Sometimes God Says “No”

“God always answers prayer, Amy. Sometimes He says ‘Yes’, sometimes ‘No’, and sometimes ‘Wait.’”

These were the words of wisdom Amy Carmichael’s mother shared with her when she found Amy in her room heart-broken. Amy had prayed that God would change her brown eyes to blue. When she awoke next morning and looked in the mirror, she was devastated to find He hadn’t.

Though Amy didn’t know why God said “No” then, many years later she found out: blue eyes would have made her missionary work in India as an adult nearly impossible.

Sometimes God says NO

This story came to mind as I stood listening outside the girls’ bedroom. They were happily playing house with little Meg as Rose’s “Mom”. An hour or so before, they had waltzed downstairs decked out as queen and princess.

Something I didn’t believe possible for years to come has already happened. Despite the four-year age gap, Meg and Rose are really good friends.

My thoughts drifted back to my pregnancy with Meg. Rose was already four and I foolishly thought it was just too much of an age gap for sisters to be close until they got older, so I wanted a brother for Will before another girl.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but when the ultrasound revealed a girl, I had a hard time blinking back the tears. Why hadn’t God listened to my prayers? I had such a perfect gender sequence planned out and this was not the right order.

Of course, those silly thoughts melted long ago. I cannot imagine having waited two more years for Meg’s sweet spunky spirit to fill our home, but I still thought it would be at least a decade before she and Rose were close friends.

As their happy giggles broke into my reverie, I realized just how much better God’s plan was than mine. Not only are Rose and Will fast friends, but already the friendship between the two girls is deepening and growing.

When God says “No”, He really does have a better way.

[The story of Amy Carmichael is from one of our favorite children's booksCan Brown Eyes be Made Blue?]

 May be linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeWalking Redeemed, & Graced Simplicity

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

DIY Solar-Infused Herbal Oil

Once you have selected your herbs, making an herbal oil is simple. Herbal oils extract the power of herbs into an easily-absorbed and potent source and are the first step in making salves and ointments.

There are several methods for infusing an oil: double-broiler, crockpot, and solar. Solar-infused is the simplest (and most ancient).

DIY Solar-infused herbal oil

Yarrow, lavendercalendula with fresh-wilted rosemary, plantain, & clover infusing in olive oil. 

How to Make a Solar-Infused Herbal Oil

You will need:

Directions:

  1. Select your herbs.
  2. If you pick fresh herbs, fresh-wilt them first by letting them sit in a warm place (out of direct sunlight) for a few hours until they have lost most of their water content. Too much moisture can ruin the oil.
  3. Fill a clean mason jar 1/3 to 1/2 full of herbs.
  4. Cover with oil, leaving about two inches of head space.
  5. Screw lid on tightly and let sit in a sunny windowsill for about two weeks.
  6. Strain out herbs with a cheesecloth.
  7. (Optional) If you want an extra potent herbal oil, repeat steps 1-6 using the herbal oil you just strained.
  8. Store your herbal oil, tightly covered, in a cool dark place or use it to make an herbal salve.

Properly prepared herbal oils made with olive oil should last for several months to a year in a cool dark place. If it starts to smell off, discard and make a new batch!

*Anti-bacterial in the sense that the herbal properties fight bad bacteria, but hopefully don’t contribute to the rise of super bugs like improperly used anti-bacterial soaps might.

I am not a doctor or a nurse. The only hospital I have ever worked at is a doll hospital. There, a band-aid (or plantain!) can cure a heart attack. Please use discretion and seek medical assistance for serious injuries! 

May be linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeWorks for MeWalking RedeemedGraced SimplicityFabulously Frugal & Simple Lives

[Full discloser: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

DIY Herbal Anti-Bacterial Green Salve

Scrapes, bruises, tumbles, and bug bites are all part of the mini traumas of growing up. Many remedies to these minor ailments grow unbidden in yards around the world.

Just a few weeks ago, Rose and Will ran breathlessly into the house and exclaimed, “Mama! Guess what! We found lots and lots of plantain outside! Do you want some?”

I’m so excited to finally harvest the healing powers of the herbs we trample underfoot regularly. Today’s DIY project is a Green Salve of anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, astringent herbs (and weeds) to replace our almost empty tube of Neosporin.

Making an herbal salve is simple. Deciding which herbs to put in it is more tricky. There are so, so many incredible herbs choose from. Below are just a handful of common choices to include in a green salve.

Pick at least two or three of the heavy hitters and add in others if you wish.

DIY Green Salve Herbs

Dried yarrow, lavender, and calendula with fresh clover, plantain leaf, and rosemary

Heavy Hitting Herbal Healers

Calendula flowers: potent but powerful, calendula promotes cell repair. It is anti-inflammatory and antiseptic and aids in healing cuts, burns, bruises, rashes, skin infections and is gentle enough to use on diaper rashes.

Comfrey root or leaf: famous as a “cell proliferant”, comfrey works to clear away diseased cell and encourage rapid growth of healthy cells. Use for burns, bruises, cuts and stings. Some forms of comfrey contain PAs which should be avoided internally by pregnant women and children. If using internally, use Symphytum officinale–which has little to no PAs, and speak with your health care professional first.

Lavender: effective and beautifully fragrant, lavender’s anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-septic properties are legendary. Use it to fight skin infections, burns, bee stings, and scrapes.

Plantain leaf: last year Rose cut her finger while we were at the zoo. My sis-in-law Amber bent down, picked a piece of plantain that was growing at our feet, smashed it, and tied it to Rose’s finger with a piece of grass. It made a very memorable (and healing) band-aid. Plantain is excellent at drawing toxins from hurts and helps heal bites, stings, and slivers.

Yarrow flowers: this lovely wildflower is a potent styptic [fancy for, "it stops bleeding"] that is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and astringent. Used for healing wounds, bruises, and sprains. Not to be taken internally when pregnant because of its uterine-stimulating properties. Occasionally causes allergic rash.

Additional Herbs

Clover flowers: Nutrient-dense clover covers our backyard and the bees, bunnies, and birds all enjoy it. It’s good for the skin too and aids in healing eczema and psoriasis.

Echinacea flowers/leaves/stems: this beautiful and powerful flower is one of the best-loved herbs. The anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties of echinacea also make it a good choice for external ailments.

Rosemary: a mild analgesic, rosemary is helpful in fighting inflammation. Plus, it smells amazing.

(For more information about these herb–plus tons of other wonderful herbal remedies- check out two of my favorite herbs books: Medicinal Herbs and 10 Essential Herbs )

Many of the herbs you can grow or harvest yourself (not many people plant plantain!) If you don’t have them in your yard or garden the Bulk Herb Store and Mountain Rose Herbs are good sources.

Once you’ve picked your herbs of choice, the hard part is over. Now it’s time to make an oil.

May be linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeWorks for MeWalking RedeemedGraced SimplicityFabulously Frugal & Simple Lives

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

5 Ways to Foster Your Child’s Imagination

The average American parent spends hundreds of dollars on toys for their children each year, but the grandest of all “toys” is simply a well-developed imagination. Imagination turns sticks into swords, or spoons, or paddles, or a fire to warm your hands in the deep forest under the picnic table.

From my limited experience, imagination comes pretty naturally to children. My desire as a mom is to foster it and channel it toward what is good and true and beautiful.

Drawing from the excellent tongue-in-cheek advice in Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Childthese are a few ways I’m seeking to help my children’s imagination blossom.

Five simple ways to foster your child's imagination

One of the highlights of Will’s summer has been catching and playing with frogs

Read good stories

Stories ignite our imagination and shape our affections.

Sometimes imaginative play is lackluster. Sometimes it borders on depressive or mean or ugly.

Make time to pour in more good stories: stories where good conquers evil, where true beauty is magnified, and truth is vindicated. Read stories that aspire to the noble and embrace the adventure in common things. (Here is a growing list of our favorite picture storybooks.)

Turn off the electronics

In his poetic rant against the television Roald Dahl claimed the TV

… ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND…

Sometimes a movie is just the sanity-saving “babysitter” I need. With few exceptions though, electronics promote passive reception, not active imagination.

Maybe my kids are just weird, but even a short video dramatically decreases their ability to entertain themselves.

Send them outside

Sometimes my kids drag their feet when I tell them it’s time to go outside to play. The funny thing is, it usually only takes five minutes in the great outdoors to become totally engrossed in play.

So, when they don’t want to play outdoors, I tell them to play for ten minutes and then I’ll let them come back inside. I can count on one hand the amount of times they’ve wanted to.

Let them get bored

Don’t fill your schedule with so many structured activities and planned play dates that they don’t have time to just be kids.

Don’t always micromanage everything

Have you ever read a kid’s book from decades ago and been shocked at the free-reign children were given (and how maturely they often handled it)?

My tendency is to be a mother-hen type mom. Joshua wisely encouraged me that it’s okay to let them learn to play together without my constant interaction.

Let them figure out their own games. Let them make up their own stories. Let them practice working together. Let them learn to say “please” and “sorry” without needing your reminder.

How do you foster your child’s imagination? 

  May be linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeHealthy 2Day ,Works for MeWalking RedeemedGraced SimplicityFabulously Frugal & Simple Lives

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

Yarrow: Herbal Highlight

I am so excited to start a new feature here at Feminine Adventures, highlighting a herb each month.

Yarrow: herbal highlight
Lovely pink or white yarrow blossoms bloom as weeds in most temperate climates, and are incredibly useful “free herbs” (photo credit)

This month’s herb is widespread, beautiful, and one that I had never heard of until reading about it in one of my favorite herb books: 10 Essential Herbs.

Since then, I’ve seen yarrow referenced dozens of times. What makes this lovely wayside “weed” so special to herbalists?

Yarrow is a mildly bitter herb that cleanses the blood, builds the immune system, and stimulates OR relaxes depending on what the body needs.

It is also a potent styptic [fancy for, "it stops bleeding"] that is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and astringent, making it an excellent herb to use in green salves for healing bumps and bruises.

Yarrow Flower - Cut, Organic

Grow or wild harvest yarrow, or purchase high-quality dried yarrow from the Bulk Herb Store

I am not a doctor or a nurse. The only hospital I have ever worked at is a doll hospital. There, a band-aid can cure a heart attack. As always, please do you own research and talk to your health care provider if your condition is serious. 

Our summer has been full of late nights and exhausted mornings. I get headaches if I drink coffee very often (and don’t want to get addicted to it anyway), but I needed to do something about the morning sluggishness.

After reading in 10 Essential Herbs that yarrow makes an excellent pick-me-up tonic I decided to give it a try.

Each night, before I go to bed, I drink a small glass of yarrow tea [Since I'm lazy, I brew a big batch and keep the leftovers in the fridge to drink over ice.] Despite getting even less sleep than usual lately, I wake up with more energy than usual.

When the books say “mildly bitter” I’m not sure what they mean. This stuff is bitter. But waking up without feeling like a train had run over me is totally worth it.

Safety factors: Yarrow is normally considered safe though there are occasional cases of allergies to it. Since it stimulates the uterine muscles, it isn’t recommended during early pregnancy (though it’s often used by midwives during labor).

  May be linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeHealthy 2Day ,Works for MeWalking RedeemedGraced SimplicityFabulously Frugal & Simple Lives

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]