Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Encouragement and Hope

One phrase stood out to me today in these two verses:

May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself
and God our Father,
who has loved us and given us
eternal encouragement and good hope by grace,
encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

What an appropriate prayer for every person on my prayer list!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Shield, My Refuge, My Secret Place

I am praying through a prayer of St. Patrick, one phrase at a time, and today's phrase was “Christ as a shield, overshadow me.” This was just what I needed to pray today: I've been anxious and simply not peaceful for a few days.

Then I opened A Heart that Hopes in God by Catherine Martin and the next segment was "The Secret Place in the Trial." This reading brought me to Psalm 31:8, which told me that my heavenly Father won't hand me over to the enemy but He has set my feet in a "spacious place." I meditated on that for awhile and I could see that when anxiousness is a cage, the Lord has a far more spacious refuge for me. I looked up a suggested cross-reference and found Job 36:16: "Indeed He lured you from the jaws of distress to a spacious and unconfined place." I pictured worry as a dragon with jaws open to devour me, and the Lord as my Shining Knight rescuing me.
Another verse in the reading was Psalm 46:1, which reminded me of my refuge and strength, my "helper who is always found in times of trouble" and I realized that He is always found, but only if I look.

Catherine Martin quoted F.B. Meyer's description of the secret place as "the royal withdrawing room." Last week I watched a travel program where I saw the interior of a Georgian house in Dublin. The tour guide said that the term "Drawing Room" came from "Withdrawing Room," and it was the place where the family would withdraw after a meal. I thought of the spiritual nourishment the Lord gives me each day, and how He invites me to withdraw from the hustle and bustle of life to enjoy His presence.

Next I read a few pages of Ruth Myers' 31 Days of Prayer, where I found this beautiful prayer:

Strengthen and renew me through Your Word, keeping me from sin--
so that time after time I may know the refreshment that comes from Your presence.
Next my daily reading in Psalms brought me to Psalm 68. Verse 35 says
"God, You are awe-inspiring in Your sanctuaries.
The God of Israel gives power and strength to His people. May God be praised!"

In the sanctuary--the refuge, the secret place--I meet the awesome Lord, and He provides power and strength.

Lord, how I need Your shielding today--shielding from anxiousness and worry especially.
Forgive me Lord for sometimes looking at myself and my troubles instead of my refuge.
Lord, Your presence is my shield and my refuge today. As my kids get up from their naps and our household activities continue, keep me resting in Your secret place.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Five on a Friday

First, one of my favorite book bloggers: Caty at Miscellaneous Mumblings gave me an award! Caty's favorite author (Georgette Heyer) is mine also, so I value her reviews. Caty gave me a Bookworm Award. I'm passing it on to Cabinet of Wonders and Deb on the Run.
Second, I'm excited to see a familiar potter at etsy: Klickitat Potters. I visited their shop last summer when we were on vacation in White Salmon, Washington, and I bought one of their pitchers. There's a lovely pair of goblets on etsy, as well as a green mug I'd like to add to my collection.
Third, I finished reading an interesting book this week: Facing East, by Frederica Matthews-Green. The author is married to an Orthodox priest. I know very little about Orthodox Christianity, and this was an informative book with flashes of humor.
Fourth, my husband and I discovered a delightful miniseries on DVD. Mapp & Lucia features Prunella Scales and Geraldine McEwan as two 1930s-era women each wishing to be the most prominent in the society of a small English village. If you like Wodehouse Playhouse, you'll enjoy these quiet comedies as well. There are two seasons. The acting is amusing, a little overdone in the manner of a live theater production.
And fifth, my husband cooked us a lovely morrocan dinner last night using this cookbook: Modern Moroccan. There's an apricot dessert--apricots stuffed with ground almonds and covered with puff pastry--that is fabulous for dessert as well as breakfast.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Healing Eczema

My kids have all had eczema since shortly after they were born. We have found several things that make the eczema bearable, and one that makes it go away.

When my oldest was an infant, my nurse practitioner/pediatrician suggested that I limit my intake of milk and wheat as long as I was breastfeeding. This made a very big difference, and when Faith started eating solid foods we immediately noticed her eczema would get worse if she had milk or wheat. It has been the same for all my kids. (Yogurt and cheese do not bother them, but ice cream does.) I have also noticed it gets worse if they eat peanut butter. Though we can limit their intake of milk and wheat at home, it's difficult when visiting or attending any social functions, so after a snack at church or a visit to relatives, the kids will have a flare-up.

I quickly learned to avoid any soaps/shampoos/lotions/sunscreens/handsanitizers that contain sodium laureth sulfate--but I think all public restroom soaps have this ingredient. Their eczema also flares up if they sit in the grass outside or if they visit people in different parts of town, so it seems to be connected to dust or pollen.

To treat the outbreaks, I make a bath salt treatment. It is
5 drops calendula essential oil
2 drops tea tree oil (optional)
2 tablespoons jojoba oil (or almond)
1 pump natural soap (Jason's lavender satin shower is great)
1/2 cup epsom salts.

Mix all the ingredients together, then add to the bath after all the water is run. Soak for at least 25 minutes.

By the way, some doctors recommend that kids with eczema don't bathe often. I have found this advice to be completely wrong for my children--daily baths are best, and always long soaks in nice warm water. If you can find California Baby Lavender and Tea Tree Shampoo, it makes a great body wash. Vitacost no longer carries it, but I think Whole Foods does.

When the kids have an outbreak that seems to be due to playing in the grass or other outdoor allergens, a helpful over the counter oral medicine is Zyrtec, but it seems that if they take it too many days in a row they get nosebleeds. I try to limit its use to a week at a time, and only if necessary.

We have a cortizone cream with aloe in it that is helpful for really awful outbreaks, or if they just won't stop scratching long enough to heal up. The cortizone cream without aloe makes the children scream. I won't use cortizone constantly though. Melaleuca's Renew lotion is great for eczema, but my youngest daughter said it "stings" and she convinced the older children that it stings also (they'd used it every day since birth....and suddenly they wouldn't use it!).

At Christmas last year, the kids were eating more cookies than I usually let them have, but their skin actually improved! They were soaking in the tub every day, and they were drinking an ounce of Aloe Life Juice every day. I mixed it with apple juice at first, but then they decided they like it plain. I buy the cherry or papaya flavors.

Through the winter, the kids had occasional outbreaks, one especially bad after a playdate at a park across town. But in March a friend shared with me a smoothie recipe with omega oils, and after a week, the kids were healed. It's amazing! Their skin is smoother than it's ever been!

I bought the gummy bears with omega oils, but they were not effective. If the kids don't have the liquid oils, they start itching again. I add aloe to the smoothie most days (it's good for digestion) and I sneak in some celery--they can't taste it, but it adds another vegetable to their diet. The best news is that the kids LOVE to drink this and beg for it every day. I add protein powder, so this either accompanies their breakfast cheerios, or makes a great mid-morning snack.

Omega Oil Smoothie for Kids
(serves 3)
3 TBS Flax Oil
3 TBS Orange Flavor Cod Liver Oil
6 TBS Aloe Vera Juice
4-8 ounces water (or 1 cup kefir or yogurt)
1 banana
3 TBS Rice Protein powder
8 frozen strawberries (or some frozen peach slices, mangos, or blueberries)
20 drops Grapefruit Seed Extract (this is not for eczema, this is an immune booster)
1 or 2 stalks celery (in chunks)

Blend in a blender...till blended. The blender can't always cope with the frozen fruit and the celery all at once, but once the fruit and everything else is blended, I add the celery. Sometimes I add a shake of cinnamon or a drizzle of honey. If your kids are used to really sweet drinks like koolaid or soda pop, you may need to add honey or agave nectar.

Serve in a glass with a straw.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Funny

Ban the sock.

I agree.

Five on Friday, June 19

Several years ago I read about half of Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way. Much of what I read was helpful, but I must have gotten distracted, because I never finished the book. I'm trying again, with the workbook.

I'm also reading Leslie Parrott's You Matter More than You Think. It's an interesting and personal look at how a woman's life experiences shape her to make a difference and be a mentor.
One of my favorite Etsy shops is Unravelling. Photographer Susannah Conway's artwork, especially the beach scenes, is refreshing in a simple yet elegant way. (Photo above is from Unravelling)
This week we are listening to a bit of baroque music in the afternoons. The kids all have quiet time, and the music is so soothing for them. It's ideal for me too, whether I grab a quick nap, or spend the afternoon writing and reading. Today the CD is Baroque for Bath Time, which is truly perfect bathtime music, but enjoyable at other times as well.
We did a lot of rearranging this week, both furniture and artwork. Now one of the first things I see every morning is my small print of "Fisherman's Cottage on the Cliffs at Varengeville", by Claude Monet. What a peaceful view every morning!