Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Lord is my helper

"Let brotherly love continue.
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.
Remember the prisoners as if chained with them--those who are mistreated--
since you yourselves are in the body also...
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.  For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.;
So we may boldly say:
'The LORD is my helper;
I will not fear.  What can man do to me?'"  Hebrews 13:1-3, 5-6 NKJV

During the Christmas season, I start thinking about those that do not have family to celebrate with.  My husband use to work on an ambulance and I am a nurse, so we have seen the lonely geriatric population that reside in nursing homes.  As a child he and his family use to dress up and all go to nursing homes and jails to sing while his parents played the piano.  When we first were married we went to a local nursing home and he sang (I ran the CD player).  Life has gotten busy lately and we have gotten away from activities that are independent from church.  This season has been filled with illness, so I will look for another holiday that we may be able to serve them.  There are so many that do not have family to take them home for the holidays throughout the year.  They just stay in the facility with the few left behind.  There are lots of ways that entire families can show love to those without families.  Children can make snacks, crafts, or simple holiday tokens can be purchased from the local dollar store.  Whenever cooking for a large population, remember that many are on special diets, such as sugar-free, low sodium, and dysphagia (difficulty chewing or swallowing).  While some may love cookies, others may need pudding. 
I love to entertain guests.  We presently do not have much room, but it is a joy for me to host someone a place to stay overnight, especially when the kids are out of school on break and everyone gets to interact.  Also, we have a large dog and 3 cats.  We have not finished our chicken coop, so we do not have our chickens yet.  I hope we can finish the run soon and open it up for our future tenants. 
We love our animal family and we try to include them in all of our celebrating.  It can get expensive to treat them medically, so we try to save money any way we can.  I made my dog some cookies last week and she loved them.  It was a simple recipe of wheat flour, bacon drippings, eggs, and salt.  You can make them in fun shapes with cookie cutters (bone-shaped), but I just rolled them in a ball and flattened them.   I found the recipe at  I made a half recipe and I am glad that I did, because they started going bad in about a week.  So next time, I will freeze most of them and only get out about 3 days worth at a time.  Next time, I want to try the chicken liver treats.
We have treats in their stocking and a big bone that will not quite fit. 
This Christmas season, I hope you find a special way to include those extra people/pets in your celebrations.  The gift of a giving heart always returns multiplied.  There was one time that I was feeling kinda needy and lonely and the Lord told me that if I wanted something, to give away.  I was needing a hug and fellowship at that time in my life, so I did just what He said...I stepped out of my shy shell and I gave others hugs and fellowshipped with them.  I no longer felt alone and sad, the Lord filled me with love when I was willing to step out and not think about my needs, but look toward other people's needs.  The Lord is my helper.
Merry Christmas and God Bless,
Marla B.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Preserve me O God

"Preserve me O God, for in You I put my trust.
O my soul, you have said to the LORD,
'You are my Lord,
My goodness is nothing apart from You.'
As for the saints who are on the earth,
'They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.'
Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god;
Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,
Nor take up their names on my lips.
O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You maintain my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.
I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the LORD always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. 
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.
For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You alow Your Holy One to see corruption.
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At your right hand are pleasures forevermore."  Psalm 16

When I am battling something in my life, I look for scripture that declares promises of the Lord.  My immediate and extended family was hit during the Thanksgiving holiday week with a stomach virus that has gone around our town and we were unable to socialize with our extended families.  Now, there has been a coughing-crud going around and we have it.  My child and husband have it the worst.  I have been spared and am so thankful.  When they are sick, they need lots of attention.  If I were as sick, it would affect their recovery.  Unfortunately I have not rested either. 
Although I am a nurse and my family is accustomed to constant hand-washing and wiping our store buggies down as we enter our local stores, we are exposed to a wide variety of germs through school, work, and church.  I tend to have a good immunity, but my child and husband do not.  They are much more suceptable to invading pathogens than I am.  This is how I usually get sick myself...through them bringing it home.  Although, I use many homemade cleansers, I still like the use of Lysol and airing-out our home when we have been invaded by nasty germs.  Unfortunately it is wet and muggy this week and the airing-out will have to wait a few days when the rain and humidity moves out.
I cling to the Word and love to soak in His presence and at times like these.  I seek Him out more partly from my need and partly because I do not feel up to doing much else.  I love the book of Psalms.  It seems like there is always something that I am going through that can be related to a Psalm.  I love to declare the Truth in my heart and my home when I feel oppressed.  It renews my strength, faith, and courage to face the battle.  Do you have something that you feel is pushing down on you?  I urge you to find your battle-cry in the Word today.  My all-time favorite is Psalm 63.  I go back to this one often.  I am curious to which one speaks to your heart the most.
Since I am a bit tired, I have not done much except help my husband prep our bathroom for our new soaking tub.  When he has more energy, he will finish the installation.  But I am in need of some new toothpaste.  So I will share that homemade recipe with you.  I went to an old basic recipe that has probably been overlooked for many years with all of the new specialty toothpastes out there now.  This one is made from baking soda, sea salt, mint, and water.  Sounds simple huhn?  It took just a few days to get use to the consistency, but after using it for several months, I can not stand regular toothpaste.  I accidentally picked up the regular tube instead of my toothpaste and I thought I put soap in my mouth.  The bubbles were horrible after using basic toothpaste. 

2/3 cup baking soda
4 tsp fine sea salt
1-2 tsp peppermint extract (you can use a few drops of mint essential oil)
Water until desired consistency (add 1 tspn at a time)

I reduced the salt by a tspn for my personal preference.  The extract will evaporate easier than the essential oil, so the flavor lasts longer with the oil.  I use a small disposable ziploc/glad-type container and keep a plastic spoon on it for application. 
Since I am a nurse, I do not like germs and contaminating anything...even if I am the only one using it.  Several months ago, our local salvage store had a great discount on hygiene products and we have plenty of toothpaste and deodorant left.  My husband says he will finish it all off before, he jumps completely on my bandwagon.  That is quite alright.  Fortunately, my daughter is not so picky.  I plan to use the deodorant containers with my homemade recipes after they are empty.  Recyling can be simple that way.  I look forward to hearing about your homemade and cost-saving creations. 
You can find this simple recipe at
God Bless you and yours,
Marla B.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy'".  I Peter 1:13-16 NKJV

You know as the years go by many things get easier and easier to change and improve upon with our walk with the Lord.  However, there are some things I still seem to struggle with.  I remind myself daily that I can live a holy life, I just have to get myself out of the way first.  I can remember a time when I would buy anything I wanted whenever I wanted and all I had to do was just "charge it".  It seemed so easy to ignore the fact that I would pay more for it with all of the interest attached.  Over the years, my husband & I have been very convicted about these issues.  Before we ever met, we both had experience using several store credit cards.  When we were married we still thought we needed to hang on to an emergency credit card, but that was still bondage to us.  Now, years later and much to the wiser, we do not use regular credit cards rather we maintain two cards that are backed by our own security deposit.  They report to the credit bureaus and we build our credit report based on plannned spending.  We stick to one major rule, if we do not have it we do not spend it;  It has been so liberating.  Also, believe it or not, there are still mom and pop stores out there that will let you buy with 90 days same as cash or 12 months same as cash.  The last several vehicles we purchased, we just buckled down and saved our money the old fashioned way and paid cash for them.
"The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender." Proverbs 22:7
This is another reason I am so motivated to do and make many things myself.  After this Christmas season, while many are opening up and stressing over credit card statements, we will not owe anyone anything for our gift-giving.  The Christmas season is for giving of the heart, not necessarily the pocket-book.  It does not bring joy to the Lord's heart to see us give when we are so burdened down to do so;  I think it actually grieves Him.  This season, if you do not already do it, try to give something that takes a portion of your loving heart and puts less stress on the bank.  When things are made with love, they are more revered anyway.  If they are not, then the recipient is too materialistic and in need of a bit of humility. 
Today I worked with my lip balm.  I had found a recipe for homemade lip balm, but because it was mostly coconut oil, I could not carry it on my person, because it would melt.  The more I read, I found that I needed some beeswax for better hardening.  I ordered some on Ebay, and I fixed my lip balm this morning. 

I cleaned out some of my used chapstick containers with a cotton swab.  Alcohol will clean off any old germs you do not want mixed in the balm.   I shaved off some fresh beeswax and added to my balm mixture.  Then, I heated the cup in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time and stirred in between cycles until the mixture melted thoroughly (about 2 minutes total).  Then I used my pipette to fill my containers and let them sit upright until hardened.  One tip that I've read about suggests using a little scrape of your favorite lipstick to give it a bit of color.  This is the only additive that is not all natural. 
Here are a few sites with their recipes for homemade lip balm:

I hope you try some homemade projects this Christmas season and share them with love.  God Bless.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

All in a day's work

Today was a rare day.  I am a nurse for a local Long Term Acute Care facility as well as an adjunct clinical nursing instructor for a local community college.  I am actually on my Christmas break from the c.c. and worked at the hospital today.  The hours are long, but the pay is pretty good.  There are so many without jobs right now, I consider myself extremely blessed to have more than one option.  It was a treat today that I was in a minor supervisory mode for some new nurses and I had a bit of a break from the usual duties.  That is not to say that I did not have to was just a nice break.  Tomorrow, I expect activities to resume as usual. 
The Christmas decorations are going up all around us and it is quite nice.  I do not feel the same giddy feeling as we aproach the Christmas holiday, when I look forward to the gifts, but this year more than others, I feel the desire to give more of myself.  I hope that I am able to make someone's time around me more pleasant and hopeful. 
I made my first batch of soap yesterday and when I came in tonight, I cut it.  It still needs a good bit of drying to do.  I will list pictures and the recipe later this weekend.  I have been watching other blogs and searching for the perfect first recipe.  I hope this one turns out great.  I like to make many personal items from scratch, but not all people enjoy that, so I will list easy almost homemade alternatives as well.
I have always had a desire to save money and time, but I have not always been as frugal as I should be.  It has been in the last several years that our family's passion to do more with less really began. 
On August 29, 2005 hurricane Katrina hit the MS/LA/AL Gulf Coast with a vengeance.  We live approximately 50 miles from the water, but it still gave us grave damage around here.  Our mobile home was blown off of its foundation and was left hanging in a twisted shape while we fought our insurance company for a reasonable payout.  We were purged of about 40% of our belongings.  I use to hold on to everything, but after filling bag after bag of broken stuff and living in a FEMA camper for 17 months, we developed a simpler appreciation for life and the things around us.
We were all alive, unharmed, and with adequate shelter.  What else could you ask for.  Granted we were nearly stir crazy after being cooped up and I was rather tired of uncovering my washer and dryer from the tarp outside and cranking up the generator in order to launder our clothes, at least we still had a washer and dryer.  I could have been washing our clothes in a tub and wringing them out by hand. 
We are survivors.  There is no alternative for us.  Either you trust the Lord and keep pressing forward or you give up and die.
The things of this world do not have as much a hold on me as they use to and I thank the Lord for that.  He heals all wounds.  Without holding onto the Lord, we could have been very bitter after Katrina demanding our "fair share" in life, but we chose to see all events as growing lessons and stepping stones. 
This world and it's things are temporary.  Some day, I will be walking on that golden road with Jesus and I will not care about those broken dishes, craft supplies, or furniture.  I hope and pray that you also have a deep appreciation for the simple things in life.  God bless and good night.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Eternally Significant

"Who can find a virtuous wife? 
For her worth is far above rubies. 
The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.
She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard,
She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms. 
She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night. 
She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy. 
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet. 
She makes tapestry for herself,
Her clothing is fine linen and purple. 
Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land. 
She makes linen garments and sells them,
And suplies sashes for the merchants. 
Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come, 
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness. 
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all. 
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing.
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. 
Give her the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates."  Proverbs 31:10-31 NKJV

As I have read this passage so many times, I have yet to see it completely fullfilled in my own life.  I see parts here and there thriving, but some areas have not been brought to fruition yet.  I consider it a journey and a ministry for me to serve my family.  It not only helps me to learn about things I otherwise would not have experienced, but to grow in the Lord.  As my study Bible elaborates on this passage, "Confident in the God to whom she prays, the effective woman knows she has eternal significance"  It is a blessing for me to serve and provide for my family.  It is my first and foremost ministry in life.  I challenge you to take this journey with me and let's learn together to be the best women of significance that we can be. 
I am striving to provide inexpensive and natural alternatives to everyday necessities.  I will share my experiences in serving the Lord and my family, in hopes to encourage you to seek His kingdom first and received all of His abundant blessings that He has to offer us.
I enjoy making things homemade.  It gets under my skin to see something that I can make for a fraction of the price.  I am always looking for ideas for gift giving and personal use.  In future blogs, I will share my ideas and recipes along with successes and failures that I have collected over the years.  I like to make jewelry, soap, candles, crafts, simple sewing, cooking, and animals. 
I am a wife to a talented singer and mother to a special needs child with Down syndrome.  We are currently building a chicken coop in hopes of having some new producing tenants soon.  It has been a slow process, as we have used mostly recycled materials.  I will share some photos on following blogs.
God Bless and I look forward to sharing with you.