Tag Archives: home keeping

The Flop

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I’ve had a makeover in mind for my bedroom for awhile now. On a limited budget and knowledge of volatile organic compounds being hazardous to health, I searched a very long time for an affordable DIY natural paint, for various places in my home. And I took a long time to slowly buy individual supplies once I knew what to do with my bedroom.

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Calcium carbonate and charcoal mix as the colorant – exactly the shade I was hoping for!

I finally found what I hoped would be our bedroom wall paint, flour paint. But, something went very wrong with this mix, despite that during later pregnancy, I stood over a stove for 45 minutes and followed the directions. I had the soothing grey that I wanted from the mix, until I added the iron sulfate. Then, at the top, was a horrid baby-poo-like green. I would mix and it would look okay for all of a moment, when the film formed on top would be the green. When I let it set to cool down, the entire top became that green. Underneath was the grey I wanted, but atop… where it dried, putrid green.

Despite this, when the paint cooled down, I wanted to see it’s coating ability. I did a nice thick and even coating and it was quite transparent – it would probably take about 10 coats to cover the pre-existing paint… nothing like the image of the barn in the link above.

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Those hunks of green only worsened as it cooled.

In an interesting twist, we are in the midst of repairing our roof. A co-worker of Daryl’s is really good at construction and offers good pricing (he owns his own business). He heard I was looking for no-VOC paint and offered to let us buy no-VOC paint through his business at his cost, for a name brand. It’s actually cheaper than making the flour paint, through him (far more if we purchased on our own). It’s not my ideal, but it’s better than toxins leaching into our home/us. I’ve already painted one closet door in a no-VOC paint, as a tester.

One flop allowed me to find a cheaper alternative that I don’t have to make myself, which at this stage in pregnancy, is a real helper.
Now, to get the room painted before this little one comes earthbound!

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Natural Dishwasher Liquid

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I hunted and hunted. I tried tweaking my dishwasher powder recipe to make it liquid, as leaving it dry sometimes resulted in a brick, if in just the wrong conditions (any moisture near the container). It took me years, and then a friend pinned a simple little recipe for very natural dishwasher liquid. This is from Mann’s Mooring.

I tried it the first time as it is written – it works! The next time, I decided I wanted to see if I could go even cheaper. I bought a bottle of lemon juice and iodized salt from the cheapest grocery store in town. I modified the recipe to account for lemon juice rather than whole lemons. It doesn’t gel up like the original recipe, but it works beautifully in the dishwasher. As a bonus, since I don’t have a vitamix, there are no little chunks in this that were occasionally found in the first batch (I just picked them off the freshly washed dishes and everything was fine and sparkly).
It’s also a dump-and-cook recipe, so it’s a little simpler, too!

Here’s my adapted recipe (I’ll add a picture later, when I make a fresh batch)!

  • 24 ounces lemon juice
  • 4 ounces vinegar (I have used white and apple cider vinegar, each with good success)
  • 1 cup salt

Put all ingredients in a  pot. Cook just below boiling for 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and store in glass bottle. Use 1 tablespoon per load; may need to shake before each use.

I am going to start sharing a few more of my homemade cleaning recipes in the next few weeks. I hope you enjoyed this one!

The Coming Bedroom Makeover

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Before Daryl and I even knew each other, he purchased a home and painted the walls in every room. When we were first married, his mom often commented to me how now I could “paint all the walls nice colors,” but aside from one color, I really didn’t care… I was grateful we had a home to live in!

Aside from the gratefulness of not being a vagabond any longer, I really did like the idea of the terracotta living room being paired with a sharp black contrasting element.
Neither he nor I knew about Dressing Your Truth at the time, but now I am quite fascinated with his color choices and my desire to use black with it! You can see most of it in this post. I’ll add more “before” pictures when I update, too.

All of the rooms but one are very “earthy.” Two rooms are some awful, dreary shade of red, and while I have not been fond of them, it was on the bottom of my “have to do” list. I’ve often thought, “I want to make these rooms peaceful and calm without feeling like a cave.” I just didn’t have a new color scheme in mind, so didn’t bother about it.

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Then, an artist friend of mine gave me these pictures and I knew what my bedroom would look like! Everything came together in my mind, my Master Bedroom Pinterest board got cleaned up and had a few things added as my vision was honed in on.

Wanting to eliminate toxins and not add any more, I hunted for affordable paint options. This is when I came across flour paint. It’s affordable, durable, and non-toxic. It met all of my requirements, plus catered to my love of making something simple, myself.

Since I wanted light grey walls, I hunted around for coloring options that I could either obtain for free locally or at minimal cost online. I spotted this website on natural paint pigments and got excited. I have charcoal for free in my fire pit and we use calcium carbonate in the toothpaste we make and use. There wasn’t going to be waste on this front!

Something I was excited and nervous about was reupholstering a lamp shade I have had for maybe a decade. I am following the guide from Martha Stewart’s video, using fabric from a bag someone gave us.

I am making a jewelry tree, since I don’t have very much jewelry and this is cleaner than what I had been using (a lovely little jewelry box my grandparents had given me… and I passed on to Melody). I want to make it like the Shire’s celebration tree, but I am not sure how to do that exactly.

Our bureaus are getting a little makeover, too.

I am hoping we can get this done before the newest little one arrives this summer, but if not, that’s okay.
I’m so delighted in a gift from a friend that was not only so stunningly beautiful for me, but finally inspired me to hone my vision for a peaceful bedroom space for Daryl and I, and propel me to adjust other rooms as well.

Fragility Needed Here

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Five and a half years ago, after becoming a single mother (and not stating that it was due to learning about the molestation), I wrote about trusting God’s provision when obeying His written Word. I hope it may encourage someone now.

You know, I’ve been thinking upon how utterly difficult this situation is over the last week or so. Not just feeling it, but looking at it as objectively as I can. This would be a situation that I know even many Christians would say is a “gray” area of life.

While this is difficult, I do know that God has all the right answers for this. He is not going to leave me to flounder. I truly see Him as decisive, while showing many creative outlets within that amazing “black and white” stability.

I know that His Word is true. He will not command all older Christian women to teach the younger Christian women to be chaste, filled with grace, to keep at home, to love others with abandon (and by implication, Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic understanding, and logical thinking, all younger Christian women are to follow the teachings), and then not make a way possible to do just that.

God will not make this situation impossible for me to obey Him through. I can still love others, can still be modest and pure, can still be a keeper at home, can still be graceful and kind. If I see no way to do these things, it is not God allowing the world to make it “impossible” for me to obey, but rather, that I have simply not seen the ways to obey.

God has already clearly provided me understanding to see ways to provide for my little family from home. God has brought a little man into our life to watch and minister to (something I am still grappling with is how to minister to his family and put an awareness to his mother about trusting God to provide for wives/mothers through staying at home – God will also provide without this bit of income), a lady in want of home-cooked meals that desires to pay for them, and my natural living supplies business is slowly but very surely taking off (a local natural food co-op has picked up several of my products!). Every wife/mother that decides to trust God and keep at home will have a different looking situation. Not only in their financial need, but also in how God will creatively reveal Himself in how they can contribute to the family income from home.

God has provided through the Body to meet needs outside of what I am making from home. When the last bit of the financial puzzle is put in place (a boarder), I will no longer require the help of my family or Church on a financial level. However, I am thankful for this time as much as it humbles me. I had not yet seen a church or community of Believers actively live out God’s command to care for the widow. And now, I have seen it, felt it.

I had become hopeless that many other Christians would fulfill that command… but I have a deep knowledge that a great number of His people do listen to this very specific command.

(While my husband is yet living, understand that what is going on is grievous and it is as a great loss to myself and Melody. It is as though he has died. We have come upon a sudden and terrible tragedy that took him from us. He made it that I would be a widow, devoid of his presence and provision.)

This situation has required that I have a fragile heart. God requires that I not be strong at all moments, but I allow myself to grieve.

I believe that is why I became so sick a little bit ago. I became physically weak and exhausted, I was in pain, and the realization that my husband was not there to help me was overwhelming.

I cried frequently during that last Thursday I was sick. I had cried only once in front of Melody before that, not allowing myself to cry any other time before her, to be strong for her. But that day, I could not stop crying. I look back and know that God wanted me to grieve. He wanted me to be able to be fragile and breakable before Him, and to allow Melody to see that need sometimes too.

Having a fragile heart is not just about emotions. It’s also about trust. When I said many times before that I have seen God to be “black and white” and the world is gray… when I have said that I see God’s command to keep at home as a true command for all wives/mothers, and that He will provide a way for women to obey that command…. I have to be willing to trust that when times really are tough. Trusting through “impossible” times truly breaks the human heart. It is a struggle to trust and obey. It’s not easy or fun most of the time when things are pressing you in on all sides and your humanity cannot always hear Him clearly.

I desire to have a fragile heart. I do not for a second wish to have a heart in any other state of being.

I desire and pray for your hearts to be willing, to trust and obey, even when times are tough, and it seems like the way is blocked and impossible. God makes a way for you to obey Him, for all to obey Him.

Men and Family

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Anna at Domestic Felicity some time ago, had been writing about Israeli husband’s that are in religious school while their wives work outside of the home to support their studies. Personally, I have seen this happening in America (with religious school and secular college as well), causing many of these wives to become drained, desperate and in some cases, despondent to life.

I want to make a clear note before I go on to tell this tale. People can sin and still love the Lord. It’s a truth that is hard to swallow for my black and white mind. It’s hard to comprehend that God still loves me when I sin. Those that are His battle the same war of sin that everyone else on earth does, but they have a Helper who can and does make them victorious, if we are only willing to allow Him to! It is a truth that haunts us, but yet, sets us free. If we can recognize that we are battling sin as Christians, just as were were before we came to Christ, we can admit our faults and failures, and continually hand them over to God.

I knew a married Christian couple that are some of the sweetest, most loving and peaceful people I have ever met. When someone needed something, they went out of their way to serve others and meet their needs. Many times they actually put their own family in a bind to help another family.

This couple was married for many years before they had any children. The wife traveled to work and only came home on weekends.

They had several houses, one of which they rented out to a small family. The husband renter lost his job, and couldn’t pay rent. So the couple I am speaking of let the other family stay there rent free until the husband found a job. Quite literally the wife was working to support another family!

Then the wife found herself miraculously pregnant. She continued to travel back and forth each week to get to work, before and after the baby was born.

The wife shared with me that she wanted to keep the home, but they simply couldn’t afford for her to come home. That if she stayed at home, her husband couldn’t afford to “serve the Lord” in the same way he had been. She shared that she didn’t want to leave her baby alone with anyone else, even people she trusted, because she knew that God wanted her to be the one to raise her child.

The husband, at a dinner, shared that indeed a wife keeping the home was “more” biblical than other options, but that it didn’t work for everyone. (My first silent question was if God commands it, why would a Christian think to say it’s impossible, but I digress. My second silent question was what the heck does “more biblical” mean????)

Then she became pregnant again. Still having traveling to work. She had become despondent and had truly lost hope to ever come home. She was afraid that if she did come home that she wouldn’t be a good mother.

Meanwhile, the husband worked a very low paying job when he easily qualified to make much more elsewhere. He pastored a lovely church, but it took up so much of his free time to serve those people that he didn’t have time during the week to spend with his family even if his wife and children had been home. And on top of that he was leading a bible study in town, not because he felt called to it, but because no one else wanted to lead it and he didn’t want to leave those people high and dry without a leader. If he left, someone would simply be forced to lead or else find other groups to disperse to. If the group is not strong enough to rise up a new leader and will fall apart, they need to re-evaluate their priorities.

The saddest thing to me is that they think of serving everyone else more than they think of ministering to God’s ordained primary ministry for themselves – their own family!

I’ve said before that I would not tear down godly manhood. And I won’t. In so many ways this is a godly man. But in this area alone he needed aid. He needed to prioritize his life so that his wife may do what God commands her to do, which is what God commands him to do. This is the man submitting himself to God’s commands and loving his wife as Christ loves the church.
The truth is, that is Any-Man America. So many Christian men long to serve God, but put or allow their wives into lives of sin to get what they feel is God’s will…
We often confuse His allowing us freewill as Him ‘leading us’ to do things, simply because He didn’t puppet us into stopping, and tell others (and ourselves), “God just called me to something different than X, Y, Z that can be pointed directly to in Scripture.”
These men must be called by other godly men that are following God’s call in this area of life – to enable their wives to stay at home, even if money is tight and they are lacking luxuries or he has to work 50 hours a week instead of 40. Voddie Baucham or Mark Driscoll are good men to learn from to start if you can’t find anyone locally.
There is nothing in Scripture that says, “To be a (insert missionary, pastor, etc. here), you must learn at a school how to do so. You must spend money to learn what I want you to learn.” In fact, I have met so many missionaries, pastors, teaching Mom’s and Dad’s, ministry leaders, and more, that heard the Lord call them to that particular area of life and did not wait to pay someone to teach them how to do God’s will, but simply… did God’s will.

I have heard many people say that the wife is working to support the husband’s way through college so that he can support her later in life. My father never spent a day in college and he supports my mother in a fantastic way now. College is not a necessity to life. What flawed human logic.

Sadly, these men are jeopardizing their bride, their children, and future generations to follow a dream that might not be entirely what God had for them. I am sure God leads many men to be preachers, missionaries, etcetera, but far, far fewer men are told by the Lord that they MUST go to college and have their wives work to support them. Humans often take what God gives them (be an ambassador of Christ) and twist it into something different (don’t forget to pay someone to help you become an ambassador!).

Since Scripture says that women that are not “keepers at home” (guardians – Titus 2:5) are blaspheming (shaming) God’s Word and that men who do not willingly provide financially for their families are worse than infidels  (1 Timothy 5:8), it’s safe to say that those who want to obey God’s call in their lives… won’t hear God tell husbands to have their wives work out of the home, especially to support their husband’s financially.

The train of thought for me on this has not been to tear these men down. It has simply set a fire under me to lift them up in prayer. Pray that they clearly see God’s Word for themselves as husbands, that they will sacrifice their own wants and desires to instead please the Lord and serve their own brides as Christ does His Church.
Let’s pray for these men (and women who seek to work away from their home and family), that they will rise up and trust the Lord to provide for their families (financially, emotionally, spiritually, etcetera) when they obey Him. That Christian husbands will encourage their wives to be home and find it a beautiful and useful place. That their wives will love them unwaveringly even when times might get tough. And let us pray for these wives to not lose hope even if they have been obeying their husbands instead of the Lord, that they will be renewed in their strength and find that God can and will bring them home if they step out in faith and do what He says.

Let us pray.

Of Privilege and Belief

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Sharon, at Casaubon’s Book, wrote of Myths of Incompetence:

“But this isn’t just about men. This is about privilege – and privileged women do it too. ‘Oh, I just never get the floors as clean as Maria does!’ ‘I don’t have the patience to be with my kids all the time, plus I didn’t spend so many years in graduate school to wipe noses all day.’

There’s a kind of willful incompetence that is endemic in our society, and it is the territory of privileged folks who characterize basic, functional human work as something you need a special gift for. And this serves them well As long as you don’t know how to do something, and can naturalize your ‘flaws’ as just how you are made’ you don’t have to apologize for the fact that you are sticking someone less privileged with your work. In fact, you can totally sympathize with them, and totally care about justice for people just like them – at the same time that they get paid badly or treated badly for doing work you could do too.”

I’ve heard that same type of sentiment about keeping at home and homeschooling, very often. “I can’t imagine staying home with little Johnnie all day. There’s no way I could teach him!” “Staying home and keeping a house running? I wouldn’t be very good at that. I’d go crazy.”  I don’t think it’s JUST about privilege, though.

I think a large part of it is privilege – we’ve been conditioned to have everyone else do everything for us. Someone else watches our kids for the majority of the waking hours. Someone else prepares our food (via restaurant, fast food, or Hamburger Helper). Someone else cleans our homes, or at the very least, prepares the chemical concoctions to do it. Someone else makes our clothes. Someone else does… well, everything for us.

However, I believe there’s also an genuine underlying belief in people that they’re unable to do things, and that they aren’t quick enough, smart enough, or able enough to learn to do things for themselves. It boils down to laziness, a laziness steeped in a cultural mindset that I’ve seen several times in folks, that they are just too stupid to get how to do something for themselves. Sharon states it is “willful incompetence,” and I agree in a lot of cases, but there are other folks I’ve met who belittle themselves so much that they don’t believe they can do much of anything.

I do realize that we are one person, and we cannot do everything on our own. However, we can do a lot more than what we choose to do, most of the time. Many a women from yesteryear shame us into that knowledge. Women who: made the clothes for their large family, spent the whole day with and taught their own kids, cooked their own food, gardened, made their own soaps, and washed their clothing by hand. And still had time to visit with neighbors. Those same women raised up children to help them around the house, and everyone knew it was for the best of the family, no one beneath another. It just got done because someone has to do it.

“Except that not liking domestic labor does not mean your family stops making use of domestic labor – in fact, all of us use a whole lot of it. And it always has to get done by a person – there are no robot maids. Holler would rather die than lactoferment her own cucumbers, but there’s no evidence that she and her family don’t eat pickles. She doesn’t want to make bread, but she presumably eats it. She can’t keep a basil plant alive, but she speaks of salad caprese in way that suggests she likes to eat basil.

By framing this as a purely personal issue ‘some people are just made in a pickle-making kind of way’ and as a matter of competence ‘I couldn’t possibly grow a cucumber, that must be the territory of other people, raised on farms, whose social status is already determined…’ we led implicitly to assume that the pickles that she then eats will be grown and made by people who just love growing cucumbers and making pickles – that there is a natural sorting into ‘pickle people’ and ‘nonpickle people’ in the world, and that this is good and just and everyone is happy. Except, of course, that’s bull.”

She goes on:

“Moreover, it might not be an issue of competence, personality or affluence at all. Sometimes it is a matter of right and wrong For example, I don’t like to sew. Given a choice, frankly, when my kids rip a pair of jeans, I’d like to throw them out and buy a new one, rather than spend fussy hours repairing them. But those jeans came from cotton, grown in the third world, heavily sprayed by chemicals that contaminate the soil. They were made by shop workers who were also tired, and also put in long hours. If I go buy another one, I support the industry, I support the cotton spraying and the child labor and the sweatshops. I know that. So let’s think – whose pain and suffering is more important, mine or the 15 year old girl in the sweatshop? Mine or the peasant farmer in Benin spraying toxics without even a mask? I might have to spend a whole half hour doing something I really hate – obviously, it is me who needs liberation. Besides, I suck at sewing.

Of course, that’s because I’m allowed to suck at sewing – this isn’t rocket science, but because no one ever made me learn (ok, I’m pretending that I never had my seventh grade home ec teacher, bless her), it is just too hard for me. Never mind that there are plenty of things that I’m not particularly talented at that I’ve somehow managed to learn to do over the years. Never mind that we assume that everyone, barring a disability, regardless of mathematical talent, needs to learn things like arithmetic and basic algebra, and that even people with disabilities that make it hard for them need to learn to read and write. We never ask ‘are you talented at these things, honey…no, ok, pass.'”

I enjoy doing a lot of things for my family. I enjoy knowing it was my hands that sewed something, baked something, tilled something, cleaned something…. that my family used. The things I am not willing to do, I want to really examine my reasoning, my heart about the matter.

  • If I think I cannot do something manual because of lack of experience – why don’t I become a little daring, and try it out?
  • What holds me back, truly, from learning to make or do certain things for my family? Is it because of time constraints, being busy with manual things in other areas, or is it because I feel I am above the new activity?
  • Do I think the Lord made me too stupid to learn something new? Too good to do the dirty work?

I want to remember these questions the next time I face something new to do or make for my family and I balk at it.

What about you? Do you find yourself willfully incompetent at times, unwilling to learn to do difficult things? What do you think of Sharon’s article about the myth of incompetence? I’d love to hear your thoughts, even opposing ones. Share nicely, please. 🙂