Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday

     In Mark 11:1-11  We read about Jesus entering Jerusalem on what became known as Palm Sunday during the week of His crucifixion.
     As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethpage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden…”When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, He sat on it.  Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields.  Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!”  “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”  “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”  “Hosanna in the highest!”
Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple.  He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
     Jesus the Son of God entered the Temple as a somewhat notorious carpenter from Galilee. He looked around at everything, taking it all in.  The Temple would have been crowded with people who had come to make a Passover sacrifice. There would have been the buzzing hum of the crowd,  punctuated by the cries from  the moneychangers.  Lambs bleating.  Smoke rising from the sacrificial altars.  
     When Jesus, the Son of God, entered the Temple,  there were parts of it that would have been barred to him.  Only a person making a sacrifice could be admitted into the Court of the Priests, and then only to sacrifice their lamb.  The person would then be pushed aside to give room for the next person to make their sacrifice.  But Jesus, who was Himself the lamb, did not bring a sacrifice, and so the Court of the Priests would have been closed off to Him.
     The most sacred space of all within the Temple, the inner sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, was also prohibited to Jesus.  Only the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies.
     Jesus entered the Temple and looked around and because it was late, He left.  And it was late.  The crucifixion loomed just a few short days away.  At Jesus’ death the Temple curtain in the Holy of Holies would be torn in two by the very hand of God, signifying that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
     Because of the sacrifice of Jesus on a lonesome cross, every one of us has access to the very heart of God.  We can fall into the embrace of a loving God through our forgiveness in Jesus.  Sometimes we like to think that God only sees our cleaned up church selves, but He also sees our Monday morning pre-coffee self, too.  He sees all the secret places of our heart.
  Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the first born from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.  To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father - to him be glory and power for ever and ever!  Amen.   ~Rev.  1:5-6
     Won’t you allow Jesus in to the temple of your heart?  The time is growing late.

Friday, February 27, 2015

What I Learned in February

1.  I was amazed at how beautiful Bratz dolls could be with a simple change in "makeup."  They look like dolls should look.  Beautiful.
2.  I still remember a poem I wrote in fourth grade.  I got a C.

3.  My three favorite winter moisturizers are from Beautycounter.
4.  When walking in an attic it is very important to step on the joists and not on the sheetrock.  My daughter learned this very important fact the hard way.
5.  The last time Congress passed a law regulating cosmetics was in 1938.  We deserve better. The European Union has spent the past two decades banning or restricting more than 1,300 ingredients, the US has only banned 11 to date.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


     For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  ~Ephesians 2:10
    For we are God’s handiwork, His workmanship, and His masterpiece.  The original word is poiema; which means “made, crafted, or composed.
      Poiema is where our English word poem came from.  Poems are paintings with words using rhyme and rhythm.  The poet carefully chooses each word for it’s meaning and cadence to tell a story or convey an emotion.
    When I was in fourth grade our class was given the assignment to write an original rhyming poem about a state that we would like to visit.  I still remember the first stanza.
Florida is the land I’d like to see.
Where oranges grow upon a tree.
Where oceans make a lot of noise.
And little children play with toys.
That’s why,
Florida is the land I’d like to see.

     I was quite proud of it at the time.  My teacher was not so impressed.  She gave me a C.  Perhaps if she had known that it would have a public recitation almost 50 years later, I would have done better.
     God, unlike me, is a poet.  He is the Master Poet.  God, who paints the sunset and calls the stars by name, wants to compose a poem out of your life.  You are the subject of God’s poem.  His work of art.  His masterpiece.  It may be that our life is tattered with imperfections and confusion.  We may feel like an unfinished work.  Other’s may even believe that we rate a C.  But we are in the hands of the Master Poet.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  ~2 Corinthians 5:17.
     Jesus looks at you, and at me, and He doesn't see us just for what we are. He sees us for what we are in Him. We see a lump of clay; God sees a beautiful vessel. We see a blank canvas; God sees a finished painting. We see problems; God sees solutions. We see failures; God sees a finished work.  We see a Jacob; God sees an Israel.
But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;  ~Isaiah 43:1-3a
    God picks up the pieces of our lives to display His beauty and creativity.  We are His masterpiece.  We bear His signature.  We are His poeima.

Monday, February 16, 2015

How is God In Your Story?

     It's the children's eyes that grab me.  The eyes that make me catch my breath.  The eyes that have seen too much.  The eyes that have known hunger.   Some children gaze from their photo with a shy confidence, still others with a fragile hope.
     Compassion Bloggers are visiting the Dominican Republic this week.  Through their stories, Compassion hopes to sponsor 300 children.  Go here to see how many have been sponsored so far.
     Bonnie, who writes at Faith Barista, posted a short video of an interview she did with fifteen year old Francimar.  During her interview, Bonnie asked, "How is God in your story?'  Her question reached out and caught me.  How is God in my story?  How is He in yours?  Is there room in your story to sponsor a child through Compassion?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Talent for the Task

     The Good Morning Girls at Women Living Well are reading through the book of Exodus during the months of February and March.  I am joining them on this journey.
    You can read my other Exodus posts here:

     This weeks reading is all about the construction of the Tabernacle and the items that would go into it.  I was impressed with the level of detail that God provided in His instructions on building the Tabernacle.  God gave specific materials, lengths, and designs for each item that went into it.   The lampstands were to be made of gold and look like flowering branches.  The ten curtains were to be skillfully woven of fine linen in blue, purple, and scarlet bordered with cherubim.  The frame of the structure was to be made of acacia wood overlaid with gold.  Even the priests sacred clothing had about six different parts.  It all sounded extremely complicated.  I was rather glad that God didn’t ask me to build His tabernacle.  I just know it would be lopsided and unworthy of Him in every way.  But then I noticed, that God gave the ability and talent to the workers who were asked to complete the Tabernacle.
   Tell all the skilled workers to whom I have given wisdom in such matters that they are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration, so he may serve me as priest.  ~Exodus 28:3
     I peeked ahead to Exodus 31 where God tells Moses that He has chosen and given Bezalel the talent to do the work required.
   Then the Lord said to Moses,  “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah,  and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—  to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze,  to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.  Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you:  ~Exodus 31:1-6
     When God had directed Moses from the burning bush to speak to Pharaoh,  Moses had hesitated and questioned whether he had the skills necessary.  He told God that he was "slow of speech."  So God supported Moses with Aaron.  In this instance, God reminds Moses that the talent has already been provided.
     While you and I see all of our many failures and lacks, God sees the potential that He has tucked inside.  He has graciously provided the skills to do the tasks He has set before us.  He will give us understanding, knowledge, and wisdom to do the work that He has assigned us.  He has filled us with His Holy Spirit.  This knowledge helps us to step out of our comfort zone and risk failure to try something new.  God gives ordinary people, extra-ordinary talents for His glory.
      What has God asked you to use your talent for?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

My Three Favorite Winter Moisturizers.

     Bad news: Punxsutawney Phil just predicted six more weeks of winter. If you’re anything like me, that means six more weeks of slathering on moisturizer, lip balm and lotion while wishing for warmer days – and less dry skin!
    Moisturizers are one of the best ways to keep your skin healthy and hydrated. But like all personal care products, they sometimes contain ingredients that are potentially toxic.  The trouble is, chemicals with strong links to cancer and endocrine disruption – think parabens, phthalates and formaldehyde – are in many of the personal care products we use every day.  Which is why I use Beauty Counter for my family.
     Our favorite products are:

  1. Nourishing Cleansing Balm:  Nourishing Cleansing Balm melts into your skin, while removing makeup, and it moisturizes as it cleanses.  I use it as an overnight face masque for extra hydration.  Raspberry Seed Oil and Cranberry Seed Oil hydrate and revitalize the skin, while Vitamin C brightens skin tone.  This makes my skin look and feel amazing.    
  2. Lip Conditioner Peppermint Balm: This is my daughter, Patty's, favorite.  This balm is made with regenerative Avocado Oil, Shea Butter, Meadowfoam Seed Oil, and Jojoba Seed Oil.  Just apply when you are going out in the cold or anytime your lips feel dry or chapped.  I like to put it on before bed.   
  3. Glow Sugar Scrub:  Brown sugar buffs away dull skin cells while mineral-rich evening primrose, sweet almond, apricot kernel, and sunflower oils leave skin looking supple and smooth.   Glow Sugar Scrub smells delicious.  Use it in the shower and your skin will feel smooth, soft, and hydrated.

     Disclosure: As a cancer survivor, I know how important it is to choose safe products for my family and myself, which is why I became a Beauty Counter Consultant.   I will be paid should you make a purchase through my website, however, the opinions are my own and I would never recommend a product that I did not know and love.
     There is no better time to check out Beauty Counter.

Dancing on the Ceiling

     Pat and I have been completing all kinds of home projects.  And when I say we, I mean we.  Pat and I have put up crown molding, replaced windows, taken down decks and a pool, painted most of our rooms, taken down walls, replaced sheetrock,  ripped out a cast iron tub, and well a lot of things.  We have suffered smashed fingers and toes, splinters, paint in our hair, sore muscles, and frequent trips to Home Depot and Lowes.  Pat now has pain in his left shoulder and is having trouble lifting things.  The kids have been somewhat involved, but really most of the work is accomplished when they are at school or work.
     All of our work led to a mountain of debris. So Pat ordered a 24 foot dumpster.  This lovely ornament was parked in our driveway.  I’m sure that our neighbors were thrilled.  While the dumpster was gracing our yard we decided that we should take advantage of it to rid ourselves of things that we had stored in the attics and forgotten about.
     We have two attics.  One over the second floor of the house reachable with a ladder from the hallway and one over the garage.  The one over the garage is quite high.  The access panel is about 14 feet up from the concrete floor above a stair landing.  Both attics held boxes of books, games, old suitcases, and  random empty boxes for appliances that have long since broken and been discarded.  I think we found the box for the Tandy Computer we bought in 1985.
     We enlisted the help of the kids and Brian who was home visiting.  We were organized.  It was a beautiful thing.  We started in the house attic.  Pat went into the attic which has a plywood floor in the storage area. Pat handed boxes down to Patty who stood on the ladder.  Brian, Anthony, and I trudged up and down the stairs to the dumpster and back.  Connor served as doorman, in a vain attempt to keep some heat in the house.  The Middle School lesson plans I had so carefully stored for 17 years vanished into the depths of the dumpster.  I think that I heard angels singing.  But that is another story.  Ten minutes later that attic was empty, so we moved down to the garage.
     We lost the doorman and the 17 year old in the move.  Pat set the ladder on the stair landing and climbed back up into the attic.  This attic has a piece of plywood across a rafter.  Anyone going up there has to remember to step on the joists or risk falling through the ceiling.  Sheetrock is not meant to support any weight.  As an added hazard, because we had boxes of siding on the garage floor for another project, our large tools - including the tile saw, were placed pretty much under the part of the attic that we were emptying.  Fortunately, there were just a few boxes and some old games up there.  I yelled at my husband to be careful.  I didn’t yell because I was being bossy, I yelled because we also had an air compressor going because the laser machine in the garage was running a piece.  We were multi-tasking.
     Patty resumed her position at the base of the ladder and Brian and I took the junk out to the dumpster.  We were decluttering!  We were getting stuff done!  I was thrilled!
     When I noticed that Patty was also missing in action, I incorrectly assumed that she had followed her younger brothers into the house to get warm.  Patty was actually up in the attic.  I discovered this when I walked back into the garage and saw Patty dangling from the ceiling!
Here is where my daughter was hanging!
     There was my beloved daughter, dangling through a huge hole in the ceiling, over the tools and the saw.  Through the cloud of plaster dust, I could see one long leg, her bottom and the skin of her waist and back.  Her clothing looked like it had been ripped by a nail. Thankfully, there wasn’t any visible blood.
     Pat was on the ladder, head in the attic.  I screamed, not that anyone could hear with the compressor going, and rushed up the stairs and the ladder trying to get to Patty.  Pat blocked me.  He yelled at me over the noise of the compressor, telling me that she was fine. As you may have guessed I argued this point.  How could she possible be fine, she was hanging out of the ceiling!  Pat refused to let me up there correctly surmising that I would also fall through the ceiling.  But Pat wasn’t rushing up there either, remember he hurt his shoulder.  Instead, Pat calmly talked Patty, who had managed to straddle the joists, back onto the beams and out of the attic.  When she was safely back on the ground with no bones broken, the experience became a bit of an adventure to her.  As for me, I went outside, kicked the dumpster and said some very unkind things.  It was not my finest moment.
falling through ceiling
Home renovation is not for the faint of heart.
    Now I know what you are thinking.  What scripture matches this occasion?    
 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:  ~Is. 59:1
     Accidents happen shattering our sense of self control.  There are times when the floor shifts beneath us.  Our feet slip and we are left dangling, feeling unsupported. We feel alone, scared, devastated.  Sometimes we suffer watching a family member in a life threatening situation.
     But the truth is we are not alone.  God is in our midst.  We are precious to Him.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  ~Rom. 8:38,39
     Whatever you are facing today, remember God loves you.  He desires you.  He forgives you.  He died to bring you to Him.
There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides across the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.   ~Deuteronomy 33:26-27      

Saturday, February 7, 2015

When Oceans Rise

     Love the way this song ministers to my soul.  It can be purchased here (affiliate link).

Monday, February 2, 2015

Support on the Hill

     I have been reading the Book of Exodus with the Good Morning Girls. at Women Living Well.  My other Exodus posts may be found here.

     In Exodus 17: 8-16,  we read of a mighty battle.  While Joshua was in the valley fighting a battle, Moses, Aaron, and Hur were up on the hill providing support.  As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.  When Moses arms became too tired to hold up the staff, Aaron and Hur held up his arms for him.
     That passage is often used to show that we need to support our pastors and our leadership by shouldering some responsibility, lending a word of encouragement or in some way offering them refreshment.  I don't disagree with that.  However, I think it is can be more than that.  It also shows the support our leadership needs to have for the people below them. For example, pastors to congregation, parents to children, bosses to employees.  Moses was the leader of the Israelites.  He was supported by the second-in-command, Aaron and Hur.  Together, they supported the Israelites.  To do otherwise would have been to hurt themselves.  Our leaders need to be out on that hill, holding up their hands.  
     We first meet Joshua in this passage.  At the time of the battle against the Amalekites, Joshua was far below Moses in the hierarchy.  Joshua was on the ground, in the battle.  Joshua could have thought, "Look at those guys doing nothing on top of the hill, while I'm down here about to get killed.  Why do I have to do all of the work?"  But Joshua was obedient to Moses and faithful to God.  Joshua succeeded Moses as Israel's leader and became one of only two people who had left Egypt as an adult to actually enter the Promised Land.
     God was showing me a larger truth.  As Christians living in this world, we are in a battle.  Everyday we battle temptation, pressure, and the influences of this world that want us to rebel against God.  Our spouses need to know that we are in their corner.  Our children need to know it, too.  We all go through valleys in our lives and we need support and fellowship to get us through.
     Who are the people that you need to provide support to?   Think about the arenas in your life, home, church, school, work, or community.  Like Moses, we need to lift up holy hands to the throne of the Lord, because the battle is won because of the support on the hill, not necessarily because of the skill of the warriors in the valley.
     This is what the Lord says to you:  Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God's... The Lord will be with you.   ~2 Chronicles 20:15

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Four Things I Learned in January

1.    I love my husband and would marry him all over again.  We celebrated 35 years of marriage this month.
2.   In the United States 1 out of 3 woman and 1 out of 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes.  Autism, learning disabilities, and fertility issues are increasing.  Serious illnesses are impacting our children.
      Did you know that the United States has not passed a federal law to regulate the ingredients used in personal care products, shampoo, lotion, and cosmetics since 1938.  The European Union has spent the past two decades banning or restricting more than 1,300 ingredients, the US has only banned 11 to date.  Companies are allowed to use known toxins, ingredients that have been linked to cancer, reproductive issues,and  hormone disruption, without telling us, and can legally say they are following the regulations!
     As a breast cancer survivor, I was appalled to learn this.  It is time for a change. As wives and mothers, we need to be better informed so that we can make healthier choices for our families.
     Two things you can do right now:
     a.  Download the FREE Skin Deep app to your phone.  You can scan the barcode of a product and receive its safety rating.  For those with allergies, the database will let you know what products contain it, other names for it, and alternatives.  I have been scanning the products on the counters in my house.  Some real surprises.  The video below is an Overview of the Environmental Working Group (EWG).  The EWG sponsors Skin Deep.

     b.  Read Little Changes:Tales of a Reluctant Home Eco-Momics Pioneer  (affiliate link).  Kristi Marsh is a breast cancer survivor who shows how making little changes in choices of products and foods that you bring into your home can help to ease the toxic load on ourselves and our families.

3.  My daughter, Patty made these awesome Minion Cupcakes for a church social.  They were the cutest things.  You could add little footballs and green icing to serve them for Super Bowl Sunday.  So cute!

4.   I loved How 936 Pennies Will Forever Change How You Parent, by Eryn Lynum.  A wonderful post about the time we are privileged to have raising our children.  Eryn was given a mason jar containing 936 pennies.  One penny for each week that she has to raise her son.  She tells of investing those pennies wisely.  How heavy the weight of responsibility represented by the jar and how quickly it empties.  Her post is beautiful.  It is well worth the time it takes to visit.

     What did you learn?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What I'm Reading

     I was the kid who got excited when the teacher announced it was time for Drop Everything And Read.  Here are two books I just finished that I think you will fall into.  
     I loved A Fall of Marigolds,  by Susan Meissner.  A beautiful scarf, passed down through the generations, connects two women who learn that the weight of the world is made bearable by the love we give away....
     September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries…and finds herself caught in a dilemma that compels her to confront the truth about the assumptions she’s made. Will what she learns devastate her or free her?
     September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. Then a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, and she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers…the same day a stranger reached out and saved her. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?
     This was my first experience with Susan Meissner.  She is an author I will be reading again.
     Let's All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have, by Annie Downs  is wonderful.  I think Annie and I could be friends.  Annie Downs shares her journey toward bravery with honesty and humor. Using wonderful stories from her own life, contemporary real-life examples, and fascinating historical and biblical references, Annie encourages readers to grab hold of the brave life that they desperately desire.  John Piper said, "Books don't change people; paragraphs do, sometimes even sentences."  Let's All Be Brave is full of those sentences.
     Annie Downs also wrote, Speak Love: Making Our Words Matter.  A book of encouragement to use your words to build people up, not tear them down.  To speak love, healing, and hope into peoples lives.  It was a blessing to read.  It makes you aware that what you say and how you say it are truly important.
     Name the last great book you read in the comments.  I would love to see your recommendations.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Brave Grace

     God uses people to accomplish His purposes.  Plain, old,  ordinary people.  Like you and me.  Isn't that amazingly scary?
     The idea of being used by God was so astounding to Moses that he suggested that God use someone else.  Moses thought that his story was one of failure and shame.  He hesitated to let God use him.  Of course, Pharaoh was reluctant to listen to Moses to let the Israelites go.  And now that the Israelites were free, Moses was leading them into even more peril.  What did God expect?  Moses had killed an Egyptian and then spent forty years on the back side of the desert.  God could have picked someone else.
     Moses knew that rescuing the people of God was an undertaking fraught with difficulty.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’  And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.  ~Exodus 14:1-4
     God deliberately placed the Israelites between the sea and the Egyptian army.  Through Moses, God gave them specific, step-by-step instructions.  Instructions that were leading them down a path to apparent ruin. Turn  around and camp. Camp there. On that particular spot of sand. Right there, before the entrapping sea. Yes, right there in that impossible place.
     The Lord occasionally does the same with us, leading us into hardship, bringing us to a particular point or allowing us to be in a circumstance not of our choosing. Our initial reaction may be panic and alarm.  (When I was diagnosed with cancer 5 years ago, I lay on the couch for three days.)  God gently reveals the depth of our faith to us.  He teaches us wisdom and shows us His ways.  And then we learn to lean into Him.  To rest securely on the only One who could ever save us anyway.  The One who holds us gently in His arms.
     Moses and the Israelites learned that the same God who led them in, would lead them out.  The problem was not left to Moses.  It was God’s dilemma to solve which He chose to do through Moses inadequate hands.  Moses stretched out his arm over the sea.  The waters parted and the Israelites were brought through to safety.
     Sometimes, like Moses, we think that our story is one of shame, failure, and inadequacy.  But you know, it doesn’t have to be.  Our story can be a story of grace.
     It is a brave grace that saves.  A grace that fixes broken lives.  A grace that heals broken hearts and restores sinners.  It is a brave grace that looks beyond what we have done and sees what we can be.  God does not count our sin against us.
     God exhibits grace and mercy so that we might experience forgiveness and healing.  So that, like Moses, we can see that we are capable of being used to further His glory.   Thank God for His brave grace.
     This post is part of a series on Exodus.  I have been joining the Good Morning Girls at Women Living Well.  My other Exodus posts may be found here.
Exodus 1-5  The Burning Bush
Exodus 6-10  Great Lengths
     This weeks assignment Exodus, chapters 16-20.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Read Books

      On these cold January days there is nothing like a warm fire, a cup of tea, and a great book.
So far in January, I have read:

All the Light We cannot See, by Anthony Doerr :  I really enjoyed the way Doerr shared this story through a blind Parisian girl and a German orphan.  The writing is beautiful and the characters are memorable.

Sweet Water, by Christina Baker Kline:  Reading this with our libraries Book Club.  Sweet Water was a first novel.  It was good, but wasn't as satisfying a read as Orphan Trainwhich was excellent.

Little Changes - Tales of a Reluctant Home Economics Pioneer, by Kristi Marsh:   Little Changes blew me away.
     What are you reading?

This post contains affiliate links.  The opinions are my own.

Minion Cupcakes

     Patty made these adorable Minion Cupcakes!  So cute and easy.  Proud Mama moment.

     Patty used a box mix, frosting which she colored blue and black, and Twinkies!  She had some edible google eyes left over from another baking project, so she incorporated them, too.  The Twinkies were cut in half and set on the blue frosting.
     We brought these to a church potluck and they were really a hit, especially with the younger crowd!

Monday, January 19, 2015

What I Wish I Knew BEFORE I had Cancer

     I thought cancer happened to people who made unhealthy life style decisions (like smoking), or had unfortunate environmental exposure through a toxic waste dump in their neighborhood or even who had a family history.  But did you know that one in two men and one in three woman will be diagnosed with cancer?  And, it's not just cancer.  There are dramatic rises in autism, adhd, fertility issues, asthma, auto-immune diseases, and allergies.
    I thought cancer wouldn't happen to me.  I exercise, eat fairly well, and have regular screenings.  I smoked for all of one month in high school. My alcohol intake amounts to maybe five glasses of wine a YEAR.  I live in the 'burbs, think white picket fences and farms in my town.
     I may never know what caused my cancer, but I now suspect that a tipping point was reached.
     I am appalled at what I have recently learned.  I trusted the government to regulate and make companies put safe products on the supermarket shelves.  We live in a country that has rules and regulations for everything.  Boy, was I wrong.  The shampoos, baby lotion, sunscreen, and soaps that I trusted and used on my family contained known carcinogens.  And I bet that YOURS DO, TOO.
     The last time Congress passed a law on cosmetics safety was in 1938.  Since then, we’ve learned a lot from the scientific community about the harmful impacts of ingredients commonly used in the cosmetics industry.   Meanwhile, other countries have taken significant steps to protect their residents from toxic chemicals in consumer products. The European Union, for example, has restricted over 1,400 cosmetics ingredients, whereas the United States has only taken action on 11.  Yes, that is eleven!
     Johnson's Baby Shampoo is one example of a product that we all recognize.  Every mother can identify its scent. I have always thought that there are few things better than holding a freshly bathed baby in your arms and inhaling the fresh clean aroma of baby shampoo from their sweet little scalps.  Fifty plus years ago, my mother used it on my brothers and I.  When I had children, I tenderly washed them with it.  The "Pure and Gentle" wash contained formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.  The company is now making a positive move by phasing formaldehyde out of it's formula, claiming that the amount was so small, it didn't really matter.
     Except that it DOES matter.  My exposure to toxic chemicals started with baby shampoo and then continued with most of the other shampoos, soaps, deodorants, detergents, cosmetics, and cleaning products I have been using since.
     Remember, cosmetic and personal care companies can't use over 1,400 toxic ingredients in Europe.  So the companies make multiple formulas of the same shampoo.  The safer formula for other countries, and the one containing known and probable carcinogens for the US.  The personal care industry does know better.  I can only guess that it must be more profitable for them.
    We can't avoid some exposure to toxins, but we can lower our level of exposure.
    We can and must make healthier choices for our families.
    Start here:
  1. Get the Environmental Working Groups Skin Deep FREE app on your phone.  They have put the power of information in your hands. When you know what’s in the products you bring into your home and how those chemicals may affect your health and the environment, you can make informed purchasing decisions.  Simply scan the barcode of the product into your phone and get ratings for healh concerns:  cancer, developmental/reprotoxicity and allergens.    It's quick and easy.  I put it on my phone and began scanning all the products in our bathrooms.  I was unpleasantly suprised.  Why buy a product with carcinogens when there is a healthy alternative available at a similar price?
  2. Be informed.  A great place to start is by reading Little Changes:  Tales of A Reluctant  Home Eco-nomics Pioneer, by Kristi Marsh.   An amazing book.  You can read my review here.  I do have an affiliate link for this book on my sidebar, however, I was not asked or paid to review it and the opinions expressed are my own. 
     Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing about the changes I am making in my home to reduce the levels of toxins my family is exposed to.  Have you made any changes to protect your family?  What are you doing differently?  Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


     I have been joining the Good Morning Girls at Women Living Well in reading the Book of Exodus.  Last week I shared about the burning bush.  The assignment for this week was to read chapters 6-10.   During my reading, I was struck with how big God's plan was and all that He did to reach the Israelites.
     In Exodus 6:6-8, God promised the Israelites that He would be their God and that they would be His people.  He would save them from the yoke of Egyptian oppression.  He would redeem them and then they would be given the land that He had promised to their forefather Abraham.  The Israelites would enjoy times of blessing as they walked with and obeyed Him. The message God sent through Moses was, “I will never leave you or forsake you.  I Am here.”
     The Israelites felt alone and forsaken.  They were slaves in Egypt.  They endured harsh labor.  They had to make bricks without enough straw.  They witnessed the devastation of the plagues.  Egypt had a powerful hold on them.
     Even though the people of God felt alone and abandoned, God never left them.  They were special to Him.  They had value in His eyes.  God went through great lengths to restore the Hebrew people and to provide for them and their future descendants.  The events in these chapters mark the end of bondage for Israel.  The power of Pharaoh to enslave God’s chosen people was forever broken.  The Israelites were delivered to live for God.  They were free to worship Him and to daily make their choice to follow where He led them.
     We, too, are special to God.  1 Corinthians 6:20 tells us that we were bought with a price.  God loves us.  We are precious to Him.  But, like the Hebrew people, there are times when we are shaken and afraid.  When God seems far away and distant.  When we feel frayed and stretched beyond bearing.  When the diagnosis is devastating and the days are both too long and too short at the same time.
     Over the years, God has proven Himself faithful.  He has been there in the good times and the bad.  There were times when He was all I had, and it was enough.
    God went through great lengths to restore the Hebrew people, and He went through great lengths to restore you.  He will never forsake you.  You are graven on His hands.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Little Changes: Tales of a Home Eco-Nomics Pioneer

     This book is about one woman's quest to eliminate harmful and toxic chemicals from her life and environment.  Like me, Kristi Marsh was diagnosed with breast cancer with three young children at home.  While I had just turned 50 when I was diagnosed, Kristi was only 36.
Little Changes by Kristi Marsh
Little Changes is available in Kindle and Paperback formats.  
     While we can't avoid every toxin that is out there, we can greatly reduce the load of toxins that we expose ourselves and our families to.  It's easy to place blame on things like tobacco use causing lung cancer, however, we need to shift our thinking and understand that multiple exposures from many different types of chemicals are just as dangerous
      “So many people are reluctant to make changes in their lives because they think it’s going to be expensive or time consuming. But making little changes over time in the products we smother on our skin, foods we devour, and surroundings in which we immerse ourselves, doesn’t have to be difficult."  ~Kristi Marsh  
     Those little changes make a big difference.
     Kristi shares her story and her knowledge in an easy to read, easy to understand manner.  There is so much information packed into this book.  I will be reading Little Changes again in the near future. 
If you're interested (and you SHOULD be) in making better choices that will be healthier for your family, Little Changes is a must.

     I purchased Little Changes myself and was not paid to review it.  I genuinely believe that it contains important information that everyone needs to know.  I am an Amazon Affiliate - which means that I may receive a small percentage (think pennies here, folks)  should you make a purchase.  This does not increase your cost.
     Have you read Little Changes?  What did you think?
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