Friday, June 27, 2014

An Answer Without Use of a Tongue

 Time is flying. Summer has accelerated and the moments that I imagined in the bleakness of winter are slipping past me faster than I can fully grasp them. The days are filled with herb books, note-taking, yardwork, and normal chores. 

 Foster care has been sparse but we are in contact with the foster daughter that left. It is surprising to hear from her and yet relieving that she is no longer on the run and in treatment. Her phone conversations are limited and so I write in hopes that I can minister to her. My knowledge of ministering is not a skill that garners attention or accolades nor do I wish it to but I do wish that it were smoother, wiser, and softer. Truly God chooses the foolish things...

 In life I have come  across people who have patiently listened as I shared my faith and those who set out to shut me up before I said a word. Other times, a debate arose and the urge to press my point, to win the argument spurred on my tongue but God has brought me to a different place. A vast expanse is before me and I can see for miles the very details of where I am. Though I have proclaimed the place, those around me say that I may think what I wish but they do not believe as I. To argue would be to claw at the Truth I proclaim therefore I take my tongue captive along with my thoughts. Here is the lesson I have learned in living with loved ones:

tongue It matters not if one says that they do not believe what I believe. This is not a point that I am to argue. One cannot truly proclaim that they do not believe in air yet use the very breath gained from it to speak the words. So what if someone says they do not believe what I do? For their words are meaningless when their actions show that they draw back to the one that they disagree with and that is why I dare not argue. Every moment I live I wish to expose the gloriousness of God and there is nothing within me that would attract someone in whom God is not doing a work. My position is plainly laid out and it is known that I cannot remove God from my being any more than I could remove my flesh nor am I worth interest without God. What I was before Him, I would be now - a pile of selfish anger balled up with  depression and neediness, rejected and despised. If you continue to seek me out, it is not me that you desire. 

 Yes, I agree that we cannot just "live out the Gospel." We must proclaim it but once you have set Truth before someone, like declaring a territory by staking your flag, you do not have to argue that the flag exists or what the flag means. The next logical step would be to live each moment before them in Spirit and Truth building upon the ground that is claimed. This does not mean that I do not pray or talk about God. I cannot help but do those things, it means that I trust God and the Holy Spirit to work without my interfering tongue; for what argument do I have that is better than God of creation taking on flesh to be the propitiation so that man may be restored to God? It is my desire to see that happen to all those that I love.

 Many flags are marched about today with screaming tongues underneath but a stand for Christ is better served with a cross and enduring in Truth. It is not a loosening of Truth or dressing it up or a shrinking away; it is a firm hold of victory that has yet to come in this earthly time. May we persevere in love but do not mistake what I am saying as an answer to every situation, especially not false teachers for that is a response of a completely different position and probably a much longer post. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Faking It

  If you have read this blog with any kind of regularity, you know that there is not much time that passes in between my struggles. Sometimes they are minute and even bordering on ridiculous and sometimes they are legit 5 alarm-ers. Most of the time the struggles are the normal run-of-the-mill type issues - dinner gets ruined the night other people are eating with us, my teenager dislikes me, everything I touch breaks, my mind is clearly convinced that I am a failure at all things...Okay, so my run-of-the-mill issues may not be standard issue for the general population, but surely, most of you have gone through self-checkout and the touch screen gets a microscopic drop of water on it and starts resetting itself to the loudest volume in Spanish right in the middle of you ringing up your groceries. Anyone? 

 Most days to combat this I focus on Scripture that reminds me God is sovereign and therefore I can rest assured that He is using everything for His purpose. Yes, even the computer screaming at me in Espanol during the quietest time of the day accomplished something. I am sure it has to do with my sanctification and forcing me to socialize in the most awkward situations. Instead of screaming "Pagar this" as I beat the screen with the celery stalk that flung the water onto the screen, I have to stop and think, "what is the best way to handle this situation that glorifies God." Don't get me wrong, I do not always come up with the best answer but I guarantee you the lesson that there still exists in me pockets of pride and anger that need Christ is not lost. 

 A few days spring up that I try to fake it. This includes a pep talk session before even getting out of bed about how I have everything under control. Those are miserable days. Truly, delusion must engage itself during the hours when one is asleep, forming play-by-play schemes during periods of dreaming so that it can gather demented fodder. Upon awakening, you sort of recognize the ideas and just grab them up as a valid plan of action. Anyone? 

 God is definitely long-suffering but it pains me to think that I am a fool at such a high expense. The longer one walks with the God, the more one realizes the cost of such trespasses. Faking is better left for the stage or even better for turning an unhealthy favorite into something much more nutritious. So, let me give you some wisdom and a recipe. Do not fake life. Each moment is better lived in Truth that God is in control and you are not. You will fail and fall and cause public technology  mishaps but find ways to show God's grace, to spread the Gospel, and to praise God. Ask every moment, "How can I live out the Gospel?"

 Now let me give you an outlet for faking it. Faking desserts for the sake of nutrition is, I believe, a safe place. My hubby LOVES desserts and never fails to ask what is for dessert as soon as he comes home. Let me assure you that I do NOT make dessert every day but when I do, it is always something counterfeited. Take for instance French Silk Pie. I did a nutritional revamping on a recipe and quietly passed it off to my father and step-mother as well as my family, so let me share it with you in case you feel like faking it. Just remember it is still an indulgence with cream and calories:

 Faux Silk Pie
  • 2/3 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 avocado, ripe, peeled, pit removed
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 1 Tbsp. raw cacao powder 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, softened or coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. steviaCrust
  • 1-1/2 c. almond flour or raw almonds blended until fine
  • 1/3 c. coconut palm sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, softened or coconut oil
  • Prepare crust by mixing almond flour, palm sugar, & butter together then press into a pie pan or springform pan. Set aside.
  • Combine palm sugar and egg in small pot over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon. Remove from the heat. Stir in chocolate, cacao, and vanilla. Set aside to cool.
  • In a blender or food processor, blend avocado until smooth. Add in chocolate mix and mix until well blended. 
  • In a medium bowl, whip cream until thick with Stevia. Slowly fold in avocado chocolate mixture. Once mixed, spread over crust and refrigerate several hours. 
  • Serve with whipped cream made with Stevia or coconut palm sugar. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Stinks to be an Orphaned Skunk

  The deluge that hit us has brought up numerous problems. Our yard is sprouting into a rainforest. Weeds have taken over everything and they are super-ginormous. If you sit quietly, you can hear them growing. Other than not being able to mow, things are stinky. Our septic system wafts in a delightful sewage smell every time the breeze blows and the chicken coop is moist inside which is way worse than wet dog smell but, yes, the dogs are wet, too. 

 All the water has flushed things out into the open as well. Our daughter hit a skunk right in front of our house. Now her car has the eternally lingering smell of rotting eggs and sour gym socks inside and out. She is banned from parking in the garage. And, she had to go straight to the shower. 

 That incident had a domino effect. While scoping out things in the yard, the hubby and I came across some black and white puffballs that were moving. Two baby skunks had been driven out of their underground den by the water. Their eyes were not open yet and they looked weak and pitiful. They. Were. So. Cute! 
Sorry, they snuggled up & wouldn't budge once I got my phone
but take my word for it - Super Cute!

 After my husband talked me down, I realized that we could not never no way take in baby skunks but they were so small and adorable! I spent the rest of the day giving myself a reality check with reminders about the baby duck horrors. Just to reinforce it, I googled which only confirmed why one should not keep baby skunks, as if a sane person needed more reasons. My goal then became finding a wildlife rehab because it was clear that their mother was not returning having had the unfortunate mishap of becoming acquainted with the tire of a small Toyota. She will never be forgotten because her scent remains with us. 

 I followed all the steps on the wildlife rescue site. Do not touch them. No problem. Leave the area for a while. Okay. Wait to see if mom returns. Nope. Check for signs of distress. Yep. Call wildlife rehab. Okay, I need a Plan B. I don't have a Plan B! Call a different place. After contacting several places, the plan collapsed. 

 Apparently, in Tennessee no one will take skunks. Skunks are on the rabies vector list. They all sounded very sympathetic but that was all they could do. So...

 I had to fight off every temptation not to go check on them every hour and not to put them in a box with a blanket. My husbands words became a chant, "We cannot keep skunks, we cannot keep skunks." So...

 They were the next day but not the day after and that was the end of that. Poor baby skunks. 

 The whole ordeal led me to think about how awful and skunk-like I was in my younger days with my eyes unopened. When God sent people to me in my most desperate times, I did not just lie in a weak, shivering huddle looking pitiful. I shook my fist, gnashed my teeth, and would have raised my tail if I had one. There was no cute-ness to redeem the threatening nature. Eventually, no one wanted to take me on. It was 100% pure skunk-ness spewing forth and yet God continued to work and one day, He just scooped me up because I was not going to come to Him of my own accord. It was lovely and divine when my eyes were opened and the best part is that He made me a new creature. The skunk was forever changed, no longer a rejected creature but a beloved one. 

 Now do not ask why occasionally I still act like a skunk, which is ridiculous, but God is working on that, too.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. - 2 Corinthians 5:17

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Woman, Thou Art Free to Submit

 Some weeks start out with a theme, others have a slow build, and yet, a few carry on with the overall thesis of my life. This past month went with the latter. Being a woman is not particularly easy...wait, strike that. Being a godly woman is not particularly easy, being a worldly woman is SUPER easy. Women are born with the talent of manipulation and we can and do get our way.
English: Young Maine Coon cat in paper bag

 Sorry ladies, the cat has been released from the bag. 

 We do like control, too. That Genesis 3 curse usually brings us to destroy what we were trying to get in the first place. It is a real battle if you are a woman of God. A younger woman friend and I have been spending some time studying how the church is to respond to Christ and applying it to how a wife should respond to her husband. This is no easy task because obviously, your husband is not perfect like Christ. Okay...and we are not so perfect either.

 Let the sighing and eye rolling commence. I am going to say the word which the world wishes would not be spoken and yes, I do try to live it. Submission, submission, submission! Thought I would say it three times just to plunge you into it thereby removing some of the shock. Submission to our husband is to characterize our position. Does this mean we are to be brainless? Uh, no, God gave us functioning brains. The Greek word used in Ephesians 5:22 literally means to align yourself under. You choose to put  yourself under authority and you will have to engage your brain and the Word of God to apply it correctly.

 Does this mean we are to be mistreated slaves? That, my friends, is a tougher question to answer. God did not intend women to be treated like property but did it happen? In this we must concede that God allows it to happen but the answer also depends on whom you choose to marry. All the single ladies! A word for you: This is the reason to be in the Word, trusting God to provide you a mate, and not so focused on finding someone that you jump on the first thing that passes by. You would not jump on the first plane that looked attractive if you had to be specifically in Fresno. Look at marriage that way as well. It has a specific purpose - to glorify God. That guy that is so funny and handsome that you met at the coffee shop, you know the one, what is his goal? If it is not glorifying God, then run because you have no power to change Him. 

 Marriage is super important. God calls it a mystery but also a picture of Christ and the church. That is a hefty responsibility and maybe why the world has chosen to try to redefine marriage. Also, you are about to enter into a covenant and, in case you did not know, covenants are serious business just read the Old Testament.

 If your spouse is a believer, what a blessing because he will be seeking God's Word on how to be a husband. This requires placing himself under the teaching of Ephesians 5. You will share everything in life together striving to honor God. The two of you shall be one with all the hope and glory of heaven binding you. Then you may have the blessing of children to raise to the glory of God and you will share in each struggle and each joy. Realize this is the ideal not the norm because we are fallen people and we have to persevere through our flesh, our selfish desires, our sin but God is faithful.

 On the other hand, if your spouse is not a believer, you are in a slightly more challenging position. You are still called to be obedient to what God has set forth and you can to add it 1 Peter 3:1. You will have a gap in your marriage because it is impossible to fully be one if there is a part of you that you do not share. Not only do you have to stay the course but you have to do it without an earthly spiritual head and without giving in to the temptations of throwing in  the towel or taking over your husband's vacant role. Let me warn you, do not take it up. First, you will neglect some of your role if you take up his, too. Second, it shows a lack of faith and you never know when God will move to put your husband in that space. Do not make God have to eject you from the position. Third, you will grow resentful and bitter and blame your husband for "making" you be in that position, which will not be true. 

 Oh, I hear what you are thinking. "Submission is too hard and no fun." Hey, if you want easy do not follow after God who calls you to kill your flesh and love your enemies in a world that will berate you for doing just that. Of course, this brief time on earth will not compare to the joy and rest of heaven in eternity and then struggling to submit will be forgotten. 

 But even now, the joy of the fruits of submission are worth whatever I thought  I was giving up. It is freeing, more so than trying to impose my will,  my desires on the marriage. There is much more room for finding delight in my husband when I submit, which opens up more opportunities to praise and honor God. Yes, I would prefer that my husband be saved but I am learning to trust God and it has definitely done a work in me. 

 It has also given me the testimony to teach women to wait for God's timing for a husband. As Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, "Before marriage keep your eyes wide open, half-shut afterwards." Scrutinize the choices before you leap, testing them with the Word; but once you commit to one, lay that aside, submit to be under him, and show all the love and grace God has bestowed upon you. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

This Little Piggy Made...Laundry Soap

  Woo hoo! I am so excited to share some of my experiments with you. Let me first give credit where credit is due. Most of my experiments stem from ideas I found on One Good Thing by Jillee. Her website has lots of amazing ideas and is worth checking out. (I recommend the post on making an enzyme cleaner)

  My family is questioning my sanity...again. No longer do they come home and find me over pots of potatoes or some gluten-free mixture. The pots are now bubbling with, well, bubbles from laundry soap or hand salve. The clerks at the store are scratching their heads as I come back time after time to load up on vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and epsom salt. They smile strangely at me as I check out. Then I rush home insanely to fill my collection of empty bottles.

  Many people will wonder why take the time to make household products that you can easily buy. I have tried to narrow my answer down to three main reasons. 

 First, is my daughter's Lyme disease. Lyme has a nasty habit of making it hard for your body to deal with toxins or chemicals. It is necessary for her to do a detox often just to aid her body in flushing out the nastiness that the dying parasites leave behind. An overworked immune system needs all the help it can get. Less toxins and chemicals means more ability for the body to focus on getting rid of those nasty little boogers.

 Second, my husband works all day with vile things like paint thinner and automotive paint. It is literally in his face. Add to that, the fact that we ain't getting any younger and since he is not following Christ, I feel it is my duty to keep him healthy so that he has lots of opportunities to hear the Gospel. I know I cannot control everything but if there is something I can do then it is my responsibility. Ironically, in Bible study we were looking at how wives are to be a picture of the church submitted to Christ. The church should be wholly submitted to doing all it can for Christ so, logically, a wife should as well.

 Finally, this last reason is a combo deal so I can keep it to 3 points. I have allergies and a septic system. Chemicals are not good for either one of those. My migraines and sinus problems have reduced greatly since I started making a lot of our cleaning products. Our septic system is looking good as well. We may not have to have it pumped as often, which means spending less money on sewage and who does not love that! Speaking of saving money, most homemade products are super cheap to make so it just makes "cents." (sorry, should have given you a cheesy joke warning)

 Think you  might want to try but not sure where to start. Let me give you some easy tips.

  A few uses of vinegar that require no mixing include killing weeds and grass without leaving chemical residue behind. I poured this all over my grass-riddled garden and that over-zealous centipede grass is d-e-a-d. Pour it in your wash and you can skip the dryer sheets. It softens fabric and helps stop static cling besides removing odors. Vinegar, I love you.

 Baking soda is, of course, a great odor remover but it is also a gentle scrubbing cleanser. I used it on my stove top and it helped clean some crusted-up spots that I could not get off. Sprinkle some in an enamel-coated pan with warm water and let it soak. You will have one clean pan. Baking soda might be on my list of favorite things real soon. Pour baking soda down a clogged drain then add in some vinegar and wait. Run some hot water down and that clog should wash away.

  Enough of the easy probably have your test tubes and protective eye wear ready. Where shall I start? How about soaps? It is harder stuff but I sense that you are up for a challenge.

 Laundry soap recipes are a dime a dozen on the internet but my machine is an HE toploader and it does not like powdery soaps. I found a creamy recipe that works great but it uses Fels Naphtha and my allergies do not like Fels so here is the version I came up with:

 Creamy Laundry Soap

- 2 bars Kirk's Castille Soap or Dr. Bronner's Bar Soap, if you use scented you may want to skip oils
- 1-1/2 cups Washing Soda
- 1/2 cup Borax (I am working on getting rid of this ingredient)
- 6 cups hot water
- 20 drops eucalyptus oil, optional, helps soften & disinfect
- 30 drops lemon oil, optional, helps disinfect & smells nice

 Put hot water in a deep non-aluminum pot. Grate soap into water and melt over medium heat. Once melted, add in washing soda and borax, stir until dissolved. Do not leave this because it could boil over and it makes a very soapy mess. Remove from heat and let cool to room temp. You can pour it into the blender or food processor now to let it cool if you have one that is large enough. If you stir occasionally it is easier to blend later. 

 Once cool, if you did not stir, it will be separated with a solid top and liquid bottom. Break this up and stir in oils if you are using them. Spoon into food processor or blender and blend until smooth.  Store in an airtight container. To use, add 1 tablespoon to the bottom of your washer and enjoy not buying laundry detergent. 
Laundry soap after it has cooled & is blended
 This recipe makes up about a month's worth of laundry detergent depending on how many loads you. For a house of three people with lots of animals, I feel like we do way more laundry than the average family but it is hard to gauge since I have not ever done laundry for another family. 

  Now I'm off to try to perfect some body lotion and finish studying about vaccines so I can pass the quiz.

Monday, June 2, 2014

On Sundays, I Cry

crying emoticone
 Good thing it's Monday or my keyboard would short out. 

 Every Sunday for the past umpteen years, I cry but in recent years the tears have increased. The nature of the crying usually stems from an overwhelming sense of the deep gift of grace, not that I do not feel this on other days but something about gathering in the body with the intent of worshiping wells it up overflowing out my eyeballs. Lately though, I cry more (if that is possible). 

 Tears flow with joy and love for my God, my Lord, my Savior and tears flow for my failure to serve Him as I should without my flesh interfering. That is plenty of tears but add to that tears for those I love that do not follow God. Toss in tears for the apostasy that I see around me and heresy. Could there  be more?

 Well, after I fell into this Youtube debacle of atheists and presupposionalists "debating," there were more. After first I was thinking that apologetic debate is good but it did not take me long to realize that this is just men trying to prove their wisdom or score points or, in some cases, gain money. Maybe I am missing the parts where the Gospel is being presented or God is being honored but what I see is sad. 

 My question for both sides is, "What is the point?" Because it looks like pride.

 I do not see the fruit of arguing what the Bible says with someone who has no regard for it. Faith comes by hearing so deliver Truth but going back and forth on the issue of how old the earth is or what is reality is chasing the wind...or is it tossing pearls??? Clearly, if you could prove any of the answers to their arguments, they would just find another ground to stand on. If they say that they do not believe in sin or repentance then arguing with them is like two people on the Titanic refusing to leave the ship because they cannot agree on the color of the carpet. Pointless. 

 My case in point: one video consisted mostly of a discussion on who was using circular reasoning. Uh...both sides have lost all reasoning in any shape or form. Yes, the Bible says that everything in this world declares there is a God and there is no way to deny that but can you say you deny it with your mouth? Of course. The Bible says that, too. Say it all day long but no one escapes Truth no matter how much they say that they do not believe it. 

 Is there glory to God in spawning video spats and virtual showdowns? I think not. Look at God's Word and you will see that some arguments are places to keep your mouth shut. If they will not hear Truth, there is no point you can make or clever example that can bowl them over. Close your lips and open your faith. Pray and put it in the hands of the Holy Spirit...or do you not think He is convincing enough? 

 Obviously, the latter is the case for some. One street "preacher"got into an argument about people believing in unicorns and if that would make unicorns real. His big comeback was to change the example to Sasquatch and talk louder. He succeeded in drawing a crowd but the people around him did not hear Truth. What was his purpose? 

  Tears should well up that we have come to a place where we have forgotten our position and who it is we serve. Tears should pour because a dying world will miss hearing Truth all to be victorious in the art of persuasion. It is our mission to plant and water the seeds not force them into the ground, crack them open and try to extract life out of them. We cannot accomplish that.

 Let us all mourn that we have considered ourselves greater than the God we claim to serve. 

1 Corinthians 3:6-7
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

Romans 10:1 
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.

1 Co 2:2-5
 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
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