argument, lets say that all 159 children who have gotten the measles this year were under the age of 5.  63 of those children (40%) had to be treated in the hospital.  63.  Can we stop and think about that for a second?  63 out of 74 MILLION children in this country had to be hospitalized because of the measles.

Pretty scary stuff.  Statistically speaking, my children have more chance of being bit by a poisonous snake, drowning in a pool, or being killed by a tornado than they have of getting (and having complications from) measles.  (Not to mention the fact that vaccinations aren’t always effective.)

Now lets compare that number with a much, much scarier number. 1 in 88 kids in the United States are suffering from autism.  ONE IN EIGHTY-EIGHT.  Don’t think vaccines cause autism?  Here are a number of studies that show otherwise.  It’s the largest epidemic in the history of the world.

Where are the CNN articles reporting on THAT?  


Related Articles

Dear parents, you’re STILL being lied to … Exposing the threat of measles, mumps and hippopotamuses on vaccinated children and the unsupportable claims of a pro-vaccination scientist.

(outside links):

The Myth of Herd Immunity

Why All The Measles Outbreaks?

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Dear parents, you’re STILL being lied to (rebuttal to Jennifer Raff’s unsupported pro-vaccination claims)

*Update* This article has gotten almost 100,000 views since it’s original publication and has inspired a huge number of comments that I can no longer keep up with (as this is primarily a personal and family-oriented blog, I don’t allow uncensored comments.)  While I appreciate the discussion this article has brought about, I have chosen to turn off comments for now, as most (if not all) of what is currently being said has already been said.  As always, I encourage parents to do their own research on this subject!  Thank you!

 http://consciouslifestyles.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/vaccine-baby-cry.jpgIn 1994, a song written by a jam band called Blues Traveler came out and was played in clubs and on radios across the nation.  It made the top ten charts and remains one of the most memorable songs from the 1990’s.  That song was entitled Hook and the lyrics of the song assert that even if what a singer sings about is effectively meaningless, listeners will keep coming back to it so long as it’s articulated in a way that makes listeners feel “some inner truth of vast reflection” is being conveyed.  Most listeners didn’t even pay attention to the lyrics, but sang along anyway.  Well, folks, that’s exactly what’s been happening recently with an article on vaccinations that’s been making the rounds lately.  Welcome to information age, where a blog post can be shared all over cyberspace and receive over 10,000 “likes” on facebook and say very little that is actually useful.

Entitled “Dear parents, you are being lied to,” Jennifer Raff lists all the vaccination-related arguments she’s heard over the years from (presumably) those who choose not to vaccinate (she simply addresses a collective “they.”)  What makes this article so appealing is that she doesn’t bog us down with details.  She simply lists her points statement-rebuttal style and includes a few links to her pro-vaccination statements.  The problem with this is that when you take the time to dig down into the details, you soon realize she’s wrong.  By exaggerating the information cited in each argument, she makes what is (judging by the popularity of the article) an apparently compelling argument to those unwilling to dig deeper, but is essentially a straw man once the surface is scratched.  In some cases, she uses studies from countries as far away as Bangladesh and Scandinavia to prove the efficacy of vaccinations and includes illnesses and deaths due to diseases found nowhere on the recommended childhood vaccination schedule to show that the message against vaccines is having “dire consequences.”  In other cases, she links to articles that have absolutely nothing to do with the points she’s trying to make.  Like many such arguments, she sets up a very clear “us” vs. “them” theme and attempts to draw black-and-white conclusions from what is, essentially, a very gray area.  No matter which way you look at it, this article, although written by a scientist, is not scientific.

Raff’s article and the popularity it has gained make it glaringly obvious that we simply don’t pay attention.  If someone writes an article claiming something as “fact” and adds a reference at the end, we don’t bother checking the reference.  Rather than study information for ourselves, the vast majority of us essentially want others to take responsibility for our safety – especially in the areas of food and medicine.  If the FDA says it’s safe and effective then we believe it’s safe and effective no-questions-asked.  The reality that Raff ignores is that this debate is not about the  “pro-vaccine” camp vs. the “anti-vaccine” camp, it’s about evaluating what our children need, and determining who gets to answer that question.  Does the government get to decide what our children need, or do parents get to decide, based on the research available to them?  Do we, as parents, sacrifice our responsibility to think on the altar of science’s ability to make stuff?  Should we be required to take what the government, the FDA and the CDC hand to us, simply because it’s offered?  Or should parents exercise their right to examine research on their own and choose methods of care for their children according to what they believe is best?

Below, I have gone through Raff’s article in its entirety, point by point, revealing the details that she has neglected to give us and including information that is glaringly absent from her article.  To the best of my ability, I have quoted only articles written by the CDC, FDA, pro-vaccine websites/publications, and articles whose facts can be easily verified.

Raff’s information is grouped according to subject and presented in blue.  Quotes are indented.


Illness is dangerous!
People could DIE!



“In light of recent outbreaks of measles and other vaccine preventable illnesses, and the refusal of anti-vaccination advocates to acknowledge the problem, I thought it was past time for this post.”

“Recent outbreaks” according to the linked article: 189 (out of roughly 300,000,000) people in 2013. 

To put this in perspective, that’s 1 out of every 1,500,000 (1) in the United States.  That’s hardly an epidemic.


“You are being lied to. The people who claim to be acting in the best interests of your children are putting their health and even lives at risk.”

“At risk” according to the linked article: an interactive map from weather.com that shows “vaccine preventable” outbreaks around the world.

Number of outbreaks in the US since 2008, according to the article:

Whooping Cough: a whole bunch (more on this later)
Mumps: 3726
Measles: 663
Chicken Pox: 141
Tetanus: 3
Rubella: 0
Polio: 0
Diptheria: 0
Rotavirus: 0

Let’s consider this information for a moment.  First of all, this website deals with the total number of outbreaks across America – counting both adults and children.  Second of all, (putting aside whooping cough for a moment – more on that later), lets look at the disease with the most cases of illness – mumps.  Not only does the CDC admit that mumps outbreaks often occur in highly vaccinated communities, they also state that side effects from mumps are extremely rare.  If we consider the number of mumps outbreaks in the United States over a five year period we find that 1 in 400,000 (2) people in the United States are at risk for mumps each year.   1 in 400,000!  Every year! And the risk of contracting measles or chicken pox is even lower.  Is this really a “risk” I should be concerned with?


“They say that measles isn’t a deadly disease.
But it is.”

According to the linked article:

– Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.
– In 2012, there were 122 000 measles deaths globally – about 330 deaths every day or 14 deaths every hour.

Please note that both of these statistics deal with the global implications of measles.  When you factor in the poor diet and lack of sanitation often seen in third-world countries, it’s not surprising that the number of measles deaths are so high.

In the United States, however, the CDC estimates the death risk of measles to be 1-2 out of every 1,000 who get the disease (and only about 150 people per year even contract measles in the US!)  In fact, according to the CDC there has not been a single death in the United States from measles since 2003.  Calling measles “deadly” is like calling bunny rabbits “deadly” because they can spread tularemia.


“They say that chickenpox isn’t that big of a deal.
But it can be.”

From the linked article:

– Varicella (chickenpox) is a highly contagious disease that is very uncomfortable and sometimes serious.
– The number of people who get chickenpox each year as well as hospitalizations and deaths from chickenpox have gone down dramatically in the United States.

Since there’s not much information in the link provided to support her claim that chickenpox is “a big deal” I thought I’d do a little digging of my own:

– “In the pre-vaccine era, there were 3-4 million cases a year.  What people may not have realized, every year, about 105 people died of chickenpox.  About half of those were children.”

That’s a much better statistic.  So chickenpox at it’s very worst killed 50 children every year.  Depending on your definition of “big deal” that may support her claim… at least, it did a decade ago.  What’s interesting to me regarding this statistic is that even at its height, people were still more likely to die from drowning, choking or, if you happened to live in Africa, being mauled to death by a hippopotamus.  So is chickenpox a “big deal?”  Yes.  And so are hippopotamusses.


“They say that the flu isn’t dangerous.
But it is.”

I’m not sure if Raff linked to the wrong site here or what, but I couldn’t find anything on her link to show that the flu is dangerous.  However, I did some digging again on her behalf and here is what I found:

“The CDC reports that about 20,000 children under the age of five are hospitalized for flu-related complications each year.”

The CDC also reports that how well the flu vaccine works (or its ability to prevent flu illness) can range widely from season to season. The vaccine’s effectiveness also can vary depending on who is being vaccinated. “At least two factors play an important role in determining the likelihood that flu vaccine will protect a person from flu illness: 1) characteristics of the person being vaccinated (such as their age and health), and 2) the similarity or ‘match’ between the flu viruses the flu vaccine is designed to protect against and the flu viruses spreading in the community. During years when the flu vaccine is not well matched to circulating viruses, it’s possible that no benefit from flu vaccination may be observed.”

The CDC also states that: “While the flu vaccine is the single best way to prevent the flu, protection can vary widely depending on who is being vaccinated (in addition to how well matched the flu vaccine is with circulating viruses).”

In other words, although the flu can cause serious complications in immune-compromised adults and children, vaccinating against the flu is a gamble, at best.


“They say that whooping cough isn’t so bad for kids to get.
But it is.

I’m not even going to bother providing information from Raff’s link because while I agree that whooping cough is a serious disease and a threat to children in the United States, the whooping cough vaccination is not only ineffective (3) against whooping cough, but vaccinated children can actually spread the disease! Since that fact is worth repeating, here is the section of the FDA article in full (3):

“The FDA conducted the study in baboons, an animal model that closely reproduces the way whooping cough affects people. The scientists vaccinated two groups of baboons – one group with a whole-cell pertussis vaccine and the other group with an acellular pertussis vaccine currently used in the U. S. The animals were vaccinated at ages two, four, and six months, simulating the infant immunization schedule. The results of the FDA study found that both types of vaccines generated robust antibody responses in the animals, and none of the vaccinated animals developed outward signs of pertussis disease after being exposed to B. pertussis. However, there were differences in other aspects of the immune response. Animals that received an acellular pertussis vaccine had the bacteria in their airways for up to six weeks and were able to spread the infection to unvaccinated animals. In contrast, animals that received whole-cell vaccine cleared the bacteria within three weeks.
This research suggests that although individuals immunized with an acellular pertussis vaccine may be protected from disease, they may still become infected with the bacteria without always getting sick and are able to spread infection to others, including young infants who are susceptible to pertussis disease.”

In light of this, I have to ask… whose children are putting whose “at risk?”


Medical science holds the answers
and vaccines protect us



“They say that vaccines aren’t that effective at preventing disease.
But 3 million children’s lives are saved every year by vaccination, and 2 million die every year from vaccine-preventable illnesses.”

From the linked article:

“With regard to past evidence, several data from the United Kingdom and Scandinavian countries show that the widespread use of smallpox vaccination starting at the beginning of the nineteenth century resulted in a marked and sustained decline not only of smallpox-related deaths, but also of the overall crude death rate, and contributed greatly to an unprecedented growth of European population. As to the present, it is estimated that 3 million children are saved annually by vaccination, but 2 million still die because they are not immunized. Tetanus, measles and pertussis are the main vaccine-preventable killers in the first years of life. Data from Bangladesh show that full implementation of EPI vaccines has the potential of reducing mortality by almost one half in children aged 1-4 years.”

I won’t argue whether vaccines have saved the lives of children in the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Europe, and Bangladesh, but I still question their needfulness in the United States today.  Consider, for instance, the fact that the mortality rates (4) of many childhood illnesses were well on the decline BEFORE vaccines were introduced:


But even putting this aside, is it possible that vaccines are helpful at certain times, in certain circumstances, and not in others?   Are there any immunizations that “science” comes up with that people in the United States should consider not taking?  Consider, for a moment, vaccinations against yellow fever and typhoid.  Adding them to the vaccine schedule would be akin to advising every United States Citizen to dig a well in their back yard in order to get clean water.  Although much-needed in some countries, it’s just not necessary here.  Is it possible that we’re still vaccinating for illnesses we don’t need to vaccinate for?  What are the criteria for determining when a vaccination is no longer necessary?  At what point is enough enough and who gets to make that decision?


“The truth is that vaccines are one of our greatest public health achievements, and one of the most important things you can do to protect your child.”

Aside from the fact that it’s well documented (as Jennifer Raff herself admits) that vaccines aren’t 100% effective, I absolutely agree with Raff that vaccines can save lives.  The next time I’m headed to Africa, I may very well inoculate myself against Yellow Fever and Typhoid.  The question I have to ask myself as a parent is: which vaccines should I subject my children to?  I mean, I could vaccinate them against yellow fever even before our next safari, but is there a good enough reason to?  Likewise, is there a good enough reason to vaccinate infants against the sexually transmitted disease hepititus B, or two-month olds against tetanus?  Is there a good enough reason to inoculate children against measles, which adversely effects only 63 (out of 74,000,000) children each year and hasn’t taken a life since 2003, or chickenpox which at it’s heyday was killing less children each year than accidental drowning?  What about mumps, a disease the CDC admits has a very low complication rate, or the flu which vaccines are only sporadically effective against?  That’s a question every parent must answer for themselves.


“They say that “natural infection” is better than vaccination.
But they’re wrong.”

The study Raff linked to here has NO information whatsoever as to whether natural infection is better than vaccination!!!  Instead, it briefly mentions “measles parties” and goes on to describe the symptoms and complications of measles.

Interestingly enough, however, I did find the following information on a different page the author herself linked to:

“Research shows that people respond better to some types of risks than others. Natural risks (such as infections for which there are no vaccines) are better tolerated than manmade risks (such as vaccine side effects).”



“They say that ‘natural’, ‘alternative’ remedies are better than science-based medicine.
They aren’t.”

First of all, the article linked to specifically deals with natural treatments for autismThere is nothing in this article refuting the benefits of alternative remedies for any other illness, including those we currently vaccinate for.  To link to this article as a statement that ‘natural’ and ‘alternative’ remedies don’t work is irrational at best, deceptive at worst.

To use an example she herself uses, how does Raff explain the antibodies present in breast milk, that act as nature’s own vaccinations and will, in fact, reduce the efficacy of medical vaccinations if “natural remedies” don’t work?  Maybe we should eliminate breast milk and give them something scientifically formulated instead.  Oh wait… we did that, and it killed our kids.

Furthermore, if Raff is going to deny the effectiveness of natural remedies vs. “science-based medicine,” I’d love for her to explain the placebo effect which utilizes sugar pills as a “remedy.”  In some cases, these placebos actually work better than scientific remedieseven when patients are told they are taking a placebo!   To state that natural and alternative remedies don’t work is not only entirely false, but also completely disregards the brain-body connection.



Vaccines are safe



“They say that vaccines haven’t been rigorously tested for safety.
But vaccines are subjected to a higher level of scrutiny than any other medicine. For example, this study tested the safety and effectiveness of the pneumococcal vaccine in more than 37,868 children.”

Considering that prescription drugs are the 4th leading cause of death in America, and that over 100,000 people die every year from adverse reactions to prescription drugs, the fact that the vaccines are “subjected to a higher level of scrutiny than any other medicine” doesn’t inspire much confidence.




“They will say that doctors won’t admit there are any side effects to vaccines.
But the side effects are well known, and except in very rare cases quite mild.”

Raff’s point here is that the known side effects of vaccinations are mild except in rare cases.  I counter that the complications due to vaccine-preventable diseases are mild except in very rare cases.  Should we put our children at risk for complications due to vaccinations to prevent the possibility of risk due to illness? 


“They say that the MMR vaccine causes autism.
It doesn’t. (The question of whether vaccines cause autism has been investigated in study after study, and they all show overwhelming evidence that they don’t.)”

I’d be interested to know who funded those studies… here is a list of over 80 studies that show otherwise (5):

No Evidence of any Link

They say that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism.
It doesn’t, and it hasn’t been in most vaccines since 2001 anyway.

See Here for information indicating otherwise (5)


“They say that the aluminum in vaccines (an adjuvant, or component of the vaccine designed to enhance the body’s immune response) is harmful to children.
But children consume more aluminum in natural breast milk than they do in vaccines, and far higher levels of aluminum are needed to cause harm.”

First of all, lets consider that in the study Raff cites, the amount of aluminum present in breastmilk was determined by taking multiple samples over the course of four months and ranged from 0.004 mg to 2.67 mgNow lets consider that according to the recommended vaccination schedule, a child will get 29 doses of a vaccine before the age of six, each dose of which contains anywhere from .17 mg to .85mg of aluminum.  This means that, taking only the very lowest numbers of aluminum present in vaccines (4.93,) children are injected with twice the amount of aluminum as that present in the very lowest numbers of breastmilk (.012 over the course of a year.)

Secondly, allow me speculate for a moment on the safety of aluminum in vaccines by asking a question to you gardeners out there…

Which is better for the soil, NPK fertilizer or compost?  While it’s a pretty well-known fact that healthy soil includes nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, it’s an equally well-known fact that if you extract those three elements and introduce them into soil on their own, you actually destroy the soil.  This begs the question… does the method of delivery of certain substances effect the reaction to the element being delivered, and the consequences thereof?  What else is there in breastmilk that effects how an infant’s body reacts to aluminum?   Show me how vaccines are like breast milk in ways other than the aluminum content and I’ll be much more likely to consider them “safe.”


“They say that the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (and/or the “vaccine court”) proves that vaccines are harmful.
It doesn’t.”

Agreed… correlation does not equal causation.  That’s true for both sides of the argument.


“They say that the normal vaccine schedule is too difficult for a child’s immune system to cope with.
It isn’t.”

Hat’s off to Raff as she makes another good point here and links to a website with actual scientific evidence to support her statementI am, however, curious as to what she’d say regarding the normal vaccine schedule in light of the fact that breastmilk has been shown to negatively impact the potency of vaccinations.  Should we delay vaccinating our children until we’re finished breastfeeding, or wean them early so that they can be “protected?”


If you don’t vaccinate your child,
my child will die.



 “They say that if other people’s children are vaccinated, there’s no need for their children to get vaccinated.

This is one of the most despicable arguments I’ve ever heard. First of all, vaccines aren’t always 100% effective, so it is possible for a vaccinated child to still become infected if exposed to a disease. Worse, there are some people who can’t receive vaccinations, because they are immune deficient, or because they are allergic to some component. Those people depend upon herd immunity to protect them. People who choose not to vaccinate their children against infectious diseases are putting not only their own children at risk, but also other people’s children.”

What does it mean to put someone “at risk?”  Am I endangering someone if I carry a gun?  The answer is yes.  Technically, I could shoot someone.  Should I give up a freedom because someone else is afraid it might hurt them?  Should I start making decisions regarding my own child’s health based on someone else’s fears and concerns?  Not only is the “risk” unvaccinated children pose statistically insignificant (I’m actually putting more children “at risk” by owning a bee hive than I am by not vaccinating my children,) but the logic behind this argument simply doesn’t make sense.

Let’s take that same logic and apply it in a few more ways…

FACT: Breastmilk inhibits the effectiveness of vaccines
FACT: Children who are not effectively vaccinated against disease can spread disease
CONCLUSION: Mothers should not breast feed their children

FACT: In the United States, most of the measles cases result from international travel.
FACT: Both vaccinated and unvaccinated children and adults can contract and spread measles
CONCLUSION: United States citizens should not travel to other countries

FACT: Children who are vaccinated against whooping cough contribute to the spread of whooping cough
FACT: Unvaccinated and vaccinated children can contract whooping cough from vaccinated children
CONCLUSION: Parents should stop vaccinating their children against whooping cough

(Personally, I think that last one is spot-on.)

And although I have tried not to use pro-vaccination websites to make any of my points, this article addresses the so-called “herd immunity” myth and is worth reading.


Non-vaccinators are lying bullies
who don’t know anything!


“I can predict exactly the sort of response I will be getting from the anti-vaccine activists. Because they can’t argue effectively against the overwhelming scientific evidence about vaccines, they will say that I work for Big Pharma. (I don’t and never have). They will say that I’m not a scientist (I am), and that I’m an “Agent 666” (I don’t know what that is, but I’m pretty sure that I’m not one).”

I won’t accuse her of any of these things.  I will, however, accuse her of writing a biased, unscientific article with a myriad of references that have nothing to do with the points she tries to make.

“None of these things are true, but they are the reflexive response by the anti-vaccine activists because they have no facts to back up their position. On some level, deep down, they must understand this, and are afraid of the implications, so they attack the messenger.”

On the contrary, we are armed with the same types of information that the pro-vaccine side is armed with.  Incomplete studies, biased doctors and researchers and statistics that can show correlation but not causation.  What it all boils down to in the end is that we don’t know.  We don’t know what causes autism and we don’t know whether vaccines contribute.  We don’t know how frequent the adverse reactions to vaccines are, and we don’t know how effective they are against disease.  For every study “proving” one point, there is another “proving” the opposite.

“Why are they lying to you? Some are doing it for profit, trying to sell their alternative remedies by making you afraid of science-based medicine. I’m sure that many others within the anti-vaccine movement have genuinely good intentions, and do honestly believe that vaccines are harmful. But as a certain astrophysicist recently said “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it”. In the case of vaccine truthers, this is not a good thing. Good intentions will not prevent microbes from infecting and harming people, and the message that vaccines are dangerous is having dire consequences. There are outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illnesses now throughout the United States because of unvaccinated children.”

We’ve already covered some of the “dire consequences” of not vaccinating children, but here is another faulty link from Raff.    The link takes you to an “anti-vaccine body count” listing the number of preventable illnesses and deaths from June 2007 to March 2014.  Among those listed include illnesses and deaths due to California serogroup virus disease, Eastern equine encephalitis virus disease, Powassan virus disease, St. Louis encephalitis virus disease, and Western equine encephalitis virus disease, among a host of other diseases found nowhere on the recommended childhood vaccination schedule.

The article she uses to cite “outbreaks” of vaccine-preventable diseases itself states:

“It’s true that we’ve yet to see measles outbreaks on a massive scale – what counts as a major outbreak, these days, is the 20 confirmed cases in New York City.

As for all those speaking out against vaccinations and attempting to make a profit… can we really use this as an attempt to discredit them?  After all, if we flip that argument around what does that say about the multi-billion dollar vaccine industry?

“In only one respect is my message the same as the anti-vaccine activists: Educate yourself. But while they mean “Read all these websites that support our position”, I suggest you should learn what the scientific community says. Learn how the immune system works. Go read about the history of disease before vaccines, and talk to older people who grew up when polio, measles, and other diseases couldn’t be prevented. Go read about how vaccines are developed, and how they work. Read about Andrew Wakefield, and how his paper that claimed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism has been withdrawn, and his medical license has been revoked. Read the numerous, huge studies that have explicitly examined whether autism is caused by the vaccine…and found nothing. (While you’re at it, read about the ongoing research to determine what IS the cause—or causes —of autism, which is not helped by people continuing to insist that vaccines cause it).”

I agree that every parent should research this for themselves and I am convinced that two people can do the same amount of research and come away with completely different opinions as to whether they should vaccinate their children. AND THAT’S OKAY. Parents have to make the decisions they feel most comfortable with. But scare-tactics such as those in this article don’t help parents to make informed decisions and it’s unfortunate that this article has gained so much ground among parents.

“That may seem like a lot of work, and scientific papers can seem intimidating to read. But reading scientific articles is a skill that can be mastered. Here’s a great resource for evaluating medical information on the internet, and I wrote a guide for non-scientists on how to read and understand the scientific literature. You owe it to your children, and to yourself, to thoroughly investigate the issue. Don’t rely on what some stranger on the internet says (not even me!). Read the scientific studies that I linked to in this post for yourself, and talk to your pediatricians. Despite what the anti-vaccine community is telling you, you don’t need to be afraid of the vaccines. You should instead be afraid of what happens without them.”

I agree that you should do the research for yourself.  And unlike Jennifer Raff, I believe that the research supports BOTH sides of the vaccination argument and that it’s up to every parent to evaluate the risks and decide for themselves.  Yes, it will be a lot of work, just as it’s been a lot of work to check out all of Raff’s references and discover that over half of them have been used to exaggerate her claims or have little to do with the information she has given us.  But it’s worth it.


Whew!  I’m exhausted, what about you?  To bring this full circle and hopefully help you end with a smile – here is a song for your enjoyment … and research verifying my claims! 😉



For parents who wish to do more research on this subject, here is a list of questions my husband and I asked when we were deciding on this issue for ourselves:

1. What are the diseases the CDC tells me I need to vaccinate my children against?

2. How common are these diseases in the United States?

3. What are the possible complications of these diseases if contracted, and how often to the diseases lead to these complications?

4. What is the treatment for these diseases if contracted, and what is the success rate for the treatment?

5. How effective is the vaccine?

6. What are the possible complications and side-effects of the vaccine?

7. Do the benefits of the vaccinations outweigh the risks of possible complications due to the vaccine?

All of the information needed to answer these questions is available through the FDA,  CDC and other “reputable” sources and once we know the answers, we’re better able to weigh the pros and cons of each vaccine. For anyone else looking into the issue, I think that’s a good place to start.



(1) Thank you to the person who pointed out my mathematical error… I had written 1 out of every 15,000,000 when it should have read 1 out of every 1,500,000.  It has since been corrected.

(2) 3,726 (number of outbreaks since 2008) divided by 5 (number of years [which is actually underestimated, since they also include part of 2004]) = 745 outbreaks each year.  Rounding the current US population (313,000,000) down to 300,000,000 means that an average of 745 out of 300,000,000 get the measles each year.  300,000,000 (number of people in the US) divided by 745 (number of people who get the measles each year) = one out of every 402,684 per year (I rounded down to 400,000)

(3) Ineffective:

– “During a pertussis outbreak in 2010–11 in California teens who had received four doses of the current vaccine were at almost six times more likely to get pertussis as those who had received four doses of the older preparation.” (source)
– “The bacteria responsible for whooping cough may be evolving into different strains, and the current vaccine can’t offer complete protection against these new strains, researchers report.” (source)
– Starting approximately three years after prior vaccine dose, attack rates markedly increased, suggesting inadequate protection or durability from the acellular vaccine. (source)

Baboon study:

Some have made the point that the baboons in this study became carriers of pertussis only after being exposed to the disease.  This is a valid point, but doesn’t change the facts that A. the vaccine has been shown to be highly ineffective (see references above) and B. those vaccinated against whooping cough can become carriers and spread the disease without knowing it, which even the FDA admits is a major flaw in the vaccine (one they are working to fix.)

(4)  Several people have made the observation that this chart references the mortality rates as a measure of vaccine effectiveness.  I have chosen to use it because Jennifer Raff’s link (which I was specifically addressing) also referenced the mortality rates of the diseases in an effort to prove that vaccines are effective (in the United Kingdom, Scandinavia and Bangladesh.) My response also deals with the mortality rates, with the difference being that I reference the mortality rates in the UNITED STATES. 
As for using the graph to question the needfulness of vaccines in the US today, my question is this:
If, once upon a time, people died from a vaccine-preventable disease because poor sanitation and poor nutrition made complications from that disease deadly but now, in addition to better sanitation and better nutrition, the use of antibiotics have made complications from this disease virtually nonexistent, should we still be vaccinating for the disease? Vaccines aren’t the only way to reduce mortality rates and it is my opinion that in some cases there may be BETTER ways to handle disease.

(5)  A commenter recently pointed out an article that addresses these studies and provides information in an attempt to debunk them.  That information can be found here for anyone who wants to dig into the research and come to their own conclusions, which – as the point of this entire article – I strongly encourage!


Related Articles:

The 2013 Measles “Epidemic”



Response to Dear parents you are being lied to
Rebuttal of Dear parents you are being lied to

Posted in Parenting, PERSONAL | Tagged , , | 158 Comments

Is it possible to know Jesus AND be homosexual?

I asked a friend this question several months ago.  To my way of looking at things, it was simply impossible.  But then I had a conversation with a man I respect deeply.  A man who, when we were in high school together and I was busy being more psychologically and intellectually advanced than the sunday school hicks around me who needed a “higher power” in their lives, consistently impressed me by the choices he made and the moral high ground I saw him taking in every possible circumstance.  To be honest, when I started to suspect he was gay (several years after high school) I thought for sure he had abandoned his faith.  During our recent conversation, however, I heard his integrity and deep faith in every word that he spoke and to be honest, I was dumfounded.

It was then I realized that the question I needed answered was not whether a homosexual can know God, but rather how does God want me to see the homosexual?  What does He want to show me when I look at these people whom He has created and loves deeply? 

It’s an issue I’ve struggled with for a long, long time.  When I first became a Christian, I lost my best friend because I didn’t know how to deal with the fact that she was gay.  Later, I practically ruined relationships with several of my family members for the same reason.  It grieves me deeply and I’ve long since asked forgiveness, but the underlying question is still there.  How does God want me to see my homosexual friend, family member or neighbor?

Last night, God showed me something that will forever change the way I see the world around me.  For the friends and family members reading this, please understand that it is my belief that homosexuality is not God’s will and that homosexual behavior is a sin.  As I describe what I felt last night, please keep that in mind because my intention is not to offend – the very opposite, in fact.  That being said, the essence of what I feel God showed me holds true whether you believe homosexuality is a sin or not so please hear the spirit behind what I have to say, even if the way I say it doesn’t line up with your own beliefs.  It’s certainly applicable to many more issues than this one.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
– Jeremiah 17:9

Humans are incredibly proficient in the art of self-deception.  There are myriads of things we blind ourselves to, because to open our eyes and look ourselves dead in the face would mean to admit our flaws, our sins, our imperfections, our glaring grotesqueness in light of God’s perfectness.  We hide.  And often, when God wants to show us our own hideousness for the sake of helping us to become more like Him, He must do it little by little, a piece here and a piece there.  At least, that’s how it is for me.  And there have been times I’ve wept bitter tears over God’s revelation of the ugliness that is inside of me, and other times when I’ve done absolutely everything I can to ignore what I know God wanted to heal in me because I was too afraid to see it.  It’s often only through hindsight that I can see how patient He’s been with me, and how He’s chipped at the rocks and boulders and mountains of my sins little by little, one tiny piece at a time, skillfully working until the whole fell away and I could finally see what He wanted to show me.

And yet, during all the time I’ve lived in the midst of lust or pride or hate toward those around me – murdering them in my heart with my thoughts – I never once doubted my own Christianity.  The bible, however, tells me that whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar  (1 Jon 4:10.)  And ooooh, have I hated my brother.

I’m skilled in the art of self-deception.

We all are.

In light of this, I ask you to imagine with me for a moment…

What if the things inside your heart that God wanted to change embodied the very essence of who you believed yourself to be?   What if it touched virtually every aspect of your life?  What if it dictated who you felt capable of loving and building a life with, the type of physical closeness you want to have with someone, the type of life you envision yourself having?  What if it was one of the most important things about how you relate to the world around you?

Would you see it as a “sin?”  Would you be willing to change, or even entertain the possibility that you should change?

With all the hideousness that’s in my own heart, with all the self-deception and hiding and ignoring that I do in my own life, how can I possibly believe that someone who practices homosexuality can’t know Jesus? 

I can’t.

How does God want me to see the homosexual?

With unmitigated, unbiased, unconditional, LOVE.

To the friends and family members whom I have hurt with my hypocrisy, I am deeply, deeply sorry.  You do not deserve my condescension.  There’s an old, worn out cliche “hate the sin and love the sinner” and I admit that while we do purposefully remove ourselves from some activities our friends and family members participate in (i.e. christmas,) I have never denied any of them the closeness of my heart based on the things they do that I perceive to be sinful.  And yet, I have denied you that closeness.

I ask your forgiveness.

In closing, I want to share what my friend from high school wrote, the night we had our conversation about this.  It is one of the most compassionate and convicting things I’ve ever read on this subject:

It’s a tough issue. I respect those who follow interpretations that are both for and against homosexuality. I’ve read intelligent posts on both sides and I fight strongly for individuals rights to believe and interpret their faith without interference. The thing that I loathe is persons espousing Christ and using his name as a weapon of hatred. I think it’s exactly what is meant by using the Lord’s name in vain. Anytime we treat our fellow men with anger and disrespect but use Christ as the reasoning, I think it hinders the Gospel. There is so much cultural warmongering when we all have enough personal spiritual development to focus on. God will be the final judge and only then will all things become clear–with none being able to stand righteously on their own merits. Christ was humble and not militant. His only anger appears at the persons profiting in vain under the name of the Father. It breaks my heart to read hatred within a cloak of Christ. The world is so broken and these things pain me terribly. Everyone is so quick to speak for God and judge in His name. That is all I really meant by ignorance. I pray for peace and charity for us all.

Posted in Love, Marriage, PERSONAL | 2 Comments

The incredible burden of the old testament law … or …

Whenever I have a conversation with someone about keeping the Old Testament commandments, Christians who don’t keep them (and in many cases haven’t even read them) inevitably start talking about the “burden” of the law, how “impossible” it is to keep and how we are no longer under that “oppression.”  It’s pretty common knowledge that the Old Testament laws were horrific and unjust, backbreaking and cruel.  In fact, from speaking with Christians on the subject, you’d think that keeping the commandments is all but booking yourself a trip to Dante’s Seventh Hell.  The thing that I can’t figure out is exactly which commandments they’re talking about being so “burdensome.”  Is it the one that admonishes us not to reap the edges of our fields?  Or the one that tells the priest what to wear inside the temple?  Or maybe it’s the one that governs how we’re to treat our oxen.  I don’t know, I just can’t figure it out.

Every day in this country we voluntarily place ourselves under and follow thousands upon thousands of laws, never protesting how “burdensome” and “oppressive” they are.  The number of laws that govern traffic alone give us more rules and regulations to follow than the entire Old TestamentWe’ll willingly and without protest obey the United States cultural laws not to eat dog or cat, but not the biblical law to abstain from pork. We’ll even place ourselves under unspoken codes of society and wear shoes when we go to the store, dress up when we go to a wedding or use proper table manners at a formal dinner. But do something out of a desire to obey the words of God that happen to come from the first half of the bible instead of the last half and suddenly I’m being burdened and oppressed. This is ridiculous.

Want some examples of real oppression?  How about being told what kinds of structures you can build in your own back yard, what kinds of animals you can keep, and what kinds of activities you can participate in according to where you live?  Or how about being forced to give the government money to subsidize things you don’t believe in?  Or how about debt?  That has to be the most oppressive system in our culture today, yet we voluntarily sign up for that yoke of slavery without a second thought.

You know what else is oppressive?  Trying to keep the commandments as a vehicle for salvationThat’s why the Jewish leaders were so determined to keep the commandments “exactly right.”  Why they had entire books devoted to rules governing the Sabbath, regulating everything from exactly how far you were allowed to walk to (nowadays) whether to tear toilet paper off the roll after a Saturday poo.  THAT, folks, is oppression and it’s exactly what Peter meant when He said “why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?” (Acts 15:10… the topic in question: whether Gentiles needed to be circumcised in order to be saved.)

You know what’s NOT oppressive?  Taking a Saturday off work to be home with your family, eating turkey instead of pork and refraining from s*x with your sibling.  Of the 600 or so commandments found in the Old Testament, only a handful of them actually caused Jon and I to change anything about our lives when we started keeping them, and every single one of them was a simple change.  The vast majority didn’t even require much thought.  Don’t reuse a clay pot after a rodent dies in it?  I can handle that.  Don’t eat an animal I find dead in a field?  No real sacrifice there.

In this country we are required to obey thousands upon thousands of laws, and in the vast majority of cases we keep them without protest of any kind.  God gave His people (roughly) 600.  This hardly consists of “oppression.”  So please, while I respect the opinions of those who choose not to keep the commandments (including the vast majority of my friends and family members,) let’s not have any more irrational talk about what a “burden” it is to keep the commandments.

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day...

Psalm 119… 176 verses about how much David loves keeping the law.


Related Articles:

Our Take on Torah

Peters Vision

Posted in Consecration, Miscellaneous, PERSONAL, Salvation | 2 Comments