What is He calling you to? How about community?

A lot of you have asked what I’ve been up to lately. I hardly know where to begin.

A few months ago Ryan and I decided he should take a leap of faith and leave his *great* job to do what God called him to do. So he did. It’s been an adjustment but there is such peace in knowing you are where God wants you.

The boys are growing too much. Carsten is almost 17 and driving. Maxon is a freshman in high school and doing well on the football team. Andrew is as fun as ever and Matthias is a busy preschooler. It is a barrel of monkeys exciting to teach him at home. :) And did I mention my house is ALWAYS full of teenagers?

We love the community we live in. God definitely brought us here. I enjoy so much just soaking it all in. I am so thankful for all that He has given us.

My sister and her two kiddos moved in with us about a month ago. That has been a grand adventure. We like having them so close and it sure makes for some fun filled days. Now if only I could curb all of these appetites. Gosh, can they ever eat food!

I’m also just staying busy in His word, attending Bible college, and meeting with friends regularly. I guess I’ve just hardly had time to be online and I am so okay with that. In fact, I am thankful for it.

What have you been up to?

Oh, my friend Sharon recently published this awesome book on hospitality. She has some amazing ideas (and recipes) for bringing friends and family together around DIPS. Easy and fun!

serendipity 3D coverSharon Sloan’s SerenDIPity is a refreshing and unique way to entertain and open your home in hospitality. Sharon’s SerenDIPity invites you to gather friends together in this DIPlightful way to celebrate dips, faith and friendship! In SerenDIPity, Sharon shares the inspiration and practicality for entertaining with whimsical flair. Filled with savory and sweet surprises, SerenDIPity will take you from the ordinary to the exceptional in culinary creativity that is easy to do and fun for your guests! This fun and practical book will help you to:

  1. Open up your home and heart through hospitality.
  2. Creatively prepare and execute your own SerenDIPity party.
  3. Set the stage for fun, friends, and fellowship.
  4. Learn the ins and outs of hosting fun contests and giveaways.
  5. Prepare savory and sweet dips.
  6. Know what to do after the party.
  7. Know what the Bible says about hospitality and fellowship.
What Others are Saying

“My sweet friend Sharon displays hospitality in beautiful ways. Her thoughtful touches, delicious recipes and gracious heart have been amazing gifts to me during the years of our friendship. I can’t wait to read SerenDIPity and learn some of her best kept secrets!”

- Lysa TerKeurst (NY Times Bestselling author of Unglued and Made to Crave, and President of Proverbs 31 Ministries)

“As a professional food stylist for over 18 years, I have learned that my presentations must reflect my clients, whether homespun, retro or eclectic. Their personalities must shine through. My dearest friend Sharon’s SerenDIPity hospitality inspiration allows the hostess that same freedom. Regardless of budget, experience or culinary skill, this book assists the hostess in creating a fanciful and fun party of dips for friends and family.”

- Lucille Osborn (Professional Food Stylist and Founder of Psalm 34:8 Cooking Ministry)

Bonuses

You can sign up to receive SerenDIPity’s 5 Days of Presentation. You can also download some free printables to go along with the book and meditate on some dollops of scripture. And of course, there are sweet and savory dip recipes!

What Personal Care Products I Use…

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Because I make my own DIY cleaning products I am always asked what I use for personal care products.

I make my own deodorant (natural deodorant recipe), my own recipe for toothpaste, sugar scrubs, and lip balm. I buy some other products on Etsy, use a triple milled bar soap for bathing and shampooing, and I also really like products from Jordan Essentials.

Their products are safe and made in the USA. They use ingredients like Shea Butter, Soy, Coconut oil, Beeswax, Dead Sea Salts, Grapeseed oils and more. The 5 main ingredients Jordan Essentials avoids is DEA, Isopropyl Alcohol, Mineral Oil, Parabens, SLS / SLES, and Aluminum and they are dye free!  Did I hear an amen?

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My favorites are the products in the face care set. The cleanser works wonders on makeup and isn’t harsh or drying, the toner is refreshing and smells so good, and the moisturizer isn’t greasy and leaves my face feeling soft. I don’t use the eye cream often but I’m sure it works great too.

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My friend, Angie Parrett, sent me these products to try and I am smitten with the salt scrub and lotion. I really like the shampoo and conditioner as well and that “messiest hands” products is so perfect for little Matthias, the resident preschooler, who loves to paint, play in mud, get full of glue, and use clay for making letters. It gets off everything and it smells great. I also use it when I craft and it gets all of the gunk off and leaves my hands feeling really soft.

I’m often asked if I use the “no poo” method of shampooing and the answer is a loud no. I’ve tried it  few times and maybe it is because my hair is thick and course but I cannot get the baking soda to do anything for my hair. I’ve tried rinsing with vinegar too and that is just a nightmare. I prefer to use bar soap to shampoo and just buy conditioner. It’s just easiest for me and works the best.

So, what do you use for personal care products?

What Wines to Use with What Dishes: Cooking with Black Box Wine

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I cook with wine quite often. It is an easy way to refine a dish and kick it up a notch. The alcohol in the wine doesn’t add any flavor but it does help to release flavor molecules in the ingredients and it is superb at dissolving fats which also aids in enhancing the flavor of foods.

If you cook with wine you always want to make sure that you cook most of the alcohol out. If you don’t it will taste like alcohol and defeat the purpose of using it to enhance flavor. The best way to make sure that you’ve cooked the wine out is to let it reduce by half after adding it. The more it reduces the more delicious it becomes.

You may have heard the saying, “don’t cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink.” This is very true. “Cooking” wines don’t do for your dishes what a sophisticated, mature wine will do. For the most part, we only drink wine on biblical holidays but even though we don’t drink wine often, I know what a good wine tastes like just by smelling it and cooking with it.

Whites or Reds?

I use white wines with poultry, fish, and cream sauces.White tends to be more acidic and gives you a great flavor symphony when used in dishes. Cook for 15-20 minutes.

I prefer red for beef, bison, venison, and heavy vegetable dishes. Keep in mind that adding a red wine to any dish will add color to it. Red is also perfect for tomato based dishes. It deepens flavors and should be cooked for 30-45 minutes after adding to any dish.

Is it safe to cook with alcohol?

While not all of the alcohol will evaporate during the cooking process, the majority of it will and it is completely safe for consumption. One serving will contain significantly less alcohol than a dose of your most used cough syrup. The longer you cook the wine the more the alcohol evaporates.

Want to try it?

Start with something simple. My Cajun Shrimp and Grits is easy and delicious!

how to make cajun shrimp and grits

Pure Hope: Adding Hope and Biblical Truth to the Conversation on Purity

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PureHopeWhen I was growing up I didn’t have a purity ring. I didn’t have anyone to teach me the right way to handle situations. I did what I thought was normal even though instinctively I knew it was wrong. As a result I was pregnant for my late, former spouse before we were married and he was not the only man I’d ever shared myself with. I didn’t know why it was wrong until I gave my life to Christ at the age of 21, just a few weeks after I married my first husband.

It became even more obvious to me when I stepped out into youth ministry and began searching for themes for summer camps and youth conferences. Purity was a  hot topic. Though the scriptural foundation of abstinence and purity was on target the method of the message was lacking.  As I read about and pondered all the ways to illustrate why we should stay sexually pure I became a bit disgusted. The illustrations included having everyone spit into a cup and asking if anyone was willing to drink it. The point being that is what a person who has had multiple sexual partners is equal to: disgusting spit. Really, I could have cared less that this equated me with spit. What I cared about was the message, or lack thereof.

It bothered me immensely because it took the focus off of God and away from the atoning sacrifice of His precious son, Jesus Christ. It put the focus on a night of supposed honeymoon bliss between two sexually pure people. It put the focus on the pride of saying you saved yourself for marriage. It put the focus on self. Self earned accolades. I struggled to find Jesus in this message.

As I grew in my faith I began to see another dark side to the purity issue. The other extreme that says that there is freedom in exploring one’s sexual desires outside of the covenant of marriage and despite what the Bible commands. An extreme where the very essence of who God is, LOVE, is exploited in order to fulfill the lusts of ones flesh. God clearly defines love for us in 1 Corinthians 13 and it has nothing to do with feelings or desires. Both messages failed to point people to Christ but this other extreme was much too permissive about something that Jesus, the Word of God, strictly prohibits:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  1 Corinthians 6:9-11

For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.  Ephesians 5:5

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 1 Thessalonians 4:-18

I could go on and on with the scriptures that command that we abstain from sexual immorality (fornication, incest, homosexuality, bestiality, and orgies) but I think those are sufficient. It is a commandment from Leviticus 17-18. This is basic stuff. The problem is that over and over Christians have strayed from the Torah, the commands of God. We rewrite and rework them based on culture, time, preference, psychology, philosophy, desires and emotions. Then we blame God and say, “You made me this way.” Sound like a replay from the garden of Eden? Satan is consistent in his deception.

God created us with the ability to choose: good or bad. For each good decision we are blessed or rewarded. For each bad decision we receive just discipline or punishment. For each repentance we receive unmerited grace. That is the mighty LOVE of Jesus Christ at work. For those like me who did sin, who fell short, and who made the wrong decision – there is HOPE. There is Jesus. And as we seek Him and walk in His ways we are washed white as snow. We become pure not because of ourselves but because of Him. I honor my own body because I honor Him.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers,by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:1–2

My body is a living sacrifice.

How powerful is that?

After my first marriage ended I  didn’t feel like used goods. I felt like a “new creation in Christ” (Ephesians 2) just as He describes me to be. I shared myself with no other man until the night I married my forever husband. I chose to glorify the one I will spend eternity with: Jesus Christ. I chose to abstain from sex for no other reason but to honor Him. This has very little to do with me or sex and everything to do with my relationship with my Lord and Savior. I chose to be obedient to His Word and He enabled me. The rewards, though not all were as I expected, were plentiful and more than I could have hoped for.

There is always hope, always a second chance, for those who repent and are obedient to His Word.

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There are so many more women who contributed to this conversation today. I invite you to comment here and then visit the others. You can find links to their blogs here: Pure Hope: Bringing Grace and Truth to the Conversation About Purity

Recipes for Gravy – Make a Roux: Cajun Style, 3 Ways

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One of the most asked questions I get on my blog is about Cajun cooking. People want to know how to make a roux. They want recipes for gravy, Cajun style. I’m sharing how I make my basic roux, traditional black roux, and dry roux.

Black Roux

First, watch this video to see how to make a traditional black roux. I would have made a video but why bother when this is the perfect example of how we do it. Notice that he uses a wood spoon and constantly stirs. Also, pay attention as he describes the smells. These are the signals we look for when cooking a roux.

A black roux is mostly used for gumbos. It is more flavorful but it looses its ability to thicken the darker it gets.

Ingredients:
60% Flour (I prefer King Arthur’s)
40% Fat (tallow, ghee, or other animal fat) – the fat must have a high smoke point

Basic Roux

For a basic roux which is used for stews, brown gravies, étouffées, and sauces you need flour (60%) and fat (40%). The difference with the basic roux is that we brown our meat first and use the fat rendered to make the roux. First, you season the meat well. Brown the meat in the pan ( I recommend cast iron, enameled cast iron, or stainless). Once the meat is browned remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon.

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Add a small bit of additional fat if you need to in order to get to that 60/40 ratio. For one pot of stew I typically use 1 1/4 cups flour and 1 cup fat. That makes about 8-10 servings.

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Add the flour and begin to stir and be attentive just like the video shows.

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Once your roux is the color you want, add your water, broth, or stock. Beware of the intense heat that will bellow up. Stir to combine then add the meat back in and any other ingredients you want to add to your stew.

cajun roux recipe

Congratulations! You just made a roux!

Dry Roux

It is HOT here in Louisiana. During the summer I don’t want to stand in front of a hot stove stirring a roux so we tend to make lots of dry roux. The best part about a dry roux is that it requires much less fat than a traditional or basic roux.

Ingredients: 3-4 cups of flour

Evenly distribute the flour in the bottom of a cast iron skillet or other dutch oven. Stainless or enameled cast iron work as well. Place the dutch oven in a 400° F oven for an hour to an hour and a half depending on how dark you like your roux. You must stir every 15 minutes so set a timer. Be careful to stir it because you don’t want it to burn. Once it reaches a dark peanut butter color remove it from the oven.

dry roux recipe

To store it: Place in a canning jar or other container in the freezer. It will keep for up to a year.

To use it: Use the same amount of dry roux as a recipe calls for basic roux. If it says 1 cup then you need 1 cup of dry roux mixed with about 1/2 cup water. Or, you can just put the dry roux in the pot with you meat and seasonings.

I Used to Despise Women & Femininity

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I am almost ashamed to admit this but… there was a time when I did not want to be a woman. Let me clarify this, I didn’t want to be a man or anything. I still wanted to be a female, I just didn’t want to act like a woman. You see, in the house where I grew up, my feminine role model was a bit out of sorts. Maybe you can relate?

My perception as a teenager was that my mother was a childlike, Rx addicted, bipolar mess. She would spend all of our money, blame it on PMS, then throw a pity party and invite us all. I watched her manipulate us with her emotions so many times and hurt us so deeply that I swore I would never be anything like her. For me, that meant no crying, no vulnerability, no emotional attachment. I especially strayed from relationships with women. It seemed as though all of my best girl friends always betrayed me or reminded me of my mother in some way.

I didn’t let men open doors for me. That showed weakness. I told you I was a bit warped. In fact, I used to have a saying that I would use anytime I caught myself being emotional or feminine, I would say, “Ugh, I’m such a girl”. I despised it. It took years of praying and heartfelt repentance to bring me to a new place. But still, it wasn’t easy.

God answered my prayers though. He put two gentlemen in my life who saw what a mess I was and I honestly believe God used them to retrain me. When we were out and about they refused to let me open a door, pump gas, carry heavy things, and all of that other stuff. One of them, in one of the weakest moments of my life when I did cry said to me, “Don’t hide your face when you cry. It’s OK.” He was right. It was OK. The other reminded me constantly that I was indeed a girl and it was more than okay to act like one.

Had these two friends not been in my life I don’t think I ever would have accepted my husband when I met him. He was too much of a gentleman. He does so much for me, carrying in groceries, opening doors, cleans up, makes me ice cream, carries my books, and so much more and I love it! He makes me feel like a woman! This truly is what God meant for our lives as women. We are the soft, gentle, sometimes emotional ones. I embrace that now. I find joy in feminine things.

And my mom, the woman I resisted for so long, is now mom again. A few years God intervened in our life in a mighty way. She developed some health problems that caused her kidneys to almost completely shut down. We thought we were going to lose her. God healed her body and our hearts. Things haven’t been the same since. My self righteous attitude towards her is gone now. I began to see her as a person and not as a reason and excuse for my behavior. She is a wonderful woman with so much to offer. We still have a ways to go in our relationship but it is improving even daily.

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I’m also letting other women in. I’ve embraced friendships and accepted the fact that sometimes, we fail but love doesn’t. If I love my friends and they love me then we will make it. I won’t say it’s easy. My protective stance still wants to jump in and push people away but I have found speaking God’s Word, His truth, over our relationships has helped tremendously. I invest in them and they invest in me.

I’ve come a long way. I’m embracing and striving for femininity more and more every day and my friends and I? We’re running this race together. My life is so fulfilled now that I don’t let my fears hinder me.

Sometimes our pasts do mold and shape us. However, it is up to us as to whether or not we allow God, the Potter, to reshape us. His way is better.

How to Make Deodorant – All Natural Deodorant Recipe

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In my quest to lead a healthier, more natural lifestyle, I knew I had to find a new deodorant. There is too much research to suggest that some of the ingredients in commercial deodorants cause cancer or at least create an atmosphere for cancer to grow and thrive. We won’t get into the claims that it may contribute to alzheimer’s. To me, looking at what evidence does exist and the fact that these diseases are on the rise in countries and during our time when these products are readily available (and hardly ever questioned) is enough proof that we should just use something we know is safe.

That’s smart, right? Besides, I hate paying $5 for deodorant. This costs pennies on the dollar.

This is the most basic deodorant recipe. I find it works very well and you only need a little. I had to get used to applying it differently but after a couple of days it didn’t phase me one bit.

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Basic Deodorant

  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder (you can substitute cornstarch but some find that irritating to their skin)
  • 5 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • Essential oils (optional – I used 7 drops of lavender and 4 drops of tea tree)

Mix everything together in a bowl and place in a sterilized, glass container for storage. To use, swipe fingers in mixture and apply to underarms. If you can get past the fact that this isn’t a stick or a spray then you will be in for a treat!

infused coconut oil

If you want something a bit more softening and feminine then I suggest infusing your coconut oil prior to using it in the recipe. It’s super easy and gives the deodorant that added boost. The lavender also helps with irritation from shaving.

To infuse the oil (by the way I infuse so many different things: olive oil, vinegar, you name it!) you will need the following:

  • dried lavender
  • dried chamomile
  • dried calendula
  • coconut oil
  • glass jar

I get my ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs but you can also find them on Amazon or at your local health food stores.

infused coconut oil for homemade deodorant

Gather your ingredients. Using about 2 cups of oil (melted) and a total of 1 cup of dried flowers (I mix them up) put all ingredients in the glass jar. Set out in the sun or on a window ledge for 4-5 days to allow the flowers to permeate the oil. After a few days, strain the oil using a coffee filter or cheese cloth. Use filtered oil to make deodorant. You’ll LOVE it!

UPDATED:
I received several questions about how I filter the oil so here is a video to show you. Here are links to the products I use (affiliate) Japanese dripper and coffee pot.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/news/20120112/are-fears-that-deodorant-causes-breast-cancer-unfounded
http://www.naturalnews.com/033364_deodorants_chemical_ingredients.html
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/06/29/cbsnews_investigates/main51…
http://www.ewg.org/chemindex/term/563
http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/best-natural-d…
http://www.health-report.co.uk/ethylene_glycol_propylene_glycol.htm
http://www.naturalingredient.org/syntheticfragrances.htm

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through these links help to support our family and keep this site operating. Thank you!

Coffee Sugar Scrub Recipe – Moisturizing & Energizing!

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I find my hands get really dry from time to time. I’ve used professional exfoliants and expensive moisturizers and though they work for the most part, I don’t know what is really in them and it gets quite costly to buy. So, you know me, I did some research.

I found that using sugar scrubs is one of the best things I can do for my skin. Sugar scrubs rid the skin of dead skin cells, dirt and other leftover products. They make your skin fresh and silky smooth and aids in your skins ability to rehydrate itself.

Let’s make it even better. Add coffee.

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I first saw the idea of adding coffee to sugar scrubs in Stacy Karen’s ebook, Simple Scrubs to Make and Give. I took her idea and adapted it to my recipe. It awakens your senses, softens your hands, and gets you prepped for the day. I use it every morning and I LOVE it.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1⁄3 cup jojoba oil (you can substitute apricot, almond, olive or grapeseed)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup ground coffee (I like Community Coffee but I may be biased)
  • Vitamin E capsule (clip and squeeze)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

Directions

Mix all ingredients together and store in air tight container. Will keep for 6-8 weeks.

How to Use:

  • Wet hands. Apply scrub on hands and gently scrub together and around fingers to exfoliate.  Rinse and pat dry. Lift hands to face and cup nose. Inhale. Good, yes?

Stacy’s book is just ONE of 97 books and ecourses by your favorite bloggers that will be available for sale on Monday, April 29th. If you want full details (trust me you do want full details) come back on Monday and check out this amazing deal. I’ll be offering additional bonuses for everyone who purchases from my blog. Come back Monday, mm,kay?

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Home Remedies for the Flu – Elderberry Syrup Recipe

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I admit it. Until I realized I could make many things myself, I spent way too much money at our local health/whole foods stores. One item I purchased regularly was an immune tonic called Elderberry Syrup. Being of French descent this is something I grew up with. We believe in many homemade, natural concoctions for health benefits and this is one that has proven true over and over again.

We take it daily to boost our immune system and if we do get a cold or flu we take it every 3 hours or so. I also find this makes you have regular bowel movements. Sorry, it’s true. Why waste money on a fiber supplement? Boost your immune system and go regularly with this. You’re welcome.

Unfortunately, over the years the price has gone from $5 for a liter to just plain ridiculous. This stuff can cost $15 for a 4 oz bottle or if you buy the organic version, up to $50 a bottle! We each take at least one tablespoon of this per day. That is a bit pricey. Still, I paid for it because I knew how valuable the benefits were.

Then I found this recipe by Jodi from Granola Mom. I compared her recipe to the bottle of stuff we bought regularly and adjusted it to fit our needs. Now I make my own and save hundreds of dollars. Here is the altered recipe.

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These are linked to my Amazon affiliate account. You can also purchase from your local health foods store or my favorite place, Mountain Rose Herbs.

Ingredients:

I begin by boiling the 4 cups of water in a large, stainless steel pot. While it is coming to a boil I peel and chop the ginger into small pieces. A rough chop is all you need. Discard the peels. Then I cut the tips off of the vanilla and slice it down the center to reveal the precious vanilla caviar. Once it begins to boil I add everything but the honey.

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Turn down the heat on low and allow it to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Every ten minutes or so I use a potato smasher and smash the berries and other ingredients to get as much of the goodness out of them as I can.

After it has simmered for at least half an hour, strain it into a bowl or other glass container. Again, smash it to get as much of the liquid out as possible. I sometimes strain it twice to avoid to much pulp being left behind. My kids aren’t fond of it.

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Next, allow it to cool for about 10-15 minutes or put into an ice bath to cool it more quickly. Once it is about room temperature, add the honey and mix well.

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Finally pour into a glass jar or other container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 10-12 weeks. The honey will preserve it for about that length of time.

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Usage:

Take one-two tablespoons every day. For kids (DO NOT give to children under the age of 2) up to 8 I think one tablespoon is fine. For teens and adults 2 tablespoons is a good amount. If you have a cold, infection, or flue, take an additional tablespoon every 3-4 hours.

About Kids:

Most of my kids squirm at the thought of anything “medicinal.” Modern medicine ruined them. Because they don’t like taking it as is, I just add it to their juice (apple or grape) with their breakfast in the morning. They get berry flavored juice and I smile knowing they are getting an extra immunity boost.

Disclaimer:

Because we live in a ridiculous world that likes to sue for all kinds of nonsense, I am obligated to say that I am not a doctor, pharmacist, or able to treat, diagnose, or offer advice for any ailment. I can only offer my own experience. Please consult your doctor before using this home remedy or any other. This post is for educational and informational purposes only.

Preschool, hospitals, birthdays, and lots of recipes going on…

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I know it has been a while since I posted. Aside from the server issues, I’ve really just been spending too much time living life to actually write about it. That is a good thing. :) But, this has also motivated me and given me the opportunity to do so much and I’ve actually taken lots of pictures of my endeavors for use in future posts. Here are some of the highlights of my last couple of months.

preschool

Matthias is an inquisitive and eager little boy. I knew months ago when he started spouting off numbers, letters, and trying to read to me that he would need to start preschool soon. As he asked more and more questions and showed more interest I finally caved. I ordered his preschool curriculum, began collecting supplementary material and started redecorating our office into his preschool. He is so excited! These photos are from a couple of weeks ago. I can’t wait to show you what it looks like now.fdp

When I began sharing my natural cleaning recipes a year ago I never dreamed they would go over so well. I knew I loved them but the response from others has been amazing. I even began selling to our community and that did so well my sister and I branched out to sell on Etsy. That was short lived for now since we could not keep up with all of the orders that came in. In one day I had so many orders to make that my microwave and cabinets were covered in orders. This experience got me lots of feedback and so over that time I’ve honed my recipes and added new techniques to improve them. I’ll be sharing that with you soon.

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One of the ways I love to serve my community is by providing meals to families who have new babies, are going through illness or injury, or are just having a hard time. Recently while preparing my family recipe of Cajun chicken stew I photographed the entire process to share the recipe you. Even the “how to make a roux” part. :)

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I have gained quite a bit of weight since I had Matthias. I knew it was time to get off my behind and do something about it. I purposed to be on the computer no more than one hour total per day, exercise regularly and learn to eat right. I had already moved my family to a real food diet but proportions and eating times were what I needed help with. Also, I just didn’t have time to cook that many meals a day so I decided to go with a pre-packaged food program like NutriSystem. I now call it Nutri-Yuck. Yep, it is that bad. I knew it wouldn’t be anything close to real food but I didn’t think it would be that bad. It was. After a couple of weeks of eating that stuff I had had enough. I was learning much about how to eat and I was losing weight but the food had to go. I decided to make my own pre-packaged food program. It meant I had to spend a good bit of time up front prepping and planning but it was worth it! I’m losing weight and I feel so much better.

Did I mention I am running in my first 5K soon? Oh my.

makingstuff

I have had a lot of time to make, create, and come up with stuff. I’ve made my own deodorant, toothpaste, immunity elixir, lip balm, foot scrub, and so many more things and I took pictures of it all. We’ve also created lots of fun manipulatives and such for Matthias’ preschool.

grandma

Grandma has been in and out of the hospital quite a bit lately. It is very hard on her physically and emotionally. She is hanging in there. Prayers would be appreciated.

broke foot

Andrew decided to play football outside, barefoot. He broke said bare foot. Yep. After a week or so of being in a cast we saw it wasn’t healing and so the doctor decided to do surgery. He will now be in a cast for 4-6 more weeks. Barefoot. Am I the only mom who has this problem?

2947_10152520547365089_17964458_n

We have had lots of birthdays recently. Andrew turned 12. Matthias turned 3. And me? I’ll have a birthday in a couple of days. I actually had to do math to figure out how old I’ll be. 38. Thirty-eight years old. Didn’t I just turn 35?

bible study

I have been studying His Word a lot lately. I mean I wake up in the morning hungry with hunger pains and it is for His Word. This is all new to me. I’ve desired to study His Word before but this is a whole new level. He is so present with me teaching and guiding me through His Word. It is amazing. I am learning so much!

Finally, I’m getting my house in order spiritually and physically. We’ve been here less than a year but it seems it is taking a while to get settled and organized. I finally just purposed to get it done. I have found so much joy in serving my family in our home. I know it may sound strange but I really feel this way. It is not a “job” it is a “calling” and I am thrilled that I was chosen.

Study to show thyself approved…

Studying God's Word

Lately I’ve just been studying and studying. I feel such a great need to get back to the Word. His Bible. I love reading other books that supplement but goodness, so much of it is milk. I need something meaty (Hebrews 5:12). I want to know more and more about our Lord and Savior and to do that I have to study His Word. After all, He is the Word (1 John 1:1) and He fulfilled the Torah completely (Matthew 5:17).

In all my years of studying I never stopped to consider Jesus’ heritage or His culture. The more I study my own, the more I realize how much a part it has played in the person I am, how I speak, think, and live life. This has led me to know more about Jesus’ heritage and culture; the Jewish and Hebrew.

Studying God's Word

I started by inquiring of a friend who is more knowledgeable in this area than I am. Tracy gave me some resources to look into and shared some posts with me that she had written. After praying and considering what God would have me do I took the first step and read a book called Sitting At the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. It was such an eye opener. The significance of scripture is so much greater now that I understand the cultural implications. I know, love, respect, honor, and and am in awe of my Jesus so much more now than I ever was before.

Now, I am reading a couple of additional books and taking some online courses to have a greater understanding of Jesus’ life and time. Once I am done and can fully recommend it I will provide a link. I just have to filter it all first and make sure it lines up with the Bible. So far, so good. In fact, so far it’s been great!

So tell me, have you ever studied these aspects of Christ?

Bible Study Tools and Supplies

bible

There is so much we will be covering in regards to bible study. Really, it is an ongoing lesson for me too so I’ll share as I go. For starters, let’s look at some of the tools we can use. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. It is simply meant to be used as a guide to walk you through practical ways you can get the most out of your study time and to find out for yourself the meaning of scripture as well as it’s origin. Over time you will develop your own techniques and style for studying God’s word and that is how it should be!

I am about to embark on some new learning adventures and I’ll definitely share them with you. Before you read anymore here is a short two minute video about all you really need to study the bible.

 

Helpful tools:
  • Bible (several translations if possible, including the KJV and Amplified) This list is an explanation of the most popular versions. I prefer the NASB and NKJ. For casual reading I still lean towards the NLT translation.
  1. KJV (King James Version) – This is the original English version written in the 1600s. Over time, as Old English was spoken less and less, it became increasingly hard to read and understand this version. It was predominantly written word for word from the original Greek and Hebrew even though English is not spoken using the same word order. It is the most widely accepted version and most all bible study tools use it as a reference which is why it is important to own this translation.
  2. NIV (New International Version) – This translation has tried to balance between emphasis on word-for-word translation and emphasis on meaning. It attempts to preserve the literal text, while bringing forth the concepts and ideas of the message.
  3. NKJ (New King James Version) – This version is similar to the KJV but it was translated putting less emphasis on word order making it somewhat easier to read and understand. It still contains idioms and metaphors which are highly suited for more advanced readers.
  4. NLT (New Living Translation) – This text is clearly written and easy to understand. It is translated thought by thought from the original Greek and Hebrew and places more emphasis on overall meaning instead of word for word translation.
  5. NASB (New American Standard Bible) -  This version translates the original texts as literally as possible, preserving word-for-word equivalency and original sentence structure in English wherever possible.
  6. Amplified Bible – The Amplified Bible captures the full meaning behind the original Greek and Hebrew fully defining the words along the way.
  7. The Message – This vivid meaning by meaning translation provides the reader with an easy to understand and applicable approach to the original language. It is not translated word for word and uses modern slang.
  • Colored pencils (for highlighting in your bible) It is important to note that liquid highlighters leave marks, fade, and bleed so it is typically better to use dry colored pencils on the thin sheets of the bible.
  • Notebook (for recording your findings) – Any notebook will do. JUST GET ONE! There is no greater disappointment than knowing God showed you something about a particular scripture or event in your life but not remembering exactly what it was that He showed you. If you write things down then you will always be able to go back over it.
  • Concordance (preferably Strong’s Concordance) – The Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance is the most complete, easy-to-use, and understandable concordance for studying the original languages of the Bible. Combining the text of the King James Bible with the power of the Greek and Hebrew Lexicons, you can gain a clearer understanding of the Word.
  • Bible dictionary- The  bible dictionary contains a wealth of varied information in an easy-to-find alphabetical arrangement. It cross references scriptures for most translations. It is filled with facts and pictures as well as a guide to the arts, cultures, geography, geology, theologies, philosophies, maps, and lifestyles of biblical times.
  • Bible handbook (preferably Halley’s Bible Handbook) -The bible handbook provides time-tested help for understanding the Bible—not just with the mind, but also with the heart. It includes a concise Bible commentary, important discoveries in archaeology, related historical data, church history, maps, and more.

The basic formula for study could be derived from these key elements:

  1. Choose a book or topic to study.
  2. Pray.
  3. Read and ask who, what, when, where, and why.
  4. Study using tools to discover history, context, and author.
  5. Record findings.
  6. Apply.
  7. Continue to pray.

We will dissect one scripture as a guide. Let’s use John 3:16.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

1. Read the entire chapter of John to get a greater understanding of the time, place, people spoken to, and relevance.

2. Look it up in a couple of different translations. Do you notice anything different?

3. Look it up in the concordance. We’ll use the word “believeth” as an example. We find that the Strong’s number is G4100 and it is used 248 times in the bible. The original transliterations is pisteuō meaning:

1) to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in a) of the thing believed

1) to credit, have confidence b) in a moral or religious reference 1) used in the NT of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of soul

2) to trust in Jesus or God as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something: saving faith

3) mere acknowledgment of some fact or event: intellectual faith 2) to entrust a thing to one, i.e. his fidelity a) to be intrusted with a thing

4. Look up belief in the dictionary. Look at some of the scriptural cross references.

5. Record you findings.

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”      –2 Tim. 2:15.

What are some ways that you study the word?




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