Thursday, December 1, 2011

Growing Up and Becoming a Man...

Well, my youngest just turned 13. I am partly in denial. And partly, I am so proud of him I just can't stand it! God has blessed us with three amazing kiddos that are growing into three amazing adults. When I look at the girls I am just so excited for them and the things they are getting to do and learn and experience. They are becoming independent and growing into women who are smart and talented and in some ways wise beyond their years. Isaac is just beginning on that road himself.

Today he and I talked about all the "lectures" (his word, not mine!) that I have been giving him over the years. We have tried to prepare him to be an adult who isn't afraid of work and who knows that "the world doesn't revolve around you!". Steve and I try to help Him figure out how the gospel speaks to who he is in Christ and what his actions should be.

This week I have been struck by the magnitude of one of the battles quickly approaching: pornography. Yuck. All wives fear it. But mothers - I hadn't realized that I would fear it more as a mother than a wife! We have discussed it (insert thankfulness here for Steve - most of this falls on him!) and avoided certain video games and prepared him for conversations with friends. But even a quick trip to the grocery store reminds me of what is waiting for him right around the corner. And it makes me angry - but more so it makes me worry. What's a mom to do?

A mom is to have hope! The God who gave Isaac to us has also loved and cherished and fought for his heart way more than I have ever even dreamed I could. This is another opportunity for me to trust. Can I trust God in this moment? Absolutely! I am reminded of the quote "Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel" Obviously we are doing our best to prepare and equip him! We will continue to pray for him. But in the end I have to entrust my son to the
God who can protect him.

Equally important, I think, is the community of men who are walking alongside Isaac. Not only does he have a dad who is fighting for him and a grandpa who prays faithfully for him, but he also has a group of men who are looking out for him.

All these things give me hope. My heart is happy and hopeful! Here's to trusting that we as a community can send out young men who do not have to lose this battle!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Mustache Cake

November is Victoria-palooza around here. And Victoria's current obsession is the mustache. Not sure how that happened - but it is an obsession shared by all her friends. So when they asked to have a surprise party for her at our house there was no question about the cake! One mustache cake coming up. But how does one make a mustache cake. I didn't find any directions. So, when the need arises for you to make your very own mustache cake, I got ya covered!!


Choose your favorite box cake mix. I chose yellow cake - Duncan Hines is my favortie yellow box cake. Yellow cake goes great with the chocolate ganache I planned to use to cover the cake. Bake your cake in two eight inch round cake pans as directed on the box. Before you begin, though, trace the outline of your cake pan twice. While your cake begins, play around with the type of mustache shape you would like to have - but it must be a shape available with the two circles of cake you will have. Here are picks of my shape.


I cut two of these and then put them together to make the shape I wanted. It meant that I had to trim one of the sides because the papers could overlap to make the shape, but obviously the cakes couldn't. When my cakes where baked and cooled, I laid the papers on top of them and used a knife to cut out the shapes. I then transferred them to a cookie sheet and made sure I was happy with the final shape. I ended up having three pieces of cake pushed togher - I accidently cut off alittle too much of one corner - so I used an additional piece to make up for my mistake. This isn't a problem because the ganache icing will cover all blemishes.


For the icing, I used a recipe for chocolate ganache. Not sure where I found it, but you can find many, many recipes online. Here is the one I used:


1 cup heavy cream, 2 Tbsp butter, 2 Tbsp sugar, 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a saucepan, bring first three ingredients to a boil. Pour this over chocolate chips and cover with plastic wrap (without stiring). Let it sit for 10 minutes. Mix until creamy. Pour over cake while still warm, but now hot.


Let it cool as directed and pour it over your cake. I didn't want my cake to be smooth so I used a spatula to make designs in the icing. I started in the center and made gentle arcs out toward the edges. I think you can see them in this picture.


I cooled the cake overnight on the cookie sheet. The next morning I was able to move it to a nice clean white cake cardboard. Then we chose yellow icing to add a Victoria saying. The results were pretty cool if I do say so myself!
For an added bonus I used the same mustache pattern on a new blank door mat for the front door. It was kinda fun! Check it out!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Little Down Time...

Well, today was a lovely Sunday morning. We got an extra hour of sleep which is always good. Then at church we had a guest speaker which means that Steve and I got to sit next to each other! This is by far one of my favorite things. I have said before that sitting next to Steve during the gathering of the church is so encouraging to me - and VERY romantic. So thanks to the amazing John Ryan for being willing to drive all the way to another state in order to bring the Word (and a challenging message it was!) to our church and my family.

After a fun lunch with friends Steve and I settled in by the fireplace to relax. This, too, is a gift from John - no afternoon of tiredness for Steve who usually has to spend the day recovering from having spoken at Trailhead! So now what does a girl do? Most definitely NOT watch an episode of a zombie television series like some people we know! :) Shopping it is! I am really not much of a shopper. But the NCAA basketball season is here and I am in need of a few Kentucky Wildcats items! So for your viewing pleasure - these are my finds for the day. I know you will be jealous!!

This definitely needs to be on my front door as soon as possible:
And this picture is an example of the reason God did not give me an abundance of money. $55 - really?



Or wait, these are only $40!






And my kitchen will never be complete with this little number!! I would be a much better cook, don't you think?












I am one hundred percent sure that Steve will be so overjoyed to see this every morning when he leaves the house!











There is still so much more shopping to do. A true Wildcats fan must have that three piece bathroom set - of toilet seat cover and rug around the toilet and bath rug! And then there are the golf towels for my non-existant golf club set and the toaster that puts the letters U-K on your toast every morning... I could go on and on. Then, I look up and realize that I have wasted about two hours shopping for things that I will never buy... wow. But I am relaxed, toasty warm, and happy... and not one dime poorer than when I started!

Go Big Blue!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Abounding in Love

Okay - I am addicted to Twitter. I like it much better than Facebook. If you haven't tried it you most definitely should. All day every day there are people posting quotes. Some are hilarious and others are serious. This quote came across my phone a few days ago and I have been thinking about it ever since: "Always abounding in the work of the Lord" (1 Cor 15:58) Abounding. The opposite of foot-dragging. ~Ray Ortlund. Let's talk about that for a minute!

I have been having an ongoing conversation with a dear friend about loving our husbands. We both admit to struggling with this. There are days it is easy to be supportive and loving and kind and patient and the voice of affirmation. But there are seasons when this is very difficult... Our husbands require love and affirmation and respect even when we don't feel loved and affirmed and respected ourselves (the reverse is also true - but we aren't talking about us right now!). And in those times it feels like we just have to give and give and give. Here is how my friend puts it: "Marriage is not give and take. It is give. And give... I am not called to give my hubby affirmation and speak words of truth that he needs when I am receiving what makes me feel loved. I am called to do it. Period. Because Jesus gave and gave and gave. And still gives more. The same Spirit that was with Jesus has been sent to dwell in me and will give me strength and joy." This is where we come to abounding.

"Always abounding in the work of the Lord" (1 Cor 15:58) Abounding. The opposite of foot-dragging. I have perfected the art of serving my husband with a bad attitude and serious foot dragging. This is what happens when I work out of my own strength. I personally am seriously lacking in strength and seriously not lacking in self-pity and self-indulgance and even self-preservation. But God has called me to this work - the work of loving my husband. And the only way I can abound in this work is through the power of the Holy Spirit! Do you see the relief in that, friends? We can't love our husbands in our own strength. Period. We can only love - and give - out of the strength of the God of this Universe!! I don't have to muster up strength each morning to cook again or speak words of affirmation or serve patiently or be a joyful wife!! I just need to PRAY!! God will give me abounding strength. And He will cause me to be more dependent on Him daily. He will develop in me more love and more compassion and more strength to serve.

Just a footnote: Please don't hear me say that loving my husband (or you loving your husband) is ALWAYS work. It most definitely isn't. There is so much joy in this that my heart bursts just thinking about it. But we cannot deny as wives and even mothers that there are days when... well, when we don't have the mental, emotional, or physical strength to love our families. I hope you haven't experienced those days yet. But if, like me, you have - please know that you are not alone and that you can ABOUND in this work - NEVER through your own strength, but in the Strength of the One who has died in your place and who has given you His Spirit!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Summer Review - stories and all!

Well, Summer is over and Fall is well underway. I have finally been able to breathe enough to think of all that God has done during the summer months. A while ago I talked a little about what I was expecting but now I want to share a few details of the summer. As always, God has blown me away with his goodness to me and my family. I feel His favor (and that is not favor above others, but his kindness and grace and mercy).

June saw Steve and I visiting Vail, Colorado for the Acts29 Retreat and Rocky Mountain National Park. What did God show me? It was actually life changing for me. I am the chief worrier. Not as in the best, but the very worst. My default mode is to fail to trust God and to try and figure things out on my own. God once again had to show me that He alone is in control. I love the
mountains but they do not love me. My blood pressure tends to climb with the altitude. After talking to the doctor (and being advised to find the nearest medical facility for "just in case") I
settled in to our "retreat" and began the worry spiral. But each time I worried and prayed about what to do, what course of action to take, God very clearly pointed out that my life was His - high blood pressure and all. (Mind you, I was taking medical advice... so this wasn't blindly ignoring serious signs!) God was quite simply, though, asking if I trusted Him. Repeatedly. And I do. But I wasn't acting like it. My fears had become all consuming... and they were ruining my vacation. But God in His goodness and graciousness, ripped away my fear and showed me the reality that He controls all things - and He alone chooses when I die and how I live. All He asks is for me to trust Him. We went on to have a beautiful, but sedated visit to one of the most beautiful places Steve and I have seen in a while - at 13,000 feet God's grace shone over me in the snow covered mountains. And I am grateful.

July brought a couple of family trips. I love spending Fourth of July with my parents in
Kentucky. They are such a blessing to me! Their heritage is visible in their children and grandchildren. Plus, Kentucky is a place that refreshes my soul! Later in the month we got to visit Chicago with the kiddos. It was the hottest three days of the summer. But we sweated it out together and had a blast. The Bean was a favorite and Isaac was happy to cross it off of his life's list of accomplishments! The next item on the list? A segway tour!

August was all about school. Esther started her junior year and Isaac began his 7th grade year. It also brought a first. Victoria moved out. God granted her a full scholarship to Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville - yes, that's right, it's in our town. It was the last place she looked at. But it became the place that she wanted to attend the most. Then God graciously allowed her to attend for free. So we moved her into a dorm and left her there! Talk about hard... I cried like a baby. As I was standing on the sidewalk waiting for Steve
I began talking to a woman who was going to leave her son and drive back to Texas! Texas - can you imagine that distance!?! She,
who was not crying, looked at me, who was obviously a basket case, and asked how far my drive home was. All I could say was... about two streets that way!! Not one of my prouder moments. But, in another sense, it was. Victoria has worked so hard to get to college and she is loving every minute of it! God has blessed her with a great community of friends to walk through life with AND I still get to see her on Sundays. God is good. I am so proud of all three of them!

September brought another trip for Steve and I. I feel very fortunate that, for now, I have not had to work. We have fun traveling together. However, leaving my kiddos has been one of the hardest things for me as a mom, a worrying mom. God continues to ask me if I trust Him. I do - and I pray that He helps me when I don't. Friends have lovingly stepped up to stay with Esther and Isaac as we have been gone. Mind you, they are two of the most self-sufficient kids on the face of the earth! But, they have been surrounded in our absence by people who love them - and they know that. Isaac is notorious for saying that it took a whole church of people to take care of him while I was away. And he was beaming as he said it. I am truly thankful!

Now, Summer is over and it is October. I am another year older... and still loving being in my 40's. I am even more grateful to God for the blessing of belonging to a place. As Wendell Berry would say, I know exactly where I am and I don't want to be any place else.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Control and Motherhood

Over the last few weeks I have been having an ongoing conversation with some friends about
relationships. Especially mother-daughter relationships. They can be so rewarding. But they can also be, in my opinion, some of the hardest to navigate. Esther and Victoria and I have spent years talking about ours. And one very obvious fact has emerged. I have been sharing it with them for years. I think y'all might also find it helpful.

The truth is, I sometimes would rather control them than love them. Now obviously, I love my daughters with my whole heart. And I am so proud of them. They are growing into amazing women who love the Lord and I rejoice in that! But they have had to walk through life with a mom who definitely struggles with control. And my sin of control has influenced their picture of the gospel.

Let me explain. As a mom, I want obedience on their part. It is essential that they learn how to submit to authority if they are going to be happy in life. The problem is that in my desire for them to submit, I convey that if they obey and submit to me, I will love and approve of them. This not only undermines their ability to submit, it undermines their understanding of God and the gospel.

I need to constantly remind them (and myself) of the gospel. And then model my parenting after the gospel. The gospel clearly states that I am loved in Christ - first and foremost. I was loved even as an enemy of God. I am loved before I even am able to love. As a believer I have God's approval based on what Christ has done for me. I am approved of before I ever obey. Then out of the love and approval of God the Father I am affirmed and accepted and want to be accountable to his authority. Look at this diagram (it is taken from the SALT series published by Victorious Christian Living International):


In my parenting and in my friendships I need to convey that I accept people not because of who they are or how they behave, but because I choose to love them. I am loved and accepted by God because of Christ, therefore I am accountable to his authority. I never want to present to someone that I will love and accept them when they respond to my authority and accountability. This is opposite of the Gospel. It is opposite of how God has treated me. It is opposite of how I should treat my children. Sadly, I have not always parented that way. My kiddos know this... but they are gracious! And we are learning every day how to better apply the gospel to our own hearts and our relationships.

So moms... if you haven't done so, sit down with your children and talk about how much you love them. This is an excellent time to let them know that you are seeking to be more like Christ as you parent. Even draw out this diagram and show them how you desire to be a picture of Christ. Give them the Gospel - that they are loved and affirmed because God chooses to love them, not because they are good people. Let them know that you love them because they are yours!! Tell them that you desire for them to respond to your authority because they are loved and affirmed by you. BUT they have your approval not matter what - because it is freely given, not earned. Watch as their faces light up! There is freedom in a child knowing they are loved for who they are, not what they do! I had to confess to my kiddos that I fail over and over again in this. But I pray daily for them and for myself, that I will be an example of the gospel in how I parent.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Trailhead Women's Retreat - or Non-Retreat!!

I am SO very excited to announce that Trailhead Church will be hosting a women's retreat coming up soon. Here's the scoop:
When: Friday, October 7th 7pm-10pm and Saturday, October 8th 9:30am-3pm
Where: Trailhead Church, Edwardsville, IL
Cost: Free (but consider contacting me to bring a food item for Saturday)
Subject: PrayerSpeaker: Sarah Guild from Kansas City, KS (and former Trailhead member)
[Trailhead women- sign up on the City: www.trailheadchurch.onthecity.org!]

Funny enough, when I asked a few friends whether we should provide food for a cost or have women volunteer to bring food, pot-luck style, we had quite the discussion! In the end we overwhelmingly decided to go old-school and bring our own food. We as a church love to do this! Nothing like a home cooked, family meal to bring you closer together. But it was fun to discuss whether we could actually call this a retreat if we are asking women to do a little work in order to participate! So, in the end, it was decided we should probably change the name from retreat to something different. However, I never came up with anything even remotely creative. I am open to suggestions, though!

Please consider joining us. Our speaker, Sarah, is one of my dearest friends. She and her
husband Jamie were instrumental in the founding of Trailhead Church before God moved them to Kansas City, Kansas. The Lord has used her greatly in my life (and my family's). She has taught
me much about prayer and I am excited for us to hear what God has been teaching her lately. We also hope to have some time for personal reflection and group prayer (no worries - quiet participation is perfectly acceptable!). This is always a sweet time of community as we interact and share meals together. I do hope you can join us.

Let me know if you have any questions. And if you have a better word than retreat!!

The Promise of a Sacrifice... YOU!

The last few weeks have found me strangely and repeatedly in 1 Samuel chapter 16 of my Bible. Check out this story. The kingdom of Israel has chosen Saul to be her king. But God had other plans. The Lord says to Samuel, "How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons." Samuel argues, but God sends him anyway. And the Lord said, "Take a heifer with you and say, 'I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.' And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you." (verses 2 and 3). Samuel does what God asks. He went to the house of Jesse and his sons and "invited them to the sacrifice." He meets seven of Jesse's sons, but God has chosen none of them. Jesse hasn't even called his youngest from the fields. Samuel requests to see David the youngest. Verse 12 says, "And the Lord said, 'Arise, anoint him, for this is he.' Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah." End of story.

But what about the sacrifice? Twice the Lord mentions the sacrifice to Samuel. And twice Samuel mentions the sacrifice to Jesse. Verse 5 "Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice." "...and he invited them to the sacrifice." But this sacrifice never happens. Why? Samuel is ready. Come to the sacrifice. Prepare yourselves. But then David is annointed and Samuel abruptly leaves. Now, the actual offering of a heifer could have been omitted from the narrative. OR the sacrifice was included. David WAS the sacrifice! God was calling Samuel to offer David as the sacrifice. Surely not a new thought, but its significance has struck me greatly these past few weeks. Did David understand that he was the sacrifice? Surely he knew the magnitude of his anointing. And does this have any application to me?

Romans 12:1-2 "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." YOU are the sacrifice. Leviticus 20:7-8 Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God." Dictionary.com defines consecrate: to make or declare sacred; set apart or dedicated to the service of God. A living sacrifice!! We are called to present our bodies back to God. Not because our bodies are an amazing gift to God, but because he bought them with the blood of His Son Jesus. We are His. We are holy and acceptable only because we are made that way through Christ Jesus. And now all we are is His. And what wonderful things will He do with our bodies? Joshua 3:5 "Then Joshua said to the people, 'Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.' [That story goes on to tell how God lead Israel across the Jordan River, but let's steal the verse for us as well.] If you have been convinced that Jesus was your substitute in judgement and you have been redeemed, then you have been set apart, dedicated to the service of God and the Lord will do wonders among you!!! How exciting is that? Be on the lookout for how our great God will work in and through you.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Story of Trailhead and Acts29 Bootcamps - Steve's blog

I have continually referenced the story of Trailhead Church and God's blessings through this church. My husband, Steve, was asked to write a blog about the church planting network Acts29 (www.acts29network.org). Thought some of you might find it interesting. We have seen God lead us in some crazy ways, but it has been such a blessing to follow.

Enjoy!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Your Meal Doesn't Have to Be Perfect - Invite Them Anyway!

I love to cook. But it isn't really the act of cooking that motivates me. It is the connecting with people that motivates me. I love having people sitting around my table talking and relaxing and sharing about life. I have found that if you don't feed your guests they aren't as comfortable doing all of those things. So - I learned to cook. I also learned because my mom is the same way. She is a great cook, but she is more than that - she is hospitable. Both of my parents are. They are welcoming and put people at ease around their table. You can talk freely and comfortably while you are there. The food was always amazing - but simple.

I have been reading A Meal with Jesus by Tim Chester. I have been so blessed by this book. I haven't finished it yet, but so far I highly recommend it. It has challenged me in many ways - but today I have been thinking about one tiny little point that Mr. Chester has made. I want to focus on just a few lines:

"Now television shows and cookbooks sell the idea of hospitality back to us as they encourage us to remake hospitality in the image of restaurant cuisine. Sharing a family meal has been replaced by the fancy dinner party... Hospitality has become performance art, and we've lost the creation of intimacy around a meal."

That was a convicting statement. There is an ever present temptation to shift the focus of the meal from community to performance - and it is a temptation we, as the church, should resist. Tons of time and energy (and blog space) has been dedicated to presenting an impressive meal or table setting. When in reality we as believers are called to be hospitable - and often times that means serving something simple, warm, filling and inviting. It is actually freeing to intentionally serve something simple and inviting! How sad would it be if I slaved to impress my neighbor with my gourmet table only to make them feel inferior or intimidated by the meal that I am serving. I want to communicate that yes, I have worked hard to provide a good meal for you, but I am more interested in you and your needs and your company than in being impressive.

Jesus ate many, many meals and the guests were always more important than the meal. My friend Melissa told me recently about someone who invited her family over for dinner and it was soup and bread. The simplest of meals - but it was one of the most refreshing, relaxing, and entirely blessing-filled meals that she and her husband experienced in a long time. It was because the hosts cared more about them than the food - and she felt that and gloried in it.

One of the most beautiful things you can do to connect with friends and neighbors is invite them to a meal that you are serving your family - and that is different from inviting them to a meal prepared especially for them. It is including them in your daily life, including them in your home. How much easier it is to invite people to a meal that you are already preparing than to have to wait until you have the time, energy, and budget to provide them with a impressive display of your skills and food knowledge! Go ahead - invite them. Your friends and neighbors need to be seated at your table - and they don't care what you feed them, they just want to hear what makes you different! Share a meal and share Jesus.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

22 Reasons Why I Love My Husband

Today Steve and I have been married for 22 years. Wow. Some days it doesn't seem like even 5 years. The husband of my youth has become the husband of my middle age. For those of you who do not know him, this is a quote that describes him perfectly: "He was like an axman at work in a tangled thicket, cutting and cutting at the brush and the vines and the low limbs, trying to mkae room for a full swing." And I love him. Here are just a few reasons why (reasons that some of you will think are entirely too sappy - my apologies):

1. He fit one of my favorite Anne of Green Gables quotes: "I wouldn't marry anyone who was really wicked, but I think I'd like it if he could be wicked and wouldn't."
2. He loves Jesus more than me, and he isn't afraid to remind me of this.
3. He has given me Victoria - and she has his creative mind and gifted use of words.
4. He gave me Esther - and she has his sense of independence and drive and "I won't take no for an answer" attitude.
5. He gave me Isaac - Steve chose the name long before he was born - it means laughter and Isaac has brought laughter to our lives every day along with being a miniature version of his dad.
6. His IQ is one point higher than mine - and he has used it to his advantage every day of our marriage!
7. I am his standard of beauty... which is possibly the most amazing blessing that God has given us.
8. He keeps me busy.
9. He still tells me that someday I will be able to visit Base Camp on Mount Everest - even though he knows that is physically impossible for me.
10. He understands my need to dream about owning land and a barn - and 5 horses and 5 cows and 5 chickens.
11. He is a gentle man. "The gentleness I knew in him seemed to be calling out, and it was a gentleness in me that answered. That gentleness, calling and answering, giving and taking, brought us together. It brought us into the room of love. It made our place clear around us." - Wendell Berry
12. He is the adventurous one and I am the cautious one.
"The heart can think of no devotion
Greater than being shore to ocean
Holding the curve of one position,
Counting an endless repetition." - Robert Frost
13. He makes me feel safe.
14. He pushes me to feel unsafe.
15. We have grown into adults together - he is part of the reason that I am the person that I am today.
16. He is quick to apologize.
17. He is a humble man who leads me well.
18. He sacrifices himself for me daily.
19. He loves the Word of God - and this reminds me of my father.
20. He still rides his skateboard to work.
21. He loves to take me for drives that lead to nowhere.
22. He is my other half - we are one."That she was his half, she had no doubt at all. He needed her. At times she knew with a joyous ache that she completed him, just as she knew with the same joy that she needed him and he completed her. How beautiful a thing it was, she thought, to be a half, to be completed by such another half!" -Wendell Berry

"This, though I be the feeblest of God's host,
The sorriest sheep Chirst shepherds with His crook.
Yet while I love my God the most, I deem
That I can never love you over-mcuh;
I love Him more, so let me love you too;
Yea, as I apprehend it, love is such
I cannot love you if I love not Him,
I cannot love Him, if I love not you.
-Christina Rosetti

I am grateful to God for the blessing of Steve.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Who Wants to Go with Me?

Rarely do I entertain the thought of going to another conference. I love to be home. I would be happy to stay home always (unless, of course, I could visit Belfast, Northern Ireland once a month!!). But I have found a conference that intrigues me. Check this out. A women's conference that studies the Word of God first - not home making first, the Word second - or motherhood first, the Word second - or contentment first, the Word second - or dating first, the Word second. We should be women of the Word. Three cheers for the group that is calling us as women to study God and His revelation of Himself.


I will begin to read up on the main speakers - but what girl wouldn't want to hear Tim Keller (and I enjoy hearing his wife almost as much as hearing him!), Don Carson, and John Piper. There are lots of women scheduled to speak as well. Here is a paragraph from the website:

Here Is Our God!
God’s Revelation of Himself in Scripture
The Gospel Coalition’s 2012 National Women’s Conference is for women but not all about women. It’s about the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s a time to learn more of what Scripture says to us—and to say it to each other. A time to dig deeper into the character of God and his purpose for his people. A time to gather together and share biblical encouragement as sisters, daughters, wives, mothers, and friends.


I love that: "for women but not all about women." Who wants to come with me?

Check it out: www.thegospelcoalition.org/conferences/2012-womens/#overview

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Prayer and the Holy Spirit

Been reading about and thinking on the power of the Holy Spirit. I spend a LOT of time dwelling on this subject. I find Him fascinating... and confusing... and complex... and on and on and on... Who is the Holy Spirit? More importantly, what is my relationship with Him?

Jesus promised to send the Helper - to be with me forever. He is the Spirit of Truth. He "dwells with you and will be in you." (See John 14:15-17) Jesus says that "the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." (John 14:25-26) Later in John 16 Jesus actually says it is to our advantage that He go away, because if He didn't go away then the Holy Spirit would not come. John 15:13 says "when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you."

No discussion of the Holy Spirit and prayer would be complete without Romans 8. Read the whole chapter! I have been thinking about 8:26-27. I take so much comfort in these verses. I am a woman who loves to pray but who can drive myself crazy over what exactly to pray about or how to pray. These verses calm my soul. The Spirit helps in my obvious weakness. He intercedes for me - with groanings too deep for words!! Can you even fathom this? I cannot. But I take comfort in this (and there again - He is my Comforter!). The Spirit prays for me. He intercedes for me according to the will of God!! The Spirit and the Father and the Son are One. They are of one mind. When the Spirit prays He knows the will of the Father. Each of His prayers are for something that the Father has already willed. Amazing!! All the times that I second guess whether I am asking for my will or the will of the Father - the Spirit, who intercedes for me, already knows the will of the Father and prays accordingly! And in the meantime, He is teaching me - reminding me of the Words of Christ - helping the Father to mold me into the image of Christ - into a person who desires the will of the Father! It is enough to make my head spin after a while. But what comfort is there in these thoughts!!

So, as I pray, the pressure is removed. I do desire to know and ask for the will of the Father. But it isn't up to me to determine the value of each request (although I am not exempt from seeking His will). The Spirit intercedes for me with the Father. The Spirit of Truth will teach me and remind me of what Jesus has said. He will guide me into all Truth and He will take what Jesus has said and declare it to me! What a blessing! I am again struck by how much of this process has NOTHING to do with me - and everything to do with the power of the Holy Spirit in me.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer Reading

I love the dog days of summer. You get to be a little irresponsible and read a little longer than usual. So what are you reading? Here's my list:

My reading list is never without a Wendell Berry book. I am currently reading A Place on Earth. I had been reading his poetry lately - so I am glad to get back to Port William, Kentucky to its membership, farm lands, way of life, and reflections on family and faith and community. This Southern author has become my favorite - he is a prophet of the future and at the same time a chief rememberer. His words flow through my head every day and add a sweetness to much of what I do.

I just finished For the City by Darrin Patrick and Matt Carter. I highly recommend it. These two mean speak candidly about their churches and their efforts to show the love of Christ to their communities. Here are a few snippets: "A church for the city will release everyday missionaries into their neighborhoods so that they can bring to their neighbors a taste of gospel-centered community (pg. 97)." There is a discussion on missional communities: "Missional communities are structured and designed so that they focus on identifying the needs of their neighbors, serving them as a demonstration of the gospel (Pg. 122)." If serving your city is something you are passionate about this is a must read.

Next on my list is Forgotten God by Francis Chan. This is my first book by him. I am excited to see what he has to say about living in the power of the Holy Spirit - and challenging our pre-conceived ideas about what being spirit filled means. "...take God at His Word and believe that the Spirit is meant to dwell in and guide our lives. When it comes down to it, many of us do not really want to be led by the Holy Spirit... many of us don't want to be led by anyone other than ourselves (Pg. 50)."

I am about one third of the way through A Meal with Jesus by Tim Chester. I am thoroughly enjoying this. He is taking us through many of the meals that Jesus shared with those around him - lepers and sinners and tax collectors. The implications of this on their lives were startling... and I am called to be like Christ in this way. Sharing a meal with those in my community is such a sweet blessing. The subtitle is: Discovering Grace, Community, and Mission around the Table. I know I will post more about this later when I have finished it!!

What should I read next? A friend just sent me a book about an American living in Khiva, Uzbekistan which I can't wait to start... anything else you would recommend?

It's Been A While!


Well, I have missed blogging about random things from life in the Mizel home. Currently I am without a laptop - which has been an adjustment. How did we ever survive without those things? So here is a little update on the wanderings of me.

We did, in fact, survive the month of May. Victoria graduated!! And Esther turned 16. Things are changing quickly around here. But they are amazing young women and we are enjoying this phase in life. Victoria leaves for school in about one month. My brain cannot fathom the upcoming changes in store for our family.

In June Steve and I traveled to Colorado for an Acts29 conference. After the conference we got
to spend a day and a half in the Rocky Mountain National Forest. Bears and elk and bighorn sheep and waterfalls and a 17 foot snow drift in June! The continental divide - and 12,000 feet elevation. It was a perfect getaway. But I was glad to be home.

July brought one of my favorite holidays - Fourth of July! We travelled to my parent's place in Kentucky and watched fireworks over Kentucky Lake. It was beautiful. I love relaxing in the swing, looking out at their huge garden(waiting semi-patiently for the corn to gr
ow faster!), bird-watching, listening to the cows and bull frogs. I am never one to pass up an evening sitting by the fire watching the stars come out. It is one of my greatest joys as a parent to show my kiddos how to spot a shooting star or a satellite or the Milky Way. Time with my parents and sisters' families is always good.

We still have a few days of vacation left - so we will be off to Chicago. Isaac has been wanting to see that Bean for as long as I can remember! So we will take our last vacation together for a while. Then we will come home and jump back into preparing for middle school, high school, and college. Am I ready for this? I guess so. New things always scare me - but God has been so gracious to us. Can't wait to see where he is going to lead next!


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Esther's 16th Birthday Cake

This week has been Esther-palooza. A whole week of celebrating our second child who is growing into an amazing woman. Her birthday request this year was for a rainbow cake. A friend had sent a picture of a cake she wanted to make. I randomly showed it to Esther and here we are!

I visited several websites to get ideas on how to make it. In the end I did it my own way - but it turned out pretty well. Thanks for the suggestion, Kara!

So - here's how:
  • Two boxes white cake mixe (I have my favorite white box cake - this is about looks, so no need to complicate the process with homemade cake!)
  • Eggs, oil and water for cake
  • food coloring GEL - helpful hint picked up from blogs - gel colors are brighter than regular food coloring
  • round cake pans
  • Icing (lots and lots! I included my recipe below if you want to make homemade cream cheese icing)
I followed directions on box and made one cake mix. Divide the cake batter equally among three different bowls. Add one gel to each bowl. I baked each layer about 12 minutes - but my oven is not reliable, so watch carefully. It is a thin layer and will not take long.
Repeat process with next three colors.
ROY G BIV is the acronym I learned in school for the colors of the rainbow. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. I only made six layers... but the sky's the limit!!

Spread a think layer of icing between each cake. A helpful hint: spread a super thin layer over the top of each cake before adding the total amount of icing you want. This allows the icing to spread smoothly without pulling up pieces of cake.

This final product was yummy!



Cream cheese icing:
3 - 8 ounce packages of cream cheese
2 sticks of butter (1 cup of butter)
3 cups of powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla

You may add more powdered sugar to get your desired consistency.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Remembering...

"Oh give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the poeples. Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works."

This May will mark three years since we have been in Edwardsville. Actually, three years at the church - two full years living in Edwardsville comes on August 11. Wow. Have I ever told you the story of how God got us here? Lots of you know it, but it is always good to sing praises to God for what He has done. David did this in the Psalms... listing all the mighty works of God. This story doesn't belong in the same list as the parting of the Red Sea or the crossing of the Jordan River - but to my family it is just as monumental! So here is my remembering of it...

Steve was the family pastor at The Journey. We lived in a house that we loved and our three children were all attending public school in St. Louis county. A church in Edwardsville, Illinois had been meeting for less than a year and was closing. Jonathan Mcintosh (a Journey elder) had been meeting with the families and a request was made to make the church a campus of the Journey. One particular family, who attended the church for the first time on the last day of its existence, was pretty adamant about needing a gospel centered church in the Metro East area. They, along with others, begged for the elders to invest in the church. I cannot tell you how God has used this family - the Guilds - in our lives. Right from the very beginning!! So Jonathan asked Steve to consider becoming a campus pastor. He said NO. Jonathan expressed disappointment and asked Steve to pray that God would raise up the right man to lead this church. He said the now famous words: "Just pray about it for four days." So we actually started praying about it...

We drove to Edwardsville for the first time on May 23, 2008. The town of Edwardsville is fairly unique - a historic downtown mainstreet but with new development, a city sponsored farmer's market, bike trails throughout the community, etc. We loved it instantly. Being a small town Kentucky girl, this was like a dream come true.

After exploring the town we began to seek advice from trusted friends and family. God particularly used Steve Miller (another Journey elder) to speak into this. It is a blessing to have Godly men know your husband and his strengths and weaknesses. We will forever be grateful to Steve for being willing to lay out his thoughts clearly and honestly.

Next, the big deal of speaking to the kiddos. It is a difficult thing to present life changing choices to your children. They were 16, 14, and 9 at the time. They cannot be responsible to make your decisions, but they can sure influence your choices - and it was important to us that they be on board. Miracle of miracles - the girls instantly, without hesitation said "Dad, this is what you should do." This was miraculous. Their hearts were won over by a group of people who they had not even met. We would be asking them to leave the only house they had ever known and for the girls to change schools while in high school. This was a big deal. One of the things I love about Steve is that God has given him gifts that He uses to equip the church - that He would use to help rebuild a group of wounded people in a new town. It was so overwhelming to me to see our children recognize this - they knew that God had prepared Steve just for this job. And they were quick to point that out. My heart was over-joyed... we were called as a family to walk with Steve as he lead. I will forever be grateful for this moment on the deck of the house that we loved so much - my family was willing to leave it all to be where God wanted us... what more could a wife and mother want. Our God gives undeserved gifts! "How wondrous are His works!"

After a positive conversation with my parents (which God graciously gave me - we didn't need their "yes" but He knew what my heart needed!) we were set to say yes. God had clearly and very concisely shown us His will for our family. We proceeded with lots of excitement.

Then came the day of actually meeting the people from the church. I am an introvert - and do not relish being in front of people. I famously stared at the floor the whole way down the aisle on my wedding day. And of course, this meeting, in a YMCA room with mirrors everywhere was another entrance I will never forget. We walked in to a meeting that was already underway. Jonathan was talking to the group and introduced us. He presented Steve as the new campus pastor and laid out the plan to have a Journey Metro East campus. The response was so affirming. We met so many amazing, welcoming people - some who we knew from the Journey previously. I will forever remember Betsy Goodman (now Van Keulen) making eye contact with me - reassuring me that I would survive! Afterward I was immediately surrounded by women who were so excited about what God was doing and those women are still in my life celebrating what God is doing here! These people have become my family - they have changed my life in so many ways and I will forever be grateful and remember that day as one of the sweetest, most exciting days. "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!"

Looking back I can see the part that Steve Miller, Jonathan Macintosh and the Guild family played in all of this. I have never had to doubt the hand of God directing us to this new place. It is such a joy to know that you are right where God wants you to be. I am grateful. It has been good, as Wendell Berry says, to come to belong to a place. And we do. It hasn't always been easy... but it has always been good.

I remember - and I am thankful and rejoice. "Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord? Or can delcare all His praise?"

Friday, April 29, 2011

Dating Poem

I came across this video click of a woman reciting a poem on the Resurgence website this week. I have forwarded it to a bunch of people and all the feedback has been amazing. So click on this link for one pretty cool and insightful poem about dating as a woman after God's own heart. She makes some great points about what we should be looking for and who we should be!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Month BEFORE Summer

Happy Almost Summer-time! The sun is shining today and I am heaing out to work in my little garden. This has me looking forward to harvest time - sweet juicy tomatoes, mmmmmm. But before I can look forward to Summer, we have Spring! And what a Spring this is.

This May I have much to look forward to! My middle child, Esther Catherine, is turning 16. Can you believe it? I can't! She has grown into a beautiful, independent woman of God. I am so proud of her! I can't wait to see how God uses her unique gifts for His glory. Also, my oldest, Victoria Hope, is GRADUATING! Am I really old enough for this? I am the mother of a grown woman! Woah. She will be going to college and I am so excited for her. There are so many things to look forward to - and it is so exciting to see where God is leading her as she seeks to be a God pleasing woman. I am proud of her and the beautiful, talented, amazing woman of God she is!

So - May is PARTY TIME! We will be having Esther-palooza first - a whole week of Esther extravaganzas: friend parties, family parties, lots of birthday cake and even more watermelon. Then we have Katie-Johanna-Esther party! (Cake, anyone?) This is a birthday celebration like none other! Throw in my sister's birthday, and a nephew party. Then we round out the month with Victoria's graduation and her graduation party. Wow! I still can't believe she is finished with school.

So, if you are around our "neck of the woods" as my family says - stop by for a piece of cake. I think we will have a continuous supply. Here's to hoping that you have a May filled with Spring traditions and family together-ness. Then, by all means, bring on the Summer! No school - which is my favorite thing ever! (I LOVE having the kiddos home!)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Help! Trail Pictures Needed

Hello. This week my husband and I rediscovered a park here in Edwardsville. I highly recommend it! Watershed park has a nice lake, lots of wildlife (beavers, deer, waterfowl, and turtles right now!) to observe and a pretty cool walking path that goes all the way around the lake - and at one point through the lake. It was still a pretty chilly day, but a great lunch date outdoors! I snapped a few photos... which leads to my call for help from you...

My friend Sarah has agreed to help Trailhead Church out with a project. She needs some pictures of the trails here in the Metro East. Do you have any? I can find lots on Google, but we need pictures that are not copy-righted. Do you have one or two that you would like to share with us? I took a few today - mind you I am not a talented photographer and it isn't completely finished "greening up around here" as my dad would say. We are looking for winter shots, fall shots, as well as green scenes on the trails. Email me at lmizel at trailheadonline dot org if you have any.

Thanks so much! Can't wait to see what you have! Maybe these will inspire you a little.

.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Love and Friendship

This week has had a running theme: love. Not romantic love, although I love romance, but the love of the Father and love of friends - community, again.

I am SO very grateful for my friends. I have found true community here in this little town and in this church. I am surrounded by women who make me feel safe, loved, and cared for. Many women go through life without this - and that is not the plan God has for true community in your life. To have a group of women who continually want more than you can give or who make life unsafe for you can be debilitating. Run from those women. But run to women who will speak truth to you, who will push you to be what God created you to be, who are not afraid to love you well. Don't be a user, though, seek to return the favor. Be authentic with your wants, needs, and struggles. This is good for your soul.

After a conversation with a friend this week, I am reminded of how God loves us. It is not because of who we are and what we do - but because HE CHOOSES TO LOVE US. Period. It has nothing to do with us. It has everything to do with Him. We see this played out in our relationships as well. I have three kiddos. They are good kids - but they are also bad kids (don't tell them that I said this!). I do not love them because of their actions. I love them because they are mine. I choose to love them. And hopefully, they choose to love me in the same way. My actions as a mother and a wife are not always deserving of love. But my family loves me despite those actions. We choose to love. Then we pray for God to increase that love. And we seek to have a home that encourages/enhances/invites that love to grow.

This is, hopefully, true of my deepest friendships. I love these women, not because of who they are (although that is probably how we became friends - she or I did something that invited friendship), but because they are the community God has given and I CHOOSE to love them. Unconditionally. This is something God does in my heart. He cultivates community in us. This love is not based on me and my friends, but on the love of God. And I am grateful for that. That takes the pressure off of me to perform (to keep my friendships) and them to work to earn my love.

Now there is still tension here. I have God's love for these women (and they have it for me), but I don't have this same love for everyone. It is a group of women who have given me freedom to be me... no strings attached. And they call out something in me that I know God wants called out. It is a community that He has miraculously placed me in. IF you do not have this, pray for God to send it. This will require vulnerability on your part - you have to seek like minded women that call out God in you. But when you find it, you will know. This is not affinity for me - it is community. Are you looking for affinity - people in your current life stage? That may not be the right place for you to look. Maybe you need to find people in the same spiritual life stage as you. Start there! Start spiritual conversations and see who you connect with. I am grateful that I did.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Why Study the Word?

The following is the first post for our Fight Club for Women group at Trailhead Church. It will be posted on the City for Trailhead Church later today. But I would love feedback if you have any.

Let me start off with two quotes from Wayne Grudem: "Theology changes life and conduct." "What you believe in your heart changes how you live your life." We must believe this. We must know that what we believe about the Word of God - and what we believe from the Word of God - changes our thoughts, relationships, life, and actions. And God has called us to study His Word. Wendy Alsup writes: "Wise, practical daily living is preceded by a knowledge of God that leads to fear, awe, and reverence of him, his power, and his purposes. Theology is the root, foundation, and framework for practical living that reflects wisdom and understanding."

Hosea 4:6 "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children." This verse should strike fear in our hearts! It definitely does mine. But does it motivate you to dig into the Word? We are called to be watchful for wrong thinking, wrong doctrine all throughout Scripture. But the only way to be aware of incorrect teaching is to know the Truth!! We cannot be equipped if we do not study. So many times we sit and wait to be taught. But God's Word is a gift to each one of us, and we are called to study it for ourselves. Paul admonishes Timothy to study for himself. 2 Timothy 2:15 "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." Again to quote Wendy Alsop: "The Bible is sufficient. It is enough. Remember what Paul said: 'All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man (or woman!) of God may be competent, equipped for every good work' (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Wow! It's amazing to think that believers can be completely equipped for everything to which God has called them through Scripture alone."

We see the need for right living. We know right living comes from right understanding of Scripture. John speaks of Jesus as the Word (see John 1:1-18). We want to be women who know the Word. We want to be women who value the Word. But if we don't open our Bibles, we won't know either the God the Father, His Son or His Scriptures.

How well do you know the Word? How well can you articulate what you believe about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit? Let's start here:

Spend time reading and discussing the following verses:

Proverbs 2:1-5 "My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God."

Deuteronomy 29:29 "the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."

John 20:30-31 "Now Jesus did many other sign in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."

Psalm 1:1-3 "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper." (NKJV)

Psalm 119:9-16 "How can a young man (woman!) cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget your word." (NKJV) [Actually, if you have time, read the entire Psalm 119!]

Consider memorizing some portion of Psalm 119:9-16. Maybe just as simple as verse 11: "Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You." Or, verse 16: I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget your word."

Spend time this week praying that God would give you a love for the Scripture. Ask for a desire to know the Word - He surely desires to be known by you. So you will be asking Him to bless you with something you already know He wants to give!!
Ephesians 1:16-20 "I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the god of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places." (NKJV)

QUESTIONS FOR MEDITATION OR DISCUSSION: [FYI - We will repeat these two questions at the end of each post. They will help you to process what you are learning in your group or alone as you study for your fight club.]

  • How does understanding this truth (God's call to know the Word) affect my view of God or Jesus?
  • How does understanding this truth affect my life (relationships, beliefs, philosophies, behavior)?
  • Friday, April 1, 2011

    Laundry Detergent Results

    For anyone who is curious, in my last post I let you in on my little experiment of making my own laundry detergent. I was cautiously optimistic. For my first test run I decided to do a load of dog blankets. We have two Labrador retrievers who can get pretty grimy after a day of playing in the creek or running the trails with Steve. I have to admit I wasn't expecting much. But, to my surprise, the two rugs and two blankets were clean! Not just clean, REALLY clean. They smelled amazing. So, for the next test, we moved on to a load of Isaac's clothes. His clothes, being a sixth grade boy, were only slightly less dirty. They also came out fresh and clean. We have now done enough loads that I am a fan. Chalk this up as a success. And it was kinda fun, too.

    My only concern is that the detergent was a little clumpy. But I am afraid that I did not stir the contents of my bucket long enough before letting it set/gel. I will try to remedy this with my next batch - which, after making four whole gallons of detergent, may come some time in the middle of next winter!!

    Overall, I consider this a success and I recommend it to anyone!

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    Making Laundry Detergent

    Okay - I love to pretend that I am Amish sometimes. I pretend that my 40 square feet of back yard is actually "the back 40" as my dad calls it. I try to grow as much food as possible. I try to bake from scratch - but don't do it often enough. I try to conserve and be frugal. My mom has provided the latest challenge for this! Why pay a zillion dollars for expensive laundry detergent when you can make your own for so much cheaper? Here is my feeble attempt. It only took about ten minutes to mix up (I doubled it). It will take 24 hours to gel. Then I will test it out.

    Here's the recipe she gave me:
    What You'll Need:
    1/3 bar "Fels Naptha" laundry bar soap (grated)
    1/2 cup Borax - 20 Mule Team
    1/2 cup Washing Soda - Arm and Hammer
    2 gallon bucket

    Instructions:
    1. Grate 1/3 bar of Fels Naptha laundry bar soap and put it in a sauce pan. Add 6 cups of water and heat until soap melts.
    2. Add Washing Soda and Borax. Stir until dissolved.
    3. Pour 4 cups of hot water into a 2 gallon bucket. Add soap mixture.
    4. Add 1 gallon and 6 cups water to the bucket. Stir. Soap will gel after standing for 24 hours.
    Use 1/2 cup of soap per load.

    According to my mom the cost of supplies was around eight dollars. That made four gallons which is 64 cups - and you need one half cup per load. So that is 128 loads of laundry per $8.00 which ends up being six cents per load. And I still have enough supplies to make two more gallons - and if I purchase another bar of soap I can make six more gallons. Woah! Here's hoping this turns out. I will let you know.

    Note: This recipe is from a website named Evansvillemoms.com, but there are other recipes. One uses dove soap instead and stays in dry format - which I wasn't as excited about because sometimes cold water doesn't always dissolve dry detergent.
    http://diynatural.com/simple-easy-fast-effective-jabs-homemade-laundry-detergent/

    Anyone ever tried this before?