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?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thoughts to Husbands About Pornography

It has long been accepted that churches now are full of men who struggle with addictions to porn. I am proud of the way churches are stepping up to walk with these men and to hold them accountable - the community of men holding one another accountable is a beautiful thing. But one thing that I see lacking is the voice of the women affected by this destructive thing living and breathing among us. I feel the need to share my heart - not for condemnation or to add guilt - but to give our men a perspective that they might not have. These are my sisters in Christ and this is what they are saying.

The number one comment I hear from women is: "I am not enough for my husband." How devastating for a woman to hear that the man who has pursued you and asked to marry you has another lover. And she is the epitome of the world's standard for beauty. We cannot compete with this. As women we struggle with feelings of inadequacy all the time. Am I attractive? Am I too fat? Too skinny? We have been rejected for another lover - one who isn't even available, but who is "perfect". And we are left in shambles. No, our identities should not be in our husbands. Our identity should be in Christ alone. But, husband, you are deceiving yourselves if you think you can say "Honey, there isn't anything wrong with you, it's just me." We may want to believe your words, but your actions are choosing this woman over us every time you look at porn.

Our desire is to be loved physically by our husbands. We NEED that physical connection. God designed the act of sex to bond and connect men and women in a way that is emotional and psychological as well as physical. If you take that physical bond away from us we become less and less connected to you emotionally. And the same is true for you as well. If you are not having sex with your wife, but are engaging in fantasies with another woman, you are bonding yourself to her and not to your wife! You may think that you are only experiencing a physical reaction to a beautiful woman, but it is replacing a physical, emotional, and spiritual bonding with the woman that God gave you to love and care for. It is a betrayal of your wife's trust and devotion. Without that physical bond your wife will desire you less and less physically... this is the way God designed it.

Also, I think that it is important that you know that your wife is isolated in her ability to process the affects of porn. She cannot do this in community unless you enable her to. Men meet together in groups - but groups that remain anonymous to the outside. It is a fine line for a wife to speak of her husband's addiction - she cannot betray his trust and confidence. Therefore, she has to seek help from online/distant resources or through impersonal books. I urge you men, to give your wives permission to speak to a friend (maybe even one that you suggest) about this issue. Allow her to meet with someone to pray. Give her an outlet to grieve something that affects her personal identity greatly. This will require vulnerability on your part. I know what I am asking of you - I know what it will cost you - but I KNOW the benefit of having a well-chosen mentor speak the gospel into pain and hurt. You are not walking this alone, I beg you not to ask her to do the same.

Finally, don't let shame or guilt isolate you from your wife. You need to communicate with her about this. She has fears and doubts that only you can answer. We do not want to be your accountability partners, but we need to know how you are processing this. You may think you can handle it on your own, or with your group. But the reality is, we are there with you through all of this. And we are affected as well. Let us pray for you - out loud. Give us space to share our hearts - our hurts. Hear our perspective. We don't need all the details but we do need to be included in the process.

In the end, your wife needs to know that you do have her best interest at heart. When you sit down and fill your vision with those images, you are making a choice between two lovers - and you are not choosing your wife. She knows this and feels it deeply. Please, open your heart to her to win her heart back.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Just a little reminiscing for St Patrick's Day.

In 2008 Steve and I were able to take a dream trip. We went to Northern Ireland with Steve's family - to sightsee and to visit family there. We stayed in the city of Belfast for a week. People say that when you walk the streets of a city you get to know it and love it in such a way that it becomes your own. This was so true for us. Every day we walked for hours - from one end of Belfast to the other. It won our hearts. What fun to explore and retrace steps that his grandfather had walked growing up. We hope to go back some day and take the kids - so they too can feel a connection to a new place - a place that holds history for them.

So - on St. Patricks Day, I want to share a few of my favorite places in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

On top of Cave Hill overlooking Belfast

The Botanical Gardens

University of Belfast - and the monument where Steve's relative's name is engraved.

Thanksgiving monument


Belfast Castle

We found a favorite bookstore (and some new friends!) and our favorite grocery. There was the best place to get a Guiness and my favorite bench in the city) Someday we will get to return. Until then, St Patrick's Day is a fun day to dream of going back.

Monday, March 7, 2011

More Thoughts on Pain

As I have been processing the ideas that have been discussed around here at Trailhead Church over the last few weeks, I keep coming back to the problem of pain. A specific thought has been bouncing around in my head for a while now. It is a mixture of words spoken at our women's retreat and also words from one of Steve's messages in Hebrews.

Steve was teaching about Jesus as God. God is outside of time. He is present in every point of Creation all the time, yet unkept by time. He is not confined. At our women's retreat Kristy spoke about not being alone in our times of pain. That our God hurts when we hurt. He is with us, fully present, when we are hurt. Putting those two thoughts together... Jesus is there when our world is the most devastating. In my worst moments - of abuse, or loneliness, or trauma - Jesus is there and knows my pain intimately. He is present with me in my suffering. Yet, since he is the "ever-present One", He is, at the same time, completely present with me when all is made right - even though I am not there yet. He is present when Shaloam is restored - when all things are made new. He sees the hurt but He also sees the restoration. What a glorious thought!

Scripture speaks of Jesus currently being seated beside God the Father. That, too, is outside of time. I can look forward to when I will no longer be constrained by time. I don't understand everything about heaven and eternity, but I do know I will spend it with Jesus, who suffered more for me than I will ever know. He sacrificed Himself to pay the debt of sin I owed. He is my Substitute. Because of that fact, I have been forgiven and will be eternally free from all the pain faced here on earth and I, too, will see all things made right, all things new.

God knows your pain

Well, the month of February seemed to revolve around the theme of pain. Not just mine - but more generally pain that we as women often struggle through. Trailhead Church had another women's retreat a week ago. A few women began praying in January about what topic God would have us look at - hoping that we would get clear direction. Boy, did we get it. And then some!

My friend Kristy works in a treatment center for women dealing with eating disorders which often times stem from past hurts. She has been learning from God how to deal with trauma and evil and pain. This is no easy thing as I know she will attest to. Some days you see God's hand of redemption, but most days you see the brokenness of this world very clearly and profoundly. I love to hear her teach and knew this was a subject that any women's retreat could benefit from. So we began to pray that God would give Kristy wisdom and discernment about what exactly she should convey.

At the same time, but in an unrelated situation, a good friend of mine, began to feel that God was calling her to be involved in the women's retreat. She shared with me her personal story of sexual assault and the brokenness that it has caused in her life. Yet she rejoiced in the grace that God has shown her and the redemption that she has experienced. We began to pray about what it would look like for her to share her story (which would be a true miracle since she had only shared with a few people ever - it would be a very vulnerable, difficult thing to do). We began praying about this in January as well.

Then came the straw that broke the camel's back, as they say. I came across the promo for a new book from Re:Lit (Mark Driscoll) about sexual assault. The statistics were staggering. One in four women will suffer assault in her lifetime. How could we as the church not talk about this? And how hard would this be? We began to get a little scared! It was very clear what God was going to have us talk about: Jesus and suffering and grace and redemption.

God did confirm and strengthen my friend to share her story of hurt, redemption, and grace. It was hard to listen to. But it was one of the most amazing presentations of the gospel I have EVER heard in my whole life. And Kristy spoke the Word!! Women were given a safe place to process their pain and to be challenged to take their pain to Jesus and to know that He will meet them there. The gospel was proclaimed. Women were pointed to the true gospel, not their "self-made, self religions". Much could be shared of God miraculously leading women to conversations with just the right person. God was preparing hearts to be vulnerable and other hearts to be full of care and love and the desire to listen.

What a good God we have. I am grateful to Him. More thoughts and stories to share - this is only the beginning. From the book Rid of my Disgrace: "We believe that the only thing that gets to the depth of the devastation of sexual assault" (or other pain) "is God's one-way, unconditional love expressed through, and founded on the person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ. And in response to sin and its effects, God's radical grace and redemption are at the center of responding to the pain..."

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Story of Blessing

Wow! What a week. I still cannot wrap my brain around God's goodness this week. I do know how blessed I am - a never ending list of good things God gives. Tuesday was a beautiful morning. Steve let me sleep in, and then he brought me roses and a diet Dr. Pepper! Those of you who know me know that I LOVE both of those. We enjoyed a quiet morning together and headed out for a quick lunch.

Before we hopped into the car, I grabbed the mail out of the mailbox and found a large envelope that read: Scholarship Details Enclosed. I stopped in my tracks. We had gotten those envelopes before... from Webster University and from Southeast Missouri State. But this one was different. Victoria had been invited to interview for the Meridian Scholarship at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Originally she had wanted to go to school very far away from home. Anywhere but a college in her own backyard. But God had other plans. Many friends of ours began to campaign for SIUE. Sarah Guild and Jordyn Gehret began to talk to Victoria about what God could do through her at SIUE and what God could do IN her as well. Steve and I didn't have to say a word! We were so glad when she began to like the idea of what we think is a GREAT college with GREAT opportunities for Victoria.

So, we began to pray that God would honor our beautiful, super smart daughter with a full ride at SIUE. Our friends joined us in praying for this blessing - the Meridian Scholarship. 600 students wrote essays. 120 students were invited to interview. 20 would be chosen. We spent a day at SIUE with all the families of the 120 students (36 of whom were valedictorians and salutatorians). Victoria was full of enthusiasm and Steve and I were nervous wrecks! But she shined. Then we waited. We all had a rough week waiting. Patience is difficult! Especially when you have over $65,000 on the line. But we all prayed for God to glorify His name! We prayed for patience, and dependence on Him, and joy no matter the outcome. We always strive to remember that God is Good - period. Good in the blessings and good in the hard things. Graciously God met our need! He provided a way for Victoria to go to a great school and KNOW without a doubt that this is where He wants her to be.

What more could a mom want? My daughter was given a blessing - a chance to go through four years of college without debt! But more importantly, she feels the delight of a God who loves her and she knows the joy of underserved gifts - gifts that cause us to praise Him! Victoria has seen God work in her heart - He brought her desire in line with His. When we worried about money and a zillion other things He provided the way. We kept repeating over the last few weeks that God is God and He does what He pleases. Join us this week as we rejoice that this gift to Victoria is what He pleases!!

All in all this was a perfect day. A restful morning, a miraculous blessing from God, a tear filled lunch date with a husband who loves me, excitement of watching Victoria open her letter, watching Esther hug Victoria while she rejoiced in God (and her gift of prophecy!!) and it even ended with a Kentucky basketball win - which I got to see from beginning to end. Nice!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Wife

Today I read a blog by a woman in our church planting network (Acts29) about the things she wished she had known during her first year of being a church planter's wife. It was a great article. But one of her five points stuck out to me more than the others. And I think it is a great point for all wives: "You should be a source, not a drain."

We have the opportunity to be a source of encouragement, joy, and comfort to our husbands. But many of us more correctly fall into the category of drain. As Proverbs 15:13 says, "a wife's quarreling is a continual dripping of rain". Some versions say faucet. You have the opportunity to be the one who can build your husband up in a way that no other person can - the one in his corner - praising his accomplishments, encouraging his growth, and praying for his weaknesses. We often speak about being able to look at a wife's countenance and know whether she is loved well by her husband or not. But I think the same is true of husbands. You should be able to tell when a man has a wife who is FOR him. She will walk with him through his trials and battles, but she will be the voice of help - the spiritual and emotional advocate he needs. He will be safe in her presence. Kendra writes: "Many other people in his life will be telling him areas he needs to improve, ways he can shepherd better and some may be critical of him. Will you be an additional burden in your husband’s life that he has to bear, or can you be the one person who is a source and replenishment to his mind, soul and body?"

How are you treating your husband? Does he long to return home at the end of each day to find a wife who supports him with words of affirmation, joy, and comfort? Does he come home to a wife who has pleasure in him - emotionally, spiritually, and physically? Not all of this rests on your shoulders - he obviously plays a role. But give him the benefit of a worthy effort of being his biggest fan. Yes, there will be days when he comes home and you are exhausted or frustrated. But in that moment you can still stop long enough to remind him that you were praying for him today and that you hope it was a good day (and make sure that you DID pray for him!). There are all sorts of sticky situations that married men and women have to wade through. But even in those moments, you can speak with respect and honor - the same as you would like to be treated. "Will you be an additional burden or... replenishment?"

Just a few thoughts spurred by a good article.

The quote and idea came from the article by Kendra Duty on the Acts29 website: