Foresight- Part I

Have you ever been ready to walk out the door when the baby spits up – all over you?  Or the family is all strapped in the van when someone remembers that they forgot to use the bathroom? Tension mounts…

You know what it’s like to try to leave the house on time! It often takes longer than you anticipated when you aren’t the only one you’re responsible for! Children have a way of sucking up the few precious minutes that you thought you had to “spare”, and then some! The pressure piles on…

And how about the search for those last minute items that are essential to have with you – like the due (or overdue) library books, the permission slip for Boy Scouts, the shoes for ballet that were right by her bed…last week after class? Yes, you know. It’s a big job… this LEAVING HOME WITH THE FAMILY stuff.

I just described one often stress-filled event. I could have chosen several more to relay, but you get the picture. Life with little people can feel overwhelming!

I’ll never forget reading the following quote when I was a young mom.

Foresight is a parent’s finest weapon.” 1foresight

I remember reading that quote and then re-reading it. And then writing it down, and reading it again.

And then I remember that it hit me. Foresight = weapon. Hmmm. Life can feel like a battlefield. And if foresight is one of the finest weapons for this battle, I pondered, then I wanted to learn how to wield it with grace, dignity and strength!

And so began my quest to implement this concept of “FORESIGHT” into my life and home.

So what is it, exactly? This weapon of foresight? I call it prudence, thinking ahead, careful planning.2foresight

And the antonym? Hindsight. You know what they say about hindsight, don’t you? Hindsight is 20/20. Mostly, yes. But if I can have foresight, if I can think ahead and anticipate, I can oftentimes ward off potential stresses and mishaps… and maybe hindsight won’t be necessary?!?!  Maybe. Not always, but oftentimes.

So today I’d thought I’d share some of the tips I’ve implemented at home over the years to reduce chaos and confusion, stress and strife, in family life. (Reduce is the key word. Reduce. Not eliminate. THAT is impossible!)

Here are a few to consider for those of you with young families:

  • Plan one day during the week to run all your errands. Map out (the night before) what route you will take. And then be ready to leave right after breakfast. That’s when everyone should be well rested and has full tummies. And they’ll know that this is the day for errands… not what they have to do (go from here to there, get in and out, traps back and forth) several days each week.
  • Get them to pick out their clothing in advance 1clothes2when you have a busy day planned or a special event to attend. Then try the whole outfit on. Hang the clothes, tights, jewelry, shoes, etc. in a special spot so that when it’s time to dress, you have only that to do. (This is especially helpful when you’re raising fashion-conscious girls!) And then don’t let them change their mind at the dressing hour!
  • Eliminate choices. Or at least narrow them down so that it’s not too overwhelming. For example, at breakfast, serve certain foods each day (Monday – eggs, Tuesday – pancakes, Wednesday – oatmeal, etc) or the same food during the week (oatmeal) and your choice on the weekends. Everyone can eat the same foods. They know what to expect. They don’t ‘need’ to have several choices – we aren’t a restaurant! {This concept is helpful for many areas, not just for foods… which puzzle to put together, which friend to invite over, which books to bring home from the library.}
  • Routine is helpful. Progress through your day with as regular a schedule as possible. It lets the children know what to expect. After breakfast every day, we do ________________, _______________, and ____________________. Every day. That’s how habits are formed. That makes kids feel secure.

(Next week, I’ll share part II of “foresight”, listing a few more ideas to equip busy moms with a bit more sanity. Stay tuned!)

Foresight:  making wise choices about how you run your home, how you train your troops, how you plan ahead,1crazy to keep yourself from going crazy!

Shocking Text

Have you been shocked to hear of the content they’re teaching in the public schools these days? Astonished at what’s covered in the classroom? Surprised to know what material is considered part of the curriculum? Well today is another day for bewilderment; I’m about to reveal an excerpt from a Home Economics textbook.1school

Now don’t worry; it’s nothing you’ll need to hide from the eyes and ears of young children, but it’s shocking none-the-less. It’s not a 2013 edition. It’s from the 1950’s! Are you ready for this? The title of this portion is… (Wait… here it comes…) HOW TO BE A GOOD WIFE.

Brace yourselves! You may want to sit down before you read any further. Okay. Let’s begin:

How To Be a Good Wife

1. HAVE DINNER READY: Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal–on time. This is a way to let him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned with his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home, and having a good meal ready is part of the warm welcome that is needed.

2. PREPARE YOURSELF: Take fifteen minutes to rest so that you will be refreshed when he arrives. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. Be a little {happy} and a little more interesting. His boring day may need a lift. Greet him with a smile.goodwifeguide

3.CLEAR AWAY THE CLUTTER: Make one last trip though the main part of the house just before your husband arrives, gathering up children’s books and toys, papers, etc. Then run a dust cloth over the tables. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you lift too.

4. PREPARE THE CHILDREN: If they are small, wash their hands and faces and comb their hair. They are his little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.

5. MINIMIZE ALL NOISE: At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise from the washer, dryer, or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.

6. SOME “DO NOT’S”: Don’t greet him with problems and complaints. Don’t complain if he is late for dinner. Count this as a minor problem compared to what he might have gone through that day.

7. MAKE HIM COMFORTABLE: Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest that he lie down in the bedroom. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing voice. Allow him to relax and unwind.

8. LISTEN TO HIM: You may have a dozen things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first.

9. MAKE THE EVENING HIS: Never complain if he doesn’t take you to dinner or to other entertainment. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his need to unwind and relax.

THE GOAL: TO MAKE YOUR HOME A PLACE OF PEACE AND ORDER WHERE YOUR HUSBAND (family) CAN RELAX IN BODY AND SPIRIT.

Yep. That was from a Home Economics textbook! (A few years back!) I wish I could see your face right now. I’d love to know what you felt welling up inside of you as you read that list!

To be honest, after doing a little digging, I will disclose that I did NOT find the original textbook this came from. So is this text real, or is it a fabrication? Did they seriously teach this in high schools around our country? I can’t tell you for certain. But I think so… and I did agree with some of the advice!

Sure, part of it sounds a bit far-fetched… numbers 4 and 5 for starters! In our home, I make sure we all get ready after breakfast by dressing, washing faces and brushing teeth & hair. We clean up after meals. But to make sure the kiddos are looking tubby-fresh when Daddy comes home after work? It’s just not a priority. And yes, I do try to make sure that we’re playing quietly if indoors when Daddy gets home, not running through the house like wild hooligans (outside is fine but not through the house!), but we don’t turn off the washing machine for goodness sakes! And if there is a load still being laundered, we finish it up!1washing

There are other parts of this textbook page, though, that are a priority for us. Planning ahead for meals. Taking a short daily rest time in the afternoon. Routinely picking up the toys and clutter throughout the day, and especially before dinner. Refraining from ‘dumping’ on him when he comes through the door. Those things I’ve done my best to implement. And I’ll tell you why. It’s my goal to have a home that is relaxing, peaceful and orderly. Yes, for Daddy. But also for the sake of the whole family.

If, more often than not, when dinner time rolls around you haven’t got a clue what you’re serving, and both your home and your children are out of control, I can almost guarantee that you will not be feeling relaxed and rested (and neither will anyone else!).

If that is the case, seriously ponder… what do you want your home to look, feel, smell like at the end of a long day? Write your own goal if it’s much different than the one above. Then work backwards… how will that happen? What needs to change to accomplish your goal? How- a step at a time, a little here, a little there- will you implement it? Do what you can, train who you can, hire who you can… just find a way to meet your goal. A peaceful, restful haven.

This will take effort and intentionality. On its own, things tend toward disorder. We’re going against the natural flow of life. But in the long run, it’s worth it.

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Probably the thing that makes the ‘good wife’ advice hardest to follow is that it is so others-centered. And we’re all pretty naturally ‘me-centered’, aren’t we? When you read the 1950s text, did you think to yourself “but I’m tired too, I’ve had a busy day too, I’ve been working all day too, I’d like a cold or hot drink served to me too…?” I know. I get it. The days are full. There’s a lot to be done. But I’m working to love others more than myself. And I’ve found that this is one way for me to do that.1love

By maintaining a haven, a house of refuge,

for my family, with my family,

I am truly loving them in a healthy way.

And it actually makes my evening more relaxing, too.

A Letter to My Children on Death

My Dear Children,

This is a very important letter.  The purpose of this letter is to try to explain to you one of life’s most important secrets – the secret of death.letter1

Very few people understand death.  Most are afraid of it.  Many try to ignore it.  Hardly anyone wants to talk about it.  But God wants you to understand it.  Your friend, Johnny, does too.  And neither God nor Johnny wants you to be scared.

Many think death is when you go to sleep.  They are wrong.  Death is when you finally wake up.  Death is when you see what God has seen all along.

I want you to think about something for me.  Think about newborn babies, so tiny and fresh and new!  Imagine what has just happened to them.  They have just left one place and entered another.  Only a few hours ago, each one of them was in their momma’s tummy.  They were safe.  They were warm.  They had all they could eat.  All they had to do was sleep. And then suddenly, they were pushed into a strange world that they had never seen before.

Let’s imagine you could speak to one of these infants before he was born.  What if you told him what was about to happen? What if you said, “In a few minutes you are going to leave this place.  Your time in here is about up.  Isn’t that exciting? Before you know it, you will be in a room full of friendly people. There will be new lights and noises and smells…”

“I don’t want to go,” the baby might say. “I like it here.  Besides I don’t understand what you’re talking about.”

“Oh, you don’t need to worry.  It’s not bad out there,” you’d tell the infant. “I mean, you’ll get to play at the park and take warm baths.”letter4

“What are a park and a bath? None of that sounds good to me.  I like it right here.”

“But it’s dark in there,” you’d say.  “It’s crowded and cramped.  Don’t worry. You’ll be glad you came out.”

“Thanks, but no thanks,” the baby would say.  “I’m happy where I am.  I want to just stay right here.”

“You don’t have a choice,” you’d gently explain. “I’m just telling you ahead of time so that you’ll know. You are going to leave this place soon, and it’s going to be okay!”

Do you know why I had you imagine that silly scenario? It’s because there will come a time in life when you (like that baby) will have to make a journey.  Just like the baby has to leave the tummy and enter this world, there comes a time for each of us to leave this world and enter into eternity.

And most people don’t want to go. We act like that little baby we imagined still in his Momma’s tummy.  We like it where we are.  This world may not be perfect, but at least it’s familiar, and we don’t want to leave.  And maybe we don’t want anyone we love to leave this world either.

I believe that if you were with Johnny right now, he would want to talk to you. He would say something like this. “Hey guys, it’s about time for me to leave this world.  It’ll soon be my turn to go and be with God in Heaven.  I don’t want you to be afraid.  I’m not.  It’s almost my time now and I accept that.  It’s okay to be sad, but don’t be angry; don’t be scared.  God knows what He’s doing.”

You know what else I imagine Johnny might tell you?  “I will miss you, but if you know Jesus like I do, then we won’t be separated very long.  Someday your time will come to leave.  And when it’s your time, I want you to know I’ll be waiting for you.  I’ll be in heaven when you get there, along with others you know who’ve lived for Jesus and have gone on to a better life. I’ll be one of those proud people standing there to greet you. And beside me will by our Heavenly Father.  We’ll be waiting.”

Remember what we’ve learned together, kids? God has given each of us a mortal body and an immortal spirit – a body that will one day decay and a spirit that will last forever.  And Johnny’s spirit, when it is loosed from his earthly body, will be more alive than ever before because it will be in Heaven with his Creator, free from the weight of sin and this world. And this, my dear children, is the secret of death.  Death is when you finally wake up.  Death is when you see what God has seen all along.

Let’s talk about the questions you still have. I love you and I want you to understand. Death and dying is a part of life on this earth and I don’t want you to be afraid of it. Johnny isn’t and we shouldn’t be either.

Love,

Your Momma

I wrote this letter to my 5 young children when we learned that the time their friend Johnny had left on this earth was very short. He courageously battled brain cancer for eleven months and in that time we had talked about death several times. This letter was one more way for me to try to help them understand what it really meant for Johnny’s life on this earth to be over. Johnny made his entrance into heaven two years ago this week, and in reality, it is when his life was really just beginning.

No matter who you are or how old you are, your body will not last forever but your spirit will. Unless you’ve accepted the free gift of salvation from the God of the universe, the gift that comes to us – not because of anything we have done or can ever do, but because He loves us with a crazy, undeserved love – unless you’ve accepted the death of the perfect God-man, Jesus, in your place, your spirit will not go on to Heaven.  Yes – your spirit will live forever… but not with Johnny and not with his God.letter2

For those of us who know God and worship Him alone, we have an adventurous goal for this temporary life.  It was the unspoken goal of our young friend, Johnny the Brave.  Our goal is to glorify God on earth by loving Him and doing what He commands, to accept His plan for our life (no matter what that plan includes) in order to make Him renowned throughout the land.  Until we see him again, I think Johnny would charge each of us in this same vein – to live all of this life for God on earth, knowing that we’ll also live with God in Heaven.

If you are unsure of the destination of your forever spirit, I know that Johnny would encourage you to do what he has done.  Read God’s letter to you – the Holy Scriptures.  There you will find the answers for the purpose of life…yes, even the purpose of hardship.  It is what Johnny’s family has done for years and years.  It is how they can say that although they are hard pressed on every side, they are not crushed. Though they are perplexed, they are not in despair.  They do not lose heart.  They instead choose to fix their eyes on what is unseen – the eternal (II Cor.4).  You, too, can be sure of the eternal, the unseen.  You can live (and die) with the same assurance of this courageous eight year old boy.  You, too, can know the secret of death.  Death is when you finally wake up.  Death is when you see what God has seen all along.

                Life is such a short journey.  Eternity is forever.  When I think about Matthew 5:12, I think about Johnny.  “Rejoice and be glad, because you have a great reward waiting for you in heaven,” when you will finally be able to see what God has seen all along! I am looking forward to that day, too.

If you have any questions, I’d love to talk to you about them, friend.

________________

Just last week, another courageous saint ‘woke up’.

He left this life on earth and went to his heavenly home.

He and his beautiful wife have been blogging about their journey

through life with cancer. You will be encouraged to read their testimony

at www.rkprudhomme.blogspot.com (Living in High Definition).

No Stinkin’ Way! (A Deodorant Recipe)

Perspiring is the pits, isn’t it? It’s just awful! But let’s be honest. We all sweat. And we all stink.

Sweating is a natural, normal way for your body to rid itself of toxins… but it doesn’t have to cause you to smell bad.

Some products claiming to be superbly successful in this arena are truly un-healthy. If the product you’re using is an antiperspirant (meaning it’s going to keep you from perspiring…by clogging up your sweat glands!), it isn’t a good idea. Your Maker gave you a natural way to cool down and excrete numerous toxins. Don’t fight it! And if what you’re using is a deodorant (meant to keep you from smelling bad), check to see what it’s using to keep you fresh-scented. Read the ingredient list. Do you know what’s in it?

Here’s the recipe we’ve been using for two years. Compared to all the other ‘natural’ deodorants we’ve purchased and used, we think this one is the most successful at totally eliminating odor. It also keeps us pretty dry – an added bonus!  (Thanks, Alan and Tari, for sharing it with us!)

Deodorant

1/4c. cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)

1/4c. baking sodadeodorant

4-6T. coconut oil – softened if necessary

1t. glycerin (optional)

A few drops of an essential oil – of your own scent-preference (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until fully combined and creamy. You may use a fork and/or your fingers.

Pack into an empty deodorant container or a small bowl with a lid.

Apply as necessary.

Now – seven side-comments.

#1. Sometimes, when I put on the deodorant, it can feel a bit dry. It may even flake or crumble a bit upon application. Occasionally I adjust the recipe and add a bit more glycerin or coconut oil. It varies depending on the time of year and the normal indoor temperature.

#2. Those with sensitive skin may find putting in less of the ‘dry’ ingredients is helpful.

#3. Placing the tube under a small stream of water before applying it may be helpful. Another option is to put the recipe in a small jar with a lid and then wet your fingers before scooping a bit out and rubbing it in.

#4. It can leave a slightly white residue on the armpits. But I’ve learned to just put up with it. Most days of the year I have a sleeved shirt on anyway. And for the few times when my armpits are visible (and it matters!), I can either (a) not worry about it, (b) go without D.O, or (c) use a purchased ‘clear’ brand. I’m not a purist! I just like to do what’s best MOST of the time!

#5. Some people mix together the two dry ingredients and then apply that using a powder pad. It can be a bit messy but it wipes right off with a wet cloth. (Did you know, however, that adding the coconut oil gives your deodorant some added benefits? Coconut oil has anti-bacterial and immune boosting qualities and also moisturizes the skin.)

#6. At less than a dollar a batch, it’s a frugal recipe!deodorant2

#7. While the ingredients are all edible, I don’t recommend eating it to help with your halitosis!

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Many sites on the internet applaud this same recipe. Lyndsay (from www.passionatehomemaking.com) is one of them! Check out what she had to say about commercial deodorants.

Did you know that nearly all commercial deodorants contain aluminum salts, usually aluminum chlorohydrate? Manufacturers like aluminum because it effectively suppresses perspiration but the metal has a dark side once it makes its way into our body. Aluminum toxicity has been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and other health issues. It is especially important for women to take thought to the harmful aluminum materials in deodorant as it has been linked to breast cancer, being that the breast tissue extends up into the armpits. Most commercial deodorants also contain parabens, which act as preservatives and stabilizers, but which like aluminum can be absorbed into the skin. Parabens mimic estrogen, and though the amounts we absorb on a daily basis might be small, over time, the accumulation can be significant.”

Natural Hand Cleaner

Germs1Beware. There are microscopic enemies lurking all around! They are ‘the bad guys’ we call germs and even though they are extremely small, they are able to do great destruction! (I know, I know… there are also microscopic organisms that help us and our environment. But that’s a topic for another day. Today we’re covering ‘the bad guys’!)

Germs are everywhere. And while scientific advancements continue to be made in the battle against the enemies, these germs are changing as well. They’re becoming ‘smart’ germs. They’re learning how to adapt to our human inventions so they are no longer killed by methods found successful earlier. Research continues. And the battle continues. It’s a fight against virus and bacteria.

Let me share some INCREDIBLE news. “Essential oils are famous for fighting germs and supporting the immune system. And the reason pure essential oils are so effective is because (unlike drugs) essential oils contain a complex mixture of active properties that will vary due to natural growing conditions. No matter how carefully these variables are controlled, every batch of pure essential oil is going to be slightly different from the one before and the one after. That slight variance prevents fungi, bacteria and viruses from developing resistance to these natural plant remedies – and it’s why we can use the same essential oils to fight cold and flu that our ancestors were using centuries ago.” (*PamperMeNaturally class notes)

Isn’t that WONDERFUL? While we theorize and experiment over ‘new’ ways to combat the tiny terrors with our man-made chemical weapons, here’s the ‘oldest’ way in the book… a natural way that’s been around since Creation!

The most common way to clean your hands in this on-the-go culture is using a little squirt or wipe or spray from an antiseptic cleanser. Below you’ll find two recipes for natural hand cleansers that you can use when 30-second hand washing with good ole’ soap-n-water isn’t an option. They are simple to make, easy to use, and better for you then ‘Purell’-type sanitizers.germs2

Better for me? you ask. Then Purell? Germ-X? Avant? What’s wrong with those? Not a whole lot, I suppose. If you only use them on occasion. But for those who use them often, plenty! There is danger in the alcohol content of many of them. And even for the ‘alcohol free’ versions, the synthetic chemical die list is pretty scary. Even the scent can be harmful! And overpowering! Have you ever read the warning label attached to the bottle? Or looked up ‘hand sanitizer side effects’?

germs3Rather than get on my soap-box about the fact that the FDA does NOT require all ingredients to be disclosed in any wash-off product (because, of course, they do NOT affect your health in ANY way) and the fact that they can and DO use all sorts of cheap chemicals that are KNOWN to be toxic and carcinogenic and the fact that the FDA has not defined the word ‘natural’ so manufacturers can claim whatever they WANT on the label…  oh, wait. Let me start again.

RATHER THAN get on my soap-box about using a hand cleanser that has antibacterial and antifungal agents that are man-made, chemical compounds, I propose that we simply use a product that is made with natural antibacterial and antifungal essential oils and absolutely no chemicals. At a fraction of the cost. What do you say?

***Option #1. I’ve been using this antibacterial soap spray for the past year to clean up germy hands. It calls for just three ingredients and is a refreshing alternative to those expensive, chemical formulas. I found it in Karen Logan’s book Clean House, Clean Planet. She named it Merlin’s Magic.

Merlin’s Magic Antiseptic Soap Spray ingredients: water, liquid soap, and tea tree oil.germs4

Directions: Fill a 16oz spray bottle nearly to the top with water (distilled or purified if you have hard water). THEN add 3 T. of your favorite liquid soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap) and 20-30 drops of tea tree essential oil. Shake it well and spray away! (I made up a small 4 oz spray bottle to keep in the van and simply refill it when it runs low.)

***Option #2. Recently, I found another nifty hand sanitizer recipe (at diynatural.com). It calls for four ingredients. This one is not a soap spray but is contained in a squirt or pump bottle. I’m happy with this one too! The key ingredient for both recipes is tea tree essential oil. (**)

Natural Hand Sanitizer ingredients: lavender (or rosemary, sage, sandalwood or peppermint) essential oil, tea tree essential oil, witch hazel, and aloe vera gel.

Directions: Add 5-10 drops of lavender essential oil and 30 drops of tea tree essential oil to a small glass bowl or container and swirl to mix. Add 1 T. witch hazel to the oils and swirl again. Add this mixture to 8 ounces 100 percent pure aloe vera gel and mix well. Put in 3-4oz. squirt bottles or a container with a pump. Shake well before each use (a dime-sized portion is perfect).

With either recipe, I think you’ll find a product that you feel good using. By using essential oils, you’re outsmarting those nasty ‘smart’ germs. The cleansers are good for you, for your family, for the environment, and for your wallet. And with both recipes, by simply adding a few drops of Vitamin E you will help to preserve the product (naturally!) for a few months… and you’ll get softened hands as well.

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(*)I am indebted to Suzanne Ader, a generous and very intelligent lady that has graciously shared her wisdom with me and so many others, encouraging us on the journey of discovering how to live a healthier life!  Here’s a brief introduction on essential oils and their benefits from her “Pamper Me Naturally” class notes.     Essential oils are plant essences distilled or pressed from stems, leaves, fruits and flowers. They are rich in active properties that are especially potent against viruses, fungus and bacteria. Essential oils are famous for fighting germs and supporting the immune system. And the reason pure essential oils are so effective is because (unlike drugs) essential oils contain a complex mixture of active properties that will vary due to natural growing conditions. No matter how carefully these variables are controlled, every batch of pure essential oil is going to be slightly different from the one before and the one after. That slight variance prevents fungi, bacteria and viruses from developing resistance to these natural plant remedies – and it’s why we can use the same essential oils to fight cold and flu that our ancestors were using centuries ago. Best of all, because natural essential oils contain a combination of active properties that neutralize harmful effects, pure unadulterated essential oils are non-toxic and have no true side effects.

(**) A quick search online reveals some fascinating reading on tea tree essential oil.

End Note (From the Do It Yourself Naturally website): Always take care when handling essential oils. Keep in mind these are very concentrated, powerful plant extracts. If you are new to using essential oils you may want to test for an allergic reaction before slathering on this hand sanitizer. As with any natural plant, family members could be allergic. For a simple patch test mix one drop of essential oil with about 1 TBSP of olive oil. Rub a bit on the inside of your elbow, cover with a bandage, and wait 24 hours to see if there is any negative reaction.