Friday, April 6, 2012

Vita-Mix Review-4 Years Later

Well, it's been more then 4 years since I bought my Vita-Mix. And I don't think more then a few days have gone by at a time, where I didn't use it and think how grateful I am for it. 

That thing is literally a work-horse in my kitchen!  I am not a big fan of gadgets and would prefer to use less of them in my life, esp ones that use electricity.  But, I don't know what I would do without this one.  Actually, I did survive for 3 weeks without it while we were in Iowa for 3 weeks last fall.  But it was not easy, and I missed it very day.  Partly because I have chosen to prepare foods that use the Vita-Mix, as a matter of simplicity.

The machine works as well today as it did when I first brought it home 4 years ago.  I did buy 2 extra containers, each costing $100, which is why I paid $650 total.  We have not been eating wheat for 2 years, but I loved the dry container for that purpose when I needed it.  I have used it for grinding rice into flour a few times and it works great for that.  It saved me from having to buy a grain grinder, which are huge and expensive.  Since I only did small batches of wheat, it wasn't a problem at all for me.  I also love having the extra smaller wet container. Because I use it so many different things, I often have both containers in use.  But I could survive on only the one container if I needed to. :)

After 4 years, here are the pros and cons of the machine:

~Easy to use
~Easy to Clean up (like, super, duper easy to clean up)
~Does not take up a lot of space
~Very good at blending fully-no little pieces (my SIL loves my mango smoothies and can't get it with her blender because it leaves little pieces still)
~Takes the place of many other appliances

Here are some kitchen appliances it can take the place of:
~Ice Cream Maker
~Chopper/Food Processor
~Grain grinder

~Hard to get thick batter out thoroughly

Some of the things I use my Vita-Mix for:

~Chopping veggies
~Chopping and grinding nuts/seeds/coconut flakes for granola, etc.
~Grinding crispy almonds to make almond flour
~Grinding rapadura
~White Sauce
~Making frosting
~Ice Cream
-Tomato/Veggie Sauces
-Blended Soups
-Nut butter
~Applesauce (with peels)
~Fruit leathers
~White Bean Vanilla Cake
~Chocolate Coconut Cake
~Soothers/Hot Chocolate

Now, the real question on everyone's mind is-can you buy a cheaper blender and still do what you do with the Vita-Mix.  I am guessing that you could do most of the things with a cheaper blender, but I the motor would burn out much faster, and, it would not do as good of a job. If you put frozen fruit in a regular blender, there will be chunks.  Raspberry seeds, not a big fan.  But with the Vita-Mix, they are pulverized completely.  And you could not do nut butters in a regular blender, or chop the seeds/nuts.  You would need a food chopper/processor for that.

I do wish I could make juice without the fiber.  So I have a juicer still.  And I do still use my Kitchen Aid for things like fish cakes and mashed squash and fat cookies .

So, that is the low-down of my Vita-Mix, after 4 years of constant use.  Definitely 2 thumbs up and worth every penny!

I posted this in Real Food Wednesday.

GAPS Beet Sausage Soup Recipe

This has been one of our favorite soups this winter.  We love beets and we love sausage.  Perfect!

It's simple, as are most soups.

The sausage does have some sugar in it, but according to NCM, a little bit is fine.  She suggests once a week for foods like this.  Someday I'll make my own sausage...


2 Medium Beets, chopped
1 Onion chopped
1 Carrot, shredded
6 Mushrooms, sliced thinly
3 Links of Sausage (we like sweet Italian, Drew likes the spicy), chopped
1 Quart of homemade bone broth
1 Tbls dried basil
2 tsp dried dill
2 tsp dried onion
2 tsp dried garlic
1 tsp celtic sea salt


Put all ingredients into a pan and bring to a boil.  Boil for 30 minutes and then turn on low and cover.  Cook for 2-6 hours. 


Monday, April 2, 2012

Giving our Children Answers Before they Know they have Questions

When I agreed to take control of my kids' education (i.e. to homeschool them), I started to really read and research, and to think and question.  And I came up with lots of questions about the current state of education in America. 

I looked more closely at how Drew and I were educated, and the pluses and minuses that showed in our lives because of them.  Drew's mom homeschooled them using Abeka.  And I grew up using the ACE curriculum in a small Christian school.  Our education taught us, in theory, to question and think, although in reality something was missing still.  It used a lot of the ideas that I have come to love and believe in, but yet Drew and I were not the people I thought such training should produce.

After a lot of thinking, I decided that one thing that was missing in both of our lives was a lack of passion for learning new information.  We grasped how to learn new things, but we didn't have the drive to actually do it.

After watching my own kids learn.  And after 6 years of intense learning on my part, one conclusion I have come to is that giving people answers when they don't have questions is a sure-fire way of killing their passion for learning. 

And what is the conveyor belt method of schooling in America today, but giving kids answers to questions they haven't even thought to ask yet.  We shove answers down their throats and expect them to ace tests that show they remember all of this information.  But yet, there are no 'pegs' on which to hang this information.  There is no passion to ignite further research on these subjects.  Therefore, only the kids with amazing memories do well in today's schools.  (That would not be me, fyi, or my bubby-we have terrible memories, but great passion for things we care about) 

If you happen to see a child excelling at something, or even an adult in reality, you realize it's because it's something they have a passion for, a subject they love and crave more information on.

People remember things when they have some connection to their own, personal lives.  They have drive and enthusiasm to pursue more knowledge, when they really care about a subject.

I read 'The School and Society' and 'The Child and the Curriculum' by John Dewey last year.  They were 2 essays collected in a small book that I found at the thrift store.  And since it's a passion I have, I read it quickly.  Granted, it was dry and infuriating.  But I'm glad I read it, as it gave me a bigger picture of America's public school system today. 

He had some pretty psycho ideas, and I can see how the family  has been degraded in school based on his recommendations and socialistic thinking.  But, I read this little gem and loved it: 'The need that the more ordinary, direct, and personal experience of the child shall furnish problems, motives, and interests that necessitate recourse to books for their solution, satisfaction, and pursuit.  Otherwise, the child approaches the book without intellectual hunger, without alertness, without a questioning attitude, and the result is the one so deplorably common: such abject dependence upon books as weakens and cripples vigor of thought and inquiry, combined with reading for mere random stimulation of fancy, emotional indulgence, and flight from the world of reality into a make-believe land.'  This was at a time when the education of children in America was being taken away from the family, and therefore, out of a context that gave them plenty of mentors and motivation to learn and grow.  And Dewey and others involved in the mandatory education policies coming into vogue at that time, realized that many kids were losing their motivation to learn or do anything worthwhile. 

Doesn't that beautifully explain the vast amount of reading material available today, that is strictly fantasy and of no moral or educational value?  And the dizzying amount of people who are addicted to them, as a way to pass the time?  The art of reading for learning has been mostly lost.  People only know how to read for entertainment or 'emotional indulgence' these days.  Not that I'm opposed to that some, but how many people know how to read a book for actual learning and self-betterment?  Not many!  And I think a lot of that is because from a young age, children have been given answers to 'important' questions, and then given books simply as entertainment.

When a person sees a problem, and decides it is worth pursuing an answer, they can't be stopped.  If they have been equipped with the tools to research and learn, they can and will carry on until they have thought and struggled with the ideas on that subject, until they have some definitely answers in their heads.

But, if they are taught that the important things in life are easy answers to given questions, they start to believe that life is easy, and they don't learn to think and question.  True learning is exhausting, mentally and emotionally.  It takes time and thought, questions and frustrations.  It is far from easy.  But it is worth every ounce of effort.  And the person who has learned something 'the hard way'-figuring out an answer after realizing there is a question worth the effort, knows how true that is.  Imagine an America filled with people with such drive!

I like how John Gatto put it:
' Life according to school is dull and stupid, only consumption promises relief: Coke, Big Macs, fashion jeans, that's where real meaning is found, that is the classroom's lesson, however indirectly delivered.
The decisive dynamics which make forced schooling poisonous to healthy human development aren't hard to spot.  Work in classrooms isn't significant work; it fails to satisfy real needs pressing on the individual; it doesn't answer real questions experience raises in the young mind; it doesn't contribute to solving any problem encountered in actual life.  The  net effect of making all schoolwork external to individual longings, experiences, questions, and problems is to render the victim listless.  Growth and mastery come only to those who vigorously self-direct.  Initiating, creating, doing, reflecting, freely associating, enjoying privacy-these are precisely what the structures of schooling are set up to prevent, on one pretext or another.'

My own experience meshes with this perfectly.  If I'm given a book on a subject I don't currently have a passion for, I can often read it, but I will remember very little, and it will affect my life even less. But, give me a book on a subject that affects my life, and is dear to my heart (i.e. nutrition, Scripture, marriage, parenting, education), and no matter how difficult it is, I will read it with great enthusiasm and turn around in a few months and realize how much it has changed my thinking and my life.  The difference is amazing!

I can see it in my kids' lives as well.  When I just give them random information on any subject, sometimes they remember it, sometimes they don't.  But, if they ask me a question based on something they have seen, heard or experienced that affected them in some way, they remember the answers, ask more questions and get really excited about the subject.  I've tried to talk to them about something I thought they should know, randomly, and it just never seems to stick.

As I educate and mentor my children, I am trying to create 'needs' for information, before providing the answers.  If I find they are lacking in information in a certain area, I am trying to learn to create the desire for that information, before giving them the actual info.  Sometimes that is as simple as asking a question at the right time.  Sometimes it means putting them in some awkward situations where they realize they really need some information they don't have.  But I think, mostly, it means just exposing them to lots of things in everyday life, and then watching for their interest to be piqued.  And then, following up on that with some books and discussion on the subject.

I do find that 'homeschooling' more naturally allows for this type of learning.  The amount of questions that come up in any given day is dizzying!  All of life is explored together in deep and meaningful ways, and so the questions tend to come up naturally, and we are in a position where we can naturally explore the questions and answers together.  

I believe it is this kind of passion and drive for thinking and learning, that will keep America free.  It's too important to let go! 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Grain-Free Granola Recipes

I remade my granola recipe to be GAPS-friendly/grain-free.  It's not as sweet, and it's insanely expensive, but also filling.  So we don't need as much to make us full. 

We also don't digest seeds or nuts well, so we only have this a few times a week as a treat.  But it sure is nice to have an easy meal, with so few dishes to wash.

1.  GAPS Honey Granola Recipe

3 cups of crispy almonds
3 cups of crispy sunflower seeds
3 cups of coconut chips
1 Cup of coconut oil, melted
1/2 Cup honey (you can use maple syrup or rapadura if you're not on gaps)
2 Tbls cinnamon
1/2 Tbls vanilla
1/4 tsp celtic sea salt

Grind up the almonds to almost flour-like consistency.  I do it in batches in my vita-mix, by pulsing it.  I love my Vita-Mix!  

Mix the first 3 items in a large container.  Mix the rest of the ingredients together and pour over nut mixture.  Mix well.  Bake at 30 degrees for 20 minutes. Stir and cook another 10 minutes.  Cool and store in freezer for long-term storage, or in an air-tight container in the cupboard.  

For banana, you just add 4 very ripe bananas.  I want to try this with pumpkin and apples also.   We love the banana taste in it, plus I like that it has less honey.  Yum! 

2.  Banana Honey GAPS Granola

3 cups of crispy almonds
3 cups of crispy sunflower seeds
3 cups of coconut chips
1 Cup of coconut oil, melted
4 very ripe bananas, blended
1/2 Cup honey
2 Tbls cinnamon
1/2 Tbls vanilla
1/4 tsp celtic sea salt

Grind up the almonds to almost flour-like consistency.  Mix the first 3 items in a large container.  Mix the rest of the ingredients together and pour over nut mixture.  Mix well.  Bake at 30 degrees for 20 minutes. Stir and cook another 10 minutes.  Cool and store in freezer for long-term storage, or in an air-tight container in the cupboard.

Serve with some raisins and raw milk or yogurt.  Yummo!!!  

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Meaning of Marriage, by Timothy and Kathy Keller

I have read all of the previous books written by Timothy Keller and really enjoyed each of them.  I have some objections to certain points of his theology, and to how he sees them played out.  But, overall, he is a great author, loves the Lord passionately and is very easy to read.  I have been convicted by many of his books.  The Lord used them each in turn to help me see the amazingness of His grace in sinful humans' lives.

In November, he and his wife published a book on marriage entitled The Meaning of Marriage.  My local library had it available so I dug right in.  Ignoring a number of other books I was supposed to be reading.  But, it was a quick and easy read.

The Lord has slowly taken me on a journey of coming to see how my role as a wife and mother fits into His overall plan for the world.  But lately I'd found myself struggling with it again.  And God graciously brought this book into my life to remind me of His overall design and plan through marriage.

The main point of the book is that marriage is a system from God that was designed to reflect to the world the Gospel message, and specifically to help the couple become more Christ-like.  It also has societal and moral roles to play in any and all cultures.  'So, what do you need to make marriage work?  You need to know the secret, the gospel, and how it gives you both the power and pattern for your marriage.  On the one hand, the experience of marriage will unveil the beauty and depths of the gospel to you.  it will drive you further into reliance on it. On the other hand, a greater understanding of the gospel will help you experience deeper and deeper union with each other as the years go on.  There, then, is the message of this book-that through marriage, 'the mystery of the gospel is unveiled.'  Marriage is a major vehicle for the gospel's remaking of your heart from the inside out and your life from the ground up.'

THAT is the message of this book, and they expound on the topic in more detail, giving a lot of historical background information as well as a lot of personal experiences and information.

The chapters are:
1. The Secret of Marriage
2. The Power of Marriage
3. The Essence of Marriage
4. The Mission of Marriage
5. Loving the Stranger
6. Embracing the Other
7. Singleness and Marriage
8. Sex and Marriage

And here are some quotes that struck me as worth chewing over some more.  

 'After trying all kinds of other things, Christians have learned that the worship of God with the whole heart in the assurance of his love through the work of Jesus Christ is the thing their souls were meant to 'run on.'  This is what gets all the heart's cylinders to fire. If this is not understood, then we will not have the resources to be good spouses.  If we look to our spouses to fill up our tanks in a way that only God can do, we are demanding an impossibility.'   'Without the help of the Spirit, without a continual refilling of your soul's tank with the glory and love of the Lord, such submission to the interests of the other is virtually impossible to accomplish for any length of time without becoming resentful.  I call this 'love economics'.  You can only afford to be generous if you actually have some money in the bank to give.  In the same way, if your only source of love and meaning is your spouse, then anytime he or she fails you, it will not just cause grief but a psychological cataclysm.  If, however, you know something of the work of the Spirit in your life, you have enough love 'in the bank' to be generous to your spouse even when you are not getting much affection or kindness at the moment.'  I struggled with this so much the first 5 or so years of our marriage.  It wasn't until I finally came to see who I was in Christ, that I was able to get 'filled up' with Him, so I could stop needing that from my marriage. Phew, what a relief for poor Drew! 

'If 2 spouses are spending a day together, the question of who gets each's pleasure and who gives in can present itself every few minutes.  And when it does, there are 3 possibilities: You can offer to serve the other with joy, you can make the offer with coldness or resentment, or you can selfishly insist on your own way. Only when both partners are regularly responding to one another in the first way can the marriage thrive. But how hard that is!'   I definitely tend toward #2 on that list.  But, he addressed that in more depth with: 'I wanted to serve, yes, because that made me feel in control. Then I would always have the high moral ground.  But that kind of 'service' isn't service at all, only manipulation.  But by not giving Kathy an opportunity to serve me, I had failed to serve her.  And the reason underneath it all was my pride.'  Ouch, that is me for sure.

'When dating or living together, you have to prove your value daily by impressing and enticing. You have to show that the chemistry is there and the relationship is fun and fulfilling or it will be over. We are still basically in a consumer relationship, and that means constant promotion and marketing.  The legal bond of marriage, however, creates a space of security where we can open up and reveal our true selves.  We can be vulnerable, no longer having to keep up facades.  We don't have to keep selling ourselves. We can lay the last layer of our defenses down and be completely naked, both physically and in every other way.' 

He talks about how people who live together before they are married have a much higher rate of divorce.  But, I found this statement heartening, and true for us: 'Studies reveal that two-thirds of unhappy marriages will become happy within five years if people stay married and do not get divorced.  What keeps people together during the rough patches?  The vows.'

'When you first fall in love, you think you love the person, but you don't really.  You can't know who the person is right away.  That takes years.  You actually love your IDEA of the person-and that is always, at first, one-dimensional and somewhat mistaken.'  How well put!  It's true. The beauty of marriage is that a person truly knows you AND loves you. Just like God truly knows us, but still loved us enough to send his Son to die for us.  How freeing and amazing.  And scary and disturbing.  Being on both ends of that is tough!  'To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear.  But to be fully known and truly loves is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.'

'Only if you maintain your love for someone when it is not thrilling can you be said to be actually loving a person.  The aesthete does not really love the person; he or she loves the feelings, thrills, ego rush, and experiences that the other person bring.'  When the honeymoon is over, the real work, and love, begins.

'When people are looking for a spouse, they are looking for a finished statue when they should be looking for a wonderful block of marble.  Not so you can create the kind of person you want, but rather because you see what kind of person Jesus is making.... each must be able to look inside the other and see what God is doing and be excited about being part of the process of liberating the emerging 'new you' I see all your flaws, imperfections, weaknesses, dependencies.  But underneath them all I see growing the person God wants you to be.''

They describe how you will have a friend of the opposite sex, with whom you will share anything and get good advice, etc. But yet, when looking for a mate, you dismiss that person because you don't feel an 'attraction' to them.  And how that does not lead to the kind of marriage a Christian wants.  I can identify.  I was blessed though, to actually marry my best friend after realizing the folly of my mind-set.

'If your marriage is strong, even if all the circumstances in your life around you are filled with trouble and weakness, it won't matter.  You will be able to move out into the world in strength. However, if your marriage is weak, even if all the circumstances in your life around you are marked by success and strength, it won't matter.  You will move out into the world in weakness.'

'When you see the problems in each other, do you just want to run away, or do you find a desire to work on them together?'  Umm... Yeah, well, after 10+ years of marriage, I still tend to want to run away.  I hope to outgrow that someday!

'Give each other the right to hold one another accountable.  Hebrews 3:13.' 

'Because marriage merges two lives and brings you into the closest possible contact, a positive assessment by your spouse has ultimate credibility. If, over the years, you have grown to love and admire your spouse more and more, then his or her praise will get more and more strengthening and healing.  To be highly esteemed by someone you highly esteem is the greatest thing in the world.
This principle explains why, ultimately, to know that the Lord of the universe loves you is the strongest foundation that any human being can have.  A growing awareness of God's love in Christ is the greatest reward.'

'And there's the Great Problem of marriage.  The one person in the whole world who holds your heart in her hand, whose approval and affirmation you most long for and need, is the one who is hurt more deeply by your sins than anyone else on the planet.  When we are first sinned against by our spouses in a serious way, we use the power of truth.  We tell our spouses what fools, what messes, what selfish pigs they are. The first few times we do it, however, we may learn to our surprise how shattering our criticism can be. Sometimes we let fly some real harsh, insulting remarks, and the next thing we know there's nothing left of our spouse but a pair of sneakers with smoke coming out of them.  What happened? Because of our spousal power of love and affirmation, when that love is withheld, the statement of the truth doesn't help-it destroys.  When we see how devastating truth-telling in marriage can be, it can push us into the opposite error. We may then decide that our job is to just affirm. We avoid telling our spouses how disappointed we are.  We shut up.  We stuff and hide what we really think and feel.  We exercise the power of love, but not the power of truth.  But then marriage's enormous potential for spiritual growth is lost.  The point is this-truth and love need to be kept together.'  I feel this is where God is working on me right now.  I have let Drew 'have it', shaking my finger and yelling in his face-and he ran away, although generally only mentally and emotionally.  But I'm learning, slowly. 

He talks about the necessity of forgiving our spouse before confronting them, in love, with their sin.  'One of the most basic skills in marriage is the ability to tell the straight, unvarnished truth about what your spouse has done-and then, completely, un-self-righteously, and joyously express forgiveness without a shred of superiority, without making the other person feel small.
As long as you feel superior to someone, feel like you are a much better kind of person, you will find it very hard if not impossible to forgive.  If you stay superior and disdainful of the person, truth will eat up love.'  Again, speaking directly to me!  I am a 'good girl' and do what I think is best, after lots of study.  So then I tend to get prideful and self righteous.  But that is just as bad as any sin I may confront in Drew.  I am so thankful that God has allowed us to stay together while our sharp edges are slowly being whittled down.  Ok, mostly I have the sharp edges in the marriage... 

Kathy, naturally, was the one to write the chapter on submission: 'I discovered here that my submission in marriage was a gift I offered, not a duty coerced from me.'  That sort of takes the sting out of submission, eh?  :)  It was definitely something that helped me to embrace my role as submissive wife.  We are all equal in God's eyes, but His will is for the wives to submit to their husbands (and only their husbands-not men in general).

This is pretty random, I realize.  But some really good bites of wisdom to chew on.  And hopefully it will lead others to pick up the book from themselves and get the 'big picture'.  I hope and pray that the Lord uses this book to help young people who are struggling with marriage (and singleness), to accept their roles as blessings to and from the Lord. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Innis Life Principles

It's fun to look back and see major growth in my life.  And often, when that happens, I can trace the thread back to certain books that really impacted me in those areas. 

I thought it would be fun to recap some of the major ones.  The ones that have really helped me establish basic life principles in the various areas of my life.  So here are the books that fit that category, and the life principles I have taken from them, and applied to our family. 

For education, it would definitely be Thomas Jefferson Education.  I had already started to realize the current system of education had some major flaws.  And I was starting to nit pick and figure out what they were.  But when a friend lent TJE to me, I was so excited, because it brought together all of my frustrations and concerns, and had an answer for me, to overcome those!  I felt like I had found a kindred spirit.  I have read many books with a similar philosophy since.  And they all have given me encouragement and more ideas to implement.  But TJE is my 'classic' to which I turn to, when I find myself getting discouraged or when I just need some motivation. 

It's not TJE that I love of course.  But the principles he lays forth, in a simple to read and understand format.  It's the principles of joy in learning by trial and error and practice, by allowing one's self to fail and think and try something different.  By learning to really think and understand truth and reality.  By using classics and mentors to learn rather then the conveyor belt style of teacher and textbook.  By learning about history in-depth and coming to our own conclusions that will help us 'not repeat history' ourselves.   Basically, by understanding ourselves and how God made us, so we can best utilize our bodies and brains for His glory.  And I am starting to really see these principles work in our lives and it's so exciting! 

Spiritually, the overall principle that I have come to really appreciate is that it's not about me, but about God.  And that we need to have joy in our service to Him.  For that, I go back to Desiring God by John Piper, every few years.  A must-read for every Christian in my opinion.  Again, it's the principles behind it.  I've read numerous other books that teach the same principles.  But Desiring God is what God really used to solidify the truths he was teaching me. 

The principles I took from that book are that a person who is truly filled with the Spirit will find joy in God being glorified..  They won't look for joy elsewhere.  All joy is from God and for God.  And if we are not filled with that joy, then we need to seek God's face and question our salvation.  The fruits of the spirit ARE joy, peace, love...  They don't just happen to show up if you try real hard.  They are the fruits that come from a branch that is connected to the vine. No fruit=no salvation.  Of course, fruit shows up differently in each person and we can't judge others, since often the fruit shows only in the person's heart.  I can verify that one!  I have changed so dramatically over the last 10 years, but yet no one sees it because I was always such a 'good girl'. *sighs*  At least I know!  And Drew and the kids see it too.  The other principle that I learned was that God is sovereign and He has called some people to repentance and not others.  Boy howdy, did I fight that one!  But, after studying Scripture looking for answers, and after realizing that all fruit is from the Holy Spirit's working in my life, it was no longer possible to deny the doctrine of election.  I hated it with all my being, but I am a sucker for truth, and I could not avoid that truth any longer. And looking back, I can see how my whole life has been shaped by those two truths-true joy in the Lord and election. 

For food, my Eureka moment came when reading Nourishing Traditions.  And I still love that book!  I also learned a ton from Weston Price's Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.  And I actually refer back to NT for recipes ALL the time.  And I refer back to NPD for confirming what society rejects in regards to food.  I know it, but then I start to question it, and I go back to NPD for encouragement.  :)

But, my mentor/classic for bodily healing is my favorite book/author Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) by Natasha Campbell-McBride.  I believe NT is a great way to eat for life, but for healing principles, I have come to appreciate the GAPS principles.  Like education and spiritual learning, I have read these principles in many other books, but GAPS, to me, just brings it altogether nicely.  And the healing we have seen in this family, by following those principles has rocked my world lately!  Hallelujah!! 

The principles I learned from NT and GAPS is that the body has needs that must be met, or disease happens.  And the best way to get those needs met (the only in my opinion) is through nutrient dense foods.  But, the gut must be able to break those foods down into their various nutrients to be used.  So NT addresses the nutrient dense foods, and GAPS addresses healing the gut so those foods can be utilized. 

For marriage, God has used so many books, the Scriptures and people to change my attitude.  But, the one that I would call my classic is Created to be His Helpmeet.  Much like the doctrines of election, I did NOT want to believe the message in Created. I avoided that book for years.  I knew I'd hate it with every bone in me.  And I did.  But I was also tired of being miserable and having a lousy marriage, and I knew, after all the spiritual changes I'd seen, that doing things God's way is always best, even if painful at first.  That whole 'truth' thing-gets me every time.  The Holy Spirit knew I was finally ready to read it last year, so he allowed me to borrow it from a good friend.  Somehow that softened the blow.  :)  I have since had the opportunity to discuss it with Drew and other wives in similar positions as myself. And looking back, I can see a huge change in my heart and actions, after reading that book.  All of the changes had been slowly happening underground for a few years, but this book finally brought them out of hiding.  I still refer back to it often. 

The principle is simple really.  Following the Bible's plan for families and society, I needed to respect and submit to my husband. I needed to stop trying to usurp his role and do his job, and simple perform in the role the Lord has called me to do.  Ouch. That really, really hurt.  It still stings a little to be honest.  I know it's ridiculous, I have seen such huge changes in our family since I started to submit to and respect Drew.  The peace, the growth.  It's like there were spiritual chains that were cut, we were set free.  The bondage I allowed myself to be placed into was nothing compared to the bondage we were set free from!

And I think that would apply to all the areas I have mentioned.  I was set free from the stress and depression of trying to force my children to learn in ways that are harmful ultimately.  But it placed me under a new stress-I had to find joy in learning myself.  I had to lead rather then push them.  That's a lot of work!  For spiritual growth, I was set free from guilt and a need to control everything in my life, but I put myself under the bondage of daily feeding on the Word and fighting to keep God's glory first in importance-above ALL else.  I was set free from the stress of disease and allergies and exhaustion and insurance, but I had to agree to the bondage of not eating foods I wanted, and spending hours in the kitchen every day, preparing and cleaning up after the meals that I knew would heal us. 

I gave up the big, scary battles, and traded them in for daily, sometimes monotonous ones.  But, there is something freeing in knowing that the war has already been one, I am just fighting in some skirmishes in the meantime.  The victory is mine!!!  But, vanity, vanity, all is vanity. 

So, these are 4 books that have rocked my little world, and all for the good.  I have read, probably literally, hundreds of others. Some just as good as these.  But, these happen to be the ones that God really used in my life. 

And, let me end that, while reading all of these books, I was in the Word regularly, seeking God's face, begging for Him to show me truth in all areas of my life.  I do not agree with any of those books 100%.  I never read something and assume it's true.  I think about it all, compare it to my own experiences, test it and pray for wisdom. The one book that has fundamentally changed my life, in every area and aspect, and the only one that is 100% true, is the Bible.  While I can interpret it wrong, I still can rest assured that is is TRUTH, and I can trust it to lead me in all areas of my life.  The others just help.  :)  And I thank the Lord for all of them. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Electrolyte/Mineral Drink Recipe

I find myself often going against main-stream thinking.  Not because I want to be different, but because after careful consideration, I find the main-stream to be faulty.

One of those areas is the consumption of water.  I believe the main-stream thinking is approximately 8 cups a day. I used to try and follow that, but seldom was I successful.

But lately, after more research, I have come to the conclusion that drinking 8 cups a day of filtered water is ultimately harmful to the body, esp to the endocrine system.  Drinking water without the God-given minerals in the water, tax an already exhausted adrenal gland.  But it's hard to find natural, clean water with minerals intact. I'd say impossible, except in rare situations.  Because of the toxins in our environment, we need to filter our water, but when we filter out the bad, we also filter out the good.

We do drink filtered water here.  I used my Zero water filter and keep a glass in the fridge at all times for us to drink.  And I do not put any limit on how much we consume.  We drink when thirsty.  But I do try to ensure that we consume lots of minerals throughout the day.   We drink kombucha and raw milk.  We consume bone broth and lots of celtic sea salt

So I feel we do, in general, get enough minerals in our diet to make up for our mineral-less water.  But, there are times when I crave salt and know my body is in desperate need of minerals.  So, after searching the web, cookbooks, etc. I came up with my own electrolyte/mineral drink recipe about a year ago.  I don't keep it on hand all the time, only when I feel my body needs it.  Mainly, when I am craving salt.

Also, my family does not like it.  If I use less salt and keep out the bitters, they do like it.  And I make that when I feel they are drinking too much water due to heat.   

It beats the nasty powders and Gatorade-type drinks with all kinds of chemicals and fillers in them.  

Electrolyte/Mineral Drink Recipe

Take one quart glass Ball jar and add approx:

2 Tbls whey from my homemade yogurt
Juice from one lemon
2 tsp celtic sea salt
2 Tbls raw honey
1 Tbls blackstrap molasses (I can't stand the taste and Myia reacts, so I haven't used it in awhile, but it's very mineral rich)
Fill the rest of the way up with water

Still well.

It lasts about 2 days in the fridge and then starts to taste off.  But I generally try and consume one quart a day when I feel I need it.  Usually when I am PMSing, my body craves the minerals, or if I sweat a lot or am in the hot sun a lot.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Different Kind of Teacher, by John Taylor Gatto

Yikes!  I read The Underground History of American Education by Gatto, and then A Different Kind of Teacher, also by John Gatto.  But I am starting with A Different Kind of Teacher because I am still trying to synthesize all that I read and learned from the other.  Which is a giant tome!  It took me over a month to read.  This one took only a few days.

And so much information to process!  They both 'filled in a lot of blanks' for me, in regards to education.  I have understand the 'how' of classics-based education for a few years, and am in awe of what it is doing for myself and my children.  But I still struggled with the 'why' of it.  Esp in regards to 'why' America, and much of the 'developed world'  has gotten so far from that style of education.  This book definitely cleared up a lot of that for me!  Well, it started the process of clearing it up anyway.  I'm a painfully slow learner, so only after a lot of hard work, more reading, and tons of thinking and comparing,will it really make sense to me.  But I'm excited to see that the process is finally underway at least.

Mr. Gatto grew up in a dysfunctional Pennsylvania family, and then moved to NYC to work in the ad industry and make big money.  He decided it was not fulfilling enough, so he went into education.  After 30 years of fighting the system, he finally stepped out and started writing to try and show others how and why to fight it.

He believes in the TJE style of education-using classics and mentors, and lots and lots of hard work thrown into the mix-mental, emotional and physical.  

I was personally convicted, yet again, that I need to let learning be it's own reward for my children.  I still get stuck in the old way of thinking, that a child must be 'bribed' to want to learn.  But yet, I know that is not true.  And bribing only hurts the child's drive in the long-run.  I still have to use that system for my 1st Grade Sunday School class.  I think I sometimes get stuck between the 2 'worlds'. :)  But I'll get it.  And maybe someday I'll be able to transfer what I'm learning into the SS room.  But probably not...

Here are some quotes that I loved...

Real knowledge has to be earned by hard and painful thinking; it can't be generated in group discussions or group therapies but only in lonely sessions with yourself.  Real knowledge is earned only by ceaseless questioning of yourself and others, and by the labor of independent verification.  You can't buy it from a social worker, a psychologist, a licensed specialist, or a schoolteacher. There isn't a public school in this country set up to allow the discovery of real knowledge-not even the best ones-although here and there individual teachers, like guerrilla fighters, sabotage the system and work toward this ideal. 

The new dumbness-the non-thought-of received ideas-is much more dangerous than simple ignorance, because it's really about thought control. In school, a washing away of the innate power of individual mind takes place, a cleansing so comprehensive that original thinking becomes difficult.  

Real learning is always its own reward and praise is as useless to it as punishment. 

The crisis in our schools is not one of reading and writing but of meaning. Until we can decontrol our economy and localize it into thousands of independent communities; until we can decontrol our social system and localize it in the lives of individuals and families; and until we can see the truth that important life choices are not the proper province of any professional establishment, the meaninglessness will continue to grow. 
From a mom in Cape Cod who was taken to court because she refused to report what she is teaching to her local school superintendent: 'if we are not free to educate our children, our liberty is an illusion.  I do not have a curriculum.  I have never used one....  The state does not have the power to standardize children.  My education philosophy precludes the use of a curriculum.  My method has been successful enough to produce a daughter who is a member of the National Honor Society and twin sons who...tested in the top one percent on a national placement test for 2 consecutive years.  The priorities of our curriculum are daydreaming, natural and social sciences, self-discipline, respect of self and others, and making mistakes.' and women must build the meanings of their lives around finding a few, a very few people to touch and love and care for.  If you fail in that it doesn't matter how well financed the school you went to was, how healthy the space program is, or how many machines you own-you'll be miserable.  

Figure out what matters.  Do it yourself; work hard at it; no one else can do it for you.  Relying on others in this regard or ignoring the necessity will ruin you though you sit surrounded by machines in a rich school watching videos of spaceships.  Each of us has a design problem to solve: to create from the raw material around us the curriculum for a good life.  It isn't easy and it isn't the same for any 2 people. 

About 150 years ago, we signed a Devil's Bargain-to destroy the earth, the forests, the air, and the water for money-a bargain in which hour part entailed abandoning family life and neighborhood loyalties, locking up all the children and old people, keeping everyone useless out of the way while we made money. And some of us, at least, did make money, becoming rich and powerful enough to think of a global economy and a world order that would make us even richer.  But it was a trick done with mirrors.  We only pulled it off by spending the inheritance of the future.  It's almost gone and there doesn't seem to be an easy way to get it back. 

Where do we start?  First you have to find yourself.  There isn't any other way.  If you wait on that you'll be buried even deeper in the artificial programs of others.  First you have to strip away decades of programming and overlays and discover your own outline beneath it all. It hurts to do that. This was once called 'knowing yourself.'  Until you take that step there won't be any self to know, just a collection of relays and switches, sensors and twitches that can be manipulated by engineers you can't see.  On the other hand, if you know what matters and are willing to fight and even die for it, nothing can colonize your mind and you will be truly a free spirit. 

One important way men and women come to know themselves is to closely study their own families. People who run from that obligation will find no substitute for the missing knowledge.  To be real you need to celebrate your own history, humble and tormented as it might be, and the history of your own parents and grandparents, howsoever that be marked by scars and mistakes.  It is the only history you will ever have; reject it and you reject yourself.  All the rest is the sickness of fantasy.  Cherish what is yours; protect it; defend it; never accept the false evaluations of outsiders in regard to it.  Whether your family is the best or the worst doesn't matter very much.  Being first or last at anything truly doesn't matter, and your case will be hopeless as long as you think it does. 

Describing a conversation with another parent about a child: But the final, unsolvable dilemma was that my friend misinterpreted my part of the dialogue as competition.  Because of his necessary habit as a businessman, he unconsciously assumed he and I were in some sort of contest to determine who had the soundest strategy.  An undertone of right/wrong made free testing of ideas, proves impossible.  Rather than pushing out ideas for inspection, deferring judgment, asking questions to clarify, we were forced into caution by the powerful compulsion of keeping score on each other.  This had to be a pure waste...  

His last chapter is 'The Art of True Conversation'.  He describes the difference between 'social talk' and 'spirit talk'. I esp loved this quote: There is a fundamental and radical difference between the important talk of youth that makes love, friendship, and significance reasonably easy to reach, and the social conversation of older people, in particular of self-important older people, that  makes it apparent these life-and-death qualities are very difficult to obtain in later life.  I have found this to be so true! Although it's not impossible. :)

These are some random quotes from the book. I would have liked to have quoted much more.  But, if you find these interesting, definitely pick up a copy of the book and read it yourself.  It's easy to read and so enlightening. 

Now on to try and summarize The Underground History of American Education.  Yikes, so much!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Dirty Life, by Kristin Kimball

*sighs*  Just when I start to get content with living in an apartment in metro NYC, I read a book like this and I get all antsy again.

I really need to stop reading...

The book, The Dirty Life, by Kristin Kimball, was recommended to me by someone who currently lives in NYC and dreams of following Kristin's flight out into a harder, yet less stressful life.  We have commiserated on waking up to car alarms instead of roosters.  :)

The book follows Kristin Kimball's life from the first time she saw her to-be husband, through their first year on a start-up farm, where they created their own, unique CSA.  

It's a very easy read.  I love her ability to be candid about her thoughts and emotions.  She does not, in any way, try to pretend that she is perfect.  She points out her faults and the faults of her husband openly and honestly.  But, she also shared how she learned to face those faults, and the fears that go along with them, by getting 'personal' with nature.

I really appreciated her aspect of death.  I agree that we tend to want to 'live forever' in America and therefore shun death.  But death is as important as life.  I think we do our kids a huge dis-service by sheltering them from death and all the sub-sets that go along with it.  Kristin and her husband treat their animals well, and give them the dignity they deserve in death.  They use almost every part of the animal, and compost what is left, so the nutrients go back into the soil.  They seem to have the 'circle of life' figured out quite well.  

But only after a lot of trail and error, failures and lots and lots of funny and uplifting stories.  

She had some great stories about the local personalities. I wonder if any of them read the book and saw their names in it. :)  I grew up in a small town where most everyone knew everyone else.  There are certainly some downsides to it, but now that I'm a mom, and craving a more simple life, I would like to go back to that again.  I have tried to make my little block 'homey' by reaching out to the neighbors when they are outside. But it's not real 'natural' or easy around here.  People are juts too busy to stop and chat. 

I find it easy to 'romanticize' the life of a farm.  But reading this book was a good reminder that it is HARD work to create your own food.  At the same time, it is so incredibly rewarding.  Kristin did a fabulous job of showing both sides of that coin.  And farming most definitely came out on top. 

She also wrote about how humans need to work, in order to find joy and fulfillment in life.  That is something I have been coming to realize more intensely lately.  It makes sense, even from a Christian standpoint, but yet, we are so programmed to avoid work in America, that we don't even realize we are thinking that way.  I'm not a lazy person by nature, it's just not who I am.  But yet, the idea of real 'work' used to almost scare me.  But real work, with real meaning, is so empowering and healing. 

If it wasn't so far away, I'd try and find a way to afford it.  It would be $7800 a year, for all we can eat.  That is pretty much what we currently pay.  Except coming up with that much money at once would be hard, of course.  But, I LOVE the concept!  Aw, why not drive 5 hours on the NY Thruway every Friday afternoon for food....

Ok, I'll stick with what I currently have.  But it's a great concept! 

Maybe someday Drew and I will have our own adventure in farming.  My dream isn't quite as big as the Kimballs though.  I want to produce the majority of our own food (I'm not willing to give up my coconut oil, and you just can't grow that this far away from the equator), and some for a few other families as well.  And also, I like the idea of actually using the food to prepare meals, kind of like a CSA, only a kitchen like this one.  Only MUCH smaller.  I would love to do classes on cooking, fermenting, culturing, time management, meal planning.  Once I get good at them. ;)

It may never happen, and that is ok.  But a girl can dream.  :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Gift of Knowing Ourselves

I've learned a lot in the last 10 years of my life.  And I love it all and am so thankful for every bit of wisdom and knowledge the good Lord has allowed me to amass.

But one particular bit of knowledge that I am slowly coming into and especially thankful for is self-knowledge.  Man, that stuff is empowering!

And not just in a human sort of way.  John 8  31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Truth is so important.  Jesus IS the Way, the Truth and the Life. He doesn't just have truth, he IS truth.  And we are to base our lives on truth, and therefore, on Him.  

Knowing God, through Scripture is relatively easy.  Ok, not even a little.  But, it's possible, because it's written in plain English before our own eyes. We can read about God's qualities.  He is holy, righteous, just, forgiving, loving, powerful, jealous, omnipresent, all-knowing, pure, perfect.  The list goes on.  Basically, he is everything we are not.  

But, I have found self-knowledge to be a bit more tricky to discover.  I don't know myself, and I live with myself-every day!  

I just read Death of a Salesman, and it was about this same thing.  Willy was a salesman, but lied to himself his whole life.  He trained his sons to do the same thing.  And when it was too late, they realized that their life was one big lie.  Not a way I want to go!  

Part of the reason I don't know myself is because of pride.  I often 'want' to be something I'm not, so rather then face up to the fact that I am falling short of my own expectations, I just ignore them.  That is a big one for me.  But, when you ignore a problem, rather then go away, it just gets bigger, messier and more complicated.  And then, years down the road, you have to deal with a huge problem, that started out as just a little thing.  Trust me, it's not worth it!  Just deal with it when it's small.

Another aspect of pride that gets in the way of self knowledge is caring what others think about me.  Now, I think the Holy Spirit does use that as a way of keeping ourselves in check, to a point.  But, we must always be aware of our motives for what we do.  I so often find myself pretending to be what I think someone else wants me to be.  And that is particularly easy for me, because of my empathetic nature. When I do it with eyes wide open, knowing I am trying to 'practice' godliness until it becomes a part of me, then it's not so bad.  But when my ultimate motivation is just to make someone like me, then it  can become a real problem.  I start to forget who is the real Sarah and who is the acting one.   And after 20 years of that-phew!

Another brick in the wall of self-knowledge is laziness.  Getting to know how I operate and what makes me tick takes time and effort.  I have to study my past failures and successes, analyze them, try things out and see what works, and discard what doesn't.  I have to really think and pray.  And that takes time and effort. Something we Americans are convinced we don't have.  

There are many other bricks in the wall that need to be taken down, one at a time.  But those are the main ones I've noticed in my own life. 

It's hard to face oneself square in the mirror, see all the sin and ugliness and acting and fear.  But, oh the power when we do!  I have been amazed at how the Lord has been changing me, making me more like Him.  But I had to face who I really was, before I could start that change.  Well, thankfully I didn't have to face it all at once.  He has been slowly opening my eyes to the horridness of my own sin and pride, and to my lack of self knowledge.  I have just had to say 'yes' every time he wanted to show me something new.  It gets easier with time. :)  You kind of get used to the fact that you are such a useless sinner.  But that isn't so bad when you realize you have an almighty God who cares and is willing to go to the trouble of helping you see truth, and better yet, to change you so you live in that truth.  

As I have faced my own sin and realities, as I have gotten to know myself better, I have been amazed at how much easier it is to make good decisions consistently.  To prepare myself for times of struggle that I know are coming.  We are soldiers, we are runners, according to Scripture.  And both take training and knowledge and time-on-task.  

I feel so empowered to be the wife and mom that God has asked me to be.  I love that!  I wonder if I had faced my own shortcomings sooner, if I could have avoided the years of trouble and waste.  Probably not, it's all part of the training I guess.  And facing them without the powerful knowledge that God is sovereign and that I am here to glorify him, would have just been defeating.

But, all of that rambling to say, I hope and pray that God allows me to show my children who they really are.  To face that reality, hard as it is.  And to look for ways to use their personalities, skills, strengths and even weaknesses, to their own advantage.  Well, to further the kingdom of God.  I want to give my kids this tool.  But boy I don't want them to use it glorify themselves!  

It makes marriage so much easier and sweeter!  Drew and I struggled the first 5 years of our marriage.  Only by God's grace are we still together.  We look back and wonder how in the world we made it!  But now, I can see that so many of those struggles were because we didn't know ourselves.  We pretended we were one thing, when in fact, we were another.  And that just doesn't work in a marriage relationship.  Or any real relationship.  

And so many of our mistakes, I can see now, were because of our lack of self-knowledge.  

I am a type A, overbearing, neat freak who likes to study and read and is incredibly practical and boring.  I like to control things that are in my life and take my job very seriously-whatever it may be.  I tend to be goal oriented and forget the process in between. I tend to see the negative in life, as I enjoy fixing things.  I am extremely empathetic and independent, to a fault mostly.  I am an incredibly slow learner, and tend to get lost in common sense.  But I am learning that none of those things are 'bad', as long as I am aware of them.  But when I don't see or acknowledge them, they tend to control me, and make life miserable for myself and those around me.  Unacknowledged, they are a  liability.  But acknowledge, they become an asset.  I can use my strengths and be aware of my weaknesses.  It's been amazing to see!

I hope and pray that the Lord allows me to graciously help my kids to see who they really are (and love them no matter what), and who He really is. And what a dynamite combination that is! 

To God be the glory, great things he has done.  Why?  Because He Liked It!  :)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Nutrient Dense Food List

1.  Bone broth

2.  Fermented Cod Liver Oil

3.  Kefir made from raw milk

4. Yogurt made from raw milk

5. Raw milk from grass fed cows

6.  Kombucha

7.  Red meat from grass fed animals

8.  Coconut oil and coconut anything really
9.  Crispy chicken skin

10.  Raw egg yolk from chickens that are allowed to run around and eat bugs

11.  Celtic Sea Salt and other unprocessed salts

12.  Butter-sure wish I could get some good raw stuff

13.   Carrot juice

14.  Veggies and fruit

15.  Lard from a pastured pig-which I haven't had for close to 2 years and desperately miss

16.  Raw, local honey

17.  Liver

18.  Canned Wild Caught Salmon

...these are a few of my favorite things....

Monday, February 27, 2012

Fat is Where it's At (and a Fat Cookie Recipe)

Well, I have found that my body MUST have fat. I need to have a much closer ratio of protein to fat, or maybe even higher fat percentage overall. I haven't actually measured by any stretch. 

But, I have found that my constipation has finally corrected itself, as long as I don't consume much milk products, except cream.  And, if I go easy on the meats, but pump up extra broth with fat dissolved in it. So, I only have a little kefir smoothie with the kids every day, but I try and get 1/4 cup of kefir cream and 1/4 cup of yogurt cream every day.  It's tough to come up with that much cream without taking it away from the family, but so far, we have managed.  We also consume approx. a quart of coconut oil every week, as a family.  Some in smoothies, but mostly I cook with it.

The rest of the family does not seem to have that problem. I hope that it is simply because I have been lacking in fat for so long, that my body is desperate for it, and is making up for lost time, or calories.

I am very conscious of getting fats and cultured foods in every meal, so I think over-all, we are doing fine.  And I'm soo glad to have an answer to my constipation.  I haven't had an enema in over 3 months!  Woo hoo!  But it's very obvious if I have not had my fats the day before, or if I had too much milk or kefir or even meat.

I have noticed that this is the first winter for as long as I can remember, that I have not had dry, cracking lips. I started with a bit in December, but it never progressed and it actually totally gone now.  Both of the kids have had dry, cracked lips for most of the winter, past and present.  They both had their bottom lips cracked and bloody for some time.  I made a recipe from the GAPS cookbook Internal Bliss, and withing 2 days, Myia's lips totally healed.  Samuel, on the other hand, threw up after eating too many and hasn't been able to bring himself to eat more.  And, go figure, his bottom lip is still cracked and bloody. Although it does not bother him anymore, it just looks terrible.  A note: your body can not digest more good fats then it needs, so excess 'healthy' fats will not turn into adipose tissues, but will just be thrown up.  Fat does not make you fat!!  Well, rancid oils like canola and corn and most vegetable oils on the market do, but not good, saturated ones.

Of course, you can consume all of the fat you need and still not have it do you any good if your liver is too clogged to release the bile necessary to break the fat down.  But we have been eating a lot of fat, taking swedish bitters daily and having kombucha daily, and those thing, over time, are supposed to clean up the liver.  Plus I've done a number of liver cleanses.  Probably time for another one or two...  But I do have good reason to believe that our livers are mostly strong and working well for us. 

The cookie is simple:

1/2 Cup of softened butter
1/2 Cup of melted coconut oil
1/4 cup of honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbls cocoa powder or 1 tsp cinnamon

Mix together and drop by teaspoons onto a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper.  Let harden in fridge and put into a container.  Store in fridge and eat at will.  They have been a huge blessing to us this past 2 weeks!  The cinnamon ones taste like cookie dough, and the others taste like chocolate frosting.  Yum!! 

The body is so amazing!  I am in awe of a God who was able to just 'create' such a complex structure with a word!  And so thankful to him for allowing me to get to know it just enough to start healing me and my family's bodies.

Praise be to Him!!!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

My Dreams for My Kids

I have gotten a bigger, fuller picture lately of what I want for my children, as we 'homeschool' (I've come to hate that term for some reason) and as we prepare them for adulthood.  I have also been reminded that I can not live vicariously through them.  So I need to be always in prayer and always open to where the Lord leads.  And also, fully aware of my motives in all I do.

While we can not know for sure, what the Lord has planned for the kids' future, I believe we can prepare them for most any possibility that may come up.  Giving them a truly 'liberal education' will prepare them for whatever the future may hold.  I also want to make sure we give them the tools necessary to meet their personal needs: spiritual, emotional, mental and physical.

The kids were such a mess for so long, that I think I gave up hope of ever really affecting them in any lasting way.  I remember Samuel screaming his first few years of life, literally for hours.  And when he was 2, he didn't know his colors.  We were appalled and embarrassed, but yet, we realized that he spent so much time screaming, that it was not possible for us to teach him anything.  Myia spent her first 6 years over-stimulated and angry over everything in life, so teaching her was next to impossible.  It was depressing, esp as I came to realize the important role I played in their lives.  How could I mold them, when I couldn't even control them?  And my own emotional life was too chaotic to really accomplish much outside of survival.  So, for years, we survived, barely, and nothing else.

The last few years I have seen us slowly, painfully, come out of that mode, and finally, recently, to actually start to thrive.  I feel like we are finally caught up to where we should be, instead of sadly behind in life.   Oh wow, does that feel good!

And, the last few months, I would even say that I have seen the kids 'soar' in so many areas of their lives.  Their imaginations have become more vivid.  Which has helped greatly in their book reading.  You can't follow even relatively complicated books without being able to visualize the story in your head.  And now, they stop me all the time, in our daily readings, to show me what the book just described or explained.  It's so cute!  And they ask far less frequently, what words mean that they don't understand. I am hoping/assuming that is because they are figuring it out in context more, which is also an important skill for more complicated reading material.  They have both become more aware of the needs of others lately, instead of just being wrapped in their own little selves (they are by no means perfect, btw, I just see improvement in that area-and we had a LONG ways to go in it!).  I have seen more natural respect for adults.  And more self-control in their lives in many areas, esp day-to-day ones.  They seem more in touch with their bodies, as to what they need and when.  We have a long ways to go, but I am finally able to find joy in that instead of dread, since I have seen huge changes, and know they are possible!

Because of all of that growth, my own mind has started to 'run', and I have gotten excited about the things I want them to learn.

Here is my 'vision' for their education that brings them into adulthood, ready to serve the Lord in any capacity He calls them to.  I know the reality will change over time, which is fine.  But it's still fun to dream.  And I like having them in written form, so I can look back on them later and see how we have grown and how the Lord has guided our course.

Sure beats survival!

Until they are approx 12 years old, I hope to continue with our overall current schedule, but adding in new things as I see the need, improving, expanding, growing along with us. But, basically, reading lots and lots of books that stimulate us to grow and think, along with our Saxon math, memorizing math facts and doing lots of hands-on learning. I also plan to do the CAT5 in 3rd, 6th and 9th grade, although that can change. Just to see where we stand in the bigger picture.

I hope/plan to make the next 4-6 years a time of mostly focusing on their physical growth (eating lots and lots of good foods for proper growth and development, and healing our digestive systems, and lots of time spent outside in fresh air and exercise), spiritual growth (Egermeiers, Scripture reading and memorization, and mostly my own daily devos which God uses to change me, and then filter that to my kids-I love that part!), mental growth (reading good books that challenge us to think and gives us heroes to emulate, and lots of time spent outside, observing and really learning to see what is around us, and to work on our concentration skills, and learning special crafts like carving and sewing), and relational growth (family relationships, respect for adults, manners, putting others first, service projects).

For the next stage, I hope and pray they will spend 40+ hours each week reading books on various subjects and doing projects that help them to better understand the various subjects they are reading about.  Also, I plan on us having 'cottage industries' that will help us raise money, so we can traipse all over the world and see what we've learned about in our reading, first hand.  To visit places of interest, people we have met and beautiful sights all over the world.

Also, I really like the idea of my kids not leaving the house before having attained these skills: cooking/nutrition, healing naturally/doctor, meal planning, budgeting, building a house,(or here in Minnesota) maintaining a house, survival skills in the wilderness and in an urban setting in case of disaster, learn at least 2 other languages-well, to know how to care for a baby, to know how to love and/or respect their spouse, how to choose a spouse and friends in general, how to know themselves well, how to study Scripture daily and hungrily, how to manage themselves in a corporate setting, how to set and achieve goals, how to maintain self-control (the last 2 are tied into 'know themselves'), how to run a farm, how to care for animals of all types, to be amazing readers of all genres, understand the government and be able to take any office and do it well, car mechanics and maintenance, hair cutting, music appreciation, play at least one instrument (hopefully more though), lifeguard training, the ability to sew their own wardrobes, a love of art, a love of poetry, writing skills, be good spellers and have good handwriting, be dreamers, have electrical and plumbing skills, know how to grow their own food in any environment, have good work ethics, good speaking skills.

I expect by high school, they will be earning college credits with their work.  And if the Lord leads them into any fields that need more technical knowledge, that they will search out apprenticeships/universities/tech schools for those.

I realize these are my 'dream' goals, although I do think they are pretty wide in scope and yet very doable also.  I confess I'd much rather my kids become farmers or missionaries then CEOs, but I can love them even if they are rich. ;)  I really desire to send them out into the world, as equipped as possible.
Of course, if I find they are adults and the only 2 skills they have are to Love the Lord their God  with all their hearts, and to Serve Others, well, I'd still not be disappointed, much...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Chronic Fatigue Be Gone!

I do believe I have finally kicked my adrenals back into high gear.  And it feels sooo good not to be tired all the time.

I have always been an active person.  ADHD just might apply to me, although I can sit relatively still for long periods of time if I find something entertaining.  I am a go-getter and generally very motivated.  But there has always been a side to me that was exhausted often also.  I remember when I was 12, I came down with a nasty case of mono.  And it seemed to come back now and then and just smack me upside the head.  Being pregnant was basically 9 months of that.  And then when the babies were born, they didn't sleep for a year, so my energy never came back.  I just blamed that on lack of sleep, stress, etc.  Finally a few years ago it seemed that I was just tired all the time.  And it was after I started feeding myself well, and the kids were sleeping well and my stress was mostly under control.  It was discouraging.

But, after doing some research on my own body and in books, I came to the conclusion that my adrenals were shot after years of running on adrenaline to get anything done.  Plus I came to the conclusion that my body was in constant detox mode.  Which was depressing.

However, this past summer I started noticing that my energy levels were returning.  And this winter, I have noticed that I do have times when I am 'smacked upside the head' and can barely move.  But, rather then lasting a few days and getting me utterly depressed, they last a few hours and my mood doesn't change much.

I have also lost quite a bit of fat/bloating all around.  I was a size 12/14 3 years ago and now I'm an 8/10.  Plus, I am finding my overall moods to be more stable.

I know it's because I have been following the principles from the GAPS diet for the last few years and slowly building my body back up with super nutrient dense foods.  And I've made sleep a priority.  And... because I have learned to, mostly, stop freaking out about things that just aren't worth freaking out about.  Stress is as hard on the body as smoking, perceived or real.  And most of mine was perceived.  What a waste!  :) 

I still have some pretty serious issues to work on (digestive and hormonal-while much better ,are still not where they need to be), but it sure is fun seeing progress!  And this particular area makes it hard to work on the others, so if I was to choose one symptom to lose first, it definitely would have been my chronic fatigue.

Praise be to God for his wonderful blessings!  I hope and pray that I will use this new found energy to bring glory to him

Friday, February 17, 2012

Filling up On Junk

This summer I was singing worship songs in church and feeling a bit irritated by the lack of depth and 'meat' in the songs.  I realize we don't have to have meat in all of our songs.  It's ok to sing the same 5 words 20 times in a row-now and then.  But, something about it was bugging me.  I finally put my finger on it.  It wasn't that I had a problem with the worship songs as much as I had a problem with the fact that it took time away from singing more deep songs.  Songs that taught me things about God, that reminded me of his awesomeness and power.  It's ok to drink 'milk' and to sing more 'shallow' songs, but we have to make sure it is not filling us up so we don't get the more 'nutrient dense' meat.

The same goes for 'Bible studies' and even more so actually.  How many people read study after study, but fail to get into the Word itself.  I did for 10 years!   It's great to read what others learn from Scriptures, but don't let that take the place of your own personal time in it.  It simply can't.  Both are fine, but if you only have time for one, then it ought to be the one that will really help you to grow.

And then, my brilliant head detected another area that it is easy to crowd out the good with mediocre.  Nutrition.  Stunned, aren't you?  Now, there are a lot of franken foods that I don't think a human body has any business ingesting, such as GMO anything, food colorings, MSG, etc.  However, I believe the bigger problem lies in the fact that those foods fill us up just enough that we don't crave the real foods that our bodies need.   If you've met your nutritional requirements for the day, then go ahead and enjoy that ice cream and piece of cake.

If we get just enough of the worship, 'bible studies' and foods to take the edge off of our physical, mental and spiritual hunger, then we won't go searching for the deeper things in life.  Because let's be honest, that is hard work!  And one must be really motivated to do so. 

And that is where I think the rubber meets the road.  If we dig deep and study and meet our needs and live life to the fullest, then we can enjoy everything else in-between.  But I think Satan is having a heyday in America today.  Making us just content enough that we sit on our tushies and do nothing more.

As strange as it sounds, I pray often that the Lord would not allow me to get too comfortable in any area of my life, because then I get lazy, and it's all downhill from there.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Deodorant Update

Blogger changed it's format and now I can see how many 'views' are on each of my past posts.  I really only write for my own sake, but it's interesting none-the-less.  My post on deodorant in July of 2010 has 950 views.  Crazy! Who the heck reads this blog?

Anyway, I thought after a year and a half of using it, I should update how it's going. 

*drum roll*  I LOVE it!!  I haven't used deodorant in over a year and never once have I missed it.  I did end up getting a small spray bottle from Target that I keep filled up with HP.  I keep one in my SS box, one in the car and one in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom.  It's great for cuts and scrapes if we're out or any other worry of germs.  And, no matter where I am, there is some handy for if I smell any body odor.  I just spray each armpit a few times and the smell is gone entirely.

I do have to put it on often if it's hot or I'm sweaty.  Although by often I mean every 3 or 4 hours.  But, now, when it's cold, I will go a day or 2 without it sometimes and don't notice any smell.  Yes, it could be that I'm used to it, but my odor sensitive daughter will tell me if I smell-very quickly.

One thing that I love about the deodorant is that almost every household has it.  There have been a number of times that I found myself at someone else's house and smelling.  So far it's always been people I can be honest with, so I ask if they have some hydrogen peroxide, and they always have, and I just put some in my hand and splash it on. Takes seconds and is super cheap and immediately helpful.

I would prefer hydrogen peroxide, as it's supposed to kill the bad germs but not the good.  Whereas rubbing alchohol kills both. But, I just did not find it to work as well.  Compared to the nasty deodorants, I figure this is waaay better anyway.

I also find that there are times when I just smell for a few days, and have to put the stuff on every hour or so.  I finally realized after this happened 2 or 3 times, that I was detoxing during that period.  All the more reason to not use deodorant then!  That hasn't happened since this summer, but I was glad to finally have a reason for it.

In the other post, a commentor mentioned that putting HP on after shaving would be painful. Agreed!  I would not recommend doing it.  However, what I find works beautifully is to spray my armpits and my razor before shaving, so there is no bacteria there.  And I have not gotten a single bump since doing that.  The bumps are caused by knicks that get infected by the armpit bacteria.  But, if you kill them right away, knicks or no knicks, they won't get infected.  It's a beautiful thing!

Drew is back to his deodorant unfortunately.  But, he is naturally worried about smelling at work.  But, if he is smelly, he does use the HP to get rid of the smell before putting his deodorant and he appreciates that it works so quickly.

I'm very happy with my deodorant alternative 18 months later.  I think I can safely say that it's a keeper!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Concentrate on the Good, not the Bad

One of the things that God has been slowly teaching me over the last few years, is to concentrate on the good in life, and do the best I can with the bad.  Now that is a lot easier said then done.  Esp since I'm such an organized, type-A, planning type of person.  I find out what I'm supposed to do, and I do it.  That's that.

But, of course, life and reality hit and it's not really that easy.  Although, I think if it was just me, I could still plow along that way for a long time. But, with Drew and the kids, I am learning that slow is better, esp for real, long-term changes.

And those are the kinds that I want.  Not shallow ones that only last a short time and then fade.  But real, life-long, God-honoring changes that affect every aspect of our lives.  Sin infiltrates so subtly, it's hard to see it's affects on us sometimes.

The first place that the Lord really taught me to go slow and steady, and concentrate on the getting the good into my life, as opposed to getting the bad out, was in my own spiritual life.  He generally, ok, always, works there first.

I was really wanting to get into the Word more.  I wanted to grow spiritually, but just wasn't.  I was sketchy with my daily Scripture reading/devotions, but pretty good about reading Godly authors.  But, the message I got from them (the good ones anyway), was that I needed to be in the Word.  Myself, me, Sarah.  It's great that these guys are in the Word, and can help and encourage others.  And even answer some deeper questions that I will never be able to fully answer on my own.  But that was no substitute for studying the Scriptures on my own.  Daily, regularly and preferably, eagerly.  But so many things were getting in my way and I found it discouraging.  I worked hard at getting out the things that got in the way.  But I found myself constantly forgetting or not feeling like reading.  And feeling really guilty about all the other things that I did in place of reading the Bible.
Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

So maybe that verse is taken out of context here.  But, it really was one of the things that God used in my life to help me to focus on the positive and not the negative.  Rather then concentrating on my lack of Scripture studying, I tried to concentrate on what I did read and know, and how much I would grow from making it a priority.  Ditch the guilt, so to speak. It sounds like semantics I guess . But it seemed to work.  And I have been mostly faithful for 3 years now!  Yeah for progress!  I now appreciate anytime I get in the Word, and don't stress or feel guilty if I miss a long stretch of time.  And there have been months where I was very 'light' on time spend in the Word.  But I knew I would eventually get back in faithfully.  And I do.

Food is another area that I have come to believe that concentrating on the good and not the bad is super important.  Rather then freaking out about what not to eat, I have begun, using the principles I've found through GAPS, etc, to concentrate on making sure me and my family get the good foods in on a regular basis.  We still avoid the bad as much as possible. Esp for Myia and I, as we really seem to react to foods intensely. But, for long-term healing and growth, it is my desire to concentrate on getting in the nutrition that our bodies and minds need, to heal and then to stay healthy.

Vegetarians/vegans/weight watchers/Zone/GF-CF/SCD/Atkins/Paleo and most every other popular diet out there, concentrate mostly on what NOT to eat, as opposed to what to eat.  Don't eat fat, carbs, meat, sugar, etc.  It's the American way these days apparently.

And, I'm not disagreeing that it's best to avoid a lot of foods included in the current SAD died.  Doing so might cause you to detox, which is good. But it can't help your body to heal and regenerate itself.  The body needs nutrients to work properly.  Every part of our bodies, every organ and action in the body needs 'organic' substances (i.e. proteins, fats, enzymes, minerals, vitamins) to work properly.  So both detox (vitamins) and regeneration (minerals) are necessary on a daily basis and both need outside support.

And it's a lot more fun, for me, to concentrate on the good, then the bad.  So I work hard every day to include the most regenerating, nourishing foods that I can, in our diets.  Grass-fed meats, eggs, butter, raw milk and fermented products made from it, and fermented cod liver oil and swedish bitters and lots and lots of broth, and as much celtic sea salt as I can squeeze in and lacto fermented veggies.  We eat lots of veggies and drink fresh carrot juice and kombucha every day to encourage the detoxing functions as well.

But, overall, for us, and most people, I am begining to realize/believe that concentrating on getting the healing foods in every day is going to help long-term way more then concentrating on getting the bad out.

Plus, as a bonus, I've found that if we are filled with the good (good foods and Scripture) stuff, then we aren't as hungry for the bad. It's a win-win.

God is finally starting to apply that lesson to my heart in regards to relationships.  Woo hoo!!!  It's been a long time in coming and I've been praying for it steady for 2 years now.  It's sure fun to see progress.  Rather then harping on the 'wrong' things my husband or children do, I'm starting to see the positive ones more easily.  Rather then getting annoyed with people who don't do or think what I do, I'm starting to be able to concentrate on the fact that they are made in God's image and He loves them and wants me to do the same.  No matter what they do or say.  It's not been tested much yet, and I fear if it is, I would show great immaturity still.  But, as I now know, I learn painfully slow and there is nothing that can be done about it, except to plug on in prayer and Scripture and just do the right thing when I know what it is.  The rest comes eventually.  So, I am concentrating on the good and praising God that he is doing a work in my life, instead of concentrating on the bad that still needs to change.

Moving forward.... I think the 'religious-speak' of that is Sanctification.  Even if it's two steps forward and one step back, at least the overall progress is forward.  We can do it Carrie and Robin!!!!!!!!!!!! :)