Friday, January 31, 2014

The Value of Women in the Church

I sit here a bundle of nerves at the task I have given myself for the moment.  I love to write. I love people. I love to encourage people, especially hurting ones.
 Something has been brewing in my soul and I have been formulating for a while how to share.  Why not on a blog where the "whole world" can see it?  BUT...What if it doesn't come out how I meant?  What if I end up hurting someone with the words I feel so compelled to share?  After all I am not an expert.   
I am not a feminist in the typical sense of going out and fighting for equal wages and joining protests stating that women can work just as hard and as well as men.  I am a stay at home mom and I love it.  I don't long for the corporate life or an escape from my children (tho sometimes it is nice to go to the restroom by myself).  There is however a side of me that has been referred to in negative connotations as feminist, that gets all rowled up at the sad injustice happening to women in our so called Christian churches. These are women who are being told their place is not as "valued" as their head of the home husband's.  They are the young women shouldering "the blame" trying to pickup the pieces after the horror of a sexual assault and enduring constant questioning about what she did to bring it on.  Women like me.
Now before I proceed let me say that I believe very strongly in Biblical modesty and in God's design for family authority structure. It's there in black and white in God's word.  What isn't in the Bible is respecter of persons.  God loves us ALL, male and female, and longs for relationship with us, with ME.
Over a decade ago, a nightmarish experience happened to me. Someone I trusted as a Grandfatherly figure, a well known very much married man in my denomination,  showed up at my door in the middle of the day when Lowell was at work and forced his way into my home, my personal private space and attempted to force himself on me. When the overtaking intense fear finally subsided for a brief moment I was able to free myself from his grip and push him out the door. I locked all the doors in my home, pulled the shades and scrubbed myself with bleach trying to wash away the horrid memories he left behind. When I stopped shaking enough to dial the phone I immediately began calling hoping to connect with someone who could comfort me and help me understand the trauma I had just experienced. I wanted to hide. I wanted to rewind and erase the moments that had seemed so endless. In those moments when I desperately needed love, affirmation and care for my wounded soul,  I was met instead with the accusations, "well what did you do to make him do that to you?"  **I need to clarify that this was not the response of everyone I opened up to.
 Over the years things have happened that bring those awful memories back to the surface. Sometimes someone is making off the wall statements like how women can fight off attackers if they really want to. Sometimes I meet HIM at functions. I want to vomit and re-live those moments like they just happened.
When this happens,  I talk about them for awhile again to certain friends and sometimes random acquaintances then I carefully put them back into their neat little box in the deepest corner of my heart until the next time something triggers the memory.
Over Christmas time we sat in a discussion with some friends and ka pow! there it came again.  This time I am wondering if I have properly dealt with it and the horrible guilt and shame that accompanies it.  There are so many questions.  Do I need to confront the offender? Take it to the church? What if he is continuing in his sinful activities and is hurting others? What about his grown children and grandchildren.  Has he violated them?
I happen to be married to a Godly man who shares with me and attempts to help me see how sexual issues really are for men.  Temptation is real and sexual issues are not just a big deal to men. Women are tempted too. All to often tho sexual issues are embarrassing, ugly and no one wants to deal with them because we can all fall. So we do nothing or as little as possible. This is my beef with the church as I see it. It seems there is no balance, either stuff is criminalized or swept beneath the rug.  There needs to be more teaching on right and wrong behavior.  When things happen they need to be dealt with Biblically and the Bible is pretty blunt on this stuff and puts a pretty heavy load on men "For if a man looks at a woman with lust in his eye he has committed adultery in his heart with her already"  Adultery is no small matter! It behooves me to more intense prayer for the men in my life and in my church family. We are all in this together. 
What does this all have to do with value of women in the church you might ask.  I seriously believe there is a direct connection with the lack of growth in today's churches. When women are faced with pain such as I experienced they need to be met with love and care, not disdain.  When inappropriate things come up in church life they must be faced with diligence and be dealt with. Pushing things under the rug, especially things of sexual nature teaches the younger generations in essence that women are of lesser value and that living out the sins we are tempted with is ok especially if no one finds out.  
I know now that the man that violated me had a past history of sinful habits. What if someone had mentored him when he was young and formidable and taught him the truth of God and his ways to finding victory in the area of sexual purity?
As I stated earlier I am not the expert. I don't have some secret agenda.  I don't have all the answers but I happen to know the Creator of the universe who has a direct relationship with me and He does have the answers. I pray you hear my heart.  I am hoping in sharing something this personal that I can perhaps bring healing, validation - VALUE to someone else who may be secretly struggling with deep hurts in their heart.  
"For we are God's Masterpiece.  He created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things HE planned for us long ago.  Ephesians 2:10 NLT "

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Easy Peasy Healthy Lasagna

I am always on the quest to better our diet as a family.  That can be challenging with a dear hubby who grew up on the typical American Mennonite diet consisting of high amounts refined white carbs, cream of mushroom soup and Velveeta cheese. Tonight however I concocted something healthy that actually ended up being quite tasty.  Not only did I use whole wheat lasagna noodles (bleh is what I would've thought about that before trying these!) I actually used my trusty vita mix to whip up an amazing very green (literally) cheese concoction that won the hearts of my kidos who now think green cheese is the coolest thing ever. (kind of reminds me of the fun I have sneaking cabbage into the Vita mix ice cream I make for them--but that's a post for another day when it's much warmer. And hey don't knock it before you try it- it really is good too!  Come over and I'll make you some just to prove it)
Here is how I did it:

I started out with these. For a 9 x 13 pan I used one box and 2 or 3 noodles from another

Begin by preheating oven to 350
Brown 1 lb burger of your choice
I brought up a qt of my home canned tomato/pizza sauce and started out with some of that in the bottom of the pan then laid out the first layer of noodles.
I covered that with the yummy green cheese mixture which consists of the following:
1 c Ricotta cheese (which BTW I got in a large container at a bargain price and froze in cup portions)
3 cups fresh spinach
1/2 c Parmesan cheese (preferably fresh)
1 egg
Blend all ingredients in blender till smooth and green   (LOL)

Follow with another layer of noodles then layer of burger then noodles again.  Top with rest of sauce
Pour 1 c water around the outside (not on) of the noodles to help cook them (such a time saver to not have to precook!)
Bake covered for 45 minutes 
Uncover and sprinkle 1 c of cheese ( I just had co-jack tonight)
and bake till cheese melts.


I so enjoy making food that is actually good for my family and is equally enjoyable!  My children have not licked their plates as clean as they did tonite in quite a while so we will be having this one again soon.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Quest for Good Health Naturally

I have long been a fan of the natural ways for caring for one's health.  My mom was big into helping our family and the many others that came thru our doors hoping to feel better.  When she first started using essential oils we kids used to make fun of the smells that drifted out whenever she opened her van door, her purse or her closet where she kept her stash. Now I am her. Recently someone came close enough to smell the recently applied Thieves oil and commented about it as did the lady at the hotel when we checked in and she smelled the ones poking out of my travel bag along with my diffuser I take everywhere. A few years ago I would not have gotten caught dead smelling "natural".  Guess I have matured or gone nutty?
Some of my many favorites just to name a few include Valor, Peppermint, Thieves, Harmony and of course Lavender.

Harmony  is amazing for allergies, hay fever and sinus issues. I have seen it calm and soothe someone experiencing a severe anaphylactic reaction.
Valor is amazing for aches and pains.  I keep a bottle handy for my kids' bumps and bruises. It helps stop bleeding also. I have seen it effective for such painful conditions as Plantar Fascitis
Thieves is my go to infection fighter.  I love dabbing it behind my ears before I leave the house. Plus it smells amazing.  Great for sore throats, ear infections.
Peppermint is amazing for digestion.  I also use it in many of my reflexology sessions as a great opening force for plugged or drippy sinus issues.
Lavender is good for many many things!  One of my favorite uses is a few drops in my bubble bath. it is good for burns and putting a few drops in a few ounces of olive oil have been the healing force for diaper rashes and other skin issues.

Sometimes tho I doubt myself and  worry I put to much stock into the stuff I do to take care of myself and my family after all we still get sick and have actually had some fairly major issues where we have had to use some traditional western medicine this very year.  Over all thru trial and error and many experiments I am finding empowerment and  feel armed and more able to do things to help us get out of the slump of yucky.  I love learning about health and how the body works and am so blessed to have people surrounding me like my colleague Dr. Bradi Arnold who wrote a very convincing article about the importance of fevers and how they fight infection.  Here are a few direct quotes from her write up which she kindly gave me permission to share.

Many parents panic when their child has a fever. I did too the first time a child was 
brought to my office with a spiked temperature of 102.5 F. It is a scary thing to see that child 
hot, flushed and obviously very uncomfortable. 
It is important to learn ways to manage your child’s fever and not lower it artificially with 
over the counter medications. It would be best if you just threw these drugs away and don’t 
even have them in your medicine cabinet because even infrequent use of an over-the-
counter drug like Tylenol has been linked with serious, lifelong illness like asthma. 
Instead of panicking, honor your child’s fever and learn to use it constructively to improve 
your child’s health and vitality over the long term, because, believe it or not, fevers are 
fabulous and accomplish important things in a child’s developing body. 
Whenever we would get fevers during cold and flu season, my mother would never give us 
OTC’s to bring it down because she know that bringing down a fever would only prolong the 
illness and would weaken vitality for the next illness to come - we would sicker quicker next 
Why do our bodies produce fever? One reason is that fevers greatly slow down 
pathogens. Fevers are a highly beneficial immune response that we suppress to our 
The “germ” – bacteria or virus causing the child’s distress typically replicates every few minutes 
and the fever slows this process down. Fevers work to slow down the spread and severity of 
the illness and are your friend in avoiding a secondary infection (usually respiratory illness), a 
trip to the doctor and a script for antibiotics.
Repeated forced reduction of childhood fever has been linked to childhood cancer.
And eliminating fever will usually cause a secondary infection. When you bring down a 
fever you start a domino effect toward antibiotic use. In other words, if you want to avoid 
antibiotics, don’t bring down the fever. Fever reduction suppresses the immune system. 
Your child is trying to get well himself with the fever and when you bring it down you are 
opening him up to a secondary bacterial infection that will further entrench the virus or bacteria. It cannot be stressed enough that fever has an important role to play in your child’s 
overall well being
So when you bring the fever down you are giving free license to the virus or bacteria to spread in an unrestrained manner. And don’t panic if your child’s temperature gets to 102-103 F degrees—this is the ideal range for a fever. 
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen children spike a beautiful fever of about 102-103 F for a few hours with no other symptoms what soever. When the fever resolved, the illness was over. No cough, no rash, sinus congestion, no nothing. Just a fever and that’s it. I can almost guarantee that if the parents had forcibly brought the fever down with meds, they would have gotten a secondary illness on top of the fever – probably a cough or sinus congestion and the illness would have morphed from an afternoon of chills and discomfort into a two week ordeal with a trip to the doctor and prescription meds. 

I was able to put some of this into perspective this week as each one of my children ended up with the dreaded 24 hour high fever/general achy flu.  Tho every fiber of my being tensed in fear at Hunter's rather high temps that stayed where they were for close to 6 hours I am already seeing benefits in his overall health just a few days later. I simply pushed fluids and kept cool washcloths handy when it was at its highest points and of course oiled him down with all sorts of my essential oils.

Another great learning source is my friend Kristi who  is an amazing herbalist and puts together some potent formulas from the great Dr Richard Shultze's recipes. She has been tremendously helpful in giving me ideas on how to rebuild good health in Alexia's lungs since her hospital stay for pneumonia a few weeks ago.  Who would have known stinky garlic chopped up and made into a poultice would help pull Lex out of respiratory distress? And her echinacia tincture is unbelievable.  WOW!
I am blessed to have so many great teachers to help me along the path of help! I think we have so many wonderful God given tools available to help us along in the quest for better health and living.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Expectations & Comparisons

I struggle with comparing myself and my family to others around me.  There I said it.  It doesn't sound all that pretty.  
Why can't my husband do romantic things for me like hers does?  They just went on a date last week.
Why don't we have as much money as they do?  Their van wasn't that old.
O if I were only 50 lbs thinner like.....?
Why am I so constantly willingly floundering in the great and vast sea of discontent?  
I have expectations. Not all of them are bad or a hindrance to Godly living but some of them are down right awful and don't help the state of my ulcer at all.  Where do these expectations come from or develop? 
I wonder sometimes if I should take a break from social media.  Pinterest and Facebook and regular old email are great tools for connecting with family and friends from far away places but they can also breed stress and create incorrect expectations. (Don't get me wrong, I am not planning any social media fasts any time soon)  Who doesn't have a Facebook "Face"? We want for others to like us and for our family to look nice and proper and like our lives fit the perfect, "normal" protocol for Christian families.  What, my friends, is normal? I know our personalities play a large role in how/what we post but wouldn't everyone do a double take if someone posted something like "My husband and I are really struggling right now" or "I just stepped on the scale and am really depressed"  Such posts would probably be met with one of two responses, pious advice or disdain and possible un-friending or at least making so one does not have to follow such depressing matters. (And yes they may not be all that proper for sharing with 500 people.) The problem with social media is everything is vague. You can't see a person's expression or hear the tone of their voice thru a post.  I have seen much pain as a result of mis-interpreted emails/posts thus deepening my belief that everyone's perfectly portrayed  social media lives are probably really not reality and are therefore not really worthy of me pining my life away wishing that I had something different.  Like a very wise person once said, "We all have to get dressed one pant leg at a time".  We all have good days and bad ones.  We all have relationships disappointments and blessings.  Sometimes money is present, other times it is not.  It boils down to honesty and communication.  Perhaps if we actually talked (really communicated!) more and spent less time dreaming on Pinterest or reached out to someone else who might be in need instead of focusing on the stuff we don't have or made a general effort to cultivate lasting deeper relationships with a few trustworthy friends instead of trying to impress the 500 we have on face book we may find our expectations changing?

I am in the mommy stage which I do really truly love in case you are wondering.  The mommy stage has a lot of comparison/expectation pitfalls.  How much stress do we add to our lives trying to follow all the things set forth for us to follow by well meaning souls around us? Why do we care so much about what others may think about how we do things.  God created each of us with beautiful meaningful gifts to share with those around us which is far easier to do if we are not consumed with assumptions.  I have had several conversations recently that reiterated the need for us as mamas to start being more compassionate in our responses to other mamas so that sharing our gifts can happen more like it should.  
One of the mommy comparison traps for me is the depression that slaps me in the face when opening facebook and seeing one perfectly put together mom posting a selfie (she wears makeup at home? and actually showers and does her hair E-V-E-R-Y morning?) of her starting her day reading her devotions and sipping that perfect cup of froth.  I grab for every extra moment of sleep I can get then jump up, throw on my comfy clothes which aren't usually the latest fad or fashion and pull my frizzy mop back away from my face so there won't be hair in the pancakes I will make on my filthy kitchen counter that is still stacked with last nights dishes while sipping my lukewarm latte that simmered over the top of the pan. And while I talk to God all day long I don't get my devotions done at precisely 6:38 each morning.  Now the big point here is there is nothing innately wrong with "super mommy" or with "messy me mommy" and while I could probably raise the bar on some of my expectations in my morning routine, God still loves me messy floor and all just as much as He loves Super mommy and all the perfectly planned time she spends with Him!  I'm really thinking it's all about extending grace and kindness and being honest and real and working hard to turn our comparisons into companionship and our expectations into honest reality.  I want to work on that!

***Which the honest reality now is my *somewhat* clean kitchen is waiting for me to make dinner in it as my kids have that expectation now that the clock is nearing 5 pm.  Adios for now!

Saturday, January 4, 2014


I have to admit I fluctuate back and forth between secretly hating all the new year's resolutions clogging up my news feed and a sudden burst of energy and new determination for some of the things I would like to see differently in my life.  Like the typical ones, yes please! I would love to lose weight and yes! I would like to read thru the Bible this year and yes! I would like to think I can yell less at my children and yes! I would love to be debt free...the list goes on. But when I sit and ponder my mind flies a hundred different directions and I wonder what is really important?  What can I aim for this year to really make a difference in my life and in the lives of those I love?

2013 was a beautiful but tough year.  Our little family faced disappointments, with the most "fresh" one being the big deal of missing Christmas at Nana's due to Lexi's being in the hospital.  Another biggie was hubby and I missing out on a whole week's worth of celebration in honor of our anniversary because Kali was in the hospital. (yup, this natural minded, "crunchy" mama has had way to much hospital this year!) Probably the most stressful part of the year started when I got a call from my sister saying my dear mom was having a stroke. I still tear up thinking of all the emotions gripping at my heart as I beheld my strong vibrant mother helpless as a small child. Tough and not necessarily fun stuff....

The "prettier" side of the year was wrapped up in small presents and handed to us gradually just as we needed them...  Kali has become more confident in her reading and I am now delighting in catching her sitting reading to her siblings.  Both of our girls who had hospital stays and my mama are thriving and becoming healthy again. Hunter finally got his 2 front teeth out (after the new ones made their full show right behind). We got some precious time with Nana & Pawpaw in the fall when we met them in St Louis for a short vacation.  Abby is finally sleeping in her big girl bed and not wondering aimlessly thru the house at all hours of the night.  All of these may seem pointless and small,  not really anything to make a big deal about, but they are gifts none the less....

I love finding the good which is present indeed in any circumstance.  When Kali was in the hospital, she beautifully portrayed the simple love of Jesus to "mean man doctor" (as I referred to him) and to the nurses some of who had never heard the sweet simple song, "Jesus Loves Me".   When mama had her stroke, my siblings and I grew closer then we have ever been .  When Lexi's hospital stay resulted in us missing our vacation we actually benefited in catching up on some serious sleep deprivation and we had some stay at home as a family time even if it was forced.

Recently Hunter had some bad dreams that made it hard for him to rest.  Ironically his Bible verse that we have been working on is from Psalms where it says simply, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in THEE".  I urged him to lay quietly with his flashlight in hand and simply quote that verse when ever he felt afraid.  It calmed his restlessness almost instantly as he lay there and quoted that verse.  The first night I heard him say it over and over and then just like that he was asleep and has been doing fine since.

Perhaps the most important resolutions include attempting to be more childlike in my faith and looking more intentionally for what God is doing even when life isn't exactly how I want. After all no matter what comes our way,  Zephaniah 3:17 says "The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing."  Who can't burst forth with joy at promises like that?!