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Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Fun

I bowl. I go to Elitch’s. I jump on trampolines. I play board games. I wear formal or old-fashioned outfits to stores and parks and libraries. I even dance on occasion. Not because I have to. Because I want to.

 

And because I can. I don’t have to spend most of my time keeping a house or supporting a family or choosing homeschool curriculum.  I also don’t get to do those family-oriented things, but I don’t regret, while I wait for them, enjoying fun things.

 

It makes me wonder what kind of mom I’ll be, by the time it happens?  If fun has become an adult habit, not just something that young adult me does while transitioning out of youth group life, will that translate into the way I run my house, and the priorities I share with my kids?

 

I wonder.  I like to think about the story God is telling in my life, how my life is different from the average “grow up, get married, have a family” story that I assumed I would have.  And imagine what He’s making of the differences.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

PS: I know fun parents.  God has various ways of bringing things about in people’s lives.

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Charley Horse

You know that awful feeling when your foot cramps up?  The instinct is absolutely to freeze, tense, since moving made it start hurting.  But the right thing to do, to end the cramp quickly, is to stretch.

 

There are other things like this in life, things where being tense and resisting what is happening are the worst things you can do.

 

Earlier today one of our family cats, a specimen so large that he was named for an assassin in the Bible, was on the back of my sister’s easy chair.  He decided to be done on the top, and was planning to use her as a ramp to a lower level of ease.  This was not my sister’s plan.  And because her response was to go stiff in resistance to his attempts, his claws scrambled for a new course, snagged her shirt, got stuck in the upholstery, and ended up with him dangling from the reclining seat back.  Actually that wasn’t the end, since another sister rescued the pair from the predicament.  Aside from a hole in her shirt, neither are the worse for wear.

 

The house cat is actually back on the top of the same easy chair, where I’m lounging with a laptop on my knees.  Sometimes he nuzzles the back of my head, and I lean back into it, not with opposition so much as meeting his gesture.  Then he goes back to stretching and purring and thinking whatever lazy ponderings cats do.  I’m  not afraid he’ll walk down on me, even though he very likely might.  I’ll shrug him onto the armrest and we’ll both continue with what we’re doing.

 

I know I’m not always like that.  Other things in life make me seize up.  I’m trying to learn to be less afraid, to trust God’s work, and just to go forward with the story God is telling.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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I’ve read a lot of articles that say, “Don’t ask.”  They’ll be about illness, infertility, divorce.  “It’s personal,” they remind us, “so mind your own business.”

 

Today I was in a woman’s house.  I don’t know her.  I have talked to her a couple of times.  I will be doing some work for her.  I suppose I broke the rules, because after she’d told me a little about her life, raising two little boys though she’s their grandmother and wasn’t planning to do motherhood all over again, I asked her if she’s raising them alone.  And you know what?  This woman wanted to share.  She’s desperately lonely in her situation, and not only feeling like she’s the only one going through this kind of thing, but also just generally like she doesn’t have anyone to talk to, anyone to love and support her.

 

I think I know how she feels.  I have wonderful friends, who know me and my story very well.  And I still feel lonely sometimes, still would rather that people sincerely ask what is going on in my life and how I feel about it.  Even the private, personal things.  If it takes me a minute or two to figure out how to answer with appropriate discretion, that awkwardness is worth it to me for what it buys: relationship.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Today I was thinking about heroes.  So often our favorite super heroes can save everyone.  Doc Ock tosses six different people six different directions, and destroys the brakes on a speeding train.  Spider-Man shoots his webs to save the stragglers, uses his super strength to stop the train, and saves the day.

In that same movie, Spider-Man decides to come out of retirement to save a little kid from a fire, and is disheartened to hear afterwards that some “poor soul” on a higher floor didn’t make it out.  But this isn’t shown as an inevitable edge to the protagonist’s reach; I get the impression that we’re supposed to believe that if only Spidey hadn’t been taking some time for himself, both victims would have made it out alive.

Sometimes the crisis of the plot is the hero deciding whether to save one dear friend or to save a larger group of people (and somehow, predictably now, the dear friend  heroically sacrificed is saved in the nick of time anyway).  Other times, the super hero makes a glance at the crushing weight of collateral damage: fighting evil is a destructive war.

How often do the heroes in our tales face the fact that their powers are, however impressive, limited, and they cannot save everyone?  What if we saw heroes not only facing this, grieving this, but standing slowly – like a weight-lifter, only the weight is borne in the heart, bending shoulders –  standing, straightening, squaring those shoulders, and going out with all the zeal they had yesterday, to save the ones they can, to face defeat again and again, to still care about every one they can’t save the same as they care about the ones they can, and still to try?

Today I was driving to an abortion clinic, to stand outside among such heroes, who spend day after day watching most of the moms they encounter go right on ahead and end most of the lives the sidewalk counselors are trying to save.  This is a heavy burden.

It is not all discouraging failure.  Yesterday, a couple changed their mind, and rejected the violence they had intended.  Would Spider-Man bear up against those odds: one rescued for dozens lost?  These people do.  By the grace of God, they are real heroes.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Across the Sky

Have you noticed that many processes are interactions?

Farming and gardening are examples that involve a lot of work and initiative and dominion – but in cooperation with what “naturally” occurs: rain, sun, a branch sprouting in the wrong direction. To get good fruit, we humans both initiate and respond.

Children are raised not by a curriculum, but by attentive discipleship: when we go out and when we come in, when we sit and when we lie down and when we rise up.

Writing or creating art – even these are best done when, as I have read, we “sit with” our material (sometimes sharing the process with a community of artists). We look at it in lots of lights. (Isn’t it convenient that the sun moves across the sky, shining on different aspects of creation in the course of a day?) We wait until we have enough facts, and the facts from outside of us have been catalyzed by the spirit within us. Then comes culmination, fruit-bearing, birth, harvest, maturity.

This is sometimes ugly, sometimes bearing witness to what we wish would just erase itself from existence, and letting it change us instead of ignoring it. This is sometimes painful, sitting in the dark with grief and failure. This is sometimes hard, persisting in a process whose end we are unsure of.

I think that God is (slowly) teaching me about His wisdom and glory in *using* time, and this truth is part of it. It isn’t only beautiful seeing a basket of picked elderberries, or a kid finally making a selfless choice, or a fleeing sinner caught at last by the merciful Shepherd. The *process* is beautiful. The loving abiding with people, and tender tending of our works are profoundly moving. I think God is excited to work this way, and that inspires me.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Sometimes I play apothecary, and make all sorts of potions from various oils that I’ve collected.  Then I use these oils for the next few months for my beauty regimen.  The internet has fueled my research and guided my decision-making on the ingredients, but except for the deodorant, I have mostly just made up the exact proportions, and even then, “exact” is an overstatement.  I include the following information for your consideration, for my own reference, and not to be followed by anyone in a precise way.  If I have been learning the past several years that measuring is not so essential in cooking, it is certainly less important still in beauty products such as these.  Give it a guess.  Mess around with things.  Substitute.  Omit.  Supplement.  Have fun.  Learn.

 

Recipes:

 

Deodorant (makes ¾ to 1 cup)

Mix in 1-quart bowl, using a fork:

5 T. coconut oil

1 T. castor oil

10 drops rosemary oil

10 drops lemon oil

3 drops tea tree oil

4 T. corn starch

4 T. baking soda

 

When thoroughly mixed, transfer to a container (at least 1 c.) with a lid.  OK to store at room temperature.

 

To use, apply about ¼ t. to each arm pit before dressing in the morning.  Thoroughly rub in, wiping any excess with a clean, dry rag.

 

Notes from experience:

This recipe works better than Toms, which I just tried for the first time, dismayed at its impotence.  It does not work as long as Dry Idea, which is my go-to store brand especially during high-sweat situations.  Of course, this recipe is primarily a deodorant, not an antiperspirant, though it is somewhat effectual at absorbing wetness.

 

It may be useful to note that if this cream gets much above 75 degrees, the coconut oil will melt.  It is still useful, but you may have to stir before using.  Also, if it melts and then re-hardens, it can sometimes separate.  There was one time that the coconut oil I had was apparently already thinner than usual, and I had to add extra corn starch to give it the right consistency.  This may have added to the separation problem and made it a bit irritating to my skin.

 

 

Facial Cleanser/Shaving Oil (makes about ¾ cup)

Mix:

¼ safflower oil

¼ c. grape seed oil

2 T. melted coconut oil

1 T. castor oil

1 t. sesame oil

10 drops rosemary oil

10 drops lemon oil

5 drops tea tree Oil

 

To use as cleanser, dip fingers in solution and rub on face in circular motions.  Steam face by covering with a hot wet washcloth.  Rinse washcloth and wipe face with warm water until face does not feel oily or greasy.

 

This can also be used as a makeup remover if you are careful around your eyes.  Dip a tissue or cotton ball only a tiny bit into the oil, then rub gently across the makeup.  Finish by wiping clean with a wet washcloth.

 

For shaving, apply a couple of teaspoons per leg.  Do not rinse.  Shave, frequently rinsing/wiping razor.  Should provide a very close shave.  Rinse.  No need to wipe off.  Oils should not leave skin very greasy once rubbed in.

 

Notes from experience:

The essential oils in this mixture give a slight relaxing/tingling scent.  Before, I used peppermint, but that is unnecessary.  Struggling with acne most of my life, I like this treatment for softening my skin and reducing oiliness, but it is not the only thing I use on my face.  I also use a salicylic acid cleanser once a day, then witch hazel as an astringent, followed by a zinc oxide ointment (skin protectant and sunscreen).  In the evenings or when I shower, I use the facial oil, and do not add anything else to my face afterwards.

 

Hair Conditioner (makes about 1 cup)

Mix:

6 T. olive oil

2 T. safflower oil

2 T. melted coconut oil

1 T. castor oil

1 t. sesame oil

10 drops rosemary oil

10 drops lemon oil

(optional: mix ¼ c. yogurt with 1-2 T. oil just before using)

 

To use, pour a couple of teaspoons at a time into the palm of your hand.  Pull through wet hair, using fingers to comb it through.  Pay extra attention to the ends of the hair, and avoid the scalp (applying to the scalp could cause it to be too oily, or make you over-rinse the rest of your hair).  When there are basically no more tangles, shape hair into a bun if long enough, and leave to soak in while you finish the rest of your shower.  After 10 minutes, release the bun and give your hair a quick rinse in cool water: literally, put head under water, then take it out again.  You may need to practice this routine a few times to get the right amount of oil on your hair and the right amount of rinsing, potentially adjusting for humidity in the weather.

 

About the ingredients:

First, my understanding is that many essential oils can be dangerous if used incorrectly, especially if pregnant or nursing.  I have not had problems with these recipes, but nor have I been pregnant or nursing.  If you have reason for concern, consult a professional (like a doctor or midwife).

 

Second, I am not obsessed about these things.  I usually buy the cheapest I can find, like the bottle of castor oil I found at a garage sale this weekend.  I do not subscribe to a certain brand, nor do I look for an especially high quality of any of these things.  As I understand it, the dangers of my method are that 1) some not-so-great chemicals may have been used in the processing; and 2) my concoctions may be weaker than those made with the highest quality oils (especially the essential oils).  I consider all of my recipes to be good enough  so far to make me happy.  Saving money is worth the risk, to my mind.

 

Coconut oil is popular, and can easily be found at the grocery store.  It is supposed to be antibacterial.  It can be relatively inexpensive.  The high melting point gives it the advantage of being solid at most room temperatures.  The oil is supposed to help hair growth.  I have tried using it on my skin and hair by itself, and found it far too greasy.  I’ve read that it is a sunscreen.

 

Baking soda is deodorizing.  It is also alkaline.  It may cause itching and drying of the skin if the proportions are too high.  I buy a big box in the cleaning section of Walmart to use for non-food recipes.

 

Corn starch is cool.  It has interesting physical properties when mixed with a liquid.  It is absorbent.  If you’re worried about the safety of this ingredient, search for a brand that is non-GMO.

 

Castor oil encourages circulation.  It is considered antibacterial.  It is also useful for encouraging hair growth.  Some people use it for cleansing, especially of the liver, but also of the lymph nodes.  I do not like the smell, and most sources discourage using it without other oils, so I keep it as a minor ingredient.  You’d more likely find this ingredient at a health food/natural store than at a regular grocery store or Walmart.

 

Tea tree oil smells like medicine.  I basically can’t stand it.  So I use it sparingly in things that will have other smells.  It is supposed to be pretty good for skin infections.  I think this is because it is antibacterial.  So people use it for acne, cuts, and burns.  This is one oil that tends to be sold by everyone that sells oils, including grocery stores sometimes; I think I’d look in the pharmacy area.

 

Rosemary oil is good for circulation and smells good.  I think it is also said to be antibacterial.

 

And lemon oil smells good, clean, having a sort of fresh scent that cuts through other ones.  It is soothing and astringent.  If I didn’t have this oil, I might use lemongrass oil.  You can use regular lemon juice, but then you’d have to refrigerate your product, which hardens the oils and makes everything take longer.

 

Safflower oil has Vitamin E, which I have long understood to be good for skin, and which my regular conditioner advertises as a special ingredient.  It is rich in oleic acid, linoleic acid, and omega-6 fatty acids.  These things are good for fighting acne, reducing blackheads, and strengthening hair follicles.  It is a blood thinner and helps with circulation.  I found mine on clearance at the grocery store.

 

Grapeseed oil absorbs easily into skin, and is both astringent and antioxidant, so it helps treat things like wrinkles.  It is anti-inflammatory and helps skin retain moisture.  The linoleic acid is the likely cause of its acne-fighting properties.  It is a source of Vitamin E, which helps skin recover from scars.  It is also supposed to strengthen hair.  This oil is also found at grocery stores.  I noticed that Trader Joes has a decent price.

 

Sesame oil has a nutty scent, and it is a light, absorbent oil.  I had some extra, so I put a tiny bit in.  The dark color can transfer to hair, but there is not a significant amount in my recipe, so it probably won’t make a difference that way.  Zinc in this oil is good for the skin and immune system.  And the copper in it helps the body’s blood production and blood flow.  I am not sure where I got my sesame oil, if it was in the Asian section of my grocery store or if I went to an Asian market to pick it up.  Either way, it is probably way cheaper at the Asian market.

 

Olive oil is my hair’s favorite.  If it didn’t leave my hair smelling like salad dressing, I’d use just it.  It has anti-oxidants, Vitamin E, and is anti-inflammatory.  However, this oil tends to clog my pores, so I do not use it on my skin much.

 

Some other popular oils are jojoba, argan, and almond.  All of these are more expensive, which is the only reason I haven’t used them.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

 

 

 

 

 

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I like to cook.  Usually, it is not under pressure, so I’m free to do things at my own pace, except for those frantic moments when meat needs turned and pasta needs drained (and I forgot to get out the colander).  I’m a fan of my routine, for efficiency and a balance of work, fun, and rest.  So.  Here’s the order of things I generally follow:

First, I decide what to eat.  Sometimes this happens in a moment, and I make one of my standard recipes.  Other times it is a result of a sale at the store that day or the day before.  On some occasions, I’ve been planning for weeks, researching recipes, collecting ingredients.

When I’m ready to cook, the first thing I do is get out my equipment.  This involves pans, pots, mixers, cutting boards, knives, and stirring spoons.  I get any of the appliances plugged in, turned on, or preheating.

If there are any supplies I’m not sure I have on hand, I check at this point.  I also check to make sure the things I planned to use aren’t spoiled.  If any of this involves digging through the fridge, I pull out anything else that seems old or spoiled, to be dealt with later.  When I don’t have enough of the ingredients, I either think of a substitute, or turn everything back off while I go to the store, or decide something different entirely to eat.

I start the longer-to-cook, or more hands-off items at this point.  Rice and pasta, for example, can be started, cook for a while, and can even sit for a while cooling if sauce is going to be poured over them. The sauce, if it is straight off the stove, will reheat them.

People who know me know that I multitask.  It is actually kind of hard for only one task or subject to fully engage my brain.  So.  In this moment while my hands are free, I turn on music, put up my hair, tell a funny story, or turn on a TV show.

This next part is where to insert a recipe.  I finish cooking: do the steps, taste, innovate.  As time allows, I alternate stirring and stuff with putting away the ingredients I’m done with.

Once the food is made, I put the dish together.  You know: veggies on the plate next to the meat, butter the roll, dispense sauces, fill a glass, grab a fork.

Then I turn everything off, and finish putting away ingredients.  This is especially useful if any of them ought to be refrigerated.

Eat!

I usually rinse my dish when I’m done with it, and leave it in the sink soaking if applicable.  When there are kids involved at the meal, usually their parents are taking care of dismissing them from the table, getting ready to leave or play or go to bed.  I’ve found that, being the single person, it is useful if I help finish the next several steps while parents are occupied.  This especially works in evenings.  After they take care of kids and I take care of the kitchen, we can spend relaxed time together.  As kids get older, I’ve observed it works pretty well to have them involved in the clean-up, even if they weren’t part of the preparation.  That way everyone is ready to move on to the next activity together.

After that, I put away all the leftovers.

Once the dishes and work area are cleaned, I’m free!

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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