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About Me

Hey there!

Let me tell you about Julie Naturally. Julie Naturally aims to equip Christian homeschooling families with the tools and resources needed to embrace a natural lifestyle even if they live in a city or apartment. A natural Christian lifestyle encompasses four main areas: homeschooling, holy living, wholistic health, and homesteading.

In the Shop, you’ll find resources for your faith journey and tools for your use on the road to unschooling success. I add new products all the time, including bundles and other goodies. So, make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss out on sales and introductory offers.

The natural living blog offers tons of free information about unschooling, natural health, living the Christian life, and homesteading. Don’t miss it!

And Crunchy Christian Podcast airs every Friday, packed with stories and tips for living the crunchy christian lifestyle. Make sure you subscribe to that and check out the show notes, where I offer additional resources and tips.

The logo for Julie Naturally has deep meaning and symbolism. Read on to find out why I chose the Monarch butterfly.

The monarch butterfly is a symbol of transformation and faith. It feeds on only one plant, transforms from a wriggling caterpillar to a soaring butterfly, and travels more than 3,000 miles each winter to a place it has never seen. What better symbol of the Christian life?

Want to know a bit more about my background? The beginnings of Julie Naturally go all the way back to early childhood.

It all started in a vacant lot down the street from my childhood home.

For ten years, I endured bullying from my schoolmates. I struggled with loneliness and doubt, for I never knew who my friends were. So, I escaped to the overgrown weeds in the ditches and empty lot down the street. There I sat among the plants and imagined that fairies danced around me. It seemed the plants held some magic. I felt a presence embrace me, comfort me, while I sampled the clover and ran my fingers through the plantain seed stalks. The cattails and horsetail of the ditches delighted me. I felt more alive, accepted, and happy there than anywhere else, except maybe the woods.

.And the woods formed a regular part of my childhood, too, as my family went camping every summer and I participated in Girl Scouts. I even spent an entire summer in a platform tent as a Girl Scout Camp Counselor after my freshman year of college. I loved hearing the rain pound on the tent flaps and I craved the smell of decaying leaves and new soil. Collecting acorns and pine cones for my forest games was a regular past time.

Then I grew up….

College

In my first year of college, my hands and knees cramped and flamed with debilitating pain. I visited the college nurse who asked me some questions and said matter-of-factly, “Well, you have rheumatism.” Rheumatism? I was nineteen! Didn’t that mean I would develop rheumatoid arthritis soon? I cried in anger and determined that I would not allow that to happen. However, I developed new health problems. On top of the rheumatism, digestive issues, seasonal allergies, and feminine issues, mitral valve prolapse made its appearance one summer.

At the same time, God was calling to me. I had left the Lutheran Church I grew up in and started a quest for what I considered to be “the real thing.” I didn’t really know what I was looking for, I just knew that I would instantly know when I had found it. Well, I eventually did find it. I found it at the Vineyard Church in Evanston, Illinois, but it would take a few more years before I gave my life to Christ and got baptized.

Post College

Julie Polanco's degree from the School of Natural Healing
My degree from the oldest herbal training school in the United States, the School of Natural Healing. I trained with such notable herbalists as Richard Schulze, Dr. Ahmet Warfa, Christopher Hobbs, and Dr. James Duke.

After college, I took up distance cycling. At the end of the summer, my neck was so cramped up, I couldn’t move it. I chose to visit a chiropractor. Around the same time, I also decided to get myself tested for allergies. The allergy tests revealed that I suffered from far more than seasonal allergies. Shots were out of the question and the doctor laughed me out of the office.

I didn’t know how I was going to live. I needed some serious help learning how to cook and handle all these health problems. Well, the waiting room of that chiropractor’s office I visited was littered with natural health magazines. I quickly devoured those and bought subscriptions.

Much to my joy, my beloved plants graced the pages of those magazines and I finally learned the truth about the “magic” of my childhood plants. I felt a deep calling to formally study herbal medicine and aromatherapy. It was around this time that I gave my life to Christ and he revealed to me that HE was the one in the vacant lot who embraced me. And I was on the road to a natural Christian life.

And got married and had four kids….

Here’s my crew!

When my children were born, we determined I would stay home with them. So, for a while, my background allowed me to write professionally for healthcare trade journals and to ghostwrite books. My knowledge also proved useful when I learned that each of my four children had special needs and many allergies.

Living on one income, I had to find a way to feed my kids without breaking the bank. The quest to save money and still address my kids’ allergies led me to learn how to grow and preserve our own food. I also learned how to make all kinds of fermented food–yogurt, kefir, water kefir, sourdough, kombucha, mead, and pickled vegetables and fruits. In effect, I became a natural Christian homesteader–in the city!

And not only embraced a natural Christian life, but natural learning too!

And, as my oldest reached school age, God impressed upon mine and my husband’s hearts a desire to homeschool. Initially, we used a curriculum-driven approach, which proved to be a poor match for my family of four special needs kids. A scientist at heart, I researched and read tons of books and felt the Lord leading me to unschool. I chronicle my journey in my book, God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn.

Over the past 18 years, I have served on the board of my local homeschool support group, founded a new support group, taught science in co-ops and in my home, wrote two books on homeschooling, a high school botany curriculum, and recently, a Bible study on Romans. I speak about teaching science, Christian unschooling, and wholistic health topics at conferences and on podcasts. In addition, several magazines and blogs have featured my articles or quoted me in their stories.

Even though two of my children have graduated, I try to remain active in my local homeschooling community. Last year, I taught live science workshops for homeschooled teens and I am currently active in the women’s ministry and worship team at my church. In my spare time, you might find me kayaking on Lake Michigan, sampling Chicago’s newest restaurants, or dancing with my little granddaughter.

I also really enjoy a steaming mug of Earl Grey tea on a crisp, autumn morning while I watch the sun come up. How about you?

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