Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Herbistry.



I've been a fan of herbs whenever possible for quite some time now. The process of learning to use them well, however, has been slow but steady. The main source of my knowledge is a book called the Ten Essential Herbs, which clearly and enjoyably lays out ten basics that are a help for almost every problem. Other than that, I've just spent a lot of time researching and learning. I believe this is the start of something awesome. Okay. Below you have the first two homemade items. Best part? several ingredients can be used for multiple things. Cha-ching! 
(Coconut oil for toothpaste and facial moisturizer)
(Apple Cider Vinegar for drinking, face wash, AND can be mixed with the clay (from toothpaste recipe) for a steller facial mask!)



The Facewash!

This was an invention of my own that I came up with while reading the Ten Essentials. As I was reading about each herb and it's personality, I put two and two together in my head and invented the wash. After one week, my face is a new creation! 
 You probably just want me to list the recipe and be done. However, I have something to say first:
1. Some of the powerful ingredients of this recipe are chaparral leaf and apple cider vinegar.  They are extremely amazing and potent. Chaparral literally cleanses the blood of toxins when taken internally and the vinegar is amazing for about a hundred things. One of my first suggestions for clearer skin is to do a chaparral cleanse by way of tea and to drink some apple cider vinegar daily. (Mixed with water, of course. And probably honey-it's gross!) There's a wonderful method of doing this if you're interested. Let me know. Okay. On to the recipe. Which I need to name, by the way. Any suggestions?

2. If all this seems daunting to you, try just washing with honey and/or apple cider vinegar first. This alone will do wonders. The recipe below is for harsher acne problems. (Obviously I had some!) 

Facewash ingredients:
-Chaparral Leaf
-Slippery Elm 
-Raw Wild Honey 
-Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Procedure: (Keep in mind this is my first shot. I kind of threw it all in together. Any suggestions are more than welcome!)
-Taking a small pot, I poured 1-1.5 cups of apple cider vinegar into pot on the stove. 
-I placed the heat on the lowest "simmer" setting
-I added honey-quite a bit. Didn't measure. 
-I placed 3-4 tablespoons Chaparral in pot
-I placed 3-4 tablespoons of Slippery elm in pot
-You can probably add any choice other antiseptic herbs here. Goldenseal, Willow Bark (guess what salicylic acid is made  of?), you name it. Find what you like! Just keep it simple. Too many ingredients are often what agitate our skin!
-I let concoction simmer on lowest setting possible  for 15-20 minutes. 
-I set pot aside to cool down.
-I poured liquid (Including herbs) into squeezable travel containers. 
(That way the herbs don't come out when I squeeze out the facewash. It's less messy.) 
-I keep in in the fridge. Keeps it fresh and thick! 


If you try this, talk to me! Let me know how it goes for you! 
(Also, as a moisturizer, I suggest organic pure coconut oil. A tiny bit goes a long way. 
And it surprisingly has antiseptic qualities that clear acne!)






The Toothpaste!
The deal with the toothpaste is that store bought kinds have chemicals that aren't only toxic, but actually weaken the tooth enamel.  And those crest whitening strips we're all so addicted to? Yep. Eating away at those pearly whites as it bleaches. The sensitivity to hot and cold? Caused by your paste. This recipe actually can reverse these problems due to the calcium that builds the enamel back up. Oh, and the baking soda actually whitens even better than those stupid strips. Oldest and cheepest trick in the book.  I have brushed 6x so far & already feel and see a difference. Seriously. This is awesome! If you're in Modesto, you should be able to get everything at Sprouts or Village Health foods. Otherwise, whole foods should be good.  (P.S. the clay mixed with raw apple cider vinegar is a stellar facial mask. ) Trust me on this. Your mouth and wallet will thank you. 


Squeezable Remineralizing Toothpaste Ingredients:

-5 Tablespoons Calcium powder
-3 Tablespoons Xylitol Powder- This ingredient is not completely necessary, but just keeps it from tasting bitter. (We don’t cook or consumer Xylitol, but there is some evidence that it is beneficial orally)
-4 Tablespoons coconut oil at room temperature
-1 tablespoon baking soda
-2 Tablespoons Bentonite Clay or you could use additional Calcium powder
-3 Tablespoons Distilled Water or slightly more to thin
-40+ drops of essential oils of choice: Peppermint, Cinnamon, Oregano, Lemon/Lemongrass etc (I used almond)
-optional: 20-30 drops of trace minerals

How To Make Natural Remineralizing Toothpaste:

-Mix all ingredients except clay well. Once smooth, slowly add in the bentonite clay and mix by hand with a plastic utensil (bentonite clay should not come in contact with metal).

I put my paste in a ziplock & cut the tiniest hole on the bottom corner to squeeze. Any travel shampoo container should also work great!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

For the win.

My goal today was to write an update about giving up insecurity for lent. To share the things that have occurred since Ash Wednesday. But the truth? The truth is that this has been an extremely complicated thing. And in the end, has led to seeing even more things that should be dealt with. Some days I feel like hiding under a rock. But the truth is, we all have areas. We all have ugly in us. And I'd go as far as to say it's probably almost all rooted in insecurity. Sure. It's easy to allow it to become daunting. But here's the beautiful and exciting news:

1. Everyone deals with it. It's normal. That makes it easier to stare in the face. 

2. If we truly begin to grasp who we are-who He's made us & the authority He's handed us- we have nothing but victory at our fingertips & it becomes easier (and perhaps even ENJOYABLE) to search out the things that need to go.  Hunting down insecurity in the deepest layers of our foundation and shedding light into the corners it's been hiding in. 
"Aha! THERE you are. I found you. I win. Game over!"

Friday, March 7, 2014

More lent.

On Ash Wednesday I decided to attempt giving up insecurity for lent. I always have to make things difficult, don't I? Meat or sugar would have been a much easier route. Within 24 hours of asking to see where I am attached to my insecurity, a whole mountain of things popped up. The largest being my weight.

I've been struggling with my weight. And until Wednesday, I didn't realize just how much I've allowed my security to rest on a size. I've been more withdrawn and less confident in general because I'm embarrassed about it. When I taught my Zumba class last night, I noticed 2 ladies in the corner giggling and whispering during every song. They had done this on Monday, and I had picked up on the fact that they were making fun of a rather large lady and her dancing. I had found this rude, because I was just excited that the lady was coming to my class and taking charge of her health. But last night, the lady wasn't there and I became increasingly assured that these ladies were making fun of ME. Of what I don't know. But I was sure it was my thighs or my butt or any number of things that were probably bouncing around as I was leading the class. And I became intensely insecure. So much so that I had a very rough time finishing the hour. 

Then I got home and realized I've been feeling alarmingly insecure in all of my relationships in Houston. I began making a list and the level with which I realized I'm experiencing this is way deeper than I'd really noticed before.  This is a problem. Insecurity is an ugly ugly thing, isn't it? And I'm beginning to think it's infiltrated our culture so heavily and is so absolutely normal that to spot it and call it out would mean calling out just about every little thing around us to the extent of looking crazy. And that's why we don't. Because if we get even an inkling of this, we realize how far we'd have to go. And we're not sure we're ready for that.  But we need to be, or we become products of our environment when there is so much more available to us....

"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom of our God!"



Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lent.

Are you observing lent? Have you considered it? Growing up Dutch Christian Reformed, I have never observed lent before. But one of the churches that I currently attend in Houston is pretty big on walking through the different spiritual seasons; and they do lent complete with their version of the "stations of the cross." (Something I didn't even know about until a few weeks ago.)

I thought about giving up some sort of food for this 40 day period. As I considered this, I began reading and researching the lent season and the traditional purposes behind it. The more I read, the more I became aware of the fact that lent is intended to be a period of time designed to remove negative habits that hinder our intimacy with Jesus. To become aware of them. Of our humanness. Of our sinful nature. All the while internally preparing for the beauty and redemption of the resurrection. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that for me giving something up for lent needs to be so much deeper than sugar. Or meat. Or whatever. It needs to be a time of really flushing out the junk that's been creeping in. Spiritually. Mentally. Emotionally. I began praying. I asked the Holy Spirit to give me a specific. A something that really needed to be dealt with. And the answer came yesterday. It came painfully. But it also came gently. He showed me very clearly what I've been too attached to. Like being attached to a huge bolder and then thrown into the ocean. I don't know when this problem resurfaced. I had dealt with it 3 years ago in extreme measure under the guidance of Miss Beth with a beautiful group of women all over the globe. But somehow, somewhere, it's found it's way back in. Yesterday I got a glimpse of myself under it's thumb and just how bad it is.......

Insecurity. The problem with insecurity is that it is pride. And it is unbelief. Twisted pride that I could be THIS messed up (or fill in the blank here). And unbelief that God hand-made every little detail of me with purpose and intent. That He has a reason for all the vast complications of me and my personality and body. Unbelief that He has a perfect plan laid out for us and that-yes-it's far far better and more grand than ours could be.  Fear goes hand-in-hand with insecurity. And both are absolute blatant disbelief that God is who He says He is, can do what He says He can do, that I am who He says I am, that I can do all things through Christ, and that His Word is indeed alive and active in me.

But how exactly does one go about "giving up" insecurity? As soon as I had this thought, I flashed back three years ago to when I went through a book with Beth and a small team of women called So Long Insecurity. Yep. I think it's time to crack this open again. I think there are also other things that feed the issue that we could give up for a time. I've decided to give up looking at my newsfeed, because I daily play the comparison game in my head. And I'm just too weak to stop comparing myself to every person I'm "friends" with. The amazing jobs. New cars. New house. Engagements. Weddings. Babies. Trips to Africa. (Seriously. My entire feed is basically engagements and babies. ALL. THE. TIME.) Why do I scroll through my feed every day only to become more deeply assured that I have nobody and am so alone and lost and floundering and failing and whine whine whine. How in the WORLD is this beneficial? To me. The God. To others. Towards using who and where I am to be the hands and feet of Jesus and bringing His Kingdom to Earth? I mean....read the gospels! Jesus tells us that We are able to do even more than HE did. (Ummmm.....heal the blind and the leapers? Raise the DEAD? Free the captives?) I don't know about you, but I'm not even close to understanding how that works. But I bet insecurity is probably the biggest thing in the way. I would have to say that if I think about the most effective people in this world-past and present- the common denominator has been confidence. Being undaunted. Knowing *securely* who they are and where they stand. I don't know about you, but I want that. One thing I've learned from the very powerful and effective people who I've been honored to spend some time under is that becoming confident and secure and powerful doesn't ever just happen. No. Quite the opposite. Miss Beth constantly reminds us that it takes work. A whole lot of it. And lots of sweat, tears, and worn knees in your jeans. But she'll also be the first person to tell you how incredibly worth it it is. So here we go.....

How about you? Are you doing anything for this season? Today is the day. Let's start a beautiful journey.  I'd love it if you shared yours with me!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Que todas las materias.

How about a whole lot of things just being thrown out there and trusting it all matters and is important without having to understand how?

I'm loving Houston. The large city is beautiful in many unique ways and there's just so much to do, choose from, serve in. I love that I work for an organization and people who love Jesus and that our focus is the serve Him every day by serving the city.

I'm missing people from home. It's a very strange thing to be in a place where you aren't running into people every time you go to Target. I keep having to remind myself not to expect a familiar face. 

I've been learning humility and vulnerability. I'm horrid at it. And lately have been forced to practice it-only to be overwhelmed with love and grace. 

I've been honored to attend things like Passion and Tuesday Night study with Beth, among other wonderful churches and events. In a huge way, this is all redeeming some very lost years and experiences. 

I've been learning. Learning a lot. Learning that the first thing we learn about the spirit of God is that He moves. Always moving. As are we. We don't stay still. We either spiral upward or downward. It's just a matter of what subtle turn we're making in any particular moment. I'm learning that God has already seated me in position next to Jesus. And when do people sit? When it's all over and done. We strive too much to earn the position we've already been given. I'm learning about faith and what it means and what it can do. How far it can go. Where you can go and what you can do with it.

The area we live in is Hispanic, and therefore the community center I work at is filled with people who do not speak English. This has been an incredible challenge. I am pulling out everything I can remember from school and straining daily to improve as much as possible. If there's one thing I've learned it's that book smarts and former knowledge leave you if not practiced!

Teaching Zumba again has been a wild ride. My classes are a very decent size and they're loving it. Also, just to be totally real, I am really struggling with weight and stamina. I've gained in the last 9 months or so and am having a hard time teaching with the extra weight as well as struggle with feeling good in my skin. My confidence and views of myself are in a battle. I don't want to get SKINNY. I want to win the fight with weight that has tried to control me my whole life. I want to see it stomped on for good. There's a big difference there. 

Even though we still have time left in the apprenticeship, we are being encouraged to begin looking at what the future may hold. This is hard for me. Come August I will need to move on. I'm wrestling with several passions and what to do. I love CSM & could apply for positions around the U.S. I am extremely passionate about the issue of Human Trafficking and would  LOVE to work full-time to end it. I'm just crazy enough that I may walk straight toward this in the fall and not look back. I am always extremely passionate about theatre and art and desperately long to be involved in helping kids express and learn through it. And there's a large part of my heart and mind that are very, very much sitting in Africa. My spirit is often there. More than I admit. (This morning I was walking to work & heard some of the same birds that were in the trees outside our house in Kenya. We would wake up to the sound of them through our open windows in the mornings.) A very large part of me wants to just go. Move to Africa. Still. That's never changed. And yet.......I want my man. My companion. My partner. I want to be a wife and a mommy so badly it aches. 

I want to hon and cultivate skills I have been given but haven't had time to develop. Art. Drawing. Music. Painting. Spoken word. Writing. Poetry. So many things! Oh, how to do all of this! 

At the end of the day, Jesus is continually healing, redeeming, teaching, growing, and blowing my mind completely with Himself. He's always up to all this. We just need to be looking. 






Monday, January 27, 2014

hidden bobby pins.

This may not make sense at first, but I promise there's a good point if you stick with me....

Ive been growing my hair out. It's very difficult to go from short & spikey to long. You basically have to put up with mullets of varying degrees for 9-12 months. Let's just say I own more bobby pins, headbands, and hats than anyone I know. 

Today as I was braiding my hair, I was marveling anew at the fact that with a pack of bobby pins, a good hairspray, and some clever manipulation, you can make hair do almost anything you want. As a cosmetologist, my truest passion with hair is up-dos and styling.  I hate cutting. I'm not crazy about coloring. Perming is torture. But up-dos!........ I drool over someone with long hair and the possibilities that begin floating through my mind when I look at it. I love doing hair for weddings, proms, quinces, photo shoots. I'm always noticing and critiquing hair in movies and on models. In cosmo school I learned all the secrets to the trade. How to weave in anything from extentions to feathers to string to material. And I love knowing how to hide all the tools within the hair as I create a style.  

This morning I was thinking about the way one does that. The careful work that goes into it. Even today-my hair is braided and you wouldn't know that there are bobby pins woven throughout to hide the stray layers of hair still short and growing. I often get told by people that they love the wrap or headband that I have around my braids. That they wish they could do cute things like that but they'd have a thousand bobby pins keeping it on and how in the world do I do it without any? The answer? I don't!! I have a ton of bobby pins too. I just know how to hide them so that they're not visible.  That's all. 

As I styled my hair today, I was thinking about the industry.  All it is is a bunch of people "hiding their bobby pins" so to speak. Creating models, pictures, movies that are nothing but cleverly hidden secrets of the trade. And while that's not always a bad thing (Who doesn't love looking at that braid on Catniss, a stunning and glowing bride, or the feathers and color woven into a crazy modern photoshoot?), I wonder how much it's trickled down into everyday life. I wonder if because of all our social media, we sometimes see it so much that we begin thinking everyday life needs to look this perfect. So we pick up tricks. We watch. We learn how to hide OUR bobby pins. And we begin to present our lives to others as something it really isn't short of a lot of clever manipulation, "hair spray", clever lighting, and instagram filtering. 

The funny thing? Regardless of the number of followers I have or what we may see of each other, I often feel like I don't have good solid relationships with anyone. Like something has changed in the last years in how we do things. Like maybe we need to get more diligent about our interactions with one another. I wonder what would happen if we all ripped out our hidden bobby pins and let things fly. Let them be a bit more honest and messy. Showing how we really are. It's hard. It goes against all of the current "normal".  But I believe people used to be much better connected and I want to get back to that. I want to write letters in the mail. Just between me and that person. Talk about real things and not just a picture I took of Downtown Houston or even the kid I was playing with in Kenya. I want to discuss this world and the beautiful and ugly parts of it. Have adventures with people. Make memories that don't involve stopping to post a picture every 5 minutes. And dream. Big. Out loud. With Kindred Spirits. About Jesus. Changing this world. And being more than our society tells us we can be.  

Here's to ripping out some of those hidden pieces and finding the beauty in the mess that shows up. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

What a few days can do.

This past week was a big one around these parts. We had a small group of college girls come to spend a week learning about human trafficking. The unique and beautiful part of this particular week was that Carly (my fellow Houston CSM apprentice) and I didn't just host the group.  We were a part of it. We were to "experience" the week with them.  And experience we did!

I won't go into every detail, but the week included everything from eating lunch with men who happen to work as prostitutes to walking and praying at 1am on Friday night in the area of town where most of this takes place. Don't worry- we did all of this with local ministries who have a presence and respect with the people we were reaching out to. It was very safe!

And then there was the van tour. Oh, the van tour. I had heard a lot about Elijah Rising. They are somewhat of a local celebrity around Houston. An incredibly powerful ministry with an amazing story. I had been eager for months to spend the day with them and glean the knowledge and wisdom they so happily offer. I had anticipated seeing a large number of brothels and cantinas and strip clubs as well as learning many details of what all goes on behind the scenes and how it all happens.  And we did see and learn all of that.  It was hard and sad and heartbreaking and angering all at once. At one point we even witnessed several girls going to work in a club and precisely one minute later, 3 Johns pulled up in their BMWs. Businessmen. With nice suits and wedding rings. (Yes-I could see the rings.) They pulled right into the customer parking, stared right at us in the van, and walked inside. A reality check if I ever needed one.  This is not something that gross scummy people are involved in.  This is our typical suburban husband and father.

The most incredible thing to me with this experience, though, wasn't in seeing everything. It wasn't in witnessing acts on the street or in the windows of the clubs at 1:30 in the morning that I shouldn't ever have to see. It wasn't in seeing all the flourishing brothels and knowing the owner's names. It was Cat.
Cat is the founder of Elijah Rising. She gave us the van tour this week. And what that did for me was unexpected and awesome.

As you probably know, I have been learning about and becoming passionate about trafficking for about 6 months now. Christine Caine and her campaign began something that goes down to my bones. And a few months ago I began speaking about it constantly. I just wanted others to know. To be aware. To see the need for us to be the voices of the trapped and oppressed. And the response I received was, well, heartbreaking for me.  Disappointing. non-existent. And I became angry and fiery about that. I didn't understand how people could sit back and do nothing. To me there was just no excuse. I understand passivity and annoyance over things political and even *gasp* religious. But I was talking about basics: those innocently trapped in one of the most evil industries imaginable. All of humanity stripped from them as they literally have their lives, voices, and all hope taken away. This is something that should matter to any person walking the earth: because there is no way of saying it couldn't happen to you, your daughter, sister, niece. When I went home for Christmas, I had a few friends bring it up. Tell me they appreciate that something has touched me but that maybe I should take it down a notch. Not talk about it so often. Be more quiet. Understand that people have lives and other priorities. And that having any anger over this isn't good.
All I could think was "REALLY?! Respect that people have lives and other priorities?! The problem I'm talking about is innocent people having THEIR lives, priorities and HUMANITY completely torn from them in one instant. Over 100,000 of those sold into slavery each year are American youth-so I don't understand how we can refrain from doing something."

I suddenly began feeling so completely defeated.
I just assumed my friends must be right. And I decided to shut up.

So I was taken by surprise this week when I met Cat. Cat is a crazy, vocal, extroverted, bold, audacious and undaunted woman.  And she's not just spouting off. She's quite intelligent. ( She was formerly a Sociology professor.) And her passion to end the injustice of human trafficking is fiery and gorgeous. She isn't in your face and she isn't pushy.  She just stands bold and unmovable. It's contagious. She understands the power of prayer as the sharpest weapon available to us, and therefore insists that the organization be founded on it. They go as far as to have music-lead prayer intercessory meetings. Is this charismatic? Yes. Does it make people uncomfortable? Maybe. But when you see and hear-that consistently-the places Elijah Rising has prayed over have fallen and been shut down-often within days or weeks- it's hard to argue with any of it.  As Cat educated us and showed us ways in which we really can do something, I thought back over the last few months.  And I thought about what she was saying. And some deep truth became clear to me.

Cat has made a gigantic difference in Houston. And it's only begun. Christine Caine has paved the way for rescues, stings, and safehouses all over the globe. And they're continuing to expand. The thing I notice about these women is this: They ask the Lord what works. They find it. They do it. They are bold. They do not shut up or stop. Ever. Their passion drives an unrelenting energy. They do things that may seem uncomfortable or crazy. They know how to take spiritual authority over things or situations. They go to extremes to make sure their own lives maintain a sort of "extra" innocence, integrity, and covering of the Spirit. Hold themselves to a stricter and higher standard. And they don't try to hide it or apologize for any of it. And they're changing history.

This week has taught me that I need to be bolder.  But not in the ways I thought: speaking out, making sure I'm heard, etc....No, I need to be bolder about being a woman of truth and integrity, guarding myself even if it means I need to refrain from things that could be deemed "harmless" at the expense of being misunderstood. Because being THAT kind of woman rather than just spouting off all the time is what will truly make things happen. I need to be willing to do things that are uncomfortable. For me and for others. I want to grasp authoritative and intercessory prayer. I don't fully understand or flourish in that. I don't have a charismatic background. But I want to be powerful enough and have faith bold enough to watch something crumble or watch someone heal at the words that leave my mouth. And I am tired of being scared of that. I am tired of the smallness of my faith and prayer just because I am afraid of the different. Of the more intense. And of what I'll look like to others. (Heaven forbid I should let go of my funny Child-like Disney identity for the sake of literally being the hands and feet of Jesus.) I want a passion that produces contagious and unrelenting energy. To be so in love with my Jesus that it inevitably bubbles over and lingers in every place I walk like a fine and rich perfume. I want to walk passed the line of where my comfort zone ends. Because that, I believe, is the key. That is where life really begins. And where those people who do the most powerful things for the kingdom live.