Archive for the ‘Stewardship’ Category

Back to Eden Gardening Film

Time for a short break in the heavy Bible studies.  Here’s a site with a great, informational film for gardeners called Back to Eden.  Enjoy!

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Cloth Wipes

I am continually refining my efforts to better steward our finances, health, and creation.  

Early on, when I first became aware of these spheres over which I had control and realized that these were ways I could bring glory to God, I lamented that I couldn’t change everything at once.  I was weighed down by all the things I wasn’t doing “right.”

Take cloth diapering, for instance.  I tried it once for a short and busy season with my second baby and it didn’t work.  Just recently I tried again, with a different baby and a different style diaper.  It still didn’t work for me. It remains one of the glaring inconsistencies of my natural inclinations. 

But I have come to see that stewardship, like many things in life, is a process.  I don’t do everything as well as I possibly could, but I’m on a journey of improvement. So, one day I’ll try cloth diapering again.  The time just isn’t right now.

Recently, however, the time did come for me to explore the world of cloth wipes.  I knew the time was right when the idea no longer seemed like a burden or a fearsome pursuit, but a fascinating project to explore.  And so, I explored. 

Making the Wipes

I took an old flannel receiving blanket that was already stained (so I wouldn’t feel like I was “messing up” a brand new one) and folded it into a wipe-sized rectangle. Then I took scissors and cut along my folds.  I ended up with 16 (I think) cloth wipes.

After I had already cut my cloth with regular-old scissors I ran across a bit of advice to use some special kind of scissors that would limit fraying of the edges.  Mine have frayed a bit since washing them, but its nothing big so I’m okay with it.  (You can see the frays yourself in the picture above.)

Wetting the Wipes

Though I was momentarily paralyzed by my ignorance of how to “properly” wet the cloth wipes, a friend suggested that water might work.  The simplicity of the idea was shocking to me.  It’s sad how far consumerism has removed me from common sense. But alas, I digress.

I’ve since watered the wipes a couple of different ways.  I found a spray bottle and filled it with water, which I sometimes spray onto the wipe before using it.  Other times, I’ll wet the wipe with warm water right in the sink. 

There is a fancier wipe-wetting option that I may try at some point.  It’s called Angela’s Cloth Wipes “Recipe.” I saw it here, at Keeper of the Home.  Here’s the recipe:

  • 3 cups warm water
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3 drops of lavender essential oil (or scent of your choice)
  • 2 drops Tea Tree Oil
  • 2 T baby wash

1.) Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

2.) Soak baby washcloths or other soft cloth in mixture and place in wipes holder. Do not wring out completely. The wipes holder will keep wipes moist until ready for use.

How it’s going

The cloth wipes have been working great and are definitely saving us money.

I still do keep regular wipes on hand for the car and for the occasions when Erich helps to clean up a diaper.  He prefers to stick with what he knows.  And I have to confess that for some messy diapers, I still reach for the store-bought disposable wipes if they’re handy. I’m not discouraged though.  After all, this is a journey of improvement.  😉

Our grandmothers were greener than we are

Someone forwarded me this email.  I don’t know who wrote it, but it sure is true.

In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. The woman apologized to her and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”

That’s right, they didn’t have the green thing in her day. Back then, they returned their milk bottles, Coke bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, using the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. 
 
But they didn’t have the green thing back her day.
 
In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.
 
But she’s right. They didn’t have the green thing in her day.
 
Back then, they washed the baby’s diapers because they didn’t have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts – wind and solar power really  did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. 
 
But that old lady is right, they didn’t have the green thing back in her day.
  
Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the house – not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a pizza dish, not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn’t have electric machines to do everything for you. When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used wadded up newspaper to cushion it, not styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, they didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. 
 
But she’s right, they didn’t have the green thing back then.

They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty, instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled pens with ink, instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
 
But they didn’t have the green thing back then.
 
Back then, people took the streetcar and kids rode their bikes to school or rode the school bus, instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from  satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.
 
 But they didn’t have the green thing back then!

Our Bodies in Light of Scripture

As I wade through issues of stewarding our health, I am constantly trying to figure out how these issues rightly relate to the gospel.  What does God think of this? Does this even matter?

A message by John Piper on 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, really helped me. Here are some excerpts that relate particularly well with the idea of stewardship of health, specifically of self-control.:

The Body Is for the Lord

The body is for the Lord! Your body has been given to you for one reason: to be an instrument for glorifying Christ (6:20). The way you use your body and the way you take care of your body should communicate that the glory of Christ is all-satisfying.

The Lord Is for the Body

Then he says that not only is the body for the Lord, “the Lord is for the body.” That is, Christ is not indifferent to the body. He cares about it. He puts a premium on how we make use of it. He makes the body his temple (6:19). He is “for the body”—not against it, and not indifferent to it.

God Will Raise Our Bodies

Finally Paul says (in verse 14), “God raised the Lord and he will raise us.” In other words the body will never lose its importance. It may decay for a season in the grave. But it will be raised and restored. God gave Jesus a resurrection body and God will give us a resurrection body. The resurrection is God’s final declaration that he is for the body.

“Food for the Stomach and the Stomach for Food”

Some of the Corinthians had a view of the body that made what they did with it morally indifferent. In 1 Corinthians 5:2 they actually boasted about an act of incest in the church. In 11:21 some of them even got drunk at the Lord’s Supper. They reasoned: the body and food and drink and sex are going to be destroyed in the end. There will only be free spirits. So the body does not matter. You can eat and drink and have sex any way you like because the body is morally irrelevant. It’s what you know and think that really counts (8:1–3).

Paul opposed this view with all his might. He gave them a new and radically different slogan: “The body is for the Lord and the Lord is for the body.” The body is not just going to be destroyed; it is going to be raised. The body is not morally indifferent. It is for the glory of God.

Two Guidelines for Living

Paul answers in verse 12 with two guidelines which I have called the law of love and the law of liberty.

1. The Law of Love

First, he says, “All right, all things are permitted in one sense, we should not live under external legal constraints; BUT NOT ALL THINGS ARE HELPFUL.” In other words, don’t ask, “What do I HAVE to do?” Instead ask, “What is HELPFUL to do?”

2. The Law of Liberty

Second, Paul says in 6:12, “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything.” In other words, not only let your actions be guided by the law of love, but also let them be guided by the law of liberty. Don’t ask, “Am I permitted to do this as a Christian?” Instead ask, “Am I a slave to this act? Is this food or drink or sex or hobby or work becoming my master instead of my servant?”

Two Biblical Motivations to Live in Freedom

I close with two biblical motivations for why you should strive to free yourself from all enslavements, whether to food or drink or lust or laziness or work. First, because slavery is so dangerous. And second, because freedom is so wonderful.

1. The Danger of Slavery

First, slavery is so dangerous. Here is what I mean. The persistent refusal to say no to an enslaving habit (like overeating) runs the risk of hardening your conscience so that you no longer feel guilty for that enslavement. And then others become more easy to justify and pretty soon it can happen that the whole biblical concept of spiritual warfare and vigilance and self-denial and self-control drops out of your life.

“Let him who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall!” Do you think you are beyond the possibility of making shipwreck of your faith? Where do you think backsliders and apostates come from? They come from people who, little by little, in things that are seemingly unimportant, ignored the voice of God in their own conscience. “Food for the body, the body for food—both will decay in the grave someday; its not important how I eat or drink.”

Why does God record for us in Hebrews 12:16–17 the tragedy of Esau with these words: “Do not be . . . like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears”?

How did Hymenaeus and Alexander fall away from the Lord? 1 Timothy 1:19 tells us: “By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith, among them Hymenaeus and Alexander.” What do you expect the spiritual consequences to be when day after day you reject the voice of conscience and yield to the enslavement of food or drink or lust?

What did Paul mean when he wrote to the Philippians, “I tell you now with tears that many live as enemies of the cross, whose end is destruction and whose god is their belly” (Philippians 3:18–19)?

Why did Paul command the Corinthians, “Run that you may obtain the prize. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:25–27)?

Why, in his first and perhaps only sermon to the governor Felix, did the apostle Paul choose for his sermon outline: “Justice, SELF-CONTROL, and future judgment” (Acts 24:25)? If you had one sermon to preach to a governor from prison, would your second point be self-control?

Why did Jesus say, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away. It is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell”?

God has said all these things for our sake! They are written that we might realize that bringing the body under control is no minor matter! “All things are lawful for me, BUT I WILL NOT BE ENSLAVED BY ANYTHING!” Cast off the bondage of your body. You were not meant to be led like a dog on the leash of lust or hunger.

2. The Wonder of Freedom

The second reason we should strive to free ourselves from all enslavements is that freedom is so wonderful.

“Happy is the man who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves,” says the apostle Paul (Romans 14:22). Persistent yielding to the inordinate desires of the body against the voice of conscience is a life of misery!

But to turn and do the opposite: to avail yourself of the law of the Spirit of life within, and to feel yourself bearing the fruit of self-control, and to pommel the rebel body into submission until it is no longer a master but a servant—this is victory and this is joy!

Brothers and sisters, you were bought with a price. Your bodies count. They are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Glorify God in your bodies: receive his gifts of pleasure with gratitude, and deny yourselves all excesses by the liberating addiction of his majesty.

Healthy Homemaking: One Step at a Time

Healthy Homemaking BookOoooh!  I am so very excited!

My favorite blog right now, Keeper of the Home, is celebrating it’s two year anniversary.  (I guess I need to just go ahead and embrace the sort of silly blog term for it: Blogiversary. . .)

Stephanie, the blog’s author,  is a Christian wife and mother, committed to healthy homemaking, frugal living, and sound doctrine.  I have only been a reader for a couple of months, but I’ve already been so encouraged by her example.

She has a book titled: Healthy Homemaking: One Step at a Time, which had me immediately and completely intrigued the first time I saw it.  It’s content, cover, everything about this book looked incredible.   EXCEPT it was an e-book.  To me, a book like that should be enjoyed while lying in a comfy spot without the constant distraction of other links, announcements popping up, etc.

But I just found out in Stephanie’s newest post that she now has a PAPERBACK EDITION!!!  As soon as I read the words, I clicked over to order myself a copy.  In honor of her 2nd Blogiversary, she’s also doing a giveaway of the book.  Though I am still going to try my hand at the giveaway, I ultimately decided to buy it because:

1) I never win these kinds of things.

2) Even if I do win, I’ll be thrilled to pass the book along to someone else.

3) I don’t want to wait for the giveaway to finish.  I want this book ASAP.

4) Purchasing the book supports Stephanie and her family, a worthy cause in my estimation.

I wanted to pass along the word for those of you who might want to enter too. Giveaway entry instructions are at the bottom of this post.

We aren’t 100% – An introduction to our dietary habits

Reading our menu plans, you might see things that seem contradictory:

Gluten-free pancakes for one meal and pizza with plenty of gluten for another.

Dairy-free meals beside other meals with plenty of dairy.

We’re not 100%

We aren’t 100% dairy-free or gluten-free or sugar-free.  We are not 100% healthy.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t even know what 100% healthy is.  Some people say it’s 100% organic. Some say 100% organic AND vegetarian.  Others say 100% organic AND vegetarian AND all raw. Or fermented. . . I can’t even keep up with it all. The opinions range quite a bit.

What I do know, is that we do see improvements in our health with limited dairy, gluten and sugar.  (Read more about the discovery of the effect dairy had on our health here.)

Though I can see some validity in many different dietary regimens, I try to test everything from a Biblical standpoint and from a personal evaluation.  I don’t see 100% vegetarianism in the Bible.  (When God sent food to Elijah, it was bread and meat.)  However, there were no chemicals, drugs or added hormones around back then like there are now, so I can see a benefit to eating as much organically grown food as possible.

High Standards at Home, Freedom Abroad

I try to keep to high standards and good balance in our home. (That is, high standards as I presently understand them, with an understanding that my understanding will likely change or at least alter in the near future based on new findings.) Then when we eat out, or go to Care Group, or a Family Night at church, we indulge without severe health repercussions. For example:

  • We try to eat only whole, unprocessed grains (whole oats, brown rice, etc) at home. But we still like eating Moe’s  fantastic burritos – white tortillas stuffed with white rice, beans, guacamole, and more.
  • To some degree, we’ve been trying to avoid wheat at home since we suspect it is at least a mild allergen to some of us.  And the more I read about the subtle and pervasive trouble gluten can cause in a lot of people, the more I think we should move away from such a strong dependence on it.  I’ve found some great gluten free recipes that use almond flour and coconut flour, which allow me to make terrific breads, desserts, and pancakes.  But we won’t hesitate to munch down a wheat sub or pasta on occasion.
  • We try to avoid large amounts of dairy at home, but we still enjoy cheesy pizza and dollops of sour cream on our Mexican food.
  • We try to avoid sugar at home, but we still indulge in an ice cream treat or a doughnut (my weakness!) from time to time.

How I Shop for Food

When at the grocery store where I have greater control over what I buy, I avoid anything with:

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Partially or fully hydrogenated oil
  • Artificial colors, flavors or preservatives

And I avoid buying meats that have been given:

  • Antibiotics
  • Growth hormones

Whenever possible, I try to buy:

  • Organic foods because of the greater health benefits to us and the higher standards of stewardship the farmers have to adhere to which benefit the rest of God’s creation.
  • Things processed as little as possible.  In general, the more man messes with things God has made, the worse for us it becomes.  A fresh apple will have tons more nutrients and benefit to our bodies than applesauce that has been heated (which can kill a lot of the vitamins and minerals), then infused with a chemical concoction of high fructose corn syrup (to make it sweet enough to please our taste buds conditioned to need ultra-sweetness) and partially hydrogenated oils (to extend its shelf life to a million years).

For more good nutrition guidelines, read this excellent post on a new favorite blog of mine, Keeper of the Home. It’s called Good Nutrition in a Nutshell.   I agree wholehartedly with the information here.  It’s terrific and general and comes from a Biblical perspective.

Why health matters

Why do we care so much about food?  Do we worship health? Or do we think self-denial brings us closer to God?  No! We limit these items in order to:

1) Prevent sickness and to stay strong for God’s glory. It’s hard to do all God has called us to do when we’re out of commission.  Sickness limits our fellowship and service. We see our health as a gift to be stewarded for God’s glory and our good.

2) To be good stewards of the Earth God has given us dominion over.

For more on this, check out this more detailed post about the spiritual reasons to steward our health by my great friend, Kelly.  I couldn’t improve on it!

Right on!

For a great explanation of a Christian’s motives behind healthy living visit here.