Preparing My Heart for Motherhood

Originally published on July 18, 2011. Republished in light of our top 10 celebration on PH!

With each new little one that the Lord chose to bless us with, there is a certain amount of preparation and pruning that my heart must go through before being in a place to welcome them with open hands. I honestly go through serious withdraws as the last few weeks of pregnancy linger over me. Thoughts such as, “What am I doing? Am I ready for this? Number 3? Ahh!” Can I honestly be the godly joy-filled mother that I desire to be? Can I embrace this child with a heart of love and gratitude? How can I turn my eyes from the reality of the work ahead of me and truly embrace the change?

Take a Retreat.

I have found taking a personal retreat prior to having a new little one to be an invaluable exercise towards preparing my heart for this new stage in my journey of motherhood. Get away, spend time with the Lord, read His word, and pray. Pray for grace. I must acknowledge that this task is certainly beyond my ability. I cannot be a good mother on my own strength. I will stumble and fall…time and time again. I need to let go find grace in His arms.

Meditate on the Blessing of Children.

Jesus loved children. He welcomed them. He embraced them. (Matthew 18:2-6; Mark 9:37; Matthew 19:13-15). He promised in His word that they are a blessing, a heritage, a reward. They are His generous legacy chosen to be passed down through us. Children are a weapon – a tool entrusted into our hands to be prepared to wage war in the enemies camp. With the influence and power of God’s gift of children, no one can stand against us! (Psalms 127:3; Deut. 28:4).

Embrace the Change.

I believe it is important to realize and acknowledge that motherhood is hard work. It is work. And yet it is beautiful work. When God designed work back in the Garden, He designed that it was good. Work is a good thing. I like how Timothy Keller defines work as the art of bringing together the raw materials and forming it into something that flourishes, something that brings life to those around you. I love that! So for me as a mother, my work is the art of bringing together the raw materials in my home, food, children’s hearts and character, their body’s, and working them carefully, nuturingly, beautifully, so that my children, my husband, our home, and those God sends into our lives might truly flourish.

I need to embrace the fact that God’s grace is sufficient for the change, the tireless nights, the repeated needs and demands around me. His grace is mine! It has been fashioned for me before time began. It’s new every morning. The process of mothering is a sanctifying work. Change stretches and grows us drawing us nearer to our Lord. God is working in and through to for His good pleasure. And He promises to never leave or forsake you.

So recognize that it will be work, chose to embrace it, and the Lord will cause you to flourish. This is my work. Remember that this work is your worship.

Make a Thankfulness List.

Why not make a list of simple truths and reminders that you could post near your bed as gentle reminders for those late night feedings. They could be verses that relate specifically to you or to your baby. You are beautiful (I am fearfully and wonderfully made). You are loved! (You are loved with an everlasting love).

Passing on the Torch.

Recognize the high calling and mission you are about to embark on.

Psalms 78:1-7 gives us this commission:

O my people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.

We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done...
which he commanded our forefathers
to teach their children,

so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God

and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.

That is a beautiful calling!

Read a good book.

Before each birth, I try to read a good inspiring read about the calling of motherhood. Currently, I am reading A Mother’s Heart by Jean Fleming, and it has been so refreshing to my soul. If you cannot get to a book or desire something in addition to, be refreshed by Rachel Jankovic’s articles on Motherhood: Motherhood is a Calling and Motherhood as a Mission Field. Check out my list of favorite reads on motherhood for further recommendations.

Pray for your Baby.

It’s never too early to start praying for your baby. Oh, I forget this every day. So today, I am sitting here praying for this new little life in my womb. I am praying for a particular life verse or life hymn that might be a strong reminder for them through the thick and thin of life. We have chosen a life hymn for each of our children in the past and this serves as a gentle reminder to continue to sing these hymns over them. I am also re-printing out this helpful free 31 Days of Prayer for Your Children.

So my heart is in a state of rest in this moment as my soul is prepared for this new little life. I will chose to see the beauty and embrace it wholeheartedly, as this is the work assigned to me! It is a beautiful work and His strengthen is mine for each step of the way.

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Embracing the Pain & Letting Go of Fear in Childbirth

Originally posted on May 18, 2011. Republished as part of our top 10 celebration on PH!

In this day and age, childbearing is often considered a thing to be feared. There is this overarching anxiety that we won’t be able to manage the pain of it all. We fear the baby being too large, or too small. We fear losing control. My desire here is to stop this train of thought that birthing is a thing to fear, encourage us to step back, and reflect on the beauty of the birthing process.

Childbirth is certainly work, and the intensity of it has increased as a result of the fall (Genesis 3:16). But like any work, it is doable. God’s grace is extended to sustain us through it. What we often overlook is the fact that God created birth to be a beautiful process, as we embrace the work and strive to labor for His glory. He has created the female body to be able to give birth. We were designed to be life-givers. This is what you were created to do! God has specially designed this child, conceived in your womb, to be born into this world.

Please note, there can certainly be a place for interventions as we live in a fallen world and it may not go as naturally as desired, but ultimately if our heart is trusting in the Lord, it will be a beautiful experience,  and should not be a thing to be feared. If you had a rough first experience, may I encourage you that there is grace to cover your past experiences, grace to try again, and grace to trust the sovereignty of God with whatever the results.

Understanding the purpose of pain is essential for being able to conquer fear in our hearts.

Why Pain in Labor?

The quotes below are taken from the Christian Childbirth Handbook by Jennifer Vanderlaan:

Increases Endorphins = pain management

“Pain, by its very nature, is a call to action…Pain has a physiological purpose in childbirth. The increasing intensity of the pain or discomfort increase your body’s production of endorphins. Endorphins are natural opiates that are responsible for ‘runners high’. They are also produced during sexual intimacy. Endorphins are at peak levels near the end of the labor helping you manage the pain of the contractions.”

Increases prolactin = breastfeeding success

“What is even more amazing is the endorphins your body is producing in response to the pain of labor are preparing your body to care for your child. The high endorphin levels cause your body to increase prolactin levels. Prolactin is a hormone necessary to breastfeed.”

Pain = movement = proper alignment

“Another important reason for discomfort or pain during labor is the way you naturally move your body in response to pain. It is very difficult to hold still while in pain, which works just perfectly for labor since movement is necessary for your baby to properly align in your pelvis. Without proper alignment, either you or your baby could suffer damage. Pain serves as a method of protection against a bad birth position.”

Pain = dependence upon the Lord

God often uses pain as a means of drawing our attention off ourselves and on to Him. It is a beautiful process for a woman to see this pain as a means of helping her refocus her attention on her Savior, who is her provider and source of strength. Therefore, focusing on worship, Scripture and prayer during labor are appropriate responses to the process. I believe this is all a part of the sanctifying process of childbirth. Jesus promises the peace that passes all understanding. This does not mean a perfect pain-free labor, but rather the calmness to embrace God as your strength.

“Peace is letting go of control, and letting God lead you through labor…Only God knows to what extent you will need to work during labor. You may give birth painlessly, or you may struggle through many challenges. You are only in control of how you respond to labor. It is how you handle yourself, where you turn for strength, which is important. God will give you the strength to manage whatever labor suits his purpose.”

Tips for Decreasing Pain

  • Keep your bladder empty.
  • Stay upright during labor.
  • Keep moving! Changing positions regularly.
  • Learn as much about labor as possible. Understand the process and the way your body works.
  • Chose an birthing environment where you are comfortable, safe, and relaxed.
  • Chose only people to surround you that you are comfortable with. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to all the in-laws.
  • Learn simple relaxation techniques: visualization, listening to music, relaxing each muscle in your body, deep breathing, and hydrotherapy. Practice these frequently before labor begins.
  • Keep your vocalization in labor low and deep. When we scream or yell in high pitched tones, this tightens the uterus. When we groan, we allow the cervix to open and relax.
  • Let go of fear. The more fear you have the more pain you will experience. Don’t hide it. Acknowledge it and turn to the Lord to help you with it.

Responding to Fear

It is important to first acknowledge your fear. We all have them. It is naturally a part of being human. But the important thing is to acknowledge and address your specific fears prior to labor. Labor is controlled by your sub-conscious mind, not your conscious mind. Fear in labor produces excess amounts of stress hormones in our body that can lock up your muscles and limit the supply of oxygen to your uterus and baby.

If you are experiencing fear, meditate upon Philippians 4:8 in the following manner (a valuable exercise offered in the Christian Childbirth Handbook):

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about these things.”

Write out your fear. My fear or concern is….

Now use the following questions to truly evaluate the source, motivation, and truth about your situation.

  1. What is true? (What is true about you and your situation?)
  2. What is noble? (How can you handle this situation in a noble way?)
  3. What is right? (Is there a righteous response to this fear?)
  4. What is pure? (How can you respond in a way to keep your heart devoted to God?)
  5. What is lovely? (How can this fear be worked for good?)
  6. What is admirable? (Who has overcome a similar fear: how did they do it?)
  7. What is excellent and praiseworthy? (How can you respond in a way that keeps you from sin and brings praise and glory to God?)

Philippians 4:6-7 – “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

Focus on the Blessings

One of the true blessings of labor is that God designed it to process naturally and slowly (in most cases, as some births do go extremely fast). It actually takes two weeks or longer to go through the process. Contractions gradually increase in duration and intensity rather than all at once. And God gives us total breaks of pain-free times in between contractions. These points of rest, though short, help you to breath, relax, take in fresh oxygen and energy, all of which are essential for you and your baby’s health and well being.

Focus on the new precious life that will soon be entering your arms. Focus on the beauty of new life that is being birthed from your womb. Treasure that moment.

When we let go and allow our body to flow with the contractions, we experience a unique empowerment that is hard to describe. When we focus our minds on embracing the pain, the pain somehow becomes less severe. When we get up, move, and allow our body to flow with the contractions, we embrace the design of our bodies.

For further encouragement, please read Spiritual Encouragement for Preparing & Giving Birth that highlights specific verses that are excellent for preparing your heart for labor.

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Homemade Natural Postpartum Care Kit

It is our final celebration week on Passionate Homemaking before we take a sabbatical for a period of time, so I thought it would be appropriate to share the top posts on PH in regards to childbirth concluding this weekend with an awesome giveaway of a special book that has just been released on the topic! So enjoy these favorite posts this week!

Originally posted on August 16, 2010.

There is no doubt that postpartum healing can be painful and challenging, but there are several natural methods for restoring your body in a peaceful and refreshing manner.

It is important to realize and be prepared that dealing with a large range of emotions after birth is very common. There are extreme changes happening in your body from various hormones (estrogen, progesterone, oxytocin, prolactin, and thyroid hormone) that occur after birth. Taking steps to prepare for postpartum in advance is essential for helping guard your adjusting body against the baby blues and postpartum depression that you are susceptible to after birth.

These recipes can be combined in advance for great relief, but also can be assembled as a wonderful gift set for an expectant mother.

Natural Nipple Cream

Combine equal portions of coconut oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter for a wonderfully moisturizing natural nipple cream. Coconut oil alone can often do the trick to soothing sore nipples. Use an old baby food store for storage. Apply liberally before and after nursing as desired. Completely safe for baby and moisturizing and healing for the breastfeeding mother.

Postpartum Care Pads

Witch hazel is your best friend for the postpartum healing period. Witch hazel can be used on swollen body parts (birth gives your body quite the beating), varicose veins and makes a wonderful treatment for two obnoxious new mama problems – a sore perineum and hemorrhoids. These soothing pads do wonders for soreness and swelling after vaginal birth. Prepare 18-24 ahead of time.

Overnight/Jumbo maxi pads
1/4 cup Witch hazel
2-3 drops Lavender oil
1 Tbsp Pure Aloe Vera gel
Aluminum foil

Combine witch hazel, lavender essential oil, and aloe vera gel in a small bowl and mix till thoroughly combined. Transfer to a small spray bottle. Unfold each pad, and spray each pad with the healing mixture till the pad is damp, but not soaked. Wrap each pad in foil and store them in the freezer. Witch hazel and lavender are natural astringents, so they’ll help reduce swelling, and the aloe and the cold are very soothing.

Refreshing Perineum Spray

Fill a small spray bottle with witch hazel and a few drops of lavender essential oil and apply to your perineum after you use the restroom.

Comfrey Gel

Comfrey is wonderfully healing for damaged skin, and is especially useful for lubricating the stretched, sour, and damaged skin of the perineum after childbirth. Apply a small scoop with your fingers from front to back after using the restroom postpartum. This was my favorite natural soothing relief for postpartum healing! Mountain Rose Herbs sells a Comfrey-St. John’s Wort Salve that is perfect for this use.

Healing Postpartum Bath Salts

Regular ionized table salt is wonderfully healing for sour and stretched muscles after birth. Plan to take 1-2 baths per day after birth to soak in a tub with 1 cup of salt. Add a few drops of lavendar, geranium or orange essential oil for a delightful pick-up.

Postpartum Blues Spray

Geranium or bergamot essential oils are excellent to prevent post-partum depression, so dilute a 2-3 drops in a small spray bottle or diffuse around the room to help balance all those adjusting hormones. A small spray bottle with this concoction is another great gift for a new mommy.

Homemade Mother’s Milk Tea

It’s never too early to start consuming mother’s milk tea for the hearty production of your milk supply. Start drinking 2-3 cups per day of this yummy homemade mother’s milk tea. Combine and store in a glass quart jar or give as a gift to an expectant mother.

Take time to rest, get fresh air, drink plenty of liquids and nutritional meals, and accept help that is offered to you. Set up a Meal Baby registry for those that want to provide a meal for you. Birthing a baby is a strenuous task and you want to take at least a week of very little movement to allow your body to recover properly. Becoming active too quickly can lead to further complications with excessive bleeding, and breast infections, which will only draw out the healing period. Blessings on all the soon to arrive babies out there!

You can find high quality ingredients for all of these recipes through Mountain Rose Herbs – my favorite natural healing cream, oils, and essential oil supplier!

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor do I claim to be able to give medical advice. This information is merely to educate, inspire, and motivate you to look into these issues more on your own, or to speak with your own medical practitioner for more information.

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What is the purpose of the home?

What is the significance of the home? What kind of place did God design it to be like? In this day and age, people invest thousands upon thousands of dollars in a home, and for what? Is it simply to provide temporary comfortable or to look good before our family and friends? Could there be more significance to the way God intends for us to live within our homes? These are questions that have been on my heart and mind lately. Without vision and purpose to our homemaking, we can loose sight of the eternal significance of this role.

As a result of these questions, I purposed to read every reference in the Bible to the words “home” or “house” or “hospitality”, and I was blown away by what I found. My perspective of the use of my home was far too small. God has such amazing potential for your home! You have a glorious opportunity to adopt these holy purposes:

1. The home as a place of rest.

My home, first and foremost, should be a place of rest from labor (1 Kings 8:66, 12:24, 13:7; Psalms 126:6), refuge (Josh. 20:6; 2 Kings 14:12; 2 Sam. 18:17; Zech 10:10), and refreshment for my husband and children. This is most common purpose indicated through the Bible. It was intended to be a place of joy (2 Chron. 7:10; Psalms 126:6), a place to make happy with your spouse (Deut. 24:5). Can my family find rest in my home? Or is there constant tension or turmoil? Is there too much clutter that the body cannot rest?

My home should be a place to welcome home my husband in celebration style. The women of old welcomed back their men in joyful celebration from the battlefield (1 Sam. 18:6). Our husbands face many battles at work throughout their day, conquering challenges, guarding against temptation, and have successfully brought home the bacon! Therefore; he deserves a joyful welcoming. Do I welcome my hubby home with a shout and joyful excitement? Does he eagerly look forward to coming home?

2. The home as a place to cultivate learning.

It should have a continual atmosphere of learning and teaching of both knowledge and Biblical truth. “And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up…Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deut. 6:6-9) Is truth being taught and cultivated daily in my home? Am I seeking to train and teach my children in everything we do? What kind of lessons can I teach while we clean together, prepare meals, and cultivate the home?

3. The home as a holy place.

It should be guarded from all things that might taint the holy dwelling. It is designed to be a place of protection for sinful temptation. A place where nothing abominable might dwell (Deut. 7:26). Are there any destructive influences coming into my home through books, technology, internet, or television?

4. The home as a place where thankfulness dwells.

It should be a place where we testify of the Lord’s goodness to our family, friends, and neighbors (Mark 5:19; Luke 15:6). We see the New Testament believers sharing meals, breaking bread, and celebrating together (Acts 2:46). Great generosity, sincerity, and thankfulness abounded in the home. Does an atmosphere of thankfulness pervade my home? How can I be more purposeful in cultivating a spirit of joy and gratitude in my home? Is the conversation around our dinner table one that encourages and blesses others, that acknowledges God’s work in our lives?

5. The home as a place to welcome strangers, refugees, the homeless, and hungry.

I was struck repeatedly by the numerous references to the home as a place to welcome strangers. The word ‘hospitality’ literally means: ‘welcoming strangers’. We see Lot looking around at the entrances of the city to welcome any stranger into his home (Gen. 24:23,31), and Abraham running up to strangers and welcoming them to his tent for a meal and refreshment (Gen. 19:2-3). If we feed the hungry and provide a home for the homeless, the promise is that ‘salvation will come!’ (Isaiah 58:7). So not only is the home to be a place of rest for family, but also for strangers, foreigners, and refugees.

Feasts of generous proportion should be offered amongst an atmosphere of reflecting on God’s goodness (Prov. 23:6-8; Prov. 9:1-5; Gen 26:30; 1 Tim. 6:18). As soon as Levi becomes a follower of Jesus, we see him practicing hospitality by holding a mighty feast/banquet in his home and welcoming Jesus and all his friends (Luke 5:27-31). This was not natural for him. It took effort, preparation, and generosity.

The Israelites were called to remember that they were once foreigners and aliens, and therefore to love others as they loved themselves (Lev. 19:34). Offering hospitality was a moral imperative. We all were once strangers and refugees who were graciously taken in by God (Deut. 10:19). There ought to be no loneliness in the home, but rather comfort and joy should overflow. How often do I eagerly run like Abraham to welcome others into my home? How often do I extend generous hospitality to someone new, lonely, or homeless?

“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” (Hebrews 13:2)

6. A place to minister to the church, missionaries and evangelists.

“When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13). Throughout the New Testament we see people opening their homes to missionaries to find rest and refreshment (Luke 10:38-42; Acts 16:15), as demonstrated by Martha & Mary, and Lydia.

7. The home as a place that reflects our eternal home.

Lastly, our home should always be viewed as a temporary dwelling and an image or reflection of our eternal home (Hebrew 11:14; 2 Cor. 5:1, 8-9). It should not be a place we store much treasure in. The way we offer hospitality should image the glorious celebration that will take place at the end of the age. When people come into my home, they should sense the presence of the Lord. They should sense the joy and celebration that comes from living for Jesus. It should be a taste of heaven.

Wow! The potential you have for the use of your home is incredible. Are you willing to join me in adopting this glorious purpose for cultivating the home?

If our view of our homes is shortsighted, there is no motivation to accomplish the menial tasks of maintaining it. If we don’t cultivate a high and holy design for our homes, it is easy to slip into thoughts of frustration, comparison, or purposelessness.

If we view our homes as a place of hospitality – to welcome our families and the hurting around us – there will be so much more strength and motivation to keep it clean, organized, and prepared.

I’ve heard that Edith Schaeffer, wife of the late Francis Schaeffer, led more students to Christ through her cinnamon rolls than her husband did through all his philosophical discussions.What will be said of you?

Has your vision for your home grown today?

Republished from the archives for our Top 10 Celebration. Originally published April 14, 2010.

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Homemade All-Natural Deodorant

This is the top homemade recipe posts that I shared here on Passionate Homemaking in the very beginning that has been passed around the internet in incalculable ways, so I thought it was fit to re-share it with you all in our top 10 celebration! Did you get a chance to try it? Our family continues to use this recipe to this day.

Republished from March 21, 2008. Updated to include FAQ’s, photo, and video tutorial.

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 It 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.

Did you know you can make your own wonderful effective deodorant with just a few completely natural ingredients? This recipe is awesome! It’s even edible! It is frugal and very effective! Aaron & I have been using it for over two years now, and it has worked wonders. It smells wonderful, but very faint. For years I tried every natural alternative on the market without much success. It has been successfully tried by hundreds of readers! Coconut oil is an all natural oil that has wonderful anti-bacterial and immune boosting qualities. It can effectively nourish and moisturize the skin. This recipe is also very frugal, costing less than a dollar per batch.

Ingredients:

6-8 Tbsp Coconut oil (solid state)
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch (arrowroot is preferred)

Directions:

  1. Combine equal portions of baking soda & arrowroot powder/cornstarch.
  2. Slowly add coconut oil and work it in with a spoon or hand blender until it maintains a firm but pliable texture. It should be about the same texture as commercial deodorant, solid but able to be applied easily. If it is too wet, add further arrowroot powder/cornstarch to thicken.
  3. You can either scoop this recipe into your old deodorant dispensers or place in a small container with lid and apply with fingers with each use. Makes about 1 cup. This recipe lasts about 3 months for two people with regular daily use.

For a picture tutorial placing this recipe in an old deodorant container, visit here.

UPDATE (5/17/12): Today I tried using a immersion hand blender to make the deodorant, and it worked surprisingly well. It took maybe 10 seconds to combine the ingredients without a mess or heating and melting the ingredients too much, which is the main concern when using a electric mixing alternative. If it becomes too liquidy, it is difficult to apply, so limit your mixing to no more than 5-10 seconds for best results. It firmed right up when I let it sit for a bit in the storage container. Great option to simplify the process! 

Check out my video tutorial for a visual guide through this recipe. Excuse my nervousness….yes, this is the first time I have gotten behind the camera for this site!

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ar0BF6hMuGE

Frequently Asked Questions

Since the original publication of this post, I have received numerous repeated questions. I have compiled them all here.

1. I am having issues with an itchy rash under my armpits. Any solutions?

Baking soda can be an irritant for some people. Sometimes this may be a detoxing method of the body to remove impurities in your skin from previous standard deodorants. If you wait it out a few weeks, it may disappear altogether, as it happened with me. If not, try decreasing the baking soda by 1 Tbsp and replacing with more cornstarch/arrowroot powder. Itchiness can also often be related to applying this too soon after shaving. Wait an hour or two after shaving to apply. Add 1/4 cup shea butter or cocoa butter to the recipe for its healing benefits is another alternative. You also can try using arrowroot powder as it is more natural on the skin or make sure to choose a talc-free cornstarch. The final option is to apply a thin layer of aloe vera gel/juice to your skin for its healing benefits before applying the deodorant. It will help cool, refresh, and prevent irritations to the skin.

2. Can you use any other oils for this recipe?

It is possible to use other oils on this recipe, such as sweet apricot oil, but we do not recommend other oils simply because they are not as effective as coconut oil with its anti-bacterial benefits. Apricot or olive oil also remain liquid in form, and thus make this messy to apply. Coconut oil remains solid under 76 degrees, so it is perfect for deodorant. You can use palm oil as it is another natural oil that is solid at room temperature, but again not as effective as coconut oil.

3. Will this deodorant stain my clothes?

Not likely or not any more than a standard deodorant or antiperspirant. I have only noticed slight staining on white garments, but this can be avoided by soaking with soap after wearing and before washing. Dishwashing soap and hot water are very effective stain removers.

4. What kind of coconut oil can I use? Is there a recommended brand?

It is recommended to use a high quality coconut oil purchased from a health food store, if possible. I recommend Mountain Rose Herbs coconut oil for its superior quality and benefits. Other recommended brands include Nutiva, Tropical Traditions, and Wilderness Family Naturals. You can also use refined coconut oil, as that version is suitable for the skin but not recommended for consumption. Refined coconut oil will be cheaper in price.

5. Can I add essential oils to this recipe?

Yes, feel free to add various essential oils for the added scent, but beware that essential oils can cause irritations. Start with making a small batch to make sure you do not react. Tea tree oil is an excellent oil to add for its pleasant scent (men and women alike enjoy it), and it has great antibacterial qualities.

6. Is there any solution for preventing this from melting? (Note: coconut oil melts at 76 degrees).

If you live in a particularly warm climate, add a little melted candelilla wax or beeswax to the mixture. Store in your fridge, if necessary. For summer travel, I recommend storing in a cooler. Remove from cooler or refrigerator 10 minutes before use to allow it to soften slightly for application.

7. What’s the benefit of using arrowroot powder over cornstarch?

You are free to use cornstarch or arrowroot powder as desired. Arrowroot is a more natural thickening agent alternative. I use arrowroot powder as an alternative to cornstarch in all my cooking. Arrowroot powder is available through your local health food store, Whole Foods, Azure Standard, or Bob’s Red Mill.

8. I am allergic to coconut oil, is there any alternatives?

I have heard people experiencing success by replacing coconut oil with equal quantities of shea butter and cocoa butter. You can also use palm oil because it remains solid like coconut oil. Add a few drops of tea tree essential oil for the antibacterial properties.

9. I am heavy sweater? Is this an antiperspirant?

No, this is not an antiperspirant, so you will sweat but it will definitely be decreased quantities. Sweating is a natural bodily process that is necessary for health in removing toxins from your body. I am definitely a heavy sweater myself, but this deodorant works to remove the smells like nothing else I have ever tried. I do recommend multiple applications if you are doing strenuous work or exercise for it to be effective.

Learn more about the benefits of coconut oil and all its wonderful uses here.

To read all the reviews on this recipe, check out the original post here.

Please note: Passionate Homemaking is an affiliate of Mountain Rose Herbs (my coconut oil source) and receives a small percentage of each sale purchased through my links. I only recommend products that I have successfully use and can highly recommend.
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Finding Joy in Your Homemaking

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There are many frequent days in my pursuit of passionate homemaking that I have to fight for joy. I get weary from the constant demands of preparing meals, to wiping sweet bottoms, to dealing with cranky attitudes, to reading the same story for the millionth time. From sun up to sun down, a mother’s work is never done.

I know I am not alone. I know that you and I alike must purposefully strive to cultivate joy. You are about an eternal work.

God has assigned you a glorious task, how do we not loose sight of it?

1. Remember, each day is a gift.

“So here it is, another day. I did nothing to deserve it. I just woke up this morning, and there it was. I may have expected it to be there, but I had no right to. Just like Christmas morning, I got up to find a present waiting for me, a brand new day. Yes, today is a gift. And it has my name on the tag. This present from God has been custom-made for me. God has filled it with blessings, some obvious and some in disguise, its difficulties and challenges are tailored to fit my size. It may not be exactly what I asked for, but it is exactly what I need.” Read the full article by Russell Board, World Magazine.

This is a quote that deserves a place over my bed to read every morning. It is a simple reminder that each day is filled with God’s grace to accomplish the tasks assigned to me. Each struggle and challenge is perfectly designed to help grow and strengthen me in my faith, homemaking, and mothering skills. Remember, “this is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Each day, my son or daughter gets a little older. Each moment with them is a gift. Let’s actively pursue joy!

2. Keep an eternal perspective.

I was recently meditating upon this verse: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Col. 3:23). I was struck by these thoughts that I recorded in my journal:

In your mothering and homemaking, Lindsay, this is work indeed, and yet it is valuable work through which you can bring glory to God. Do this work – changing diapers, kissing bruises, training hard hearts, guiding souls – do it for Jesus! This work will bring forth eternal reward. Don’t do it complaining. Don’t run from it. Don’t fret or cultivate discontentment. Pursue it passionately for Jesus! Take control of your thoughts. Think about the things of heaven (eternal souls in my hands), and not the temporary things of this earth (lose of sleep, free time, late nights out, etc).

3. Take a walk.

When you are weary or feel like you need a break, take a walk. It is a simple and practical step, but it does wonders to your physical and mental well-being. I strive to get outdoors frequently, if not daily, to enjoy God’s creation, breath deeply the fresh air, and refreshment pours over my body.

4. Have a vision/purpose for your home.

Do you have a mission statement? This is something I have been praying through lately. What is my mission? What is my purpose in the home? I challenge you to compile a mission statement for yourself using the excellent guide provided by Kat at Inspired to Action. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18). A mission statement will help focus you on the priorities, guide you in making better decisions, and keep your view above the changing tide of circumstances.

My mission in my home is to cultivate a simple, peaceful haven or rest for my family and anyone that might enter my home. My mission is to make my home a place of blessing (1 Chron. 16:43), joy (2 Chron. 7:10), learning (1 Cor. 14:35), training (Deut. 6:7), and testifying together of the Lord’s goodness (Acts 2:46). Having this vision behind me continually is a great source of refreshment.

For further help in developing a mission statement, check out The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen Covey, and their online guide.

5. Dig deep into the Word of God.

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future” (Prov. 31:25). How does the virtuous woman have the ability to laugh? She is confident in the Lord. She daily finds her strength and confidence in spending time with Him. Find a method that works for you (listen to a sermon podcast while you work), but don’t leave it out of your day if you want to pursue joyful homemaking.

Your attitude has a powerful effect on the atmosphere of your home.

It can be a place of warmth and rest in the presence of a joyful women, or it can be a place of discouragement and depression in the place of a joyless women.

It’s your choice today.

How can you cultivate a joyful heart today?

Originally published April 5, 2010. Original comments included below.

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Digging Out of the Pit of Guilty Motherhood

I failed miserably in my mothering today. Everything from getting coats and shoes on, to going potty in underwear, to getting out of bed before the proper time. Each situation was responded to with an outburst of anger and frustration.

I experience guilt on many levels in my motherhood. I feel guilty when my house isn’t clean, organized, or I don’t have the energy to design all these glorious organizing tools (thanks Pinterest! ;) . I feel like a failure when I don’t spend enough quality time with my children or waste too much time on my phone or computer browsing this and that. I feel guilty when we don’t do family devotions as if my children’s salvation was all dependent upon me. I feel like a terrible homemaker when I don’t get anything done on my to-do list. So in response to my guilt, I get frustrated and the cycle continues. It’s a dangerous pit of self focus that destroys my joy.

The only means through which we can find deliverance out of this battlefield of guilt, condemnation, and anger is through the power of the gospel. The only lasting freedom can come through acknowledging what Christ has done on my behalf.

We have to steep ourselves in the power of the gospel. We have to soak it in.

I have to remind myself that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Yes, you and I will surely fail. But we have a glorious Savior who bore our condemnation. He bore our guilt. It was nailed to the cross. So in our failure, we can have hope. Christ Jesus has replaced our sinful record with His perfect righteous record.

As Elyse Fitzpatrick says, “When you are tempted to slide down into a miry pit of self-condemnation, you can remember Jesus’ sinless life and the perfect record that is now yours. Yes, it’s true that you sin heinously and consistently, but you have a perfect record before God, the only one who opinion really matters.”

“Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. (Romans 3:24)”

You have a perfect record.

Colossians 1:16-17 says,The Father…has qualified you [past tense; it's finished] to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us [past tense again; the deliverance is completed] from the domain of darkness and transferred us [past tense once more: the transferal is already concluded] to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have [present tense; this very moment we possess it] redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

My outbursts of anger were nailed to the cross before I even walked this earth. My fear of failure is a waste of my energy. He paid the greatest price for them. In order to experience true freedom from guilt, I must stop focusing on all that I need to do in order to become a better mother. I must first turn my gaze upon what He has already done for me.

The only way to become a better mom is to preach the gospel to myself every day. It’s not by behaving that makes me a better mom, it’s by believing- believing more deeply in what He has accomplished.

God doesn’t call me to be perfect. He calls me to embrace my standing before him, and to run in that freedom he has already granted to me! I am adored by Christ! I am redeemed! I am accepted!

Ultimately, when I enslave myself by guilt I am mocking what He did on the cross, I am disbelieving the grace and mercy purchased for me through his sinless life. This guilt is witness to the fact that I am depending upon my own strength. I am believing that my children will only grow, flourish, and follow Christ if I do this certain set of practices.

So when you are tempted to put another brick of guilt on yourself, may I encourage you to stop, and declare with me:

“Because Jesus was strong for me, I am free to be weak;
because Jesus won for me, I am free to lose;
because Jesus was someone, I am free to be no one;
because Jesus was extraordinary, I am free to be ordinary;
because Jesus succeeded for me, I am free to fail.” -Tullian Tchividjian

Praise God for the full and abundant life I have in Christ!

Jesus loves me just as much today as He did yesterday!

Many of these insights have been gleaned through Tullian’s powerful book, Jesus + Nothing = Everything.

{Photo Credit}

Originally published February 9, 2012. Original comments included below.

Comments { 96 }

Taking A Weekly Planning & Prayer Retreat

Screen shot 2009-10-25 at 2.06.51 PMPhoto by renmeleon

Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed.
Proverbs 16:3

Are you feeling overwhelmed or discouraged? I cannot express how much adding a simple weekly planning and prayer retreat has assisted me in maintaining a joyful heart in my homemaking! After feeling completely overwhelmed, physically exhausted, and being prone to be quick tempered with my children, I knew the enemy was trying to attack my joy and make me unproductive. I am realizing more and more how he seeks to attack me by discrediting my role and tempting me to compare myself with others.  After much prayer, the Lord led me to begin adding this time away as a regular routine in my life. Thankfully, my husband been graciously willing to watch the children for an hour or two every Sunday morning so I can get away and pray, refocus and plan. I have been doing this consistently for about a month now, and I have found such refreshment, renewed joy, and encouragement in the journey of homemaking and mothering. It has been invaluable!

I want to encourage you ladies to pray about how you might begin to get away for a short time on a regular basis, if not once a week, maybe once a month. Whatever works for your family. Just getting out of the house and sitting in our car with my Bible, notebook, and laptop suffices most of the time! Occasionally, I will go down to the local coffee shop or drive down to the waterfront and just sit in my car and watch the water. Sitting out in nature really helps me focus on the Lord.

Each week in my planning season, I start by thanking the Lord for each and every blessing from the previous week. I thank Him for how He has grown and challenged me in my faith. Then I begin to pray over the new week and for anyone in particular that He lays on my heart. What would the Lord have me do this week?

Then I begin writing in my simple spiral bond notebook. I make a basic to-do list with check boxes for the week and then assign the tasks to one or two per day. I keep my to-do list very basic. There is usually no more than 10 items on my to-do list, and they include various housecleaning tasks, errands that need to be done, etc. I then proceed to evaluate how I can be useful for the Lord this week. How can I practically be productive and fruitful not only in my homemaking but also for the kingdom? How can I serve my husband? How can I reach out to one person this week? I try to find one way to serve or express appreciation to my husband (whether it be a note of encouragement on his desk or in an email), and one way I could minister to someone this week. Is there someone that could use a note of encouragement? Is there a neighbor I could invite over to dinner?

After completing my to-do list, I make a menu plan for the week. I base this off my monthly menu plan, but simply choose meals from it to prepare for the week. I will jot down any notes in relation to the meals and any preparation that needs to be made in advance, so I don’t forget! ;)

I also write out a basic blog post plan for the week. Then I take some time to read the Word, pray again over my to-do list to make sure it lines up with the Word of God, my priorities in this season of my life, and to dedicate my week to the Lord. I also like to take time to pray for my husband and children.

Having this time of peace and solitude allows me to refocus on the Lord, what he has assigned me to do, and to acknowledge my complete dependence upon Him. It has been a huge blessing! My weeks in turn have been so much more peaceful and productive. Ultimately, it is not about the to-do list, but more about renewing my soul in the Lord. I want to run in such a way as to win the prize and please my Lord. I want to do my work heartily as to the Lord. If I am stressed, I need to step back and take time to pray and re-evaluate what has gone astray in my life. This simple weekly retreat has accomplished these things for me right now.

The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9) The Lord is ultimately in control of all things!

Do you take a retreat on a regular basis? How do you practically plan for the week?

Originally published October 26, 2009

Comments { 59 }

Start Your Day by Getting Dressed

Over the past two days my productivity levels have been miniscule. In fact, it has been nearly 11 o’clock before I even got dressed for the day. The messes around my home have seemed to be unending and the neediness of my children only escalating throughout the day. We didn’t have time for any schooling let alone breather time until naps because I was just in cleanup mode.

I woke up this morning and felt the Lord giving me a gentle prompt: Why don’t you start your day by simply getting dressed? Dress yourself first and foremost with the gospel and then put on your physical clothing for the day.

As Ephesians 6:10-18 reminds us of the importance of putting on the truth, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” The enemy certainly likes to take advantage of my spirit and enjoys overwhelming me with thoughts of failure and discouragement when I have not first equipped my soul with a reminder of the beauty of God’s grace. My Lord loves me despite my failures…He bore them all. He gives the grace for me to embrace the work He has assigned me.

Seems like two basic concepts. I’m sure you have heard them before (I recall flylady encourages this!), but the depth of the impact wasn’t so amazing contrasting to me till today. I just needed that gentle reminder and encouragement from the Spirit. I woke up, spent a few moments in the Word so I could saturate my heart in the gospel before beginning my day (I’m currently reading one chapter in the Old Testament, followed by 1-2 verses in the NT to meditate on), acknowledge my dependence upon the Lord, and then I got dressed from head to toe. This was 30 minutes before my little ones began waking up. But simply getting myself ready for the day increased my productivity immensely. I felt refreshed and ready to go. My soul was happy in the Lord. On the other hand, waking to my children is challenging. I feel like I have to jump into the roller coaster ride without first preparing myself. If I dress myself, my children get a much more joyful momma.

Now I’ll be honest and say that my hair wasn’t tidied up till later in the day, but I was dressed…and somehow just getting dressed was a huge help! (Laying out my clothes the night before would be another helpful step!) There were certainly still challenges throughout the day, messes of yucky attitudes to deal with and hearts to reunite in love for one another, but I was much more peaceful and self-controlled, thanks to God’s amazing grace. We were able to get so many things accomplished today. Praise the Lord!

This is goal #1 for this year!

What’s one thing that you like to do that helps start your day out right?

Please note: Ultimately, I want to assure you there is complete grace for whatever season you might be in. Rising early is not a requirement for your Christian faith. This has just been a means of grace for me personally. Practicing this habit of getting dressed before starting your day doesn’t require it to be done before the kids get up, even if you can just get dressed before going downstairs or attending to the kids, you will find it very beneficial!

{Photo Credit}

Originally published on January 6, 2012.

 

Comments { 100 }

A New Year to Rest

As I prayed over the new year and the future of this blog, The Lord has been prompting my heart that it is time for a season of rest. 2012 was a very challenging year for our family, from business failure, to insomnia, to over committing ourselves in service. I have been writing and editing here at Passionate Homemaking for over 5 years now and it has been the most amazing journey. I started out as a simple family update blog and it quickly soared into an amazing highly trafficked website as I shared about my passions in natural and frugal living. To this day, there are over 20,000 subscribers. I never planned for it. I never anticipated the income that came with it. It was never my goal. I didn’t plan to have a big blog…but God had other plans for my simple and messy words. I was just an empty vessel desiring to be used by my Lord.

I would have never imagined how God was going to use this site. Day by day, I have received the most encouraging emails and comments from ladies all over the world that have been impacted in some way through this online ministry. It has been a little outlet for me to be able to use my gifts to bless others from my home, which has been my heart and passion for so long. I have seen people come to know Jesus, or simply be inspired in realizing that there are others out there who struggle just as you do. Through the resources we have earned in sponsors and giveaways, we have been able to fully support two different orphan homes first in Cambodia and then in India, in addition to many other giving opportunities. All glory be to God!

I honestly admit that I have struggled for quite a few months now, struggling with lack of inspiration and ideas for posts. It has been challenging to maintain the blog while juggling all my various responsibilities within my home, church, and community. I have struggled repeatedly with my identity and comparing myself with others in the blogosphere. God has used it to prune and refine me and make me more like Himself. I’m tired of this sin in my heart. I’m tired of finding my approval in this stuff rather than wholeheartedly in my Lord. I’m just ready to let that all go once and for all.

I have been sensing that it is time for a lengthy sabbatical. God has been prompting me in this for awhile, but I’ve been fighting hard. It’s been one of the hardest decisions I have made. It’s not something I wanted to give up. I have loved this little world from my computer screen. But I feel like I have loved it too much as well. I want to fully live in the here and now. I want to turn my full attention closer to home, towards nurturing the relationships closer to home, rather than stretching myself too thin in various committments. I do not want to fight what God is leading me to do…even if it means letting go.

I may be back again…but I’m waiting on Gods timing. He may have a new adventure in store. In the meantime, I wanted to share throughout the month of January, the top ten posts that have been written on Passionate Homemaking over the last 5 years. These are posts that I feel God has used in sweet and powerful ways and I wanted to share them with you all once again as a parting present for a time. All the resources here will still be fully available for your use and service. Although comments will be removed as I will not be able to moderate them.

Also, I wanted to share a few blogs that I feel would be very worthwhile to mention for you to enjoy that have served in inspiring me over the years that may effectively take my place. Many of these blog authors have become dear friends over the years:

Girl Talk Home

Inspired to Action

Heavenly Homemakers

Grace Full Mama

Keeper of the Home

You all will remain in my hearts and prayers…thank you for taking this journey with me! Thank you for all your love and support! Thank you for choosing to follow me here in my own little messy world. I love you dearly even if I have only meet a tiny fraction of you. May you be strengthened in The Lord and be empowered to embrace joy and thankfulness where you are, whatever season of life it may be. May you be faithful to bring Him much glory! Treasure the precious moments he has given you. Smell the flowers and rejoice in His loving care of you!

I want to conclude with a quote that has been my life quote:

“Only one life, twill soon be past…Only what’s done for Christ will last.” – C.T. Studd

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