love sex and marriage

Today I want to share with you a podcast I recently started listening to, One Extraordinary Marriage. I absolutely love this podcast! Tony and Alisa are down to earth open and honest. You can tell as you listen they are not trying to pretend as if they have everything together, but they are using this as a tool to strengthen their marriage as well as help other marriages as well. If your marriage is great, check this podcast out. If your marriage is in rough waters, check this marriage out. If your marriage is just in a little rut… check this podcast out! I can see every type of marriage benefitting from this podcast.

As a Christian girl, I didn’t really talk about or really ever hear anything about sex growing up other than at school or maybe a friend’s house. Basically, it was a conversation about the “Birds and the Bees” and then wait until you are married. Don’t let me lessen that part of what I learned about sex though. I am beyond thankful for that lesson, and that I was able to wait for my husband and allow that to be something only he and I will ever share together. Even as I write this I can see some people blushing, but I really hate that it is this way. 

Sex is a beautiful thing that God created to happen between a husband and wife. Now, you may disagree with me on that part, but please don’t let that stop you from reading the rest of this and PLEASE don’t let it stop you from checking out this podcast if you are married. AND, it doesn’t matter how long you have been married! I shared this show with my mom and she has been enjoying it as well. *I’ll put an asterisk here and say if you make it to the bottom of this post, then you will read a hilarious story of when my mom was listening to one of their episodes about orgasms.*

Like I said I have just recently started listening to this podcast. So, I’ve listened to about 10 or so shows so far, but have gained so much appreciation for it so far, that I really want to be able to share it and the message behind the podcast with as many of my friends as possible. 

One of my “take-aways” from one particular episode is how they discuss 6 forms of intimacy that can truly help a marriage thrive, not just sex. Don’t get me wrong, sex is one of them! But, I love how they discuss if each of “the 6” are balanced and healthy areas of conversation between you and your spouse, it can take your marriage to a new level. They also discuss about having balance between each of these other areas can actually make your sex life and marriage even better between you and your spouse.

A total blogging fail, I forgot to write down which episode it was that discussed the 6 forms of intimacy, WOOPS! I had planned to give you all the exact episode they discussed it but since I didn’t… I guess that can be a cliff hanger to give you motivation to go and listen to the show. I will tell you, I started the show at their most recent episode, but enjoyed that first one so much I scrolled all the way to the bottom of their 600+ shows and started from the beginning (which is where I believe this specific episode was).

And just for fun, here are a few of the titles of their different episodes:

603: The Kissing Game: Part 1

582: Sleep Naked

577: Navigate the Pandemic together: Pt 1 – Our New Normal

564: Rebuilding Trust with Your Spouse

563: Step into a Sex Challenge: Part 1

562: What she Wants you to Know About Her Orgasm

560: Go Bare Down There?

538: A Simple Thank You

437: Roommate Syndrome

007: Pornography: A Secret That Can Destroy Your Marriage

Now, for the story involving my mom, dad and their NEIGHBOR – hahahahaha! I am laughing as I write and retell you this story. But it also goes to show, how talking about sex can be a little difficult to do outside of one’s bedroom. Not that you need to share the details of what happens in your room, but sex should not be something we completely shy away from and don’t talk about. ESPECIALLY WITH OUR SPOUSE! Not only that but also our children. I personally do not want my children to grow up in a world where what they hear about sex comes from television, their friends, their friend’s parents. I want my children to know and learn that sex is a beautiful thing when it is something shared between them and their spouse, and I want them to learn that from my husband and I. 

Back to the story, like I said, I shared this show with my mom. As many of you know, if you have a vehicle with Bluetooth capabilities, sometimes when you hop in your car and turn it on, whatever you were listening to last will begin to play. Well this particular day my mom and I were sitting on the front porch of my parents’ house (my mom’s cell phone was sitting right next to her) while my dad was hopping into the car to take a neighbor to pick up his own vehicle. Unbeknownst to my dad, my mom had been listening earlier that day to episode 562: “What she Wants you to Know About Her Orgasm”. As my dad turns the car on he begins to hear the radio talking about orgasms and since my mom bought a new car this summer full of new gadgets and not a simple “off” button my dad had no clue how to turn off the radio.

Anyway, if there is anything I would love for you to take away from today’s post is to … I’m sure you’ve already guessed it. But, check out Tony & Alisa’s podcast, One Extraordinary Marriage.

It is okay to NOT be okay, as long as you don’t stay that way.

Friends, who agrees with me that it is okay, to not be okay? 

Especially when you are talking to a friend. But when you are talking about yourself, are you still willing to give yourself the grace to know (that it is okay, to not be okay)?

I want you to know it’s okay to say, “I am not okay”. It takes courage to say, “I am not doing well: I need some help.”

I was listening to a friend’s podcast (She Speaks Stories, you should CHECK THESE LADIES OUT!) and she mentioned hearing a pastor say, “a healthy soul, is a soul that can say, I’m not ok.” 

Friends, if you are not ok, I want you to know I am here (and I know there are others in your circle sitting waiting to be an open ear.) 

Someone in your circle has been put in your path by God to help be your friend and partner in the struggle. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for: 

an ear to listen, 

arms for a hug, 

shoulders to cry on, 

a house to watch your child, 

a meal to drop off at your house, 

or a chick-flick, glass of sangria or brownies with ice-cream type of night.

I know I often struggle to stop and ask a friend, a neighbor, and let’s be honest as a military spouse sometimes it has to be an acquaintance (that can soon be a very close friend) for some help. 

And honestly as a military spouse, we have to be willing to even ask an acquaintance for help because we are new to an area and haven’t made any new friends yet. 

Why is it that so many of us are this way?

How easy is it, and how often do we walk by someone (at church for example) and the conversation will sound like this: 

“Hey! How ya doing?” 

“Good, how about you?”

“We’re doing good.” (while your soul is screaming, I AM NOT DOING OKAY!)

“Awesome, see ya ‘round.” (And you think to yourself as they walk away, another lost opportunity to get some help.)

Hmmmm… how often are we truly doing good? What does “doing good” even mean? If we are truly doing good, is that even where we want to live? To live in the “good”?  I feel like this could be a whole post itself. I heard this quote on one of the blogs I listen to (can’t remember which one) “thriving not striving”. That’s the type of life I want to live, thriving where I am at, not striving to live there. But maybe a post for another time.

Question for you…

Are you sitting in church or bible study feeling lost in the church? Are you sitting with your core group of girlfriends, feeling lost in the mix and as though you are struggling and suffering on the inside? 

Are you feeling as though you can’t share your secret because others will judge you? That they will say, “you’re a Christian, you shouldn’t be dealing with that!” Or how about, “You have such an amazing life, you have… and … you shouldn’t be worrying about that!” 

When you take a light into a dark room, guess what… that room is not dark anymore! You can see where you are going, you can put away and step around the toys left lying around. You can see the crack in the window letting mosquitoes in that are silently coming at you and shut it. 

When we bring light into a situation, light into a dark moment in our life, that darkness has to disappear because there cannot be darkness where there is light.

John 1:5 NIV The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

My prayer for you and myself is that we can be a friend, a sister, an acquaintance who can take notice of each other. Take notice of when our friends seem to be in a dark place. That are spirits can be in tune with those around us. Or that you can be bold enough to tell someone you are in a dark place. 

Daughter, sister, friend, mother, the Bible tell us that we * “are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, so that we may declare the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His wonderful light”.

Did you catch the promise? He HAS CALLED YOU OUT, meaning, past tense you are already out of the darkness. 

Grab onto that promise, you can get out of the darkness! Talk to someone! It’s okay to not be okay, but do something about it. Don’t stay in your funk. 

* 1 Peter 2:9 NIV

 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

mommy hacks A-Z

Today what am I thankful for… Many things, but one thing for sure, God’s grace. Because of that, here I am picking this back up. I have planned to write this many different ways but my words seem to escape me in the moments I try to sit and write. Or I feel a level of frustration with myself for allowing “life” to get me so far off track with this blog. I truly don’t know the outcome of this, or why I sense so strongly that God is wanting me to take this journey. But here I am picking it back up. 

Since I started this blog, I have had the idea of writing multiple posts about Mommy Hacks. I continually go back and forth thinking, there is the chance that these hacks won’t be new to you, but on the chance that I could help encourage and help another momma in anyway, here they are.

Mommy Hacks A – Z. Not sure what order they will appear and how often I’ll be adding to this list. Like I mentioned, it has been on my mind since the beginning of this journey even though that was a while ago. I decided today, to start somewhere with this blog. That somewhere is right here, Mommy Hacks A-Z. 

I would like to say first say, that we are all on our own journey and things that may work for me, may not work for you. There is a chance they’ll either work or possibly spark an idea in you, that can help you get out of a rut. To completely counter that (at least for the first two letters… I truly feel that Mommy Hacks A and B are a must. A – B will actually include an extra hidden hack within a letter. So today you’ll get 3 for 2, what a deal! 

Now, like I said these are my thoughts, and they may or may not work for you. But I truly feel as a mommy, it is so important to ARISE before our children do. (Now, there are times we get sick, our littles wake us up during the middle of the night, but on the norm, I truly feel it is vital). Not sure what that might look for you, a cup of coffee/tea, glass of water, devotional, listening to some worship music, praying, reading your bible or just sitting and preparing for what the day has to hold. But I have found that when I can get up and get myself in the right mindset for the day, it helps set into motion our day in a good way.

This one again you may agree with or disagree with. But I do 100% think that it is a must. It is what keeps me grounded, keeps me fed, keeps my focus on truth & life even in the midst of life’s not so enjoyable situations (blow outs… spilled milk… tantrums… deployments… or in our current COVID craziness) as well as the wonderful situations. 

The bonus hack fits under this section.

My husband, David and I were on a date night walking through Barns and Noble just before he left for his deployment. We just love this date night! It might sound strange to you, but one of my best friends introduced us to it. I love that we are able to enjoy a cup of coffee or hot chocolate (because I can’t have caffeine after 3pm or I’ll be up all night!) and walk around the store and browse books, or we can sit and talk, and the occasional time of people watching while we enjoy our beverages.

During this specific date, we were looking at books and trying to find a book that the other person would enjoy but normally wouldn’t buy for themselves. We walked by a coloring book and I mentioned to him how I love coloring but never have the time to do it. He went ahead and grabbed that book saying, “You’ll find time.” My first thought was to laugh, which I think I may have. “Right David, when am I going to have time to fit in coloring… for leisure?”

I am so glad he did! **Back to the bonus hack.** I’m not sure when the idea came to me, but every morning (lately), when I ARISE before my kiddos. I grab my iPhone or iPad and open up the Bible app. I have a yearly Bible app I am going through that helps me read the whole Bible in a year. 

What I have started to do, is listen to my daily reading while I color. The best part of this is how much it helps me focus.  It helps my mind not to wander to all the things that seem to try and take my time away from my daily Bible reading.  Is it just me or does anyone else mind wander when they read their Bibles? I feel like so often the moment I crack open my physical Bible or the app, I remember I need to put “____” on the grocery list, or I was supposed to text/call someone, or I forgot to get the meat to defrost for dinner, ect.. While I am coloring, I am able to really listen to the words, while enjoying coloring which helps fill my love of do any sort of craft.  

I guess a second bonus hack is that when I am having my devotional time. I try to keep a piece of paper/post it note. Then, when my mind wanders to all the things that I need to get done for the day I can jot them on the paper and get to them AFTER I finish my devotional time.

One little extra note with the Bible app, within the different versions of the Bible ESV, NKJV, NIV, ect.. there are different readers for each version. Each of their voices are different… so if you decide to try this idea out, you may need to try a few different versions until you find a voice that doesn’t sound like the teacher from Charlie Brown, “Wha Wa Whaaa Wa”. I am currently listening to the ESV version.

As I am writing this I also want to encourage you in your days of being a mommy, that your spiritual walk and mornings can and will look so very different in the different seasons of being a mommy. Mommy of 1, of 2, of 3.. dare I say of 4 or even 5? What worked well in your devotional time as a mommy of 1 will look very different as a mommy of 3 (which I have been learning  a lot about in the last 7 months). But I want to encourage you, to find what works, and make sure to keep moving forward in your spiritual journey. 

Two questions I’ll leave with you:

1. What mommy hacks would you like to share with others? Something you did and then thought, “gosh I wish I would have known or thought of this years ago!

2. What does your spiritual walk look like now as a mommy? Are you taking the time to continually grow in relationship with Jesus? 

How the Grinch stole Christmas…

How your Grinchstole your joy… and then your stolen joy…

Stole someone else’s joy… turning you into the Grinch. 

Making a difference in one person’s life is really only a domino effect. It can be a domino effect of 

1. great joy or

2. one of destruction and great pain and shrieks of WHY DID YOU DO THAT

Think of the two sides of this scenario.

A child who has spent an eternity (maybe 5 minutes) setting up an elaborate path for his or her dominoes and their sibling walks by and accidentallyhits the table or one of the dominoes setting off the chain of events knocking down the dominoes before its creator was finished. 

Or on the grander side, the creator has finished and the finale is spectacular. All involved, the creator and the observer enjoying the show. 

Yes, we are responsible for our own reaction to an action done to us. There are times are human, fleshly nature comes out and it is hard for us to react the way we know we should. 

If we can pursue love, joy, encouragement and hope for one person. We are really creating a domino effect of touching way more than just one life. It is so easy this day in age to get caught up in…

My life, my needs, my parking spot, my gift on the shelf two different hands reaching for, my lane in traffic, what are you doing for me.. me.. me ME?!

Moral of the story: 

Don’t be a joy stealer. 

Be a “Hope Dealer”.  So how can we be a hope dealer in such a crazy world and season? Where can we find our hope? 

“Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.” -Psalm 33:22 NLT

To be a hope dealer we have to 

1. Believe in the one who has hope.

Psalm 37:34 NLT, “Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along his path. He will honor you by giving you the land. You will see the wicked destroyed.”

2. Receive the hope he has for us.

 Romans 15:13 NLT, “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” 

John 10:10 NKJV, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

3. Live in the hope, knowing the outcome.                             

John 3:16 NLT, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

Let us in this (busy Christmas season) and every season, be hope dealers. 

Ones who actively purse being a piece of the domino effect for beauty and not destruction. 

Let us choose our words wisely. Let our actions not be impulse, knee jerk reactions, but purposeful actions to build up and not tear down. (Not saying we will never be hurt by others, but let’s not react out of our anger.)

A smile, a nod of the head or hand allowing the person ahead of you in traffic, giving the person the spot that they really had been waiting for in the busy parking lot (for those of you in Ohio I imagine this in the Easton parking lot.. everyone driving in circles trying to find the close spot and someone pulling in quick because of the way the person exiting the lot allowed you to sneak into the spot that really you hadn’t been waiting for.) Buying coffee for the person behind you who is on the phone and seems stressed and agitated, thanking the cashier who is working overtime and just exhausted from people, leaving a good tip, for a bad waiter/tress because the restaurant is under staffed (not your waiter/tress’ fault). 

Weeds the hard fight..

Let me ask you a question: 

(PS: I’m NOT a gardener, and I promise I will be getting somewhere with my question.)

Do you have weeds in your gardenthat you need to tend to?

Similarly, do you have weeds in your lifeyou need to tend to?

Real weeds are a continual battle. A battle, in which a container of “roundup” …

1) will only start the process,

2) will not get rid of them all.  

When using a “tool” such as roundup, we don’t just spray and have a beautiful garden or lawn. At first, we may get rid of the weeds easily. Spray and BAM they are all dead… right?

But then the weeds die and look worse than when they were green – now you have a heap of dead muck spattered throughout the lawn. Now, the muck needs to be removed, which is a process in itself. You’d better change your clothes because you’re bound to get dirty trying to clean up your new mess.

Now, you may eventually get the beautiful grass you worked so hard for, but is beautiful green grass enough? Or do you want your garden full of colors: red, orange, yellow, pink, blue, purple…  how about different types of flowers… Gerbera Daisies, Hydrangeas, Dahlias, Calla Lilies, Garden Roses, Peonies?

To have a garden that looks as beautiful as the ones on HGTV, we have to do the work! Either paying a landscaper or by getting dirty ourselves. 

It’s okay to pay and seek help, or to use Roundup but none of these will be a one and done to get our gardens where we want them to be.

Back to my question, do you have weeds in your life that you need to tend to? 

Life, like a garden, is a continual process. For every “season” we must look through our lives and pull “weeds”, that is, the things we see/do that we don’t want popping up anymore. We do this in order to restore our “garden,” to beauty. We can’t forget to look around all the rocks for those pesky hidden weeds that look small. But once you turn the rock over, you see how deep its roots actually go. 

You may have weeds popping up that you don’t want others to see – such as your friends, neighbors… (eeeeek) or even your children to see!

Do you see where I am going with this? Weeds – the yuck and muck of our lives that pop up all around us. They are an unending battle, if it is not one thing then it is another. 

So, I ask again, what weeds are growing in your life garden? 

What weeds have you yielded to by justifying: “Oh well, they don’t bother me that much,” or succumbed to, “They are just too overwhelming, I don’t know where to even start?”

Three quotes come to mind:

“A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.”

– Lao Tzu

“The steps you take don’t need to be big, they just need to take you in the right direction.”

– Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

(When I think of adding this quote in I just laugh to myself… quoting a science fiction show, but I think it’s a good one!)

“Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean we will be sinless, but the closer we walk with Jesus we should sin, less.”

– Pastor Todd, Mount Ararat

The Bible says in Mark 7:21-23 (NKJV),

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

The bible also says in Ephesians 3:20 (NKJV),

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be the glory…”

If God IS ABLE to do exceedingly above what we ask or think… then what is stopping our “soil” in our garden from growing and being abundant?

I’m sure you’ve guessed it, our weeds. 

Our weeds of bitterness, forgiveness, resentment, ______ … these weeds can choke out the ability for our soil to good. 

We must not look at our “enemies” have done and blame them, but we must look at our “inner me” and see what weeds WE need to take a shovel to, to dig out the roots.  (Thanks to Alex Klott @ C3 for the thought behind this quote).

This scripture also come to mind,

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 NIV

By having a relationship with God, we can put our faith and confidence in God. Our confidence here like I said is not in ourselves, but in Him. As we call out to Him, He will allow grace to “rain” down on us.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) says,

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Even when we do not know and see the end result, we can trust in God to help us get there, because our confidence is not in ourselves, but in Him.

So, GO – start picking away at a weed or two… the process must begin somewhere!

She Speaks Stories (Podcast)

Today’s herStory is going to be a little different than I envisioned this section to look, but I have been so encouraged by these two women and their guests that I really wanted to share them with you!

This week I am sharing one of my favorite podcasts. This podcast is hosted by two beautiful women who love big and serve God. They recently celebrated their 1 year birthday with the podcast. It’s a little funny but not ironic, each week as I prepare to write, words come pouring out of my fingers and mind almost faster than I can type. This week I struggled a little. Which is odd because I have many posts that are half written or even mostly finished… but I just didn’t feel as though any of those were the ones to share this week.

Now as a little backdrop, I actually started writing about this podcast 2 or 3 times but never finished. I would start typing and then think no, this is just me, it’s not the story for the week. Then my mom mentioned well maybe write about Christmas memories or something. But again, nothing was coming to me.

Waking up this morning a little discouraged, I need a blog for the week…Lord! I need the blog topic because today is Wednesday and the day I need to post! While I was still lying in bed praying about the day, I asked the Lord, what should I write? I truly felt like he said finish the blog about the podcast. 

My thoughts were to briefly share with you about one of the hosts, Katie. Now, here is a not ironic part: as I opened my computer, then Facebook to get the link for their Facebook page, I type in She Speaks Stories, and up pops a picture of Katie. Arms wide like she is going in for a big hug. That was the sign for me to feel brave in saying, yup, this is the blog for today. Katie has been a mentor to me for nearly three years and I am so blessed to have met her. I love the very short words written on their FB page today, that described Katie so well:

This is Katie. She is a connector of people. She connects them to each other and to Jesus. She was in her element last night & it was a joy to watch. She adores people but she ADORES Military Wives. 

And, another not so ironic God moment! Earlier this week I listened to one of the podcasts (Episode #23) and felt so heavily that I needed to call my friend Katie and encourage her. I had just texted David though, telling him that I would be home soon and was having a very silly inner struggle… I need to go home but if I go home I can’t call her because… well two little munchkins that make phone calls hard, haha!So, I pull into the neighborhood, drive and park a few streets down and I called Katie. She didn’t answer so I left a short message. She texted me in the morning and told me how she had been encouraged. She was doing two live events this week, which I wasn’t really in the know of since we are no longer in Stafford any more. Come to find out one of the live events she was speaking at was… one for She Speaks Stories! 

I just think God can be so funny! He works around us, and if we are willing we can be part of the threadwork for a bigger picture. We may or may not see the threads that we are, but sometimes we will see the big picture once it has been completed.  

And one more little ironic thing… I opened iTunes to get the link for the podcast directly and as I am scrolling through their titles, was reminded that their first two podcasts (Episode 1 & Episode 2) open with Katie and Susan talking about their Christmas memories (remember the suggestion from my mom about talking about Christmas this week). This week wasn’t my week to share my Christmas stories, but Katie’s and Susan’s. 

Hope you enjoy!! Maybe another week I can share some of the other podcasts I love!

herStory

This week I am starting a new section of the blog, herStory (instead of history, it’s all about her story). What is herStory?

Let me explain,

This year I have really felt God pressing upon my heart how we ALL have a story. (Most more than one story.) Some may call it a testimony, others a struggle, others a treasure. No matter what our story is, it has left us with opportunities of growth. And if we are willing, opportunities to share, so that others may grow, be encouraged, and even learn from our mistakes and stories so that they don’t have to experience what we went through.

In my few short years of being a Marine wife, I have met countless wonderful women and families. Women from all over the United States, even the world. Unique personalities, likes, and dislikes. Something I treasure has been all the unique flavors and recipes I have been able to add into my recipe box.  

As much as I pushed against and hated the idea of moving away from my family and home state of Ohio 

Can I get an, O-H… (only if you are from Ohio or maybe one of our great state rivals, will you know how to answer this!)

God had other plans. 

Not only adding to my recipe box, I have accumulated many lessons of things to do, and of course things NOT to do. Stories of encouragement and growth.  A love story of God bringing together two people from two different continents. A crazy God story of adoption. Stories, where I am actually speechless and think, “wow that is a God story!”

I want to use this space to bring in girlfriends that can share their stories and life experiences

Do you have a story, that as you read this post, you felt that small space in your heart pounding, reminding you of a certain occasion in your life? Please comment and reach out. I’d love to chat with you about those things and allow you to share YOURSTORY. 

My, friend Chrissie is going to share herStory of how and why she started using essential oils. I am SURE you either know someone who uses them, or have heard about them.  Chrissie is one of the ladies that I am so blessed and thankful for the Marine Corps and God bringing us together. Without stealing any of herStory, I’ll let her do the talking!  

Essential Oils

My son was 4 months old, my daughter was in the midst of the “terrible twos” and my husband was deploying to the Middle East for 4 months. It was not a good time for me. Did I mention I lived in Guam? I was literally halfway around the world from all my friends and family, learning how to be a mom to two kids and dealing with Postpartum Depression for the first time. My sweet son, who I love dearly, was also not the easiest baby. The child DID NOT SLEEP. To say I was desperate for any kind of help I could find would be an understatement. 

I’d been watching a friend of mine on Facebook share her journey into the world of Essential Oils for some time, but like most of us, I assumed it was just some new fad that people were jumping on in an attempt to make money from home. I would read her posts and move on, thinking it wasn’t for me. But during that time of desperation 3 years ago, something inside me told me to take a closer look. I think God was trying to show me a way to get help when I felt like I had nowhere else to turn. 

I got in touch with my friend and after a few conversations about oils, decided to jump in head first. Now, let me tell you, I am not a person to spend $150 lightly. I tend to spend months agonizing over spending that kind of money on something, especially something that I know so little about. But again, DESPERATE. So I signed up for the “business” in order to get the wholesale prices and anxiously awaited my starter kit.

When it arrived, I was like a kid on Christmas morning. I pulled out the pretty diffuser and all the colorful oil bottles and started my never-ending research. (I say “never-ending” because I am still researching essential oils and their uses to this day. There are SO many ways to use them… I’m pretty sure I’ll still be learning new uses 20 years from now.) My first goals were to improve my son’s sleep and to help ease my postpartum depression. It took a few weeks of trying various combinations of oils before I found what helped my son sleep. And it didn’t make him magically sleep through the night, but it did give him longer stretches of sleep, which gave me longer stretches of peace. If you’re a new mama and you’re struggling with sleepless nights, you will be sold on these oils when they make that sweet baby actually shut their eyes! I also quickly found a combination that helped with my PPD. I firmly believe God brought these two solutions to me so quickly so that I would continue to pursue this oily lifestyle. I was so impressed with how they worked that I decided to try to apply them to every aspect of my life.

Fast forward to present day and my family has gone chemical-free on almost everything. And most of that is thanks to my lovely oils. I use oils or oil products for cleaning, medicinal needs, scrapes and cuts, laundry, cooking, immune system support, to shorten illnesses, mental health help, skincare, toothpaste, soaps, bug spray, sunscreen, diaper rash cream, etc. The list goes on and on! I used them during my third pregnancy, both while pregnant and during labor, and it made ALL the difference. I’ve even given them to my mom to help with her osteoarthritis and neuropathy. And I feel safe using them on my family because they’re straight from nature with no added synthetic chemicals or toxins. Young Living Essential Oils go above and beyond to make sure you are getting PURE essential oils. That stuff you see at Walmart or Target for $8 a bottle is full of synthetic chemicals and can actually do more harm than good in some instances. I don’t work for or sell Young Living so I have nothing to gain financially by telling you this. I’m just passionate about sharing the knowledge and making sure people use the oils safely so they don’t get a bad reputation. 

Did you know the use of essential oils dates back to biblical times? They’re God’s original medicine. The Bible contains over 200 references to oils. We all know how the wise men brought frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus. Another example is Ecclesiastes 9:8: “Let thy garments always be white, and let thy head lack no ointment.” The anointing of Jesus can be found in John 12:3. If you’re interested in other biblical references to oils, the book Essential Oils Pocket Guide lists several pages of them. I also recommend the book Gentle Babies by Debra Raybern if you’re going to start using oils on your children. There are different recommendations on how you use oils for children versus adults, because their bodies aren’t fully developed yet and will process the oils differently.

If you’re considering jumping into the oily world, I recommend some prayer and research before you get started. If God has put in on your heart to look into this, it could be an answered prayer for a need in your family. Using essential oils has changed my life. My husband jokes that I’m always saying, “I have an oil for that!” And my kids now ask for oils when sick or hurt, before asking for any medicine. They’ve seen the healing power first hand. I even got my husband on board when he had a cracked rib and couldn’t find a way to ease the pain. “I’ve got an oil for that!”, I told him. And it worked. 

Be patient. Do research. Remember that all of our bodies are different so we all require different oils and oil combinations for different things. Be willing to try multiple oils before you find what works for you. Because once you find the right one, you’ll be so happy to heal yourself and your family with God’s medicine. 

UNREDEEMABLE

UNREDEEMABLE … this word has been replaying in my mind the last few days. As I am sitting down with my afternoon coffee at my kitchen table, feeling the California breeze coming through my house, I am starting this post unsure what trail we will be going down. I just feel like this is a word I should sit and ponder on. 

What does unredeemable?

Unredeemable: unable to be redeemed or made better. 

So, what does redeem mean?

Redeem: to buy back, to repurchase, to get back, win back, to free from what distresses or harms. To change for the better, repair, restore.

Do you feel as though your life is unredeemable? Do you feel as though you are too far off with life, a friendship? Has something so severe happened in your life that you think you can’t win back your old life? That you cannot be free from what distresses or harms you? That you can’t be changed for the better, or be repaired and restored? 

There is a question I often ask myself and hear others ask as well.

Why?

Why do bad things happen? Even better, why do bad things happen to good people?

And although I can’t answer that question. I do have an answer that has helped me through situations where I am asking myself, “WHY?!”. 

The answer is Jesus. 

Whoa whoa whoa… I just took this a different direction than some of you may have expected. Please. Please, do me a favor. If you are turned off by that name, by the thought of a Christian who has hurt you, or by a church who has hurt you… Please stop and take a moment to finish reading this post.

We are all human, we all sin, we all hurt, we have all hurt someone else. Hurt people, hurt people. **

But one constant I have found in my life is Jesus. There are so many times I get shy and want to maybe sit back not necessarily shout at the top of my lungs about my relationship with Jesus. It is something that I am not ashamed of, but a lie that I tend to believe is that I don’t have all the answers, that I won’t know how to answer your question… That I may not have the right words to explain how my life has been so radically changed by having a relationship with Him.

But I heard someone talking recently about how all I need is 1) my own answer to why I believe in God and 2) an invitation. An invitation to someone, asking them to come and check out who God is and what He is about. 

I recently shared a post about a time when God answered my prayers. Was it through prayer and healing or just a mistake on the ultra sound equipment… I don’t know the answer but I know that God was there through the whole situation and brought me peace during a very scary time.  You can click here to read one of my stories of how God/Jesus has been there for me. 

Back to UNREDEEMABLE, another statement I often hear is, “Oh I’m too far off to go to church. They don’t want a sinner like me in church. I have to fix myself before I can go to church.”

But that is NOT, let me repeat myself, N.O.T. the way a relationship with Jesus works. He doesn’t want us to fix ourselves first, and then come. 

He wants us to come to Him first. No matter our level of brokenness, He says He will help us. He will heal our broken hearts, He will help bring restoration.

In fact, He is the way to help fix ourselves. He is the one who knows us better than we know our selves. Luke 12:7 (NLT) says, “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” God knows how many hairs you have on your head. He cares for you!

In closing, here’s a quote I heard from the lead pastor at my church, “A botanist can tell you how many seeds an orange has, but only God can tell you how many oranges a seed will have”. –Pastor Jurgen (C3 San Diego North). God wants us to come to Him first and He will help. He can redeem anyone, no matter how broken or unworthy you feel. Take a step of faith and put your trust in Him. Nothing is UNREDEEMABLE for him. 


Don’t Worry / Tools for Digging Deeper!

Tips for studying the word and digging deeper.

(SIDE NOTE …. it is starting, at least in the mornings / evenings, to feel like FALL around these parts! Eeek… this Midwest girl is loving it! Although I am learning that my family really needs to dress in layers because the afternoons feel n.o.t.h.i.n.g. like fall. But with that… I am excited to use some fall’ish images)

In the post, Making Time for Coffee, I talked about a tool I love using during my devos time. I wanted to share this tool along with a little of one of my own personal testimonies, or better yet… one of my herStories and how this tool helped me dig deeper in my faith and learning more about the Bible.

The tool is called, Bible by Olive Tree. It is an app that I use on my iPad and iPhone. I believe the app itself free app, and then you can purchase different Bibles and commentaries. (I will mention that I didn’t purchase them all at the same time. I have slowly been adding to my collection for a few years now. Quiet often the app will give away free Bibles and they are on sale a lot!) 

The reason I enjoy using this tool are (the descriptions I have taken from their website):

1. You can study with the resource guide

The resource guide makes it easy to study by presenting all the relevant information in your library alongside your Bible passage.

2. You can customize your experience.

Take notes, highlight verses, bookmark your favorite passages, and watch them all sync automatically to all of your devices. 

I love that when I highlight a verse it highlights it in every version. So, I can switch back and forth easily between versions and see how they vary. I love that as I add notes throughout my “bible” they are all connected. I love that I can parallel two different versions. 

Would you like to know what My MOST favorite part about the app? The note section. Notes can be taken two different ways 1. Notes and 2. Tags. 

I love this section because as I have been reading my Bible over the years and I come across a scripture that stands out to me, I have been “categorizing” them. For instance, I will list some of my categories. Anxiety, Daily Prayers, Deployment, Direction, Finances, Gods Promises… Then when I am struggling with feeling anxious or needing a promise to hold onto, I can open the app and find scriptures that I have already found.

Let’s say, I am feeling anxiety over something, I click on the category I created, “anxiety” and I have 20 verses that I have marked and saved under this section. Here is one of the scriptures I have saved, 

2 Samuel 22:7, “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry entered His ears.”

In Samuel 22: 20b it says, “He delivered me because He delighted in me”

In verse 29, “For You are my lamp, O Lord; The Lord shall enlighten my darkness.

And in verse 33, “God is my strength, and power, And He makes my way perfect”.

OR here is one more example: I click on “Direction”: 

Isaiah 30:21, Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left. 

Now, back to the app. 

The Bibles that I particularly love are the ones that have the Strong’s Numbers attached as well as ones that come with extra study notes. 

For example, I purchased a New King James Version with Strong’s Numbers, then I also purchased the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible Notes. With just these two I am then able to read extra notes from those who have studied and studied the Bible and then also look at words in Greek and Hebrew to try and grasp a better understanding of the words as used in their first context. I also have other versions of the Bible and like I said earlier if I have any notes from my KNJV, they will be on the new Bible I open up. 

Now for a testimony of how this actually played out in the normal life of… ME !

Here is an instance where I, (being led by the Holy Spirit) was able to dig deeper using the Strong’s concordance numbers.  

Here is a short (very summarized) story from when I was pregnant with my Anna.

My uterus was not growing the “average” way they like it to so my doctor wanted me to go in for an extra ultrasound wanting to be on the safe side (which I must say in the Military is a BIG deal to get an “extra” ultrasound. Generally, you only have two. One when you are about 10 weeks and then another for the gender reveal (which they say is really only to do an anatomy scan… but really most of us are looking forward to what little parts we will or will not see on that little black screen). 

At one point, I started to get a little nervous (okay who am I kidding, EXTREMELY nervous) because the tech just didn’t seem to be acting like I had experienced in my previous ultra sound appointments. She was talking at first and then got quiet and wouldn’t really say anything. She finished with telling me that I would be hearing from my doctor. That’s encouraging, right? Yea, uh NO!

A day or so later I received a phone call from my doctor saying Anna’s kidneys looked extremely large and in other areas her sizing just didn’t seem to be growing the way she should be. Even throwing the word down syndrome into the mix.

She set up an appointment for us to be seen by a high-risk doctor and then she added, “but don’t worry it could be nothing.”

R…..I…..G…..H…..T… (blank stare….) Just take a moment to picture (if you know me) my face when she said that. HA, right, no big deal, it could be nothing. 

That Saturday morning I was thinking about all the possible decorations I could make for Anna’s room and the idea of painting a sign that read “fearfully and wonderfully made” came to my mind. I stored it in my thoughts for later then moved on with my day. 

I started doing my devos a bit later when my mom called and said she had been praying for me and felt like the Lord was saying this,

“Anna is fearfully and wonderfully made. He, has inscribed her fingerprints with his finger.”

Then no JOKE, THREE MINUTES later (I went back and checked because it just seemed like it was only a moment before my mom had called me) one of my best friends texted me this,

“Psalm 139:13-14 NIV”

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful I know that full well.

This was definitely a bit encouraging and I did feel a little better… but I was still worried and having negative thoughts.

A week later I woke up and felt as though I needed to dig deeper into that scripture. I pulled out my Bible (iPad) with the concordance and looked it up. The words I’ve bolded were the ones that stood out to me while I was reading so I clicked on them and then the words in the parentheses were some of the definitions in Hebrew. 

Psalm 139:13-14 New King James Version (NKJV)

13 For You formed (created, erect, recover, redeem)

my inward parts (a kidney, an essential organ, seat of emotion and affection);
You covered (protect)me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

Now I about dropped my iPad when I clicked on the word, “parts”, and read, “a kidney, an essential organ…” This was exactly the part the doctors were worried about. In that moment, I just knew that Anna was going to be okay. 

It was as if the fear literally fell off of me. The worry fell off of me, and I had a peace that God was telling me she was going to be 100% okay.

I then held onto thatscripture as my promise that the Lord formed and protected Anna’s kidney and that I did not need to fear an issue with her development. 

Okay so a big old story to say that one way to try and dig deeper into the Bible is when scriptures stand out to you. Be it during a sermon, or while reading the Bible, or even a devotional type study. If you’re reading something and a scripture just stands out like it is being highlighted on the page, to pause and take note of that. Generally, in my case God is trying to say something to me.