Wednesday, January 29, 2014

These Five Habits Have Changed My Life

I've been developing more healthy habits over the last few years and I came up with a list of five that I think have made the most difference in my life.

1. Eat your vegetables-
A few years ago, I may have eaten one day's worth of fresh vegetables in one week.  A year ago, I started eating more than a day's worth of vegetables everyday (and I cut out processed foods, refined sugar, etc.).  I lost seventy-one pounds in one year. Now I never get sick or tired.  Vegetables are so important. 

2.  Empty your sink-
I started doing Fly Lady's daily routine a few years ago and now I empty my sink at least once a day before I go to bed.  Most days, I empty it after every meal.  Emptying the sink leads to sweeping the floor which leads to wiping off the counters which leads to putting things back where they go... My house stays much cleaner and now I never have to stress before company comes.  No seriously.  My house stays clean enough for company most of the time.  It all starts with the kitchen sink.

3. Wash, dry, and fold one load of laundry-
This has been one of the most loving things I've ever done for my husband, one of the best things I've ever done for myself and my kids.  Every single day, I go down, open the dryer, and fold the load that's in there. Then I take the load of wet clothes that I did the day before out of the washer and dry them. The I start a new load of laundry. Some days, this is all I do. Other days, I can make it back down to fold, load, and wash another load.  But doing one load a day means I stay on top of my laundry.  I haven't had a huge pile in years.  This is another habit I learned from Fly Lady.

4.  Read your Bible-
My church encourages its congregants to read The One Year Bible.  I did this for a year, then skipped a year, and now I've started doing it again this year. I find that reading the Bible leads to prayer which leads to worship which leads to more prayer which leads to listening to sermons online... Reading the Bible everyday makes all the difference in my spiritual life and my spiritual health often makes all the difference in my everyday life.   

5.  Exercise-
I stopped watching crap on Hulu and started getting my sports bra and tennis shoes on instead.  I used to think I was "relaxing" during my free time, but I was wasting time doing meaningless things and wasting time on meaningless things just ended up making me more stressed out in the long run.  I have started exercising every afternoon once I am done doing lessons with the kids and before (or even while) I am making dinner. Some days, I teach a fitness classes at a local YMCA. On those days, I don't exercise at home.  But, exercising has made me physically stronger and much more clear headed. The biggest thing for me was forcing myself to make the most of my free time.  I used to think I didn't have time to exercise.  Really, I didn't have time to watch television and exercise.  I have started choosing exercise. I am always glad when I do. 

Diffuse Valor Essential Oil When You Study

Diffuse Valor Essential Oil When You Study

I've started diffusing Valor essential oil when we are doing our school work.  It makes the kids breathe deeper and relax and concentrate better. It calms me down when working with three kids at once can be stressful. These aromas are enhancing our lives in so many simple ways everyday!  

Saturday, January 25, 2014

God's Mirth

I served in my four year old's class at Classical Conversations the other day.  As I was helping the little ones find their seats, stay in their seats, tie their shoes, get their snacks, wash their hands, get back to their seats, stay in their seats, hold their markers, etc., I found myself truly enjoying the little people.  They were beautiful to me and everything they did was charming, if not out right hysterical.  At times, my laughter over their antics was so loud that it made them turn their heads and look at me with confusion, so then I had to try and temper my laughter and just smile and chuckle over them to msyelf.

This isn't how I usually feel when I help the four year olds, to be honest. So I knew that the Holy Spirit was filling me. I sensed that God was trying to teach me something significant. So as I was helping the kids, I was also having a conversation with God in my head.

"Is this how it felt...? This is how it felt for the creator to be among those He created."

As soon as I had asked the question, it was as if the Holy Spirit answered it.

"Is this God's joy?" I wondered.

"God's mirth." The Spirit said.

God's mirth.


That word reminded me of something... What was it?

The last page of G.K. Chesteron's book Orthodoxy!

He said something about the mirth of God... What was it?

I didn't remember what the book said, but as soon as I got home, I felt compelled to look it up and see if the passage had anything to do with what was going on that day.

Here's the passage.

"Joy... is the gigantic secret of the Christian... The tremendous figure which fills the Gospels (Jesus) towers in this respect, as in every other, above all the thinkers who ever thought themselves tall. His pathos was natural, almost casual. The Stoics, ancient and modern, were proud of concealing their tears. He never concealed His tears; He showed them plainly on His open face at any daily sight, such as the far sight of His native city. Yet He concealed something. Solemn supermen and imperial diplomatists are proud of restraining their anger. He never restrained His anger. He flung furniture down the front steps of the Temple, and asked men how they expected to escape the damnation of Hell. Yet He restrained something. I say it with reverence; there was in that shattering personality a thread that must be called shyness. There was something that He hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray. There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth."

The passage fit perfectly! I think God was teaching me that Jesus, indeed, felt such great joy to be with us that He had to conceal it most of the time. He was a Creator who got to live among his created ones.  I can imagine what it might be like to write a story and then find myself in the book. What a delightful experience that must have been for Him, not because we are so delightful, but because of His great love for us. Just like I had to conceal my laughter so that the kids could focus on their work, I bet Jesus had to contain His great joy most of the time so He and His disciples could do the things they were supposed to do.  Filled up with love for the children, it was the most natural thing for me to put my hand on their head as I stood over them in line or at their table and wish them well from my heart.  That's probably why it was so easy and natural for Jesus to constantly reach out and bless, reach out and bless, and reach out and bless people like He did.  And that could be why they were constantly accusing Him of being a drunkard and a glutton.  Because when the work was done and Jesus had appropriate opportunities to relish in his own mirth, I imagine He had a great time.  I would have loved to have been at those parties!    

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dreams and Faith

I had a terrific dream the other night.  I was looking in a mirror at myself while the Spirit of God was prophesying over me, telling me my future. Unfortunately, I can't remember the exact words that were said, but I came away from the experience understanding that God was confirming that He was going to help me fulfill a dream I've had since I was a young child. It is exhilarating to have some assurance that it's going to happen! 

I woke up from the dream in the middle of the night in an unnaturally deep slumber. I felt drugged almost. I smiled to myself, started praying a prayer of thanks, and fell back to sleep.  When I woke up the next morning, I was still really sleepy, so cozy in my bed, and I had almost forgotten about the dream. However, it occurred to me that I felt intense joy.  Why did I feel so much joy? I thought. Then I remembered the dream and my heart leaped for a moment! But I was still so drowsy and my bed felt so good and the joy felt so good, so I just continued to lay there, snoozing, and it was another hour or more before I woke up and actually got out of bed.

By the time I got up, put on my house shoes, and shuffled down the hall to greet my husband who was already awake and reading quietly on the couch, I'm embarrassed to admit that I had forgotten about the dream again.  It was as if it hadn't even happened.  I got a cup of coffee and I sat and started reading my Scripture for the day merely out of routine.

That's when I came upon Genesis 25:21-23. 

Rebekah became pregnant with twins. But the two children struggled with each other in her womb. So she went to ask the Lord about it. “Why is this happening to me?” she asked.
And the Lord told her, “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son.”

Upon reading this, it struck me how straightforward God was with Rebekah.  He answered her plainly about what her future would be.  This thrilled me, the possibility that God could tell us our future. But, interestingly, I still didn't remember that I had had a dream about my future.  Apparently, I can be really forgetful.

I kept on reading and I came to Genesis 26:2-5.  

The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt, but do as I tell you. Live here as a foreigner in this land, and I will be with you and bless you. I hereby confirm that I will give all these lands to you and your descendants, just as I solemnly promised Abraham, your father. I will cause your descendants to become as numerous as the stars of the sky, and I will give them all these lands. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed. I will do this because Abraham listened to me and obeyed all my requirements, commands, decrees, and instructions.

As I was reading and got to the words, "I will be with you and bless you..."  my heart started to quicken It literally started to beat really fast for some reason. I knew something was on going on in my spirit, so I kept reading, but I was wondering, "Why is my heart beating so fast?"  I thought for another moment.  Then I remembered my dream!  

So God does tell people their futures! Reading about God telling Issac the same thing He had said to Abraham reminded me that he'd just done a similar thing for me! I cried out loud and told Dwayne, who was still close by, about the dream I had had, that I had forgotten it, till just now, and that God had told me my dream would come true.  My husband rejoiced with me. He knows how badly I've been longing to make this dream come true.   

Then something obviously occurred to my husband and he got quiet. He smiled that smile he smiles when he has a secret that he knows I will like. That's when he told me he had had a vivid dream about his future that night, too.  The dream was of him being filled with the Holy Spirit and then going in the Spirit's power and doing something that he has been considering doing for some time, too.  My husband is quite sober when it comes to spiritual matters, so I believed him immediately and implicitly.  We both sat and glorified God and talked about how incredible it was that we both dreamed about our futures on the same night!
You may wonder at this account. You may think I'm crazy and that my husband shares my lunacy. Well, I've asked myself, "Am I crazy?"  But, the ability to step outside of myself and review my experiences and thoughts is what makes a person rational.  A world with God makes more sense to me than a world without Him. The Judea-Christian account of history does the best job of explaining reality, in my opinion. So my reason upholds my faith.  I believe there is a God. He made me a saint when I believed in His Son, Jesus, just a regular saint, but a saint none-the-less.  He is my friend now.  And if that's a fact, then just about anything is possible now.

Prophecy?  Dreams?  They actually happen a lot to regular people who happen to be saints throughout history. In fact, I'm beginning to think that experiences like this might be inherent to the reality of being in a relationship with a supernatural being. I don't like being charismatic.  I resent it, actually.  It makes me uncomfortable and embarrassed. But I have to admit that friendship with God, out of necessity, might be more than a little uncomfortable for the human beings involved.  God is, after all, so very different than us. If we want Him to be free with us, free to speak His mind, do things His way, be Himself in the sense that we want our other friends to be themselves, we must be prepared for the realities of that. (I'm trying to reconcile myself to the apparent realities of that.)  I think we men and women may need to "gird up our loins" for what an encounter with God may really be like.  In my experience so far, a friendship with God can be really uncomfortable. But, never-the-less, I want to make room for Him in my life, whatever that looks like.

I've been thinking about what I'm supposed to do now, now that I know or think I know what's going to happen.  And I think I'm supposed to do what Abraham did and just believe God. It might not happen for a while.  It didn't happen for Abraham right away.  But God has told me what the future holds and what He's going to do in my husband's life, too.  The prospect of it gives us great joy and hope.  It also requires every bit of faith that I have to believe what He said, and then to believe I'm not crazy for believing that He said it. But Scripture says, "Abraham believed God at it was credited to Him as righteousness."  It all began with Abraham believing God.  That's faith, essentially, to believe God.  It's what God has required of people from the very beginning of the story. So that's what I plan to do. 



Friday, January 17, 2014

Worship, Like Air

"It looks like fur! Or feathers! Branches! Or trees!" my kids exclaimed.  It looked like it all, and all at once.  As we watched, the sun kept rising over our house, moving slowly over the surface of the car, melting all the beautiful frost away in just moments. But even the melting was wondrous.  I don't exaggerate when I say it was one of the most breathtaking things I've ever seen. It was completely natural and oh, so fleeting.  A human could refine his craft for a lifetime then pass all he knows on to his child. Then his child could work for a lifetime and not even come close to the kind of innate, inanimate skill and artistry that formed this masterpiece overnight and then vanished in the briefest moments of light.  Nature is fraught with the glory of its God.  And it hints at something dreadful, that in our whole lifetime, with our eyes wide open, we can only begin to have the briefest conception of how glorious God will be in His heaven. Standing there, in touch with God's glory, feeling the frigid air go in and out of my lungs, and seeing my breath go up as vapor, I realized that in heaven, worship will be the most natural thing we do. Surrounded by God's glory like this everywhere, it'll be as easy as breathing. Worship will go in and out of us like air.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Timely Word

I watched two or three pretty raunchy movies this week.  They weren't so raunchy that I had to turn them off, but there were some scenes throughout the movies that definitely made me uncomfortable and I had turn my head until they were over.

I know what you're wondering.  What movies?  Right?  Well, I'm not telling you because I don't want you to think that I'm judging you for watching them or condemning you for not having a problem with them like I did. They're pretty popular movies that just about everyone has seen.

Anyway, the night after I watched these movies I had a vivid, disgusting, illicit dream that made me so physically sick that I woke myself up dry heaving and praying. And that woke my husband up.  

The next day, my husband asked, "Do you think your nightmare was because of the movies?  Do you think you'll be able to watch anymore of them?"  I told him I wasn't sure and I really wasn't sure. But I admitted that I didn't want to watch any more movies and he was supportive.

Then the next day, as I was reading the Bible passages I was supposed to read for that day in the One Year Bible, I came upon this verse by chance or rather, by design.

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" Matthew 6

This verse was so timely.  It lead me to realize there is an actual connection between my physical body and my spirit.  Good or bad, what I do with my physical eyes is spiritually pervasive, so I must take care.  


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Egg and Squash Breakfast Scramble

I adapted this recipe from Ree Drummond's Carb Buster Breakfast.  Basically, I busted her carb buster and made it even more healthy and a just a bit more practical.  Here's what you do.

Heat a tablespoon of butter in a skillet on medium/ high heat.  Then chop up half an onion, half a yellow squash, and half a zucchini and add it to the skillet.  (I've also made this with some fresh Brussels sprouts chopped in half in the skillet with the squash and onions, too. Also very good.)  Let it cook for a minute or two, then sprinkle some sea salt and pepper on there.

Get a big plate/ platter ready with some fresh greens on the side. 

Saute the vegetables and onions for about three more minutes. Chop up half a tomato and then add her to the skillet, too. 

Heat up another tablespoon of butter in another, smaller skillet and make yourself an egg over easy. I use a separate skillet for my egg/s because I find that the vegetable skillet is too hot when the vegetables are done and my egg doesn't come out right. And it's important to me that my egg comes out right. 

When the vegetables and onions are done, dump them on the empty side of your plate.

Flip your egg over, let it cook for a sec and then pick it up carefully. Carefully! You don't want to break the yolk yet. 

Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper and then get a knife and fork and dig in. The yolk breaks over the veggies and mixes with the butter and juices and makes an incredible sauce that you can eat with the fresh greens. 

This is a lot of food, a lot of nutrients, but only about 350-400 calories.  So that's amazing.   This is my favorite breakfast these days. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Our Christmas Scrapbook

On the scale from one to crafty, I'm like a three or a four. 

So I don't keep very many scrapbooks.

Only one, actually, I keep just one scrapbook.

And it isn't anything to write Pinterest about.

I just print a few of our favorite pictures from every Christmas season and try, emphasis on the word try, and put them together into something cute enough to look at.

Sometimes I make the decorations, sometimes I buy them, most of the time let my daughters make them. I just use the most basic, simple decorations because I don't have the patience to fuss over layers and layers of papers and stickers and what-not-all.  It takes every bit of self-control in me to sit and cut and paste and fuss over the arrangement as much as I do each year (five-ten minutes).

Then I tuck the scrapbook away with all the Christmas decorations until the next year.

And when go to decorate for Christmas the next year, we rediscover the scrapbook and look at it together.

For the whole month of December (and sometimes January, if I am slow to get the decorations put away), the scrapbook stays under our tree with a few other Christmas books and the girls look at it a few times a week.

As of now, we have pictures from Christmases 2005 through 2013.


That's nine years already!


Friday, January 10, 2014

Diffuse Frankicense Essential Oil While Doing Yoga

I diffuse Frankincense Essential Oil while I do yoga.

I've been doing the P90X exercise program and one of the DVDs in is a yoga workout.  Yoga takes a lot of focus and deep breathing and I found that diffusing Frankincense helps me breath deeper, concentrate for longer periods, and relax. Also, my Young Living diffuser has a light that causes a warm glow when I turn down the lights in my exercise room.  The water moving around in the machine also makes a nice trickling sound as I do my yoga DVD. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Use Essential Oil to Sanitize the Air

I use Purification Essential Oil to clear the air.  

Sometimes I will add a few drops of Purification Essential Oil to my diffuser and put it in the same room as my baby's changing table.   

Or in the bathroom.

Or next to my four year old's bed after she has an accident the night before.

It can turn things around in less than five minutes, if you know what I'm saying. 

And it isn't like spraying a can chemical air fresher into a stinky room.  That just makes the room smell like poop plus whatever is on the label of the can. 

Essential oil actually diffuses the stink bombs.  

You'd have no idea that kind of thing even happens in our house now that we're diffusing Essential oils everyday.

Breathe as deep as you want.

Go ahead.

You won't smell a trace of anything unpleasant. 

It's glorious!  


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Frankincense Essential Oil to Moisturize Your Face and Heal Blemishes

I have started using Frankincense Essential Oil to moisturize my face.

I know two women who have near flawless, glowing skin and both of them have been using essential oils on the their face for years.  That's part of the reason I was so interested in these oils to begin with.

I asked one of them how she cares for her skin and she said that she uses Young Living products, washes her face, then puts a dab of moisturizer and two drops of Frankincense (or Myrrh) onto her palm, mixes them up, and then rubs this all over her face and neck.

Using Young Living facial products is something I can't afford to do just yet, but I decided to use what I already have and just start adding two drops of Frankincense to my moisturizer. 


I've been doing this and my skin shines more without being oily to the touch and any blemishes I have seem to come and go very quickly, healing faster than they used to. Frankincense also smells divine and feels so, so luxurious. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Purification Essenial Oil to Clean Wounds

I used some of my Purification Essential Oil to clean a wound.  

Disclaimer: I hope this post doesn't make anyone sick to their stomach.  Sorry if it does. 

I cut myself on that knife you can see in the background of the picture above. I was loading dirty dishes into the dishwasher, hurrying to get it done, too, standing at just the right (or wrong) angle to where I couldn't see the knife sticking up out of that measuring cup.  When I went to pick up the measuring cup and load it into the dishwasher... Ouch!  I cut into my palm before I even knew it, quite deeply, in fact.  Instead of using hydrogen peroxide, I decided to put a drop of Purification on the wound and let it air dry to see how it would work.  It didn't sting at all. And unless it was my imagination, the wound healed faster than it normally does.  I've cut myself with kitchen knives before, so I expected it take days to heal like before.  But, by evening on the same day it happened, the wound was closing up nicely and I could use my hand without nursing it that much.  I will certainly use Purification this way again, especially when the kids get scraps on their knees and whatnot, since it doesn't seem to sting like hydrogen peroxide does.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

Everyday Oils - Young Living

For Christmas, I purchased myself Young Living Essential Oils' Premium Starter Kit.  The kit includes their Everyday Oils collection, a home diffuser, among many other nice extras. For some time leading up to Christmas, I had been reading and talking to friends about ways that I would be able to use the oils, so on Christmas morning, I was able to open my box and hit the ground running, so to speak.  After only a few days of using the oils, I was not really sure how I ever lived without them.  Now I find that I use them constantly.  I thought I would blog about some the ways that I am using these Everday Oils everyday.  This Christmas gift has been a gift, not just to me, but to my whole family. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Freestyle Barbell Class Choreography

I spent a few hours today coming up with choreography for my barbell class at work.  I use the same CD and choreography for a month of classes and then I change it again, so I only have to plan like this once a month.

I purchase Powerflex CDs made just for this type of workout with separate songs for the warmup, squats, chest, back, biceps, triceps, shoulders, lunges, abs, and cool down and with spaces in between the songs so you have time to change your weights.  I keep copies of my old CDs and choreography in a file folder.  Once I plan a half a dozen of these classes, I'll probably rotate through my old music and choreography again. That way, I won't be repeating any music and choreography for at least six months and I'll be able to benefit again from all the work I am putting into planning these classes. 

I definitely love my part time job as a group fitness instructor. I really enjoy coming up with my own choreography. Creating workouts and teaching them are gifts that the Lord is letting me use again.  And lifting barbells to rocking music is my all-time favorite way to workout.