He is Gently Leading

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 “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. “(Isaiah 40:11 ESV)

I want to encourage you weary today that God sees the circumstance of a mother (or anyone who cares for the needy 24/7).  He is shepherding us.  When we look up and see His staff, it shows us that by His authority he is loving, guiding, and protecting us. He has used His staff to rescue us and will continue to use it to lead us gently. If we are needy, our Shepard will gather us in His arms and bring us into the peace and safety of His bosom.

Those of us with young can easily become weary. Pregnancy, nursing/feeding, night-waking, illness, can make you feel like you are always doing yet never getting anything done. You are so tired but feel nothing has been accomplished. And what about that lady who needed a meal, the elderly person you want to visit, the phone calls to make! I can slip into the thinking that God is so disappointed with my weakness–that I can barely manage much else besides caring for my small children. But God is not angry with my weakness, instead he uses it as the doorway to His grace:

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)

Over and over again in scripture we see that God gives grace to the one who sees how weak they are, how much they need Him.  He is happy to love people like us, who don’t have it all together and recognize that we cannot get it all together. Us who do not have the energy to bust out piles good works to impress Him and others.

“But his is the one to whom I look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2)

It does not say, “I look at those who are accomplishing so much that they don’t even need Me or my word.  I can only love the confident, mentally stable, and energetic.” NO!   He is for you mama, who prays for strength to be loving to her children while the toilet is overflowing and there goes your plans for anything else that day. Or for you who are holding a sick baby and can barely stay awake enough to watch your other children. Or is it you, caring for an aging parent who is leaving you exhausted and heartbroken today? Reach out to Him and He will hold you in His arms, bring you into His bosom and show you grace.

Totally Overwhelmed

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I know as mothers it is common to feel overwhelmed. The feeling can strike us before we even get out of bed. My prayer from my bed in the morning is often a profound “God help me!” as I feel like a failure before even attempting my day.

I am thinking instead of being overwhelmed by our fears, to-do lists, and problems we become overwhelmed by God’s love for us. We become absolutely amazed to wake up to another day to experience God’s forgiveness and total acceptance of us through His Son.

If I can’t accomplish what I want to, I know that Jesus accomplished everything on my behalf on the cross.  

If I am afraid I won’t have enough, I can know that he has not withheld any good thing from me since He did not even withhold his Son (Romans 8:32, Psalm 84:11).

If I feel like I can’t go on, I know the Lord has gone before me and ordained all my days (Psalm 139:16).

If I am afraid of what will happen next, I can be assured that my future is eternally secure in Christ.

If I look in the mirror and think I am not enough, I can know that Christ has already made me beautiful and those who look to Him are radiant (Psalm 43:5)

Live in God’s free gift of the gospel. It is accessible to us at any moment and we can take ahold of it but we will need to continually take ahold of it.  Let’s wake up tomorrow feeling totally overwhelmed…by God’s love.

How He Loves Us!

Feelings

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I have been feeling uninspired and far from God lately. Blah. Not my favorite time.  Whatever the cause, I really feel like disconnecting from everything, but that is not the solution.  When I was a newer Christian this type of feeling would make me doubt I believed or that any of my faith was real. Now I now that after almost 11 years of walking with God I know that sometimes this  happens.  And since I feel unable to really even express myself I will let David do it for me:

How long,O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;  my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13

I have learned that while it can make life exciting to be an emotional person it can also make life scary. That is when I have to stand firm on the promises of God and on the finished work of Jesus. I will take David’s advice and “trust in his unfailing love” and not my failing love. I will rejoice in my salvation and wait for the feelings to come back.  Some of Psalm 139:

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!  

And listen to a Keith Green song:  My Eyes Are Dry

Winter Wellness: Part 2

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This is the stuff that has worked for me and my family. I have been studying and practicing the art of nutritional healing on my family for years but I am NOT a certified practitioner. Please use common sense and research things for yourself before implementing them on your family. Seek out a health practitioner if your child is very ill or mama intuition tells you your child needs extra help. If you are on medication take extra precaution, especially with herbs, because of drug interactions.

Cod Liver Oil: I double our daily doses in times of illness. I give my 4 and 7 year old kids 10,000 iu of vitamin A from fish liver when sick. The husband and I take 20,000 iu + if we feel unwell. Here is important information on cod liver oil and vitamin A. Green Pastures brand high vitamin cod liver oil is best thing to take, but I have been priced out of that. I use a combination of Twinlab Cod Liver Oil and Country Life A and D3 (from cod liver oil). If your children cannot swallow pills carefully puncture a soft gel and squeeze contents into their mouth or on a bite of food.    

Vitamin C: One half (500 mg) to one gram every hour until loose bowels. I use this if the illness seems persistent. I use 1/4 teaspoon powdered sodium ascorbate  mixed with a little orange juice (it is salty).  Here is more information.

Vitamin D3: I double our daily dose in times of illness. I give about 3,000 iu a day total to my bigger kids (ages 4 and 7) when they are sick.  I take 10,000iu a day when they are sick (to protect myself!) or when I get sick. Drops are easy to give children. The Vitamin D Council has more information on supplementation. Only use D3 not D2.

Basics you may be missing: An overall nutrient dense diet, sleep/rest, stress management, moderate exercise and fresh air. Pray for wisdom,healing, and strength when trying to help your family through illness.

SPECIFIC ISSUES:

Ear infections: Cut out all dairy get mullein and garlic oil like this one from the health food store to use in the ear. Generally ear infections do not need antibiotics. One of my children is very prone to ear infections and limiting cow milk  has been very beneficial.

Fever: Generally, I try not to use Tylenol or other fever reducers so the body can fight off the infection.  I will give an overnight dose if my child cannot rest at all because I need some sleep to stay sane and take care of my other kids. Fevers deplete vitamin A in the body so be sure to supplement with cod liver oil. A high fever in a very young child can be dangerous so exercise more caution  with them.

Cough: I give warm tea with 1-3 teaspoons of honey (raw is best) and some coconut milk if desired. Honey has been reported to work better than cough medicine. (Do not use honey in children under age 1). I choose  lobelia tincture for moderate to severe coughs and it works quite well but must be used with care. My midwife recommends these doses: 1/2 dropper full for kids 3-8 years. Adults 1/2 – 1 dropper full every 2 to 4 hours as needed for cough. Use the lowest effective amount.  Bigger kids and adults can use elderberry and zinc lozenges. Both components support the immune system. I let my seven year old have 4 a day (an adult dose is 8).

Body aches from a virus: This seems to be due to mineral depletion. Helpful minerals are calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Bone broth and avocados or bananas would help. Epsom salt baths allow your body to absorb magnesium through the skin and are comforting. Epsom salts are even available at the grocery store. A magnesium supplement that we use is Natural Calm in lemon raspberry. Magnesium can also help with headaches.

Intestinal Illness: Let it run its course. The main danger is dehydration. We use Recharge natural sports drink for this (It is available at Raleys in our area). Broth, fermented drinks, and gelatin also work well when it is time to try food again. Higher doses of probiotic supplements can be effective for stopping diarrhea as well.

One of my favorite books on this topic is How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor by pediatrician Robert Mendelsohn.

I have also found the article “Traditional Remedies for Childhood Illnesses”  by Sarah Pope very helpful.

Have a happy rest of winter!

Dying to Self (or Doing My Best) and Letting Go

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Because I really do want to be like Jesus, I used to think “dying to self” (or “doing my best”) meant I pushed myself to do more than I possibly could while still trying to remain joyful. “Letting go” meant generally giving up.  I would not have told you that is how I defined them but that is the way those terms played out in my life.

“Dying to self” (or “doing my best”)  meant that even if the thought of adding one more thing meant me feeling like I was going to have a panic attack, I would do it anyway because I don’t want to be selfish! It meant trying to be amazing in every category yet still feeling guilty that I was not joyful or “dying to myself” enough. (I can cook a meal, right? It is not like someone asked me to be martyred!)

“Letting go” meant that I would just stop trying at all. It was really a form of hopelessness. I meant that I needed to realize I could never accomplish anything in life and that I should just give up on anything I ever wanted to do.

These are both WRONG!

I prayed and asked God for wisdom. I needed clear signs to know when I had already “done my best”.  Then, soon after that it happened, I was asked to serve in some way and the first thing in my mind was, “I cannot do that right now! No! Ahhhhhh! How am I going to fit that in?!” accompanied by physical sensations of stress and panic.  That was my sign!  The old me would have said yes and asked God to help me joyfully accomplish all that “He had given me” as I started down the path to psycho-time (again). What an abundant life!

“Letting go” is the same. I recently had a opportunity to learn what this meant when my baby had been up a few nights sick with a fever and I still had a triple birthday party planned at my house.  The old me would have started freaking out at night while I cared for the baby. “That is it! I am never trying to do anything fun again! Things always go wrong! I am not going to have enough energy to do this and the party is going to be lame.  My house is going to be a disaster! I am so tired so I won’t be able to exercise tomorrow either. This baby weight is here forever. I give up.”  Whoa! Just like that I am not having fun or exercising ever again because, obviously, God does not want me to have fun or exercise! (Poor God. He gets blamed for everything!)

I am so thankful God showed me the true way of letting go and trusting Him. It went more like this. “Please God give me strength to take care of my baby. Please give me special grace to get through this time. Please help me really know Jesus was amazing so I don’t have to be. I am just going to take life as it comes and not worry about the future. I will choose trust You in this”

God did answer that prayer! Without me asking, my husband was able to stay home from work that day. Then, the next day my mom called and asked if she could hang out with the kids! (Yes, you always can.) The triple birthday party was great! I skipped mopping my house and kept the lights dim instead. (Write that trick down). I did NOT cook from scratch. People helped with food and clean up. And I think most important things happened–the birthday girls felt loved and I learned to trust God!

“Dying to self” and “doing my best” is working within the limitations that I have and discerning God’s will of how He wants me to love others. I can only do this joyfully when I realize I CANNOT DO EVERYTHING and Jesus did everything on my behalf. I am only stepping into the works he ordained for me through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Humbly accepting my weakness is the path to peace.

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (John 4:6)

Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

Dying to myself means less about constantly pushing myself to the brink of exhaustion and more about being content that I don’t have to be awesome. The God I serve is awesome instead.  

“Letting go” is having a plan but being willing to forgo your ideas for what God is actually calling you to do.  A wise older lady once told me it is having your plan in your hand, but instead of clinching it in your fist, your hand sits open so it can be replaced with something else.

The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps (Proverbs 16:9)

“Letting go” is not a hopeless state where you check out of life and stay in bed waiting for God to move your body. It is where you are accomplishing things but not hoping in those things for your ultimate satisfaction. You are not striving to earn God’s love or impress others. Letting go means being satisfied in God so when things don’t go your way you are not destroyed. It is recognizing you do not have ultimate control over your life and resting in Christ’s accomplised work on the cross.

And, if you are reading this feeling like I am an incredibly humble servant and you are a horrible guilty failure, please just ask my children about The Great Thanksgiving Meltdown of 2011, when they were hiding from me while I went bazerk. I was able to create a special holiday memory for them that they will enjoy for years to come.

Have you struggled with “trying your best” or “letting go”?

Winter Wellness Part 1: What to Eat

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I have received a request to make a cheat sheet for using natural remedies to prevent and heal winter maladies. Part 1 will focus on foods for winter wellness. Part 2 will cover supplements and symptom specific remedies. Helping the family stay healthy is something that can help us enjoy motherhood more because being in lockdown all winter because of illness can make mama a little crazy!

Don’t eat sugar:  It depresses the immune system and does 98 other bad things!

Bone broth soups– I make bone broth by putting bones in my crockpot, covering with water, and setting the timer on low for 12 hours. Cool, strain, and refrigerate. Here is how to make perpetual broth! Here is why homemade broth is so great.

Garlic– Raw works best. Mince and add to soup or salads. Here is more information about garlic’s health benefits.

Gelatin- Good for digestive system and easy to eat post stomach virus. There is gelatin in homemade bone broth as well! Read about its benefits in the bone broth article above.

Coconut milk and oil– Coconut contains anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. You can use the milk to make smoothies and curries. You can use the oil in cooking like you would olive oil or butter. Some people like to melt it into hot tea. More information about health benefits here. I buy Nutiva coconut oil here.

Fermented foods– Kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir, and yogurt. Foods with live cultures are a good source of probiotics (good bacteria) and enzymes. Store brands in our area are G.T.s kombucha and Bubbies sauerkraut and pickles. Kefir and yogurt need to say “live cultures” on the label. You can also make all these goodies at home for much cheaper. More info here.

Winter Wellness Soup:

Very free form. Make it how you like it and use what you have on hand. The most beneficial components are the broth, coconut oil, and raw garlic in my opinion so it is best to keep those things stocked.

  • Start with sauteing onions/carrots/celery in coconut oil (or butter or olive oil)
  • Add homemade bone broth.
  • Add protein of choice (chicken, meat, lentils ect).
  • Add any of the following:  brown rice or other grain, noodles, fresh or frozen vegetables (cauliflower, cubed butternut squash, cubed potatoes).
  • Simmer until cooked. Can add coconut milk or tomatoes/tomato sauce at this step.
  • Turn on low and add herbs/spices/sea salt/ pepper and taste. Really spicy additions can help with congestion if you can handle it.
  • If you have an immersion blender you can easily make blended soups. I make cream of broccoli that my kids love with broccoli, full fat coconut milk, and curry powder.
  • Ladle soup into bowls and add raw garlic to each serving. Add additional coconut oil to each serving, if desired. 
  • Eat and feel happy.

Healthy Homemade Gelatin:

 I got this from another mom online. Good for if you are having tummy troubles.

  • 2 cups of juice (grape works well)
  • 2 cups of water
  • honey to taste, if desired
  • 4 packets of plain gelatin (or 4 tablespoons)

Bring 2 c of juice plus 1 c of water to a boil. Add gelatin to cold water in a casserole dish and let dissolve for a minute. Combine all ingredients and stir until gelatin is dissolved. Add fruit (like drained canned mandarins) during the boiling phase if desired. Refrigerate a few hours until firm.

Hope this helps you enjoy motherhood more! I can answer your questions in the comment section below.

The Difference is Joy

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What is the difference between a wine aficionado and an alcoholic? They do the same thing but what is happening in their heart is very different. The difference is joy. The aficionado wants to feel and experience joy. The alcoholic does not want to feel or experience his sadness. One is embracing and enjoying the other is numbing and running.

I think it is the same in the faith journey.  There are people who are embracing life and loving out of the joy in their hearts. Then there are others that have mapped out all the things they “should” be doing because it is numbing in a way. To not have to really love and live in the freedom that Jesus has called them into. Bought by Him and prepared through Him.  So we can do what is “expected” and disconnect from the joy of living out who God made us to be. We follow a form of religion looking for security but cannot find peace because God is not there.

Like Timothy Keller talks about, we can run from God in our legalism–by keeping “the rules”. Doing this we can effectively numb ourselves to Him and His presence and the leading of His Spirit–His JOY!

It can be scary to step into the works and life He has created for you. It seems easier to print the list and follow the culture’s/your parents’/church-ianity’s directions. The problem is you will find no peace or true happiness there because you are not allowing God to write your story.

“Don’t get drunk on wine, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Don’t go numb or disconnect by getting drunk on rules, slaving away at Christianity. Get filled with the Spirit and experience God and what He has for you. The difference in your life will be joy.

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”  (Isaiah 55:12)