When David was about two months old he developed what I thought was a rash on his cheeks. Being the good mama I thought I was, I washed his cheeks extra good with our Huggies head to toe baby wash and a washcloth every day. The rash only got worse! His face was red and bumpy, and it started looking infected.  So I would scrub it even more, thinking I was somehow making this rash cleaner and it would then heal better. A few days later it was still there, and now he had this “rash” on other parts of his body as well. I took him to the pediatrician and he told us the David had excema. Excema! Something so new to me, I really didn’t know anything about it.  We were prescribed cream for his body (but not his face, because the medicine is too strong for such thin skin), and we were told to keep David’s skin out of contacts with harsh chemicals and other things that his sensitive skin may react to. That Huggies wash? Yeah, probably one of the worst things I could have put on his face (Have you read the labels on many of the popular name brand baby soaps recently? They are full of harsh and potentially harmful ingredients).

One of the changes in our house (well, apartment at the time), was laundry detergent. We need to stay away from any dyes, bleach, fragrance, etc. It was not that hard- we would use either Seventh Generation detergent or Tide Free and Clear. We did this for a few years. Then one day I was reading a blog that had nothing to do with laundry detergent, and I started viewing the comments on the article. Someone lightly mentioned homemade detergent during their post, and my first thought was “Homemade laundry detergent? That is so weird!” Later that night I thought about it more. Is it really weird? After all, we use powder laundry detergent, so this would just be a few dry ingredient that I would measure and throw in a container, right? I decided to Google it. There are many different DIY homemade laundry detergents out there, but they all pretty much consist of the same three ingredients- Borax, washing soda, and  laundry bar soap. Only three things! I then thought these items must be expensive and hard to find, that I would only be able to settle my curiosity by purchasing expensive, random items off of the internet. All three of the items can be found at any grocery store for $3 or under (I usually shop at HEB or Kroger), and Target carries Borax. I love trying new things in our house, this was no exception.

Is it any good? I had my doubts. The first time I tried my new laundry soap was when one of my kids had an accident in bed. I figured stinky, gross sheets was a great way to test it out! The worst thing that could happen was the detergent would not work that well and I would just rewash it in my normal detergent, no big deal. Lucky for me, the detergent worked great! Very clean, fresh, no smell, and very soft! We don’t use any fabric softeners (again, David’s excema), so I was surprised at how soft these sheets were. I thought it was a fluke. So I washed a load of diapers (for those of you that don’t know, we use cloth diapers for Brooklynn). Again, the homemade detergent was amazing! The diaper inserts were much softer than I ever remember them being before, and the inserts lost any odor they had before I washed them. I am seriously impressed with this homemade laundry detergent. You should try it out! It is very easy, cheap, and it works great!

Homemade Laundry Detergent

What you will need-

1 cup Borax

1 cup Washing Soda (NOT baking soda ;) )

1 bar of Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap (Or 5.5 oz of a comparable soap. Some people use Ivory bar soap but I do not care for the smell of it.)

Grater

Spoon

Container

Step 1. Pour 1 cup of both Borax and Washing Soda into your container.

Step 2. Shred the laundry bar soap and add it to your container.

Step 3. Using your spoon, mix the ingredients together.

Step 4. Use your new homemade laundry detergent! I use 2 tablespoons for a medium load of laundry and 3 for a large/ extra large load.

I really love this detergent, and so does my son’s skin :) If you are interested in natural cleaning products (or other natural, healthy home ideas), check out diynatural.com. Let me know if you try this out, I would love to hear about it!

I love how a few of my facebook friends posted something they were thankful for everyday in November. We have so much to be thankful for! At the beginning of this month I was too grumpy to want to give thanks. Paul and I have been dealing with a few hard and stressful things the past few months. Normally the big, potentially life shaking events happen one at a time, but that has not been the case for us lately. With me getting caught up with all of the negative things happening in our lives, I was making myself miserable. It is really easy to focus on all of the bad. But there is so much good in the midst of it! We have a God who loves and holds us, even when the world around us is falling apart. We have a marriage that is sweet and continually brought before the Lord. We have three loving, healthy, beautiful kids. We have wonderful family and friends. We have a house, a roof over our heads, food on the table. 

 

It is so easy to focus on what we do not have or how hard life is, and feel depressed. It is so much greater to focus on what we do have, and feel fulfilled and blessed! We do memory verses with the kids, and this verse is written on the white board in our playroom right now:

 

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34

 

We are not promised an easy, perfect life on this earth, but we have an everlasting God who loves us and will guide us through. For that, and so much more, I am thankful! 

 

“Have you not know? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints not is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40: 28-31

Operation Christmas Child picture

As long as I can remember, I have participated in Operation Christmas Child. It is an amazing opportunity to give to children all around the world without needing to leave the country! But it is not just a box full of toys and soap, it is so much more. Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, a non-denominational Christian charity that provides aid to hurting people all around the world. For over 40 years Samaritan’s Purse has offered not only the physical aid of food, water, medicine, doctors, shelters, and clothing to those suffering through natural disasters, war, and poverty, they have remained focus on bringing with them God’s truth and love.  They help fulfill the physical needs of people in the name of Jesus Christ and proclaiming the Gospel to those they are helping. It is an amazing ministry.

Operation Christmas Child is a way to bless little children around the world with toys and other goodies, as well as sharing the Gospel with them. You fill a shoe box with gifts (toys, clothes, toothpaste, etc), drop it off at a participating church, and they will ship it to an Operation Christmas Child distribution center. The box will then be shipped off to countries all around the world. When the children receive the shoe box gifts, they are also offered colorful storybooks in their own language that explain the good news of Jesus Christ. Samaritan’s Purse equips local churches and ministries with a Bible study called “The Greatest Journey,” which is designed to help children learn about Jesus and the Bible, and to grow in their walk with the Lord.

How do you pack a shoe box gift?

  1. Use an empty shoe box (standard size, please) or a small plastic container. You can wrap the box (lid separately), but wrapping is not required. Most importantly, pray for the child who will receive your gift.
  2. Determine whether your gift will be for a boy or a girl, and the child’s age category: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. Print out the appropriate boy/girl label from the Operation Christmas Child website. Mark the correct age category on the label, and tape the label to the top of your box.
  3. Fill the box with a variety of gifts that will bring delight to a child. Here are some gift suggestions:
    • School Supplies: Pens, pencils with sharpeners, crayons, markers, stamps with ink pads, writing pads or paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.
    • Toys: Small cars, balls, dolls, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, small Etch A Sketch, toys that light up or make noise (with extra batteries), Slinky, etc.
    • Hygiene Items: Toothbrush, toothpaste, mild bar soap (in a plastic bag), comb wash cloth, etc.
    • Other: T-shirts, socks, baseball caps, sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries), etc.
    • A Personal Note: You may want to enclose a picture of your family and a note for the child who will receive your gift. If you include your name and address, the child may be able to write you back.
    • Do Not Include: Used or damaged items, war related items (such as toy guns, knives or military figures), chocolate or food, out-of-date candy (hard candy, such as jolly ranchers, are okay!), liquids or lotions, medications or vitamins, aerosol cans, or breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers.
  4. Please donate $7 or more for each shoe box you prepare to help cover shipping and other project costs. You can give online by using our “Follow Your Box Donation” option, or you can write a check to Samaritan’s Purse (note “OCC” on memo line) and place it in an envelope on top of the gift items inside your box. If you or your family are preparing more than one shoe box, you can make one combined donation. The “Follow Your Box Donation” is what I use every year, because you can track where your box is and see what country your gift has been sent to!
  5. Place a rubber band around your box and drop it off at your nearest Collection Center during the collection week, November 14-21, 2011. If you live near me, I will pick up your box and drop it off for you! Just give me a call and we can arrange  a meet up. If you don’t live near me, you can find your nearest drop off location by looking at this website:  http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/Drop_Off_Locations/

Making these boxes with your kids is a great way to show them how to help others. I remember a couple of years ago we were talking to Kaylee as we were putting our boxes together and she did not get why some children did not already have toothpaste. “Why can’t they just go to the store and buy some?” “Well, these little children are very poor and many do not even have money for food, let alone toothpaste.” When we were putting  a baby doll in one of the boxes, she asked me “If the little girl getting our box wants a baby doll, why doesn’t her mommy just buy her one?” “Many of these boxes go to orphanages, which is a place that little kids live at because they don’t have a mommy, daddy, or other family to take care of them. Or, if they do live with there family, many of them are very poor and may not have enough money to buy toys or food at Christmas time. But God has blessed us so much, with a mommy, a daddy, a roof over our head, food on our table, and it is important to share with others and to help them when we can. Which is why we are making this Christmas present for them.” I want my kids to grow up with hearts that want to help others and want to share Jesus with other people. I love shopping with my kiddos for OCC items, and I love watching them pack the boxes. They always get so excited to share their hand-picked items with other little kids!

If you  need any other information about Operation Christmas Child, you can check out their website at: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/ , or you can call or message me!

—-

Samaritan’s Purse- About Us (http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/Who_We_Are/About_Us)

The story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) gives a clear picture of God’s desire for us to help those in desperate need wherever we find them. After describing how the Samaritan rescued a hurting man whom others had passed by, Jesus told His hearers, “Go and do likewise.”

For over 40 years, Samaritan’s Purse has done our utmost to follow Christ’s command by going to the aid of the world’s poor, sick, and suffering. We are an effective means of reaching hurting people in countries around the world with food, medicine, and other assistance in the Name of Jesus Christ. This, in turn, earns us a hearing for the Gospel, the Good News of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Our emergency relief programs provide desperately needed assistance to victims of natural disaster, war, disease, and famine. As we offer food, water, and temporary shelter, we meet critical needs and give people a chance to rebuild their lives.

Our community development and vocational programs in impoverished villages and neighborhoods help people break the cycle of poverty and give them hope for a better tomorrow.

We impact the lives of vulnerable children through educational, feeding, clothing, and shelter programs that let them know they are not forgotten.

We provide first-class treatment in the Name of the Great Physician through our medical projects, as well as supplying mission hospitals with much needed equipment and supplies.

As our teams work in crisis areas of the world, people often ask, “Why did you come?” The answer is always the same: “We have come to help you in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Our ministry is all about Jesus—first, last, and always. As the Apostle Paul said, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5, NIV).

Mission Statement
Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.

The organization serves the Church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I love to cook and bake, so the kids and I are always busy in the kitchen! Of all the tasty snacks I have made, this is the recipe I get the most comments on and the most requests for. These scones are unbelievably yummy, a perfect blend of  earthy, sweet, and tart. This recipe originally aired on an episode of Giada at Home (she is my favorite chef!) titled “Sweet Treats,” and she made these delicious scones in the shape of a heart. I thought this was such a creative idea, it makes the scones that much more beautiful! Plus, my kids love using cookie cutters, so any excuse to use one is a good excuse :) This recipe can be found at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/strawberry-and-rosemary-scones-recipe/index.html

Let’s get started. Here is what you will need:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup strawberry jam (I am using homemade strawberry jam. It is so easy to make! That will be another post..)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of water
  • 3 inch heart shaped cookie cutter (My note: I use a 2 inch cookie cutter for kid friendly sized scones)
Heat oven to 375, place rack in the middle of the oven, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or you can spray the sheet with a baking spray that contains flour).
Chop the fresh rosemary until you have 1 tablespoon (about 3 sprigs). I loooove the smell of fresh rosemary!
Grab your favorite food processor (I am using the small food processor which I use to make baby food), and add the flour, sugar, baking powder, rosemary, salt, and butter.
Spin until it resembles a course meal (as pictured).
Move this mixture to a bowl, and stir in the heavy cream until it forms a dough.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough until it is 1/2 inch thick.

Using your cookie cutters, cut out hearts and place them on the baking sheet.

Using a measuring spoon (I use my finger!), make an indent in the middle of the heart. Don’t make it to shallow. If you do, the jam will run out of the indent when the scones are hot and the jam is bubbling in the oven. Spoon a rounded 1/2 teaspoon worth of jam into each indent.

Bake for 18- 20 minutes, or until golden brown. If you are making the scones smaller, use a rounded 1/4 teaspoon of jam, and bake for 13- 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

While the scones are cooling, make the lemon glaze. Roll the lemon firmly between your counter top and the palm of your hand (this will loosen the inside of the lemon and make juicing much easier!) Freshly squeeze 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 large or 2 medium lemons).

Mix the lemon juice and the powdered sugar.

Add about 1 -2 tablespoons of water, until the glaze is thick yet smooth.

Drizzle the glaze onto the scones. Let sit for 30 minutes so the glaze can set (otherwise they will be drippy and messy).

I love pairing my scones with a homemade toffee nut latte. Enjoy them while they last, these scones will go fast! They are delicious.

For all you non-Texans out there, we are currently in one of the worst one year droughts in Texas history. We were eating dinner and noticed it was really cloudy, then all of a sudden heard loud thunder! We all dropped our forks and ran outside, camera in hand. We were not going to miss a rare rainfall! I was determined to take a picture of lightning. There is something about thunder and lightning that makes me feel sooo small on this earth! It is such a beautiful showing of God’s artistry, and we were able to capture a couple little bolts on camera. Hopefully next time we can take some really dramatic photos!

Here is another:

I love standing outside when it is raining and watching the lightning. Maybe I should add storm chasing to my bucket list..? :)

While we were in our backyard, Paul had the awesome idea to get one of our colored flashlights and have some fun with the shutter speed on our camera. The kids (Paul and I included ;P ) got creative:

Epic glowing sword

Our little Angel <3

David’s creation :)

About two years ago I was inspired by a friend of mine to start a blog. Her blog was a beautiful picture of her family, both in their adventures and their faith in God. It was (and still is) a great encouragement to me. I thought it would be amazing to do something similar with our family, though I sadly never got that blog off the ground. Two years, one baby, and a new blog name later, here it is. I hope this helps our family and friends who are out of state feel more in touch with us. Not that a quick facebook status update and a few pictures are not good, but this should be more in depth ;) God has started me on this amazing journey with our little family, and I think it will be fun to document it and to share our adventures. After all, life is never boring in our house :)

Me and my hubby

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