So, You're Thinking About Using EO's?

Raise your hand if you know someone who swears by essential oils?

I bet you even know a few dozen people who sell them.  I know I do!

Before I get into everything I've learned about essential oils, let me give you some back ground info so you know I'm not entirely crazy:

I started my essential oil adventure by going to a party hosted by a friend.  My bestie and I had been researching oils and had started thinking about getting into them.  Almost two weeks later, we got our kit, divvied up our oils, and started playing.  We began slathering ourselves and our families with all of the oils.  Literally, all of them.  We had fallen in love with EOs! 

As a Christian, I am always looking for ways to strike up conversations with people so that I can build relationships and hopefully, eventually share the Gospel.  About a year after I started using EOs, I saw my neighbor outside of her home so I jumped at the chance to have a conversation!  We started chit-chatting about our hobbies and such, when I felt compelled to let her know that I was slowly becoming a very crunchy person (meaning, eating organics/non-GMO foods, making my own cleaning stuff, and using EOs).  As soon as she heard that I was using EOs, she started asking ME questions.  It wasn't long before she'd invited me into her home to check out her oil collection and various resources.  That, my friends, is when my informal oil education began!

One more thing before my list - please keep in mind that EOs are concentrated and powerful!  A teeny tiny bit goes a LONG way. 

So, without further ado; here are a few things I have learned along the way:

1.  START SLOW

Before you pull the trigger on buying a kit, I suggest starting MUCH more slowly.  You'll save yourself money and really get to learn everything you need to know about oils before jumping with both feet.  When you get your oil, dive in to learning all about it!  Keep a file on your computer or a notebook so that you can organize your notes and recipes.  I suggest starting out with a common oil that has lots of uses: lavender, peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, etc.

2.  LEARN LATIN

Complete Lavender Oil Collection

Not really.  Haha!  You do need to pay attention to the botanical name of the oil you're studying, though.  Many oils come from multiple species of a certain plant.  Did you know there are SIX different kinds of frankincense?  SIX - and they all have different benefits and uses.  There may be more out there that I don't know about!  This is especially important if you have any medical conditions, take any medication, or are smell sensitive (like me, a migraine sufferer!).  A few other oils that have multiple species: cedarwood, eucalyptus, lavender.

3.  WATCH OUT FOR BAD INFO


As we all know, if it's on the internet, it must be true.  Do you guys remember this State Farm commercial?  We quote it at home all the time.

DO NOT believe everything you read on the internet.  Pinterest, as much as I love it, has some of the WORST information for oil usage.  Think about it:  90% of the people putting info out there, have no formal aromatherapy training (I know because I was one of them), just what they've picked up from other people along the way.  That said, I know that there is some GREAT info on Pinterest - we MUST do our homework and make sure we know what we're doing before we slather ourselves and our loved-ones with oils.

The internet isn't the only place bad information hangs out.  Believe it or not, some of the worst oil information I got was produced and provided by the oil company I signed up to rep (READ: not ALL of the info was bad, but the bad info was REALLY bad).  Do some googling and search for companies and resources that have been around for a long time, then do some cross-referencing.  Compare what your books say to books that have good reputations and have been trusted for many years.  (Two of my favorite third-party resources are: The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy; The Complete Aromatherapy and Essential Oils Handbook).


4. SPREAD YOUR WINGS


Alternate title:  'Avoid the Cultish Mentality'.  I have learned that there are MANY great essential oil companies and resources in the world - those two big name companies aren't the only ones out there that can be trusted.  If any other sales person came to you and said, "Only use our resources and our stuff - you can't trust ANYTHING else out there.  It's all lies and forgeries.", we would look at that person as if they had something crazy growing out of their head and would automatically look elsewhere.  Why are we different with oils?  It's because we have no other frame of reference.  It's not until we meet someone else who says, "Hey - let me introduce you to some friends..."  I hope I can be that friend for you. 


Let's all remember:  This isn't West Side Story.  We're all students and we're all in this together.  No need to cut someone if they use a different brand than you.  If it's a dangerous brand, and there are some out there, LOVINGLY let them know what you've learned and how you learned it.  Research it together.


In conclusion:  Essential oils are AMAZING and can do so much good BUT, they are powerful and can do so much harm.  We must be diligent to learn how to use them correctly and not just take people's word for it. 

This may sound harsh but it must be said:  You wouldn't trust a doctor who didn't study medicine, we shouldn't trust a sales person who hasn't studied aromatherapy. 

I love you, my dear readers, and would hate for you to get hurt because no one ever told you the truth about essential oils and the big name companies that are pushing them so hard right now.

MY FAVORITE RESOURCES:
-- START HERE--
Essential Oils 101 (FANTASTIC blog post by Plant Therapy)


-- Essential Oil Education --
AromaWeb
Aromahead Institute

-- Brands I Love --
Plant Therapy
Nature's Gift
Floracopeia

-- Facebook Groups --
Real Aromatherapy Reviews and More
Safe Essential Oil Recipes
Animal Aromatherapy
Blue Tansy Analysis (this group has over 10,000 members!)
The Oily Mama

THINGS TO RESEARCH
GC/MS reports (third party testing results for EOs)
Dilution Ratios
Sensitization
Latin Names
Safety Information (ingestion, "neat" oils, children/pregnancy...)

Jumping Into: Bible Study

Edited 4/5/2016 to add two more resources and correct some atrocious grammar!


Last week I posted about not accomplishing things because I don't jump in; I tend to plan and then stare at it hoping it'll start itself.

This is not a quality I'm proud of, especially in regard to Bible study.  Before some health issues flared up, I studied Scripture regularly and was able to retain what I learned well enough to be able to give a defense if I ever needed to.  Thankfully, my health stuff has improved but the side effects of a certain medication did not cease as I expected it to so I went from studying Scripture regularly to simply grazing (lightly reading verse after verse, one book at a time) and listening to sermons.  This sufficed for a while but now that the Lord has reignited my passion for evangelism and discipleship, I have found that grazing has not prepared me for the mission field very well and my memory (which is a legit medical issue) is not very sharp.  Let alone that I'm a busy wife, mother, employee, etc.

Tips for Jumping Into Bible Study


1. It All Starts With Your HeartAn unsaved person can read the Bible, it's not an impossible task, BUT an unsaved person cannot spiritually benefit from the Bible.  If you have any reason to doubt your salvation, I've posted a great Matt Chandler video about the GOSPEL so you can hear it, if you haven't already.  If you want to chat about it, please friend me on Facebook (click the F icon on the right), I would love to talk to you! 






1 Corinthians 1:18 makes it clear:  "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 



2. Pray First!  Before you even crack open your Bible, be sure to go to the Lord in prayer.  You'll   
    want to do this for a couple of reasons. 
  • First, seek the forgiveness of sins.  Sin breaks our fellowship with God, which is why Christ had to die in the first place. 
  • Second, ask the Holy Spirit to teach you.  If you are saved (see my first point) then you have been gifted with the Holy Spirit, who is our teacher (1 John 2:27). 
  • Finally, 2 Timothy 2:25 tells us to do our best to present ourselves as someone who is approved after being tested, rightly handling the word of truth.  We need the Lord's help in order to handle His word the way it was meant to be handled. As Paul Washer once warned, "Twist not the Scriptures lest you be like Satan."  Ouch!




3. Make a Plan.  Just as a general will have a plan going into battle, so we should also have a plan as we battle our flesh, distractions, and temptations the world throws at us.
  • Think of where you will spend your study time.  A coffee shop, your bedroom, a dining room table, your favorite spot in the kitchen; it doesn't really matter as long as you can spread out a little bit and FOCUS.
  • What will you study?  There are a few things you can do here.  Personally, I feel strongly that you should pick ONE book of the Bible and start at the beginning, checking cross references along the way, looking words up in the dictionary (just a standard, Webster's or whatever, dictionary. We'll chat more about tools later), following whatever rabbit trails within the Bible that the Bible leads you on. 
  • Where will you keep this information and how?  This is the fun part!  Take notes, lots of notes! Come up with a fun system - color coding, files and tabs, bible journaling, whatever works for that brain of yours!
  • Most importantly - WHEN will you study?  This is my downfall; I am extremely forgetful and busy, if I'm not intentional in this area it will never happen.  So take it from me, set a time and stick with it.  It's your most important meeting of the day - that is FOR SURE. 



4. Gather your Tools.  As soon as you've gotten through your chapter or book (if it's a short one), that's when I bust out my study tools and commentaries.  Here are a few of my favorites and some on my wishlist:
  •  Blue Letter Bible - this is a great app and website that is pretty much a one stop shop.  If you need to check a commentary, they have some.  Need to check a Greek or Hebrew dictionary, you're covered.  They also have encyclopedias, charts, outlines, maps, you name it!
  • The MacArthur Bible Commentary - This commentary is concise, simple, and a great place for a beginner to start.  If you've never used a commentary but would like to add one to your collection, I HIGHLY recommend this one!
  • Calvin's Commentaries - This set of commentaries is DEFINITELY for the more advanced studier.  It is wordy and difficult to read at times, but so beneficial.  John Calvin has insight and wisdom that baffles me!  This set is pretty pricey as well, thankfully my employer has a library a set on hand!
  • Strong's Expanded Exhaustive Concordance - If you think your Bible has a great concordance, you MUST buy yourself one of these puppies.  You could study FOREVER with this puppy.  Seriously, the Bible is so deep and so wide!  Deep and wide, anybody? 
  • Strong's Concise Concordance and Dictionary - This is the concordance and dictionary I currently own.  I am very happy with this version and use it often.  One of these days I'll upgrade my library to individual sets.
  • The MacArthur Bible Handbook OR Halley's Bible Handbook - Last night good friend of mine texted me about her favorite Bible handbook which reminded me of MY favorite.  I thought that since I'm on here cleaning up some grammar and spelling errors, I should list them both for you right now.  A Bible handbook is a FANTASTIC tool to help you learn about the people, time, and culture of the book you're studying.  They also have various tools such as maps, illustrations, reading plans, and Halley's even provides information on the early church.  Both of these handbooks are easy to read and great for beginners.
  • Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin - I've mentioned it before, so I can't imagine why I failed to mention it here but please go out and buy this book.  It has impacted the way I study Scripture more than any other resource I've gotten my hands on.  If you want even more information on studying Scripture, THIS is the resource I would recommend you get your hands on.  Oh, and make sure you get the actual book, you'll want to take notes!



5. Jump In.  Now's the time to get to work!  Don't wait for the time to be right or for "this season of life" or whatever to be finished.  If you do that, you'll never start! 


We're in this together!  Let me know how you're doing!






Just Jump In

I, friends, am an idealist, an optimist, and an extrovert. 
(Please remember my husband in your prayers.)


Considering these God-given qualities, I can be pretty scatterbrained at times.  I have lists of things that I want to do, know I will do someday, and I want to tell everyone about them.  Keeping up with all of my lists and goals can be exhausting - for everyone, but especially me.


Having goals and lists isn't a bad thing, what IS a bad thing is when that's as far as anything goes. I make a list, I write out a goal, I revise said list or goal, I talk about them, research them, rewrite them AGAIN and so on, and so forth.  See what I mean by exhausting?


This week I have been contemplating the reasons why I don't accomplish anything and have come to this conclusion:  I just don't start.


How do I start losing weight?  I know how to do it, I know what I need to be doing, I just can't seem to get it going.


How do I study the Bible to where I know and love God more and more?  I know how to do it, I know what I need to be doing, I just can's seem to get it going.


When will I start praying daily?
What will it take for me to be a better helpmate and wife to my husband?
Why can't I stick to a schedule and routine for my home that includes training my son in righteousness?
How do I encourage and edify my sisters (and brothers) in Christ?
Why don't I keep my laundry from piling up?


It's not because I'm not able or that I don't have the tools.  It's just that I never jump in.


When I was a kid, we used to jump off bluffs at the lake I grew up on.  It was awesome, I loved it.  The hardest part of the whole thing was standing on the bluff, looking out over the water, and talking myself into jumping.  I knew how to do it.  I had done it a million times before (give or take).  I knew I loved it and that it was safe.  I still had to psych myself up though.  But why?


(this is the actual bluff at my favorite lake- thanks Google!)

I think it's the same reason I hesitate to get started on my goals - I overthink everything and just stare at the water.


Eventually, in order to jump, you just had to decide to go for it. You had to stop thinking about it and barrel in.  I think it's the same with my life.  I've thought it through.  I know what it takes.  I'm not scared, I just can't seem to make myself move. 


So what are you staring at?  What goals have you put off because you just can't make yourself move?


Over the next few weeks, I'll be talking about my goals and lists.  I'll spell out my plan and then I'll stop thinking about it and just jump in.



Seville

My husband and I just got back from an amazing trip to Seville, Spain!  It was my very first trip overseas and it was my husband's second.  While we did get to spend some time in Seville, we actually spent the bulk of our time in the suburb of Bormujos.



To be honest, I wasn't sure I wanted to Spain when we first discussed it.  I was anxious about leaving our son behind and travelling in an airplane over the ocean (On the way back, we could see the coast of Greenland!  Mind. boggling.).  Thankfully, I swallowed my fear - with the Lord's help! - and went through with the trip.



We had about 3 hours on Tuesday evening and about 6 hours on Wednesday afternoon to get in some sight-seeing.  That's when I took most of the pictures of our trip for some reason.  I really wish I'd taken more pictures of the work we were doing and the people we got to meet! 



We ate dinner at the café on the left on Tuesday night.




The Seville cathedral bell tower.




I bought a painting from this lady,
Veronica, an artist from Seville. 
She was set up at the entrance of the Plaza de Espana.




The Torre del Oro.
(Where the Spaniards used to store gold!)




The Plaza de Espana!
This place was gigantic and so beautiful!




Another shot of the Plaza de Espana!



While spending those few hours in downtown Seville was incredible, my favorite part of our trip was the time we spent among the locals in Bormujos.  The people of Bormujos (and the rest of the area) are so kind, loving, and social - which was GREAT for this extrovert.  Although, it was difficult for this extrovert since I wanted to talk to everyone but hardly anyone was fluent in English.  My remedy so it doesn't happen again next year - I'm going to take Spanish lessons!





Our team!
(starting on the left in the back - Travis, Casey, David, Jana, Matt, Brittany.  In front:  Me and Kathy)
Photo Credit:  Brittany


This is in front of the music school we met at daily
to work with the students from the local high school.
The classes ranged from 30 to nearly 60 students and
ONE teacher would WALK this group of children
to the music school for English class each morning.



 
Photo Credit: Brittany
Working with the English students.
They were VERY impressive (and a little wild) -
most of them were learning English along with German or French!



Photo Credit: Brittany
This is the church we got to worship at
 on Sunday morning.  We also had a few events there during the week.

 
Yup - another Brittany photo
We colored Easter eggs with some of the kids,
it was the first time for all of them!
 
While we were there, I got to have some great conversations about faith with a few of the local adults.  The religious culture in the Seville area is fascinating.    They were all so warm and open to hearing about what I believe. 




One really neat thing that happened was that while we were playing tourists at the Plaza de Espana, a man commented on my husband's Texas Rangers ball cap.  We were so surprised to find another American!  Come to find out, he's from a town very close to the one we live in.  To me, that was a clear sign from the Lord that we needed to share the Gospel with him!  Sadly, he wasn't very interested nor responsive but he did promise to think about what we talked about.  I mean, what are the chances that we'd meet in SPAIN when we're both from TEXAS and HE approached us first! 




This adventure was so much more than I thought it would be.  The Lord used our team in ways I never imagined, He challenged me personally and helped me stretch beyond what I thought I was capable, AND He helped me speak more Spanish than I thought I'd retained from my high school classes.




It's so exciting to see and hear what all is happening in Bormujos and it was such a joy to meet so many amazing people.  I cannot wait to go again, if the Lord is willing! 

What I've Been Reading

I have been on a reading kick lately and LOVE it!  I go through phases where I don't read anything (outside of the Bible, obviously) for months, even years.  Then, out of nowhere, the mood strikes and I pin 44 books to my Pinterest board and reserve them all at my local library (Praise the Lord for FREE books).

Here are three of my favorites from this year:




Author Allison Pataki blew me away with this one!  Like I've mentioned in blogs past, I get so wrapped up in the stories I read that sometimes I can't control my emotions. This book made me literally laugh out loud, cry (oh, did I cry - I'm a crier) and get so angry there were times I threatened to put it down and never pick it up again.  That though, is my struggle with historical fiction, especially the way Pataki writes - it's all based on a true story (historical details are accurate, life in between is fiction) so I often had to tell myself that this is just how life was back then and to push through. 

Anyway, this story is about Empress Sisi of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  The story starts out when she's right about 15 years old and details her rise into Austro-Hungarian royalty, for which she is totally unprepared.  I loved this one especially because it's not just a love story, it's a story of struggle, heartache, and tenacity.  I am ANXIOUSLY awaiting the sequel to this book, Sisi, which will arrive in March 2016. 





The Mapmaker's Children weaves between two stories, one set during the time of the Underground Railroad (UGRR) and the other set in modern day Virginia.  Two women, decades apart, struggling with the same affliction: infertility.  I love Sarah (h= ew) McCoy's attention to detail as she writes about real-life UGRR map artist, Sarah Brown (the daughter of abolitionist John Brown).  Eden, Sarah's modern-day counterpart, is a complicated and lovable character who has practically moved mountains to attain her goal of conceiving a child, even to the detriment of her marriage. 

I did not pick up this book because I too struggle with infertility, I picked it up because of my fascination and love for the UGRR and everything for which it stands.  The topic of infertility is written about in a very sensitive but extremely truthful way, at no time was I offended nor did I ever feel like the subject was minimized or made light.  I was, however, delightfully surprised to see the gospel woven into Sarah Brown's story as she and her family were such strong Christians who were definitely in the minority by standing up for the rights of the enslaved. 

Not quite as well written as The Accidental Empress but still a REALLY good read.  I would definitely recommend it.  As far as the emotional rollercoaster I typically experience, this one wasn't quite as up and down as other books I've read, which was nice.  I was involved and captivated by the characters but wasn't obsessive about the life situations.  I really need to work on that.  I've gotta stop getting so wrapped up in these fictional/historical people.

 

And for my favorite non-fiction book of the year - Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin.  I have read multiple books about getting the most out of Scripture reading.  This one is, by far, my favorite.  Even outdoing books by John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul and other big name theologians.  Wilkin covers topics such as the metanarrative, Scripture comprehension over observation and even gives you the nuts and bolts for studying scripture in depth.  This is a book I marked up, dog-eared and highlighted from beginning to end!   If, like me, you prefer to borrow from the library over buying books, I would HIGHLY recommend you go ahead and buy this one.  Trust me.