To see like You

The Summer of 2006. I had finished 2 tracks of the Fire In the Night internship at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City and made the decision to move there and go on staff with the ministry. However, my parents were in need of help around their property that summer, so I headed back to the Omaha area to work a summer job and to be with my family. 

During those few short months I sought to serve the church that they were attending, and the greatest need that they had over the summer was for someone to lead the Wednesday night Children’s program. Insert 19 year old, vivacious, passionate me and about 10 children ranging in age from 6 -12. It was an interesting program.

We played games, had snacks, and in the simplest way that I could communicate, we talked about prayer, lifestyles based in the bible, radical devotion to Christ, and had a prayer and worship time every week. All that I can say about the short time that I spent with those children is that every single one of us was on a fast-track to collide with God that summer. He had all of us set up to meet Him, together. All that they needed was for someone to tell them that He wanted to speak to them for them to utterly believe it, and all that I needed was to see it happen in the lives of children, for me to believe it.

And we all did. They began to have powerful dreams where the Lord revealed His word in prophetic images that only an 8 year old would understand. They began to really fellowship with the Holy Spirit and learn to be His friend, and to let Him be their friend. They began to truly receive burdens from the Lord in the place of prayer, in ways that I never could have imparted to them, or convinced them to care and feel about. It changed my life in the most powerful way. 

Among that group of children were 3 siblings whose family had recently moved back to the area after spending some time in the South where their father was a part of the massive clean up project left from Hurricane Katrina. During that time the family had regularly attending the Ramp and the parents were being very impacted by the ministry, as well as the children. They arrived in my Wednesday night group, Hungry to meet with God and were SUCH an encouragement to my heart!

Over the years I tried to stay in touch with the family, visiting them when I was in town and giving time in phone calls every few months. My heart was knit together with the parents and just in love with the 3 children. Since then the family has relocated to KC and now, they are no longer children. The oldest recently enlisted with the Navy, the youngest is taller than me and can drive, and I can’t fathom how that’s even possible. 

This week I took the mom and daughter, Lucy and Emily, to one of my favorite local joints – an all natural snow cone place called Little Freshie. It was my first real connect with them in over 3 years and we all soaked up the time. At one point, Lucy looked at me with tears in her eyes and began to tell me how that summer had affected their family. It’s amazing to me when I look back and see myself, so weak, so young, and with so little knowledge of things that I was saying, and see how God used me and my weak messages. He is so faithful to us! All three of us cried and I listened in wonder. When she was done Emily looked at me and said,

Nobody saw us the way that you did. Nobody believed in us like you. And that meant so much, it changed us. Thank you for believing in us.

Those words have rung in my ears all week. The unfortunate truth is that I’ve been in youth ministry long enough to learn how to peg teens early on, label them in my mind, treat them through that label, and at times, write them off. Not all the time, and not dramatically. I love teens and I love youth ministry, but it happens internally and I have felt it at times, and felt the effect of it in the way that I minister. Honestly, it hinders the love of God flowing through me. I’ve been so moved this week considering that statement, repenting to the Lord for the times that I can remember where I chose not to see a teenager or young adult the way that God does, I chose not to hope all things for them, not to believe all things, not to believe IN them. 

I want to be a woman who loves like the Father, a friend who loves like the Father, a youth minister who loves like the Father. And this week I’ve been praying this over my heart, over the youth ministries in KC and in America, and over the Pastors of the church of America.  I’ve been praying that the Lord would raise up Shepherds who would look at the flock the way that Jesus does, to see the people as the Bride of Christ. To see the youth who are floundering in this nation, and to be moved with compassion. To believe in them. 

“Nobody saw us the way that you did.” I am thankful for that powerful testimony from my teens, but I want to always see like Jesus.

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Missing Miah, Round Two

Pre-East Coast move I probably talked to him a couple times a month. Post move, every couple of months. Since his sudden passing, I wish I could talk to him on average several times a week.

We’re so like sheep. Just walking out our daily routine: food, water, sleep. Never thinking that the routine, all that is daily & hourly taken for granted would every change. Never thinking that the people in our lives, the people that make up our lives, would ever be gone.

I’ve come to believe that who we are as individuals is largely composed of the effect of the people whom we love and the people who love us. Like it or not, like them or not, the people in our lives mold us.

I was so broken at the idea of how the lack of him in my life could change me. I was afraid that the effect that he had made in me would slowly fade away, afraid that as the years passed I would forget him. But I haven’t. So much of KC reminds me of him.

And it’s not just Miah, it’s all of “those that have gone before”. I feel the pain of the missing, the ache of the longing for the ones I love that I can’t see, touch or talk to. In the stillness of remembering I find myself regularly composing letters to them in my mind.

As I fill the bird feeders around my house I think of my grandpa and unintentionally it starts,

Dear Grandpa, my bird feeder collection is starting to rival yours. Does it make you glad to see me feeding the birds….

A Friday night will roll around and I have no plans, and I remember when Jeremy left and I so needed a brother. On those sad Friday nights I’d call Miah and he’d take me to coffee or dinner. Once, after telling him a story of a weird encounter with a man in an airport he grabbed my phone, took a picture of himself flexing and said, “There, when you travel make that picture the background on your phone and tell all the creeps that you have a boyfriend!” That picture brought so much laughter every time I stumbled across it. Driving home from work I whisper,

Dear Miah, thank you for loving me so well…..

The lawn mower breaks down…. again… And with a deep sigh I look to the heavens and it begins,

Dear Bob, when you were alive I always had a working lawn mower…..

Changes are coming. My little weary squeezes at the changes that I know about that are around the corner, and fears the things I have yet to know. I take deep breaths and thank the Lord for the years, the time in KC where so many of the friends and people whom I love live less than 5 minutes away, and I grieve them as they leave. With each move, each friend that suddenly becomes distant the view of my life just as suddenly changes and I wonder how long the old normal that has become normal again, will stay.

I wonder how long I will stay. How long will I live on my parents property, in the house my Daddy fixed for me? How long will I live with my sister and BIL? I’ve been working and working the property to make it beautiful again and each day I wonder, am I doing this for myself or will someone else be one to enjoy it?

The questions, the pain in the missing, it would utterly overwhelm but for the anchor in my soul. The hope, of life that never dies, of love that never ends. The hope in know that each day brings me closer to the City, the New Jerusalem, the home that never changes, the life where there is no missing. Can you imagine? Just stop for a second! Take a deep breathe, push the crowding thoughts away, and for a moment just allow yourself to image. Life. Lived to the fullest. No goodbyes, no missing.

And those letters I write turn to Him. Wondering at the real life that is being lived with the Lord, the unimaginable joy from those I love who are WITH Him.

And that’s the only resolution. To live “from the end” as Bonhoeffer wrote, to live each day with the end as our hope and our prize and our goal. And to fight to love better those whom are still with us.

Do not take them for granted, those family members, those friends. I meant to call him the week before the run, but I didn’t. That conversation will come, but I will wait long for it.

Don’t wait long.

Express yourself, verbalize the things you think, the things that you love about them, the things that you’re grateful for. The things you would wish a thousand times that you’d said if they were suddenly gone from your life. Be transparent, be real, be grateful.

Lewis said that “the fact that our hearts yearn for something Earth can’t supply is proof enough that heaven must be our home.” My heart yearns more by the day. I want your kingdom Jesus.

Leave In Conditioning Rinse

Yet another great Pinterest find. This “rinse” is great, but don’t be confused by that word. “Rinse” simply means you are rinsing your hair in it, you do NOT rinse it out. I mix mine in a 1/2 gallon mason jar, then pour some into a small spray bottle that I keep in the shower. At the end of my shower I spray it all over my hair, squeeze out the excess and that’s it. The ACV smell goes away by the time your hair is dry, so no complaints there. Within a week or two of using my hair(and scalp) was noticeably healthier, leaving me with yet another happy story about the many uses of Essential Oils and ACV.

The recipe came from the Camp Wander blog, so check her out and let her know if you love it 🙂 On the post she goes into detail about the benefits of the different oils, in case you want to know. There is no limit to the use of EO’s, and I also will recommend Doterra as my company of purchasing choice. If you’re looking to purchase, feel free to contact me. Her recipe also calls for Borax which I omit (Poo-free over here!) but I’ll include it on the ingredients list below

Things You’ll Need:

  • A container able to store 5 cups of fluid
  • Squirt bottle (Like a cheap condiment squirter, or a spray bottle)
  • 4 Cups of Filtered Water
  • 8 Drops Rosemary Essential Oil
  • 8 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • 1 t Borax
  • 3 T ACV (preferably a raw kind)

Now that you have all of your supplies and ingredients together you can begin!

  1. Mix all ingredients into your storage container
  2. Pour some into your usage container.

Thats it! You’ll love it from the beginning 🙂 I hope you feel equipped to get out there and make something yourself. Let me know what you think of it!

Growth

There is much healing found in a garden.

Or for me, in planting one. After two years away, my flower beds are desperately in need of tlc; rose bushes are three years overgrown, hosta years too big, mulch 4 years past needing to be replaced, and the lawn has literally grown over where my vegetables onced happily flourished.

Insert weeks upon weeks of hard work.

Last week a local tree company kindly dumped an entire load of wood chips in my driveway, turning it from a 4 car driveway, to an almost 2 car driveway. Insert hours upon hours of shoveling and spreading mulch. I haven’t sweat this much since I moved off of my parents acreage 8 years ago. 

What’s astounding is how much I love, actually love, the work. I love the tiny spears of green that pierce out of wet dirt where I’ve planted. I love working with the plants, I love working in the dirt, I love the beauty of a well tended garden, and the hope that the labor brings. Hope of fruitfulness, hope of the labor being worth it. And as I work I’m constantly thinking about the Lord, how He labors in my life, laboring hopeful of the fruit that will come forth from the tending, trimming, mulching, and planting. He knows how to lead me, knows what branches need to be cut and just how much. He never cuts more than necessary. He never plants where He doesn’t intend to grow. He never removes what is good for me. 

It is good to remember to trust everything that He does. To trust that it is for my good, to trust that it will bring about fruit in me, to trust that I will never look back and regret His working in me. 

A motherly friend stopped by the other day and graciously endured my tour of my freshly mulched beds. Afterwards she left with a, “Hard work is paying off, Christina!” And I couldn’t think of a more true word for both my flower beds, and my own life. The Lord has labored in me, and there will be beautiful fruit. 

Homemade Deodorant

I first wrote about this in A Beginning of a Crunchy Conservatives Guidebook. Go there if you want to read the why’s 🙂

This recipe comes straight from Donielle at NaturallyKnockedUp.com and if you click on that link, you’ll be able to watch her tutorial video, also, she’s great. If you don’t want to watch the video, below is my step by step instructions, following her method and recipe.

Store bought “all natural” or “organic” deodorant is expensive and frankly, doesn’t really work. The fact is, there is not a homemade or natural deodorant type of product that is going to work similar to the crap full of chemicals stick that we all grew up using. If you’re trying to find or make products that help you to minimize your chemical & aluminum intake, prepare yourself for a process and give yourself time to adjust. Whatever you try, use it consistently for some weeks before you try something else.

That being said, I like this one better than anything I’ve bought. You use very little, and know immediately if you’ve used too much! I’m comfortable with every ingredient in it, it’s easy to make and so cheap! And also, depending on whether or not and how many essential oils you use, it smells so, SO good!

Things You’ll Need:

  • A medium – small sized mixing bowl
  • Small wisk or spoon
  • An empty Deodorant tube – some of them leak, or break when you’re trying to screw the plastic piece back to the bottom so that the tube can be filled, but I’ve found the Tom’s tubes do NOT leak and can be used multiple times.
  • If you don’t have a deodorant tube, any small plastic or glass tupperware will do. I’ve found it best to use something that is waterproof if you plan on taking this on trips, to the gym, or basically anywhere outside of your bathroom in the summer time.
  • 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • 1/4 cup of organic cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 5-6 T of coconut oil, melted or at least softened
  • 10-15 drops of Essential oils of your choice

Now that you have all of your supplies and ingredients together you can begin! It’s easy peasy 😉

  1. Mix everything together, stirring until it’s all incorporated
  2. Press it into your deodorant tube or container. If you melted the coconut oil than obviously it will be runny. Once you pour it in the container, put it in the fridge and it will firm up quickly.

Thats it!

A couple of things to note – CO has a melting point around 70 degrees, so in the summer your deodorant is simply going to melt. I have used the following options:

  • Keep it in the fridge. Wake up, groggily walk to your fridge and put the deodorant on the counter while you finish the rest of your morning routine – hair, face, clothes, breakfast, whatever. It should reach room temperature quickly and you can swipe it on easily
  • Keep it in the fridge. When its time to put it on, take it out and stick the c-c-c-cold tube on your skin for a couple of seconds to melt, then swipe it. I don’t like this option.
  • Leave it in your medicine cabinet. In a waterproof (aka, spillproof) container , and also leave some sort of stirring utensil with it. When it’s time to use, simply stir it up, and scoop some out.

I always need to use my hands to rub it in, regardless of whether it was cold or room temperature, so make sure you’re by a sink where you can wash your hands.

The End! Let me know how it works for you!

Homemade Whipped Laundry Concentrate

*January 2016 – I’ve now been using this laundry concentrate for almost 6 years and on average I think that I make 2 batches a year. The author of the recipe whose blog is linked in the original post below – and you really should read her post because she has helpful hints – say’s that if using 1 Tablespoon per load of laundry,  1 two-jar batch of concentrate will last 128 loads of laundry and estimates that the total expense (again for 128 loads of laundry) comes down to $1.76. Total. Can we just think about that for a second? And this is a great alternative for those of you with sensitive skin issues in your family, just try it!


 

I’ve been making my own laundry detergent for about 4 years now. It is incredibly easy, VERY cost efficient, and really reduces the number of chemicals and “who know’s how to pronounce that” ingredients that make up most store bought detergents.

In A Beginning of a Crunchy Conservatives Guidebook I linked to a website that has 10 different homemade detergent recipes, both powdered and liquid, and talked about how I was using the Fourth recipe. I have since started using this whipped laundry concentrate, or Liquid Detergent Recipe from Budget101.com. You can click the links in the previous sentences to go to pages. However for those of you that want to read it right here, I’ll tell you  ^_^

Things you’ll need:

  • To make sure that you have 4-5 hours of wait time. Don’t begin this process before bed!
  • 1 bar of Fels Naptha Laundry Soap
  • 1 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax
  • 1 cup of Washing Soda (veeeery different than baking soda, do NOT try to substitute)
  • 4 cups of hot water
  • 2 quart size small mouth canning jars
  • Blender with a detachable blade that can screw onto your quart jars (hint – most blenders are this size 😉
  • Large heavy saucepan
  • 2  Mixing Bowls
  • Cheese Grater (For the soap, or you could food process it)
  • Solid spoon, like a wooden spoon, or a wisk.

Now that you have all of your supplies and ingredients together you can begin! It’s easy peasy.

  1. Put 4 cups of water in the large heavy pan and turn it up so that it will boil
  2. While water is heating, thoroughly mix the Washing Soda and borax in your mixing bowl
  3. Grate the soap into your other mixing bowl, then add it all at once to your now, boiling water, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the bowl until it has completely dissolved, approximately 10 – 15 minutes. DO NOT LET IT BOIL OVER, you should have a nice rolling boil with limited foaming that doesn’t grow when you stop stirring.
  4. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the bowl full of Washing Soda and Borax, stirring constantly until dissolved (about 5 minutes). You shouldn’t feel any grit on the bottom of the pan. If you do, keep stirring.
  5. Pour liquid equally into your two jars.
  6. Add water in your jars, but make sure that you have a good 1.5 – 2″ of head space at the top. (I put hot water in the pan that I’ve mixed it in, swirling it around to get all the soap residue off and used in the detergent)
  7. Put the lids on the jars and let them sit UPSIDE DOWN for about 4-5 hours. The liquid will separate into layers and crystalize on the bottom, which, if it is right side up, will be the actual bottom of the jar and will NEVER come off.
  8. After 4, but no more than 5 hours, flip your jar right side up and take the lid off. Unscrew the bottom and blade off of your blender and screw it straight onto your mason jar.
    1. By the time I went to blend the “top” or bottom layer was REALLY hard, so I used a butter knife and cut an “X” through the top layer because blending wasn’t really working. It worked fine after that.
  9. Whip for about a minute until the contents of your jar are smooth and creamy dreamy.
  10. Scrape down the blade, without hurting yourself, put the contents back in the jar, screw the lid on.
  11. Repeat with second jar and viola! You have 2 jars of smooth, homemade laundry concentrate. Use 1-2 T per load of laundry, it works fantastic and last F-O-R-E-V-E-R.

The end!

**Added January 2016 – Tips and Tricks!

  • You really do want to mix the ingredients in the order she lists. I’ve accidentally done it out of order or tried to combine steps to save time and it does NOT turn out correctly.
  • Doing laundry for just myself, I make 2 batches a year. That’s it! And I tend to use 2 Tablespoons vs the recommended one Tablespoon, just for good measure. If you have a bigger family you could easily double the recipe and make 4 jars at a time. Just see how long it will last you! Since there is so much stirring involved this may be a job you’d want to incorporate your kiddo’s in on, or assign as one older child or teenagers specific responsibility to make. Make sure they’re using a bandana around their mouths & noses if they are vigorous stirrer’s as the powders can get in the air.
  • My laundry day is Sunday. When I’m just about out I will make a note in my phone that I need to make it the following week. I start it in the morning and that way I have time throughout the day to whip it and still get my laundry done.
  • When the jar is almost empty I put a little bit of hot, hot water in it, screw on the lid and shake it until all the residue comes off, then pour the water in the washer. The jar is clean and all the detergent used!
  • Our laundry room is in the basement and not heated so it can get pretty cold in the winter. I generally have no problem with the detergent dissolving in the wash water unless it’s REAL cold, or the wash water is cold. In which case I put some hot water in a cup or small jar and add the measured out concentrate. Then stir, or add a lid and shake until dissolved and pour it in. Easy peasy.
  • I use it plain, but you could easily add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oils if you want it scented. ** I made a batch today and used EO’s in both jars. I used 10 drops in the first jar before blending and literally can’t smell it a bit. I used 30 drops in the second jar before whipping and can juuuuust barely catch a whiff that maybe it smells like something other than FN. So if you are planning on using EO’s just know a head of time that you will need to use a lot!
  • I have tried this recipe with Zote a couple of times – another bar form of laundry soap – and it did not work as well. Since then I’ve stuck with FN…..however as I type this a friend who sells her homemade soaps is mixing up a batch of homemade laundry soap bars that is made with far more natural ingredients than FN. She will be sending me some to try and I’m excited to review it here!