Thursday, June 26, 2014

He is a Choice

Comparison to others is something I have always done to myself. Something I have always struggled with. Lately, I have been feeling Him say to my heart "Kristen, are you going to compare yourself to others, or are you going to compare yourself to who I created you to be? To my plans for you? Are you going to choose me?"

As I have been contemplating this over the past few months, I have been noticing something. Comparison is a theme in everyone's life.  Sometimes it is harmful, sometimes it is helpful. As I have been going through my own feelings with comparison a thought hit me. I compare myself to what others let me see. People, by nature, only let others see a small portion of their lives. I know I do. This causes a terrible epidemic. Comparison, coupled with inauthenticity, is a dangerous things. This allows us to either consider ourselves better or worse than the ones to whom we compare ourselves with. 

Is it wrong for people to not show every aspect of their dirty, messy, wonderful lives? No. What is the problem, however, is when we choose to judge or condemn others or ourselves based on what we see. We see a very limited view, and we need to remember that. In comparing ourselves, we blind ourselves to fulfillment in Christ--in who He died for, in who His Father created us to be, in what He has for us.

Essentially, this is the point I am trying to say: in seeking comparison, to be better than others, to be more "righteous", are we hindering the completion of us in Christ? 

Imagine for a second the worst part of your life, or your marriage, or your family--the absolute worst fight or situation. Imagine your reactions. Now, imagine that all of that, completely on display for the world to see. The people you care about, the people you care that have opinions of you, your family, your friends....imagine them seeing how truly terrible you can react or beneath a polished veneer that we showcase on a daily basis. A polished veneer that is comprised of opinions, beliefs, smiles, and attitudes that you allow others to see. If you are like me, there is a sigh of relief, that my shortcomings are not on display for all to see. 

If there was a sigh of relief, then why do we compare?! Why do we criticize, judge, condemn others issues that are on public display, when we have issues in our private lives that we refuse to acknowledge? We should be iron sharpening iron, the body of Christ--unified and working together. When we judge and criticize because of comparison, we hurt that unity, not help it. 

On the flip side, when we compare ourselves, and find ourselves "weighed, measured, and wanting", then we are still hindering the confidence and completion Christ has for us. This is my greatest struggle. In my head, I consistently say to God, that He created someone more worthless than whoever I am comparing myself to that day. Can I believe the Bible and call God a liar (unintentionally, but still)? God creates each of us individually, each hand crafted, each a masterpiece, each priceless--in the physical world, wealthy people collect things with those labels, so why is it so hard to translate to the spiritual world? So, again, I find myself remembering that Christ is a choice. He isn't a one time choice to gain entry to heaven. He is a daily choice. He is a daily reminder and remembrance. Whatever I am facing that day---He is my choice. He created me, for me, with certain gifts to help further His Kingdom. I've messed up, reacted poorly, and failed more times than I can count. Does that matter? No, He still welcomes me with the same open arms He had on the cross for me. I do not sin so that grace may abound, but I choose to be shaped, molded, and continued to be worked on for Him. good segue to my updates on pregnancy so....

You Know Your Pregnant When:

1. Shaving your legs becomes an Olympic sport combined of yoga and contortion. 
2. Every twinge makes you wonder if your'e actually feeling baby move, or was than an organ migrating?
3. Your husband stares at your expanding belly...among other things that are expanding
4. Finally, for once, you are warmer than your and yah. 
5. You are amazed at how many people want you to know the baby's gender, persistently so
6. You play mean jokes on those persistent people and tell them you know when you really don't...
7. You realize no one warns you for the skeletal baby skull in the ultrasound. 
8. Your hips. Oh. My. Word. The. Pain!
9. You walk up the stairs and your breathless, not because you are out of shape, but because you are in an entirely different shape at the moment. 
10. You make a rule that unless you have a craving for 3 days, it isn't valid and will pass. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Natural Review

Okay, so I have been contemplating for awhile on writing a review like this. Not because it's sponsored (which would be totally cool if it was!) but simply because it is a good way to review and explain what I like and don't like about some natural products. So, without further Adieu....

1. Water Infusers
There are 3 products I have bought and enjoy using for water infusers. Well, I take that back, 2 were bought, but 1 was given to me by a mother-in-law that knows me well.

 The Aqua Zinger
Pros:  I love this bottle because it has blades (that aren't sharp or dangerous) to mince up the fruit of your choice. Recommended, it says to wait 6 hours for best flavors, but if you get some great produce, you can infuse it right away, drink a glass of slightly flavored water, refill it and let it sit for a stronger flavor. It has a stainless steel screen where the blades meet, which makes sure you don't get chunks, seeds, or any other unwanted particles while you are drinking your water.

Cons: The blades do make it slightly more annoying to clean, not to mention, only for adult cleaning. Sometimes, I tend to get so excited about it, that I forget to put the second blade piece in and fill up the water and it is just no bueno. Lastly, I wish it was easier to take on the go and drink. There's no straw, and the opening is as you see it, so spillage happens a lot to me, especially in the car.

Jokari Water Infuser
Pros: This thing is great for making a large pitcher of flavored water. I love it for combining a bunch of different flavors that are refreshing on a hot summer day ( and strawberry anyone? What about cucumber, ginger, and lemon?). It's super easy to clean, AND it's nice not having to fish around your pitcher for the produce you infused your water with.

Cons: You have to know what combinations or flavors you like, otherwise, you have a large pitcher of water hanging out in your fridge. It has bigger gaps in it, so it doesn't work quite as well with smaller fruits or chunks of things (like berries). Lastly, it is like a 3" ball(ish) so you have to use a pitcher that has a wider opening.

Takeya Flash Chiller Tea Maker
Pros: Yes, I know this says that it is a tea maker (which it is) BUT, I love this pitcher... in fact, I have 2 of them. I have used it with just fruit before and infuses just as well as the other two (although, this particular design works better with chopped fruit, simply because you can fit more in the screen that's in the middle.). PLUS, I have used it with loose leaf teas and fruit combined (delish), or just teas. You fill the middle of this pitcher up (the screen), which is detachable after it's finished infusing/brewing, and keep your beverage in the fridge. It's dishwasher safe (actually all of these things are) and because of the fine mesh screen, no chunks or particles go into the water. It's designed to lay on your shelves (yes, lay) for those fridges that don't have a foot of space for their pitcher/drink area. Also, for brewing tea, you fill the middle with the desired tea (loose or bag), then fill it halfway with boiling water. You let it steep, then take out the middle, fill it the rest of the way with ice, and voila!
I love this.

Cons: For loose leaf teas, the screen is a little harder to get everything out, and it does stain. The stain doesn't bother me at all, but I thought I should put that tidbit in.


So I apologize. I tried to find a couple of good pictures that included the products I own as well as the ones I use. That became harder to find, and really, I didn't feel like snapping a sub par picture in comparison to the ones above. As a whole, I enjoy their products. I love that I can seriously clean my fridge, windows, mirrors, and anything that needed to be dusted with 2 cloths. Usually, I would lug around windex, paper towels, pledge for stainless steel, mr. clean eraser, swiffer duster, and 2 soft cloths before for these tasks (which is why I usually split them up). I love how much they grab up. I like the antibacterial quality of them, but it really isn't my first priority, along with their "less chemical" campaign. Really, I care that so much stuff took up so much shelf and arm space more than anything.

Envirocloth and Window Cloth are the two cloths I use for all of the above listed duties. Might I add, that we have a large flat screen that shows up any particle of dust or fingerprint within a 3 mile radius (it seems). I can clean that with these two cloths and there is NO damage simply because it is done with just water.

Body Cloth I love using these to remove my makeup. The only mascara I use is waterproof and these still get it off with little to no problem. It is a little interesting to get used to, but they are nice. I don't get a greasy feeling or dry feeling from using either makeup remover or soap and water. They come in a pack of 3 and I enjoy that for 3 reasons. 1 is in my shower, 1 is by my sink, and 1 is in my makeup bag (or my overnight bag depending if I work or not). I love having one in my makeup bag. I tend to use liquid foundation and I apply it with my hands. I also tend to put makeup on AS I am going somewhere's, even if it's the 2 minute drive to church. It is super nice to get it wet, throw it in my makeup bag and have my hands foundation free by wiping them. For overnight, it is nice to be able to wipe away most the grime from the day. Since it is antibacterial and microsuede, I think it grabs up a lot of dirt and stuff, however, I would not recommend this for an actual face care regime. I still wash my face with oil (you heard that right, only thing that works).

Wool Dryer Balls These are simply to replace fabric softener. Let me tell you, they work. They reduce static, cut drying time, and you can add essential oils to them for the smell factor.  They do everything they say they are supposed to do, which is rare to find a product like that. A con is that you have to beware of taking them out of the laundry with the dry clothes because otherwise your laundering is on hold. You could remedy that with buying 2 sets and alternating, but to me, that seems extreme.

Things I will be getting from Norwex in the future?
Their Mop. 
So we have dogs. Our dogs have hair. We have and will have lots of wood floors in the future. My routine for these floors, are to sweep, then dry swiffer to get as much of the dog hair off the floor as I could, then wet mop. Just for fun, I put a dry envirocloth in my swiffer just to see what it would do. Holy dog hair Batman! I cannot believe how much more I missed! Since I don't want to ruin the edges of my norwex cloth (since they are a bit pricey) I will wait until I have the actual Norwex mop from now on. Luckily I do have a cheap microfiber cloth that still picks up more than the dry swiffer sweeper cloths (although still not as much still...I retested the enviro aftter that one too), to get me through for now.

Their toilet brush
It always just looks so clean and like it wont get disturbingly yucky.

Their body towels:
Simeon hates that after time our towels stop being soft. Norwex, even ones that I have used at my Mother-in-law's house for cleaning (that are possibly 2ish years old), remain soft. Since they are antibacterial, I would also feel like they don't need to be washed as much, also extending their life span

Their baby towels:
Pretty much for the same reasons as above.

Cleaning paste:
This stuff is miraculous. The demonstration of it was fantastic for kitchen and tile. it gets rid of sharpie, food dye, kool aid....bunches of stuff. For me, this is a hold off because, frankly, I don't care about my hideous yellow countertops with swirls of green. Also, we will be getting a new range relatively soon, so I just didn't see where buying the paste would benefit me when I would just waste it on things that I really didn't care about all that much (I am a great housewife, I know.) That being said, it's not like I abuse and color murals on my counters with permanent markers (although, they'd be significantly prettier).

Young Living Essential Oils
 I will be honest, I haven't used these a ton. I primarily got the "Everyday Oils" Collection that luckily came with a diffuser, to help deal with my morning sickness and early pregnancy insomnia. Morning sickness wasn't miraculously cured by these oils, but I can sure tell you that insomnia was. Almost every night there is Lavendar or "Stress Away" blend going in our little diffuser. I instantly became relaxed, and if I had to wake up to deal with morning sickness, I would put a bit more in and instead of staying awake after that hour long shower and what not, I would fall asleep almost every time. I will tell you this, I have tried peppermint oil from another company and thought it worked great, but somewhere along the way, it got to make things worse for morning sickness. Once I tried Young Livings, it worked again. I did also have a pretty bad knot in my neck (the kind that hurts when you just breathe) at one point in time and used "Pan Away" and there was almost instant relief. I haven't had a need to try any of the other blends of oils yet, but I am convinced that they work. They are expensive, so for smells around the house, I simply use different oils (not heated, and not in YL diffuser. Only for homemade floor cleaner, or for putting oil on the vacuum brush when I vacuum for smells. That is it. NOT in the dryer, NOT heated, and NOT for antibacterial purposes, I just don't trust them to be a pure as Yl. Definitely NOT internally or even skin wise.). I like that a lot of the time, if you can accumulate the right oils, you can save money simply by using those before going to the Doctor.

Apple Valley Natural Soap
Okay, if there is one company that I am in love with it would be this one! First of all, it is a family owned and operated business, and the family is a homeschooling family. I can get behind that. I was first researching this because I wanted to go more natural (I was convinced it played a part in my reproductive system), a cheaper alternative, but I couldn't bring myself to do the "no poo". I love their shampoo bars. Honestly, I was skeptical at first, so I ordered like 5 or 6 samples before the real thing. I also ordered their vinegar rinse. I liked that I could buy samples, for fairly cheap, and then decide what worked best for my hair. I had 2 I hated and the rest I liked, but the next time I ordered, I knew exactly what I wanted, and I could order for their $50 free shipping without worrying about if I would like what I would get or not. Personally, I hate vinegar as a hair rinse, so I switched to lemon juice. Also, I order my jojoba oil (for face cleaning) and their argan oil for my skin and hair from there. Their prices are so reasonable, that really, I have spent less money on shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and face wash, not to mention WAY less time in the WalMart aisle. All of their ingredients are 100% natural and organic even, so I don't even have to ever worry what is going on my head or skin. I spent $90 over 6 months ago and have made it through 1 whole shampoo bar, and 1 body bar (average $5/bottle of whatever right now, and that is a significant savings). You DO have to make sure you have soft water, or else these soaps make your hair, and body sticky and waxy feeling since mineral deposits will stick to the oils in the soap. So beware! I warned you! If you have soft water but forget to fill it, don't worry, you will know when the salt is out. Your shower will tell you when you feel sticky and waxy. No problem, just keep other shampoo and soap on hand until you get it filled. It doesn't take a super long time for your hair to adjust back to natural, and I always use Herbal essences spray detangler after my shower because unfortunately, since there is no conditioner, hair gets tangled more. It doesn't have any effect on my hair either. (You have to go through an adjustment period for the natural soaps, before your hair starts looking healthy and not just frizzy and crazy)

Will I become an "All-natural Housewife and Mom" all the time? No, more than likely not. I like using cleaning products that are safe, but I also know that for me, I like the smell of clean. Sometimes that can be achieved using essential oils, but in a bathroom, I want that sucker to smell disinfected with bleach baby. Also, for me, it is all about what makes my life easier. If it requires more work, I won't do it. I dislike cleaning the house, so I am not going to do any more than I have to. Also, Norwex products and essential oils are an investment, so they take awhile to save up for. I loved Norwex from the moment I used it, but refused to go to parties for over 2 years simply because we had so many cleaning products I wanted to use and not waste until then. when I ran out, I made do with homemade recipes or way cheaper alternatives because I wanted those cloths!!!! Essential oils cost a lot of money, but if you can get the "everyday Oils" Package and add to them as needed, it could save you more money in the long run, with less trips to the doctor, and more so instantaneous relief from some things. Natural Shampoo and soap bars? I will probably always buy these for myself and children when they aren't so young. They are significantly cheaper, store well with minimal space, and there aren't any harsh things that can cause you to break out, especially in winter time.