Intentional Finances: Homemade Laundry Detergent

As I am seeking to be intentional in all areas of life, that means intentional finances, too. I believe that everything I have is God’s, he just entrusts his world and his resources to me, including my finances. So I want to be the best steward of our money as I can be! That means seeking to live a frugal life and finding creative ways to save money!

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For a while now, my husband and I have been interested in making our own homemade laundry detergent. We’ve heard that making your own cuts down on costs and gives you the control over what chemicals go into your wash. Since our store-bought soap is almost out, we decided it was the perfect time to try our hand at it.

I spent a little time online looking up various recipes and tips about it. I found a lot of great information out there, especially since many people nowadays are choosing to make homemade detergent as a way to live a more natural life. After comparing multiple sources of information, this is the basic recipe I found across the board:


Homemade Powder Laundry Detergent

 

Ingredients:

1 bar laundry bar soap (Such as Zote, Fels-Nephta, Ivory, Dr. Bronners)

1 box Washing Soda

1 box Borax

(All of these ingredients were found in the laundry aisle at our grocery store)

 

Directions:

1. Grate the bar of laundry soap with a cheese grater. We chose to use pink Zote soap. Smells pretty good! For grating, I placed a sheet of wax paper down to catch the grated bits.

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DSCN0082The shavings look like confetti!

2. In a large bowl, combine 2 parts borax & 2 parts washing soda to 1 part soap. Our soap was 14.1 oz (according the wrapper) so we measured out 28 oz of both borax & washing soda (using our liquid measuring cup). Mix together with a spoon.

DSCN0083Such a handsome guy!

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3. Blend mixture in a blender or food processor. We used our Magic Bullet and blended about 1 cup at a time. This will create a fine powder that will easily dissolve in cold water loads. Place powder in a sealed container. We used an empty plastic canister.

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DSCN0088I feel like Vanna White, modeling the finished product. 😉

 

How to use:

For small loads use 1 Tablespoon, for medium use 2 Tablespoons, and for large loads use 3 Tablespoons.

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We decided to give it a try right away. My husband actually said, “Now I’m excited to do the laundry”! Haha. Looks like it worked great and our clothes smell nice and fresh!

 

In total, we made 140 Tablespoons of detergent. How many loads this lasts us will just depend on what size of loads we run. This amount would make about 140 small loads, 70 medium loads, or 46 large loads. From my estimations, it cost us $4.21 to make this batch.

Kevin and I will keep tally of how many loads we get out of our batch and I’ll update with the final numbers. But if my estimations are correct, we are definitely saving money!

 

Today we priced some other detergents at Wal-Mart. Here are the prices we found (these are all liquid detergents):

50 small loads Purex $3.97

100 small loads Purex $6.97

64 small loads Tide $4.97

25 small loads Gain $4.97

 

Have fun making your own detergent! This is just one of many ways to be intentional in your finances.

Purpose From Pain

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compasion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Beyond the facade that we all put on, we are all struggling with something right now. We are all experiencing hardship or pain. Or, at least, we inevitably will be. Due to sin in the world, we all experience evil and injustice and pain in our lives. Underneath the veneer of a smile that says “I’ve got everything together,” what troubles are you facing right now?

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The Bible has some encouragement for those of us who are struggling (which, is all of us!) — God can bring about a purpose from our pain. Our devo for this week teaches us this important truth: God uses our pain to help others.

We see this from a short passage in 2 Corinthians, verses 3-7. From this passage we learn the process by which God brings a purpose from our troubles.

1. There is hardship

That’s a given. As I said above and in my devo about Psalm 10, because of sin in the world, there is inevitably evil and suffering in the world. But this passage also reminds us that as Christians, we will face hardship for another reason: because the “sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives” (verse 5). Jesus warned that if anyone wants to follow him, he must “deny himself and take up his cross daily” (Luke 9:23). Deciding to follow Christ gives us the greatest gift we could ask for – salvation – but it also means that we will face suffering and persecution as we choose to live in a way that stands at odds with society.

2. God comforts us in our hardship

God is a God of compassion! He will comfort us and sustain us in our time of need. He may not take us out of the situation, but he provides us with just what we need for the day. Just as the psalmist says: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4)

3. God uses the situation to help others

We see that there are a variety of ways that God can use our suffering and comfort to aid others. First, when we are comforted we can encourage others with that same comfort we receive from God. When we experience God’s faithfulness to us in times of trouble, we can tell others about his faithfulness. We can share our own stories and encourage people who are going through anything; “God did this when I was facing this, so I know he will support you, too.”

Second, we can encourage those who experience the same troubles. Many times, those who faced abuse or addiction in their past develop a passion to help others overcome the same struggles. God can use our hardships to encourage people who share the exact same sufferings. “I know exactly the troubles you face; this is how God got me through this/is getting me through it.”

And third, as we press through struggles together, we help others to build up a “patient endurance.” As others see us in our raw moments – barely hanging on by a thread, yet still clinging to God and believing in his promises – we may be God’s instrument to provide that small piece of hope that they need to hang on for one more day. We help them to take one more step, and patiently rely on the faithfulness of God. “Hang on with me, I know that God will come through for us both.”

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When we are far down in the pits of despair,  a “cheer up” card,  pat on the back, or pithy Bible verse isn’t enough to sustain us, it’s the true stories of God’s faithfulness to everyday people. That’s why God gives us the stories of the Bible and the testimonies of believers (present and past) to show us his steadfast love time and time again.

If you are in the middle of some kind of suffering, you might not be able to see how God could bring any good from it. Maybe you will never see “good” come from it. But no matter where you are in the midst of the pain, you can comfort others with the truth of your experience. Even if it sounds something like this, “You know, I know that God is good and that he is faithful, but I can’t see it right now. Even still, I’m holding on to his promises and I’m crying out to him. And I know that he will come through.”

As the Casting Crowns song says, this week let’s be “broken together,” as God brings a purpose from our pain.

 

Challenges for this week:

1. Come clean. Do you cover your life in a veneer of happiness, while you feel like you are broken and empty inside? Maybe this week you need to admit this to a close family member, friend, or a pastor and seek their support.  Or maybe you first need to admit to yourself that you are struggling and need help.

2. Seek God’s comfort. Stop trying to handle things on your own. Seek the guidance of the Father of all compassion. Read through the Psalms. Read the stories of Bible characters who experienced God’s faithfulness (the story of Joseph or Daniel are good ones!). Talk to a trusted Christian friend and ask them how God has sustained them through hard times. Seek the help of a Christian counselor. Pray.

3. Provide comfort. No matter where you are in the struggles you face – deep in the trenches or finally overcoming – you can encourage someone. Tell others how God has been faithful to you. Help someone who is facing the exact trial you faced. Show others how you are hanging on by a thread, sustained by God’s hand. Your honest testimony may just be the words of encouragement someone needs to make it through that day.

 

“On Your Heart”, Part 1: Why Memorize Scripture?

As you may have read in my goals post for this month, I want to have Romans 1 memorized by the end of March.

I think in general, most people would agree, “it’s good to memorize Scripture.” But if we all agree to this, why don’t we do it?

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Can I suggest that maybe the reason we don’t is because we have turned Scripture memorization into an item on a checklist of righteousness without ever actually considering what the Bible, itself, has to say about it? So let’s take a step back look at three passages that speak about Scripture memorization.

Deut 6:1-9

The lesson from this passage is pretty straight-forward. God instructs us to memorize his Word.

Here in Deuteronomy, God has just given the Israelites his commands. From this passage we learn that God gives us his Word to teach us how to live in a way that is holy and pleases him. God wants us to obey his teachings for our own good and well-being. He affirms that following his instruction manual isn’t a way to drag us down but to give us life to the fullest. But simply knowing of his commands isn’t enough; the way to actually carry them out is by memorizing them.

God wants his commands to “be on your hearts.” He says, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (6:6-9)

God, himself, tells us that we should memorize his Word! He knows that the best way to truly follow his Word is to have it stamped on our hearts.

Psalm 119

If you need a reminder of how precious God’s Word is, head on over to Psalm 119. The longest chapter in the Bible, this Psalm is actually a giant acrostic poem of 176 verses all about one thing: the value of Scripture.

(Truly, if you ever wonder why it’s important to know and read the Bible, I challenge you to read this Psalm and write down all the benefits of Scripture you find!)

I’m just going to focus on one verse for today, verse 11. It says “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

This Psalm teaches us that memorizing Scripture is our way to obey God/combat sin.

Matthew 4:1-11

If you still aren’t convinced of this, let’s look at an actual example from the Bible of how Scripture memorization helped to keep one man from sinning.

Our example comes from Christ, himself: “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Satan tempts Jesus three times in the desert. Every time Satan tempts Jesus, Jesus refutes his offer with God’s Word.

I think it’s interesting to note that when Jesus was tempted in the desert, he didn’t rely on his own willpower. What kept Jesus from sinning was the Scripture that was hidden in his heart.

What sin are you struggling with right now? Do you ever think, “I should just be strong enough to resist the temptation.” Or, “I just have to have more willpower next time.” Have you ever considered that if Jesus, Himself – our Savior, the Author and Perfecter of our faith –  didn’t rely on “willpower” to keep from sinning when he was tempted, then maybe we shouldn’t either?

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After considering these passages, I think the Bible is very clear that memorizing Scripture is a crucial way to sustain a holy life in the midst of the temptations we face every day.

How does Scripture actually help us in our day to day lives? Through the Holy Spirit, who “guides us in all truth” (John 16:13). When we do our own part to impress his Word on our hearts, the Holy Spirit will bring those Scriptures to mind at just the right time. When we are faced with temptation, He gently nudges us with God’s Word at the pivotal moment. Every Scripture we memorize primes us to be more in tune with the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our lives.

At this point you might be thinking, “I get this whole Scripture memorization thing theologically, but how can this practically work in my life?” We have doubts that it’s realistically possible in our hectic and over-scheduled lives.

Some common reasonings are

  1. We aren’t good at memorizing Scripture
  2. We’re too old to memorize things anymore
  3. We don’t have the time to
  4. It just sounds like a lot of work!

If you truly believe that what the Bible says about Scripture memorization is true, then don’t let discouraging thoughts hinder you from following through.  If you believe that you aren’t good at memorization, it may just be because you haven’t tried the right method for you. That is why in Part 2, I will be offering some tips and techniques for you to try.

Don’t be discouraged because of your age. Anyone can memorize Scripture, no matter what age. Older people can learn whole new languages, it just takes a little hard work. If you feel like you don’t have time to set aside for memorizing, then I think you just have to be honest and ask yourself, “Is this something that is truly important to me? Do I truly think that God is nudging me to memorize His Word?” If it is meaningful to you, then it’s worth carving time out for. Look at your schedule to find just one activity you could cut out. Then pencil in even just 10-15 minutes a day or a couple nights a week to memory work.

For those who are hesitant to try memorizing Scripture because they think it will be hard, all I can say is, yes it will be! But if what the Bible says is true – that Scripture memorization is crucial for us to live in step with God’s direction – how can we afford not to put in the work?

So, are you convinced yet? If you are still unsure where to start with Scripture memorization, be sure to look for Part 2, all about tips and techniques for memorizing. Together, let’s live an intentional life, starting with embedding God’s Truth in our hearts.

Daddy Issues

“Which of your fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:11-13

There’s something special about giving someone THE gift. That one item they want more than anything else. It’s an incredible feeling when you see their face light up with joy at the sight of THE gift, and you know that you are responsible for their happiness.

This week’s passage probes us to think about how we view God: do we see him as the Almighty Stickler or as a Heavenly Father who relishes in giving gifts?

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Here in the book of Luke, Jesus is teaching about prayer. A few verses earlier, Jesus tells his disciples a parable: a man goes to his friend’s house in the middle of the night, knocks on his door and asks if he can have some bread for a person in need. The man inside the house grumbles, “Go away! The door is locked, it’s the middle of the night!” Yet, the man on the outside keeps knocking over and over and pleads with him, “Please! My friend is in great need of some bread, please help me!” Finally, not because he loves this guy outside, but just to shut him up, the man gives him some bread.

I think that for some of us, our view of God stops here. Sure, we could come to God even with the most heartfelt prayer ever, but God is just up in heaven, shaking his head and grumbling. Maybe he is grumbling because he just doesn’t care about us. Maybe he is shaking his head because he is looking down, seeing everything we’ve done wrong. He brings out his list of all the Sundays we have missed church and points to them. He says to us, “How do you have the audacity of asking me for anything, when you’ve disappointed me so many times?”

I know this because I have felt this way before. Is this how you view God?

Luckily, Jesus’ teaching doesn’t stop there. Jesus proceeds to provide an example of a father here on earth. He asks, “Who knows any loving father who would give his son a scorpion when he asks for an egg?” Of course, the answer is, no father would! We love to give our loved ones exactly what they need!

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After asking his question about earthly fathers, Jesus teaches us that God our heavenly Father. So with that in mind, if even a begrudging man is willing to give his friend some bread, and if even a loving (yet imperfect) father is willing to give his son what he asks for, then HOW MUCH MORE will God, our perfect Father in Heaven, who loves us enough to even sacrifice his own son, HOW MUCH MORE will God give us what we ask for?!

Jesus is teaching us to view God as a Father who cares for us deeply and who delights in giving gifts to his children, not as a stickler who grumbles at our requests.

When I am reminded of that, it changes my whole outlook on prayer! Knowing that we are coming to a Father who loves us, is happy to give us what we ask, and who wants to give us good things changes everything! It means that we are free to share our burdens, hopes, dreams, fears, and requests. It means we can come to God with confidence, not fearfully walking on eggshells. And that we can truly trust when Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you” (Luke 11:9). Praying doesn’t seem so much like a religious ritual to check off my spiritual to-do list, but a precious time of conversation with my Father who loves me. How awesome is that?

But there’s one more thing this passage teaches us about praying…did you notice that in all the examples, the characters were asking for things they needed? They weren’t asking for a new car, another pair of shoes, or the coolest toy, they were asking for bread, eggs, and a fish – essential items for living.

That being said, of course we can ask God for things that we want. But this passage doesn’t teach us, “Ask for all the things you want and God will give them to you.” Instead, it teaches, “Ask God for the things you need, and He will provide.” And in the last part of our Luke verses, we see that God, as our Father, knows that the number one thing we need is the Holy Spirit in our lives when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

This week, let’s live in the freedom that comes when we view God as a loving Father, not as an Almighty Stickler.

Questions for thought:

1. Be honest with yourself and God: do you view God as an Almighty Stickler or as a loving Father? Why do you view God that way? Many times, our view of God is based on our earthly father. Was your father loving and accepting, or always pointing out what you did wrong? Was your father invested in your life or somewhat aloof and distant? Unfortunately, our childhood experiences are often a hurdle to correctly seeing God as a loving Father. Read through verses this week that speak of God’s love and ask yourself, “Do I view God as he really is, or how my father was?” No matter what kind of fatherly experience we had, it is up to us to choose to believe the truth of the Bible instead of the bias of our experiences.

2. How does knowing that God is a loving Father who delights in giving gifts to his children change how you will pray this week? There is freedom in knowing that God loves us!

3. Here on earth, sometimes parents do not give their children everything they ask for, because they can see a bigger picture: perhaps it’s something they want instead of need, perhaps it would be harmful, or perhaps they know that if their child can wait a little longer, they can give them something even greater than what they had asked for. Reflect on how this applies to God as our Heavenly Father and any unanswered prayers in your life.

Verses about God’s love for further reflection:

John 3:16; Romans 8:27-39; Romans 5:6-8; 1 John 3:1; 1 John 3:16; Romans 8:15-17; Psalm 103:1-22; Psalm 91:1-16

Why I’m In Phoenix, In Case You Were Wondering!

In life, there are those people who move from place to place, who travel and see the world, who can’t fit the number of states or countries they’ve lived in on one hand. I’m not that type of person! I’m the person who has lived in one place basically my whole life. Same town, same house, even the same state when I went away to college!

So when Kevin and I announced that we would be moving to Phoenix, Arizona, there were a lot of questions – why are you going there, what’s in Phoenix? And, I don’t mean to say that people asked these questions in a skeptical or unsupportive way. Family and friends were just wondering what was taking us so far away from what we have known and from those who love us.

That’s why I wanted to write this post. I wanted to answer that question of “why”, for all of you who maybe don’t really know why we’re in Phoenix!

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However, for me this answer is two-fold.

First, why are we in Phoenix? As in, what are you doing in Phoenix? For those of you who don’t know, we are here because my husband Kevin was accepted in a Residency Program at a Phoenix church. Residency programs are common in health professional fields, as a final stage in a graduate medical program where physicians can finally receive the hands-on training that isn’t possible in a classroom.

Similar to this, Christ’s Church of the Valley (CCV) decided they wanted to create a residency for Bible college graduates. In Bible college, students receive training on how to interpret the Bible, how to preach, how to lead a church, but there is still so much that can only be learned by doing. Like, how to perform a wedding or funeral, how to make a hospital visit, how to have great first impressions on all church guests, etc. There are some things about ministry that you just don’t know until you do it.

Unfortunately, this can make Bible college graduates under-prepared for the realities of ministry life. They may struggle with unmet expectations, feelings of inadequacy, and the day-to-day pressures of being a pastor, eventually leading to burnout. This is why 85% of all trained pastors leave ministry within the first five years of ministry. Ouch!! That’s not a promising statistic!

This is why CCV created this intensive, hands-on Residency Program, called their Leadership Institute. They have a heart to train the next generation of Christian leaders, and to set them on a healthy start into ministry. Through these first-hand experiences, the Leadership Institude aims to reverse the troubling statistic by sending out church leaders who are prepared for the realities of ministry.

Awesome stuff, huh?! So anyway, that is what we are doing here. Last year Kevin applied for the Leadership Institute, along with about 200 other applicants. He and 35 others were chosen to participate. I’m so proud of him for choosing to come here and do something that is so way out of his comfort zone, and I’m just here along for the ride! But we are both learning a lot from CCV that will forever affect our lives and ministry. I know for a fact that our time here at CCV has honed in on our purpose and vision for our future. But, that’s for another post. 😉

The Residency Program ends in May. Right now the church is helping the Residents to find job placements. Some may be hired at CCV, but most will not. Kevin and I are praying for God to guide us as Kevin looks for jobs – that He will guide our steps and place us exactly where we need to be. We are totally leaving that up to Him!

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So, that answers the first part, what we’re actually doing here in Phoenix. However, there is still another question that I think tugs at some people, “Why are you in Phoenix? As in, why are you willing to leave everything you’ve known? Aren’t there plenty of ministry jobs in Missouri?”

Yes, of course there are opportunites everywhere! But the reason why we are here boils down to a simple truth: God called us to come here, so we listened.

There is one promise from God that has stuck with me since my sophomore year of college. It’s from Luke 18:29-30:

“‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus said to them, ‘no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.'”

I’ve never been able to forget those words and the lesson that comes with them: if we follow where God calls us, even if it means leaving loved ones, He will not fail to provide us with as much as we have left behind.

If we leave our family, God will provide us with family wherever we go: He will provide us with friends like brothers and sisters, mentors like parents, younger people who we can mentor and invest in like our own children. Wherever we go, God will take care of us.

That doesn’t make it any harder to leave behind the people and places that feel like “home,” but I have always trusted in this promise that no matter where God takes us, He will make it a home for us just as much.

And the beauty of it is, God didn’t let us down. He provided exactly who we needed – friends, mentors, helpers, our own little “Phoenix family.” And I know that no matter where He takes us next, He will keep His promise again.

So that’s my long answer to the question, “Why Phoenix?”. I appreciate your prayers for Kevin and I as we’ve made this journey and as we continue to take new steps. And I hope that no matter where God is calling you – whether it be to move across the country or the world, or to stay right where you are – you will have the faith to trust in His guidance and His faithfulness to provide you with all that you need.

Grand Canyon

12 Goals for March

In case you missed it in my goal kick-off, I mentioned that I’m going to be sharing my monthly goals with you! At the beginning of every month I’ll post my goals for the month and give you a glimpse into how well I followed through with last month’s. (The pressure is on!)

Goals

Here are my goals for March 2015:

Spiritual

1. Read Bible every day

2. Finish memorizing Romans 1 by end of March (started at the beginning of the year and have had slow progress so far!)

3. Start serving weekly at church (it’s taken me some time to get plugged in at this new church campus, so I’m ready to finally get plugged into an area of service and get into a routine)

Marriage

4. Perform an act of service 4 times a week

5. Read The Love Dare together daily

Health

6. Eat vegetables 4 times a week

7. Price a Gold’s Gym Membership & decide if we want to join

8. Wear my retainer at night 4 times a week

Relationships

9. Give someone a genuine compliment or expression of gratitude 3 times a week

Personal

10. Finish reading The Power of Habit

11. Clean my car

12. Make wedding photo CDs for parents before they visit

What are your goals this month?