Homemade Natural Chapstick

I frequently experience dry and chapped lips and often use chapstick as a means of solving the dryness and providing me with moisture and comfort to my lips. Today, I want to share with you a simple tutorial on how to make your own chapstick with 3 completely natural ingredients. They happen to be my favorite: shea butter, coconut oil, and beeswax. These ingredients help moisturize, sooth, heal, and restore dry lips naturally. They grow in creation and team up together for a very effective lip balm! The balance in the ingredients gives it a very moisturizing and non-greasy affect. It blends into your lip in a matter of a few seconds and does not leave a glistening oil appearance. This recipe is so easy, it would make great Christmas stocking stuffers. And the beauty of it is that this simple recipe also makes a fabulous hard lotion bar – perfect for dry and cracked skin. You can easily make a smaller or larger quantity as desired. Any extra can be made into a hard lotion bar by pouring into ice cube trays.

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons beeswax (about 1 oz)
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
2 Tablespoons shea butter
12 lip balm containers
dropper

Directions:

1. Melt beeswax in a small pan or crockpot over low heat. Add coconut oil and shea butter until all ingredients a melted. Add a few drops essential oil if desired. I did not use any essential oil and it is smells wonderfully like honey!
2. Using a small medicinal dropper, pour the melted liquid into your lip balm containers. Add a few extra drops to the top after filling each container as the ingredients will shrink as they cool.
3. Cool completely to harden. Cover with cap and decorate or label as desired.

Enjoy nice cool and refreshing natural lips!

I purchased all the ingredients, including dropper and lip balm containers from Mountain Rose Herbs.

This video is offered courtesy of Made On Hard Lotion bars, where you can purchase these lovely lip balms already prepared for you!

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One Thousand Gifts: Learning to See and Name Every One

Photo Credit

One of my goals this year was to become a radically thankful woman. I know in my heart that thankfulness is key to true joy in this life. I know that I could truly experience the fullness of life when my heart chose to purposefully focus on the good. I know my life could bring honor and praise to my Creator, and attract a watching world around me, when I was thankful and did not take for granted the precious gift of this life. This is my quest.

And yet so often, I falter in depression. I stumble into focusing on my little daily troubles – the ever growing laundry pile, the messy toys thrown here and there, and the financial struggles of staying within our budget. I loss sight of the good…I loss sight of the beauty all around me.

Since meeting Ann Voskamp at the Relevant Conference this last month, I have been challenged again and again by her life and witness. Her mission has been to list out one thousand gifts – watching, recording, and naming all the sweet little gifts that God bestows each and every day that we so often pass by without a second thought. She has desired to see and savor every moment. It is a list of one thousand gifts. Not what she wants. But what she has.

“I don’t need more time to breath so that I may experience more locales, possess more, accomplish more. Because wonder really could be here – for the seeing eye.”

I have witnessed her passion and I can see the way it has changed her life. By focusing on every little gift, through the thick and thin, she radiates such true joy that speaks clearly through her speaking and writing. I am eager to follow in her example. She has now surpassed one thousand and is into the second thousand, but she continues to write, and observe each and every day, what sweetness the daily grace that God supplies. Observing every time God whispers “I love you” in the here and now.

I started my very own gratitude journal earlier this year, but have strayed. This month I am starting anew. I have my little notebook. I keep it with me throughout the day. I jot down little gifts here and there. And my life is already beginning to be transformed. Praise is what I was made for!

“The holy grail of joy is not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience. The joy wonder could be here! Here, in the messy, piercing ache of now, joy might be – unbelievably – possible! The only place we need see before we die is this place of seeing God, here and now.”

My goal is to record 1000 gifts over a period of 6 months – which equals out to recording 5 gifts per day. I know as I get going, and I pray God transforms my eyes to see the beauty all around me, that I will quickly surpass this goal as I get enraptured by these gifts. I am joining the Gratitude Community and will be sharing my gifts via twitter and collectively here every month during my monthly family journal. Will you join me?

Ann shares in her amazing book, One Thousand Gifts, (coming in January) that the last thing Jesus did before facing His death was sitting down, breaking bread, and giving thanks (Luke 22:19). In the Greek, it is eucharisteo. It means thanksgiving. At its root it means grace and its derivative is joy. This deep joy is found only at the eucharisteo – the table of thanksgiving. We start our week at the table of thanksgiving and communion at church. We take bread every day. These are moments and opportunities that Jesus intended for us to give thanks. The act of eucharisteo – thanksgiving- always proceeds the miracle (John 11:41). It is the central symbol of Christianity. True wellness and completeness is promised to the one who gives thanks (Luke 17:17-19).

We will enter into the full life when we habitually practice and learn the art of giving thanks. It is a hunt – a journey – a discipline. But this is where true contentment is found.

“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live..He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.” - Albert Schweitzer

And thus I begin…

#1 – The sweet moments in the early morning reading the Word with my husband
#2 – The delight of cuddling in his strong arms
#4 – A warm house that shelters from the storms outside
#6 – The sweet joys of smothering my little ones with kisses
#8 – Talking until I fade into oblivion
#10 – The glorious ability to read and enter so many different worlds
#16 – Meeting new people and new friendships sprouting
#18 – Two freezers full of food
#25 – The first “please” that comes from my little boy’s mouth learning his manners
#26 – The precious “I love you, Mommy” initiated by my girl

I started on November 1st and have already surpassed 100 gifts. There is so much to be thankful for when we slow down, stop, and simply observe. It is beautiful!

The quotes above are all taken from Ann’s book, One Thousand Gifts, a book that I highly recommend, one that is transforming my life. I was blessed to receive a digital copy as an attendee at the Relevant Conference. It is set to be released in January 2011, so add it to your wish list!

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Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

With the holidays just around the corner, we cannot miss out on a large pot of mashed potatoes! They are truly delicious when topped with gravy or simply eaten on their own. Mashed potatoes are a huge hit for our family, and we serve them with roast chicken, beef burgundy, and many other meat dishes. I find most mashed potatoes to be dry and flavorless…but not when prepared with these simple ingredients! Don’t skimp on the butter – it makes a world of difference!

8 large yukon gold potatoes (yukon gold make the most golden delicious mashed potatoes)
1 cup potato water (reserved from cooking liquid – can be replaced with chicken broth or cream for even more flavor!)
1/4 cup mayonnaise (can use cream cheese or sour cream, as desired)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup butter (or 5-6 Tablespoons)
1 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper

Directions:

1. Peel the potatoes and cut into quarters. Place in a large pot and fill with water just until the potatoes are covered. Cover and bring to a boil. When boiling, remove lid and allow to cook for about 35-40 minutes, until potatoes are easy to prick with a fork due to softness and falling apart. Allow to cool slightly.
2. Carefully drain the majority of the water, reserving approximately 1 cup. Place all the potatoes and reserved 1 cup of the potato water in a mixer. Turn the mixer on and blend until all the potatoes are nicely mashed.
3. Add mayonnaise, minced garlic, butter and salt. Continue to mix until thoroughly combined. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Add more liquids if necessary to make a creamy consistency.

Keep warm till ready to serve! Yum!

Yield: 6 servings.

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Stretching A Whole Chicken for 4+ Meals

Every year our family purchases 12 lovely pastured chickens from a local farm. Chickens that have enjoyed the great outdoors to their hearts content makes the most nutritious bird. Only 12 chickens? Yes, I use one chicken each month and make it stretch for at least four or more meals for our family of four. It is a great frugal way to get the most value and nutrition by purchasing them whole. You get all bones which make fabulous broth! Here I am today to share our method of preparing multiple meals from one chicken at one time.

Roasted Chicken

The first step is to thaw the whole chicken and prepare it into a scrumptious roast while a batch of mashed potatoes, gravy, and a side salad!

Ingredients:

1 large chicken (4-6 pounds)
2 Tablespoons softened butter or coconut oil
2 Tablespoons melted butter, coconut oil, or olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon parsley, oregano, or basil (or combination)
sea salt and pepper
Rosemary

Directions:

1. Wash and pat dry the exterior and interior of your chicken. Remove any giblets that may be in the cavity and set aside for your broth.

2. Combine the 2 Tablespoon butter with garlic and parsley/oregano/basil seasonings. Carefully peel back the skin at the back of the neck and rub the butter seasoning mix all around the meat, between the skin and meat. This will give the meat a wonderful moist texture. You can skip this step if you are in a hurry and the meat will still be fabulous with just the outside oil and seasoning!

3. Place chicken in a roasting pan, dutch/french oven, or any oven safe pan you may have. Preferably the more fitted the container the better for keeping all the juices together. Place the chicken breast side down into the pan.

4. Cover chicken with half the melted butter/oil and season with salt, pepper, and rosemary as desired.

5. Place uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.

6. After 1 hour, rotate the chicken and sprinkle on the remaining butter/oil and season as desired and return to oven for an additional 1 hour.

7. Chicken is done when the legs pull away from the body of the chicken and if you cut in between the leg and body and the juice runs clear.

8. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

We slice up this chicken and serve with this yummy gravy:

Chicken drippings
1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and whisk together till smooth and thickened. Season to taste.

We don’t eat a lot of meat at any given meal, but make it stretch further by eating more vegetables. As you can see in the photo, I serve the roast chicken over mashed potatoes with a side of broccoli and squash. This really helps to get the most amount of meals from one chicken.

After we have this fabulous chicken for dinner, I place the entirety of the remaining chicken in the fridge overnight. In the morning I prepare the following two dishes at once, because it saves time and energy. Sometime the next day, de-bone the chicken and remove all the chicken meat and place in a separate bowl. Set aside two cups of meat for Chicken & Dumplings, and two cups of meat for Chicken Curry or another dish of your choice. These can be placed in a half gallon jar in the fridge till ready for use. Any additional meat is used for chicken sandwiches to send with hubby for lunches.

Chicken Stock

Bones from 1 whole chicken
Gizzards or feet (optional)
1/2 cup white vinegar
12-16 cups filtered water
1/2 onion, chopped in half
2-4 carrot peelings
2 celery sticks and tops
1 bunch parsley (or 1 Tablespoon or so dried parsley)

Homemade chicken stock is full of healing properties.

1. Place all the bones in a large stock pot. Leave a small portion of the chicken on the bone if you desire to make a chicken soup. Add the reserved giblets, chicken feet, or any additional bones you may have reserved.

2. Fill the pot with approximately 12-16 cups of filtered water.

3. Add white vinegar and allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes. Vinegar is necessary to draw out the minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium, into the broth. During this time, you want to prepare your vegetable additions.

4. You can use any older looking vegetables, carrot peels, onion peels, celery tops, potato peels, etc. I love making stock because nothing goes to waste! Many times I will store a bag of peelings in the freezer from other dishes that can be thrown in for the stock.  I will actually peel my ingredients for my next recipe, a double batch of Chicken & Dumplings, and use the peelings for my stock. I use approximately 4 carrot peelings, 1/2 onion (cut into wedges), 2 celery tops and 1 celery stalk cut in half, and 2 potato peelings. There is no need for perfection here. I use what I have on hand and it all goes in. ;)

5. After adding the vegetables, bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and let it cook for 12-24 hours.

6. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add 1 bunch of parsley.

7. After it has cooked, cool completely. Then drain the broth from the vegetables and bones. I will discard the vegetables and remove any additional meat on the bones for a chicken soup or other purpose before discarding the bones. I will freeze half of the stock by placing in a large gallon size freezer bag. This will be used for soup for another meal.

The remaining stock I will use for soup within the week – Garden Chowder or Zuppa Tuscana are regular delicious soups at our house!

Chicken & Dumplings

In the picture above, you see all the chopped veggies that I prepare for my Chicken & Dumplings dish. I have just peeled them all for my stock and use the remaining vegetable chopped nicely for this dish. I use the reserved two cups of chopped chicken for this recipe. I can then prepare this right away or cover and place in fridge for the evening meal. I can easily make a double batch of Chicken & Dumplings in two separate 8 x 8 pans and freeze one for another busy day.

Chicken Curry

With the additional 2 cups of reserved chopped chicken meat, I will often make Chicken Curry - another delicious and nutritious meal. Another favorite would be Chicken Enchiladas that could also be made with this meat.

Finally, any remaining meat makes some fabulous lunches for my husband throughout the week. Roasted chicken sandwiches with mayo, dijon mustard, cheese, pickles, lettuce and any other toppings make a full satisfying sandwich!

So my whole chicken has made 1 roast, 1 batch of chicken stock (enough for at least 2 soups), 2 main dishes, and enough for a few additional chicken sandwiches for lunch! I would say we used everything possible on that chicken!

How do you use your chicken?

Comments { 93 }

Serving Thanksgiving – With Breakfast

Photo Credit

Written by contributing writer, Ann Dunagan.

“Hey, that’s not fair! You already got one-and-a-half more pieces than me!” Our 11-year-old glared at her brother, as he proceeded to “stake his claim” by grabbing for the butter and syrup.

As I was working on yet another batch of French toast, I realized our kids definitely needed more than food on their plates. Our family needed a fresh lesson in thankfulness and gratitude. The petty bickering was really bothering me, especially in light of several stories I had read only a few hours earlier.

So, while the kids sat on their stools at our kitchen counter, waiting (not so patiently) for our next round of French toast, I proceeded to give a lesson:

“You know, kids, we need to be thankful for what we have, and realize that we’ve been given a lot! In the Bible, God says, ‘In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’ (I Thessalonians 5:18). Instead of complaining, God wants us to continually live with an attitude of thankfulness and joy.”

Just that morning, I had been reading a Voice of the Martyrs magazine, about how a minister named Richard Wurmbrand had endured persecution while being imprisoned for his faith. He had spent over 14 years in Romanian prisons, including long periods in complete solitude – with no Bible, no books, no scrap paper or pencils, and (obviously) no one to talk to. Even during this horrible time, this man still found ways to be grateful. The article shared how Rev. Wurmbrand meditated on scripture he had memorized, and how he (along with other Christian prisoners) kept his mind active by praying fervently throughout the night for various needs from around the world. Yet the example that most-deeply touched my heart was reading about how this man of God learned to rejoice.

For a moment, I put down my spatula and reached for the magazine lying on the counter. “Just listen to this guy’s attitude,” I told my kids. “This man found reasons to be grateful, even in prison, and even when there was absolutely nothing to be thankful for:

“The Bible tells us about one of the great joys we can have,” Rev. Wurmbrand explains, “even in a prison cell: ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice’ (Romans 12:15). I rejoiced that there were families somewhere who gathered with their children, read the Bible together, told jokes, and were happy with each other. Somewhere there was a boy who loved a young girl and dated her; I could be happy about them. There they had a prayer meeting; and there was someone who studied; and there is somebody who enjoyed good food, etc. We could rejoice with those who rejoiced.”

- Quote by Richard Wurmbrand, Founder of The Voice of the Martyrs - (Excerpted from The Triumphant Church, pp.32-33).

We need to have hearts of gratitude, which means being thankful for even little things that we usually take for granted.

I asked my kids, “When was the last time you were grateful for your toothbrush or toothpaste . . . or for your teeth? Or when was the last time you were thankful for hot running water, or a good toilet?”

That morning, I was also inspired by three examples I had read in a little booklet about gratitude, and my kids heard about these as well:

Back in the 19th Century, a well-known commentator named Matthew Henry was robbed. Yet even in the midst of a terrible circumstance, this man found ways to be grateful. Just listen to this attitude, as written in Henry’s journal:

Let me be thankful, first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed!”

David Brainerd, a devoted missionary to the Native American people, was characterized by a thankful spirit. Even when he had a high fever and great pain, he was thankful that this challenge had come when he was among friends; when he ill and alone in his little hut, he thanked God saying, “Blessed be the Lord, I am not exposed in the open air…”; and in another instance, facing weeks of outdoor solitude, forging through swamps, and enduring dark nights, he thanked God that his loneliness “drove him to experience intimate fellowship with the Lord…”

And if you remember Disney’s classic film, Pollyanna, the story of a missionary orphan who goes to live with a difficult aunt. This sweet-natured girl brings joy to the entire town by looking on the bright side of things, an attitude she calls her “Glad Game,” even in the midst of challenges.

(Examples adapted from The Attitude of Gratitude, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss).

Proverbs 22:6 tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go”; and in Deuteronomy 6:7, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

By the time the kids had a fresh plate of French toast, they also had a quick lesson in gratitude, and I was feeling better as a mom.

Later, our son came up to me and asked for forgiveness for his attitude; and I could tell he was truly sorry. And our daughter, who just moments ago listened to me read this article, asked me to please tell you all that she already said she was sorry, and that she’s thankful . . . but actually, her brother was the one who started it.

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October at Our Home

So as you can see it has been a full month of traveling at our home. Aaron attended two conferences, and I attended two conferences…all within 30 days! We decided to get all our traveling out at one time! But it was so rich! True Woman & Relevant were life changing experiences, ones I will cherish and continue to learn and grow from and will surely be inspiration for my writing. It is certainly fall here in the Northwest and the weather is mighty nippy. We are bringing out the warm soups and stews! Karis and Titus are doing very well – learning the importance of playing peacefully together has certainly been our challenge. Karis took the scissors to Titus hair this month and we had to say farewell to his adorable curls. I am praying they come back! But every moment with them is such a gift – of that I am certain!

We are settling down this month getting ready for a simple holiday season.

October Reading

Heaven at Home: Establishing and Enjoying a Peaceful Home by Ginger Plowman – a refreshing read about the importance of establishing a peaceful home for God’s glory. Your homemaking is your worship when completed with a joyful heart. True beauty radiates from a woman who gracefully walks the path designed uniquely for her. Ginger delves into addressing dealing with conflict gracefully, disciplining your children, and so much more in this inspiring and practical book.

“Home is a haven where energy is restored, spirits are renewed, and love resides.” – Ginger Plowman

Up next…Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick!

Real Food News Around the Web

Whole Foods for the Holidays: A Real Food Progressive Dinner - If you haven’t checked this out, please do! Real Food bloggers are sharing all their favorite recipes for the holidays – from breads, to main dishes, to desserts. Lots of fun!

Real Food on A Real Budget & Healthy Homemaking E-book Sale by Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home – Stephanie is running a huge sale on her ebooks while she celebrates her blogaversary! Get her books for 50% off! Real Food on A Budget is a useful tool to help practically assist you in saving money while buying good wholesome food for your family. And when you buy Real Food on A Budget, you get a free copy of Healthy Homemaking – a basic guide to establishing a healthy non-toxic home. And 50% of the profits is going towards caring for orphans in the Philippines as well as helping Stephanie’s family move towards international adoption.

Welcome new sponsors!

Bulk Herb Store is a wonderful Christian family business that offers whole nutritious herbs, books, and tutorials for your natural healing and wholeness.

Puritan Picks is a sweet reformed version of Netflix. Find a great collection of Christian movies, sermons, and documentaries to inspire your family through a monthly subscription!

Lilla Rose offers adorable hair clips for ladies to make doing your hair a breeze while maintaining lovely elegance.

Thanks for your support!

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Relevant Conference Recap

L to R: Lindsay, Leah, Kat, Stepanie & Donielle

The Relevant blogging conference was a rich time building new friendships, learning the importance of time management, balancing priorities, writing well, and striving to become intentional bloggers for the Kingdom of God. I was privileged to meet so many lovely ladies – including my lovely contributor and now a dear friend, Kat (pictured with me below). We roomed together for two of the nights and had a blast! She is a woman with a mission – God’s mission to encourage wives and mothers to live intentionally. I love her! I loved finally meeting Stephanie & Donielle as well (pictured above), my fellow real food bloggers.

Crystal Paine shared on the importance of time management and I have gleaned so much from her tips and suggestions. She stressed the importance of keeping a simple and clean inbox – unsubscribing from anything that is cluttering it! A huge help for me! She recommended an ebook: Tell Your Time: How to Manage Your Schedule and Live your Life Fulfilled by Amy Lynn Andrews that I have been delving into and can highly recommend. It helps you learn how to make a time budget and list out your priorities, scheduling and such. Amy (who was also at the conference) also blogs extensively about how to set up a blog, maintaining it and such, which is a great resource for those who are wanting to venture into this world of blogging.

I also was privileged to meet Sally Clarkson – a dear godly woman and author of my favorite book on motherhood, Mission of Motherhood. What a sweet challenge she had for us to become message maker’s after God’s heart in our blogging. She encouraged us to see the importance of being faithful in our homes because we are God’s word to our children. She stated, “it is the living of life not the writing of life that changes lives.”

Finally, Ann Voskamp (pictured with me above) gave a final challenge that was incredible about Blogging in the Upside Down Kingdom. Thankfully, you can read and listen to it here. This woman is an incredible writer and encouraged us to tell our story through our writing. Like a mother duck that plucks feathers from her chest to build her nest, we are to pluck feathers from our chest to meet the needs of our family first and for others in our writing (or whatever ministry God has called you too). She called us to humility. To see our writing as an art, a service, a worship to our King! To make our writing a gift. It’s not about the numbers, the statistics, but about the only ONE number that counts – Jesus! Her book, One Thousand Gifts comes out in January, and I highly recommend it! She gave out downloads to attendees and I have been blown away by her call to a radical life of thanksgiving. It’s changing my life and I plan to share more in the upcoming weeks as God changes me…

So my cup is full this month and I have much to process and pray through as I move forward in this ministry that God has assigned me. I want to glorify God in all that I do – including my writing here at Passionate Homemaking. I am seeking direction. Stay tuned for a special giveaway and survey as we move forward in planning out the new year!

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Natural Homemade Mascara


Photo by Michele of Frugal Granola

Post written by contributing writer, Michele Augur.

After using activated charcoal as a natural pimple remedy (moisten your face, and dab a little as a “mask” onto the spot; leave on for 15-20 min, then wash off), I realized that it could also work as a natural, inexpensive mascara option!

I have purchased the Aloe Vera Gel from Mountain Rose Herbs, and use the activated charcoal from NaturoKits. I have also found activated charcoal at natural herb stores in bulk.
.Photo by Michele of Frugal Granola

Natural Homemade Mascara

  • 1/8 tsp. Activated Charcoal (about 1/2 capsule)
  • 1/8 tsp. Aloe Vera Gel

Mix together aloe and charcoal. (I use a small baby spoon, since I’m not using them for baby food!) Then, dip in a clean mascara brush wand, pressing it against the inside of the bowl to coat it evenly onto the wand, smoothing out any clumps. Apply to eyelashes as usual. Wait a few seconds before blinking, to let the mascara dry, so that it doesn’t get on your cheeks.

I was able to remove the majority of mascara with a warm washcloth, just like typical mascara. (I haven’t usually purchased “waterproof” mascara, anyway.) The mascara has stayed on well, even when I got teary-eyed during a worship service, but I haven’t tried wearing outside in a downpour yet!

I haven’t tried storing this mixture, as it tends to dry out fairly quickly, and I don’t use makeup everyday. (However, experiment, and see what works for you! It might be feasible to store a little bit in a small airtight jar or makeup “pot.”) I was not able to successfully stuff it into an old mascara container, since this mixture is very thick and does not pour.

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Preparing for the Holidays: Recommended Resources

Photo Credit

As we enter the holiday season, I compiled an archive of all the helpful holiday tips, recipes, and encouragement towards intentionality this holiday season that we have shared previously here. Let’s start the season off right by taking time to plan and prepare our hearts. I encourage you to embrace the “one thing” that is truly necessary this holiday season: resting and sitting at the feet of Jesus.

“Serving is important. Our Lord also taught us: “The greatest among you shall be your servant.” But serving is not the most necessary thing. There is only one thing that is truly necessary—listening to the Lord speak. So as we head into the holidays, as we face the temptation to be distracted with much serving, or tempted about many things, let’s remind ourselves of Jesus’ words. Should I be serving? There is one thing more necessary! Should I be worrying? This is completely unnecessary! There is only one thing that is necessary. And what is that? To sit and listen to the Lord’s teaching, that’s what!

Let’s take our cues from Mary. We shouldn’t wait until things settle down after the holidays. We shouldn’t postpone listening to Jesus until January 1. We must choose to sit and listen to the Lord’s teaching today: right in the middle of the Christmas craziness. And we must strive to do so every day after.” – Carolyn Mahaney (from Only One Thing is Necessary This Holiday Season)

Purposeful Holidays

Sharing Christ on Halloween - learn a creative simple means of letting your light shine on Halloween
Trick or Treat?
– learn the history behind Halloween and how we can still redeem this holiday
Thanksgiving Journal: Preparing Your Hearts with A Month of Thanksgiving
– take this upcoming month to focus on recording God’s goodness
Simplifying Thanksgiving
– tips and resources for a purposeful and simple Thanksgiving celebration (including crafts!)
Our Jesse Tree- A Focused Advent Celebration
– a fun, Christ centered way to celebrate Advent
Celebrating a Simpler Christmas
- 9 ideas to help keep it simple but purposeful this year!
Celebrating Christ’s Coming
Holiday Evaluation Questions - help get your heart in the right place
Christ Centered Christmas Dialogue – helpful questions to encourage productive conversations
Simplifying Christmas Events & Building Traditions – how to cut back on outside events while building fun family traditions
Simplify the Holidays by Focusing on Giving – fun and easy ways to give unto others this Christmas.

Operation Christmas Child is one of these wonderful ways to pass gifts of love and sharing to children around the world through a simple shoe box. National Collection week is November 15-22, 2010, so please check out how you can participate and motivate others to do the same. Watch this compelling video of a young girl from war-torn Bosnia whose life was transformed through a simple shoe box gift. It brought me to tears to see how God can sovereignly meet all our basic needs and the life changing power of the gospel! Pick up a shoe box and pack it today!

Resource Recommendations

Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember by Barbara Rainey – Barbara Rainey has created an excellent resource for enabling you and your family to remember the past, recognize God’s hand in our history, and express thankfulness to Him for His goodness today.

This story of the Pilgrims’ faithfulness and biblical thankfulness is accompanied by a CD of songs of worship and praise that will call your hearts to gratitude. It’s a wonderful opportunity to enrich your family’s awareness of our nation’s Christian heritage, provide models of courage and sacrifice for your children, and establish a tradition of sharing your gratefulness with one another, which will build a legacy of memories for the future.

Squanto And the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas – a solid historical based Christian retelling of the first Thanksgiving for young children.

This year I picked up What God Wants for Christmas, a new interactive kid-friendly nativity from Family Life that looks like a fun resource to use with your kiddos while you discover the true meaning of Christmas!

A fabulous collection of Advent readings can be found in Come Thou Long Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas by Nancy Guthrie, which is a collection of articles by John Piper, Francis Schaeffer, John MacArthur, Charles Spurgeon and many other solid Christian leaders from the past and present. We read this last year and gave it away to many as a gift and it kept coming back highly recommended!

Gift Ideas

Simplifying the Holidays with Homemade Gifts - an assortment of gift ideas
Homemade Creative Play Gifts for Kids
Gift Ideas for the Natural Mama
Homemade Vanilla Extract – this turned out delicious and a fun Christmas gift!

Frugal & Green Gift Wrapping Ideas – learn to be creative in your gift wrapping this year!

Healthy Holiday Recipes

Healthy Pumpkin Pie
Holiday Eggnog & Eggnog Ice Cream

Blender Gingerbread Pancakes
Cranberry Candy Canes

Praying we all have a peaceful Christ filled holiday season this year!

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How Do You Take Care Of Yourself?

By MerWing*Little Dear

This post is brought to you by monthly contributor, Vina Barham.

As mothers, we look after our husband and children’s well being on a daily basis. And quite often, we’re guilty of forgetting to tend to our own. We’re quite capable of going without for a long period of time and running on reserves until crankiness and all sorts of foul mood start to seep in.

I for one, sometimes forget to eat lunch. Seriously, right? How in the world does one forget to eat lunch? I mean, sometimes I snack all day but there are days when I suddenly notice how light-headed I’m feeling. And that a simple remedy would be to eat something! Or perhaps we go for days without taking a break for ourselves. Or go for an entire day without taking time for ourselves to recharge.

But it is exactly that we are the nurturers and keepers of our family’s well-being that we need to be vigilant about taking care of ourselves. We can’t give what we do not have. We are called to serve out of fullness and wellness, not out of a sense of obligation and martyr-like service.

Here are some ways I’ve found helpful in making sure I am able to take care of myself:

  • Schedule a Time Out For Yourself. I am an introvert. And I’ve realized that I need half a day to myself during the week if I am going to thrive as a work-at-home mom. Before, our weekends were mostly family-time and were filled with social events. But we’ve worked it out so my husband takes my daughter out for a chunk of time in the weekend and I get to do whatever fills me up and breathes me Life. And it’s been a guaranteed refreshment for my soul. I’m then ready to start the week with a full cup.
  • Write a Mommy Time Out Menu. The very first day that my husband took our daughter out for a daddy date and I had blocks of free time on my hands, I honestly did not know what to do with myself. Although I badly needed recharging, I was not used to spending so much time just for me. Since then, I’ve made a list of Mommy Time Out Menu in which I write a list of things that I know would recharge me back to Life. Make sure that you dig deep in the Word of God as your number one priority on this list. Remember…a true woman is tethered to the Word. (Thanks to Lisa from The Well Grounded Life! for the idea!)
  • Incorporate Quick Life-Giving Remedies in Your Schedule. Read the Bible. A daily devotional. Get fresh air everyday. Go out for a walk as often as you can. Bring nature in your house. Talk with your girlfriends. Walk barefoot. Pray. Read. Listen to music. Or an inspiring podcast. Smile. Take a bath. Put on clothes that bring out the best in you. Wear your hair down (or put it up!). Hug your spouse. The list can go on.
  • Figure Out How to Do What You Love at Home with Your Family. I love to dance, read, and go out for a walk or a run. I make every effort to do these things with my daughter (and this can apply to our spouses too!),  in order that I am able to share my passions with her and she gets to see me do things that I’m really good at, things that make me come alive, things that help me feel the pleasure of God. If what you love seems incompatible with your life at home, think again. You might just find the best absolute bonding moment with your children when you share your passions with them.
  • Ask for help. If your day is starting to go really bad and you are in dire need for a break, ask for help. Tell your spouse. Ask your relatives or friends. Tell a trusted friend. Find a way to get the help you need. It’s not a sign of failure. It’s a sign of being human.
  • Practice gratitude, regardless of the situation. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of perspective. And giving thanks in all things is a practice in acceptance. Some people call it living in the moment, but on a much deeper level, it’s contentment fleshed out. Sometimes, I really feel the drudgery of the day to day tasks of what I do. And it is in that moment when I most need to practice gratitude. Because it is then that I am able to open up to new possibilities and new way of doing things. In accepting what is, I can then make space for the change that I need to happen.

What about you? Any other ideas to add to this list? I would love to hear how you take care of yourself. You need it, mama!

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