Monday, May 28, 2012

Flu, Flu Go Away

The stomach flu is making its rounds in my house.  First my 13yo emptied his stomach 8 times (he counted) last Weds. I didn't have my thinking cap on for him and just had him rest for a day and gave him fluids. Praise God, it resolved itself by the next day. 

Then last night my 15yo got it. M
y husband had the awesome to give him some ginger and honey water to sip. This seemed to help because he only had two instances of vomiting and hasn't had anything further.

The next morning my husband joined the party and I thought, "Oh dear, this means I'll be next!" lol :)

I quickly changed all the bedding and set to washing them (in hot water!) just to give everyone a fresh bed and get rid of any germies that might be lurking.  I also did a quick-clean of my whole house, disinfecting and cleaning all the toilets, sweeping & mopping bathroom floors, wiping down sinks and vacuuming.  Since the house was already in pretty good order, it only took about a half hour to get the house in apple pie order.

My 13yo son actually changed his brother's sheets for him without even being asked.  It was one of those mom moments when I thought, 'I'm doing something right!'  :) 

Be Your Own DoctorNext, I got out my wonderful, trusty Doctor book out for some advice on stomach bugs. This book has been SO helpful to me! 

Today I learned that taking some activated charcoal and water once per hour can often resolve a stomach "bug" before it gets you. 

Can you believe that I just added activated charcoal to our medicine cabinet last week!? I'm praising God for that! :) 

So I took a capsule with a glass of water and will take another in an hour.  Hopefully I will emerge unscathed from this ordeal! :)

I also learned that a drop or two of peppermint oil in a bit of water will help nausea to go away.  Just put some on my husband's nightstand so he can take it when he rouses in a little while.

I will let you know if the activated charcoal worked for me to keep the bug from getting me!

Update!It is now 3 days later and I am still well.  Activated Charcoal ROCKS! 

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Wife

There are many women who are dedicated to being good wives yet still feel they could never match up to the superwoman described in Proverbs 31.

Are the goals we see described in Proverbs 31 attainable or merely set forth for our envy and discouragement?  Does God’s Word set up standards that are impossible to achieve? 

Absolutely not! :)

The same God who inspired Proverbs 31 also said:
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48)
and through Moses and Peter:
Be holy, because I am holy”  (Lev. 11:44, 1 Pet. 1:16).

We can rest assured knowing that where God sets the standard, he also supplies the power to reach that standard.
That is huge so let me repeat:

Where God sets the standard  

He supplies the power to get there.
I think that the desire to be a godly woman gets a bit frustrated somewhere between the loom on which this woman weaves her family’s clothes and her lamp that never goes out. 

If we focus only on the many jobs this woman occupies her time with, we will fail to pay attention to the extremely important role that wisdom plays within the entire book and ultimately culminates with chapter 31.

I see a lot of evidence that seems to point to the Proverbs 31 woman representing a wise and mature woman.  Her work is a testimony to the understanding she has obtained through wisdom. 

This is good news because this same wisdom is accessible to all Christian women through asking God for it. Through  knowing the Lord, we are transformed to his character through the renewing of our minds.

When studying Proverbs 31, let's not forget that the book as a whole is written by a father admonishing his son not to give in to the sinful lusts that would most certainly come to tempt him one day. The book emphasises choosing wisdom over folly and a life-giving chaste woman over a death-loving whore.

All through the book, we see that the one being addressed is the young man (“my son”) and not the young woman, focusing on his need to get wisdom and shun foolishness.

The conclusion climaxes in verse 23 which emphasizes not the wife, but the husband. This establishes the essential point of the book: this is the kind of woman a man needs in order to be successful. 

Reading it as a woman is like listening in on a private conversation between God and men.  Even though it is not directly addressed to women, the lessons are there for us anyway. We learn from the descriptions of the froward woman just as much as the priceless one.

I think there are some key elements about the woman described in chapter 31 that we need to give some special consideration to.
Super Woman or Mature Woman?

The woman portrayed in the text appears to me to be mature rather than a newlywed. Her confidence and skill are an indication of the experience she has gained over time. Few new brides ever execute this amount of wisdom right out of the chute. 

But they can ultimately expect to achieve exquisite proficiency when they love wisdom and hate evil. Homemaking skills take practice; wisdom and understanding increase as a woman commits her way unto the Lord.

Her Husband's Prestige

We should also take note of her husband who is qualified for the respect he receives in the gates. This does not depict the typical young man in his twenties but rather a more established man who has benefited by his wife’s superb management of their home.

A wife’s practice of godly wisdom does not rely on having a godly or successful husband.

Wives in less than ideal marriages are still capable of reaching for wisdom and exercising prudence, productivity and knowledge.

Both husband and wife can create an environment that enhances the potential of the other - but that doesn’t guarantee success or wisdom in either case.

The Lord God is the giver of wisdom and believers can gain it both by applying their hearts to it and by asking the father who gives to all men liberally.

James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
What about her servants?

Today, modern women have “electric” servants. In the days of the Proverbs 31 woman, it was extremely demanding to clothe and feed a household.

Today we have readymade clothes, canned goods and spices, running water and indoor bathrooms. Back then, it was common for a woman to have young girls in her employ in order to accomplish all the things we take for granted today.

Shouldering the management and training of her servants took quite a bit of organization and skill. Similarly, we can seek to run our “electric” servants within a decent time frame to keep our household running smoothly.

Our children are also wonderful helpers God has given us to help with the workload and a wise mother will teach them to help as soon as they can walk, not expecting any real help at that age, but in years to come.

She Strengthens her Arms

While a healthy body is valuable, and we do want to be physically attractive to our husbands, the air-brushed models so prevalently displayed and admired in our society cause most women feel defeated by an impossible standard. 

But (hooray) the woman in Pr 31 is not depicted as physically beautiful. Not even once. She is characterized and praised by her fear of the Lord (which resulted in wisdom).
That is where true beauty comes from - within.

Pr 31:29-30 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

The key to understanding Proverbs 31

The entire poem can be summed up in one sentence: the virtous wife is a woman who fears the Lord. Her work and industry testifies of the joy in her heart. All of her wise shopping and care for her husband children and household were the byproduct of her primary focus. What differentiates the wise woman of Proverbs 31 from her counterpart? Her  fear of the Lord.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.  Pr 1:7  

The wise woman lives in obedience to God and therefore submits to her husband for the Lord’s sake.

How does a woman’s fear of the Lord make her different from other accomplished homemakers?

1) Her primary focus is on the Lord.

She looks to the Lord for strength to fulfill her calling in life as a wife and mother. We mustn’t make the mistake to look to vs. 23 where her “children arise and call her blessed” as our end goal. That is the praise of man. We may never receive that kind of tribute or adulation. If a woman works with hope of praise from others in this life she misses the promise of reward in the next. (Matt 6:1-5)

2) She hates evil.
She deliberately shuns foolishness and folly and anything that can be construed as sinful. Her fear of the Lord guides her steps and keeps her on the path of righteousness.  

A household that is led by a godly, upright man, shunning evil might be comparatively easy. But what of the woman who is to exemplify holiness when other members of her household have no such interest? She is confronted with evil on a daily basis.

Scripture addresses such a woman in 1 Peter 3, advising her to live out her faith by being in subjection to her husband and with her chaste conversation. There are numerous examples in scripture, however, where God affirmed His people who refused to obey men when to do so meant to disobey God. 

So it follows that the husband’s authority over his wife is limited ultimately to the Lord himself. A wife who commits sin in obedience to her husband would be disobeying Christ, her higher authority. In doing so she would be violating Peter’s earlier command to be holy as God Himself is holy.

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation. 1 Peter 1:15

3) She’s compassionate, generous and fair.

A wife who fears the Lord treats all with compassion and fairness. God warns in Mal 3:5,
“And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against…those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.”
Because she fears the Lord, the Proverbs 31 woman distributes what is owed to those who work for her and gives generously to the needy and poor.

4) She delights in the Lord’s commands.

Scripture establishes that those who fear the Lord not only obey his commands but take pleasure in doing so. The psalmist wrote, “Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.”

(Ps 112:1) This joy – joy in and from the Lord – belongs to the wife who fears the Lord. Whatever a wife’s duties are -- whether she sews her family’s clothes or shops for them -- providing with a joyful spirit out of service to the Lord places her in the same category as a Proverbs 31 woman.

When her environment is difficult, her delight in the Lord becomes more crucial than ever, giving her strength to endure without yielding to depression or sinful anger.

When her home environment is less than inspiring, her family members unappreciative or financial pressures escalate, she can take comfort from the inner joy that comes from the Holy Spirit’s comfort that her worth is far above rubies in the sight of the Lord.

5) She is teachable. 

A woman who fears the Lord is wise and therefore continues to grow in knowledge and understanding. A young bridegroom should not expect to find the finished product standing beside him at the altar.

However he will have his treasure in due time if his wife’s heart is committed to learning and fearing the Lord. She will find her husband to be a precious blessing if he has chosen to do the same.

The truly wise are not “wise in their own eyes” but rather will recognize and depend upon their need of the life giving water and wisdom from God.  Proverbs 31 ends with an admonition that the godly wife deserves to be praised. Before praise, however, comes a humble spirit that is teachable.

6) She is a peacemaker.

Whoever fears the Lord strives for peace. Is there a household that exists where squabbles don't arise? The wise woman prepares her heart to respond to the inevitable disturbances within her home with discretion and love.

She does not sacrifice truth for peace, but “keeps her tongue from evil and her lips from speaking lies”. This kind of woman does not just tell her children to live in peace, she exemplifies it in her speech, her tone of voice, her manner and her kindnesses.

The encouragement of Ruth's story

There is much to learn from Ruth, the widowed Moabitess. It's a rather short, fascinating book. If you haven't read it yet, you are in for a real blessing. Like the woman in Pr 31, Ruth left a legacy of being “a woman of virtous character”. And yet, there are many contrasts between Ruth and the Proverbs 31 woman.

Contrasts between Two Virtuous Bible Women:
Ruth and Mrs. Proverbs 31
  1. The Pr 31 woman had a husband, children and servants who called her “blessed” whereas at the time when Ruth was praised, she was a childless widow who hadn't had the opportunity to test her child raising skills.
  2. The Pr 31 woman had wealth and resources to invest and further her husband's financial enterprises. Ruth was a penniless gleaner who gathered in fields where others left behind.
  3. The Pr 31 woman’s faith and wisdom testifies of a godly upbringing. In contrast, Ruth was raised among Pagan gods.

Yet both women were declared virtuous. What was the common thread? They both feared the Lord. Ruth made up her mind to follow the covenant God of the Israelites and even though inexperienced and new to the land and the religion, she quickly - and I mean quickly - earned the reputation of being a righteous woman.

I find it very encouraging that being a Proverbs 31 woman is not out of the scope of any woman who fears the Lord and applies her heart to wisdom and understanding. Isn't that exciting?

As Ruth exampled for us all, whatever background you have, when you commit your path to God and fear and serve him with joy and gratitude, your life can be transformed. This glorifies the Lord and gives us hope for an eternal reward!

Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope. Ps 119:116

If we read Proverbs - the whole book, rather than focusing just on the culmination of it in chapter 31 - we can see that it is a life spent loving and knowing the Lord and shunning foolishness that is at the heart of the Proverbs 31 woman. 

No matter where you are on your journey, you can begin right now, today, to fear the Lord, ask him for wisdom and become busy at home.  The world will tell us there is value in who we are.  But Scripture tells us the only thing worth boasting of is Christ alone.

It is an innate instinct to value and cherish someone who loves God, gives selflessly, works hard and forgives easily. 

These are the traits of a Godly woman and the ingredients of one whose children will one day rise and call her blessed.

If this article was a blessing to you in some measure, I would love to hear from you in the comments section below. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Salt Is Good

In Mark 9:50 Jesus said,
Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.

Modern research says that salt is bad but Jesus says "salt is good."  Who do you believe?  If we're talking about pure sodium chloride (table salt), then the I’d have to side with modern research because that stuff can kill you.

But Jesus was not speaking of the sodium chloride that Morton manufactures. He was referencing sea salt which is evaporated seawater loaded with good-for-you trace minerals. The highest nutrient content comes from gray Celtic sea salt - its unique nutritional makeup make it a superstar and a must have for every kitchen.

Course or Fine Ground
Celtic salt comes in fine ground and course.  The course ground is less expensive and can be ground fine easily if you have a cutting board and a rolling pin. Place a handful of salt on the board, and roll over it with the rolling pin until it's a fine grind.  I then scoop it with my scraper and put in a salt crock that I keep by the stove and in a shaker for the table.

Table Salt
Generic table salt is mined from underground salt deposits and contains no trace minerals. But Celtic sea salt is whole, unprocessed salt from mineral-rich coastal regions of France making it superior to all other salts. Nearly 80 essential and trace minerals have been identified in Celtic salt crystals. Our bodies need these micro nutrients for healthy immune systems, nutrition absorption, detoxification, healthy digestion and more.

Preventing Trace-Mineral Deficiencies

Many illnesses are linked to trace-mineral deficiencies that the liberal use of Celtic Sea Salt can help correct. It’s best to avoid table salt whenever possible. The American Heart Association warns that high sodium chloride intake is one of the risk factors that contribute towards high blood pressure (hypertension), which substantially increases the risk of developing heart disease or stroke.

Sea Salt Has A Lower Sodium Chloride Content

Real sea salt should look dirty. So the bright white stuff is not what you're looking for. The specific region where Celtic sea salt is harvested has a higher percentage of mineral-dense natural brine, or sea water, than other bodies of water. So this naturally lowers the sodium chloride content. Using Celtic Sea Salt as opposed to other varieties of salt can really help us reduce our daily total sodium chloride intake. 

Experts recommend eliminating all other salt from the diet, but if I did that I think my family would freak out. ;) So I try to purchase the best food I can afford, but I still buy a few things that have regular salt in them tortilla chips and crackers.  We just limit our intake of these foods.  This is one time where I am counting on the good outweighing the bad.

Healthy Flavor Enhancer

The frosting on the whole Celtic Sea Salt cake is that it is delicious. I had no idea that salt actually tasted good until I began using it in my kitchen for all of our salt needs. I mean, this stuff makes food taste yummier than I'd ever have guessed. It really enhances the flavor of vegetables, which makes getting the recommended servings more appealing.

Diminishes Swelling
I noticed that the swollen look on my ankles disappeared when I started using Celtic Sea Salt. I have thin ankles now!  I feel like I’m less bloated in general as well. I’m so glad I found out about this salt. Just one of the many things I have discovered that my mother didn’t tell me or maybe never knew. 
Pass It On
Can you imagine the health impact this will have on future generations if we begin passing on vital information like this? I'm disinclined to think of our ancestors throughout history "inferior" to us modern folks in any way. They had knowledge far superior to us in terms of natural healing and common sense. They make our generation look like Dumb and Dumber! 
Now that we know this essential knowledge, it can be passed on to our own children and our children's children for generations to come.  So...what are you waiting for? Go getcha some Celtic sea salt! :-)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fat Body, Fat House

Our bodies live in houses of brick or wood. And our souls live in houses of flesh and blood. Each of these "houses" need constant maintenance, nourishment and care and trouble arises when these are out of balance or neglected. 

Think about it:
A fat body breeds disease, arthritis and heart strain, etc.
A fat house (clutter) breeds filth, disorder and chaos, etc.

A cluttered house has...

Too much incoming             and            not enough outgoing

Likewise a fat body has...

Too much incoming           and            not enough outgoing

Body Fat &  House Clutter

For some people, getting a cluttered home in tidy order is as daunting as losing weight is for others.  And the bigger the problem the longer it takes to conquer it. 

Measurable success comes from clearly defined goals. Creating new habits

takes time. I have to remind myself that there will be hills of success and valleys of defeat on my journey to physical fitness. Knowing this ahead of time helps steel my resolve and weather stormy feelings that always accompany changes in habit.

For me, my house is easier to manage than my body. I think personal habits play a key role. It's going to take a lot of determination for me to excel at being fit.  And time.

If our habits and mindset doesn't change, then our behavior will lead us right back to the problem we seek to conquer. 

If a cluttered house were overhauled quickly by a professional organizer, but the homeowner made no marked changes to keep it that way, the place would return to a mess. 

And people who lose weight quickly through gastric bypasses or lapbands but don't make permanent dietary & exercise changes, tend to gain the weight back again in a short time. 

Why is that?  I believe it's from not changeing the bad old habits with new good ones.  And sometimes, plain ignorance. 

I learned how to make a home through reading and lots of practice. I have several books on home cleaning, decorating, organizing, small repairs, laundry. And there are many inspiring homekeeping blogs, too. 

Many people can tell us us how to lose weight.  Many people can tell us how to organize our homes.  But at the end of the day, we are still left to our daily decisions and habits. 

1 Corinthians 14:40 Let all things be done decently and in order.

If a person with a clutter problem is not mindful to put things away and throw out trash on a daily basis, their clutter will always remain. 

If a person with a weight problem is not mindful to count their calories and exercise to burn away the excess ones on a daily basis, their fat will always remain.

The first step in getting a handle on either problem, is to get a handle on our feelings. Because house clutter and excess body weight both originate in emotions. So conquering clutter or fat involves conquering feelings. 

I believe that clutter stems from over-sentimentality. People with too much stuff and no where to put it are emotionally attached to their posessions.  They live as if their stuff owns them rather than the other way around. 

Overweight starts with eating too much.  Many people subconsciously turn to food for their pain and end up emotional over-eaters.  This is the worst of the two and much harder to correct. 

But do you see how both problems involve an excess?  It's just all too, too much. 

Change Your Thoughts & Actions Will Follow

Actions begin with thoughts.  in Phillipians 4:8 it says to think about whatever is good, pure, lovely, just, honest and of good report.

We have to train our thoughts to hold on to the truth. Both of our "houses" function at their best when they are balanced and trim. 

But fat bodies and fat homes inhibit us on EVERY level.

They both:

  1. hinder movement
  2. dwarf effectiveness
  3. limit activities
  4. diminish social stature
  5. injure health
Too much stuff. Stuffed full. Stuffed houses. Stuffed bodies.

Earthen houses and bodily houses that are stuffed full cause all sorts of troubles. I believe our American culture has a lot to do with these troubles.  The Bible says that believers in Christ are in the world but not of it. 

1 Peter 5:8-10 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  
Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.  
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

Our adversary is the devil. He's like a lion roaring in the streets.  Notice that the Bible never tells us to fight this enemy, only to resist.  Resistance is passive, a non-act. God does our fighting for us. All we are told to do is resist.

But how?  How does a dam or mound resist a current of water? Passively. By standing unmoved and interrupting its progress.  So it is with our enemy. 

We have been told to conquer him through resisting.  Resistance is often easiest to accomplish through avoidance.  Someone with a weight problem can practice resistance through avoidance by keeping sweets in the house to a bare minimum. 

I like to keep only the ingredients around - no pre-made sweets that are just a hand grab away from going right in the mouth.  When sweets have to be prepared first, they are more likely to be occasional rather than daily. 

Philippians 4:5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Someone with a clutter problem can resist by setting limits of what comes into the house. If something comes in, something goes out. And taking 15 minutes a day to unclutter one small area of the home can really add up.

Someone with a weight problem can resist by setting limits on what goes into their bodies. Eating 3 servings of vegetables and 2 fruits per day is easy.  Getting a 30-60 minute walk in will create a calorie deficit that will lead to weight loss and stronger fitness. 

In either case, placing physical, external boundaries around us is a good strategy to aid us in resisting.  Knowing that God stands ready to help us at any moment. He is only a prayer away.
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
In the verse above, we see that coveting is the opposite of contentment. The sin of coveting is wanting something we don't have.  And it's listed in the ten commandments alongside hideous sins like murder, adultery and theft.  It is major.  

We all have a deep desire to be content. But true contentment comes with being satisfied with our portion.  And in the above verse the Lord gives us the ultimate reassurance:

I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
God is our father, our provider, our comforter and our portion.  He promises to never leave or forsake us. 

That knowledge is where our comfort must spring from, not from filling our homes with an overload of "stuff" or our stomachs with an overload of food. 
Psalms 73:26-28 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.
So many of us carry personal failures around with us instead of standing on the precious promises in the word of God: that we are more than conquerors.

As believers, we have the power of the living God, the creator of the universe within us. I rest in his ability, not mine. HIS strength is made perfect in our weakness. My job is to walk with him.
Romans 8:37 all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.  Philippians 4:5 
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.  Colossians 3:16-17 

If you have a fat body, I encourage you to simply get up and get some exercise each day. I have been walking on my new treadmill since January and I'm up to 3 miles 4 days a week. I hope to increase it to five days a week soon.

If you have a fat house, I encourage you to simply get up and unclutter a small area for a few minutes. It's amazing what an impact just 15 minutes a day of decluttering can have.

Whichever problem you identify with, remember that faith without works is dead.  You can do one thing each day toward your goal. But first you must have a goal.

The difference between a dream and a goal is a time line. 

Walking with the Lord means never walking alone - God is with us every step of the way on our journey.

Now THAT is comforting!

How to Get Rid of Anxiety

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