Monthly Archives: October 2013

Built to Last

When trials are pressing in on me, it’s tough to remember that I’m built to last – built for eternity with God, to worship and to love Him, and to recieve His love for me. But it’s the most important time to pay attention to what God is saying! The lies of the world are always nearby, whispering in the background, clamoring for my attention.

“You are not loved.”

“This mistake is far too big to be fixed.”

“You’ll never get there. You might as well stop trying now, before you cause yourself more pain.”

Right now, we’re facing the possibility of losing our house, our safety, our car and our dignity. We’ve heard lie after lie from someone close to us who is in (earthly) control of some of these factors, and we’ve worked really hard to prevent this situation, but I don’t see a happy, safe resolution. I’m having a hard time loving this person whom God has not only asked me to respect, but to love. I want to scream and yell “God, don’t you see how much she’s hurt me?!” It’s then the lies kick in. “Well, Mandy, you’ve been mean before. This is karma, kicking your butt. You deserve this!” But I don’t. And my children don’t deserve it either. This will affect them far more than it will affect me.  I fear, and I try, oh I do try not to listen to those lies and those angry, unloving words from people who do not know me – do not care to know how much this hurts us.

But I will hold on to Jesus.

I will seek Him. I will chase after Him, and I will seek His Truth. I will Listen to Him, and when I fear – I will repent. I will daily study His Truths and lock them deep in my heart. This scripture came to mind recently as I was praying, and it’s stuck with me as a comfort when I’m tempted to fear what may happen.

For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked stumble in time of calamity.

Proverbs 24:16 (NASB)

It’s helpful for me to remember how far God has brought me, and that this is not to my ruin, but to my benefit! I am being tested and refined as silver is refined through fire (Psalm 66:10) so that God may see His image in me. This is a blessing! The more that stress presses in on me, the more I pray. My kids see me praying and they often catch snippets of those prayers. They have, in turn, began developing an active prayer life of their own. In fact, one of my most frequent prayers is that of thanksgiving for these beautiful children that God has blessed me with!

Theresa praying Chelsea praying

It’s during moments of pure blessing like these, that I remember just how amazing God is and that He alone can strengthen and prepare me for anything. I remember that our family’s house is built on The Rock, and it will weather any storm.  I stop and take a knee, thanking God and asking for what I need in that moment, for that day and He answers me, filling me with love, patience, wisdom, and Truth. He reminds me that I am never walking alone, nor am I expected to handle big problems alone. He enables to me to shine His Light, no matter how big that storm raging around me is.

The wise man built his house upon the Rock - and shone His light for ALL to see. Even in a severe storm.

 “All who listen to my instructions and follow them are wise, like a man who builds his house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents, and the floods rise and the storm winds beat against his house, it won’t collapse, for it is built on rock.

Matthew 7:24-25 (TLB)

And I will continue to shine His light, and proclaim His Truth from our house upon The Rock, when the sun shines and when the storm rages, for I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

Bath {Toys Embedded in} Soap

While many don’t start preparing for Christmas until after Thanksgiving, or at least Halloween, I’ve already started and been going strong for about 35 days now. Yep! You read that right! I’ve been baking Christmas cookies, buying and wrapping gifts, and watching Christmas movies with my daughters. (To be fair, Barbie’s Perfect Christmas is really cute and totally worth watching at least a dozen times a year!) 😉

Anyway, I’ve moved on (for a little while) from purchasing gifts to making them and I’ve set my sights upon homemade bath and beauty products. Right now, my attention is fully on homemade soap, particularly embedding toys in homemade soap, which looks to be just about the coolest endeavor ever!

While looking around the internet for ideas and inspiration, I came upon a really sweet etsy.com page that not only has some of the most adorable soap I’ve ever seen, but is also for a really good cause! JollyBeeSoap gives 100% of their proceeds on the following soap to K4K (Kare For Kids), an organization through Church Missions Network that feeds orphans and widows in Africa. I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s absolutely worth the price of a cute bar of soap – and then some!

Image

But wait! It gets better! Not only does the purchase of this soap greatly bless women and children in Africa, it’s also made with minimal fragrance and is safe for sensitive skin. Now I’m really interested! On the site, there are also other soaps made from vegan materials and organic materials, so you can take care of the earth, your skin and still bless others in the process! I am so hooked!

You can find JollyBeeSoap’s Etsy.com shop HERE and the particular soaps I showcase HERE.

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward them for what they have done.

Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)

So, what do you think? Will you be trying out homemade soaps this year? Are you already making them? What tips or tools of the trade can you share with us? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!

Homemade {Laundry} Cleaners

I’ve been making my own laundry soap for about four years now and I really love the price – about $10 for a year’s supply, and I do a lot of laundry! Recently, I stumbled across another blogger who does it even better than I do, and I’m excited to share her page with you. The Not So Modern Housewife not only has a more economical recipe (assuming you can buy in bulk as I do), but it’s greener and safer for your family too!

Before I share her recipe, I’ll go ahead and share mine for those who might be interested. You can make this as a powder or cook it to make a liquid. The liquid comes out looking a lot like egg flower soup.

Economical (but not as green) Laundy Soap

(makes 5 gallons of liquid, approx 2-1/2 gallons of powder)

Ingredients

  • 1 box Borax for powder, or (1-1/2 Cups for liquid)
  • 1 box washing soda for powder or (1-1/2 Cups for liquid)
  • 2 bars Fels naptha, grated
  • 1/2 box epsom salt for powder. (I do not add this to liquid)
  • 1 – 3lb box OxyClean

Directions for powder soap

  • mix all ingredients together and store in airtight container. Use 2 Tablespoons per full load, regardless of how heavy the dirt is. For half or small loads, use 1 Tablespoon.

Directions for liquid soap

  • In a large stock pot, boil 1 gallon of water, then add in the grated fels naptha. Stir to combine, then turn heat down to medium (about 4). Continue stirring every 2-3 minutes until soap is fully melted, to prevent soap from sticking to bottom of pan.
  • Add in Borax and washing soda in 1/2 Cup increments until fully combined. Stir every 1-2 minutes to keep soap from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Turn off burner and pour soap into a clean, empty 5 gallon bucket.
  • Using stock pot, fill bucket with cold water. Stir with the end of a clean mop, broom or other long handled stick. (I’ve even used a clean vacuum attachment handle!)
  • Let sit for 24 hours with a lid on. (Does not need to be on tightly except for safety reasons. You don’t want kids or pets to get into this. If kids and pets not a problem, just set lid on top to keep dirt, bugs, etc out)
  • Use 1/4 to 1/2 Cup of cleaner per load of laundry. I use about 1/4 Cup or less with regularly soiled laundry and about 1/2 Cup with very heavily soiled laundry.

Other cool “do it yourself” laundry tips

  1. Distilled white vinegar rinse for clothes as a fabric softener. (I’ve been doing this for about 4 years and only on pillows has there ever been a risidual smell) I use about 3 Tablespoons per load in the rinse cycle.
  2. 3 Tablespoons of inexpensive hair conditioner for fabric softener
  3. 2 Tablespoons epsom salt for fabric conditioner
  4. Pure lemon juice in place of bleach
  5. 1/2 Cup hydrogen peroxide and 1/2 Cup washing soda in soak cycle in place of Oxyclean to whiten and brighten clothes
  6. 1 Tablespoon tea tree oil, 3 Tablespoons cider vinegar, 1 Tablespoon baking soda in loads containing pet items. (I use this primarily in the heart of flea and tick season, as both fleas and ticks abhor tea tree oil)

All of these laundry recipes and tips and tricks are very economical, costing just a fraction of a penny per use, but there is this one from The Not So Modern Housewife that I recently found that got me all excited!

Out of respect for her blog, I will only list the ingredients, not the recipe here. I encourage you to go check her page out for the full recipe HERE.

She uses

  • baking soda (on amazon for $0.92/lb) (I have found this for $0.65/lb and less at Winco before)
  • washing soda (on amazon for $2.40/lb)
  • epsom salt (on amazon for $1.49/lb)
  • salt (on amazon for $0.49/lb)
  • a few drops of essential oil for fragrance. (price varies depending on oil)

The amount per load you need is less, which is a major money saver for us frugal folks!

What’s more, The Not So Modern Housewife points out that Fels Naptha can cause a build up on clothes, especially cloth diapers, which can lead to leaks. Yuck! I’m glad I found this out before having baby #3!

I have a friend who recently turned me onto Dr. Bronner’s castile soap for all my housecleaning needs as well. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve found some good deals on it on Amazon.com. You can find them HERE.

So what’s your secret to saving money on laundry soap? Do you have any special recipes, tips or tricks? Any favorite scents you use? Feel free to share in the comments section.

{Bedtime Story} The Story of Us

I wrote this for my facebook page “About” section, but also for my very young daughters, as a fun way to teach them how we came to be a family. I hope you enjoy it as much as my girls have.

 

Once upon a time a beautiful princess met a shy prince. She told him that he was cute and they should get married. The prince said yes and in true fairy tale form, they were married in a lovely church setting, dressed in their very best. All of the people in their land came to witness the beautiful union. Birds sang, deer mopped the floors, and chipmunks washed the dishes. It was delightful! What a sight to see! And then, in true Hollywood fairy tale form, fog set in, scary music played in the background, and hard times set in. Evil witches and warlocks tried to use their magic to break apart the prince and princess, but their love was stronger than any magic that ever was or ever could be, for they had magic of their own! A tiny baby formed in the princesses’ womb, giving her unimaginable strength and courage. As the hard times bit into the princesses pride and patience, this tiny baby grew and grew. When the princess finally gave birth to the little darling, the prince took one look at baby Tess and knew he’d never be the same, for HIS strength and patience and determination were multiplied as well, and as the couple became a family of three, their magic was multiplied and strengthened more. But the evil witches and warlocks were not yet done testing the beautiful family, for more hard times were to come. Not to worry though, for another baby formed in the womb of the beautiful princess and just as had happened before, as the baby grew in the womb, so did the princesses’ strength and patience, and finally, confidence. The princess began to use her magic for even more good than before and as the baby in the Princess’s womb grew, Baby Tess grew into a toddler. Baby Tess and her parents greatly anticipated the arrival of Baby Chelsea. It felt like forever before the blessed baby finally came, but one night, there she was! Carried in by a tall, magical stork with bright red curly hair and a lovely baby of her own at home, sleeping peacefully. Now the beautiful family of three was a family of four, and instead of wondering whether they were strong enough to weather the storm, they knew. Their magic was now stronger than any magic anywhere in the land, and they laughed heartily at the times to come ahead, for they knew that as long as they had each other, they had their magic, too. And yes, they’re currently living happily ever after in a sweet little house on the coast of Oregon and no magic, evil or otherwise has ever been stronger than the love this family shares with each other.

Gladness in Trials

It’s been a long time since I’ve written in this blog. I keep looking at it, thinking about it, and wondering when I’m ever going to make time to write again. The Lord has brought me on such a journey since I began writing for Nest Full of Birds. The entire vision has changed as I have changed. The structure of my family has changed as well. God has grown us into the people He has desired us to be at this time, and we have accepted that call, moving into His will and letting ours go. It has not been without a fight, and therein lie many of the struggles we have faced. Once we finally settled down and accepted that God can be trusted both in good times and in bad, we began to see the many blessings – the rich blessings which are far too many to be named,  bestowed upon us. If I tried to list every blessing we’ve been given in the last few years, I could not do it. They are too many. What I will do is list some of our greatest blessings. Some may surprise you. I know it has surprised me to consider some of them blessings, but they are! They are proof that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28 NLT)

  • We lost a baby 2 days before Christmas in 2010. This certainly took a long, long time to recognize any amount of blessing from this tragedy. What I learned is profound and deep. God cried with us. Our child was born into heaven and “Jesus wept.” John 11:35 (NIV)
  • My husband was deployed many, many times during the six years he was in the Navy. In fact, he was away more than he was at home. I learned that my husband is not an idol to be worshipped, but a flawed, sinful human like me, who needs love and prayer. Exodus 20:3 (ISV) “You are to have no other gods besides me.”
  • We moved many times and I met a diverse number of Christians who taught me that there is more than one way to love and worship our Lord. This opened me up to considering others’ needs, wants and feelings once again and I was stretched and grown in the face of my own sin, and that of others. Isaiah 1:18,19 (NIV) sum it up best, saying “Come now, let us settle the matter, says the Lord.“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land…
  • My husband was unemployed following his honorable discharge from the Navy. There were days when we went hungry. My stomach would growl loudly and painfully as I walked through the grocery store with a borrowed $20 to purchase food for my children so they could eat. Philippians 4:12 says “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”
  • I got a speeding ticket and was pulled over shortly before that for driving without my lights on during a time of darkness. Ever since I was a very small girl, I have been deeply afraid of authority figures, especially cops. When I was pulled over, I was shaking because I was afraid the cop would try to hurt me. I was a woman in a car alone with two small children. No man to protect me. The cop could’ve done anything he wanted to, and no one would’ve protected me. But the cop did not treat me unkindly. He was professional and kind. My fears were all for nought. I cried as I pulled away, and thanked God for reminding me that He can and will heal the hurts of the past. He sure did on those two occassions.
  • My husband told me I was a bully. He called me out on something I’d been picking on him about. For those of you who know Anthony, you’re well aware that he never says an unkind word to me, even when I’ve deserved it! But one day, he’d had enough of my nitpicking and called me on it. It shocked me, but I was glad to have heard the truth about how my behavior affected him. Proverbs 27:6 (NASB) says “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”