Friday

like a weaned child


My heart is proud.

Quick to defend myself.  Hasty to be right.

I have not stilled or quieted my soul.  Not enough.

There is time sufficient, but I fill it with so many lesser things. I've not drunk soul-deep from the well of grace.

Restless.  Longing.  Want, want, want.

James has been refusing to eat dinner.  At bedtime, there isn't enough milk to satisfy his hunger, and he gets so angry.

Baby, you have to eat dinner, I tell him.  There's not enough milk to fill your tummy.  You're a big boy.  You need to eat your food.

I am that child, refusing nourishment, bewildered and angry at my lack of satiety.

Oh, to be still.  To rejoice in the presence of my Lord, demanding nothing.

And so receive all things.


Psalm 131
    A song of ascents. Of David.
 1 My heart is not proud, O LORD,
   my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
   or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
   like a weaned child with its mother,
   like a weaned child is my soul within me.
 3 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD
   both now and forevermore.

 share with emily's imperfect prose and the gypsy mama's five minute friday.  prompt: still.
{image credit

Wednesday

we'll shine like stars in the summer night

the city of blinding lights

We had a little church up in section 521, we did.

U2 came to play, ending the U.S. leg of their 360 tour last night at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field and treating 60,000 of us to an incredible show.

It was every bit as magical as the PopMart tour and blew Vertigo out of the water. Their last two albums never get a lot of play from me, and I started to wonder if U2 wasn't my favorite band so much as my favorite band from high school.

Last night, the boys of Dublin convinced me that although I've come a long way since high school, some things aren't meant to change.  There's a reason U2 is arguable the biggest band in the world.  They performed a host of anthems from their catalog and brought the crowd to its feet, rocking hard for two and half transcendent hours, from the very first note of "Even Better Than The Real Thing" to final chorus of "Bad."

My feet touched holy ground there on the concrete slab beneath the bleachers of section 521.

There are no ordinary spaces, are there?  God's sacred glory hovers over all things, infusing every corner of life with truth and grace and beauty.  "Secular" is about as meaningless (and deceptive) a label as the "Christian" when applied to anything other than a person or church.

We may expect to meet God at church on Sunday, but it's probably time to stop acting as though God dwells within four walls.  Oh, that we would each have eyes to see and hearts to recognize God's holy presence all around us.

Even a rock concert at the football stadium downtown.

Monday

the story of the road that goes to my house

an ongoing record of God's goodness, #278-312
 
the boy-babe chasing baby ducks
his "love you!"s
 adventures with friends
petting llamas
ponies small as dogs
tiny monkeys
 snuggling my girl-babe
wild summer storms
kind neighbors and gifted fans for hottest days
a natural deodorant that goes the distance
 garden plenty
 pulling over to spy a velvet-antlered buck
pleasant family meals away from camp
milkshakes that taste like summer
 "i saw a bunny outside! it looks just like this bunny!"
 respite shade and space to play
a new built-with-love swing set (thanks, poppy!)
helicopter fly-by tricks
time with cousins
glow stick silliness
real fireworks
berry picking
 bowls as hats
joy-stained hands and faces
a sorority of prayer from women who walk a similar path
remembering that differences which isolate can also make the Body strong
a loneliness that makes tender a heart
waiting on new tires opened a window of time, and though wrangling kids was chaos,
i now have clothes that fit
summer dresses
important conversations about love and faith
a husband who loves his work and is so good at it
learning to offer thanks in hard things
an opportunity to share the Word at worship
leaning into fear, thankful that God equips


Sunday

homemade deodorant that won't leave you smelling like a dirty hippie

If you are here via Pinterest, welcome! I hope you'll subscribe, leave a comment, and stay in touch. I'm on facebook and twitter @suzannahpaul.


I love replacing conventional household products with natural alternatives, and it's a double win when I can make something simple at a fraction of the cost (and with none of the packaging) of pricier green brands.

Enter Homemade Deodorant.

I never ever thought I'd be one to tout this. Being something of a sweat monster, it seemed too hippie, even for me. I've worn prescription deodorant and sweated through more outfits than I care to remember. Also, I have a crazy-hyper sense of smell and am mildly obsessed with conquering odor. Forgoing Secret seemed impossible, even though I felt increasingly wary of the ingredients in drugstore brands.

Plus, I'd tried a few "natural" deodorants: they didn't work at all and still contained things like aluminum, triclosan, propylene glycol, and fragrance [phthlates]. Boo to that.

But this three-ingredient homemade version? Magical, I tell you. Seriously. 

It's just baking soda, cornstarch (or arrowroot powder), and coconut oil, and you can add essential oils for scent. It's so simple, and I kid you not, it actually works.

This recipe is for a deodorant not an antiperspirant, but not only do I not stink at the end of the day or even the next, I actually sweat waaaay less than I used to all those years I used Secret. The function of an antiperspirant is to plug pores to artificially stop sweat from coming out, but I think it can kinda piss them off, and they go into sweat overdrive to fight back.

(You like it when I talk science, don't you?)

I'm telling you, with this natural deodorant, my body basically has it's God-given natural permission to sweat back, and instead, it's like, "Nah, I'm good."

OK, so details. The recipe is from Passionate Homemaking, and I found it via Simple Organic.


1/4 c baking soda (for anti-stink and dry)
1/4 c corn starch (for smooth and dry. arrowroot powder / flour is a worthy substitute.)
6 Tbsp coconut oil (for soft and anti-stink. antimicrobial. possibly magical.)

Combine powders. Add oil as needed and mix until proper consistency is achieved.

Here is where is can get a little tricksy: coconut oil is solid under 76 degrees, so you'll get significantly different results depending on the weather. During colder weather it is solid like conventional deodorant, and on wicked hot days it's more like a lotion. Either way, I scoop out a pea-sized amount with my finger and apply.

I keep mine in a re-purposed jar in the bathroom. The first time I made it, I put in in an old deodorant stick, as was suggested on blogs, and that was a mess! It got runny and overflowed, or it was too hard to roll up at all. The only time it ever left grease marks on a shirt (which washed out) was back then because the roll-on applied too thickly. I like jar storage and have had no problems traveling with it, even in hot weather.

A note: some people are sensitive to baking powder and may want to play around with the ratios. Detoxing the chemicals absorbed from antiperspirants is also a real possibility that can sometimes manifest in temporarily red or irritated skin. Give it a few days.

If you buy baking soda in bulk to use around the house, do be sure to use food-grade for this recipe. I made it once with the coarser stuff I use for cleaning, and my skin was not pleased. Otherwise, it's been fantastic. I love that three pantry ingredients are gentler, cheaper, and harder working than anything else I've tried.

I ran out of Secret in 2010 and never looked back. My outdoorsy, athletic husband uses this natural deodorant exclusively, too. What are you waiting for?


We use Tropical Traditions coconut oil, which is wonderful for cooking and healthful, too. [Referral link.] 

anti-gay bullying is wrong {christians, stand up}


The strong torment the weak and ostracize the different. Mocking taunts and humiliation inflict deep wounds that time may not heal. Scars tell stories of loneliness, depression, and fear.

Or scars don't speak at all, and a suicide note pens the final chapter of a story too painful to live.

It may fall on a spectrum of hurtful to hateful and horrifying, but there is no "kids will be kids": bullying is always wrong.

Anti-gay bullying made headlines nationally last year when story after story emerged of suicides prompted by vicious bullying of kids and teens due to sexual orientation, same-sex attraction, and gender expression. One hardly has to join a gay pride parade to become a target: being quiet, quirky, skinny, slow, sensitive, artistic, awkward, or otherwise different is generally enough to earn one the label of queer, fag, or homo in school hallways across America.

Kids can be cruel. So can adults, even within the Church.

We can do so much better. We need to.

***



The first time I saw an It Gets Better video, my eyes welled. Hope for hurting kids, YES.  There is life after high school humiliation, so stand tall. You are not alone.

It's not the hope of Jesus, but how can we as a Church not affirm a message that says, Your life is valuable beyond measure and worth living. Please, don't kill yourself.

But the only feedback I've heard from Christians about the campaign has been negative--twitter rants, facebook posts and blog comments about the "gay agenda," the "liberal media," and where is the outrage over Christians and "regular" kids who get bullied, huh?

Why can't evangelicals can't find the words to say:  I see your pain, and it grieves me, too. You should never have to endure that kind of hatred, because it is wrong.

The Church is so worried about staying on-message about homosexuality that we fail to stand up for vulnerable kids who are being sinned against. Who, all too often, we have sinned againstThe way Christians talk about homosexuality misrepresents the gospel, and we come across as being on the side of bullies.   

We need to tell--and to live--a better story.

Let us shout from the rooftops about a Love that is deeper than the cultural tolerance that the Church so loves to malign. Let's admit that all bullying is wrong and that Jesus rarely sided with the powerful or the [self-] righteous but with the vulnerable, broken, and hurting. Let's repent of pretending to "love the sinner, hate the sin" while failing to demonstrate practical, tangible love for our gay brothers and sisters inside and outside our church walls. We've withheld protection and even simple compassion, and the Church has been complicit in anti-gay bullying by our silence.

I pray that it does get better, especially for LGBTQ kids. Middle and high school can be truly wretched places, and I can only imagine the extra degree of difficulty faced by gay and gender non-conforming kids. I'm sorry for how we Christians have not loved well, for the cowardly silence and self-righteous judgment we offered in place of kindness and a listening ear. You are made in the image of God and are precious.

And I pray that as Christians we do better at representing the hope, humility, and love of Christ to everyone in our communities. We have a long way to go, friends.

{image by rbbaird}

Friday

the grace of losing


we do lose things, as mothers.

i say that not to diminish the incredible blessings of motherhood, but like anything, there are trade-offs.

my body is not my own.  my time is not my own.  hell, i barely went to the bathroom by myself until two weeks ago when jim installed a lock.  (thank you, sweet Lord Jesus.)

more than anything lately, i've wanted to pick out pretty summer clothes with a gift card i got for my birthday--in march--and maybe buy a bra not made for the nursing mom.  (we are still nursing but nothing fits as this is the first time in four and a half years that i am not pregnant or breastfeeding a baby or pregnant and breastfeeding a toddler.)

but the mall is far and my kids are small and my husband works long and late, and i worry 'tis not to be.  my not-best self sulks, "waaaaah, woe is me, i deserve blah blah blah," but i know that is a lie.

because who ever promised that life was about me--my needs, my feelings, my desires?  certainly, there is a place for self-care (especially as moms), but there's also a place for "suck it up" and "pick up your cross and follow Jesus."

the way of self-denial, sacrifice, and humility.  the way of give thanks in all circumstances.  the way of suffering, loss, and finding ourselves not in motherhood or accomplishment or acceptance or anything but the very One who created us with purpose:
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  -Philippians 3:7-12
so wearing gym shorts, a tee shirt, and my too-big bra, i look for grace in the losing. for joy in frustration and a perspective bigger than my selfish heart.  i pray for eyes fixed outward and upward and thankfulness for what's gained in place of the bitterness of perceived loss.

and i press on.

shared with the gypsy mama (and like her, i took more than five minutes this friday) and alita's bigger picture moment.  {image: Mike_tn}

wendell berry | the mad farmer liberation front

 
Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.

When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

Listen to carrion -- put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go.

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection. 


i miss writing here, but the babes are wild and quiet fleeting.   we'll meet again soon, lovelies.  until then, to the mad farmer, liberation, and resurrection indeed.

where i'm from



I am from skinned knees, Daisy Duke Big Wheels, and 
bike rides deep in the woods. I am from the horseshoe:  
sidewalks tread by Brownie scouts, the common ground which 
floods and tunnels we'd crawl when days were dry and we felt brave.
I am from newly seeded grass, crab apple blossoms, and crocus bursts 
of color when March recalled coats for jackets.

I am from bathrobed Christmas pageants in the living room;
freedom and responsibility; the Johnsons, Moores, and McMurrays.
I am from the impassioned and opinionated who yell loud and laugh hard 
and forget to think before we speak. From Shoulders back,  
Do your chores, and Hide His Word in your heart.

I am from flannel board disciples and Up from the grave He arose! 
kindergarten solos. From paper fans in the colonial chapel, 
strawberry festivals on the lawn, and too many danishes 
swiped at coffee hour. I'm from Scots Irish Presbyterians,
Pennsylvania Dutchmen and women, burgers on the deck, 
buttered corn on the cob, and pot roast every Sunday on fine china
(Use the good silverware!).

From freckled peeling shoulders, days down the shore, and van seats 
so hot our thighs would burn. I am from pictures posed on wicker, 
lace collars and curls, and hand-me-down bags stuffed brimful 
of ill-fitting swim suits, mittens on strings, and a faith rooted deep 
with room--and grace--to grow.


I read "Where I'm From" poems over at Steph's and Sarah's first. Do play along using the template here (and read George Ella Lyon's original.) Read more at SheLoves.


Monday

i am a real american


i believe that we have more in common than we are led to believe.

i believe in compassion, service and justice.

i believe that civil dialogue and honest questions trump false choices and easy answers.

i believe that Jesus meant it when he said "blessed are the peacemakers" {and in a peace that cannot be enforced by might}.

i believe that the health of a nation is inextricably linked to the welfare of its children, elderly and poor.

i believe in giving the hungry fish, teaching them to fish and holding polluters accountable for poisoning the water.

i believe in hard work, a living wage and fair pay.

i believe in a free press that isn't for sale.

i believe that what's good for business is not the same as the common good.

i believe in public education, affordable housing and quality health care for all.

i believe that humility and admitting mistakes are strengths.

i believe that questioning our government is patriotic {and the Church must bear prophetic witness, speaking Truth to power}.

i am thankful to be an american and thankful for the freedoms we enjoy.

i am proud of america when she lives up to her ideals and disappointed when she fails to, {and i still believe}.

i believe that no demographic is more authentically american than any other, and our differences make this country great.

i am a real american


independence day seems like a good time to pull this one out of the archives.  (the meme responded to a presidential candidate's speech about what a "real american" looks like.)  what would you put in your creed?
Let America Be America Again
a prayer for our country {that doesn't make me shake my fist}
happy fourth of july, friends.

Sunday

a prayer for our country {that doesn't make me shake my fist}


For Our Country.
ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favour and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honourable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer, 1928. 

{image source}

Saturday

Sponsor Spotlight: Ancient Minerals {giveaway}

I'm so happy to be able to introduce you to Ancient Minerals, the company that is sponsoring my trip to the Relevant blogging conference this fall.  They are a passionate about natural healing and holistic health, and I became smitten with them last year when the magnesium bath flakes they sent me worked so well on Dylan's eczema.

They carry a line of natural mineral products that address magnesium deficiency and promote healthy skin and wellness. We use the bath flakes with both of our babes and have been amazed at how they have cleared itchy, dry eczema patches and made painful diaper rashes heal fast.  Eczema is notoriously stubborn and can be quite painful, so we were so thankful to find a gentle, natural remedy that actually works.  (You can read my full review here.)

I'm excited to partner with Ancient Minerals and attend Relevant through their generous sponsorship.  I will definitely have some samples with me at the conference, but you don't have to wait until then since Ancient Minerals is giving away 6.5 lbs of bath flakes [worth $55] to a lucky reader.

Magnesium is good for more than just healing eczema: the bath flakes make a soothing soak for tired muscles, and their research suggests many more uses.  From the website:
Essential to life, necessary for good health, and a vital component within our cells, magnesium’s benefits help our bodies maintain balance, avoid illness, perform well under stress, and maintain a general state of good health.  Magnesium’s benefits can include reduced symptoms from conditions such as chronic pain, fatigue and insomnia. Magnesium may also provide protection from a number of chronic diseases, especially those associated with aging and stress.
To enter the giveaway, check out the Ancient Mineral's website and leave a comment here saying why you'd like to try the bath flakes.

You can get a second chance to win by subscribing to their newsletter OR following Ancient Minerals on twitter.  Leave a second comment saying that you do.

Although it won't net you extra entries, you are, of course, always welcome to subscribe to my site or follow along in the various capacities indicated by the social media buttons at the top of the screen. ;)

This giveaway ends Friday at 11:59 PM Eastern, and random.org will choose a winner from among qualifying comment entries.  Good luck, friends!

Fine print:  I am a mom, not a doctor, and my statements have not be evaluated by the FDA.  Ancient Minerals is my Relevant sponsor, and I am happy to sing their praises because their stuff works for my kids' skin.
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