A Beautiful Will And Perfect Way

Wholesome Home

Patience, daughter, patience. I will show you in My perfect time. Worry is not of Me. Anger is not of Me. Lust is not of Me. Do not let the world overcome you.“…be holy, because I am holy.”   (Lev 11:44)

Many times it seems life would be immensely easier if God would allow us to know His full plan for our lives. In prayer, God’s children ask questions such as, “Is this the person I should marry? Am I ready to start a family? Should I take this job? Should we sell our home and move? “. These important inquiries would be nice to have an answer of “yes” or “no” formed from clouds in the sky. But I’ve never had that happen….

Knowing and obeying God’s will requires wisdom, discernment, patience, faith and courage. It’s not to be taken lightly.

This time of year, without fail…

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Life Against The Grain

The picture you see for this post inspired and motivated me to get writing again. My husband brought me a beautiful, heart shaped piece of wood for my artwork. We both instinctively imagined the well-known Bible verse used for weddings, “and the two shall become one,” on the heart. (Mark 10:8). Then, I got to thinking…general society doesn’t seem to need a reminder to fall in love, but rather to keep the love they’ve found. Matthew 19:6, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.

As most of you know, my husband and I recently started a new business called Against The Grain. The obvious reason this name came to mind is because we create wood products. We were also attracted to the name because it describes our approach to life. 1 Peter 2:11 tells us, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul“. A true Christian makes decisions based on Biblical truth, not the cultural norm. Followers of Jesus need courage to live against the grain. (See also Hebrews 11:13-16)

Throughout life, we need to pause often and ask ourselves questions: Am I living with the purpose to make me happy? Are my goals to make my dreams come true, make my bank account build or obsess over the amount of followers on my social media pages? I am by no means a life or marriage expert. I am, however, a woman who has the ability to observe the world around me. Anyone can see that the Holy One, Everlasting God and Savior of the world has been replaced in current culture. Instead, the god of Self is spreading like wildfire and bringing along the misconception that our social standing, appearance, possessions and happiness are the true signs of success. I believe this lie is the culprit of many destroyed marriages.

I’m not going to give you a whole novel on how to create a successful marriage. As I stated earlier – I am no expert. But I do know that the Bible states quite clearly the intent of marriage and what it’s meant to look like. God’s instructions are clear, but not always easy to follow. I put together a short, simple list of ways I’ve found my marriage of almost six years strengthened.

1. Pray for your spouse. This is the most important decision you can make in your marriage. God is the best equipped counselor you’ll ever find – and He’s always available! Praying is an amazing way to change your heart towards a situation. It can give you patience you formerly lacked and restore love. I recently discovered a prayer I love for when Joe and I aren’t seeing eye to eye, “Dear Jesus, please put peace and unity between my husband and I. If he is off track in this situation, make it undoubtedly clear to him. I pray he hears You clearly and listens. If I’m off track in this situation, make it clear to me and change my heart. If this is the path You’ve planned for us, change my fear and bitterness to excitement and joy so I can confidently support my husband!“. You can also pray scripture over your spouse. A fitting verse for me to pray over Joe on a regular basis is Deuteronomy 33:11, “Bless all his skills, LORD, and be pleased with the work of his hands.

2. Listen more than you speak. I know, mathematically it’s impossible for both spouses to always do this, but it’s almost more of a mindset. We learn in James 1:19, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.“. This eliminates interrupting, constant nagging and yelling matches. It brings better communication and more understanding. Even if you leave a conversation still upset, at least you now can now bring your concerns to God instead of feeling guilty over speaking harsh words you didn’t truly mean. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). There’s a reason the Bible instructs us this way. When we listen closely and think before we speak, we’re going to be less angry individuals.

3. Practice the Fruit of the Spirit. These are found in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.“. That pretty much says it all – a person who consistently possesses those attributes is desirable beyond words! All spouses should strive to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled towards their other half. No one can do this perfectly, but striving to will revolutionize any and every marriage.

Making the decision to commit in your marriage is the best thing you can do for children. We are all setting an example for the generations after us. They need to be shown how to fight for love, even when you don’t feel like you’re in it at the moment. When we follow God’s plan for our marriages, the rewards will be great!

Thinking About Goats

Life can be confusing.  Is it a time to courageously step forward in faith?  Is it a time to patiently wait?  A beautiful truth we can know is that God will make His perfect plan known to those who seek Him. The Holy Spirit and Bible are both readily available.  When sought together, they bring much wisdom and direction.  However, that can be easier said than done.  After all, isn’t it more convenient to only talk the talk instead of also walking the walk?

This season of my blog seemed like the perfect time to share more about who I am and where I’m at in life.  My husband and I have been considering all the directions we could go as a family and asking ourselves many questions. 

“You must not only aim right, but draw your bow with all your might.” Henry David Thoreau

So far, I haven’t shared a whole lot about my personal life in my posts.  This is since most of the time I find it’s not necessary.  Blogs can be incredible resources and Facebook has brought a new social experience to the world.  While I take part in and thoroughly enjoy what both have to offer, it seems to me they could often be handled with more care and leave less details available for all eyes to read.  So, while sparing you the unnecessary details of my journey, I’ll hopefully give you something beneficial along the way to take from this writing :).

My husband and I will be married six years this July and our daughter will be two years old in just a couple of short weeks!  We’ve had a home in the town of Ulen, Minnesota our entire marriage, all the while considering a move into the country.  We’ve also always known we would like to have our own business.  These are the BIG topics that have been building up recently, causing us to explore our options.

Time does fly...

Time does fly…


...and keeps on flying!

…and keeps on flying!


Through lots of prayer, research and late nights talking, we finally have direction!  Our plans take both courage and patience.  We’re planning to stay put in our current home for the time being, but are moving forward on a new business venture.  By combining Joe’s woodworking and metalworking skills with my flair for arts and crafts, we’ve put together a business called Against The Grain!  For more on our business and pictures of what we create, check out our Etsy shop.

Even though Joe’s facility for piecing together his creations is a single stall garage…and my end is accomplished in our living room, we’re trudging ahead!

“Start where you are.  Use what you have.  Do what you can.” Arthur Ashe

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This is one of our handcrafted, black walnut benches.

This is one of our handcrafted, black walnut benches.

Days that I’m able to be at home, which are thankfully quite often, are my favorites!  They’re filled with cooking, artwork, writing and housework.  Having a toddler, all of those tasks are obviously accomplished between puzzles, coloring, dress up, countless trips to the potty chair and multiple laps running around the house!  Oh, and I can’t forget the small toy or dog bone that’s stepped on at least once along the way… Of course big chunks of the day also slip by cuddling with my sweetie.

Princess time!  For Gracie, not me... Hey, why don't I have any princess dresses?!

Princess time! For Gracie, not me…
Hey, why don’t I have any princess dresses?!

However, like everyone else, we definitely have our off days.  Instead of singing while doing dishes, some afternoons I’m plugging my ears to muffle the noise of a screaming child.  When she’s struggling through one of those random fits, I look at Gracie and think, “Who is this demanding, crabby-pants and what did she do with my sweet, little girl?!”.  Parenting is a more wild, emotional roller coaster than anything else I’ve experienced.  Thankfully though, having a child has allowed me to have a better understanding of how God must see me. I’m certain He looks at me and thinks, “Who is this demanding, crabby-pants and what did she do with my sweet, little girl?!”.

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At this point, you’re most likely wondering why, oh why, is this titled Thinking About Goats?  Allow me to explain.  My guess is that by now you’ve realized I’m not your normal twenty four year old girl.  I get my milk from a local farm and have homemade cheese aging in my fridge.  Chunks of wood and art supplies are piled on my kitchen table and the entire bottom half of my picture window is completely covered in toddler fingerprints and doggie nose smudges.  The goats only further my oddness by being involved in my future plans.

Down the road, I hope for my family to be in a modest home in the woods…with a shop just large enough for Joe to actually function efficiently.  I want to wake up and gather chicken eggs with Gracie and milk a couple goats.  Then continue on in my days with homeschooling, gardening, cooking, artwork, writing and “necessary” tasks such as laundry and cleaning. It seems like the hardworking, yet quaint existence I’ve always imagined…

So, those are my exciting and probably quite unique plans.  Now, time for the waiting game to see if they line up with God’s design for my family. Until then I’ll continue to lay awake at night planning my little homestead – wasting away my precious time for sleep while thinking about goats.

“I’m an idealist.  I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way.” Carl Sandburg

Photo credit for goat picture:

Does greeting us via photopin (license)

Cake Without Frosting?

This post is going to be short and sweet 🙂

I sincerely apologize for the unforeseen hiatus I’ve taken from blogging. There will be an update soon, but know that I fully intend to continue pursuing this blog. It has become a passion of mine that I’m incredibly excited to grow. My head is filled with a billion different topics, sentences, recipes, etc that need devoted time to be organized into coherent writings. The task before me is not a small one…

Here’s a sneak peak of upcoming posts I have planned:

• Series on Making Dairy Products at Home! Ex: yogurt, butter, cheese

• The MANY Uses of Coconut Oil

• Healing Clays – A Forgotten Practice

• Reviving Biblical Roles of Men and Women

• Practicing Self Control in an Out of Control Culture

I’m extremely excited to write these posts! In order to accomplish them, I NEED your prayers. Satan has been attacking my mind and making it near impossible to focus.

So for now, you get this simple thought to ponder:

Living a life without love is like eating a piece of cake without frosting. When it sits in front of you long enough, you will end up eating the whole piece. This leaves you destined to have one of those moments where you look at the empty plate in front of you and think, “Hmm, I don’t even remember eating that…”

Baking cake is an effort made with the intention of seeing joy brought to others through the fruit of ones labor. This frosting-less square clearly did not bring joy. With a little extra effort it could’ve been the most delicious, make-you-sit-down-and-say-Mmmmm piece of cake in the world! Instead, it was consumed without notice.

Don’t be like that piece of cake.

“…but the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13

P.S. Check out my husband and mines new Etsy store 🙂

Against The Grain

photo credit: gateau chocolat / ガトーショコラ via photopin (license)

Bone Broth – A Rediscovered Superfood!

Guess what steaming, hot liquid a popular take out window in New York is serving? And it’s not coffee. You guessed it – bone broth! The establishment, Brodo, has made simple, homemade broth a new health trend. And for good reason!

Until recent times, using all the parts of an animal in cooking was the normal way of life. If a person wanted chicken broth, they made it from chicken bones. They couldn’t go to the nearest grocery store and pick up a can of broth or jar of bullion cubes – which I suspect the majority of American households do more commonly than not. I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty for taking advantage of a convenient option. Don’t we all occasionally? It’s simply a good way of life to be well informed concerning what goes into our bodies.

The bulk of store bought broths aren’t actually real. They contain meat flavors produced in a lab and monosodium glutamate (MSG). Mercola’s website says the following:

“MSG is one of the worst food additives on the market and is used in canned soups, crackers, meats, salad dressings, frozen dinners and much more. It’s found in your local supermarket and restaurants, in your child’s school cafeteria and, amazingly, even in baby food and infant formula.

MSG is more than just a seasoning like salt and pepper, it actually enhances the flavor of foods, making processed meats and frozen dinners taste fresher and smell better, salad dressings more tasty, and canned foods less tinny.

While MSG’s benefits to the food industry are quite clear, this food additive could be slowly and silently doing major damage to your health.”

To get real bone broth, you can simply make it yourself at home for much cheaper! Here’s an awesome quote from Sally Fallon Morell to inspire us to do this –

“What America needs is healthy fast food and the only way to provide this is to put brothals in every town, independently owned brothals that provide the basic ingredient for soups and sauces and stews. And brothals will come when Americans recognize that the food industry has prostituted itself to short cuts and huge profits, shortcuts that cheat consumers of the nutrients they should get in their food and profits that skew the economy towards industrialization in farming and food processing. Until our diners and carryouts become places that produce real food, Americans can make broth in their own kitchens. It’s the easy way to produce meals that are both nutritious and delicious—and to acquire the reputation of an excellent cook.”

So, let’s look at why bone broth is so beneficial!

* It’s rich in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, silicon and other trace minerals. These nutrients are absorbed easily by our bodies.

* Bone broth’s nutritional value also includes glucosamine and chondroiton – which have been shown to be helpful for arthritis and joint pain.

* It helps promote strong bones.

* Bone broth has an anti-inflammatory effect on our bodies.

* It’s also a support to the immune system.

* It’s filled with gelatin, which is amazing for digestive health and beneficial for a multitude of diseases. Here’s information on gelatin from the Weston A. Price website –

“The French were the leaders in gelatin research, which continued up to the 1950s. Gelatin was found to be useful in the treatment of a long list of diseases including peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle diseases, infectious diseases, jaundice and cancer. Babies had fewer digestive problems when gelatin was added to their milk. The American researcher Francis Pottenger pointed out that as gelatin is a hydrophilic colloid, which means that it attracts and holds liquids, it facilitates digestion by attracting digestive juices to food in the gut.”

* Bone broth can help to overcome food allergies. It’s thought that one in five Americans today have a food allergy!

* The collagen and gelatin in bone broth is great for hair, skin and nails.

* Some say it can even be helpful in eliminating cellulite and the appearance of wrinkles ;).

How is this superfood made? Some nutrition seekers add ingredients and steps to the process that make it seem difficult. But I assure you, it is not hard in any way! The terms used for bone broth throughout society can get somewhat confusing. It all has to do with how long the bones are boiled. Here’s the the most common terms and the differences between them –

Broth – This is simmered with meat and bones for 1-2 hours. Broth has a light flavor and is a good source of protein.

Stock – This is made with bones, typically roasted before simmering. It’s generally simmered for 3-4 hours and is a good source of protein and gelatin.

Bone broth – This is made with bones, typically roasted before simmering. It simmers for 6-24 hours. This long period of time allows for not only gelatin from the collagen-filled joints to be released, but also rich minerals from the bones such as glycine and proline.

Now, let’s see how to simply and cheaply make chicken bone broth!

1. Purchase a whole, preferably organic chicken.

2. Roast the chicken with whatever flavors you want. Enjoy the meat with a meal!

3. Remove the majority of the remaining meat and place the chicken carcass in a large pot or crock pot. (I recently heard about using a crock pot for this and am excited to try it!).

4. Add about 3 quarts of cold water to the pot. To be completely honest, I don’t ever really measure. I just fill the pot until the chicken is covered by about 4 inches. Then add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. This helps to draw out more nutrients from the bones.

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* Those are all the ingredients I use. Since I always use a roasted chicken carcass, there’s enough flavor in the bones themselves for my preference. If I happen to have fresh vegetable scraps available, which I happened to for the pictured broth, I throw ’em in the mix. Many people, especially if using a raw chicken, add vegetables such as onion, celery and carrot to add flavor. They also add seasonings such as salt and pepper. If you desire to, throw some other ingredients into the mix at this point!

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5. Preferably, allow the carcass to sit in the water for about an hour.

6. Place the pot on the stove and slowly bring it to a boil over medium-high heat.

7. Bring down to a simmer and skim off the residue that has risen to the top and throw it away. Allow the broth to continue to simmer over low heat for 6-24 hours.

8. Pour all of the contents in the pot through a strainer into another pot. Throw the contents left in the strainer away.

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Either use the broth right away, keep it in the fridge for a few days or freeze it. Frozen broth will last up to a year and can be used for many purposes – soup bases, for boiling rice in or for any of the many recipes that call for a cup chicken broth! If you choose to freeze your bone broth, don’t make the some mistakes I have. Such as pouring the still warm liquid into glass jars and freezing right away. This results in many a cracked jars and ruined broth…

The process for beef and fish broths are very similar. Beef broth requires 12-24 hours of simmering and preferably roasting the bones for 30-60 minutes at 350° beforehand. Fish broth requires only 2-4 hours of simmering.

Enjoy your delicious, soul-warming broth! Not to mention the healthy immune system, digestive system, smooth skin, strong hair and reduced cellulite that comes with it!! Woohoo!

Other sources researched for this article:

http://nourishedkitchen.com/bone-broth/

http://draxe.com/the-healing-power-of-bone-broth-for-digestion-arthritis-and-cellulite/

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/02/23/bone-broth-superfood.aspx

http://nypost.com/2015/01/03/nycs-latest-health-trend-is-a-steaming-cup-of-bone-broth/

http://www.weedemandreap.com/3-ways-heal-food-allergies/

Banana Nut Ice Cream – Guilt Free, Only 3 Ingredients!

Does anyone else like to avoid sugar….but still have a sweet tooth? Well I do. And that has led to much experimentation in my kitchen – a pinch of failure here and a dash of success there in attempts to find healthy alternatives to traditional sweets. Making this recipe made my heart happy! Not only did my toddler love it, I made certain that every remaining bit left in the blender was thoroughly enjoyed before washing :).

Now, for the 3 simple ingredients! Drumroll please………

Bananas, any nut butter and pure vanilla extract – which I bet you have all of in your house right now! I used organic peanut butter, but I’m certain almond or sunflower butter would also be good if peanuts don’t jive with you – let me know if you try it!

Bananas tend to get a bad reputation among some health food crowds. Don’t be fooled. Yes, they have high sugar content. But they’re also high in many amazingly beneficial contents as well. When consumed in moderation or in place of a processed sweet, bananas are an incredibly healthy option. They’re high in vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, potassium, copper, fiber and biotin. These nutrients make bananas beneficial for normal blood pressure and heart function, maintained digestive health and muscle cramp prevention. Additionally, bananas coat the lining of the stomach which protects against corrosive acids. And high levels of tryptophan make bananas helpful for depression. They’re also high in antioxidants. Whew, that’s one nutritional fruit! So, feel happy about eating bananas – not guilty.

This recipe is a variation of one found on Pinch of Yum – a wonderful and inspirational food blog!

Ingredients

2 ripe bananas
2 heaping tbsp of any nut butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Peel the banana and cut it into chunks, roughly 1/2″. Place them in the freezer for about an hour, or until just frozen.

Put the frozen banana chunks, nut butter and vanilla in a blender. Blend until well mixed and smooth.

Voila!

You will definitely be surprised at how closely this mixture resembles real ice cream! It’s a truly pleasant surprise. However, the bliss doesn’t last forever – you definitely need to eat it right away or stick it in the freezer for later enjoyment. It should never see the refrigerator. The characteristics you love about it will leave and become somewhat slimy in texture. I know from experience…

This healthy snack disguised as ice cream is enjoyable by itself. But it can also be viewed as the beginning of a whole new world of possibilities! Top a bowl of it with fresh fruit and cinnamon, caramel and sea salt or chocolate chips and chopped nuts. Mm mmm! Get creative and see what new creations you discover with banana nut ice cream!

Caprese Egg Bagel

I must be missing summer. This meal is absolutely delicious with tomatoes and basil fresh from the garden. Oh, to be outside, smelling tomato leaves and getting dirt packed under my fingernails. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen in February in Minnesota… So, store bought produce will have to do. Caprese being absent from the menu all winter long would be ridiculous!

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I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that while I love cooking from scratch, I thoroughly appreciate quick, healthy meals. This one fits the bill!

The following recipe is for 1-2 servings. It would be great served with a side of fresh fruit as an easy lunch!

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Ingredients

2 tbsp butter
1 bagel
2 eggs
2-4 slices mozzarella cheese, depending upon the size of your block.
Tomatos, either a handful of cherry tomatoes or a few slices of a large tomato.
Red onion, two thin slices
Dark balsamic vinegar and olive oil for drizzling.
Salt, pepper, garlic powder and basil for seasoning.

** If you don’t want all the carbs of a bagel (they’re a weakness of mine…), you could layer everything in a low-carb tortilla wrap. I would suggest eating it with a fork and knife to avoid a frustrating mess!

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Instructions

Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat. Slice the bagel in half and place face down in the pan. Add the two eggs to the pan.

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Season the eggs with salt, pepper and garlic powder and cook to your preference. Add the cheese to the top of the eggs just before done so that it melts a little.

Remove the bagel halves from the pan. Place the eggs on top.

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Add the sliced red onion and tomato…

Drizzle with the vinegar and oil…

Sprinkle on the basil…

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Then eat with a fork and enjoy! Mmm mmm 🙂

Explore The Uses Of Honey!

“My son, eat honey, for it is good, Yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.”  Proverbs 24:13

It can be spread on bread, added to tea, and used in baked goods. The possibilities with honey are endless! Not only is it sweet and delicious, but it’s also packed full of benefits to your health. Think it’s too good to be true?

Well it’s not! History shows us that honey has played an important part in medicine for hundreds of years. That’s due to its many amazing properties. Let’s look at some of the practical, fun ways to use honey and the ways we benefit from it!

1. Sugar substitute – As a general rule of thumb, use 1/2 – 3/4 cup of honey to 1 cup of sugar. Honey is much more beneficial than sugar. Looking at history, there’s a link between the increased intake of processed white sugar and a rise in obesity, mood disorders, cancers, lowered immune function and heart disease.

2. Full of nutrition! – There’s protein, fiber and 22 amino acids in honey. It also contains the minerals iron, sodium, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and calcium. AND honey has the vitamins folate, niacin, vitamin C and vitamin B6.

3. Weight loss aid – Honey is beneficial for metabolism function. It helps digest stored fat when consumed with warm water. In fact, honey has over 5000 enzymes! One of them being amylase – an enzyme that assists in digesting carbohydrates.

4. Energy source – Since the 64 calories per tablespoon in honey are so pure, they are easy for the body to digest. Which means less energy spent digesting and more left available for other activities!

5. Antioxidant – Honey has the ability to remove free radicals in the body. This helps to prevent cancer and degenerative diseases.

6. Antibacterial and antifungal properties – This makes honey a natural disinfectant.

7. Wound management – The antimicrobial properties of honey help to begin the healing process and speed it up. This makes it useful on sores and scrapes, skin ulcers, burns and wounds. Honey kills bacteria and reduces inflammation.

8. Soothes sore throat – Honey’s antibiotic properties make it very effective for this. Simply add it to tea or eat a spoonful.

9. Creates heathy skin – Drinking milk mixed with honey daily is a regular practice throughout much of the world. It’s known to bring smooth skin.

10. Combination soap and moisturizer – Simply rub onto skin and rinse off with warm water while gently exfoliating. This helps to treat acne and create baby-soft skin!

** Important Information: Do not feed honey to an infant under 1 year old. Here’s a quote from a reputable website that has information I’ve thoroughly appreciated on numerous topics:

“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that raw honey not be given to infants under one year of age because of the rare possibility of being infected with the bacteria that causes botulism (Clostridium botulinum). Once a toddler reaches one year old, their digestive system is mature enough to kill any botulism germs.” Ask Dr.Sears

I’m providing that information because I never understood why everyone says no honey under one. In case you’re curious about what botulism is, it’s a serious food poisoning that if left untreated can lead to paralysis of the respiratory muscles, arms and legs.

However, our children with mature digestive systems can very safely consume honey. Once you begin regularly using it, I guarantee you’ll be hooked! But it’s important to remember that with honey, quality matters. Raw is by far the best way to buy honey. Commercial, processed honey is filtered and heated. This removes the majority of its nutritional value and instead creates a basic sweetener without all the benefits. Alternatively, raw honey is unaltered and possesses all the natural vitamins, enzymes and other nutritional properties. Buying raw honey can be a little more expensive, but it’s definitely worth it. It can be found at many grocery stores and health food stores. Here is the link to my source for the local, family owned honey I like to buy.

Three Bears Honey

I’m consistently pleased with the product!

Enjoy exploring the numerous uses of honey and reaping the benefits! I would love to hear any of your input on honey 🙂

Sources researched for this article:

Organic Facts

Pure Healing Foods

Whole New Mom

CDC Website

Controlling The Tongue

“In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words with out a heart.” John Bunyan (1628 – 1688)

The tongue is a small part of the body. But when allowed to act freely, it can bring on a world of destruction. Words guide the entire course of every life and possess the power to light it on fire. Today’s culture throws out rash words without a second thought. Social media keeps a track record of all the careless posts, texts and tweets plastered up for any interested eye to read. Once announced, there’s no real way to take a statement back. In some ways, our words are like creatures that fly. They drift into the distance and leave us no way of knowing the many places they will land. However, they are unique in that once released, they are impossible to retrieve. (Concept from a Russian proverb). We are known by our words. They expose the condition of our hearts and can lead towards life or death.

Matthew 12:33-37 shows the extent to which words impact individual futures – Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

We’re aware that what our tongues produce is of utmost importance to the Lord. But what can we do to regularly produce good fruit through our speech? One simple and productive step is to talk less. The foolish use miles upon miles of words while possessing no destination. Whereas the wise use few words that lead in the direction of knowledge and life. When I see someone hold back a statement that I know is dying to be released from their lips, I feel that I’m witnessing true wisdom in action. Words can be hurtful, cause dissension and make us look incredibly foolish. Many times it’s best not to speak at all and instead remain silent. It’s God’s job to avenge and He will in His perfect time. The Lord looks with fondness upon those who practice self control in their speech. Statements that don’t build others up are not worth saying at all. A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. (Proverbs 15:4). Do you think God observes you with joy when you allow corrupt talk to pour forth from your lips? If so, you have been deceived. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? (James 3:10-11).

God formed our bodies with two ears and one mouth for a reason – it would be a good decision to take the hint. The moment we cease listening to wise instruction we stray away from true knowledge. A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. (Proverbs 18:2). After all, if no wood is added to a fire, the flame will die. In the same way, if no harsh words are added to a heated conversation, the disagreement will subside. (Concept in Proverbs 26:20-22). Any married person knows that middle ground will never be discovered if both parties refuse to listen and only wish to speak

So the question needs to be asked: Why did He even create us with tongues? Let’s look at a couple of Jesus’ disciples for an example. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13). When proclaiming Christ and the kingdom of God, we are to speak boldly and without hindrance! If we ask for the words to give out the saving message of Jesus effectively, He will give them to us. When is the last time you asked that of God?

We’re also instructed to edify and build one another up. A kind word given at the right time can instill confidence in someone who formerly never possessed it. An encouraging statement prompted by the Holy Spirit can give someone the courage to move forward in a ministry when tempted to give up.

Words can break down, lead astray, cause strife and destroy. They can edify, give life, show grace and spread love. How drastically this world would change if we attentively listened and prayed before allowing our mouths to open.