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Saturday, December 26, 2009

I have found a new toy!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Year in Review- 2009
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I was having difficulty creating a slide show on my computer as it's having problems. For a few years I have wanted to create slide shows of our year in retrospective as a way of scrapbooking for us and distant relatives and friends. Here is my first creation. It did take hours...and the program is unfogiving of red-eye so I had much adjusting to do.

Part of the site is free and a year subscription is 40.00, but seems to be on sale now for 30.00.

Our year in photos...

I discoverd this really cool site called SmileBox. It made my objective of creating a slide show of our year quite easy

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Culture War?

My husband mentioned something earlier to me that struck me as quite profound. We often think that the war is against Satan- God vs Satan -and we need to help God win. He pointed out that if it were God vs. Satan it would have ended before it began. The war is ,instead, for the hearts of man. It is a rescue mission, not a war. If we Christians are living as we ought to, the effects will seep through the fabric of culture. The quiet workings of God in our lives will impact those around us. We won't need to force -through war of any kind.
While God does not need our help to acheive his purposes- our living rightly certainly can't hurt His purposes. There are enough wars. Wars are not attractive. Peace is. God's peace most of all.
I'm still chewing on this...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Three Cheers for Tea Tree and Coconut Oils!

Can I just say how much I love the combination of coconut oil and tea tree oils?

My foray into oils began months and months ago. I have collected a number of them. I simmer them, use them in home made cleansers, and place drops of thyme onto my kitchen sponge when it gets rank. (This happens regularly as I have children who do not care to rinse the sponge out after each use. A few drops of thyme squished through the sponge takes care of it and it smells nicely for some time and saves my sponge from agents such as bleach which destroy it.)

Anyways- back to topic. :)

I had heard of the benefits of tea tree oil for some time. I bought some- liked the fragrance and added it to my bathroom cleanser. I also add it to eucalyptus oil and simmer when colds are going around the family. With 5 children, that's pretty often.

I first used tea tree oil and coconut oil together for personal care when I made homemade deodorant. The stuff really works! I began to use what was left on my fingers after application on my face as a moisturizer after rinsing the baking soda off my fingertips. I noticed it helped my skin to remain clear. (I had read over time that coconut oil has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties as well as antimicrobial lipids that may benefit whose who ingest it.) I don't have much of a blemish issue in general, but it still helped. I'm testing it further by applying daily to my 16yo's face as he could use the help. Xango helps tremendously, but the oil mixture is a bit less expensive and travels much more easily with no need for refrigeration.

I then recalled that tea tree oil can be used on diaper rashes. So I mixed a few drops with several TBSP of coconut oil and use as needed on the cute little hiney we have running around here. It works very well (and fast!) and takes a very light coat- no gunky white paste that is hard to wash off. I do struggle with dry skin on my fingertips that then grabs the cloth diaper microfiber insert- so it addresses two issues at once. I like that!

I decided if the mix was good for moisturizing my face- why not my legs as they often need lotion? I had been in the habit of applying rubbing alcohol after shaving to soothe irritation. I did not like using alcohol but had yet to discover anything else that would stop the irritation. Tea tree and coconut worked. I think the alcohol worked more immediately, but I'd rather be more natural if I can. I now also use it on my heels and elbows for moisturizing purposes.

What I like about coconut oil is that I can buy it at Kroger, it's not very expensive, and has no greasy residue. It's my first foray into a carrier oil (pertaining to why I initially bought it). Other oils might have the same benefits, but I live in a small market and cannot just run pick up other oils to try.

I can also use the coconut oil in cooking. I have found that if I use coconut oil rather than just plain vegetable oil in the "Playgroup Granola Bars" from I do not get heartburn. (You wanted to know that, didn't you?~smile~) My results are not 100% conclusive, but I think I'm onto something.

Here's the recipe for the deodorant I mentioned (Thanks, Donna!). I do not recall where it originated from:

Homemade Deodorant

5-6 TBSP of Coconut Oil
1/4 C of Baking Soda
1/4 C Corn Starch
approx 4 drops of essential oil (I use Tea Tree due to it's properties and I like it's fragrance.)

Coconut oil firms up below 76 degrees. I have found what works best for me is storing it in an empty "Garnier Fructis Fiber Gum Putty" hair product container. The container holds a batch perfectly and makes it easy to reach. The coconut oil melts immediately upon contact with skin. When it's liquified in the summer months it does require stirring and at times it needs more coconut oil added to maintain consistency and not be overly gritty. I used a baby bottle in the summer with just the ring on it and cap. I'd remove the cap, place my fingers over the opening, shake and apply.

This is not an antiperspirant, but I'm ok with that. I figure our bodies were designed to perspire for a reason. (If at any time I feel the need for an anti-perspirant I grab my store bought stick.) I have found that it will work for at least 2 days if not washed off even with exercising. Some people have found it leaves a white residue on their black clothes. Since I rarely wear black tops I have had no such issue.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

It's so easy to despair!

I keep thinking about this whole parenting 'gig' and how very unqualified I am. Truly. I have decided that the reason God gave me 5 beautiful children is precisely because I need so much refining. It's not about them so much as it is about my heart, motives and desires. I doubt I will ever rest comfortably in thinking I have the answers and am an 'excellent' or even 'very good parent'. Don't get me wrong- I'd love to say either of those! But I know me far too well. More correctly I know my sin nature oh so well. ~sigh~ It rears it's ugly head daily(or even hourly) and I must confess it seems to be most prominent in response to a certain 13yo that lives here. Or 16yo. Or the 7yo. You get the point.
I do struggle almost constantly with despair. Just about daily I think "What was God thinking! I can't do this! I'm waaay outnumbered!" I constantly have to remind myself that even when I think I just might be ruining my children in one form or another the Lord is present and He alone can fill the huge gaps I am certain to leave. I have no illusions about small gaps. It reminds me of the thought that all teachers leave gaps as all have weaknesses in various areas/practices. I am so grateful for His faithfulness amidst my failures and shortcomings!
One thing I have found helpful in this journey is the podcast for "Revive Our Hearts" that my best friend Hilary steered me towards. I still need to thank her even though it took me like 6 months to actually go listen- I can be thick at times- and scattered. :) Nancy Leigh DeMoss touches on so many subjects that speak to me on many different levels from parenting to fear and everything else in between. It's kind of like another favorite podcast of mine- "TED Talks'. Both are always intriguing, never dull, and I learn something new each time. Nancy's love for the Lord is apparent and refreshing and I need that influence.
Revive Our Hearts
does just that for me- revives me, gives me hope, renews and reinvigorates my faith. I find it most helpful that it is a program by a women and geared towards women.
I think there is nothing in my life so humbling as parenting. It continually drives me to His feet crying out for wisdom, mercy...and forgiveness, and not neccessarliy in that order.

Monday, November 16, 2009

His Pursuing Love

This morning as I was doing a few chores a thought hit me. It occurred to me that when I am dealing with a difficult subject or mindset I typically expect the Lord to rush to me, pick me up, kiss my wounds and set me on my way- better off. And then I recalled a portion of James 4:8 which says "Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you..."
God has an expectation of me. He expects me to practice drawing near to Him. To deny myself and my often selfish, or 'woe is me' mindset and to seek Him. To change and re-orient my focus. A daily dying to myself. He is always by my side, yet He waits patiently, lovingly for me to invite Him ever closer. Wow, is that hard! He is loving, patient, and persistent in His love towards me. Oh, that I may be more like Him!