Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Bar Soap

We made the switch to Dr Bronner’s castille soap a few years ago and have happily never looked back. 

Both Dr Bronner’s liquid and bar versions leave our skin refreshed, moisturized, yet still squeaky clean.
When we visit family or stay at hotels with regular antibacterial soap, in no time, our hands develop hang nails and our skin starts cracking and desperately craving moisture. Dr Bronner’s is so gentle and perfectly meets our skin’s needs so when we come across a harsh soap, we can easily tell the difference.

Shop my other beauty recommendations here.

Josh Garrels - Words Remain

Aaron and I are hardcore Josh Garrels fans.  He loves the Lord and it's obvious he receives Divine inspiration. Take a listen and let me know what you think.

Link Love 11/29/16

1. A sophisticated yet colorful living room transformation that'll inspire you.
2. An excellent article from Dr. Dobson about the fatigue to which most wives are susceptible.
3. I'm such a sucker for metal embellishments and this might be one of my favorite styles.
4. What popular music is doing to our culture - it's not pretty.
5. BBQ sauce is a favorite condiment for many, so why not learn how to make a healthy version?
6. Reed diffusers are great because they don't require fire or electricity, but they tend to be expensive.  Try making your own with this DIY version.

One of the best Pro-life speeches EVER! Gianna Jessen abortion survivor ...

Here's a phenomenal testimony by abortion survivor Gianna Jessen.  When the world, the enemy, tells you who you are or what you owe or what to say or how to think, just say what Jessen says, "I don't belong to you.  I belong to Christ."

Sometimes we feel hated by everyone, but when we know Who our Father is and Who died for us in our place, we are reminded that we are loved.

Acts 1:11

this image is not mine, if you originated it, or if you know the originator, please let me know
“'Men of Galilee,' they said, 'why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!'”

Acts 1:11 (NLT)

Link Love 11/24/16

1. If you can't see and clean every part of your child's sippy cup, they may be at risk for mold exposure.
2. A simple art project to do with your kids that yields beautiful results.
3. Click here if you're still on the hunt for the best red lipstick shade for you.
4. Looking for a sleek, modern, and Instagram-worthy coffee table?  I dare you not to fall in love with this.
5. Can't find the shoes that would be perfect for your wardrobe?  Consider designing them yourself.
6. A healthy and simple snack to satiate chocolate cravings.

W311 People Mascara & Eyeliner

I’ve been using W311 People’s Foundation and concealer stick on my under eye circles for about one year now. Recently,  I decided it’s time to try more of W311 People’s offerings because I’m such a fan of their foundation stick and I love their clean and cruelty-free convictions.
Do not be fooled by my smug grin, I do not like taking photos of myself, but I did so you can see how the mascara and eyeliner look on me.  You're welcome ;)
I purchased the W311 People Expressionist Bio-Extreme Mascara as well as the Hypnotist Eyeliner in black.

I find the mascara to be buildable without getting clumpy. The hard bristle brush finds eyelashes I didn’t realize I had and does a great job of spreading and defining. My lashes need volume and lengthening help. The Expressionist Mascara revealed eyelashes and helped mine keep a curl, however I found myself putting on a few individual falsies after taking the above selfie so my eyes could have more oomph.

The highly pigmented eyeliner is creamy and glides easily. This is very important to me because I’m trying to keep wrinkles at bay and I want absolutely no tugging when I apply eyeliner.

Both W311 People’s Expressionist Bio-Extreme Mascara as well as the Hypnotist Eyeliner have decent staying power. No touch ups were necessary throughout the day. I would purchase the eyeliner again but I will continue sampling other mascaras for my great volume search.

Shop my other cosmetic suggestions here!

Jonathan McReynolds - Limp

Lately, Jonathan McReynolds' album is the first thing I put on when my boys and are getting ready in the morning.  Great lyrics to help start our day.  Take a listen and you'll see why.

How Wool Affects Your Hair

Before moving to California, my friend was a hair stylist for many years in Chicago. After observing me scuttling from my car into our office building one day, wind whipping my free flowing hair all about my pea coat, she gave me a heads up that I’ll always remember…

She told me that wool coats and wool scarves will not only deplete moisture from hair, but the friction with wool will also cause breakage. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I need are more split ends.

I just wanted to pass this info along in case you ladies were unaware.

Five Photos - 11/18/16

I hope you had a great week.  For me, there were lots of hikes and too many sweets as evidenced below...
Max, exploring in the rain.  It seems like it was just yesterday that he was perpetually strapped to my chest in his Ergo carrier, sound asleep with his pacifier.

This is the only candy we allow our boys to have.  I've talked about them on the blog before.  The ingredients are clean, vegan, and lack artificial dyes!  The only problem I have with them is sharing ;)

Our oil diffuser (first mentioned here) is always going on and it's wonderful to walk into a fresh and sweet lavender scented room.

RIP to my most favorite mug in the world that smashed on the kitchen floor.

We got this strawberry cheesecake puffed corn at the local fall festival and it's so incredibly delicious, it almost lessens the guilt of eating corn and processed sugar (two huge no-nos in our household).

James 2:14-26

this image is not mine, if you originated it, or if you know the originator, please let me know
We do not earn our way in to Heaven, our choices, however, show who is in our heart.  Does your browser history reflect that you love the Lord?

"What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, 'You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."

James 2:14-26

Link Love 11/17/16

1. Read this article before you stress yourself out on your child's development timeline.
2. Most people don't enjoy cleaning, so saving money on supplies helps lessen the blow.
3. A pretty DIY to consider doing for the upcoming holiday stationary.
4. Jesus wasn't weighed down by worldly possessions, here are some reasons why you shouldn't too.
5. I make fruit leather every other day.  It's that easy, healthy, and tasty.  Here's where I learned how to do it.
6. Are you aware of your possible aluminum consumption?  Read this and find out why we need to keep it a minimum.

Psalm 100:5

Having my own family helps me understand love much better.
For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.”
Psalm 100:5 (NLT)

A lot of people picture God as a frowning humbug, eager to shake His finger at us or worse, quick to completely walk away out of frustration. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

I used to think this of the Lord until I started reading the Bible with regularity. If you find yourself doubting God’s love for you, read more of the Word. Glean truth straight from the source (the Bible) and you’ll see the Lord’s heart – that He loves you, always and no matter what.

Psalm 100:5 reminds us that God’s love endures, it’s not conditional. The Lord loves us not because we deserve it, instead, He loves because His love is unfailing. He loves us because He says He loves us. There’s nothing we can do to make Him stop loving us. 

Walk confidently today in knowing that if you've repented from sin and believe that Jesus is your savior, you're a child of God and He loves you more than you can ever imagine - and there's nothing you can do to change that.

In Place of Laundry Detergent

Up until a few years ago, I had very sensitive skin. The tiniest irritants triggered bright red hives. My tailor sweetly compared me to The Princess and the Pea. It felt so much worse than that though. Not only did the itching keep me awake, but it pestered me throughout the day.

Throughout the years, I started opting for the gentlest cosmetics and body care products I could find. I had pretty decent options everywhere except laundry detergent.

The synthetic scents from the detergents gave me headaches and pretty much every article of clothing still irritated my skin despite the detergent’s gentle claims.

I decided to try a combination of my trusty Liquid Dr Bronner’s and essential oils. Tea Tree, because of it’s anti fungal properties and lavender to repel moths and because it’s Aaron’s favorite scent.
Here’s my formula for one medium-large load of laundry…
1 Tablespoon of liquid Dr Bronner’s soap (unscented)
6 Drops tea tree essential oil
8 Drops lavender essential oil

The laundry comes out clean and fresh-smelling, plus I know our “detergent” is gentle and most likely not the culprit if any of us have a skin or allergy issue.

I will say, I believe my chiropractor, as well as going paleo for a time, in addition to this laundry “recipe” is what curbed my sensitive skin. However, I’ll happily stick with my Dr Bronner’s and essential oil concoction because it gets the job done for a fraction of the price of regular laundry detergent.

Have you tried any laundry detergent alternatives? If so, I’d love to hear your “recipes.”

Click here to shop more of my recommendations for the home.

Tamela Mann - Take Me to the King

Legalism is always trying to take our attention off the Lord an onto petty things.  That's why this song continually ministers to me.

Pacifica Perfume Roll-On

There are many reasons to avoid traditional perfumes and colognes with synthetic fragrances. If you’re not ready to create your own fragrances with essential oils, there are some great smelling yet much safer options out there.  I like wearing Pacifica Roll-On perfumes. They smell wonderful and totally lack that fake chemical smell that comes with traditional department store fragrances.
I prefer roll on perfumes because it’s easier for me to layer fragrances as well as control how much I’m wearing. Plus, they’re extremely portable.

Keep in mind, whenever you’re wearing a fragrance that has alcohol (most fragrances): alcohol dries the skin and repetitive placement in that location will make your skin thin and “crepy.” This is why I roll the perfume onto my wrists and behind my ears. I never apply it onto my neck.
 I’ve mentioned before that vanilla is my favorite scent, but with Pacifica, I have a hard time choosing. All their scents smell so wonderful.
Have you tried anything by Pacifica?  If so, what's your favorite scent?

Shop more of my favorite cosmetics here.

Luke 16:10

Max, checking out kayakers on our latest hike
“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.”
Luke 16:10 (NASB)

Do you ever feel like you’re on the brink of something? Like, you can sense that Lord is about to open a door for you and your new chapter is about to begin? I’m right there and I’ve been praying like crazy about it.

Yesterday,  I was talking to God about this, and I asked Him what He wants me to do in anticipation. “How can I prepare, Lord? What do I do? “Almost immediately, Luke 16:10 came to mind. It was very clear – “be faithful in the small things.”

Why would the Lord open a new and exciting door for me with big responsibilities and tasks if I’m not patient with my teething baby? Or quick to wrath with the driver in front of me? Or not kind and respectful to my husband, my partner in life?

If we want to be used in mighty ways for God’s Kingdom, we must remember to be faithful in the little things. That’s how we let the Lord shine. Because really, He’s the one doing all the work anyway. We just get to be a part of it.

Essential Oil Diffuser

My friends in the natural community have been telling me to get an essential oil diffuser for a while but I kept putting it off because I didn’t understand how my family and I could be benefited.

We decided to start off with lavender in order to utilize it’s calming benefits.  We use our diffuser alongside these for even more health benefits.  In addition, the house smells amazing!  I’ve been using essential oils for years in teas, tinctures, skin salves, hair care, cleaning, etc and I’m kicking myself for not diffusing oils sooner.

Would You Like to Work for a Christian Company? 11/13/16

Too many people catch a case of the "Sunday Blues" once a week. This is when depression sets in on Sunday evening in anticipation of another work week. If this is you, perhaps your calling is with a Christian company that boldly follows the Lord.  Keep reading below for three Christian companies who have plenty of open positions right now.

As of right now, Crista Ministries has 55 open positions.  Aside from two, all are in Washington.

Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale has over one dozen open positions right now.  Almost all of them are in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Currently, Miracle Hill Ministries has one dozen open positions

River Pointe Church has nine full and part time open positions as of now.

Below are some jobs I randomly pulled from these Christian companies' sites that may interest you...

Song of Solomon 2:7

“Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and wild deer, not to awaken love until the time is right.”
Song of Solomon 2:7 (NLT)

This photo was taken of Aaron and me the day we started courting back in 2010. Little did we know, that exactly one year later, we would marry.

I had never met anyone like Aaron, yet my heart recognized him when we met. It was very difficult not to get caught up in the moment while we were courting. During this time, I often meditated on Song of Solomon 2:7 because I did not want to rush anything. I wanted to do this the right way by allowing God to lead.

If you’re currently or potentially courting, please memorize this verse and live by it. Trust that the Lord’s will for you is better than you can ever imagine.

Five Photos 11/11/16

A huge thank you to all our veterans!  Thank you for our freedoms and safety!  I pray you get to relax today with loved ones.

Here in southern California, we're starting to experience cooler mornings and evenings and occasionally, an entire day or two throughout the week where the temps stay in the low seventies.  To say I'm anxious for fall is an understatement.  We got one day of rain this past week and you can be sure we enjoyed it by going on a family hike.
Here are some shots I took throughout the week...
I just realized that the items I always keep within an arm's reach have something in common.

Aaron and I, enjoying our one hour of rain for the week.

Taking advantage of the last watermelons of the season by making watermelon, blueberry, and lemon juice every morning.

If you look closely, you'll see a lizard taking a wagon ride with Miles (it's perched on the ledge between the two cup holders).

We're greeted with this fall-festive view from our balcony.

A walking stick and an acoustic guitar - sums up our family pretty well.

Mark 16:15-16

this image is not mine, if you originated it, or if you know the originator, please let me know
Yes!  Lol!

"And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned."
Mark 16:15-16 (NLT)

Link Love 11/10/16

Here are some links I bookmarked this week…
1. A great article about Jesus working on our "emotional scar tissue."
2. Classic Ikea essentials for everybody.
3. This is the most simple-looking cookie recipe I've ever seen and it's flour-less!
4. Finland's interesting approach to educating kindergarteners is a sharp contrast to the U.S.
5. I'm all heart eyed emoji over my dream home.
6. Throw out all your dangerous non stick cookware and get yourself this.

How to be a Christian

After reading and becoming intrigued with the Sermon on the Mount, Gandhi went to church…or, he tried, at least.  You see, he couldn't even ascend the steps and cross the threshold into the building without being threatened by one of the "Christian" elders. Gandhi was told that if he didn't leave, he would be thrown down the stairs.

"That's horrible!  I'd never do anything like turn someone away at the church doors," you say.  Have you ever passed over the homeless because it's a really inconvenient time?  Have you ever listened quietly as a heretic teaches non existent or out of context scripture?  Have you ever stopped talking with someone because they no longer attend the same church building as you?  Have you ever published your Facebook post anyway even though you know your heart wasn't speaking in love?  Have you ever said something to someone that wasn't truthful, uplifting, and necessary?  Have you ever made fun of someone at their expense?

I don't know about you, but I'm guilty of most of these things and more.  I've turned Gandhi off from Christianity.  I've misrepresented Jesus.  I've prolonged someone's pain and bondage and I've reiterated their refusal in accepting the One who can heal, forgive, and offer eternal life.  

What can we do to properly represent Jesus and encourage others to follow Him?  

First, we need to repent.  Read Exodus 20 and turn away from what God calls sin.  Does this mean we're going to be perfect?  Nope.  Strong Christians still sin.  Until we're in Heaven, we're in fallen bodies.  It should be noted that some people (not Christians) are comfortable in their sin.  They'll keep signing up for it without remorse. This is alarming in that if the Holy Spirit is actually inhibiting you as He does with Christians - He will convict you when you sin.  He will make you uncomfortable with your sin, nudging (but never forcing) you to repentance.  If you're ever comfortable with sinning, make sure you immediately have a heart to heart with the Lord.

Next, we need to do what we're commanded in Matthew 22:36-40. We must love God above all and then love others the way we love ourselves.  This covers all of God's commandments and ensures we're treating people the way Jesus does.  Never underestimate love.  There's nothing more powerful.  If you want to do incredible things for the Lord's kingdom, always lead with love, like Jesus.

Finally, we must find out who Jesus is.  How do you get to know someone?  You spend time with them.  You listen to them.  You pontificate their words, actions, and steps.  We must read the Bible and talk with Jesus (pray).  When I was surrounded by legalism a while back, I read scripture involving how Jesus handled the Pharisees and conducted Himself around them.  Studying how Jesus responds to my situation helps me understand Him on a deeper level.

Can you imagine the incredible impact we would have on the world if every Christian acted like Christ?  I, for one, will be praying for the Lord to instill in me more love and patience for others, as well as self control over my speech.  Wherever you are in your walk with the Lord, I'm sure you would agree that we all need to be more like Him.  It seems as if every zeitgeist is more volatile than the last.  That means everyone - believer and non believer, equally, needs Jesus' love.

TruJoy Sweets Organic Fruit Chews

Aaron and I do not allow Max and Miles to consume artificial food dyes for a few reasons.  This is why I was so excited to discover this sweet vegan treat that has no artificial dyes and flavors, nor corn syrup.

TruJoy Sweets Organic Fruit Chews are so good and we are totally on board with the ingredients list: Organic brown rice syrup, organic dried cane syrup, organic palm oil*, organic tapioca, maltodextrin, organic powdered sugar, citric acid, organic apple juice, natural flavors, colors added (organic turmeric or organic vegetable juice, organic beet juice), organic rice extract, ascorbic acid, organic orange oil. *Sustainably sourced

Trey McLaughlin - In Awe of You

This song is such a wonderfully sweet message to sing to our Lord and Savior.  God is good.  Let's bless Him today.

Himalayan Natural Crystal Salt Rock

Technology brings so much convenience to our lives.  That's why you can't walk into a typical American household without spotting at least one dozen helpful devices.  Some wireless electronic equipment, however, can also cause us harm like headaches, tumors, and fatigue.  This is a huge reason we use Himalayan salt crystals.  I noticed I always feel extremely tired and irritable after spending a long period of time in our office.  That's when I realized how much electronics are in that small room - laptop, wireless desktop monitor, charging phone and tablet, and printer/scanner.  I can't imagine this is unlike most people's homes that I know.
Himalayan natural crystal salt rocks offer many benefits like air purifying and allergy fighting. 

I went with these salt rocks instead of a Himalayan natural crystal salt rock lamp so I could pair them with my beeswax candles for double the health benefits.  There isn't much of a scent to either the candles or the salt rocks, so when we're in the mood for lavender or vanilla, we use this.

Let me know if you've tried out these salt crystals.  Or if you've simply tried out unplugging. :)

God is ALWAYS Good

It's been over 23 years since a freak accident took the lives of my two best friends (aged 10 at the time). At the memorial for one of my friends, I saw her family praising Jesus despite their sorrow. They knew that my friend is in Heaven and they had hope that through Him, they'll see her once again. They smiled through tears and took comfort with a loving God. 

This day, this accident, my friend, her family, the God they love and trust, are the reasons my family changed its eternal direction (Hallelujah!). 

Seasons change, yet God is always good.

My Beauty Staple - Apple Cider Vinegar

One of my biggest health and beauty workhorses is apple cider vinegar. Bragg, in particular, because theirs is organic and contains the mother (proteins, enzymes, and friendly bacteria).

Although the taste is strong, I love making dressing out of Bragg’s ACV. I’ll wisk it with olive oil, salt, and garlic powder, usually. ACV is so healthy, I try to consume it everyday. I usually do so by stirring a tablespoon into a glass of water and drink that.

As for beauty, I use apple cider vinegar as a facial toner. I dab a cotton ball into one part ACV and one part water and rub all over my face, jaw, neck, and chest. My pores are cleaned out and prepped for moisturizer.  ACV also brightens and moisturizes skin.  Human skin is slightly acidic which is why ACV or diluted ACV is a great toner.  I also love to rinse my hair with apple cider vinegar. It’s one of the best and least expensive detanglers and hair conditioners ever and the smell fades as it dries.

It’s also worth mentioning that I bathe Miles in diluted apple cider vinegar (one quarter cup in a bathtub full of water) and it really calms his eczema.

Are you a fellow lover of apple cider vinegar?  How do you use it?