Cold and Sore Throat Remedies

I have been battling a cold for the past week, which began with a sore throat, and keeps progressively getting worse.  I hoped it would run its course, but it isn't going away so I have now stepped up my remedies. 

The main one I take is:
2 T Raw Honey
1/4 - 1/2 t Cayenne Pepper
2 - 4 Cloves Garlic

Mix and take at least 1/8 t every half hour till gone.  
Now, I go ahead and use the most you can, but some might have trouble with that much cayenne, it really isn't that bad, but you may need to get used to it.    

UPDATE: I started getting blisters on the side of my mouth, evidently from the cayenne burning, so I went back to 1/4 t.

I didn't start this when I began to get sick, and I should have, but when I got worse I mixed up a batch and downed it 2 days in a row.  I still sniffle a bit, and have a cough early morning trying to get rid of the "gunk" from overnight, but then I am better.  Going to do it again today just to give another kick outta here. :) 
Julia had me fix her some so she doesn't get it.

I have a friend who takes this at the beginning of every month for prevention and she has not been sick in years.


My dear friend Charleen told me to take
1 T each of
coconut oil
apple cider vinegar
raw honey
lemon juice
and mix with some orange juice
for overall health every morning.

Coconut oil is good for many things, the ACV is good for a multitude of symptoms, go here for the recipe she uses (the link is for a recipe for colds and sore throats as well).
ACV is a cleanser along with the lemon juice, and honey is an antibiotic.  So, you just can't go wrong with this concoction, as I call them.
I tried the recipe from the link I gave you above and it is ok, but it had a 1/2 t cinnamon in it which is great for you, but my stomach cannot tolerate that much cinnamon, (but I also took it all at once instead of overtime) so I will probably stick to my other concoction for colds.
Here is another link to a different recipe.  I tried it as well, but just didn't like it so liquidy.  The main difference is ginger.  So, I am going to just add 1/4 t ginger to my first remedy above, because ginger is great for our health.

Hope you are enjoying learning how to naturally take care of our health.  God gave us many good foods and herbs to help us get over being sick, or simply to help prevent us from getting sick.

Research and find what works best for you and yours and send me a comment on what you use for your family to keep them well.

Remember, we are to "look well to our households."

Always Experiencing Him,
Jody



Homemade Deodorant and Toothpaste

Hello again! Glad to have you drop by again, so good to "see" you!  Wish we could talk face to face but for now, this'll have to do...

I added a bit on the shampoo and conditioner post, so you'll have to check it out again...just go here...

This was actually the 1st natural homemade product we made and we were hooked.  Homemade Deodorant may not sound very appealing to you and I was hesitant at first, but, ok this may be too personal, but I had a real issue with deodorants...They simply did NOT work, or not for very long, even the so-called "natural" ones like Tom's, they did NOT work.  I tried all, the cheap, the expensive, the natural, the chemicals, and whenever we would go anywhere I would take it with me and reapply all the time.  There must have been a bad reaction between my body and the chemicals but whatever it was it was BAD.  So, I was willing to try something new.  Oh wow!  It works, I don't like or trust people's "advertising," like I am doing right now, but let me tell you...IT WORKS!!!  I have even went a day without any, and believe me I have checked and sniffed and checked and sniffed before I wanted to tell you it works!  You know what may be better than that for some of you is that it is cheap!  But for me, it was that I did not STINK!  Almost NO body odor, really amazing!
UPDATE: my sister said she couldn't believe I was this personal, BUT, I wanted to be completely honest and for you to KNOW I tried and approved this recipe and had great results. :)

OK, enough of my advertising and enough of my personal-ness, here's the recipe:

Natural, Homemade Deodorant
Equal amounts of Baking Soda and Arrowroot Powder
Enough Coconut Oil to mix and that's it.

The actual recipe I found here is:
5-6 T Coconut Oil
1/4 C Baking Soda
1/4 C Arrowroot Powder or Cornstarch

These are her exact instructions:
Combine equal portions of baking soda & arrowroot powder. Then slowly add coconut oil and work it in with a spoon until it maintains the substance you desire. It should be about the same texture as the store bought kind, solid but able to be applied easily. You can either scoop this into your old dispensers or place in a small container with lid and apply with fingers with each use. After applying the product, you can just rub the remains into your hands as a lotion! This recipe lasts about 3 months for two people with regular daily use.

From personal experience, you have to just play around with how much oil you want or need.  If you don't have enough it is more difficult to apply or stay on but if you have too much it is oily and you will need to wait for it to dry a bit.
UPDATE: We simply add enough oil to mix well, and depending on where you are, my sis is in AZ, you may need to use less, that's why it is easiest to just "add to mix."

You can also add essential oils for fragrance if you desire, we have before, but not all the time.

I tried putting it in an old deodorant container and it was really dry so it cracked and fell off as I applied it but it also had enough oil where it still leaked from the bottom of the container.  I took it out, added more oil and put it back in a jar, yes, to apply with my fingers.  I have seen where they will use beeswax and that might be the key ingredient for using it in the sticks.  I will say my dear sweet hubby hasn't quite been sold as I have, not until it can go in something to apply...I think I can understand why...

I can't say how much I LOVE this deodorant and will NEVER EVER go back unless...I don't know why.  We put it in small jars, pimento jars or baby food jars.  Just remember baby food jars don't seem to seal well so if you are traveling keep that in mind. 

Sarah was traveling the past couple of weeks and we sent all of our homemade products with her, we just made sure they sealed well.  In AZ the coconut oil in the products was liquid, here in TN they are solids.


For our toothpaste, we first began with a recipe from Shoshanna at Bulk Herb Store using Bentonite Clay.  There are many benefits to bentonite clay but for now we just stick to a facial mask of the clay and water.  LOVE it!  We order different things from her and try to use her wisdom in the area of herbs.  We, or I, finished using the toothpaste, because it kind of looked like mud so others in our family found it gross.  It had cinnamon and other ingredients so it tasted ok, just looked...well, like mud.

So, we found another recipe on Jillee's blog, she's great, and have been using it, everyone.  This link also has many different benefits of the uses of coconut oil, so check it out.  We use it exclusively.
This is her recipe here exactly then I'll tell you what we do differently.

3 Tbsp coconut oil
3 Tbsp baking soda
25 drops peppermint essential oil
1 packet stevia
2 tsp vegetable glycerin (optional)
Put the coconut oil and baking soda in a bowl and mash up with a fork until blended. Add the peppermint essential oil, stevia and optional vegetable glycerin and continue to mash and stir until you’ve reached toothpaste consistency.

I used xylitol the 1st time, but we really didn't think we needed an extra sweetener so we haven't used it since, and the glycerin is a natural sweetener so we just use it.  Again, we put it in a small jar or even a used Altoids tin, just make sure you don't fill above the hinges or the coconut oil can leak if it is warm.  We found some little wooden spatulas or spoons and use that to get it out of the jar to put on the toothbrush.
The girls had used bought toothpaste sometime later and found it was really gross and tasted
chemically so they are certainly sold on it.  The peppermint essential oil makes it taste great.

UPDATE: We simply use baking soda, enough coconut oil to mix, and a few drops of peppermint oil, and you don't even need that.  My dentist gave me the OK for this, and he is a perfectionist and my 1st cousin, so when he said "OK," that was wonderful.  He did say when children are young, they need fluoride, but not at our children's ages.  He also said putting baking soda in a dish and just dipping your toothbrush in it to brush is the best thing for your teeth and gums.

Julia has had surgery to graft skin to her gums because of receding gums, and she has noticed a great difference since using the baking soda and coconut oil.

We also use hydrogen peroxide to swish for the whitener, and he said that is a main ingredient in their whiteners they use, and it is perfectly safe.  The lemon juice that some use will take the enamel off your teeth because of the acid it has, so not a good idea.  HP is safe, yay!
*I just noticed I do not have the glycerin in the picture, but we do use it.*  NOT NOW...


Hope you enjoy learning about living a healthier lifestyle; we are striving for a healthier home.  Let me know what you try and what you think.

There are other recipes you can find, these are just what has worked well for us and we are really enjoying experimenting and NOT having to buy all those chemicals.

Check back for more of our homemade products...and if you missed the 1st, just go here and read about our shampoo and conditioner experience.

Thanks for all your encouragement and your comments, we love hearing from you!

Always Experiencing Him,
Jody

Looking Well to Our Households

Our family is making most of our cleaning and health and beauty products, and we want to share with you how we do it, and what has worked for us.  I have found the recipes from different websites or from friends, and will share that as well.  We believe it is safer without all the extra chemicals we cannot even pronounce and in most cases significantly cheaper on the wallet.  We buy absolutely NO shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, lotions, makeup remover pads or astringents, toilet bowl cleaner, all purpose cleaner, tub and tile scum cleaner, laundry detergent, and that just about covers it.  

The shampoo we use has only 2 ingredients plus water. 

Here is the disclaimer, it will take your hair a few weeks to get use to the new products with no chemicals.  Depending on the length of your hair it can take much longer.  Your hair will go through a detox process to rid itself of the chemicals and replace with your natural oils and the closing of the hair cuticles. 2 of my girls and my hair is long so it took us much longer than others I knew who had shorter hair.  But, if you still really scrub and wash thoroughly, it will still look clean, it just may not feel as clean until it finishes the detox process.  We almost gave up but now do NOT want to go back to anything store bought for fear of having to go back through that process all over again!  

The most expensive ingredient is the castile soap, and we had only found Dr. Bronner's, until now.  We order from swansonvitamins.com and found another brand by Dr. Woods, and it is much cheaper than Bronner's.  We have not tried it but it should be fine; we will let you know how it goes. 

The recipe calls for small amounts so I will give that and then how we make it for our family of 6.

Castile Shampoo Recipe:                      Our amounts:

1/4 C. water                                               4 Cups
1/4 C. liquid Castile soap                       4 Cups
1/2 t. oil (jojoba, olive, grapeseed)      8 teaspoons

Mix and pour into plastic or glass containers.

We pour ours into good spray bottles and the leftover into quart jars, then send one bottle upstairs and one in my bath.  Spray good, massage, and scrub in, then rinse.  Lathers well, and you may have to play to see how much you need, you may need to spray more or less; just experiment.

That's it!  Really simple!  It is mostly diluting the castile soap and adding an oil.  We use jojoba oil because we read it is good for your hair.  We haven't always used it, we have used olive oil, but I like jojoba better.  This is the recipe that has worked best for our hair.  



Now, for the conditioner:
Apple Cider Vinegar and water, yep, that's it!

1 T. ACV to 1 C. water

We like to put it in the ketchup and mustard squeeze bottles that you see here; that seems to work much better than spraying for some reason, and again you will have to experiment to see how much to use.  Everyone's hair is different.

Now, for the part you may really find weird...After you make it through the entire detox process, you may not have to shampoo every time.  I know, really?  Yes, really.  The cuticles in your hair will be closed, it is even harder to get your hair wet, it just won't soak up the water or anything for that matter.  It dries so much faster as well.  

Some people go with the "no-poo" method, and I can't quite go there the whole way, but my daughters are doing this between washing with our homemade shampoo.  It is simply a mixture of 1 T. Baking Soda, and 1 Cup of water.  Put in the same type squeeze bottle as the ACV Rinse is in and scrub in and rinse.  I will say sometimes they only wash with water, yes clean, pure water, well as pure as our city water can be, yes we have icky city water, nasty stuff.  Wish our well hadn't begun drying up, but oh well.  Anyways, go here to see others who go "no-poo."
Here's a couple other sites, here and here to check out.


Now you have homemade shampoo and conditioner; go have fun in making your home free of icky chemicals. 

One website on making homemade products is here.  Check it out.  I can't remember the others right now.  When I do, I'll let you know.

Being a keeper of the home and creating a safer environment for your family is wonderful!  We get to use our gifts and abilities God has given us in making our homes better.

"She looks well to the ways of her household, 
And does not eat the bread of idleness." 
Proverbs 31:27

Always Experiencing Him,
Jody

Secret to a Successful Marriage


This was the 2nd month at the regular MOPS meeting.  Pull up a chair and learn the secret to a great marriage!

Last month I told you a bit of my life, not something I share all the time, one because I really don’t want to talk about me, and two, I still struggle daily as well.   By sharing with you, I hope to be an encourager in your season of life, and I also hope to become strengthened in giving of myself.

This month I want to talk about something God has shown me and is continuing to grow in me and I am going to call it “the great secret to a glorious marriage.”  Are you ready for it?  No, not yet.  We are going to talk about our marriages today, not gossip, not telling ALL our struggles, not laying it all out there, bare, for all to see, and no, we are not going to talk about our husbands.  Oftentimes that is where our problems rise.  We like to “talk” about our problems, we think that is how to fix them, but in reality it may cause even more problems.  Another reason it is not a good thing to do this is because we as women tend to “feed off one another.”  We can be sharks, just be quiet when you get in a group and listen for a while.  You may be surprised by what you hear.  It only takes one lady to say something about what her husband did or didn’t do, and much of the time others around the table will pipe right in with, “well, let me tell you about what mine did, and can you believe he will not even take out the garbage or help with the kids, or wash the dishes, or take me out, and on and on we go.”  This is more detrimental to your marriage than almost anything else.  I know everyone is not like that, but we must be careful to not get caught up in this.  We ladies must guard our tongues; we must learn to have “a gentle and quiet spirit.” (1 Peter 3:4)  “Let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”  Precious…wow, isn’t that what we want, what we should desire, to have and be precious in His sight?  God’s desire for us is to possess a deep unfading beauty that enhances our outward appearance and He calls us to nurture what is eternal and precious.


 There is a story about “One Ugly Hillbilly,” "I want to share with you:  A few years back, there was an overweight hillbilly woman who worked in the local store in our hometown.  Every time we went into the hardware store, several men would be standing around the counter talking to her, and they were always laughing.  We usually had to wade through the cheerful crowd and interrupt the gaiety to get served.  Her swarm of admirers reminded me of bees around the honey, buzzing with high interest.  The strange thing was that this woman was ugly, I mean hillbilly ugly, which is worse than regular ugly.  One day as we were leaving the store, I laughingly brought to my husband’s attention all those men standing around talking to the sales clerk.  His reply really surprised me, “O, you mean that cute little lady?”  Live and learn!  And apparently I really had something important to learn.  In his mind that lady was cute!  The truth is, she was not little, she was not cute, and she was not young.  But she did smile, laugh, and giggle, and she was always ready for a good clean joke.  I loved being in the store talking to her as much as the men did.  She was delightful.  A few weeks later, we saw her in the grocery store.  She was mad at her very obese daughter for grabbing a handful of candy.  Gone were the smiles, giggles, and radiance that had so captivated everyone at the hardware store.  In their place was a bitter, ugly snarl.  My husband remarked when we left the grocery store, “Haven’t we seen that woman somewhere before?”  She looks familiar, but I just can’t place her.”  When I told him who she was, he was stunned.  “No, it’s not possible; it just can’t be her.  The woman in the hardware store does not look like that.”  I could see the truth dawn on him, and he was so disappointed.  The funny thing was that the woman looked just like she always did.  She was the same size, same scraggly hairstyle, the same clothes style, the same everything she was when we saw her in the hardware store.  All she lacked was her glorious smile.  It was her most valuable asset.   Her face was always so radiant, her smile so infectious, her laughter so sweet, and her eyes so earnest that people simply saw her as cute.  I don’t know if she had a husband, but I am sure she could have had a dozen different men in that small town-as long as they never saw her in the grocery store, mad at her daughter. 

Everyone is drawn to a smile and wants to be a friend to someone overflowing with goodwill.  Men are highly attracted to smiles.  That includes your husband.  Do you want your husband to stay home more?  A merry heart and a mischievous giggle are good drawing cards.  “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”  Prov. 17:22 You may not be an ugly hillbilly, but there are other kinds of ugly.  Women spend billions of dollars every year to make themselves more attractive, but the most effective beauty aid is free-a joyful smile."  (Created to be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl)  (Some will love this book, others will hate it, it's ok, but I have had several people tell me how it has saved their marriages.  I did like it.  You can take what will help you and make your marriage better.)

You have seen this in and around you, people who smile and are friendly are much more likable and lovable.  I have to admit I am NOT a good smiler, and I have to work hard to smile.  I like to laugh and have a good time but I am a more serious person, and if someone tells me to smile for a picture, oh, good gracious, it just does not work well.  The outcome is not good, my mother and I have the same issues when it comes to smiling and pictures but, right now we are talking about our husbands :).  Ask yourself, do you smile at him, do you give him a mischievous grin, do you laugh with him, and do you look across the sofa or the room with a wink and a smile?  One challenge I am giving you today is when your husband gets home smile at him.
(photo credit: pinterest)

Now I know you have little ones all around, but remember you are training those children God has given you.  Your job is to teach them everything.  So, when you smile or don’t smile you are teaching them how to respond to their father.  Now, we are finally getting to the real secret to a good, yes, even a great marriage and that is, are you ready?  RESPECT.  Respect, what is it and what does it have to with our marriages, and what does it have to do with our children? 

Respect is a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something; to honor or esteem; to show consideration for.  I told you before that I cannot separate why I do anything from God’s Word.  If I did not have that plumb line to go by I would not be speaking to you now, because then anything goes.  The absolute truth I have comes from hearing God speak to me through prayer, and through His Word.  So first, I want to encourage you if you do not have a real guide to why you do what you do, I encourage you to find that, to seek out the One who has all the answers and when you do, the blessings that flow are simply amazing!  Again, I was not told how to have a great marriage, and if I had been, knowing me then, I wouldn’t have listened, or at least not well.  I thought I knew it all, boy was I wrong!   I did not have anyone telling me the “secret” to a happy marriage.  I had great examples in my parents and grandparents, but the rest I had to wait for God to teach me, and He did, through some really tough times.  My desire is to help and encourage you on this path, so you will not have to go through as much as I did.

In Eph. 5:33 God’s Word says, “Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”  We are going to skip the first part of that verse because that is not us, we are wives and who is the only person we can change?  Yes, ourselves.  Go ahead and learn now, just say it, you cannot and will not be able to change your husband.  The only One who can do that is God, through the work of His Holy Spirit.  So, part B of that verse says, “and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”  Ladies, there are no ifs, ands, or buts, in that verse.  It does not say to respect your husband IF he takes out the garbage, or IF he washes the dishes, or IF he takes the kids away so you can have some ME time.  It says MUST.  We MUST respect our husbands.  Whether or not our husbands obey the Word, our responsibilities do not change.  We are required to obey God by submitting to our own husbands.  (1 pet. 3:1-2) This makes us free to love our husbands and family without expectation.   Ladies, I can genuinely say, when you begin to do this, God may change your husband, or begin to.  There is a vicious cycle going on in our marriages, and it is, “if he would love me like I want or like I need, then I could respect him,” and he says, “If she would respect me then I could love her.”  We can put a stop to this cycle if you are willing to try.  Respect is at the top of what our husbands need, yes, along with sex, but that is for another time.  Your husband needs to know you respect him, you care for him, you love him, and when you do this, God is allowed to do mighty things in your marriage, and do you know why?  Because you allowed Him to work in your life and change you, that is the only person we can ever change, ourselves.  I do understand there are extenuating circumstances, but even then, He calls us to respect, NO matter what.  Now, of course, if he is doing anything illegal you absolutely do not participate in that, you go get help from the law or whomever, but Scripture is clear on what our actions are to be.  Honor and esteem him, show consideration for and have a deep admiration for him.  It may take time, but begin now, today when he comes home.  Don’t tell him what you are doing, just do it!  And wait…

Now, what does this have to do with you as a mother and your children?  It will determine if your children respect their father, and in turn, respect anyone in authority over them.  How you treat, react, and speak, teaches those little ones to do the same.  Your tone says A L O T.  Your eyes say a lot.  Sometimes our tones can say more than our words or actions ever could.  We need to guard our tongues; we need to strive for that imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious.  If you want your little boys and your little girls to respect their daddy, you MUST respect their daddy.  If he is not the man you wish he was, he doesn’t help like you want him to, maybe he is arrogant, prideful, and even hateful or mean, but I truly believe this because I believe Scripture, it STILL is your job to make sure they respect their father.  They will grow up and eventually they will know he is not perfect, and maybe even really bad, but when they grow up respecting him as you have taught, when they finally do realize who he really is, they will have a much greater respect for you as their mother, and in the end will be able to have a greater respect in all relationships.  Can you see how our respect for our husbands will set the tone for our children to have respect for others? 

So, I am going to challenge you today to go home and if you are not already respecting your husband, by honoring or esteeming him, please do so, show him some consideration and do it this week, no, do it this month, yes the entire month and I want to hear from you next month on what has transpired.  I know one person who it will change for certain, because it has already happened to me.  Ask how his day went, when you need to call for something tell him you love him, tell him “thank you for providing for our family.”  Tell him how much you are grateful for.  Now, if this is something new, don’t do it all at once, you don’t want to overwhelm him, it could wear off for YOU too fast.  Don’t let that be the case, but really focus on how to show him that you do love him and that you respect who he is and what he does.  Think back to before you were married or the 1st few years when you were head over heels and find something, anything, that you loved and tell him.  I promise it is good, it is very good. 

Ok, I feel like you are looking at me and thinking, I am way too tired to even think about how I can respect him much less show him.   I know, I really have been there, and no, I did not know this then, and yes, I have a wonderful man who is Mr. Steady, who when I was Mrs. Mean, he would do anything to keep me happy.  He is a servant, he will DO for me, that is not what I have always needed, but it is how he loves me.  I do understand that many of you may not have that, and I want to challenge you in desiring to obey God’s Word NO matter what.  Make this a priority, read a verse or 2 holding your baby, while you are nursing, when you are getting another book to read to your toddler AGAIN, read His Word to them and then read the book.  When you are playing cars, or baby dolls, the kitchen, or Legos, tell them how much you love their daddy, and tell them how much he does for them and that he loves them.  You, dear mother, have such power over your children which you have been entrusted with and you need to learn to use that power to further His Kingdom, to teach and to train them to be responsible, respectable children and in turn they will be, or grow up to be, responsible and respectable young ladies and young men.

I have 2 more challenges and I am going to make this as short as I can.  I want you along with finding ways to respect your husband; I want to challenge you to pray for your husband.  I want you to find something throughout your day that will remind you of your husband, and when it does, say a prayer for him.  I heard a story of a man who worked for a bucket truck company and the wife would use that as her reminder.  Whenever she and the children were driving and they saw a bucket truck she would say, “there’s a truck, who wants to pray for daddy?”  Not only did this remind her to pray for her husband, but it also taught her children to pray for their father.  Most of us have a wedding ring we wear; use that as a reminder.  Whenever you twirl it, or see it or get it caught on something, say a prayer for the man you married.  It may only be a sentence but prayer is so powerful.  James 5:16 says,” The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”  Make sure your life is clean and pure before your Heavenly Father as well, because it is the prayers of a righteous man that can accomplish much.  That does not mean you are perfect, we can never be, but if we are holding on to known sins, unconfessed sins, our prayer life can be hindered.  Pray for forgiveness first, then for his safety, for leadership in his life, for the Holy Spirit to work, for temptations he may face (our men work with other women remember, he needs prayer), for his fears, for his health, for his trials, for his integrity, for a safe trip home.  If you don’t pray for him – who will?

My last challenge to you today is to be grateful for your husband.  I hope to expand more on this next month, but as you are learning to respect your husband, to listen to him, asking him about his day, washing his clothes, fixing dinner, say a thank you to him and for him.  We may have hurt feelings, and we may simply be mad at him because he doesn’t help out much.  I will tell you, he probably never will until you can give him the respect he desires, he needs, and God commands.  Your children will never learn to respect you, their father, or other adults until they see you exhibiting respect to the one person in your life and in theirs who so desperately needs it. 

My final comments and challenges, don’t be an ugly hillbilly woman, smile, and smile often, it says a lot; think about a gentle and quiet spirit, not obnoxious and overbearing; respect your husband, in ALL he does, do what he asks, and let your children see that, I promise you will be amazed; pray for the man you married, and be thankful, be ever grateful for all he DOES do.  Do not focus on the negative, let your children see your love and include them as you learn how to make your family one who focuses on the things of God and not the things of this world.

(photo credit: pinterest)

How do you show respect, love and gratitude to your husband?  Do your children see you?  Send me a comment and let me know, I'd love to hear your responses!

Follow me on pinterest!

Always Experiencing Him,
Jody

Mentoring



I have been asked to be the MOPS mentor for a group in our area and I want to share with you the encouragement I am striving to impart to these ladies.  I pray it will encourage you where you are.  I know everyone who reads this are not mothers, and I want your encouragement to be, that you have a part in some young mothers' life and encourage and lift them up, or if you aren't a mother yet, and you may be someday, know this is a God-ordained gift.  Be encouraged!

Hello ladies, Moms of Preschoolers, I want you to know what an honor it is to just be considered to be your new mentor, let alone asked to take this position.  My desire is to encourage you in this season of your life.  You have been given a gift, the ultimate and most important job in the entire world and I want to help you see that, and learn to enjoy it, through all the busyness and hustle and bustle this world will offer you, I want you to see the importance of your position at this time.  I pray I will be an encourager and able to lift you up during this exciting adventure you are on.   I am so unworthy of this calling, and the more you get to know me, the more you will see this to be true.  I am a mother just like you, one who has struggled through raising my own children, but I did not have the encouragement (other than great examples from my mother and grandmother) I desire to give you at this time.  I want you to draw from my experiences and know this is a good and perfect work you are doing.  

I was in MOPS when my children were little, and I remember going to meetings, eating, listening, learning about different topics, making a craft, but I really don’t remember leaving with the encouragement to go on, to be told that a mother has the single most honorable position a lady can hold, to be told what I was doing was a “good” thing, to be proud of motherhood, to love my husband, to love my children, and that is what I want to impart to you.  What you are doing now, with those little ones of yours, and even if some of your children are older, I want you to know that this is important, and it will NOT last forever, although right now, I know you think it will.

You have the best job in this world and you are raising children who will one day raise their own children, and you have the opportunity to shape them into respectable, dependable young adults, ladies and gentlemen, and we will be discussing over this next year how to do that and know that it is good.
We will be discussing topics such as, consistency, making brothers and sisters best friends, oh the joys, disciplining with love, but with a firm hand, I promise there is a balance, we will talk about our marriage to our husbands and how that has such a great impact on teaching respect to our children, sarcasm and teasing, and the effects these have on all those around.   Another topic will be taking care of ourselves during this time and how important it is; we will discuss modesty and how it is a matter of the heart and who are we really trying to impress, and what power our clothes hold, hmmmm.  It is good, I promise.  You will also hear about the different seasons of our lives and how none of them last forever, but they are all good, in their own time and place. 

Now, that I have told you what you will be hearing over the coming year, I would like to tell you my experiences and where I am at this point in my life.  So,” let’s start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start.”  Not really, that would take way too long. (OK, side note, I had included some phrases to songs within my speech and whoever guessed won a prize, so if you catch a phrase, that is why.)

I am 42 years old, but with some health problems, I feel much, much older, but that is for “another time and another place.”  (You will learn I and my family LOVE music-all, almost all genres)     Ok, for my biography, or part of it… I married the man of my dreams, my childhood sweetheart, the only man I dated, and I was the only girl he had ever dated, when I was 18, and he was 26, eight years older than I.  I graduated high school in May, and had a wedding in June.  Whew!  He was such a man of character that no one ever questioned our age difference.  We had a wonderful, God-centered wedding and began our journey of life together.  We have been married 24 years this past June.  Next year will be our Silver Anniversary!  I do feel old.  Now, this is not to say we haven’t had our struggles, we have, but we have looked to God to help lead us along the journey, and journeys are rough aren’t they, they’re an adventure, and I believe every marriage and family is an adventure, but it is good when our Tour Guide knows the way, we only need to have the right Guide.

Continuing on, I went to our community college for a year, began the second year, but for many different reasons did not finish, college was NOT for me, learning is always good, college wasn’t… for me.  I came home, having moved only three miles down the road after we married, and sometime later began working at the Farmers Co-Op in the office.  It was a good experience.  My dad had worked there yeeeaaarrrs before and living on the farm we already knew practically everyone including the manager, so it was good.  I was still young, and they protected me like I was their little girl, it actually was kind of funny.  It was also a bad time, because, later on Steve and I went through probably the most difficult time of our marriage, but we pressed on, listened to our Guide, and got back on the right path.  I am telling you this because I want you to know that I am NOT perfect, what we have, who we are, who our children are, did NOT just happen, everything has been intentional, learning as we went, but I will say GOD has been our guide, and has led us in ANYTHING we know, or in doing anything we did, and He still leads.  I would not have it any other way, because life just stinks sometimes, and when you don’t have a leader, you just flounder around like a fish out of water, and you know what happens to a fish out of water?  Yes, it dies.  We didn’t want to die, so we listened to our God, and we began on our journey…together…again.  Yes, you can start over, fresh, new, it’s amazing.

Four years after our marriage we began our family.  We had four children within the next three and a half years.  Sarah was our first and what a joy!  She made ME a mother, a MOM, WOW! That was new.  She was great, and the only easy, normal pregnancy, slept all night, simply perfect.  When Sarah was nine months old I found out I was pregnant with twins.  Wow! Never, never expected that one coming, it had never entered our minds that twins were even a possibility, but what excitement it brought to all our family and friends.  Although, knowing Sarah would only be 16 months old when they were born didn’t mean much to us, we really had NO idea what was coming.  I was in the hospital for an entire month before the twins were born, on bed rest, just sleeping and eating.  (I’m sure God was giving me rest He knew I would need soon).  Sarah stayed between my parents and home with Steve when he wasn’t with me, and then they would bring her to UT to visit off and on; that was hard, probably harder on her than we knew, but she was great.  The twins were born four weeks early, but that was normal.  Jenny and Julia stayed in NICU for a week, which was the hardest week I had ever had.  I could not breastfeed them, oh I tried, every single time we drove to see them, I tried, but they had given them bottles, so I just cried at every visit.  I pumped, but it wasn’t the same.  I knew if we could just get them home we would be fine, and you know what, we were.  They were great, took to nursing like they never had a bottle.  Joy!  Now, sleep, well, that was another story.  It took us one entire hour to feed, burp, change, feed, burp, change, feed the other side, burp, and change, feed the other side, burp, change, and they only slept an hour and were up again.  To be honest I’m not sure how long that went on, but surely just a week or so, I have no idea.  My dear hubby did everything while I fed them, so I know with work he was even more tired than me, but he has always been the most generous helper, yes, I know, so lucky and fortunate.  God knew who I needed.

Two and a half years later in the 7th month of my last pregnancy I contracted viral meningitis, which was scary, to say the least, because our hospital had never had a pregnant woman with meningitis, that was comforting, so I was quarantined for a week, undergoing spinal taps.  After Jamin was born, he had to be taken to children’s hospital and stayed there for a week before we could take him home.  I was still at Parkwest; another devastating blow.  I couldn’t even hold my new baby, our only son.  We made trips to Knoxville again, until we finally had all four children home, safe and sound, and then real life began.  Wow!   

Through this entire process we trusted God and leaned on Him.  Each of our children was perfect in every way, and they still are.  They are such a blessing to us, I cannot describe how much I love each of my young adults, which they are now, and enjoy watching and listening to them on a daily basis. They are 20, 18, 18, and 16.  We home educated them for most of their lives and the girls have all graduated, and now are taking the avenue of staying home, preparing to be a help meet some day.  They have begun a knitting business selling their homemade items. (They have an Etsy shop you can look at) As the Proverbs 31 woman says, “she looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight.”   They are artists, and musicians, and call their group “Undivided,” and have sung at different churches.  They can farm, mechanic, help wire houses, cook, clean, care for a home, study, and help their younger brother as he finishes his senior year.  The girls are encouraging to their brother, truly wonderful.   It is such a joy; I only wish I had people that truly desired to teach me from an older woman to a younger woman, or someone who had been there before and had a desire to tell me that what I had was virtuous, and that the pressures and the “good” things of this world and our culture are NOT what matters.  I believe it would have made my years in depression and hardship and heartache something different.  I know it is what God had me go through to get me where I am now and so I can tell you from experience that it is hard.  It is hard.  But, it is good and it is God’s plan where you are right now.  

Don’t listen to those around that want to have you do this or do that, be busy here, or busy there, please, take this wonderful, God given gift as something joyful and make your mothering your priority, your number one thing, and embrace it, love your children, laugh with them, hold them, sit with them, read with them.  Forget what our world says is important and make your children your focus, because believe me they will be grown before you can turn around.  I know, and I am so very proud of my family, but it makes me so sad to see what I missed, what I wasn’t told, oh if I could go back and really enjoy my children when they were little.  We had good times, but deep down I dealt with some very difficult issues and I will have to wait and see if God allows me to tell you things that has not been said before that I have overcome, but  oh if I could go back.  Smile at them, with them, pull them in your laps and don’t stop hugging on them. 

Since our first child was born God has been working on my heart, especially as a mother, drawing me to His will and to the highest calling He can bestow upon a woman.  I accepted it early on, and even though there have been struggles, I have tried to listen and obey His will for me and my family's life.  I will discuss some of these struggles and expand on where God has been leading and is still leading me in my daily walk with Him.  I really cannot separate where I’ve been and where I’m going from God and His will because He is why I do or have done anything.  If it wasn’t for Him, I really would not have the desire for my children to grow up as they have, and I am so thankful He has spoken to me through the years and is still leading me to a place of quiet rest.  It is a wonderful place to be, and even though I fail Him often, I strive to obey His commands and His will for me, to have that relationship with the Holy God, the One who saves, and the One who commands obedience to His Word.

Our desire as a family has been to glorify God, live for Him, obey what He asks of us and I will say, His blessings have overflowed in every area of our lives.  God's grace, as we were willing to listen and obey, has carried us into a relationship with Him and with each other, we never would have had otherwise.

In closing, my prayer is to lift you up before my Father, to encourage you in this most precious time of your life.  You have been given a most honorable task, and I ask that you accept what you have been given, embrace it, cherish it, and in my most humbling undertaking I pray that in some small way I will be able to offer you something I only saw from a few, and that is a compassion and a devotion to your family.  We may need to re-evaluate our lives to give of our best to God and to our family, but let’s do it.  There are lots of "good" things we may do, but let us give God and our family the "best."  There will be other seasons in our lives to do the "good" things, and then at that time, it may be the "best".  I am looking forward to this journey together.  I hope you are.

Now, take a little time, wherever that may be, with a little one on your lap, in the bathroom, or during naptime and, "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him."  Psalms 37:7a

What are you doing to enjoy and love on your family?  I'd love to hear!

Always Experiencing Him,
Jody

Autumn

Oh, how glorious!  Our first fire of the season in the fireplace!  The 50's today made it a bit chilly in the house and I really want to hold off on turning the heat on as long as possible.  Those heating bills are as bad as the cooling bills.  Plus, it makes the house really turn to the fall and winter seasons.  I LOVE watching and listening to it.  




We LOVE the season of autumn!  The coolness, breezes, smells, changing of the leaves, the colors, oh, I love the colors, hot chocolate, hayrides, bonfires, boots, sweatshirts, snuggling just a bit closer, decorations, and friends.  Gratefulness is year round, but there is something about autumn that reminds us to be ever so thankful just a bit more.  

Always Counting #1975 - 2001
green grass
girls going to town for me
chairs around the bonfire
"Country" magazine (mom's)
friends to share with
prayers for study group families
chili in the crockpot
daughter on piano
son on piano
musically talented children
short nap 
green vinyl tablecloth
big rough boards for tables
#1988 - 1988...the year we were married!
chicken coop - egg mobile almost complete
father and son to a banquet
1st fire in fireplace
cows moved to another field
getting my van stuck...hmmm
neighbors to pull us out :)
taking chili to neighbors and visiting
early morning rain
reminders to be grateful
opportunities to speak
opportunities to minister
#2000  secret to a great marriage - for women - Respect... Eph. 5:33
Made it past 2000 and still counting!

What do you love most about autumn?  I'd love to hear!

Always Experiencing Him,
Jody

Winner!!!

Thanks Samantha for being a faithful follower and a faithful friend!  You have won the new Veggie Tales "The Penniless Princess!"  Send me your address to faithfamily6@gmail.com and I will get your new DVD mailed out to you.  Hope you and your family enjoy it as much as ours did!


"God made you special, and He loves you very much!"

Always experiencing Him,
Jody