Putting Off and Putting On

I regularly receive articles via my google reader from the Doorposts of Your House blog. If, like us, you home educate, they have a fantastic character building curriculum for boys and girls. They are totally on my amazon wishlist, but slightly beyond our means financially right now. I do mean to own them one day though, and when I do you'll be getting a review on here, I promise!

Anyway, right now the Doorposts blog have been talking about 'putting off and putting on'. It's too easy to slip into focusing only on what our children should not be doing, and forgetting to replace the sinful actions with godly ones. How many times as a child did you feel like your parents/teachers/other responsible adult had told you not to do so many things that the only way to please them would be if you sat as still as a statue and did nothing? I felt like that often, and looking back my parents must have been exasperated by my behaviour. But what if instead of just saying, 'don't pour all the cleaning products into the sink and try to replicate George's marvellous medicine!' someone had said, 'don't pour out all those cleaning products; why don't you put on some rubber gloves and I'll show you how to clean the shower?' I would have been better occupied, and less resentful.
Photo credit
It's hard work, and it takes a lot of parenting time and effort, but it's totally worth it. The devil finds work for idle thumbs is so true with children. If they are not given meaningful tasks they will find all kids of trouble to get into! I'm not advocating forced chores and child labour, but generally children are interested in how to do things, and most would willingly (if not perfectly) mop the kitchen floor if you gave them the opportunity (there's still joy in practicing adult skills whilst they are small).

Today Doorposts have a freebie bible study for you on humility. This is a great study to share with your whole family, about taking off self-centerdness and pride, and putting on a humble attitude. It's not easy to do, but the bible promises some great things to a humble person; favor (provrebs 3:34), wisdom (prov 11:2), riches, honor and life (prov 22:4), exaltation (1 peter 5:6) and the ability to get on with others (1 samuel 25).

Focus on Fortaleza, Brazil

This week in our compassion prayer diary we will be focusing on Fortaleza, Brazil. With a population of 2.3 million people Fortaleza is a vibrant and beautiful city; however severe poverty and the sex industry are major problems. You can read more about the problems in this BBC report.

Praise God for the growing church community and expanding economy in Brazil. Pray for the Compassion Brazil staff who are working to keep the children they minister to away from the dangers of the streets and please pray against the oppressive hold that prostitution has on Fortaleza.

Naturally Flavoured Water

Massive thanks to my friend Sarah over at StayingAwake for pinning this awesome, real food,  tutorial from the Yummy Life.  

We've been on GAPS for a while now, and apart from the odd glass of dry wine when socialising, we only drink water; so the watermelon and lime flavoured water I made yesterday was an absolute treat. She says in the tutorial that it tastes better the next day, but we wouldn't know because we drank it all.

I'm pretty sure the nutritional content is low, because the vitamins etc... in the fruit spoil, but if you want a cleansing drink you should juice fresh anyway. This is just a flavour enhancer for your water, so don't get all upset about it not having been juiced in the last 30 minutes, okay?

I can't wait to try out some more flavours and fruit/herb combinations. We have been growing blackcurrant sage, pineapple mint and chocolate peppermint for just such a time as this!

It's also going to be a great way to use very small crops of fruit that some of our immature bushes (blackcurrant and redcurrant in particular) are just starting to bear. In a big jar of flavoured water the whole family and maybe some friends will get to taste.

I know some of you are thinking 'surely it's cheaper to just buy flavoured water?' and you'd be right. It is (unless I get the fruit and herbs from my own garden), but have you checked the ingredients list on your flavoured water? It's not pretty. If you are interested in why you shouldn't be drinking it, there's a short article here.

And finally, I tweeted a blog post this morning on feeding vs cleansing, by Dr Natasha Campbell- McBride*. It's a great over view of what makes good nutrition and how to listen to your body for your needs, not advertising companies. The first rule of real food - if it needs a marketing campaign, it's not food.

Click on the image to see a larger version of this infographic
:GMO’s: It’s Hard To Find Real Food

*Dr Campbell-McBride is one of the world's leading autism specialists and wrote the book 'Gut And Psychology Syndrome' which is essential to anybody planning to embark on the GAPS diet.

Small change: homemade febreeze

Small changes can make big differences to how welcoming your home is. You and your family spend plenty of time there, so making a few small habits can go a long way to bless you all.

Today's small change - homemade febreeze.

I love febreeze, it's so great for freshening up sofa's and curtains without having to take them all part and wash them.

As we've been on GAPS though, and attempting to cut down on chemicals in our lives, febreeze is something I don't consider essential, so it had to go.

However, you can make a lovely chemical free version, and because you blend your own essential oils into it, you can have any fragrance you like!

Here's the recipe:

1 cup of water
1/3 cup of white vinegar
1 tbsp cheap vodka
1 tbsp baking soda
10-15 drops essential oil

Compassion Ambassadors

Compassion is blessed with a number of speakers, musicians and recording artists whose passion for justice and serving the poor has led them to become ambassadors for their charity. In fact is was through a concert that I first sponsored a child with compassion.

This week praise God for the talents and ministries that He has given to these people; praise Him for blessing Compassion with such amazing spokespeople for the cause of children in poverty; and finally please pray that God's favour will continue to rest on their work and that He would use them to release many more children from poverty.

Honey Caramel Syrup

Great on waffles or pancakes, here is my favourite, GAPS friendly, real food, syrup.

You will need:
1.5 cups of buttermilk
1.5 cups of honey
1/2 a cup of butter
2 vanilla pods

Split the vanilla pods and scrape out the seeds.
In  a large pan, bring the place the vanilla pods, honey, buttermilk and butter to the boil and allow to boil for about 7 minutes. This allows the honey to reach 'balling' point where it gets all sticky and candy like.
Remove the vanilla pods and discard (or add to your homemade vanilla stash)
Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla seeds that you have scraped from the split pods.

Try not to lick the spoon straight away, it's really hot. 

Small change: scented loo roll

Small changes can make big differences to how welcoming your home is. You and your family spend plenty of time there, so making a few small habits can go a long way to bless you all.

Today's small change - scented loo roll.

Not the expensive, chemical filled kind though.

Stick to your normal paper, just add a few drops of essential oil into the cardboard in the middle, and you'll get a lovely waft every time you grab a sheet.

I like citrus type oils in my bathroom (lime and bergamot are favourites) although eucalyptus, lavender and marjoram can work really well too.

First Aid

For those who don't know, we had quite a scare this week. My 11 week old nephew just stopped breathing, for no apparent reason.

He was however, fortunate for a number of reasons:
  1. We were walking and my sister had him in a sling, so she noticed quickly. Had he been in bed asleep it would have been a different story.
  2. I had worked as a lifeguard many years ago, and was able to start CPR procedure quickly.
  3. We were on a US military base at the time, and we had professionals to take over in under 20 seconds and a military ambulance with us in under a minute.
Jonathon is fine and now at home with his family again, but it was a scary few hours for everyone, particularly the children, who were convinced I was trying to hurt baby Jon. 

It's got me thinking that I really need to brush up on my first aid skills, and I'd urge you all to do the same. These skills are not difficult, we teach them to 16 year olds when we give them a minimum wage job watching a pool. You can learn them easily, and you might save a life - most likely of someone you know. 

Nothing beats signing up for a training course, but even if you can't afford to do that, knowing something is better than nothing. Even CPR done incorrectly can save a life and hospitals can usually reverse any damage you do. Broken ribs heal, and vomiting/pneumonia from incorrect breaths can be monitored, and bruising is virtually inevitable. Doing nothing will always lead to death. 

Vinnie Jones has done a video for the British Heart Foundation which shows you the basics of 'Hands only' CPR. This is useful for a victim who is suffering a heart attack, but not necessarily not breathing.

You can read up to date information on CPR with rescue breaths on the NHS website here.
They also have information on how to put someone in the recovery position and how to deal with some common first aid emergencies.

First aid for babies is a video produced by the NHS that I would encourage any parent to watch through.

The Benefits of Exercise

Me and Exercise have a love hate relationship. Sometimes we're obsessed, then we seem to forget about each other and the longer we leave it the harder it is to make up.

Since I've been on GAPS I've lost over 3 stone, and people keep saying to me 'have you been exercising a lot?' and whilst I'd love to say yes, the honest answer is no.

The thing about GAPS is that it is a ketogenic diet, which means you are permanently in ketosis or 'the fat burning zone'. My glucose loving friends might have to exercise for 20 minutes to get there, but I feel like I already did that when I start exercising - which isn't really that fun.

Several GAPS forums I've chatted on all say the same thing - it is really hard to exercise on GAPS.

Hard, but not impossible.

I'm starting the Couch to 5K program again, and this time I'm doing it with a friend which will hopefully keep me going. Unfortunately, she is not on GAPS and despite having done no exercise for a year is considerably less exhausted at the end of our workout, but I figure that is probably a good thing, she'll keep me working harder.

So here is my list of motivational reasons to exercise, as much to inspire myself as you:

1. Exercise boosts your metabolic rate so that you burn more calories throughout your every day life, which will help you to stay slimmer.

2. Exercise improves your fitness levels and means you can get more done and be less tired at the end of the day - allowing you to do a full day of homeschooling and still have some energy left to enjoy time with your husband after the kids go to bed!

3. Exercise tones and strengthens your muscles - so you can have nice looking arms, instead of sagginess from your weight loss.

4. Exercise burns fat.

5.  Exercise increases levels of the good cholesterol, HDL, which your body needs.

6. Exercise improves the control of blood sugar (good news for people who tend to snack a lot like me)

7. Exercise improves sleep patterns, no need for nytol (even this herbal remedy contains sugar and gave me stomach cramps when I took some the other night).

8. Exercise increases the amount of blood flow to the skin, making it look and feel healthier.

9. Exercise produces endorphines which make you feel great.

10. You won't feel out of puff when your children ask you to bounce with them on a jumpy castle (this happens at our church a lot). 

Honey Lemonade

Nothing says summer like real lemonade!

So here's how to whip up your own batch.

1. Take 200g of Honey and 1 cup of water and heat gently in a pan until all the honey is dissolved
2. Allow to cool
3. Stir in the juice of 6 lemons and one lime (the lime is optional but gives it a really great flavour)
4. Add lots of ice and serve straight away.

Happy days.

Compassion Events Prayer

Compassion UK are involved in over 120 christian events this summer across the UK and and Ireland. This is an amazing opportunity to raise awareness of an amazing charity to some many people in the church.

Join us in praying for the volunteers who give up their time and represent Compassion and speak for those who cannot speak up for themselves.

Praise God that so many people will hear about the opportunity to change a child's life forever through sponsorship; and finally please pray that many children would find sponsors at these summer events.
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