Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Vitamins, Oils and Tonics. Oh My!

We've been working toward a healthier lifestyle for quite some time and we truly still have VERY far to go, but recently (since it became clear that our new affordable "health care" may not only make our insurance more expensive, but may make it more difficult to see the doc or afford that visit) we've realized the need for natural alternatives.  I've tried some things that have worked quite well recently and wanted to share them.

This is the first year in quite some time that we have decided not to take the flu shot.  We took it for years because I have a daughter with asthma, but we did notice that we had the flu (albeit fairly mild versions of it) almost yearly while taking the shots.  I've never been one of those people that believed the shots caused the flu (and still really don't since we'd get it quite some time after the shot), but since we almost never got it prior to the shot and my daughter's asthma has settled down I just didn't have peace about taking the shot this year.  In my quest to find out how to avoid it I've found that first and foremost are vitamins.  Take a good multi-vitamin and supplement with additional vitamin C and D.  I recommend doing your research to determine how much you'd like your family to take.  Also, I could not stomach multi-vitamins for many years.  I tried many different kinds and tried taking them at bedtime, or mealtime....you name it....I tried it.  They made me feel awful.  I just wanted to share that I have discovered that I can take almost any kind of gummy vitamin without any ill effects....including Omega 3 (fish oil).  So, if you tend to have trouble with multi-vites you might consider trying a gummy version.  We use Vita-Fusion.

There is one other thing that we try to use somewhat regularly as a preventative and we take in larger doses at the first symptom of any illness.  It's Olive Leaf Extract.  We typically take two a day to prevent and 4 (or sometimes more) when we're sick or coming down with something.  My former chiropractor (he moved far away...I'm still sad) told me about it.  He used a brand called Olivir, but I needed a cheaper alternative, so we usually use Nature's Way.

Now I wanted to share a couple of things that we've found that help with symptoms.

Essential Oils:
I'm somewhat new to essential oils and am just learning what some of them can be used for.  Here's what I have experience with so far:

Thieves Oil - You can search the name for the legend behind the blend, but basically it's a blend of essential oils that is believed to be strong enough to help prevent catching the plague....while I don't know much about the plague I do know that I've had relief from using thieves oil and we enjoy the scent.  There are some popular blends under a few different names, but they can be very pricey.  The least expensive that I've seen of what's called Therapeutic Grade is made by a company called Plant Therapy and their version is called Germ Fighter.  I haven't used their product yet, but plan to order some of their oils very soon.  I have been mixing my own for a couple of years.  You can find several different recipe versions online, but the one that I use calls for equal parts lemon oil, rosemary oil, clove bud oil, eucalyptus oil and cinnamon oil.  The brands that I have of those individual oils are Aura Cacia and NOW.  In the winter I place a few drops in a pot of water on the stove to add some moisture to the air and I'll add it to a humidifier or vaporizer.  

Eucalyptus Oil-
This works great as a decongestant.  You can add it to vaporizers and humidifiers as well and also make your own vapor rub.  (We've found that vapor rub on the bottom of your feet can help to quiet a cough.)

Peppermint Oil -
This can work as a decongestant as well, but we have found that our favorite use for it is to relieve headaches.  We also found this weekend that if you smell it and rub it on your stomach with a carrier oil it will help relieve nausea.  My husband used it three times last week for a headache and nausea (he actually asked for it once) and it worked every time.  I also like to add a drop to my hot chocolate.

Last week I started coming down with something that would have ordinarily lasted a week or two and had me in the Drs. office getting a steroid shot within the first couple of days.  I immediately started the Olive Leaf Extract 4 times a day and put thieves oil (mixed with olive oil as my carrier oil) on the bottoms of my feet, my chest and my neck and under my nose at least twice a day, but more often if I needed it to alleviate my coughing and congestion symptoms.  I added a couple of drops of Eucalyptus to my chest, neck and under my nose to help as a decongestant. One day I had a headache that would not go away, so I got out the peppermint oil and put a little under my nose, on my forehead and on my temples (with olive oil) and it worked.  Not only did my "illness" not even last a week, I did not have to take anything over the counter (other than Ibuprofen all week).  It also kept me from really feeling sick.  I had symptoms all week (congestion, sore throat, headache, coughing), but they were mild and I'd only have one or two at a time.  Normally something like this would have me in bed for a couple of days, but short of a couple of naps and one evening of feeling pretty rough these things made it very manageable/tolerable.

Here are a couple of other things we've found to be very helpful:

Honey - A teaspoonful of Honey can help to quiet a cough and sooth a sore throat.

Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar - (My favorite brand is Braggs)
This has TONS of helpful properties....Google ACV remedies or benefits

Tart Apple Cider: For a sore throat or cough I like to mix 1 Tbsp. honey, 1 Tbsp. ACV and a dash of cinnamon to a coup of hot water.  This tastes a bit like a tart cup of Hot Apple Cider.  Adjust the amounts to your tastes.  If you think it's gross you won't drink it, so add more honey or less ACV until you've found the combination that you enjoy.  I think it's yummy this way, but have to add more honey for my son.

Homemade Cough Syrup: For a cough make a homemade cough syrup out of equal parts honey, ACV and lemon juice.  No real side effects from this one so we take a teaspoon as needed.

My disclaimer:  I'm no Dr. and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express.  All of this info has either been gleaned from friends or my own Internet research.  This is what has been working for myself and my family.  Do your own research....check with your Dr. if medication interactions or other health issues are a concern. 

Where to buy:  I have found that Amazon and Swansons usually have very good prices, but you'll need to look through their products.  I've provided links to some of these things.  You should be able to tell which words to click on.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Tis the Season. To Be......BUSY!

One of the most frustrating parts of this time of year is how very busy it tends to be.  We've been invited to two Christmas parties by my husband's employer, 5 events through our homeschool covering or with our homeschool friends, 5 events/parties with our church family (and some practices that go along with one of those events) and a couple of other miscellaneious Christmas related events....and none of that counts any of the traditional family/friend holiday gatherings, work, homeschooling, shopping, holiday traditions (parades, craft shows, etc.) or regularly scheduled church events.  Seriously....If we let it the schedule for the month of December could get COMPLETELY out of hand.  While I strive to find the joy in each of the events we attend and chalk the fellowship up to part of the celebration of Christmas, I have learned that I just have to say no sometimes.  Sadly, this is often not popular and people sometimes just don't understand.  I actually have considered planning some things in my home and inviting friends and family and have just decided that I will not contribute to the scheduling craziness, so I will purpose to do those after the holidays.  We all really need to make a point to spend time with each other throughout the year and not feel so obligated to plan so many holiday gatherings.  It's honestly (to me) not the decor or the gift giving or the jolly ol' man that take our eyes off of the reason for the season.  Our chaotic schedules tend to do that for us.  Just something to think about.....and please know that if you invite us to something this month and we say no, it isn't because we don't love you or even that we don't want to come....it's just that we want to get through the holidays with our sanity intact and keep our eyes firmly focused on Jesus.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ready or Not...

This week has included a couple of meetings that have sent us slightly reeling in a new direction that none of us were quite ready for.  A couple of years ago I attended a meeting to learn about high school transcripts and what kind of courses I needed to make sure were on them in order for those transcripts to benefit my children when it comes to college admissions.  I was cool with that.  Didn't seem too hard and didn't really make things seem like a short time table.  However, this week we attended two college prep meetings and those meetings have our minds swirling in many different directions and left us all wishing we could SLOW life down.  I'm SO not ready for my girls to be grown.  I cannot even fathom what life looks like after they've graduated from high school and I am honestly scared that I'm not going to handle it well.  So, if you see me in public and I walk past you with a glazed look in my eyes and without speaking, just know that I have thoughts of PLAN, PSAT, SAT, ACTs, scholarship applications, transcripts, aptitude tests, career decisions, college choices, but espcially my little girls growing up flooding my mind.  Lord, help me!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Jehovah Jireh

Lately when it comes to finances my head is swimming, sometimes I want to scream and the enemy is trying for all he's worth to make me panic. You see we'd been living like brats. Not really paying attention to what was coming in verses what was going out, living to some degree out of our savings without even realizing it. We'd become very complacent. Not that we were being big spenders, just not living out of a budget, eating out too much. Not staying aware of how much we were spending, etc. Well, I don't even really know how it happened, but I got a wake up call and when I did I realized most of our savings was gone and that because my husband wasn't getting any overtime and changes in tax witholdings his check was not enough to cover all of the expenses every month and that along with waaaayyyy too many trips eating out and extras at the grocery store was the reason that we'd run through our savings.
This is where we see God in the midst of things, though. I have been doing some side work for several months now and with the exception of a used digital piano for our girls and a few small expenses here and there (i.e. the occasional pedicure) I had spent very little of my money. Since this realization we've had over $300 in medical expenses and have so far spent $462.50 towards this homeschool year (and still have around $125 of curriculum to purchase along with some yearly supplies and will have some more co-op fees, though I don't expect those to be too high) and $50 on my husband's birthday. After all of these expenses we will have a little left in saving (we do still have a separate emergency fund per Mr. Dave Ramsey)and my small income will be enough to cover the gap in our monthly expenses.
Things are tight and we're having to be very careful and we are very hopeful that this is short term, but it's still hard, frustrating, unpleasant, stressful at times. I know that our finances really aren't anyone else's business and I haven't said all of this to garner any pity, but wanted to share some truths that I cling to in times like this. You see, just this morning Satan tried to lure me away from tithing. Reminding me that if we stopped tithing there'd be a bigger cushion in the account and things would not be quite so tough, but that will not work with me. We believe what God's Word says about tithing and we believe that since we have been faithful tithers He has been faithful in meeting our needs. That doesn't mean things are always easy, but since we began to tithe the bills are always paid and so are the necessities and many times we've been able to afford wants and even some luxuries. You see, I thought I'd just taken a little side job to help a friend and to have a little extra spending $ here and there, but I wasn't really using the $. God knew ahead that I would need it and I believe he prompted me not to spend it. Without that $ this season of preparing for the homeschool year and my husband having surgery could have felt disastrous, but instead we have seen God's hand of provision and not a single need has gone unmet.
Just wanted to remind you all that God is faithful. He is Jehovah Jireh the Lord Who Provides and He shall supply all of your needs according to His riches!

Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread. Psalm 37:25

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Jesus Will Meet You There

I happened upon this one while I was looking for one of the other ones and loved it too.

Just a Little Talk With Jesus

Whenever I hear old country hymns I think of my Grandaddy...I've been thinking of him a lot lately and missing him so. Just last night my girls and I were singing "Have a little talk with Jesus" in the car on the way home. My Grandaddy loved that song and I can still hear him singing the base part. I guess I feel like I've just had a little talk with Jesus and my Grandaddy is talking with Him for eternity.

I'll Meet You in the Morning

Another tidbit of info about myself:  My musical taste is VERY eclectic.  I can thank my parents for that. 
It wasn't lost on me that God was meeting me in the morning (12:30 and 4:30 AM) and this song kept going over and over again in my mind. 

The Friend of a Wounded Heart

This one is pretty old.  I think I may have actually had the tract to this one when I was a teenager, but the words kept playing over and over again in my head and they speak so clearly to what I've been going through and what I'm feeling this morning.

He Will Meet You In the Morning/Mourning

Last night or really very early this morning (and honestly for many nights for some time) I went to bed pleading with the Lord for and about some things, literally begging Him for answers, for His presence, for Him to rebuild some things in me that Satan has torn down over the last year and a half or so. As I prayed I pulled up the Bible App on my phone and began to read my Bible reading plan. At first it was just reading. There were several chapters from Isaiah. Then I got to Isaiah 40, which on the app is entitled "Comfort for God's People". In this chapter He began to speak to me right where I am. Isaiah 40:4-5 "Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed...." then Isaiah 40:29-31 "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Those verses I prayed and clung to for Josh after he was injured, but now the Lord was showing me that I must believe them for myself. Then my last chapter for that reading was Isaiah 41, where he led me back to some verses He's been bringing to mind lately and added some that I'd overlooked. Isaiah 41:10, 13-20 "So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, you worm of Jacob, little Israel, do not fear, for I myself will help you," declares the Lord, YOUR REDEEMER the Holy One of Israel. "See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff. You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away. But you will rejoice in the Lord and glory in the Holy One of Israel. The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on the barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set junipers in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it." So, I was finally able to go to sleep around 12:30 with some peace that He was answering me. Then I woke up at 4:00. Not a good thing since I had to be up by 6:30 and have a very busy day, but I decided to make the most of it and get up and get some things done, but first I decided to go ahead and do my Bible Study for the day while it was quiet in the house. I've just begun a Bible Study Book in the "A Woman After God's Own Heart" Series by Elizabeth George entitled Walking In God's Promises. It's a character study of Sarah. I began to read lesson 2. Most of this lesson was a reminder of Sarah's lack (bareness) and God's promises to her and Abraham. In the middle of the lesson it asked that you identify the lack, sorrow or missing element in your own life. Then at the end of the chapter it asked that you revisit whatever you'd identified, read verses of promise and apply them to your situation. It is here that I knew He was meeting me....reminding me of promises that I'd let go of or had become distant to me. I wept as I read them and wrote my applications. Psalm 23:1, Psalm 34:8-10 and Psalm 84:11 all reminded me that He WILL meet my needs. Then came the verses that I will be clinging to and reminding myself of as He walks me through this process of healing and growing: Ecclesiastes 3:11 reminded me that He WILL make EVERYTHING beautiful in HIS TIME and He WILL put eternity in my heart. Philippians 4:13 I can do ALL things through Christ who STRENGTHENS me...(even walk through this process in His timing) and 1 Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has OVERTAKEN you, except what is common to man, but God IS faithful, who WILL NOT allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation WILL also make a way OUT (the way of escape) that you may be able to bear it." Which reminded me that even though I have felt consumed and defeated at times, it's not true because He will not allow me to be overtaken.
Honestly, I know I still have a long way to go.  I am a work in progress and this is part of my process, but I was reminded that He will answer me, it may not be when I want it, but it will come in His time and my friend, He will do the same for you.

(P.S.  If you know me well, then you know that He often speaks to me through music and oftentimes words trigger the memory of songs.  I thought of several as I posted this, so I'll post those lyrics or youtube videos in seperate posts.)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Long Time No Blog.....and a HUGE Sigh of Relief

I've been such a blogging slacker for so very long now and honestly so much has happened since I blogged last that I can't even imagine where to start now.  However, I will restart....I had too big a scare not to.  You see some way, some how, Google all of a sudden thought I'd submitted a birthday that showed I was too young to have a blog.  That's completely baffling to me considering the fact that I've had a blog for YEARS and am not exactly close to being underage.....AAAANNNDDDD......the only ways to verify my age to them were by giving them my credit card number or a copy of my drivers license.  I wasn't comfortable with either of those options and meant to check into, but I forgot.  Soooooo......they deleted my account and I was notified that it was not recoverable.  Which means I lost my blog!  I was sick and in tears because I'd never backed it up or saved the info elsewhere (with the exception of a few posts on FB and the posts over at the blog that started it all www.homeschoolblogger.com/pretzelfamily ).  I tried everything to get in touch with them to no avail....or so I thought.  Today.....weeks after it initally happened....I received notification that if I would verify my age they would reactivate my google account.  I have definitely spent some time rejoicing and will soon spend some time backing it all up........