Category Archives: Life

A Princess Evening

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Growing up in a household of seven…on one income…meant that going out to eat was very special–and very rare. I mean, even a fast food joint was a treat. I remember going to Taco Bell in Wapakoneta after church and being thrilled about those 2 soft shelled tacos and free refills at the soda fountain. Sometimes we would go to the McDonald’s at Indian Lake and eat outside on the boat dock. We would feed some of our precious french fries to the massive Carp that were lazily swimming in the channel behind the restaurant. What a thrill to watch the boats glide by and enjoy food that someone else prepared, bought and paid for in an instantly gratifying exchange.  On the very rare occasion in which we were able to go to a sit-down restaurant with an actual menu, we were all well versed in the understanding that our choices were only among the cheapest items. I had never ordered a steak…or eaten a steak, that I can remember…until after I was married.  I remember feeling that it was super indulgent to do so for the first time. I was tinged with guilt at such extravagance, but oh, what a treat!

Since those days, my sisters and I have started a tradition…a Princess Evening tradition. But in order to fully understand how priceless these evenings are, it helps to know where we have come from. If anything, our humble beginnings have made this tradition all the sweeter. So what is a Princess Evening? 

A Princess Evening is our chance to be Cinderella on her way to the Grand Ball at the Palace. We dress up and celebrate our beauty. We pay extra attention to hair and makeup and we pull out all the gawdy jewelry and all the stops. We try to make it a really special occasion…and we go to a really nice restaurant where the food is over the top and the atmosphere is fun and sets the tone for celebration. We order appetizers and whatever entre we want, and if we’re feeling especially celebratory, we share a dessert. But most of all, we just drink in the time together and enjoy each other’s company. We talk and laugh, and I must confess, we are probably way too loud. It has all the makings of incandescence. It is simply magical. Shauna Neiquist said once, that tables are sacred spaces, and I truly believe that. Some of my absolutely fondest memories have centered around a table with food and my dearest friends and family.

If going to a swanky restaurant isn’t in the cards for you, do not despair! Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life that you may LIVE!! (emphasis added…) There are any number of ways to lose hope in a given day, Lord knows. But I am telling you, hope is always there, standing on the cusp, waiting for you to FIGHT. FOR. JOY. Sometimes you just have to carve out the time and effort and CHOOSE to celebrate, even in spite of your circumstances. Put a table cloth on your table, light candles, put on some yummy music, invite your dearest friends over and celebrate life! Wear something that makes you feel beautiful!  Wear a red dress, or that Little Black Dress that has been neglected. Cook something delicious, but make sure it is something easy. Simple food is always the tastiest. Especially when prepared with love. Take time to cultivate your inner princess and inspire your loved ones to do the same. You are WORTHY and Abba Father delights in your JOY! Indeed, you were created to be a part of His joy! His joy is made complete in us through Christ Jesus and the invitation is always open.  Believe it…and JOIN IN!!!! ~Shanna

 

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Your Beauty is Now

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Over the years, a little file of school photos that I took from my student ID file my senior year, has moved from one USB stick to another, to my parent’s PC and eventually, the file has ended up on my portable hard drive. I haven’t opened my hard drive for quite a while, but just the other night I was sifting through it looking for something specific, and low and behold, there sits the file of old school photos. I opened the file and literally saw the photos of myself with new eyes. It hit me like a ton of bricks. There was this pretty young lady with long wavy brown hair and a pretty smile. She looked happy! Alive! Comfortable in her own skin. She was in shape, she was vibrant, she was fun. My mind immediately traveled back in time to how I thought of myself back then. I hated my teeth and thought I had a cheesy smile. I thought I was fat because I was one of the tallest girls in class and didn’t wear a size 0. I thought my hair was scraggly and plain. Yes, I definitely did a great job hiding my lack of self-worth at all times. As my friend Sarah describes it, “You gotta fake it till you make it!” And that’s just what I did. I faked it till I made it. Why could I not see my charisma and my beauty then? I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of regret that I had not realized those things. I regretted not realizing that I was beautiful.

Fast forward three nights and I am in the process of trying to find something to wear to my company Christmas party. Why didn’t I go shopping to find something festive to wear?! I scrounged and dug, I threw every dress and pair of dress pants out of my closet trying my hardest to find something nice enough for a semi-formal Christmas party. I didn’t think I wanted to wear a dress, but I thought I would try a few on just in case. This one was a little too tight, and so was the next one and the next one after that. What in the world?! I know it’s been a while, but two or three years ago these dresses fit like a glove! Then I try on a pair of dress pants….nope, those are a little too tight as well, and so is the next pair. Words cannot describe my disappointment in that moment. I literally could not believe my eyes. What happened? I have been trying so hard. I was on the precipice of giving up on the whole evening when I just decided to invite Jesus into the entire situation. I just started praying that I would not lose heart and that I would embrace who I am. Suddenly He spoke to me in a very quiet thought, “You’re beauty is now, Sierra. It’s not sometime in the future. It’s now.” I suddenly realized that I was doing just what I had done in high school- losing sight of my beauty in a way that I would only regret. Soon I found something pretty to wear, put on my makeup and curled my hair. And you know what? I looked beautiful. Thanks, Jesus.

We cannot love our neighbors as we love ourselves if we have no love for ourselves. God has made woman to bare His image in her tenderness, mercy and beauty. We cannot bare His image if we believe we have no beauty to offer. Embrace who you are right now, ladies. Your beauty is now.

Be blessed!
-Sierra

When Jesus Speaks Through Classic Rock From the 70’s

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In my last (brief) blog post, I mentioned that my sisters and I have been going through a season of “Life Boot Camp”. I keep thinking of how the heart experiences growing pains far more intensely than the growing limbs of the days of our youth. Learning to trust Jesus to be your strength in the places of your weakness, to provide what you do not have, to build those characteristics inside of you that you never thought you could possess…these are the places where he does battle for us. It is also where he expects us to step out in faith to participate in the process. This has been a difficult revelation for me at times. I have had to learn to let go of the “genie-in-the-bottle-Jesus” that I thought existed, which all the time was an allusion. Growing in faith or grace or maturity in Christ always requires something of us. It requires stepping out of your comfort zone, doing hard things, going to work and persevering until the results Jesus has intended for you have been accomplished. The key, of course, is Christ Jesus IN ME! Not by my strength, but by HIS. I won’t grow or become more holy by scratching and clawing my way to holiness, no matter how hard I try.

One stumbling block I have encountered is the fact that I struggle with being a weird kind of perfectionist. Either I have to do things in a very specific way, or they simply do not get done. For example: I don’t make my bed every day….like ever, really. But on the rare occasion that I get the notion to make my bed, it will take me approximately 30 minutes to do so…and it will in fact, be done immaculately.

I also struggle very heavily with the Spirit of Overwhelm. Believe me when I say that it really does not take much to rock my world and I find myself on the precipice of panic in a complete state of overwhelm.

Combine these “fun” personality traits and just imagine how they handle “Life Boot Camp”….not too swell, as you can imagine.

So here is where I found myself a few weeks ago…overwhelmed, fearful, exhausted by life’s demands, facing decisions to be made that seemed too vast for me to handle.

Enter random classic 70’s Rock.

“Just Remember I Love You” by Firefall.

This is what Jesus gave me. This song was in my head all day long. It was so random. It came out of nowhere…and I almost missed the larger story at work within the melody.

Dallas Willard explains that God is at work within a “Divine Conspiracy” in the lives of human beings. It’s a covert operation that we often miss because we are too absorbed with just getting by in life to notice. But, if-through the help and training of Jesus-we have the presence of mind to catch a glimpse of it, here is where we participate in the divine nature of our Father. Here in these tender, deeply personal moments is where we witness him at work. Would Jesus really use a song from 1977 by Firefall to speak to me? Yes, he did…and it was so. very. comforting.

Obviously my circumstances were not an exact match to the lyrics of the song, but I think the overall message is that things do get rough. Times get hard or lonely, confusing, painful, etc. in the verses, but then comes the sweet words of the chorus: “Just remember I love you, and it’ll be alright, just remember I love you, more than I can say.”As women, don’t we just need someone to love on us every now and again and to hear those words: “I love you. Everything is going to be alright.” Do you ever feel that way?

This was just what I needed to hear. Thank you Jesus. Thank you for caring about the minutia of our lives. Thank you for sending subtle, loving messages to each of us, catering to our unique desires and needs. That song might not have meant anything to anyone else, but it spoke exactly to what I needed to hear.

I love you Jesus! I praise you because you are worthy!

For some additional words of comfort, which were also a sweet kiss sent to me by my Jesus:

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

Check out this song. You might just be surprised by how comforting it is. 😉

God Bless! ~Shanna

 

Random Musings….

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So, it’s been quite some time since Starla, Sierra or myself has posted anything here lately. Admittedly, we have never been the types to pump out loads of blog posts to begin with. I would like to think that our motivation is quality over quantity…but even more so, that our writing would reflect the natural movement of our lives, our learning, growing and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

So why the recent drought? I will risk going out on a limb to speak on behalf of my beloved sisters and say that perhaps we have all been in the throws of boot camp….Life boot camp.

I believe we all have a heart to grow in our faith and maturity and sometimes when you are up to your eyeballs in that process, the last thing on your mind is to stop and write about it….though, perhaps that is exactly what we should do, because herein lies the heart of this blog. Our desire is to share in our growth and inspire others in their own journeys, and I have always felt that inspiration is contagious. Just get a group of ladies together, sharing stories and watch as excitement/encouragement spreads throughout the room.

There is also the reality in which we live where growth and beauty and all that is lovely and good is deeply opposed by the Enemy, the one who roams the earth seeking out whom he may destroy. So this is me, touching base with anyone who has happened upon this blog in the past, letting you know that we are still here. We still have a heart for beauty and fashion, cooking yummy food and sharing that with friends and family, creating beauty in our homes and sharing life lessons within an attainable budget and real life circumstances. More to come soon! God bless!!!!

~Shanna

A Woman of Substance

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Last night, life presented my sister and I with yet another challenge. It was 9:30 at night, and we had to clean out the stove pipe because it was packed with creosote. We spent an hour being chimney sweeps, and then putting the stove back together again. We both were covered in soot from head to toe. We tried really hard to laugh about it, and I–through the power of the Holy Spirit–tried hard not to give way to despair and filthy language. Oh, what challenges life hands us. In this on-going journey to finding my beauty, I wonder–where can it be in the midst of all these challenges, the mundane, and the unfulfilled longings and dreams? Life has a way of keeping you from the beauty, of losing sight of the romance. As I am kneeling on top the wood stove with my knees on two towels, and still feeling the heat, covered in soot, in the ugliest outfit ever conceived by womankind, I ask myself, “Wow!!! Is this really the sacred romance?” I think I am really living out the Cinderella experience. I am the real life cinder girl, and frankly I am thinking, “I want out!” How about you?

My sister and I live in a very small town in northwest Ohio. The winters are long and the summers are short. The winters are always a combination of ups and downs in weather, but one thing you can count on is that we will have a lot of gray days. In the midst of the gray days my ache and longing for travel and beauty rises to the surface of my heart. I wonder to myself, in my journal–what happened to my life? What happened to the little girl who believed in the prince? She knew, that precious girl knew, he would come. He would take her away to exotic locales, and woo her forever. That little girl had a romantic heart. What kind of heart do I have now? I have a heart that needs some mending, some binding up, some wisdom, some revelation, and some training in the ways of the heart. I know Jesus is waiting for me. Why do I not take my heart to him? I guess if the truth be told, I do not believe that he cares. Jesus, I need your life to invade my heart because I know that I have been born again! I am taking up your offer to release me from the power of the old man’s convictions and agreements I have made in my heart, that are keeping me from the life I need in you. (Isaiah 61:1)  The more I realize it, I am a woman who is being trained and romanced at the same time. I have become a woman of substance through it all. There is something to me.  I know how to be adaptable in about any situation. These years have been a teaching tool, and wow, the lessons I have learned. I used to think that femininity was all gentleness and kindness, but the truth is, we do not all live in an antebellum home with Rhett Butler graciously doing our bidding. My sister Sierra and I are single because God is developing us and our character. We have learned that femininity is beauty inwardly and outwardly, plus a host of other things like substance. A woman who is beautiful, but has never had to deal with life, is only one sided. A woman who is beautiful and alive to her heart, has to deal with life. Life is not all gentleness and sweetness. Sometimes it is flat out hard, and how are you going to respond to that? One thing Jesus has taught me, is that he said to be gentle and cunning. (Matthew 10:16) I have spent a lot of my life being gentle, but not cunning, and the cunningness of others–and ultimately the enemy–has taken me out many times. Jesus does not want us to be ignorant, although I think the world, the devil, and unfortunately, sometimes the church, wants us to remain in a state of ignorance. To be a woman of substance, you need to be many things. God has to train you. This should bring a precious relief to your heart because it is not all up to you. Do you find yourself in life feeling very untrained, and undisciplined, and flat-out ill-equipped for life? Well, welcome to a place where many women find themselves. It is a place where we have to come to God, and say “God, train me!!! …”Help me to get the creosote cleaned out!” Jesus is faithful and he will train you.

Jesus calls us to so much more than the striving woman of the world and the church. He also calls us out of the places where we are ignorant, untrained, and undisciplined. I am drawn to women of substance. They are engaged in life–the reality of life–which is the life of the heart, where Christ resides in us. I encourage you, if you are in a place of character-building so God can make you a woman of substance, ask him to send you women along the way, who are further along in the journey. What is a woman of substance? She is a woman who loves Jesus and trusts him for her life story. She is captivated by his love and only longs for more. She is a woman who is a lover, and a student, or disciple, of his word and living presence in her life. She is a woman who knows something about life, and who is engaged in the process. Ladies, we are all in process, some women are ahead and some are a few steps behind, but we are all taking our queue’s from Jesus. Do not stay where you are, come out of either striving and hiding and place your hands in Jesus’ hand and let him lead you into becoming a woman who is more than you are now.

Remember my love for Esther? She was beautiful, but she was cunning, resourceful, inviting, mysterious, and a woman who sought God out for his presence in her life. She was a woman of substance. In the midst of her life, she rose to the occasion with gentleness and cunning. She had been trained by life to be more than just a beautiful woman, who is absent from reality. She was a woman who engaged in the battle, and she was able to come through in her femininity. She was a woman of true substance. Pretty faces, beautiful bodies, they come and go, but the substance of a woman is so much more. It is her essence. The deep things of her heart are alive, even when she is covered in soot, and questioning the sacred romance. Please remember that Jesus is faithful and he will help you through the hard places of life, and bring times of refreshing and romance in the midst of the training.

I thought I would encourage you with some of the lessons or examples I have learned on my journey to becoming a woman of substance. Purchase a journal and write down all the things you love. I mean everything. Then, I want you to realize that you could not love anything without your heart. Become a journaler, at your pace. It is so good to look back and see how you have grown. I encourage you to become a disciple–or as one teacher puts it–an apprentice to Jesus. There is not one area that Jesus cannot teach you about, so become a student of life with Jesus as your teacher. I encourage you to become a student or disciple of his word. You need to know how to live, and to be able to give an account of why you have chosen to live for and through Christ. Then, whatever it is you love or have an interest in, go on-line, and learn about it. Take a trip to your local library and take out books on all sorts of things. Take a class on it. Join a club that teaches about what you love. There is nothing more sad in this world than to find women who have no idea who they are, or what they like or even love. To be a woman of substance, you need to find out what you like and love–what makes your heart come alive. Purchase a Webster’s Dictionary and find out what words mean, not what you think they mean. Become a woman who reads. Challenge yourself to learn. Find a form of exercise that you can invite Christ into. Worship him as you learn to walk, row, dance, or do that yoga pose you never thought was humanly possible. These are just a few things  that I have done, and you can too!!! God bless you on your journey to finding your own beauty and substance. ~Starla

A Dream of Dance Reawakened.

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Another turn in the journey to find my beauty often requires me to revisit my heart’s desires as a child. What did I love or long for as a child? One of the things I longed to do was to dance, to be seen, and to perform like Shirley Temple, whom I was often compared to as a little girl. I wanted to dance and dress up in outfits that were covered in feathers, sequins, ribbons, fringe, and rhinestones–to be seen was the whole goal. Our neighbor girl took dance, and I at five years old wanted to do the same, but alas that was not the story that was given to me.

I should explain a little about my family background. I had wonderful parents, but like so many parents, they were influenced by their own backgrounds. My parents were part of a church culture that opposed dance, and for them dance lessons for a child was just not an option. Besides, it was a frivolous expense that they did not need. And so dance lessons were forgotten.

Skip ahead to almost thirty years later and you find me a grown woman on this precious journey to find my beauty and recover all that was lost along the way. Almost four years ago I bought a belly dancing DVD by Dolphina. I was determined to learn to dance, but it’s hard to make your body do much of anything when your heart is so hemmed in and pinned down by brokeness and despair. Thank you Jesus for grace, because in this last year I picked the DVD back up. After three years of getting some healing, I was able to belly dance. I had to work really hard at it. I had so many things to overcome, the little girl who had no inhibitions, who thought she was beautiful, and who told people that she was “sexy”; I had to pray that Jesus would resurrect her because, she was buried under almost thirty years of lies that the enemy accused her with. Belly dancing was beautiful, feminine , sensuous, and sexy, all the things my feminine heart longed to be but had believed for too long I was not! I worked the program all this summer and danced. I was finally able to do the whole DVD, and it was magical.

And so autumn has come and I picked up yet another dancing DVD called, “Dancing with the Stars.” My sister Shanna recommended it. I was so excited because I had watched “Dance With Me” starring Vanessa Williams and Cheyenne and “Shall We Dance” starring Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon a hundred times. I knew this was going to be beautiful. I had no idea what surprises Jesus had in store for me by doing this DVD; what wounds he would bring up, what places he would ask to heal in me, and what he would do to romance my heart through this DVD.

I watched the DVD several times and practically cried because it looked so simple on a DVD. It was not simple in reality because I had to face my family background, church culture, my midwestern culture, and the fact that I am not a professional dancer. I thought Oh, Jesus, I wish I had that little girl’s heart back, and Oh, to have a shot of Latin blood flowing through my veins. I concentrated on the mambo, and I am still practicing. It has been fun, so empowering, and so healing. Jesus has shown me so many good things about myself through this experience. Like, if I am not instantly good at something, I give up. He has shown me that I need to let go of PERFECTIONISM!!!! He has shown me I always compare myself to my sisters who are gifted with the ability to dance, and have no inhibitions. He has shown me I need to lighten up and have some fun, to give myself some grace to get the dance.

The most wonderful and precious truth I have gotten out of this dancing experience was sent to me through my sister, Shanna. After calling Shanna multiple times asking her to pray for me to get the steps, she called to tell me that she had sent me a few video clips on my Facebook to enjoy and be inspired by. They were video clips from the show, “Dancing With The Stars.” This was great because we do not have network television, so I had never seen much of the program. It was Saturday afternoon and I sat down and watched the clips. I wanted to cry! They were so beautiful! Well then I was hooked. All I can say is thank you Jesus for YouTube!!!!!! I watched performance after performance with my sister, Sierra. It has inspired me to keep dancing.

The things that Jesus has shown me from this program have just been mind boggling.  When you watch these dances being performed, you are utterly enchanted. But I have actually learned the most from the practice sessions. You have two people; a male and a female. The man takes the lead. He is masculine to the core and is like a pillar of strength calling out to the woman to play her part. In someways, it is as if they are delving into the deep waters of her heart. I have watched these men encourage, challenge, pursue, allure, and woo these women to come out from behind the veil. The veil being whatever we hide behind as women: fear, control, shame, abandonment, or distrust…and you all know the list could go on. They are asking these women–they are literally beckoning them–to become the woman God created them to be: vulnerable, soft, gentle, seductive, cunning, sensuous, and beautiful. These dancers–Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Mark Ballas, Tony Dolovani, and Val Chmerkovskiy–and all the other guys have awakened in me a picture of Jesus. They are like a shadow of what Jesus is to us as women. Jesus is constantly wooing and beckoning us to come out, to be vulnerable, to risk to show our heart’s brokenness, vulnerability, and deep need. Jesus wants it all so he may heal us, so he may have the beauty to be his partner in this life that is like a dance.

If you are wondering, is all this biblical? There are four women mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy: Tamar, Ruth, Rahab, and of course, Mary. These women should be held up as examples of the power of femininity. They were vulnerable, brave, cunning, seductive, scandalous, and willing to risk it all to say yes to God–to let Him lead them in the dance of life. So now, when I feel Jesus asking me to trust him, I think of the clip I saw, where Maksim Chmerkovskiy is asking his partner, Erin Andrews to do a lift that will require her not just to jump, but to also trust Maks to catch her. He encourages her to trust him, and by faith, she has to trust that he will catch her, or the dance will not be complete. She must risk. I realize that is what Jesus is asking me to do, Risk. I hear Jesus call, “Starla, jump. I will catch you. It will be a beautiful transition in the dance, just trust me!!!!” Okay, Jesus, here I come!!! Catch me!!!!!!

-Starla

Winter Blues and Pretty Pictures

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It’s days like today- cold and rainy and depressing, that a girl could use a pick-me-up, a reminder of the beauty that she possesses. There’s nothing like the feeling you get when you know the winter blues are coming on.  No tan, no silky smooth skin, no vibrant sun-kissed hair, no sunshine. It feels like there’s only bulky clothing, snow boots, hairy legs and dry skin. In reality this is not totally true of winter, it has it’s beautiful looks with scarves and knee-high boots, cardigans and crocheted hats. But here in Ohio, the days are just so filled with gray skies that it’s sometimes hard to see the beauty of winter time, and the beauty in ourselves.

Have you ever had a photo of yourself that you think, “Oh, that’s a good one!”? I have to be honest and say that this does not happen to me very often. I really don’t love having my photo taken, I’d much rather be behind the camera, but on the rare occasion that someone snaps a picture of me that I actually like, I feel like I need a copy of it as something to remind me that I do have a beauty to offer.

In the spirit of this thinking, I have really come to enjoy taking photos of women in my life that need a simple reminder of their beauty. So far, the opportunities to do this have been few, and certainly nothing formal, but meaningful and wonderful none-the-less. Basically it’s just me, my camera, a beautiful subject and having some fun.

We all have a digital camera these days, or at least a friend that will let us borrow one, right? How about setting a time up with a friend to do each other’s makeup and hair and then take some photos of each other? Make it fun, make it light and wear something that makes you feel beautiful. There are all kinds of free editing programs online so that you can touch them up, make a border or convert your photos to black and white. Take one of your favorites, frame it and sit it on your night stand or dresser as a reminder. Post some on your Facebook as an album or as your profile photo. It’s not strange or vain, it’s simply something we all need as women- to be reminded every once in a while that we really do possess something that makes the world notice.

Be Blessed!

-Sierra

Books to Heal You

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I am back again with a treasure trove of books that have helped me along on the journey to recovery and the restoration of my heart. I can honestly say that I do not know where I would be without the blessing of each of these books. I have read each of them over and over again or excerpts of them over and over again. Healing  and restoration are the most needed things in this world, and it was the most life giving discovery to find out that this is exactly what Jesus wants for us. These books have been instrumental in the healing and the on going restoration of my heart.  Jesus has given each of them to me just when I was ready for them. Healing is a process, and the fact is our wounds are so layered. I have sensed many times the Holy Spirit  taking me back to one of these books to bring healing to my heart in a deeper way. I have learned so much through these books and I hope you are blessed by them too. Remember to keep seeking and knocking until you receive all that Jesus has for you. He is Faithful And True, Trust him!!

Isaiah 61:1

The Spirit of the LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from the darkness for the prisoners.

1. Bible-N.I.V. color coded Bible

2. “Captivating” by Stasi and John Eldredge

3. “Wild at Heart” by John Eldredge

4. “The Sacred Romance” by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge

5. “The Journey of Desire”by John Eldredge

6.”The Way of the Wild Heart” by John Eldredge

7. “Waking The Dead” by John Eldredge

8. “Walking With God” by John Eldredge

9. “Hearing God” by Dallas Willard

10. “Love and War” by Stasi and John Eldredge

11. “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

12. “Safe People” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

13. “The Ransomed Heart” By John Eldredge

14. “Beautiful Outlaw” by John Eldredgre

-Starla

The Mysterious Power of Scent

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The Quest for beauty has taken me to another part of femininity that is often scorned in our culture, but it is deliciously wrapped in our hearts; feminine mystique. One way a woman allows herself to be mysterious is through the magical world of scent. Have you ever been somewhere, and you smell cologne or perfume, and instantly you are taken away to another place in time? Scent is the great conjurer of memories, mysterious and elusive, half forgotten, but awakened by the power of our sense of smell. Perfume is a luxury every woman should indulge in either through House perfumes, like Chanel, or essential oils, like Patchouli. There are so many to choose from, but oh, the joy of finding one that envelops and suits you. Remember when I referred to Esther, the Queen of Persia? She spent six months being anointed, massaged, and pampered with the oil of myrrh. I think that there must be something to beauty that includes pampering the body with perfume. I made a blend of equal parts virgin coconut oil, shea butter, and the essential oil vetiver; known as the oil of tranquility, to pamper myself with. It made a wonderful sun tan oil and moisturizer, and the scent was heavenly. There are so many ways to allow your femininity to come forth, but I think the beauty of scent is so utterly sensuous, and greatly underestimated. I always remember my Nan because of her Bill Blass perfume, and my Mom by the scent of Escada Into the Blue. I have come to indulge in perfume: Seductive by Guess, Diane by Diane Von Furstenburg, First by Van Cleef and Arpels. When buying perfume, always buy quality perfumes made in France, Italy, Germany and Spain. These will be of better quality because they have been making them for hundred of years. Oh, the joy of scent to create an alchemy, an irresistible, mysterious  allure that summons up in the heart and mind, a woman.

-Starla

A Class at the Library: Herbs and Essential Oils

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I was asked by the Director of the Waynesfield Library to give a short introduction on herbs and essential oils. I have always used herbs and essential oils as a way to heal, pamper, and restore my health. I thought I would share my information with the blog readers as well. This information will be pretty simple, there is so much information and recipes on the internet and at your local library, let this just be a beginning for you and your family.

Herbs:

1. Golden Seal- Is a powerful tonic to the mucous membranes of the body. It is especially helpful when your body is battling an upper respiratory infection. It is used externally with great results on eczema, ringworm, earache, and eye infections. Caution!!! do not use while pregnant!!!!! p.103

2. Echinacea-  Is the remedy to go to turn to for any infection that the body might be fighting. It is able to combat both bacterial and viral infections. It is very safe to use, and is extremely useful in the following conditions: infections of the upper respiratory tract such as laryngitis, tonsillitis, and sinus infections. p.87

3.Chamomile- is world renowned for its medical use and as a home remedy. It can be used as light sedative for little ones. It is helpful as remedy for relaxation for sleep and anxiousness. It also can be used as a simple remedy for gas and indigestion. p.75

4. Elderberry- in Europe elderberry is known as a living medicinal bush. The elder flowers and berries act in the same way. They are a wonderful and safe way to treat colds and the flu. They can also be used to treat the inflammation of the sinuses during an infection. The elderberry itself is also helpful in the treatment of rheumatism. p.139

5. Garlic- Garlic is known around the world for its amazing healing power. It is able to fight off infection caused by bacteria, viruses, and alimentary parasites. The volatile oil found in garlic is able to fight off chronic bronchitis, phlegm, colds, and the flu. Garlic works on the digestive tract in an amazing way by its uncanny ability to kill pathogenic bacteria, while allowing the good bacterial flora to grow and flourish. It is also an used externally for ringworm  and threadworms. p. 57

6. Ginger-Is useful for bad circulatory problems . It can be used while the body is fighting an infection with fever to promote sweating. It is useful in cases of flatulence and colic. It is also a classic tea used for painful sore throats. p. 165

7. Peppermint- is extremely useful in the treatment of colic. It can be used to calm the stomach in cases of car sickness, and during pregnancy when you have the urge to vomit. It is an effective treatment for colds, fever, and the flu. It acts as a great reliever of anxiousness, and tension, and it can also me used during your menstrual cycle to relieve pain.  p. 113

All In formation was taken from “The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal” by David Hoffman. Published in 1996 by Barnes and Noble by arrangement with Element Books Inc.

Essential Oils:

1. Lavender- everyone seems to recognize this wonderful scent the base for many perfumes, an insect repellent, and as a wonderful essence to soothe and relax the body. This is the essential oil to have and use therapeutically for almost everything. p. 162

2. Camphor- It is very useful oil to use against infection. Especially helpful in any type of respiratory issues. p. 111

3. Palmarosa- is used as a cheaper version of geranium and rose oil. It can be used for acne, dermatitis, scars, wrinkles, and sores.  It helps with intestinal infections and nervous disorders. p. 133

4. Eucalyptus- this oil hails from Australia where it is a common house hold remedy. It is extremely useful in treating bronchitis, and the croup. In the tropics where malaria, typhoid, and cholera is found, it is used to treat the feverish conditions these diseases bring on. It is also useful in the healing of skin conditions such as burns, ulcers, and wounds. Caution this oil is only to be used externally!!!!!! p.141

5. Tea tree- Is very lethal in fighting off infectious diseases caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses. It is known as a immune enhancer increasing the bodies defenses against infection. p. 169

6. Peppermint- Is used for muscular pain, neuralgia, all respiratory complaints, colic, flatulence, and the common cold. p. 175

7. Spearmint- The healing effects of spearmint are about the same as peppermint, but are considered less powerful and more suitable for children. p.177

8. Myrtle- Useful in the treatment of acne, open sores, bronchitis, chronic coughs, and because it is rather mild it can be used as safe an effective oil to use for children’s coughs and chest complaints. p. 182

All information was taken from “The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Essential Oils” by Julia Lawless. Published by Barnes and Noble Inc., By arrangement with Element Books. 1995

Epsom Salt Stress and immune Booster

1 four pound box epsom salt

1 pound sea salt

10 drops myrtle

10 drops eucalyptus

15 drops lavender

10 drops spearmint

10 drops camphor

Mix altogether in a bowl and put in a glass container and label. To use place two cups in hot bath, and relax.

Herbal Tincture

4 ounces ground or chopped dried herbs of choice

2 cups 60 proof vodka or raw apple cider vinegar

Place all the ingredients in a jar with a lid. keep in a warm place shaking the jar daily for two weeks. Strain the liquid, into a dark glass bottle, label and use as medicine, when needed.

Herbal Teas:

The Phase of the Moon Tea

1 part red clover leaf

1 part red raspberry leaf

Calming Mint Tea

1 part peppermint leaf

1 part spearmint leaf

Children’s Tea

1 cup dried chamomile flowers

1/2 cup dried spearmint

1/2 cup dried and diced apple pieces

Persian Tea

1 cup loose leaf black tea

1/3 cup dried rose petals

1/8 cup cardamom seeds from pods or ground cardamom

Adapted from “The Homemade Pantry 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making” By Alana Chernila Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division Random House, Inc., NewYork. 2012

-Starla